At the Intersection of "Metaphysical Naturalism" and "Intelligent Design"
by Bill Schultz
Table of Contents
- God Is What We Define God To Be
- Dimensions Beyond Our Senses
- A Brief Romp Through Flatland
- Our Universe As Art
- Into The Extra-Dimensional Reality
- "Metaphysical Naturalism" and "Intelligent Design"
- Some Conclusions
- Further Reading
I presume most of my readers would believe there is no common ground between the concepts of "metaphysical naturalism" and "intelligent design." In fact, one dictionary definition of naturalism goes so far as to exclude any teleological facts from the domain of naturalism. But in my mind, that goes too far.
If naturalism has a true antonym, it is supernaturalism: the belief that some sort of "higher power" has the ability to create, destroy, ignore, or break the physical laws of nature "at will." The essence of my assertions herein is that "intelligent design" can occur without violating the bedrock principles of "metaphysical naturalism." In other words, you can have our universe be the product of "intelligent design" and yet never require any supernatural phenomena to effect the "intelligent design" of our universe.
Because I think most of my readers would disbelieve the essence of the previous paragraph, I ask you disbelievers to please willingly suspend your disbelief and read on through this essay while at least entertaining the possibility that I could be correct in this regard. I intend to relate a story of the possible here; a story which cannot be disproved by anything currently known by both science and the believers in "intelligent design." It is true there is no direct evidence in favor of what I propose herein, unless you consider all that we know to be that "direct evidence." My essential premise is this:
What if both the believers in "metaphysical naturalism" and the believers in "intelligent design" are each totally correct? What would it take for that to be true, and what are the philosophical consequences?"
The resulting hypothesis is pure fantasy; but it is also totally possible. I know of no scientific fact that in any way denies the possibility of what I’m going to relate here. The only possible explanation for disbelief in at least the possibility of this hypothesis would be a mind closed to imagination. If that is the character of your mind, then waste no further time reading on from here.
There is a point to this exercise. It is that the "argument to design" and the other "intelligent design" arguments do not in any way support any assertion of the existence of some supernatural deity. If an atheist willingly suspends his or her disbelief, and totally accepts all of the factual assertions in support of these design arguments, that would not turn the atheist into a theist. The reason this is true is because no provable fact regarding the alleged "intelligent design" of our universe requires any supernatural phenomena to have occurred in order for that fact to be true. Instead, as I shall clearly show, it is entirely consistent with what we currently know about our universe for some external but natural intelligence to have "designed" our universe to be what it is. Such intelligence would be mighty indeed, but it would still be just another powerful alien, or a group of such aliens, and not in any way a god or gods.
I’m indebted to Ted Drange for his essay entitled "Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism" (1998). In it, Drange makes clear that each time we use the word "God" in some context, there is an actual or implied definition of that word which would alter the position of each individual to theist, atheist, agnostic, or noncognitivist, depending on exactly how one felt about the definition of "God" itself, and/or possibly the evidence supporting or refuting any given definition of the word "God."
The importance of this contextual definition of the word "God" is that those who argue for the existence of "God" based primarily on the "argument to design" or it’s close relatives are thereby creating the definition of "God" as the "designer" of the universe. This is tremendously at odds with the usual Western definition of "God" as an all-powerful entity with supernatural powers. When I hold out the possibility of "God" actually existing, I’m not in any way asserting the existence of the Christian "God" of our Western Civilization. Instead, I’m arguing in favor of a definitional "God" as discussed by Professor Drange. Again I appeal to the atheists out there to simply translate the word "God" to "alien overlord" if it makes this whole argument more comprehensible to you.
If, while arguing in favor of the "argument to design," somebody chooses to use some definition of "God" other than the usual definition accepted by, say, Christianity, then that person is not arguing in favor of the Christian "God," but is instead arguing in favor of some different "God" that only needs to meet the minimum requirement of having "designed" the universe. As will be shown, our universe could clearly have been "designed" while adhering totally to, and in no way violating any principle of, the philosophy of "metaphysical naturalism."
One initial objection to the logical assertions herein is that it violates Ockham’s Razor by "multiplying entities beyond necessity." "Why,” I’m asked, "do we need extra dimensions of space? Wouldn’t space aliens located someplace else in the universe be sufficient?" The answer lies in the nature of the various assertions I’m seeking to counter. These arguments assert that the operating constants of our universe are peculiarly set, or "designed," to favor the growth of life here on Earth. If there is a scientifically valid argument that the core temperature of stars has to be "just so" to support life as we know it, that life of any sort would become impossible if these temperatures varied more than a few percent either way, and that it is scientifically probable for these temperatures to vary over a far greater range, then you would have to ask how a race of aliens, no matter how powerful they were, could have controlled such a universal parameter without existing "before" and "outside of" our current space-time continuum. And there isn’t just one of those arguments; they are literally legion! Dr. Newman’s article is but one single example of this, and I’m attempting to take on all such points of view with this essay. So, I’ll not bother with the possibility of control by some sort of "intelligent aliens" who are "inside of" our space-time continuum, but I’ll jump right to the end assertion that such "aliens" must have necessarily existed "outside of" our current space-time continuum.
Human beings can sense only three spatial dimensions plus time. And our time sense is uni-directional at a constant rate. We experience time as a vector, moving forward at a rate we feel pushes evenly along. While we can intellectually conceive of what it would be like to change the rate or direction of our progress through time, we cannot actually do that. And while we can also intellectually conceive of what it would be like to move along a fourth spatial dimension, we cannot actually do that, either.
Yet, twentieth century science has all but proven extra spatial dimensions must exist. There is still some considerable argument about whether they are "collapsed" in some fashion so that only the three spatial dimensions we can sense have a true reality. There is still also some considerable argument as to exactly how many spatial dimensions really exist, and whether or not there might be any extra dimensions of time. But those scientists charged with dealing with the largest and smallest known quantities of matter and energy all seemingly agree, to account for our observed phenomena, there must be at least one additional spatial dimension, and there easily could be several more.
The prevailing theory among cosmologists is that the so-called "Big Bang" created not only all of the matter and all of the energy in our universe, but also created the space and time dimensions that we can sense. Some theories of quantum mechanics assert that our sense of time moving forward at a relatively constant rate is a function of the expansion of our universe. These assertions are at the leading edge of modern science, and may yet be proven false. But nothing I say herein depends on them being true. If the "Big Bang" created three spatial and one time dimension, that does not imply that other dimensions of space or time could or could not exist. So too, if our dimensions of space and time have existed for eternity, and the "Big Bang" is just an event within our space-time continuum, that also does not imply the non-existence of other dimensions of space or time. Similarly, it matters not one bit whether or not our sense of time is related to the expansion of the universe.
The key fact is that other dimensions of space must exist. In his Theory of Relativity, Einstein predicted that space would be warped around stars, and we’ve measured that to be true. If three-dimensional space is warped, it has to be warped through one or more extra dimensions over and above the three we naturally sense. Einstein tried to assert the spatial warping occurred through the time dimension. But that assertion has seemed to be flawed almost from the beginning because time is inherently measured in non-spatial units of dimension.
In 1919 an obscure mathematician by the name of Theodor Kaluza wrote Einstein about his Theory of Relativity. His basic assertion was that:
Instead of thinking of a four-dimensional universe, with time as the fourth dimension, Kaluza wrote, one should think of a five-dimensional universe, having four dimensions of space and one of time. He then proceeded to write down Einstein’s field equations in five dimensions, showing that not only is gravity included in these, but also Maxwell’s theory of light. With one bold stroke -adding a fifth dimension – Kaluza united the forces of gravity and electromagnetism in one equation.
. . .
This method of unifying gravity and electromagnetism was too much even for Einstein, however, and he never really paid it serious attention, though he did endorse the publication of Kaluza’s paper. With the development of quantum mechanics and the discovery of two more basic forces of nature, in the 1920s and 1930s, the weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force, the Kaluza-Klein theory died a quiet death.
Decades later, around 1968, physicists developed a new theory of a super-small basic particle called a "string." Unfortunately, mathematical analysis showed that these basic particles vibrated in 26 dimensions (25 of space and 1 of time). This was so disconcerting, that string theory was basically abandoned until about 1984 when the use of "super-symmetry" allowed the number of dimensions to be reduced to 10 (9 of space and one of time). At this point, physicists "resurrected the Kaluza-Klein theory. If space could consist of five dimensions, with the fifth dimension curled up, why couldn’t it consist of ten dimensions, with four space-time dimensions stretched out, and six space dimensions curled up? Ed Witten soon proved several new topological theories to help work with these ten-dimensional strings." Of course, there is no guarantee "string theory" will prove to be part of the final answer to quantum mechanics. However, at this moment in time, it remains as the leading theory which physicists everywhere are pursuing with great vigor.
Hopefully, everyone can now agree to this simple fact: there is at least a high probability that one extra dimension of space exists, which we cannot sense, but which we can prove exists through scientific study. Whether this is the simple addition of one extra spatial dimension, within which to apply a "warp factor," as the original Kaluza-Klein theory proposed, or whether we end up with the full-blown theory of "strings," with a plethora of dimensions collapsed into a few, there is clearly no reason at this time to believe the existence of any of those collapsed dimensions in a fully-expanded form is an impossible fantasy. In fact, it is the disbelief in at least such a possibility that is seemingly fantastic (at least, to me).
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, it was a common practice for bars and pubs to offer a "free lunch" in order to draw in patrons. You still see echoes of this practice today, with free snacks of various sorts being readily available in establishments existing off of the sale of alcoholic beverages. There is a common feature to all of this: the snacks and the "free lunch" were designed to make you thirsty. Of course, if you were thirsty, and you were in a bar, you would order a drink, even if it was in the middle of the Great Depression. The bar owners who engaged in this practice knew that their extra income from the sale of drinks would more than pay for the cost of the "free lunch."
As this phenomenon sunk into the consciousness of the common folk, an expression was developed to describe it: "there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch," which was subsequently abbreviated to the first letter of each word: "TANSTAAFL." It implied this universal truth: every exchange in our universe is part of a zero-sum game. If I happen to win the lottery, there had to be all those suckers who threw their money into the pot before I could "get lucky." Another way of expressing the same sentiment is: "you can’t get something for nothing." That is why all scientists know that there is no such thing as a "perpetual motion machine" which provides all the energy you need at no cost. There is always a price to pay by somebody at some point in time.
One of my atheist acquaintances asserts that the "Big Bang" create our universe "out of nothing." The essence of this theory is that a "quantum fluctuation" occurred, thereby creating both positive and negative matter and energy and spewing them forth out of the "Big Bang." He has asserted that if you total up all of this positive and negative energy, it adds up to zero, so there is in essence nothing here in our universe. Its all an illusion due to this quantum fluctuation. To this I say "TANSTAAFL."
Another incredible part of quantum mechanics is the lack of causality. At the level of our senses, causality rules. Every phenomenon we can sense has an associated cause. To get an effect without a cause would be equivalent to our getting something for nothing. To that I say "TANSTAAFL."
It flies in the face of common logic for our universe to have been created out of nothing at all, and for quantum effects to have no cause. These are supernatural claims, because they fly in the face of the laws of nature, as we know them. Accordingly, it will take a great deal of proof to convert these assertions into some part of nature as a whole.
Other explanations do exist. There are quantum mechanical theories that are totally consistent with causality. And there are several theories about where the matter and energy in our universe "came from" "before" the universe existed. These explanations aren’t currently popular, but they are there. The proof is yet to be found, either way.
If there is a bottom line to this part of this essay, it is that the probabilities favor the existence of "some other place" (in other words, an extra-dimensional reality) from whence our presently known space-time continuum came, and through which the non-local aspects of quantum mechanics can operate. If things started happening "for literally no reason at all," our ordered scientific knowledge would collapse like a house of cards. And so too would the ability to create matter and/or energy "out of nothing" cause a similar effect. We can’t cause such things to occur, and we don’t expect them to happen. So, when the majority of scientists try to foist theories requiring the violation of the rule of "TANSTAAFL," I fully expect some new discovery to come along and displace the popular theories that are based on such a violation.
But in any case, this essay is about the possibility that such an "other place" exists. I’m not out to prove utterly and completely that it exists. I only need you to accept the possibility that there is something that exists in some place that is not inside of our presently known space-time continuum. The rule of "TANSTAAFL," while by no means one of the laws of science, should be sufficient to achieve acceptance of at least the possibility of the existence of such a place.
At this point, we have at least two good scientific reasons to believe in some sort of extra-dimensional reality that lies "outside of" our known space-time continuum. What we don’t have is a good sense of what sort of "place" that might be.
We have no natural sense of what it would be like for a fourth dimension of space to exist. One of the vehicles that has been used to explain this concept is to offer the analogy of what a two-dimensional creature would experience when exposed to three-dimensional space.
So, take out a piece of paper and label it "Flatland." On the paper, sketch out a two-dimensional representation of a human being. To be certain that you identify with this creature as a living, breathing entity, give it a name.
Now, hold the paper in front of you so that it is curved into a semi-circle with the two hands of the creature close to you and the body farthest away. To the "Flatland" people, that is "curved space." Lets suppose the "Flatland" scientists have a way to measure the curvature of space near your "Flatland" creature. They could surely tell that a third spatial dimension existed, even though they were incapable of sensing it for themselves. This is an exact analogy with the fourth spatial dimension and our three-dimensional selves.
Now, bend the paper around so that the creature’s left hand and right hand are adjacent to each other. In this configuration, the "Flatland" scientists could easily observe something travel from our creature’s left hand to our creature’s right hand "instantaneously" and without traveling through any intervening space. That is the rough equivalent of what are some of the claims made for quantum mechanics. We can measure the fact that these things occur, but the explanation is nonsensical to us.
Whenever you want to consider the possibility of the existence of some sort of extra-dimensional reality, take a moment to ask if it has a reasonable analogy for the "Flatland" folks. If it does, then it is at least possible.
Now, consider the relationship between the "Flatland" folks and us. If they were able to detect us, would they think we were gods?
Quite frankly, I don’t care for abstract modern art. I find it difficult to accept that it is art. But the key point is that it need not be symmetrical or in any way beautiful in the eyes of humans for it to still be art.
I was watching a special on PBS about our universe and they displayed a picture (a two-dimensional representation) of what our universe would look like "from outside" if we were able to get far enough away to see the galaxies in the same way we see stars here on Earth. The galaxies in our universe are arranged in an abstract pattern. They are not spread evenly throughout the universe, but instead are arranged in "clumps." Some scientists apparently believe this is related to some natural inequalities in the way matter and energy spread out from the "Big Bang."
If there were any living creatures who could view and comprehend the mass of galaxies in our universe, would they see an abstract arrangement or would it have some meaning for them? Could that arrangement of galaxies be in a pattern of some symbol for those folks? It is entirely a guess, in any case, and its basically irrelevant. Even if it were totally abstract, it could still be art. Or it could be calligraphy.
Its difficult to comprehend what four-dimensional creatures would look like and what powers they might naturally possess. We can view ourselves next to the "Flatland" folks and see that they would have no basis whatsoever to comprehend what we are. And we made the "Flatland" folks ourselves, essentially in our own image.
But does the act of designing and creating a "Flatland" make us gods? Of course not! We think of gods as having supernatural powers. But we violate no laws of nature when we animate the "Flatland" folks. True, we violate the "Flatland" laws of nature, but we know that there is more to the totality of reality than simply the universe in which the "Flatland" folks dwell. We even know there is more to the totality of reality than simply the universe in which we ourselves dwell. Can we predict what powers four-dimensional creatures might possess? Well, our analogy tells us that they break no laws of nature. But they exist within a realm in which other laws of nature clearly apply, and we have little in the way of ability to predict what those laws might be.
We also have little in the way of ability to predict what four-dimensional intelligence might be like. We know the capabilities of our own three-dimensional intelligence. But wouldn’t four-dimensional intelligence be of a different quality than the three-dimensional sort? I think its reasonable to believe it to be probable. And its not at all far-fetched to believe those mental abilities will appear magical when viewed from the perspective of our small selves, buried deep within the bowels of this universe.
It was Arthur C. Clarke who observed: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." If these four-dimensional creatures have highly advanced intelligences, and are capable of feats of apparent magic, would that make them into some sort of "Gods?" I don’t think so, because any decent definition of the word "God" implies supernatural capabilities and there is no reason to assign supernatural capabilities to these four-dimensional creatures. For the same reasons metaphysical naturalism appears to rule our current space-time continuum, we would have every reason to believe it to rule this extra-dimensional reality within which these higher-order intelligent beings might exist. Until the evidence leads us to believe otherwise, at least, thats the proposition to accept as "proven" (at least as much as possible, at this juncture). And finally, according to the foregoing, whatever natural entities might exist outside our known space-time continuum, if they obey the rules of nature (which they must in order to be considered as "natural"), then they are just as clearly part of nature as a whole, like it or not. They are by no means supernatural, and thus they are really very-advanced aliens rather than "Gods." So clearly, what we must do is to expand the concept of what our universe encompasses to include those things which lie "outside" our known space-time continuum, and thereby include them as being natural entities within our wholly-natural universe.
If you’ve read this far, you ought to already see the logical conclusion to this story. Consider this as my hypothesis of what the minimum requirements would be for "metaphysical naturalism" and "intelligent design" to both be absolutely true, while not contradicting any known scientific facts.
It is possible (meaning it is not excluded by any known scientific fact) that some creatures exist as four-dimensional (or greater-dimensional) beings.
It is also possible (also meaning it is not excluded by any known scientific fact) that those creatures "designed" our universe. Our universe could be a work of art, or it could be a much more prosaic item, like a three-dimensional piece of type in one of their printing presses. Whatever you want to believe about the design of our universe, it is not at all excluded by any known scientific fact.
This cannot be taken as support for the concept humanity is in any way special to any such creatures. Just as virtually all major works of art on Earth are infested by microscopic organisms, all life on Earth could be just some accidental biological contamination of an otherwise pristine universe. When we look at the Mona Lisa, do we think at all of the life the painting harbors in the fibers of it’s fabric? Of course not! Also, there is no reason to believe that any intelligent designers of our extremely vast universe would even necessarily know specifically about life here on Earth. Using that same Mona Lisa example, we would not know of any such life unless we brought in an appropriate microscope (perhaps even an electron microscope) and searched for it. Why would we bother? Why would the hypothetical aliens we’ve been discussing bother to search for life on Earth? There is no good reason for either search, beyond either idle curiosity or scientific research of some sort. What percentage of the live organisms on Earth can expect to become the subject of scientific study? Let me assure you it is an extremely small percentage. So, is there any good reason at all to believe we Earthlings might be studied by some aliens at some point in time? No, absolutely not! And even if such aliens did study us, it would be like scientists studying bacteria rather than some "god" looking into the doings of "His" creatures.
Thus, the theists out there can accumulate all the scientific proof they can muster in favor of the concept of "intelligent design," and they will in no way detract from the concept of "metaphysical naturalism." Neither concept requires the other to be false, and therefore proving the former by no means disproves the latter.
Classically, theists have used the various versions of the so-called "argument to design" to support the idea that their particular "God" was the designer. And in modern times, those arguments have been extended with facts from modern cosmology (such as the "Big Bang" proves the universe was "created" thereby proving the existence of a "creator") and quantum mechanics. In essence, these arguments can only convince the faithful because even admitting the truth of all scientific facts alleged in support of the "argument to design" does not require a supernatural designer. If the designer isn’t capable of causing supernatural phenomena, is such a designer really the "God" of the theists? Certainly not, at least in the case of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, where clear claims of repeated supernatural powers are made in support of those religions.
Those sorts of theists make various supernatural claims about their "God." Thus, their "God" must be capable of causing supernatural phenomena. While its true such an entity could still have "designed" our universe, its certainly not a necessary conclusion from the "argument to design" that the designer must have supernatural capabilities. As I’ve stated elsewhere, science has never studied and verified the occurrence of any supernatural phenomena, so science is incapable of admitting that such phenomena actually occur. But science could clearly admit to the existence of a non-supernatural "intelligent designer" if (and when) appropriate proof is presented through the normal channels of scientific discourse. And it is exactly the existence of such a "creator" towards which all of the evidence currently being mustered would apply. This would clearly represent a finding that a part of reality (known as our current space-time continuum) was designed by another part of reality (known as the "outsiders," I guess). But that is quite distinct from a supernatural claim that all of reality was "created" by a supernatural entity who is totally "outside" of reality itself. Let me reiterate: there is absolutely no proof of any supernatural designer, or anything "outside" of reality!
When we consider the efforts of organizations established to promote the concept of "intelligent design," such as The Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture (CRSC), we should see that efforts of that sort are entirely misdirected. They cannot and do not support the theistic claims of their promoters, but at best only support the idea of some sort of extra-dimensional creature(s) who "created" our universe. While any creature of that sort would be a scientific wonder for us to study, it would not be a "God."
Almost by definition, science excludes the possibility of supernatural phenomena. Scientific method requires repeatability, and by definition, supernatural phenomena cannot be commanded to occur. If they could, they would be natural phenomena, and science would need to find some niche within the laws of nature for any such repeatable phenomena. So it is that, down through the centuries, the promoters of both sides have grudgingly realized that science cannot be used to prove any facts with respect to any alleged supernatural phenomena. In every known instance of a true scientific inquiry into claims of the supernatural, science came away with a totally natural explanation. But science cannot explain everything. "One of a kind" occurrences are generally not subject to a thorough scientific investigation. And when science is forced to answer "I don’t know," the theists are quick to supply a supernatural answer. In fact, the formal definition of a miracle in the Roman Catholic Church is the occurrence of some beneficial event that is unexplainable by science. At base, this is an argument in favor of the "God of the gaps."
So, it should not be any surprise at all for me to predict that if CSRC eventually obtains scientific acceptance for it’s theories of an "intelligent design" to our universe, science will attribute that "intelligent design" to natural causes. In essence, science cannot do otherwise, because science cannot study the supernatural!
I am not in any position to speak about the quality of scientific papers prepared by fellows of the CSRC. But I am prepared to assert that no such paper would ever be accepted within mainstream science if it argues in favor of supernatural phenomena occurring as part of nature. And as we have seen in this essay, "intelligent design" concepts that stay within the boundaries of science are no threat at all to the concept of "metaphysical naturalism" upon which all of science is based.
- The concept that extra-terrestial intelligence can be an alternative to "God" is discussed at some length in at least Chapter 5 of Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism, by Robert T. Pennock.
- The concept that there could be a naturalistic form of "intelligent design" theory is discussed in the essay Can Creationism Be Scientific?, by Theodore M. Drange. While Professor Drange refers to the lack of formal work on such a theory for some years prior to the time his essay was written, it now seems some results are appearing in both the scientific press and the popular media.
- The point that scientists, as scientists (with their "scientist" hats on, so to speak), cannot work towards the support of supernaturalistic theories, is discussed in the essay Science and Miracles, by Theodore M. Drange, which gives that point a rather more lengthy and formal treatment.
- The twin concepts of the inability of science to investigate any supernaturalistic phenomena (let alone any supernaturalistic "God") and the inability of theists to worship a totally naturalistic "God," are discussed in Supernaturalist Explanations and the Prospects for a Theistic Science or "How do you know it was the lettuce?" by Robert T. Pennock.
In addition to the various sources noted above and below, I’d like to acknowledge the assistance of Jim Still, who read the initial drafts of this essay and provided some valuable comments as to how it might be expanded.
 There are many versions of the so-called "argument to design" around. For the sake of argument, I will pick a typical one and refer you to it. Please read A Designed Universe by Robert C. Newman, Ph.D., of the Biblical Theological Seminary, as a "typical example" of an "intelligent design" argument. That article is by no means a "cutting edge" assertion, but is rather dully typical instead. Whatever can be said of all those arguments can probably be said of the one I cite, and my thesis that "intelligent design" by no means requires any sort of "supernatural" explanation is no exception. So, perhaps after you read my essay, herein, you should plan on going back and reading Dr. Newman’s essay with an eye to any assertion therein that could not be explained by "powerful aliens" as the "intelligent designer(s)" of our universe, as opposed to the Christian "God" which Dr. Newman advocates.
 The Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition (1993), defines naturalism in part as "the belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value." But that same source defines teleological in terms of the so-called "argument to design." It is the essence of this essay that both concepts can coexist and therefore cannot be mutually exclusive.
 Think, for a moment, of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and then try to imagine what an alien race might do if it decided to create a universe instead of merely to fly a few of it’s members to the nearest other astronomical body of any significance. Given the right technological underpinnings (prerequisites), its a project that mankind itself might undertake in a thousand years or so (presuming that we don’t destroy ourselves first). Again, my purpose is not to assert the certainty, or even the probability, of such an occurrence, but to expose at least the possibility. That possibility then opens the way to using Ockham’s Razor to sort through the options and conclude that the theory I advance herein is actually by far the simplest answer that would simultaneously explain both the appearance of "intelligent design" and "metaphysical naturalism" in our universe as we currently perceive it.
 It is exceedingly difficult to write any article that breaks new ground in philosophical discussion so that it can both be read by a wide audience and, at the same time, make sense to technicians who work in the field of philosophy on a daily basis. In the search for truth, we cannot presuppose our conclusions in our premises. All too frequently, removing such presuppositions requires redefining words to mean things that are somewhat at odds with their "ordinary usage" by the general public. If this sort of thing is unfamiliar to you, or if you have never considered any definition for the word "God" other than the one that you personally use, I can only strongly recommend that you read and study Professor Drange’s essay in order to come to grips with the way in which philosophers are forced to deal with terms like "God" when their meaning is logically slippery.
 In a later section of this essay, entitled TANSTAAFL, I argue that the "Big Bang" cannot be seen as creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), but is rather a natural transformation of matter and energy from one domain in nature to another. Unfortunately, it is the truly hard-core atheists who seem to want to support the idea of creation ex nihilo in order to avoid the possibility of "some other place" existing that might contain the "God" of the theists. Well, by so doing they back themselves into a corner because creation ex nihilo requires a supernatural event (nothing in nature is created "out of nothing" because all natural processes are transformations rather than creations).
 These quotes are excerpted from the essay From Ellipses to Superstrings: A Brief History of Unification by Douglas Hayhoe, Ph.D.
 The actual laws involved are laws of conservation of matter and energy, inertia, and so forth. All natural processes occur by exchanging one thing for some other thing through a process of natural transformation. We can even transform matter into energy and energy into matter. But there are always process losses due to friction and other imperfections in the process of transformation. Nonetheless, those losses are accounted for in the overall scheme of things. In essence, TANSTAAFL is a shorthand term to express the totality of all those scientific laws.
The text of this essay is Copyright © 1999, by William A. Schultz. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of the author.