Warning: this is long and probably boring to many people.
1. I‘m using random in the sense of probability theory. Radioactive decay is a good example. In an ensemble of well-separated nuclei, whether any given nucleus decays in any time period is independent and uncorrelated with the other nuclei. We do not know how to predict which nuclei will decay, and quantum mechanics, which is our experimentally verified basis for understanding the natural world, tells us we cannot. The fundamental laws of our physical universe are statistical in nature.
2. Scrodinger’s cat is the traditional thought experiment: depending on whether a radioactive decay is detected, a cat in a box is killed or not. This directly links microscopic behavior to macroscopic. In general, the transition from microscopic quantum to macroscopic classical behavior is complicated. Classical deterministic models can be chaotic, which means that arbitrarily small changes produce large changes later, as in a coin flip. There is quite a bit of research along these lines going on today in an area called quantum information, largely because of applications to things like quantum computing and quantum cryptograph.
3. The idea that the physical constants of the universe are fine-tuned to allow carbon-based life is popular with traditional believers, but some physicists advocate for a multiverse in which some universes, probably the vast majority, are incapable of producing life as we know it. Others argue that multiverse theories have problems with falsifiability, which is a fundamental criterion for scientific meaning: how do you test for the presence of alternate universes? Some scientists ”explain” fine tuning with the anthropic principle, which says that the universe has to support life because if it didn’t we wouldn’t be talking about it! Personally, I think the fine-tuning argument makes for poor science and poor theology.
4. I believe, based on evidence, that people can lead meaningful and moral lives without traditional belief in god. I also believe we live in a world where people suffer, both because of the acts of others, intentional and unintentional, and because of essentially random natural events. Human suffering is difficult to reconcile with a loving, omniscient and omnipotent god. Great religious texts typically do not ignore this, e.g., the Book of Job and the Bhagavad Gita. The Buddha famously said “I am here to teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering.”
5. My level 5 horizon looks more like lifetime goals than principles and purpose, because that’s how I understood it back in the day when it was the 50,000 feet horizon. For example, I have “As healthy as possible throughout life” and “Physically and mentally active for as long as possible” on that list. Although they are related, they actually arise primarily from two different level 2 areas: “Health” and something I call “Sharpen the Saw” because I read Covey. They are both phrased to acknowledge the realities of aging. They do not depend on the western religious tradition that I am “in the image of god” (Latin imago dei; Hebrew b'tzelem elohim) or any particular religious or spiritual belief. I don’t have any direct reference to religion or spirituality anywhere in my GTD system or even to any particular traditional virtues. Perhaps I don’t feel comfortable mixing them with more prosaic things like “Financial security for life, wife and beyond.” The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) all tend in prayer to conceptualize God as having all human virtues. The Holiness code in Leviticus sees human virtue as flowing from God: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” leads to “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.” Anyone interested in what was seen as a just and moral life well over 2000 years ago should read the Holiness Code, but I don’t think I need to put it into my GTD system. Of course other people might.
Thank you, and that was definitely not boring!
I too think that people can lead meaningful and moral lives without believing in God. The real question is whether or not God has to actually exist in order for the universe to have objective meaning, and for objective moral truths to exist (regardless of who believes in them or acts according to them). The analogy would be something like "can a person still fall down if they don't believe in gravity" (to which the answer would of course be "yes")! So it’s about ontology (issues concerning what exists and what is the case) rather than epistemology (issues concerning how we come to know about them). That, to me, is the big question that impacts horizon 5 and trickles all the way down to “call bob” on the ground level!