Not to sound Newtonian or anything, but the universe, and all life within it, is one big Soulless Machine. To quote the guru of nihilism himself, Richard Dawkins: “We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.”
On the other hand, not to sound all woo-hoo New Agey, but the universe is an intelligent Consciousness of Love that is in a feedback loop of creation with the consciousness of everything that exists, for all existence has a consciousness and we are all one piece of this dynamic holographic fractal paradigm that is the living reality. To quote Bill Hicks, a guru of sorts,: “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.” 
The great thing about life is that it really is meaningless, in that there is no inherent point to life other than what we have chosen to do with it, what meaning we have chosen to give it. The riddle of life is not to discover its meaning, it is to create its meaning.
There are many, many alternative views of reality other than big bang versus intelligent design.
Some of my favorites are:
- The woman and the man dreamed that God was dreaming them. 
- A giant who lived in an egg woke up, broke the egg by accident, and the egg goo is the universe as we know it. 
- Life as we know it is the side effect of the gooey residue a god left behind after he finished shagging the planet. 
There are countless, what we would consider “crazy,” beliefs about how we came to be and what we’re supposed to do while we’re here. Someday beings will read about our big bang and intelligent design myths and chuckle at our naivete.
There does not have to be any conflict between these two paradigms because both can be true. The Universe can be a Soulless Machine and Consciousness of Love. Not only is there room for both, they depend on each other; they are the Yin and Yang of creation.
First let’s look at the Soulless Machine. There are natural laws that define how matter operates, from the quantum to the galactic. I suspect we know only an infinitesimally small percent of those laws; nevertheless, we can say there are laws that cannot be broken. A metaphor that survives today as much as it did thousands of years ago can be easily demonstrated with something called the harmonograph . This is a fascinating, entertaining device that takes an initial push (i.e., big bang) and then draws a pretty two-dimensional design as that initial energy slowly diminishes.
Take the very simple formula discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot that seems to be able to explain why a lot of things in nature are the way they are.
Clearly, reality as we know it is the consequence of a predetermined set of laws that resulted from everything interacting in the most efficient manner as it fulfilled the general rule of “nature abhors a vacuum.”
I accept this as true, but this in no way closes the door for other realities to exist. On the contrary, just as a cup holds water, or a skeleton provides structure, the universe needs a mechanical framework, otherwise there would be nothing but chaos and nothing would grow. For the record, there are such universes or realities, and there is a good reason why we don’t exist in them.
Not being a scientist, I am free to invent any kind of metaphor or model that works for me. By “works” I mean a model that doesn't just explain to my puny nonscientific brain how something works, but how to use it in a way that would enhance my opportunities to learn and grow, to increase my awareness and integrate the outer world into my inner world, and vice versa. Obviously, other definitions of “work” exist, so this model may not “work” for everyone.
The simplest metaphor I can share is that of an oven, just like the one in your kitchen. The oven is a very practical tool that uses energy, space and time according to the most basic laws of physics to transform things that have been prepared from an idea into a finished creation.
These creations can only exist because of the immutable laws of a mechanical universe, but these laws say nothing about how the oven is used. These laws do not concern themselves with why something is being cooked, when it is being cooked, or even how the chef is choosing to cook something.
To say that we are nothing more than robots, and all of reality is a grand machine, is only half true. Why scientists, like Dawkins, refuse to look beyond the ‘oven’ is anyone's guess, but I consider it a form of insanity to deny that nothing other than the laws of thermodynamics matters when preparing dinner.
Once you leave the realm of immutable laws things get fairly murky, from a scientific perspective, and that murkiness is explained with spirituality, the paranormal, holographic paradigms, morphogenetic fields, etc, etc.
To be fair, both perspectives are filled with their share of charlatans. This seems to be a byproduct of human nature. As I am not interested in this, I will simply ignore the more self-serving opinions on both sides as they are of no constructive use.
Ideas like Morphic Resonance , Holonomic Brain Theory , holofractographics  and even discoveries that impinge on the sacred territory of a mechanistic model, such as the quantum double slit experiment , quantum entanglement  and David Bohm’s Implicate Explicate Order  are beginning to show that on top of this skeleton of immutable laws there is growing a live, organic, conscious reality of which we are a part of, and which is a rather predominant part of us.
One of the most bleeding edge, revolutionary theories that is emerging today is the theory that nothing in reality exists until we perceive it!  I love this theory, but it raises the question “why am I observing so many insane things?” This must be blowing the minds of the “Mechanicalists” out there, as they are being hoisted by their own petard, so to speak. The immutable laws of nature are being used to prove that reality as we know it doesn’t even exist before we observe it. As revolutionary as this may be, it’s not that new. In 483 B.C. Gorgias of Leontini invented Solipsism, which states in a nutshell “Nothing exists ‘out there’ and all knowledge of objective reality is merely an analogy with our own subjective awareness”. Ironically, this ancient philosophy, which is now being scientifically proven, is also the basis of a dissociative mental state considered pathological. What does this say about ‘reality’? Hmmm.
I find it funny that science says there is no proof of telepathy in one breath and then in another explains how ‘reality’ is based in a nine-dimensional ‘string’ which exists in an infinite number of parallel ‘realities’ that ‘probably’ exist.
Going back to the oven metaphor, we can state with certainty that the rules that govern the oven are not the same rules that govern the chef’s intent. They are not even in the same arena, and yet we continue to argue these ideas as if they were. The oven works because it is based on proven laws. The chef works because of countless other reasons having nothing to do with proofs.
To require proof of a reality that does not abide by the laws of physics is like demanding the chef prove he desires to make a souffle. And vice versa, to believe that your desires can in some way alter the laws of physics is equally foolish.
The ‘magic’ lies in the twilight zone where the two meet. Some example of this ‘Twilight Zone’ are quite entertaining , especially the ones that ‘prove’ that the cause can exist after the effect, which is essentially time travel .
Well, this opens a whole new can of wormy possibilities. If subatomic particles can actually time travel, which all tests currently prove, then the electron passing right now could be the very same electron that passed moments before. The electron could literally have time traveled back in time to pass us again, and again and again. As all electrons have the exact same properties there would be no way of determining if one electron is any different from another. In fact, it is quite possible that all electrons (and protons and neutrons) in existence are really the exact same single electron (or proton or neutron) that just keeps reappearing an infinite (for all intents and purposes) number of times per second! I wish this was my ingenious idea, but it was not. It was the idea of the brilliant physicist John Wheeler who called his Nobel prize-winning student Richard Feynman at 2 AM one morning to declare, "Feynman, I know why all electrons have the same charge and the same mass" "Why?" "Because they are all the same electron!"
This idea implies that all of creation is made up of just three ‘things’ that transcend time and space; a Trinity, as it were. Hmm, where else do we see the idea of a trinity that is the source of the universe life and reality? (hint: The oldest religion known dating back between 5,000 to 30,000 years depending on who you ask, as well as our more modern monotheist religions)
We are discovering that everything is connected to everything in ways we can not even imagine yet.
So what is the point of all this?
There are rules to the way reality works and we only understand a very small number of them.
Our concept of reality is based on them so it goes to reason that our concept of reality is extremely limited. Given this, it would be silly to assume anything is not possible, which implies that one can assume anything is possible.
So why is this post called “Finding the Holy Grail”? Why drag King Arthur into this? The Holy Grail itself did not survive antiquity and was, in fact, a literary concept that started back in 1136, but it is used among the Christians to represent the body of Christ, and the wine in the cup representing his blood. To paraphrase this in a less gruesome manner, the cup symbolizes physical existence, and the wine symbolizes the spirit that flows through that existence. Therefore, all that exists, all that is manifest, all that must obey the laws of nature and physics, this is the True Grail. The cup, like the soulless machine aspect of the universe itself, is only as valuable as what is put into it. An empty cup, just like an empty universe, is useless. It is our ‘blood’, our spirit, and the spirit of life, that gives meaning to the cup.
 example of harmonograph machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJYvc-ISrf8
 harmonograph simulator http://andygiger.com/science/harmonograph/index.html
 One of my favorite examples is Magic Seth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOanMn0h8rA because he plays with perceptions, assumptions and beliefs to perform ‘magic’, but his examples apply to how we perceived reality. As a student at MIT he build a ‘mind reading’ software program that was so effective that he has to date been the only person in the world who has won the $1,000,000 prize from the world famous skeptic James Randi offered to anyone who can actually demonstrate real psychic ability.
 The problem with this theory is we can't seem to find where the imbalance of electrons is "kept", i.e. there should be equal numbers of electrons move forward in time as backward in time, but there aren't. Keep looking, guys! I am sure they are hiding somewhere.