Jump to content


Senior Members
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by disarray

  1. You seem to insist that another universe can't exist, because, given the definition of the word "universe" as something all inclusive, our universe must include any other universe that might be found. But I addressed this line of reasoning earlier by noting that it is just an example of metaphysical semantics gone awry. When discussing the possibility of another universe or universes (e.g., multiverse scenario), one needs, imho,to refer to what actual knowledge our civilization has of the situation, as do physicists, based on decades of collecting empirical evidence and using scientific reasoning. People such as A.J. Ayer and Popper have likened such abstract, metaphysical reasoning as your claim that our universe would include all possible universes to the sort of reasoning that was done in the Middle Ages. People would ask metaphysical questions such as "what would happen if an immovable tree was struck by an unstoppable ball," or ask religious questions such as "Can God know whether a person will decide be saved or not because he is omniscient and can therefore see everything in the future, even though the person has free will to choose to be saved or not." Like your comment that there can only be one universe, these are the sorts of questions and statements that seem to make sense when on paper, but are seen to be meaningless when they are actually applied to reality. To just say in passing, then, as if sitting on a bar stool on a rainy afternoon (without alluding to any of the advances in knowledge about this subject made over the last 100 years) that "another universe just can't possibly exist because it would become part of ours" is just putting a string of words together that has no basis in terms of any sort of modern research. So I don't think that either of us has demonstrated to any reasonable degree that different universes could exist or that they could not. And I really wasn't trying to say that anyone could or ever will be able to prove that they exist, much less show you a picture of one. However, I did point out that a number of very competent physicists today think that it is quite possible that there are one or more other universes, and that they may be able to further develop mathematical arguments to support such a belief, much like the mathematical evidence that had been collected to suggest that Black Holes existed, even before astronomers started to identify them in the sky without being able to actually see them (since no light escapes them). Of course, I understand your point that we can't, unlike Black Holes, ever be able to point and say, there lies another universe in the direction in which I am pointing. I do agree with you that the existence of another world makes no difference to me, or you, or anyone else, in terms of what I have for breakfast, or whether I go college, or what kind of car I buy. But I was not trying to discuss how the existence of a world might affect anyone personally when it comes to this and other ordinary, day to day situations. Rather, my point was that evidence for the existence of another universe, or even the existence of life on other planets in our own universe, has important cultural, philosophical, and, above all, religious ramifications about the origin of life and about such questions as to whether the Bible (and many other religious texts) is accurate in suggesting that humans are the only living, significantly intelligent creatures in the universe, just as the Copernican revolution or the theory of evolution has had important ramifications. After all, the very question of this discussion implies, rather religiously, that our universe was created, presumably by some one. Would you agree with my main point that the discovery of another universe would affect people's thinking......or wait!!.......... let me ask a related but more straightforward question about whether or not we are alone: If we humans found out that there were intelligent living creatures on another planet in a nearby galaxy as intelligent as ourselves, do you think that such a discovery would have a significant impact on many peoples religious beliefs?....Discuss.
  2. Hmm, I thought someone might be interested in the philosophical aspects of this issue. You seem to be saying that, as far as you're concerned, it doesn't matter whether there are other universes, which makes me wonder why you bothered to respond to this particular question in the first place. Also, one wonders whether you care about things closer to home, e.g., whether their are intelligent beings on other planets in the universe.
  3. Tar Good questions. By the way, I had to edit part of my last post, which is still rather rambling, in order to clarify my point that 1) our universe (and perhaps other universes) developed in accordance with basic natural laws that could not be any other way, and that might be so very fine-tuned (for some obscure reason) that the universe is always favorable to creating life forms, as reflected by the pristine nature of the original conditions at the Big Bang, e.g., the Higgs Boson OR 2) Our universe developed rather haphazardly as one of many universes, some of which have constants that will be favorable to sustaining life and some that won't. Either way, arguably, there could be other universes. It's just that the latter view seems more wasteful....it's similar, I think, to the idea that there are a lot of other planets and solar-systems that don't quite have the right conditions for sustaining life , so they just drift along, as if their existence is rather pointless, except to just be reminders of God's or the universe's mistakes....mistakes that had to be made before God or the universe got it right....and made humans...the "quintessence of dust" as Hamlet described us as he pondered whether it were better 'to be or not to be'. If there is no space/time outside of any given universe, then the concept of a blanket that serves as a backdrop to the universes is just a metaphor that reminds us that the universes are separate and do not overlap...Therefore, the question as to whether or not there are other blankets does not arise....universes just pop out of nothing (aka ex nihilo) as if Being arises out of Nothingness in accordance with some fundamental law of opposites (aka yin-yang principle). If there is "Nothingness," then "Being" must arise to complement it. Certainly it is difficult to imagine complete Nothingness....with no universes, no space, no time.....literally nothing. What could be more pristine than the "Nothingness" from which a universe pops? From a secular point of view, such a pristine squeezing, if you like, of Being (aka 'a universe') out of Nothingness (aka, the metaphorical blanket), it seems to me (albeit a layperson) implies that the laws by which a universe develops are the same every time a new universe pops into existence (rather explosively at that!). Each universe would (pretty much) start off the same way...this idea supports version #1 above. In any case, it would seem likely that the laws would be the same or with little variation from one universe to the next....same dice...just tossed each time in a slightly different manner. According to version #1, there is always a winner (i.e., life eventually exists in each universe). According to version #2, the dice have to be thrown before we have a universe that can support life. Not to be anti-religious, but a religious approach comes up with entirely different scenarios.....typically, there is one (or more) Creator(s) who has a specific purpose for making a universe, so the chances here, it seem logical, are that he/she will only make one, in order to fulfill the one purpose he/she has in mind. In the religious approach there doesn't seem to be much need to make a bunch of other planets, much less other solar systems, galaxies, or universes. Hence, Western religion originally thought there was only one place (planet earth), but then some observed that there were other planets, so the religion compromised and said, 'Ok, well, our planet must be the center of these other planets.' But of course, this idea was discredited, and eventually other solar systems and then galaxies were discovered....with some scientists now saying 'we are even less alone, because there may be other universes.' Ultimately, of course, we have, as you point out, virtually no way of detecting other universes with our senses, perhaps by definition, since another universe would be outside our space/time dimensions. But hey, we can't see the Big Bang, but we can deduce it from things such as the background microwave radiation still bouncing around, as if the original firecracker is still ringing in our ears. But I think the concept that there are other solar systems, and other galaxies and perhaps even other universes, has philosophical/religious significance. If it can be shown that the anthropic principal is valid and ineluctable, so that we can say with conviction that it is inevitable the universe (or 'a universe') will eventually (though it may take billions of years) come into existence that can give rise to and sustain life forms, then we have the basis for some sort of secular religion, so to speak. If it can be shown that it is inevitable that one (or more) universes will create, not only life forms, but intelligent beings (such as humans), then this basis is even more secure. Finally, if it can be shown that the various levels of consciousness that seem to develop parallel to the development of physical life forms all live on after the demise of their particular, physical life forms (e.g., via reincarnation), well then, we really do have some sort of "natural religion," one that is not hugely different from a sort of Buddhistic type of neo-Deism, except that there is no "Creator" per se (who created the universe and just walked away because it, like a clock he had wound, could run on its own). The notion of a Creator, in this view, becomes 'de trop'....Nature just gives birth to existence, and life forms, and consciousness on its own...In this view, Nature is its own midwife. This is just philosophical musing, of course, and I am not advocating anything. I just don't agree that it doesn't matter (to our culture) whether other universes exist or not. I think that the idea of their being other universes, when contrasted with present religious notions, seems to suggest, I think, that Nature is self-sufficient unto itself...but yet, is capable of producing the apparent miracle of life. What ethical ramifications such a world view might imply is a whole different discussion. Keep in mind that the mainstream view of modern physics is that the universe metaphorically curves back on itself. A simplistic description is that if one hit a baseball hard enough in one direction and it went in a straight line it would eventually come back and hit one on the back of the head. The point is that the universe can start off as something smaller than a pinhead, and expand to its present state....but at all times there is something (or rather Nothing) surrounding it. I guess it seems that another universe would have to expand into ours, but the thought of two universes (each the size of a dot, then a golf ball, then a basketball, etc.) , not overlapping because they each have their own space/time, is no more counter-intuitive than a universe having a size but no edges.
  4. Tar, Einstein's point was that the laws hold everywhere within our universe. Black holes, of course, provide something of an exception, but the phenomena can be predicted from other laws, which is what Einstein did. It is a good point that other universe's may have a different "constant." The idea of such a constant seems to be coming back into vogue to explain such things as the inflation rate of the universe and the role of dark matter. Personally I don't buy the idea that the reason our universe is so well tuned for creating life (the anthropic principle) is that the laws and constants and other things such as the rate of initial inflation is hugely different for each universe, and we just got lucky, because there are umpteen others that have a different constant and can't support life. According to this line of reasoning, there is life in this universe because, like Goldilocks's porridge, our universe is just right and many if not most of the others are duds, e.g., too hot or too cold.....much like earth has good enough well-tuned conditions that sustain life. while the other planets don't, (except perhaps for Mars which might have conditions, perhaps to sustain primitive forms of life). But this is only one theory among many about what a multiverse might be like. According to the naturalness theory (proposed by Einstein), laws can explain everything, and our universe developed naturally from these laws. The idea is that the Higgs-Boson has conditions that 'cause' the universe to develop in a very fine-tuned manner, perhaps one that is fine-tuned enough to always create life. The naturalness theory suggests that it is inevitable that these laws imply the existence of the Higgs-Boson. However, it seems that this theory is not widely accepted either, at least until the LHC finds other particles that are supposed to exist along with the Higgs-Boson. If they can't be found, we are back to the idea of the mulitverse, and it being just a matter of chance before constants are right for a finely enough universe to arise that can support life. Perhaps, if the naturalness theory and the Higgs-Boson are found to be reasonable, we might conjecture that every universe could start in the same way as ours. In this scenario, the elements would be the same in any universe, starting with Hydrogen and building up in a logical and inevitable manner. More than one famous scientist and philosopher has suggested that even if there were a God who created the universe, he/she would have no choice except to follow the laws of quantum physics. If we apply the naturalness theory, I don't see why we can't speculate that many universes would "pop" out of the background "blanket" from which universes appear, and that many of these universes would be fined-tuned enough to sustain life forms. In any case, the laws seem to have seem inevitable or ineluctable. It is similar to the idea that even God, if he/she exists, needed to take billions of years to help create or oversee the development of a planet such as ours ,and then millions of years to oversee the evolution of life forms before something resembling modern humans even walk the planet. That is, even God had to do things in accordance with natural laws, he/she couldn't just blink an eye and create animals, and people, and people in a couple of seconds or 24 hours. I don't know that any scientist has stated that the existence of a multiverse is unquestionably something that is required by the laws of physics...At this point, many scientists are just saying that it seems as if it is reasonable to think that other universes exist, just like people said that it was reasonable to think that the earth might not be the center of the solar system, or that humans and apes had a common ancestor, or that black holes must exist, or that the universe started with a tremendous explosion. All these things were once outside of our ability to provide much (empirical) sensory evidence for, but now these things are considered facts. Indeed, no one can actually "see" or "hear" a Black Hole, as light, etc. cannot escape it. We just know they're there. It doesn't matter that our senses can only deal with things in our immediate surroundings or a few light years away (though some stars are millions of light years away and we still interact, or at least appreciate and are affected by them). Much of what science knows and uses to understand and predict things in the universe are beyond what our immediate senses can detect, e.g., the age of the earth. The circular argument to which you refer is really just a semantic one. When it comes to such a discussion, physicists aren't caught up in this dead end criticism of the idea of a multiverse. Presumably, each universe would have its own big bang. (We don't know, according to present mainstream theory, just how big the universe will get at its present rate of expansion). That means that each universe would have its own space and time dimensions. Perhaps some might be said to be larger or older than others. According to Hawking, there is nothing that resembles space/time, as we know it, that existed before the Big Bang. According to this line of reasoning, I think, there would be no space between universes as space/time only exists within each universe. As I understand it, a reasonable metaphor for a multiverse would be a blanket that is filled with dots of different sizes here and there, each representing a separate universe. One theory is that these dots sometimes collide...but that is just conjecture. So one might ask what separates the universes except for space. Well, if other universes exist, then the answer might be some sort of "field" that we don't understand yet, and no doubt, the answer would be counter-intuitive, as many things in physics are today. But there is no reason to assume that one universe would gobble up the other to create one super-huge universe. So, I don't agree with you that other universes would have to be an "aspect of this one," as you put it. Each would most likely, as I understand what scientists are saying, have its own space/time dimensions which would not overlap or impinge on others.
  5. Tar... I have no idea what you mean about being humbled by the idea that Moses was a figurative character or whatever? I did not mention Moses. I do disagree that the thoughts that physicists have about the possibility of a multiverse are no more scientific than any other theory or speculation, as per my earlier quotes. Indeed, the fact that we are minute creatures in the universe in terms of spatial dimensions and time periods in no way diminishes the credibility and magnitude of what humans have achieved with their tiny brains.... Sure, there is much of the universe that we can't even directly experience because light has not reached us yet, but that is not a huge issue. Einstein arrived at his correct predictions, ones that predicted black holes and, in a way, the Big Bang, without recourse to much data per se, in the quiet of his bedroom using pencil and paper. In short, scientists predict and explain using the process of dynamic extrapolation. Indeed, one of Einstein's main tenets is that the laws of the universe apply everywhere. Penrose says on page 686 of the "Road to Reality" that all physicists since Galileo agree about this. For example, what was true in the past will be true in the future in the sense that it can be largely predicted from current developments: "theories say 'if the world was like such-and-such at one time then it will be like so-and-so in the future.'" Similarly, we don't see the Big Bang happening, but we extrapolate and deduce from information such as the uniform Microwave Background. I don't follow the comment that a multiverse would have to exist within the cosmos. It seems to me that our universe would exist as one of many universes within a huge field that includes all of them....we call this field and the universes it contains, the multiverse. Calling it the cosmos, I think, just adds semantic confusion. I agree that the the idea of the existence of other universes makes us no bigger or smaller than we were before, as you say. However, what I stated was that in many people's mind the concept that other universes might exist make us seem smaller in some people's minds, just as, in many people's mind, the existence of Beings as intelligent or more intelligent than us, or even life on other planets, would seem to make us smaller. However, such a discussion would take us into the realm of religion, as many religious people don't think God created any life forms other than humans (such as Adam and Eve.)
  6. I don't think that non-scientific discussions are roads to nowhere...My point rather was that it is good to clarify one's intention when posting a discussion in order to prevent posters from "arguing" at cross purposes, since they have a different interpretation of the question. For example, in the site "researchgate" individuals who post a new topic often state their topic question succinctly and then tack on a paragraph that gives a little background to the question and the reason that the person is posting the question. This helps respondents to be "on the same page." I am no fanatic about the scientific viewpoint. Depending one one's situation and purpose, it is often best to use a variety of methods/methodologies when responding to a question or problem, e.g., scientific, phenomenological, casual descriptive, philosophically speculative, etc., etc. My quotes, however, were given to contest your comment that mathematical-physics-based speculation about a multiverse or the universe is no more scientific (and perhaps valid, or edifying) than any other attempt to grasp 'all reality'. Though not always, a scientific approach certainly has, imho, the edge in a number of areas when it comes to discussing reality. A meterologists explanation about the existence of wind has more credibility, in my book, than a 5-year-old's explanation that the trees occasionally get in a lively mood and shake their branches and leaves, as Piaget recorded a child as expounding. It's certainly not true that there is no scientific basis for speculation about a multiverse. In any case, scientists are not generally, I suggest, the arrogant academic isolationists that some characterize them as being. Einstein, as one example in thousands, freely drew inspiration from the philosophers Hume and Kant. I take your point as to the multiverse being so empirically inaccessible, at least to the lay person, that it seems laughable (or whatever) to spend much time thinking about it....but so was the theory of relativity. But I don't agree that the theory can't have an impact on the thinking of human beings. It is a cliche that scientific discoveries have increasingly removed humans, in the minds of many, from their place as the pinnacle and center of the universe to a lesser place. Thus, astrologers pointed out, to the chagrin of the Church, that the earth was not the center of our planetary system (thought at one point to be the entire universe), and evolutionists suggested that humans were not made in the blink of an eye as a distinct group of beings superior superior and distinct from animals, and Freud (and in our own time people such as David Buss, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Pinker) suggest that people, like other animals, do indeed share the sort of instincts that other animals have, etc. Similarly, the discovery of other beings on other planets, with an intelligence equal or superior to those of earthlings would be be a blow to those who consider humans to be the one and only chosen group of the Creator of the universe. Even the prospect of there being other universes, each with their own Big Bang perhaps, and each or some with planets capable of sustaining life, and some that actually have life, and some that might have intelligent beings, is a daunting prospect to many. So yes, like many scientific discoveries, there are social ramifications to concepts, such as the existence of a multiverse, that scientists put forth.
  7. @Lyudmilascience....so it seems that the topic question gravitates towards the issue of euthanasia....no easy answers there. I would suggest that there is a difference, in such a discussion, for example, between preventing a bipolar person who is on drugs and/or just experienced a breakup from harming him/herself, and preventing an 80-year-old, who is in terminally ill but of sound mind, from exercising his/her freedom of choice after due deliberation when it comes to deciding whether the quality of life is such that he/she wishes to continue.
  8. If I may interject, Weber, among others, argues that religion performs the function of validating tribal, state, national (etc.) values. It is hardly a coincidence that one finds that religious institutions and their values indeed mirror the values of the society in which they occur...so that the question as to which one creates the other becomes a chicken and egg question. The fact that religious/spiritual yearnings (be they institutionalized or not) are so universal perhaps suggests that religious impulses are innate...but just what one means and concludes from this is quite open to interpretation. Some suggest that it might be offered as proof that what they yearn for (i.e., God) must exist, but I think that this is a bit of a stretch, particularly since all Gods are not alike and some are quite odd and divergent from the norm, e.g., a character such as Loki in Norse mythology. Others conclude that the religious impulse is merely an expression of the survival instinct. In terms of the question topic, does the concept that a religious impulse is almost universal, and therefore perhaps innate and "normal" suggest that those who do not believe (i.e., atheists) are somehow mistaken, or, at best "ab-normal." Perhaps the faith of atheists should be seen as the normal faith (aka impulse to believe) gone wrong. It's similar to saying that there are no atheists in foxholes as if atheists are really theists when it comes to the crunch, whether they admit it or not. Atheism, therefore, can be seen as being just a perversion of the innate impulse to believe something about the universe, just a thwarted attempt to have a grand belief or faith about the existence of the universe and a higher power...a stage that many adolescents in particular supposedly go through, but eventually grow out of when they become wiser and more mature. The idea that everyone deep down has faith in a higher power, I think, is quite similar to the claim that everyone, even hardened criminals, deep down actually have a conscience. Such reasoning on the part of theists can put atheists in a no-win situation. If atheists persist in their atheism, so the reasoning goes, they are still regarded as having spiritual yearnings, but yearnings that refelct a twisted faith as if their non-belief (because it is about the universe and nature as a whole) is still a belief, even though it is a belief that what others believe does not exist. Such logic falters under examination...that is, it is absurd to say that a belief (or faith, if you must) that a higher power does not exist is just the bad side of the coin of the natural impulse to believe in such a higher power, as if, given time and circumstances, atheists will realize, like, Augustine, the error of their ways, and become like Satan, less hateful and rebellious towards God. This line of reasoning, I think, is not only illogical, but really a very unfair and subjective characterization of what goes on in the mind of most atheists.
  9. I would agree that it is virtually impossible to come up with a satisfactory definition of "love' for purposes of the discussion. Indeed, the other main term "science" (which is the other main term in this question) is also a rather flexible one itself. In practice the word "love" is used in so many places in so many different ways as to make the question unwieldy. And are we talking about all scientists, or do you mean "Is there any information that has been gleaned using any scientific methodology that would confirm that love exists." But that is only the first step. Are we referring to a person who says they love their pet poodle or almond chocolate? Are we referring to a mother who says she loves her newborn baby more than any other baby in the world (but then, as it happens in some cases) finds out that the nurse gave her the wrong baby? Are we talking about a person such as Romeo who claims he experienced the deepest love at first sight, much to the annoyance of the Friar who thinks that the emotion Romeo presents is more like infatuation? Not to mention that the Greeks identified several distinct types of love, e.g., erotic, altruistic. I suspect that the underlying sentiment to this question is whether it is reasonable to claim that "non material" "things" such as "love" exist, based upon our own intuition and spiritual faculties, even though "materialistic-minded" scientists, using their limited 5 senses, are unable to find. As far as many biologists, neurologists, and social scientists are concerned, much (and some would say "all") of what people self-identify as love can be explained in terms of physical processes developed over the millennia by virtue of evolution and modified by personal and social circumstances. There is at least one book out about the possibility of the existence of altruistic/empathetic love..but I think that the closest one can come to getting serious consideration from scientists about such an ephemeral topic in the sense of love being an actual "thing" in the universe is a discussion about the existence of "consciousness." From there one can perhaps speculate about the modes of consciousness, e.g., empathy, as Sartre attempted to do in something of a quasi-scientific manner (based on the quasi-science of Husserl et al.) in his book "Being and Nothingness" and his later work on ethics.
  10. The term "atheist" (as commonly used) typically refers to those who think, believe, or claim that there is no God(s). Sure, it is not possible at this point to provide evidence that God does not exist, anymore than it is possible to provide evidence that he/she/it/they exist. So yes, one might say that atheism involves a blind belief. I think that is inverting the term "faith" to suggest that believing that something does not exist is a faith, since the term "faith" implies trust and confidence, or, at least a belief in the existence (not non-existence) of something. That a few atheists are so zealous in their claims that a God does not exist as to seem almost "religious" in their zealotry really proves nothing as far as an attempt to define "atheism" as a faith or faith-based belief. In reality, many if not most atheists, I suspect, are not all that adamant about the non-existence of God as many would make out is the case. Indeed, a common claim made by religious adherents is that atheists hate or must hate God. I think that this is really an exaggeration used to attempt to ridicule nonbelievers. Whom are such hateful atheists directing their hate at? Why assume that they are hating a Christian God, or Hindu Gods/Goddesses, or any number of the thousands of other possible God(s), spirits, sprites, elves, goblins, ghosts, and what have you that various people claim exist? Similarly, it is unfair to equate atheists with scientists. The ongoing war over the centuries between science and orthodox religious beliefs is obviously, it seems to me, is being "won" by science (or at least forcing many religious adherent to alter their worldviews)...but that really is a rather different issue. But perhaps more importantly, a faith-based belief in theories that can't be falsified or verified, as are many religious-based theories, is contrary to the foundational precepts of science, pretty much by definition. I do find it astounding that, oddly enough, many scientists say that they have no problem believing that God does not exist when they are at work (on the basis that faith in supernatural explanations tends to stultify and distort scientific investigation, but then say they believe in God when in church (on the basis of faith). A lot of the confusion surrounding this issue results from the fact that the term "atheist" (in common parlance) either suggests that a person believes that God(s) does not exist, or else it means that the person does not believe that God does exist, and perhaps just do not particularly care one way or the other about the question as to whether or not God(s) exist. A person who is an atheist because he or she does not have a belief in God need not be called an agnostic, perhaps, because the term "agnostic" tends to focus on the notion that he or she openly acknowledges that he or she does not know one way or the other, or does not have enough evidence to make a decision yet, or is in the process of sorting out the evidence, etc. So even if we invert the definition of the word "faith," it is not accurate to say that "all" atheists have a belief (aka faith in the idea) that God(s) does not exist (no matter what God or Gods one is referring to). Many atheists don't believe that God does not exist, they just don't have the belief that God does exist. This is not splitting hairs...it makes quite a difference. If one says that atheists don't believe that God exists, it becomes much easier to disparage them by saying that they have no proof that God does not exist and are just assuming (on faith perhaps) that he/she/it doe not exist...and so, perhaps must hate God. But I suspect that most atheists are not so adamant that God does not exist....they just do not have a place for God in their world view, aren't particular preoccupied about the issue, and don't use scripture and religious ritual as a source of knowledge and/or ethical direction. In short, just because one does not have a belief in ghosts, or fairies, or in Thor, or in Yahweh, or whomever, does not mean that one actively insists that they don't exist. Just because one doesn't believe in ghosts, for example, does not mean that one has an active belief or faith (to use the term incorrectly) that they don't exist or can't possibly exist, or never existed. I don't think that it is fair to assume or suggest that all beliefs (whether they are beliefs that things exist or do not exist) should be thought of as being of equal value. Such an assumption is certainly not scientific..as science has several criteria for determining the worth of various theories. I find it hard to understand how some can claim that explanations such as the notion that UFOs are responsible for the pyramids, or that women were made from the rib of a man, or that Jack Frost is responsible for the white trees outside my windows in the winter, are as credible as other more rational explanations that fit in with the combined and integrated data collected by scientists and academics over the centuries. Ultimately,the claim that atheism is a faith goes hand in hand with the claim that atheism itself is a religion (which is even more semantically incorrect). I think that such claims are often made to make the point that a non-belief in something, even if it is as preposterous as a tooth fairy, is still just a belief, and therefore no better than a belief in such a tooth fairy (or whatever). Well, I think that such an approach is being overly abstract.....The distinction between belief and fact is a fine line. Many people, for example, reject the theory of evolution, because we cannot watch evolution in action because no one can produce the video footage to show what happened over the several millions of years. For scientists, however, their belief or faith (if you like) that evolution took place is a fact (and point out that the very word "theory" is misleading. Bottom line, once one takes out the semantic confusion and the exaggerations, this question quickly resolves itself. My vote is that one must rather violently distort the meaning of the word "faith" in order to claim that the atheism is a faith. Perhaps some actively believe that certain Gods don't exist, but that is hardly a "faith." By the line of reasoning of those who claim that atheism is a faith, most of them, I strongly suspect, are theists when it comes to a belief in their own particular God, but atheists with regards to the thousands of other God or Gods that other humans have or now believe in. Therefore, their faith (as in its usual meaning of an unified religious view of reality) is both theistic and atheistic at the same time. I fail then, to see their (or anyone elses point, for that matter) of labeling atheism as a faith in the first place.
  11. Strange I certainly don't mean to discourage the sort of "idle speculation" typical of philosophical discussions, though I have certainly seen threads go on for ages that have only led to confusions and resentment because people were going off at cross purposes on their own tangents. Tar I hope you don't think that I am suggesting that science has or could have all the answers about the universe. However, I was under the assumption (given that the URL of this forum contains the words "science forums") that the emphasis was on reason. I don't think that we can assume that all explanations are equally reasonable or scientific (as if all animals in the barnyard are created equal), as you seem to suggest. It seems to me that there is more reasonable evidence that the universe is several billion years old than there is for it being a few thousand...but again, some may argue that this is just my opinion. Similarly, I think that the evidence provided in recent years for the existence of a multiverse has more credibility, in a scientific sense, than, say, the idea that everything is resting on some giant turtle's back (and other myth-based explanations for the origin/state of the universe). Here are a few examples: "there should be other universes where the [fundamental] laws [of physics] are in different phases from our own—which would affect seemingly fundamental values that we observe here in our universe, like the cosmological constant. “In that situation you’ll have a patchwork of regions, some in this phase, some in others,” says Matthew Kleban, a theoretical physicist at New York University. http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/july-2015/is-this-the-only-universe "One reason that more physicists are taking the idea of the multiverse seriously is that certain such models could help resolve a significant challenge in string theory." https://www.quantamagazine.org/20141110-multiverse-collisions-may-dot-the-sky/ "The idea that there are many other universes out there is not new, as scientists have previously suggested that we live in a “multiverse” consisting of an infinite number of universes. The multiverse concept stems from the idea of eternal inflation, in which the inflationary period that our universe went through right after the Big Bang was just one of many inflationary periods that different parts of space were and are still undergoing." http://phys.org/news/2010-12-scientists-evidence-universes.html "As pointed out by the Institute press release, this research isn't setting out to prove whether or not the multiverse exists, it's merely identifying possible observational cues that we could look out for. And this pulls extra-universal studies into a scientific endeavor rather than leaving it in a metaphysical funk." from "Scientists model the universe to find proof the multiverse." http://mashable.com/2014/07/22/multiverse-discovery-method/#VDAejVuZdkqt In any case, I certainly have not suggested that humans do or will ever know everything about this universe....such a statement would be easy to dismiss, as you did in your last post. No, I am not claiming that at all. Yes, we are only a blip in the history of the known universe, and yes, we don't and can't know everything; and yes, no one has witnessed the Big Bang with their eyes, or the formation of our planet....but what does that prove? Are you implying that scientific theories about the Big Bang and the unfolding of our universe are no better than any other myth simply because we don't have direct empirical evidence...but only mathematical models and logical theories? If that is your claim, then we should perhaps just ignore any scientific theories or explanations or theories that we can't prove with our own eyes (which after all, have only been around for a speck of time in the overall scheme of things), especially if they are about really, really big spaces and really, really, long periods of time.
  12. @dim reaper Just because I make the observation that narrowing down the topic makes it easier to avoid confusion does not mean that I had any intention of sneering. Indeed, I was merely interested in responding to the question and therefore was offering constructive "criticism" because I wanted to know more about the issue.It is interesting that you mention fear and a bear, as that is the very image used in many a 101 psychology book to illustrate the various theories about fear (e.g., whether body responds first and then signals the brain or vice versa). A common theory, for example, is the Cannon-Bard theory. Now that you have clarified your question, I couldn't agree more....Certainly people's perceptions of the future (as well as the present and past) are colored by their emotions. Also, I would agree that fear is one of the most obvious of these emotions. Stephen Pinker (in his book the Blank Slate) makes the point in general that our perceptions and responses to the world are colored by our instincts. He does mention fear/paranoia in particular, as I recall, as do other writers (particularly in the field of evolutionary psychology), and makes the case that such fear can be traced back to our deep ancestry, e.g., our need to deal with dangerous animals on a regular basis. In particular, many writers cite such atavistic reactions as a likely explanation for the reason that we (our minds and bodies) get so stressed out, even over minor threats in our modern daily lives, such as going to the dentist, or even being late for an appointment. Such innate reactions, it is widely claimed, result in the over stimulation of our nervous system, leading to all sorts of ailments, e.g., heart disease and obesity. I can imagine that some might make make the suggestion that your suspicion that I was sneering at you is just such an example of a social-based overreaction based on such a fear reaction. But at least you did not assume that I was sneering (like a bear), as if that were a fact. I am wondering what your suggestions are about dealing with fear about the future and how such a fear relates to the hypothetical ability of living forever. Are you suggesting, for example, that we embrace the future in a come-what-may attitude as some existentialist writers might suggest? Perhaps our inborn fear of present and future reality can be minimized via meditation, cognitive psychology, etc., etc. I would hope that you would at least agree that many of the comments posted in response to your original thesis post have been way off the mark at times with regards to your interest in the "fear" angle to the topi. I assure you that my only motive was to narrow the compass of the discussion so as to avert further posts that were not germane to the intent of your question. Perhaps I shouldn't have assumed that you wanted posters to more directly address the specific issue you had in mind.
  13. Is not an examination of the question itself the first step towards responding to it? The thread question is unscientific....seems to surreptitiously presume that the universe must have been created by...whatever. One might as well ask why a creator would only make one universe (as if one would serve to cure his/her/its loneliness)! The question is semantically vague...does not define the use of the term "universe," inevitably leading to confusion about the distinction between a physical and a putative metaphysical "uni-verse," a term which, in and of itself implies that it is all alone or at one by definition. The question is quasi-scientific, e.g., does not satisfy requirements such as 'measurability', verifiation, or falsification. The question is not very philosophical...parades religious speculation (and a specific religious one at that) as nonreligious philosophy. The question ignores current developments...e.g., the alleged mathematical underpinning for the concept of a multiverse, or the non-time speculations of Hawking re the singularity, or recent speculation about the development of the universe "ex nihilo" (to use what might be referred to as effete-archaic terminology) by virtue of some sort of perturbation of a pre-space/time field, perhaps in relation to indeterminacy effects...Higgs Boson. I stress the scientific approach because I think that it has become a logical development of the Enlightenment period that science (e.g., quantum theory) seems to provide the most productive venue for tackling even the most vague ontological questions...so that modern philosophy, I would suggest, should bow down and either take the role of speculative science (e.g., as a means to facilitating science through the use of lateral/critical thinking, or else the role of idle speculation about scientific information....perhaps a way of 'shooting the breeze' (aka a pastime) or else to speculate about the socio-ethical ramifications of scientific developments. No one says that such questions need be entirely empirical, but I don't think that, apart from armchair philosophizing, there is much point in hopping on a merry-go-round which is not much more than an invitation for all and sundry to expound their pet philosophies on questions of cosmology and ontology, with no end in sight.....a road to nowhere.
  14. My first point is that I would agree with those who think the topic is 'cumbursomely' broad. There is a place, e.g. 7th grade English, for throwing out a topic just to get people in the habit of creatively expressing themselves, but for discussion purposes, when multiple people are attempting to agree or disagree with a statement, I think it is generally more productive to narrow down the topic sufficiently..otherwise people are discussing at cross purposes...much like asking whether there is God(s) or whether he/she/they/it does exists (which is, after all, a related question). Heck, a huge swath of existential philosophy alone devotes hundereds of published pages to the more specific question of whether an awareness of one's own finitude (i.e., death) somehow (ironically) gives meaning to ones existence. Secondly, the topic is also a sitting duck for tautological responses as well as the Babylonic cross-purposes speculation I referred to above. Of course, there is a general, perhaps inbuilt (e.g. evolutionary) drive to not die. Of course people would like the option of being able to change their minds about the prospect of not dying, if and when life became unbearable, or even when the "costs" seemed to outweigh the benefits, and even if said costs were as abstract as an overwhelming sense of ennui, weltschmerz, or the purposelessness of life. And no doubt it is obvious the teeming throngs since time immemorial have pined after the prospect of eternal life. And no doubt people, if given a choice, would (as with the standard Christian interpretation) want to be "raptured up" in the body that they had in the prime of their life, just so they could look presentable when they entered the pearl gates of eternity. It would seem that the more one narrows down the topic the more tautological the responses become (in the sense that the vast majority of people would more quickly respond with a yes or a no). Which brings me to my third point, which is to wonder (if 'wondering' can be called a point) just what the person who posted this question had in mind....that is, what was his/her purpose in asking the question. Is he/she looking for more information about something, e.g., people's level of happiness, people's interest in immortality (of which the chances of having, as an aside, judging from the behavioral guidelines of most religions, seems to be inversely proportional to the extent of ones immorality), or people's belief that the globe will continue to warm up to the point where they would soon have to build and live in their own proverbial ark just to keep their heads above water, as if God were punishing humans for devouring that prohibited knowledge-boosting fruit. A portentous act, that has,over the centuries, led, some claim, to humankind's over reliance upon material goods, as well as the apparent worship of technological products (aka Mammon) in a fruitless effort to satisfy their every whim and desire rather than to more austerely show an appreciative stewardship for the bounteous natural gifts given to them by a divine entity that has the ability to reward them with immortality...."They could have had it all." (So put away those iphones for goodness sake!) But by now I realize, as I write, that I am just trying at this point to throw in as many hodge-podgish ideas as I can into some sort of murky metaphysical stew, much like Macbeth’s witches on a heath, with no other purpose except to see just what amusing titbit might bubble up from the mix. Until the question is narrowed down, I doubt that my ramblings can answer such questions, however, as to "which grains will grow and which will not," even if I could "look into the seeds of time," or whether I might find myself responding to the question regarding the prospect of immortality in the same way when the sun next rises in the ‘morrow. Would I feel by then that the days stretched out too much – each one the same as the one before, and how would I feel about the prospect that they would continue to do so, tediously, until the end of history..whenever that might be? And how will I feel about the thought that every day that I have lived has been the last day of some other fool’s life, as if each day were a candle flame flickering in the wind only to show me the way to dusty death? Will I feel like blowing out the candle that seemed only yesterday to be much too short? Will I, in short, think perhaps that life has been much like the walking shadow of a poor actor on a deserted stage – someone who has strutted, fretted, and made much ado about nothing? Would I want to then bow out, as if life were nothing more than a story told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but ultimately meaningless? Or, to quote Eliot, will I wonder in the morning if it "would have been worth it, after all, would it have been worth while, after the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, after the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—and this, and so much more?—It is impossible to say just what I mean!"
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.