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Meaning Before Matter
In the Beginning was the Word

by Everett Wilson
May 24, 2010

I wrote the following observations/reactions after re-reading Thirteen Things that Don't Make Sense, by Michael Brooks. They are neither a summary nor a critique of the book, since I have nothing resembling the author's scientific scholarship to attempt either one. My comments seem self- evident to me. Maybe some of them will seem so to you:

In a mindless cosmos, the number of things that don't make sense is more than thirteen. It is unknowable and probably infinite.

In a mindless cosmos, nature has neither mind nor will, so " natural selection" is impossible. All outcomes are random.

In a mindless cosmos, nothing makes sense because it is impossible for any thing to make sense in and of itself.

To experience stuff, you need contact of some sort; to understand stuff, you need words.

Matter exists. Words make sense.

Meaning precedes matter. "In the beginning was the word" is no less credible than an eternal atom, since empirical evidence of anything before the beginning of time is beyond our observation.

Personal attributes like will and purpose negate the concept of a mindless cosmos.

Einstein's god doesn't play dice with the universe, but modern scientific method goes farther, requiring any god to stay out of the game and shut up.

An eternal cosmos comprising all reality is functionally indistinct from pantheism.

Random outcomes of infinite variety are the most one can expect from a mindless cosmos.

Nothing makes sense because it is impossible for any thing to make sense in and of itself.

"In the beginning was the word" is a theory of origin, not especially mysterious, profound, or religious. It is the simple affirmation that meaning precedes matter.

Matter exists. Words make sense.

An eternal word is neither more nor less credible than an eternal atom, since empirical evidence for either one is beyond our reach.

Observable patterns may reflect laws, but are not themselves laws.

Without meaning, matter is just stuff and the cosmos is unpredictable. Anything that happens could happen again. Or not. Whatever.

If matter has meaning in and of itself, who would know?

In a mindless cosmos, why questions have no answer.

If you have kicked God out of the game, even out of the gym, don't sneak him back in with a different uniform, name, and number. Play by your own rules.

(The following paragraph is adapted from Everett's Version, February 9, 2008). "[In a mindless cosmos, a pattern] may be discerned by an atheist after it happens over an unimaginable span of time, but it cannot be specifically predicted before it happens the first time, because there is no one to predict it." . . . In the January 28 issue of Time. . . romantic love is described as a "commitment device," followed by the declaration,'Natural selection has built love to make us feel romantic.' How a mindless process can build anything, nor how it would know that it should, is never stated."

About the Author:
As a thinking human and amateur metaphysician, Everett Wilson concludes that "in the beginning was the Word" is true of the cosmos, on a par with concluding that, functionally speaking, two plus two does indeed equal four. Thinking it doesn't make you a Christian or get you to heaven. As a believing Christian and trained theologian, however, he believes that the eternal Word is the Word of God who became a human being in Jesus and is the Way to eternal life.

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