What if Belief in a Higher Power is Not Belief in Anything Supernatural?

I happen to believe in a higher power but do not believe in anything supernatural. I'm sure this has a lot to do with my coming to my belief as a fairly science literate, science positive person who spent most of his life as an atheist. If I believe that a thing exists, I then see it as an aspect of nature, not a thing outside of it.

If, like myself, you except the tenets of evolution,all products of humanity are products of nature, as human nature is a facet of nature. All written and spoken languages, music, visual art, technology, philosophy, and so on, are results of The Big Bang.

If you could go back in time a couple hundred years with a functioning smart phone, I don't think you would have much difficulty convincing most people, who would yet to have even seen a photograph, that this device which produces music, photos, video, and that facilitates both written and spoken long distance communication, was the product of wizardy, when, of course, we all know that the phone is merely a product of technology.

As for my belief in a higher power, it has a lot to do with my feeling that, as any atheist will tell you, nature and evolution unfold at random. I read up on one experiment designed to demonstrate how random construction occurs. Take a tumbler and insert some nuts and bolts and let her rip. and after a time, some of the nuts and bolts will begin to thread together. This demonstrates how nature has eventually resulted in such as Earth and life and you and I at random. What I have derived from studying chaos theory is an understanding of order and what you might call disorder as things that exist in degrees, and that seem to exist to some degree simultaneously in everything, including manufactured objects that may appear identical to us, but are not really identical. Same with twins, fingerprints, snowflakes, and so on. In chaos there is nonlinear order, the blending of things like symmetry and asymmetry. Any group of trees, clouds, or peaks and valleys in a mountain range, or people, has degrees of similarity, and characteristics that make them recognizable for what they are. Yet they are all also distinct. Not identical. That's nonlinear order.

In terms of looking at nature, you can look at all of its random aspects, and say that there is no element of intention in them. But I sincerely believe, without an issue with things like evolution, that this is only looking at one aspect of a duality. There is randomness, (And distinction and individuality) everywhere in everything, but there is also symmetry, similarity, patterns, and order. If you only look at those things you may convince yourself that everything was meticulously designed, which is not what I believe. I think that the circumstances happen to be in place by which order, complexity, evolution, and life, obviously could come to be, but also that they were inevitable because of the degree of order and the degree of likelihood of our eventuality, as well as any and all other life, here and elsewhere. I think, then, that life does not exist as a weird anomaly, but as an inevitability of the laws that govern nature and which science examines, explores, and describes. And I do not think of this in terms of "intelligent design" in the usual sense.

Getting back to that tumbler and the nuts and bolts, where by analogy did the tumbler of the universe come from? It came from a Big Bang. And why was there that Big Bang? Well who the hell knows? Why also did it happen to result in a universe which, very early into its projected life span, has resulted in all that is, including all order, complexity, and life? The experimenter with the tumbler does not stop the tumbling and reach in and screw the nuts and bolts together, which is what people usually mean by intelligent design. Design intervention, if you will. However, that tumbler itself was designed and manufactured, as were the nuts and bolts with their matching threads. A power source for the tumbler was made available and it was accessed. The tumbler was plugged in. And then someone put those matching nuts and bolts into the tumbler and threw the switch. Otherwise, no random threading of some of the nuts and bolts. Why not instead pour yogurt into the tumbler, or a drawer full of silverware, or just leave it empty and let it run?

Well maybe you get a sense of where I am coming from anyway. VERY long winded. An outrage I say! Burn this man at the stake!

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Interesting to contempate. Would you be open to considering the laws of physics as a higher power? A different higher power for each universe only seems fair.

Well maybe so. :) If not there is the question of where they came from? I mean honestly one major thing that keeps me open minded is to think that there could have been nothing in existence at all, rather than anything, let alone all that does seem to be here. Why not nothing instead? Seems much easier.

There may well be a vast, sprawling multiverse, full of mostly nothing. But who would observe it? But we aren't there, we are here, in a universe that is compatible with us.

The only thing this shows is the fact that for life to observe a universe, that universe has to be compatible with life.

It does not imply a "higher power". If we require a universe that contains a higher power, then why don't we simply require a universe that contains life, and skip the middleman?

Why not nothing instead?

This is one of those questions which, in the asking, quietly makes an insupportable assumption. That assumption is that there must be an answer to the question. I used the word "must" intentionally. Why, indeed, must there be an answer? In asking the question, you thereby assume there is one. If there must be an answer, and it's not just an assumption you are making, how would you go about proving that there must be one?

After slicing down a bit, we get this...

  1. There is randomness, but there is also symmetry, similarity, patterns, and order.
  2. I do not think of this in terms of "intelligent design" in the usual sense. 
  3. However, that tumbler itself was designed and manufactured, as were the nuts and bolts with their matching threads.

So yes, this is just a variation of intelligent design.  You just have to cut away a great deal of admitted verbosity that was used to disguise it.

Well Obfuskation, you just de-obscured it. 

I think that I.D. if you wish to label it that, can gain some credibility from a wide enough angle. Not God literally molded the first human from dust, although I think that works as a metaphor for the seeming fact that stuff becomes us, and then there is the role that mere soil plays in sustaining complex life. Stuff becomes us becomes stuff, which becomes more of us, using us as all living things.

I think that I.D. if you wish to label it that, can gain some credibility from a wide enough angle.

So, as long as you stay with vague generalizations, and don’t make any type of specific, checkable statement, then ID can maintain a façade of credibility.  Yeah, I’d agree with that.

You'd have to show some evidence of a god existing before I bother with the rest of the bafflegab.

I see it that we are mostly poor little monkeys, looking out at a world that seems to not like us very much, that does not necessarily favor us with food and happiness, or offer us much remorse in our passing. It might be nice to have something to offer us a little hope. Some little idea that makes the cold nights, the lions that might eat us, the ignorance we feel, just a little more tolerable. Maybe something behind the clouds, above the fray of uncertainty and unpredictable death, that might even offer us an 'exit' from our 'no exit, but death'.

Maybe some 'great certainty', to hang our hat(s) on, to validate our vanities, and offer us some stable ground upon which to base our grasping minds?

'Natural law', 'god the father', 'a Roman God Emperior', 'the Federal Government', or 'cult X'.

I look out at the universe, and see wonders, death, beauty, courage, virtue, madness, variation, correlations, and the fleeting perception of causation. My optimism grasps at cetrtainty, and is not always disapointed, but sadly even some of my 'best' tools offer an unsettledness.

Do I have it 'right', am I missing something? The 'good' scientist in me wants something more, like pealing back the vail to see into the heart of things. Does the 'heart' offer the 'face of God', or 'multi-dimensional space-time'?

So I wait, holding my wonder open and engaged.

I find moments of intense humility and seeming soulfulness, but am I just delusional?

My garden grows and the roses bloom, to think I always know 'why' seems a streach. I am still at that near cusp of holding that needed 'knowing' in my hands, but my honesty holds me back.

Maybe the monkey is still affraid to walk away from his tree? Maybe a few more of us would serve that greater need for an ecological virtue, if did not adventure too far?


I did not want to imply that 'humility' has anything thing to do with or between persons. Over my 59 years I have found very few persons that I felt a need to be 'humble' before. The few that such a 'feeling' has been nearly practiced were approximatly 'great' men or women, worthly respect, and who sometimes demanded it. 

The humility I would like to suggest is before 'nature'. Somewhat similar to Bacon's maxim, 'if you would control nature, you must first obey it'. I might suggest in addition that we consider the possibility that humans are still 'catching up' with 'natures' complexity and depth. 

Science is about observing, developing an explanation for it and predictions that can be tested (by anyone and everyone, no matter their faith or preconception), then testing the prediction and repeating the cycle.

The above is unnecessary in matters of faith or definitions of "higher power", and personal experiences limited to individuals or specific groups of believers. (E.g., can you define your higher power in terms that every person of faith can understand and ultimately agree with?)

Meanwhile, animals--especially humans--are endowed with capabilities of speculation, faith and prediction to the extent that they can behave in learned or creative ways that facilitate success in accomplishing goals, like finding food, protecting their young, recognizing and predicting the behavior of others and other groups, and other important, survival-related things. They've always been able to do these things without writing books, or relying on artificial (i.e. man-made) institutions, albeit at naturural, much smaller scales.

More to your point (I think), common, unifying beliefs, no matter how rational or irrational enable social animals to behave cooperatively towards common goals, whether they be to exterminate Jews, lead bloody Crusades or Jihads, or invent medicines and cure diseases, or build universities and hospitals, and so on. The higher power can just be as simple as "service to world health and humanity", can it not, regardless (yet inclusive of) personal attachment to a specific faith?


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