Review: “Worthington's World”

The sub-title to this website is “A libertarian society based on reductionism.” There is not too much regarding reductionism on this website, but, I gather, it is elucidated more fully in Mr. Worthington’s book, “Cascading Universe” which is available through a link to It would be nice if excerpts from the book were available on the website.

There is an introductory essay covering the topics of Reality, Consciousness, Freewill and Religion. Then there is essentially a blog with essays on the topics of Politics, Science, Philosophy and Religion. I am drawn to these “one man, one website” points of view generated in many cases by retirees who have been a long way through the mill of life with much to offer from a philosophical perspective. Their world view and outlook has crystallized to the point where they can articulate the distillation of a lifetime’s experience (to mix a metaphor).

Mr. Worthington’s essential outlook is that the universe proceeds by natural forces without God’s intervention although he believes God created the universe. Basically, he’s a Deist since he believes that after the Creation there is no further intervention by God. I gather that this is basically what reductionism means. Therefore, natural disasters are neither attributable to nor can be prevented by God. He has essays on the tsunami and Katrina which give his explanation as to why they happened: natural forces. If God does not intervene in the universe, then there is no other explanation needed as to why bad things happen. They’re unavoidable since Nature rules.

His perspective is similar to my own in that I don’t believe that God manipulates the universe favoring those who pray harder and not favoring those who are sinners. As it says in the Bible, “God causes the rain to fall on the unjust as well as the just.” Where I differ from Mr. Worthington is that I believe that there are natural forces as yet undiscovered that are inherent in the universe other than the laws of physics as they are understood today. A question he deals with such as “how did life originate” can be understood in terms of an inherent force within the universe that creates life wherever it can - similar to Wilhelm Reich’s “orgone energy.” Therefore, the creation of life can be thought of as a totally natural and inherent part of the universe albeit as yet not fully understood.

Mr. Worthington seems to be too much attached to science as we know it today without leaving room for all the as yet undiscovered realities. While I agree with his hard-headed approach to religion and his elevation of science to a primary position in his world view, there also are elements in the universe, namely life, love, art etc. which we know to exist. The universe without life would be a desolate place, but with life, with or without religious fantasies, there is some comfort to be had.

Science’s and Mr. Worthington’s emphasis on the Second Law of Thermodynamics flies in the face of the organization inherent in human life and the fact that parts of the universe at least are becoming more organized. It it weren’t for the presence of life, entropy might be increasing due to impersonal forces working out their destiny. However, personal forces are bringing order of a sort at least to small corners of the universe. The scientists pooh-pooh this by saying there is an outside energy source that is becoming depleted wherever organization is occurring. Well, yes…if you go back far enough the big bang itself can be thought of as an outside energy source that allowed organization to eventually take place. When stars formed, that represented an organization compared to the dust clouds from which they formed. Organization is always occurring in the universe, and it just so happens that there is always energy available.

Mr. Worthington states: “In no way intellectually can there be supernatural or unnatural phenomena.” I can accept this, but not all natural phenomena have been discovered. What may seem supernatural or unnatural may one day have a natural explanation. Mr. Worthington asserts: “God, if there is one, certainly is not the loving heavenly father proclaimed in Christian doctrine.” So the real question is “What is the nature of God?” If God lets wars and natural disasters happen, can God be all-loving? I agree with Mr. Worthington that God set up the universe according to certain natural (although not completely understood) principles. One of these principles is freedom. There is enough freedom that natural disasters can happen. Does God intervene to stop them? I don’t think so and neither does Mr. Worthington. Can man do something to prevent natural disasters from happening or to mitigate their disastrous effects on human life and property? I think so. We learn from our mistakes although imperfectly. Setting up a tsunami warning system in the wake of the recent devastating tsunami is one example.

One could say that it is man’s nature to try and make the world a better, safer place if for no reason other than his children will have to live in it. One could even make a case that this is how God manifests his presence in the universe – not preventing every natural disaster and act of violence – but by man’s nature asserting that we must act to mitigate negative effects because, ultimately, we want to live in a humane society. Whether this is God acting through man or man having evolved from “molecular aggregates interacting with other components of the surrounding biosphere in which we are imbedded,” what difference does it make? The amazing thing is that life could have evolved where there is any love or any goodness whatsoever - not that life evolved in which there is a lot of fighting and violence.

Mr. Worthington seems to believe that only the strong survive, and that by natural selection the weak perish. Why then, is he against the war in Iraq? It seems like a perfect example of the strong dominating the weak which Mr. Worthington is all in favor of. We Americans being the strongest country on earth should take whatever resources we need or want for ourselves with no apologies whatsoever. Why is he going against the Law of Nature in this instance? Very inconsistent, I think. It seems like Mr. Worthington should be on the side of the neocons to be consistent with his philosophy, but he’s not.

Finally, if you grant that God created the universe, even though you believe that He doesn’t intervene to manipulate or regulate it, you essentially have to give up the argument that we are just a bunch or random atomic particles bombarding each other because you don’t know completely just what forces and parameters God set up at the time of the Creation. Their outworking in a completely natural and consistent way may account for unselfishness as well as selfishness, even for a desire to be our Brother’s keeper, a sentiment that libertarians including Mr. Worthington reject.

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