Message 1 of 1 (20869)
10-26-2002 2:58 AM
Purpose is not something that can be "given" to you by an outside force. God can not grant his creation purpose any more than he can give himself purpose. After all, if God exists and intends his creation to perform some sort of function for him (perhaps as entertainment, or an interesting experiment), we still have to justify God's motives.
Why would God do this? What is the purpose of God? Where did he come from, and why does he even bother going to the trouble of doing what he does?
If purpose must come from outside, and we require God for our purpose, then God requires his own Uber-God to likewise supply him with his purpose. This leads to a never ending set of external purpose providers.
So the question remains, what IS purpose, and where does it come from. I think we can all agree that the term purpose is meaningful and descriptive, and we all generally know "what" it is. But outside of the metaphysical and philosophical fuzzy definitions and prescriptions, is there a solid foundation on which the term can be anchored.
After reading the online version of the "Principia Cybernetica", a collection of philosophical essays dealing with cybernetics, information, and evolution, I found their discussion of "control", "feedback", and purpose. Their position is that "purpose" arises out of the functioning of homeostatic feedback systems.
A homeostatic system is one which exhibits the characteristic of "control", or maintenance of an equilibrium state through feedback. Evolution as well as thermodynamics confirm that these systems form in nature through ordinary physical processes. Prigogenes "dissipative structures" are an example of this.
Once a system emerges which exhibits control, the term "purpose" can then be applied. The purpose of the system as a whole is simply its self perpetuation, and the ancillary purpose of its components is to maintain the system through feedback, or "control", in order to continue the system.
So "purpose" is equivalent to "feedback control". And we can define creationist "specified information" as that information which has purpose in the sense that it lends itself to maintaining the feedback system.
Fundamentally, the purpose of all living organisms is to perpetuate themselves. The smallest "unit" of purpose is the simple feedback loop, where the components "purpose" is to perpetuate the loop. On the other end the larger human notion of "purpose" all ties back into this same root definition. Our communications, our tools, our emotional and economic motivations are "components" used to control systems which allow our own self perpetuation (or more specifically that of our genes).
That is what purpose is, and where it comes from.