For example, we don't know what force (if any) drives the creation, evolution and development of human societies and the world's history. But can we study this "mystical force" by examining known facts, patterns and behaviors?

In other words, can paleontological, archaeological, geological facts combined with a written history be used to study fundamental philosophical questions about the origin and purpose of intelligent life?

To clarify this question, can you prove (or disprove) the existence of the Creator by collecting historical statistics and identifying patterns that are clearly beyond the possibility of random chance?

  • 5
    You need to explain what would stop a scientific investigation in this case, otherwise the question is just bizarre. Commented Jun 20 at 19:56
  • I think greed and ego sufficiently explain history.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 21 at 2:21
  • Greed, Ego, Love and Pain - they are merely tools. But who and why pulls the strings? And if nobody does, can consistency and balance in the history of humanity be explained by random chance? Commented Jun 21 at 2:50
  • 1
    "identifying patterns that are clearly beyond the possibility of random chance" -- that's basically the "irreducible complexity" argument that ID proponents use. Most of their examples have been refuted.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 21 at 14:43
  • The ultimate source of cause is The Great Mystery. Scientific investigation will not penetrate the mystery because humans can only recognize proximate or nearby sources of cause. Suppose I want to understand the ultimate cause of my mind using scientific methods? The best I can do is recognize that everything in nature is a dynamic process. Neurons exist and generate dynamic activity. Brain death and dead bodies inform me that neurons in my living body seem to be generating my mind. Then a natural process, Psychogenesis, unknown to my mind, is the proximate source of all my human experience! Commented Jun 21 at 17:14

8 Answers 8


The problem with randomness is that there always exist two ways of getting out of it:

  1. There exists a coordinator (Creator) that governs the phepomenon.
  2. There exists a mechanism that governs the phepomenon, that we haven't yet, or we have partially identified.

For example according to junkyard tornado :

The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way (random creation of higher life-form enzymes) is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.

Paradoxically Hoyle that calculated this is an atheist, but besides that his calculation is nowdays considered a fallacy.

As the fallacy argues, the odds of the sudden construction of higher lifeforms are indeed improbable. However, what the junkyard tornado postulation fails to take into account is the vast amount of support that evolution proceeds in many smaller stages, each driven by natural selection, rather than by random chance, over a long period of time.

So it all comes down to how you identify the Creator. Is it a being per se? Does it have casual powers, that manifest in our world? Is it the behavioural aspect of nature?

And now from a spiritual/philosophical point of view, if you elilimate randomness as a contributing factor of reality, doesn't this mean that every state is the consequence of previous states in a way that there exists a meaning in it? But do you really believe that this meaning could be objective (ie for all)? So, isn't is the "purpose of intelligent life" as you say, exactly that: to find your personal meaning in a random (or multi-meaning)-appearing world?

There exists an ancient saying that goes something like this: There was a mirror that hold all the truth, It broke into thousands of pieces and feel into the Earth. Each person took one of the pieces, looked into it and thought he saw the whole truth.

  • 1
    The first sentence in your linked reference is : "The junkyard tornado, sometimes known as Hoyle's fallacy, is an argument against abiogenesis, using a calculation of its probability based on false assumptions" Note especially "FALSE ASSUMPTIONS!
    – D. Halsey
    Commented Jun 21 at 22:32
  • @D. Halsey, you should be using your brain to think. Commented Jun 21 at 23:25
  • Nice! I think Guy-in-the-sky → being → entity → laws/principles → Nature is a spectrum. Added to my answer
    – Rushi
    Commented Jun 22 at 7:15

Can we study scientifically the set of facts and behaviors if we have no scientific explanation for the source, origin, or underlying mechanism of it?

Yes. Finding the source, origin, and underlying mechanism of a phenomenon is the whole point of scientific inquiry. Given the assumptions of the question, that we know nothing but nothing about some observation, this particular inquiry must start at Square Zero,and slowly tease out sources, origins, and, later, the underlying mechanism.

  • "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Where I live, it is true even if you do know where you're going.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 21 at 2:27

The mechanisms of evolution are extremely well known and have been researched in great detail. Evolution is also one of the most fundamental principles in science (in its broadest sense, it doesn't have any prerequisites — it is simply how things happen when they are left alone) and, specific complications in the details notwithstanding, an immediate truism.

Therefore, it is one of the worst places to look for a creator, and everybody trying to do that is laughed out of the court of science.

Now we don't know really where our universe comes from, which clearly leaves the possibility of a creator open. But that this cause of a spectacular and violent quantum anomaly (or whatever) billions of years ago would be anything like the Abrahamic god who looks like us and is concerned with our daily lives is ridiculously absurd. (I simply suppose that your question is aiming in the direction of Christian creationism; forgive me if that's wrong, and read it as a rant directed at other people.)

Therefore, the answer to your general question is a resounding "yes": We do research of things we don't understand all the time, trying to find regularities (or their absence!) and, possibly, link them to other things already known or to be discovered (which may be causes); this is the induction part of science.

The answer concerning the concrete subject — evolution and the emergence of intelligent life — is a resounding "no". Evolution is an extremely poor area to look for unknown causes because it has been so very thoroughly researched, and is so very well understood.

On a meta level also note that scientific inquiry, by definition, will always yield scientific results. If science finds a creator, it may be a superhuman kid that started its first simulation on its smartphone equivalent with a configuration that proved surprisingly fruitful. That kid would be subject to the laws of an (unknown) nature as well! The attempt by some intellectually misguided or plainly dishonest Christians to present scientific proofs for the existence of a god is a glaring and inexcusable categorical mistake.


We have been studying gravity for hundreds of years, and we've developed extremely precise mathematical descriptions of what it does, but we still have no good explanation for why it does that.

Newton famously hated the idea that somehow objects could pull on each other across long distances with only vacuum between them, but by accepting that they must do it somehow he was able to explain why the planets move the way that they do.

Every time we find an underlying mechanism, that mechanism becomes a new thing that probably has its own underlying mechanisms that we don't understand. Science constantly adds to the list of things we understand and to the list of things we don't understand.

  • Maybe we should just stop and stick with the things we understand? I mean, life is pretty good now.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jun 21 at 2:33
  • This is a reason for criticism of modern day science. Too many researchers would rather do small, often inconsequential steps, firmly standing on a giant's shoulders. Commented Jun 21 at 2:43
  • I don't think that's fair. To see something no one else has seen, you usually have to look where no one else has looked, and by now most of the places where no one has looked are extremely difficult to look at. If a present-day explorer wants to find a new continent, he'll only find little islands if he looks on Earth. There must be other continents on other planets, but reaching one would be a large-scale effort of many decades, even if you knew exactly where it was.
    – PJWeisberg
    Commented Jun 21 at 16:35

we don't know what force (if any) drives the creation, evolution and development of human societies and the world's history.

Is there any evidence that such a force might exist?

In other words, can paleontological, archaeological, geological facts combined with a written history be used to study fundamental philosophical questions about the origin and purpose of intelligent life?

Origin? Clearly yes. We know a substantial amount about the time, place and manner through which specific life forms developed specific cognitive capabilities and we will continue to uncover more.

Purpose? There's a lot to unpack in terms of what that even means. In a scientific context "purpose" is generally a metaphor, not an object of study.

can you prove (or disprove) the existence of the Creator by collecting historical statistics and identifying patterns that are clearly beyond the possibility of random chance?

If we could observe and compare both kinds of universes, then the scientific method would be relevant. Absent that, we're back to my first question: is there evidence of a Creator? I see none.


A divine influence could be so obvious we would not need science.

Imagine each mountain would already have the face of Jesus similar to Mount Rushmore. There would be no doubt left. If every army that carried the true cross were always victorious in battle no matter how outnumbered, that would be another clear sign. If earth was the only planet in the universe, and the sun the only star, the minimum viable setup for human life, that would be a giveaway. So a divinity that wanted to make itself known could do any of those and more, instead of the parlour tricks in the Bible, limited to one age and one area smaller than Ireland, appearing at a time that cameras did not exist.

A divinity could also remain hidden, by mostly not taking any action.

A divinity could also be nature itself, acting according to natural law all the time, then it would be visible but I distinguishable from a force without design or intention.

A divinity that kinda wants to be known, but not obviously so, but still somehow take action, like a shy girl wanting to be asked out on a date but not wishing to be forward, teasing a bit but playing hard to get... We could try to find data for that. We could also put every grain of sand at any beach under a microscope to see if auch a deity had left a secret letter to us in tiny letters. Leave no stone unturned, literally. But why would we even try any of that?

The Christian churches have for roughly 1500 years investigated all kind of apologetic approaches, and the most common modern preaching is that data proving supernatural miracles cannot be expected, and the faithful should strive to see the divine in nature without data that would prove divine influence beyond what can be expected statistically.

That is not to say that churches would not welcome miracles, it's just that after 1500 years of nothing, expectations have adapted.


You are asking — as usual — a subtle question.
And — as usual — I dont fully understand it 😀.

But I see some fallacies that we could open up.

Fallacy 1

You say "human societies" as though these things exist.
Do they?
Or is it some 21 century unicorn?

Of course most people would find it absurd to deny "society".
Just as it is nowadays fashionable (in circles like this site) to affirm God.

But to affirm society is to — at least possibly — commit a reification fallacy — Sure we see human individuals, one, ten, maybe a thousand in a stadium or rock concert. But society as a whole: What is the validity and basis for assuming such a concept?

As an extreme example of a reification error that everyone commits we can take the non dual teacher Ramana Maharshi. He said: Mind? What is mind? There is no such thing. There are only thoughts. (If you like) you can call the bundle of thoughts as "mind". The main thing is that there is a bundle of thoughts and of all thoughts there is a root thought — "I".2

The implication being that reifying thoughts into a higher order construct called mind was a source of more problems and confusion than a help.

He went further: When someone asked him question specifically regarding "psychology", he retorted: Why do you analyze the garbage you want to throw out?

Fallacy 2

The fallacy around God's putative existence is even more fundamental: What do you mean by God? Different people mean very very different things. eg. Hindus don't see it meaningful to worship the creator — Brahma. The preserver — Vishnu — is more liked but mostly in his active descents, Rama and Krishna who were mighty warriors — not very “preservatory!” And Shiva — the destroyer — is universally worshiped.

Speaking generally God as a concept can at the least be placed anywhere on the spectrum
Guy-in-the-sky → being → entity → laws/principles → Nature

In short, almost all atheist-theist arguments are crude, gross examples of the equivocation fallacy — just people talking (or shouting) past each other.

Going outside the system (Matrix)

As for the fact that understanding the system — the universe1 — from the outside pov without being able to go outside being impossibly hard yet very important: Yes that is a profound observation. But there is a glimmer of hope — Riemann's geometry leading to Einstein's relativity.

In normal geometry we can understand planes and lines because we can sit outside in 3-D space. How can we understand 3-D "from the outside" when we cant sit outside 3-D space. That "miracle" is what Riemann and Minkowski worked out mathematically before Einstein could do the physics. So I take it that it is hard but not impossible.

A curious, maverick book length description of this is Tertium Organum. It starts with basic geometry, goes through psychology, and thence to spirituality.

1 Another universally held reification error: Everyone who denies God, affirms the universe. As though it definitively exists. Has anyone seen the universe???

Heck people have never even seen the solar system... just diagrams and simulations

2 Since this is in answer to "The Matrix Equation balance", here's a one line summary of Ramana's teaching: Study, abide, cling, cleave, love that I-thought over all others — I guarantee you it will take you out of the Matrix. Of course he used more traditional Hindu terminology for "matrix" like "maya"

  • To ask the question, you don't have to be absolute. I think the real fallacy is trying to assume a materialistic vision, understanding and explanation for everything we might have some doubts about. That would automatically mean consistent materialism - which Lenin called s* word. Commented Jun 21 at 4:19
  • @TheMatrixEquation-balance Materialism is not a fallacy. Its just absurd — any "-ism" being outside the material plane cannot be affirmed consistently by one who denies everything outside. [See small parenthetical addition to answer]
    – Rushi
    Commented Jun 21 at 4:35
  • You have a simple question, but it could be the most important one in the 21st century. Is our reality a forgery or the original? And you can have a science-based conclusion regarding traces of forgery in our reality (Intelligent Design). Commented Jun 21 at 4:35
  • @TheMatrixEquation-balance Well... "science" is very polysemic out here. The evidence of which that a hundred ppl are now going to go bald tearing their hair because you juxtaposed "science" and "ID" 😉
    – Rushi
    Commented Jun 21 at 4:36

You're asking if we might someday learn enough that we see unquestionable evidence of design.

Yes, of course. The example I always use is, how obvious would a smiley face made of stars have to be for scientists to throw in the towel?

Is 10 stars in a circle enough? 30? Little vertical lines next to the mouth: necessary or sufficient?

  1. Yes, that would be evidence of a creator.

  2. We see no such evidence.

However, that wasn't your question.

Scientific study of the statistical improbability of history (called "psychohistory") is how the people in Asimov's Foundation discovered that history is being manipulated by someone or something invisible who can predict what will happen and has the awesome power to control it.

It was a great story. How can you trust somebody who can read your mind? That's why autistic people don't talk to anyone.

Psychohistory is science fiction.

That answers your question.


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