What is the Nature of the Universe?
First, I think it is important for me to define the Universe. I see the Universe as the totality of all objects and phenomena existing, having existed, or coming into existence within all Space. When considering what the nature of the Universe is, it is natural for me to look to the materials and forces which compose it. I find it reasonable to assess that study of the components and their characteristics can give us insight to the whole. Since I cannot know all that exists, I cannot know the full nature of the Universe. I can however become familiar with many aspects of it. The Universe contains a creative/destructive/animated entity governed by principles and effects. These principles and effects are subject to variation in sequence, yet can seem unchangeable in isolated examination.
A simple demonstration of this is the force of gravity. Gravity as I understand it is a constant pull toward the surface. A stone when examined by itself, seems constantly structured maintaining the space it occupies. One quality of the stone is that it cannot be broken by sand. You can pour all the sand over it you’d like, the rock will remain unscathed. Drop that same stone from an airplane on to the sand and tell me, does the rock still hold the same quality? Application of a different sequence and the addition of a force (gravity) will surely have changed the quality possessed by the stone.
Does it have a purpose? It certainly does, though some maybe extremely disappointed in what that purpose is. It stands to reason some may also be extremely satisfied in its purpose as well. So what is that purpose? The Universe is here to give a place for the existence of the materials and phenomena within. I’ve often felt this is a silly question with a very obvious answer. The purpose of the Universe and all contained within it is to exist.
Is the Universe evolving or devolving? This is a false dichotomy. The Universe holds a super position and contains both properties in their own proportioning. Things accumulate and things degenerate, guided by happenstance. Certainly you can determine a succession by examination of probability factoring, however you’ll always face a margin of error.
Does it function by itself? Is there “Intelligent Control”? Aren’t they two in the same? This section of the question really fails. It fails in understanding that phenomena occur because the conditions are right in it doing so. I define Intelligence as the capacity to learn, reason, understand, adapt, and establish relationship. This is a constant flowing through all phenomenon. One might look at the process undergone in rain as an example. Imagine the effect should the clouds not release the moisture after reaching critical density. So many systems are dependent upon (including the cloud system itself) the rain falling, how can it be anything less than intelligent for it to fall.