In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
This is a universe that doesn’t care one way or the other what happens to us humans. There is no force, spirit, god, designer, or consciousness driving anything. The universe just is. It is not, as Eckersley claims, though, “a dead, mechanical, clockwork universe” (221). It is ever changing and there is, obviously, life in it. He contrasts this universe with the “dynamic cosmic network of forces and fields […] that is far more compatible with a spiritual sense of connectedness to the universe” because it is ignoring the cold truth of an uncaring universe. Eckersley quotes Paul Davies, who said in his 1995 Templeton Prize address:
The true miracle of nature is to be found in the ingenious and unswerving lawfulness of the cosmos, a lawfulness that permits complex order to emerge from chaos, life to emerge from inanimate matter, and consciousness to emerge from life… [T]he universe [is] a coherent, rational, elegant and harmonious expression of a deep and purposeful meaning.
What meaning is expressed in the universe is beyond me. The universe is utterly meaningless unless we impose meaning on it by supernatural notions with ideas like a deity or a free-floating consciousness. Of course, Davies would not have won the Templeton Prize if he hadn’t been able to bend science enough to enable religious ideas.
The sad thing, to me, is that with these spiritual detours people miss the truly remarkable things about life and the universe. The beauty of it is that there are so many fascinating, awe-inspiring things despite a universe that does not have any purpose or meaning. We can feel connected to something larger than ourselves without having to twist science. Evolution makes us all related to everything living on this planet. There isn’t anything more interconnected than the fact that I, as a human being, am related to a blade of grass or a butterfly. Nothing supernatural or spiritual required, only some simple understanding of science. If you want to feel connected to the universe, just look into the sky during a clear night. You are connected simply by seeing what is up there. The act of seeing is the connection between you and the universe. Again, nothing supernatural or spiritual required, just some imperfectly evolved eyes. We can find meaning and a sense of connectedness and belonging without retreating to the spiritual or supernatural. It might require slightly more work but I, for one, have found it much more satisfying because I do not have to rely on nonsense. My sense of being connected and belonging is grounded in solid science instead of wishful thinking.