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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:14 pm

This was originally posted on the Freethought Fellowship Forum:


The forum has been too quiet and peaceful lately. So maybe this will get the contrarian juices flowing. Can we demystify the imaginary never-never-lands of the Multiverse?


HUMAN-ORIENTED EVOLUTION?


The general opinion of modern scientists is that the evolutionary process is completely random, with no particular destination programmed into the laws of physics or the principles of evolution. But that position is getting harder to defend as our understanding of the cosmos becomes broader and deeper. One particularly challenging set of observations was dubbed the Anthropic Principle [AP] by physicist Brandon Carter in 1974, because they seem to indicate that the basic properties of the physical universe are "uncannily suited for life". Most scientists at the time simply shrugged-off that interpretation as a bias on the part of the observer, or interpreter, rather than the real world. And yet as more and more anomalous coincidences were noted, the AP began to demand a direct refutation from defenders of the conventional Materialist model of the world.

In the December 2008 issue of DISCOVER Magazine, "visionary physicist" Andre Linde admitted, "We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible". He went on to say, "Physicists don't like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea". A coincidence implies, but does not prove, a meaningful relationship. For example a list of random coin flips may have a series of a dozen heads in a row by chance. So philosophers and scientists have developed methods to discriminate between meaningful and meaningless coincidences. The most common of those methods is to reject any apparent causal connection that does not fit our current understanding of how the world works. But sometimes the reigning paradigm must be modified in order to make the new observations fit the old theory.

The article candidly sums up the uncomfortable situation for physicists and cosmologists. "Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation. Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse". So as mentioned earlier in this thread, there seems to be only two reasonable explanations for the existence and organization of the universe: A> Intentional Creation or B> Eternal Lawful Randomness. This article is about the second option.

"Carter proposed that a purely random assortment of laws would have left the universe dead and dark, and that life limits the values that physical constants can have". So Andre Linde, among others, "knew that something was missing from the conventional theory of the Big Bang, because it couldn't explain a key puzzling fact about the universe: its remarkable uniformity". Alan Guth found a mathematical solution to the puzzle in 1981, when he plugged-in an artificial factor to balance the equations of expansion from pinpoint to cosmic proportions. His deus ex machina was called "Inflation", and it required a sudden acceleration of the Big Bang material to a velocity many times the speed of light. This solution was resisted at first because it sounded too much like magic or miracle. But the numbers added-up, so eventually the idea was accepted as the only rational materialist explanation.

However, the hypothetical inflationary scenario, lasting a tiny fraction of a second, could not explain the nagging coincidences of the Anthropic Principle. So Andre Linde proposed another radical departure from the traditional understanding and definition of the universe. He called the postulated process "eternal chaotic inflation", but it has become better known as the Multiverse Theory. "The latest iteration of his theory provides a natural explanation for the anthropic principle. If there are vast numbers of other universes, all with different properties, by pure odds at least one of them ought to have the right combination of conditions to bring forth stars, planets, and living things". But that's a really big IF, because there is no way, even in theory, to prove the existence of ghostly parallel universes in order to explain the existence of the one we know.

And so the search for a final theory of existence goes on, as other "coincidences" arise. In the late nineties, astronomers discovered that, not only is the universe expanding, but the rate of expansion is accelerating. "What astonished them was the peculiar specificity of the amount [of Dark Energy]: exactly enough to accelerate expansion, yet not so much that the universe would rapidly rip itself apart. The observable amount of dark energy appears to be another one of those strange anthropic properties . . .". Another outgrowth of the anti-anthropic research is called String Theory. But, like Multiverse Theory, it is not considered to be a "scientific" theory, because : "This meant that almost any experimental result would be consistent with string theory; the theory could never be proved right or wrong". Occam's razor frowns on open-ended assumptions, "If you allow yourself to hypothesize an almost unlimited portfolio of different worlds, you can explain anything . . . If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing". Just like the God hypothesis.

The author of the article asked Linde, "whether physicists will ever be able to prove that the multiverse is real". He replied, "Nothing else fits the data." [Except of course, option A above]. So, "if there is only one universe", said cosmologist Bernard Carr, "you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don't want God, you'd better have a multiverse". Even Andre Linde seems to make allowances for something like a deity*. He has speculated that, "consciousness may be a fundamental component of the universe, much like space and time". And he goes on, "Without someone observing the universe, the universe is actually dead".

So Linde has eventually come around to a position similar to my own Theory of Informationism, where the fundamental constituents of reality are no longer just Einstein's Matter-Energy in a Space-Time Continuum, but of Matter-Energy-Information in the Space-Time-Mind Continuum. Does that make any sense, in the light of 21st century science?


* I don't mean to imply that Linde believes in "a benevolent creator". As far as I know he is still professionally an Atheist, but one who seems to be leaning in the philosophical direction of "the god of Spinoza" (ie-Pandeism).


Last edited by Gnomon on Wed Dec 03, 2008 5:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:32 pm

And this is my reply to a poster who doesn't buy into any kind of super-natural or non-materialistic explanation for the existence of the universe. << Furthermore, these arguments are also based on the egotistical assumption that the only possible reason a universe might have for existing would be so life could exist. >> Some on this forum may agree with that opinion. But the "arguments" he refers to are those of Atheist scientists, who are trying to find a scientific explanation for Life, the Universe, and Homo Sapiens that doesn't require an intentional First Cause.



Quote :
And of course, a fine tuner which fine-tuned that fine tuner, leaving us with a lovely regress of infinitely many fine-tuners involved in a chain of perpetual buck-passing

Prophet, I think you missed the point of the article. In order to avoid the infinite regress of Cause and Effect, you currently have only two options: A> an eternal Multiverse, consisting of an infinity of physical fine-tuning without beginning or end; or B> an eternal "X", consisting of infinite potential---metaphysical creativity without beginning or end. That's why the scientist was quoted as saying, "if you don't want God, you'd better have a Multiverse": A or B :: if not A then B.

One problem with option A is that the Anthropic fine-tuning of the Multiverse Theory assumes that the Matter, Energy, Laws and Principles of universes and multiverses are self-existent---requiring no antecedent or causation. And that is the same problem that non-theists have pointed-to as a fatal flaw in the god hypothesis. By definition, a First Cause must be un-caused, and self-existent.

So the implied point of my post is that the Multiverse Hypothesis is a direct parallel to the God Hypothesis. An Eternal Cause by any other name is still the First Cause or Prime Mover of Greek philosophy. However, neither philosophical explanation for our existence is provable by the empirical methods of science. So you can either flip a coin, or just take one option on faith, as a self-evident axiom. Or you can take the third option: avoid thinking about origins and ultimates.

Which sounds more believable: A> an infinite regress of "perpetual buck-passing", or B> a self-existent Being who can say with authority, "the buck stops here".
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:45 pm

Continued from FFF . . .

PRAGMATIC TRUTH versus POLARIZED TRUTH
In The Borderlands of Science


Quote :
"Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation . . . . multiverse"


It's well known that we tend to see what we expect to see. As I have noted previously, after all the acrimonious arguments have died-down, and the dialectical dust has settled, scientists and philosophers and theologians seem to concur that we have only two "possible explanations" for the existence of the universe, and they agree that neither "answer" is empirically provable. Whether either rationale is deemed reasonable, largely depends on the unproven axioms you build your foundation upon. Theists obviously prefer to believe in the Eternal Creator option, while Atheists tend to accept, as axiomatic, some version of the Eternal Evolution explanation. So what alternative is left for those freethinkers who don't fall into either camp of settled faith? Perhaps we need a third eye to see an inclusive explanation for what we observe.

I, personally, don't accept the "benevolent creator" as described in the Bible or Koran or Zoroastrian scriptures. But I also don't find the infinite regress of mundane multiverses to be a very satisfactory answer to the question of basic existence. So I have developed my own hypothesis to serve as the basis for a workable worldview that combines some elements of both of the traditional "final solutions". This tentative belief system is not intended to be The Ultimate Truth, but a pragmatic template for working around the essential, but baffling, core concepts that have been debated by people wiser than me for eons. If the "true" answer seems simple and obvious to you, it may be because you have already rejected the alternatives out-of-hand.

A forum letter in SKEPTIC Magazine* proposed a pragmatic attitude that might be useful for moderate thinkers, even as it is anathema to idealists and extremists. Responding to a book review in a previous issue, non-theist Michael Dowd, author of THANK GOD FOR EVOLUTION, proposed to build a bridge between the opposite poles of evolutionary belief. That bridge is only possible if both sides back-off from absolutism, and acknowledge the limitations of their own understanding. Regarding an accusation of the scientific sin of "Teleology", he asserted that, "we can detect an emergent pattern of interdependence and co-operation arising at increasing scale of size and complexity. This is an empirical fact, not a statement of belief."

He goes on to say, "It is true that I interpret this trajectory in a way that many find religiously inspiring. I also, however, acknowledge that it is just as legitimate to interpret the same facts in a non-inspiring way". The facts are non-negotiable, but the interpretation is personal. To clarify his own middle-of-the-road position, he writes, "I'm not suggesting that a Supreme Being or divine intelligence is intending favorable outcomes". But for those who do, that's OK too, because, "We need not regard these interpretations as objective truth in order to find them subjectively appealing and pragmatically useful".

As the great philosopher and father of American pragmatism, William James, wrote, "From a pragmatic point-of-view, the difference between living against a background of foreigness [an indifferent Universe] and one of intimacy [a benign Universe] means the difference between a general habit of wariness and one of trust". In some ways, the universe seems to be cold and indifferent, but from other perspectives it appears to be warm and intimate. Which worldview you choose as the background of your life may depend more on your expectations than on your observations. As for me I don't want to be too cynically wary or too blindly trusting. So I adopt the pragmatic attitude of "trust, but verify". Hence, I don't view the world as totally foreign and indifferent, or as inherently benign and benevolent, but as home, sweet, home---come what may.

If you disagree, you're wrong, of course. But that's OK too. Smile


* Skeptic, Volume 14, Number 3, 2008
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:21 pm

Very well said and as usual I agree. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:59 pm

God is the Multiverse
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:04 pm

Uriah wrote:
God is the Multiverse

Yep, that's compatible with my theology/philosophy.

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:31 pm

Uriah wrote:
God is the Multiverse

Yes. My G*d Hypothesis implies that the concept of an all-inclusive, eternal & infinite Being must encompass all Possible forms of existence, including those that are only Potential, rather than Actual. Consequently, I can interpret the mathematical and logical calculations of alternative or parallel universes as Potential versions of our Actual physical universe. Those alternatives are the ones that didn't get "chosen" for Actualization (Creation). In that sense, I sometimes refer to the Deity as the Omniverse.

Of course, the Omniverse could indeed contain other universes, that we know nothing about. But that still leaves them in the category of Possible or Potential or Virtual, as far as we are concerned. So, as long as those unknowable Multiverses "exist??" only in the realm of the un-real, we may still be justified in thinking that we are the only truly beloved children of G*d. And we can treat those other-verses like red-headed step-children. Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:04 pm

Here's some additional, speculative, thoughts from my Intelligent Evolution Glossary, on the God = Multiverse theme:

THE GOD FUNCTION


Steven Hawking et al founded a new scientific discipline called Quantum Cosmology. Hawking simply took the basic concepts of Quantum Theory (describing the infinitesimally small fundamental constituents of the universe) and pushed them to their ultimate logical conclusion at the other end of the scale.

When a sub-atomic particle is about to decay into a different kind of particle, the theory says that the actual particle is "transfigured" into a "purgatory" of Quantum Superposition, where all potential future states are equally possible, and an arbitrary "choice" must be made before the transformation is completed. According to QC the same phenomenon could apply to the universe as a whole.

The “Wave Function” of a quantum wave/particle is a mathematical expression for the set of all potential states of that particle. Therefore, the wave function of the whole universe is the set of all possible states of the Cosmos.

Some Quantum Cosmologists have interpreted this incalculable expression as a multitude of coexisting universes, or an infinity of parallel universes, or an eternal regress of bubble universes. But the IE interpretation of the Cosmic Wave Function is simply that everything-that-could-possibly-exist (the meta-universe or Omiverse) exists all at once—in superposition, to use a quantum term. And some traditional terms for that timeless, limitless, all-encompassing state of affairs are “Eternity”, or “Infinity”, or “Deity”. So I will just take the next step and refer to the Wave Function of the Universe as “God”. The un-created “Creator” of IE is everything that ever was, and will be—including this Creation.

The “God Function” is a metaphorical expression for the set of all past and future, actual and potential states of Being.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:40 pm

Once again I think this says it wonderfully...

25
There was something formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.

It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.

The Tao is great.
The universe is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
These are the four great powers.

Man follows the earth.
Earth follows the universe.
The universe follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:44 pm

Or this...

4
The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:32 am

Gnomon wrote:
Uriah wrote:
God is the Multiverse

Yes. My G*d Hypothesis implies that the concept of an all-inclusive, eternal & infinite Being must encompass all Possible forms of existence, including those that are only Potential, rather than Actual. Consequently, I can interpret the mathematical and logical calculations of alternative or parallel universes as Potential versions of our Actual physical universe. Those alternatives are the ones that didn't get "chosen" for Actualization (Creation). In that sense, I sometimes refer to the Deity as the Omniverse.

Of course, the Omniverse could indeed contain other universes, that we know nothing about. But that still leaves them in the category of Possible or Potential or Virtual, as far as we are concerned. So, as long as those unknowable Multiverses "exist??" only in the realm of the un-real, we may still be justified in thinking that we are the only truly beloved children of G*d. And we can treat those other-verses like red-headed step-children. Cool

Forgive me if I'm wrong - Quantum Theory is not my strong suit, but I though the idea of Multiverses postulated that all possible incarnations do exist, and that we are just experiencing one of them?
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Thu Dec 11, 2008 2:34 pm

Uriah wrote:


Quote :
So, as long as those unknowable Multiverses "exist??" only in the realm of the un-real,

Forgive me if I'm wrong - Quantum Theory is not my strong suit, but I though the idea of Multiverses postulated that all possible incarnations do exist, and that we are just experiencing one of them?

Yes. Most Multiverse theories assume that the zillions of parallel universes are just as real, objectively, as our own. But since we have no way to empirically prove that assumption, it's no better than a subjective opinion.

In my own subjective opinion, the alternative universes that make up the Omniverse, may be similar to the quantum particles in a neither-here-nor-there state of Superposition. For all practical purposes, they don't really exist until a "choice" or "decision" of some kind actualizes them (ie. ideal becomes real). That's why I conclude that those hypothetical multiverses "exist" in an Ideal realm of the mind instead of a Real world of physical sensation. You may think of three different ways to do something, but until you actually do one option, all three are imaginary.

The subtle distinction between Real (physical) and Ideal (metaphysical) is a key concept in my emerging theory of Informationism.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:20 pm

I thought that this was an interesting essay.

Quote :
Davies's Third Way
Victor J. Stenger

For "Reality Check" in Skeptical Briefs, March 2005.

Physicist and prolific writer Paul Davies does not like any of the solutions usually proffered for the anthropic coincidences—the apparent fine-tuning of the constants of physics that seems necessary for life as we know it. This is also often referred to as the anthropic principle. As described in a 2003 talk at Stanford,[1] the 1995 Templeton Prize winner regards the cosmic designer explanation, favored by religious believers, to be ad hoc and explaining everything while nothing.

Davies also sees problems with the multiverse explanation, favored by many scientists, in which multiple universes exist—perhaps an infinite number—and we just happen to live in the one suitable for us. He also regards this as explaining everything while explaining nothing. In fact, since everything can happen with an infinity of choices, a subset of universes is bound to exist in which at least one civilization would be able to create virtual worlds, as in the movie The Matrix. We could be living in such a world, which is then ontologically equivalent to the traditional designer/creator Deity. (Davies acknowledges that others have made the same suggestion)...

...Davies proposes an alternative explanation for the coincidences he calls the "Third Way." He suggests a life principle is "written into the laws of physics" or "built into the nature of the universe."

Of course, nowhere in current physics, chemistry, or biology do we see any sign of a fundamental life principle. Davies speculates, "a felicitous mix of law and chance might be generalised to cosmology, producing directional evolution from simple states, through complex, to life and mind." He mentions that others share this notion, notably Christian de Duve and Stuart Kauffman.

These authors all seem to view the life principle as some previously unrecognized, holistic, teleological law of nature. Theologians, such as Nancey Murphy, who admit that the notion of a separate soul and body is no longer viable given the evidence from neuroscience, have termed this notion "nonreductive physicalism." They think they can find a place for God and the soul therein.[2]

However, computer simulations indicate that complexity evolves from simplicity by familiar, purely reductive physical processes without the aid of any overarching holistic guiding principle. The life principle, if it exists, may be one of the "emergent" principles found in chaos and complexity theory, which arise naturally from the nonlinear, dissipative, but still purely local interactions of material particles. These cannot be called new, fundamental laws of physics since they derive from already exiting laws.

Finally I would like to comment on one of the parameters that is always mentioned as an example of fine-tuning, the ratio of the strengths of the electromagnetic and gravitational forces, which is 1039. If gravity were not so comparatively weak, stars would collapse long before life had time to evolve. Back in 1919, physicist Hermann Weyl wondered where this number came from, intuitively feeling that the two forces should "naturally" be about the same strength. This was the first anthropic coincidence.

However, we now know that the strengths of the various forces are not constant but vary with energy or temperature. The forces probably all started equal and then separated as the universe cooled by a process called spontaneous symmetry breaking. Life had to simply wait for gravity to weaken sufficiently so that long-live stars could form.

Perhaps any random universe, regardless of its properties, will naturally develop at least some tiny pockets of complexity within a vast sea of randomness, which is just what we see in our universe. Perhaps we do not need either a designer or multiple universes to explain that fact.

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Briefs/ThirdWay.htm

BTW, I tend to agree with Gnomon on the "actuality" of other universes.

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:40 pm

Quote :
...Davies proposes an alternative explanation for the coincidences he calls the "Third Way." He suggests a life principle is "written into the laws of physics" or "built into the nature of the universe."

I concur. But "written" by whom? That is the moot question.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:55 pm

Yes I think this...
Quote :
The life principle, if it exists, may be one of the "emergent" principles found in chaos and complexity theory, which arise naturally from the nonlinear, dissipative, but still purely local interactions of material particles. These cannot be called new, fundamental laws of physics since they derive from already exiting laws.
..explains the "who".

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:21 am

THE PURPOSE OF DESIGN


I'm currently reading a book of interviews with scientists: Mind, Life, and Universe, by Eduardo Punsett and Lynn Margulis. Several of the interviewees have commented on the "sensation" of design in Evolution. They repeatedly insist that there is no design or designer involved. But they aso feel compelled to caution that the compelling "appearance" of design is an illusion stemming from ignorance of Darwinian principles. Since I have recently been looking at the world from a Deist perspective, I can't help but see the other side of the Natural Evolution / Divine Design coin.

Richard Dawkins responded to a leading question with: "There is no design whatsoever, on the Earth or in the universe". But he goes on to clarify, "The best candidate for 'design' has always been life". And then he admitted that, "the sensation of design is almost perfect". And the only reasonable alternative to some kind of divine design is the Darwinian principle of Natural Selection. But that by-pass simply passes the buck down to mechanistic processes as the dumb designers of the natural forms and functions that we find so wonderful.

So my hypothetical alternative to Dawkin's dichotomy of Creation versus Evolution falls somewhere in between the extremes. As far as I can tell, natural evolution does indeed produce the "designs" we see around us unaided by overt Divine intervention. So the conclusion I draw is that this world is in the process of being designed from-the-bottom-up instead of from-the-top-down. And that kind of grass-roots design can be explained as a result of "front-loading" of all the materials and patterns needed In-
The-Beginning---i.e prior to the Big Bang. Anyway, it seems that we can't discern any difference between the products of top-down or bottom-up designs---after the fact.

Dawkins goes on to point-out that Natural Evolution (Darwinian design) is being surpassed by Cultural Evolution (Human Design). Dawkins coined the term "meme" in reference to the rapid evolution of dynamic Culture at the expense of plodding Evolution. He says plants and animals are "designed for the past", in the sense that they "are adapted to live in a prehuman world". He refers to genetic evolution as a "flow of information", and he calls Natural and Cultural Evolution, "the two channels of knowledge". But that innocent metaphor leaves the door open for the philosophically inclined to ask about the Ultimate Source of that Information and Knowledge*. Dawkins is aware that ultimate questions are unanswerable by the methods of Science, so he prefers to leave them to effete philosophers with nothing better to do than speculate on impractical matters.


In the next chapter, the interviewee is Dorian Sagan, son of Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis. I read the book he co-authored, Into the Cool, and it gave me some new ways to think about Evolution. He claims that the "purpose of life is to break down a [thermodynamic] gradient", and from a physical perspective I agree. I won't get into an explanation of Sagan's key insight that the hot-cold gradient of the cosmos is a source of potential power for those organisms that "know" how to use it. I'll just note that Life seems to be a mysterious exception to the dominant law of physics, that all things inevitably tend to decay and disorder. But he points out that living creatures are not exempt from entropy, they just temporarily use the natural gradient for their own "purposes" before dumping their "waste" back into the pristine stream of energy flowing downhill from order (concentration, complexity) to disorder (dispersal, simplicity). Although the appearance of "purposeful behavior" again raises the spectre of teleology and design within the scope of Evolution, he asserts that "there is nothing mystical about it and no design". And again, from a physical standpoint I must agree. But If I look at the metaphysical obverse of the coin of evolution, the imprint of design is clear.

Sagan himself though, on the next page, says "the great problem with scientific treatments of teleology, the study of purpose, is that the default position of all question of purpose is that they are unscientific". He goes on to disagree with Richard Dawkins and S. J. Gould who agree that "evolution is essentially random". Sagan says, "we can see now that evolution has a direction". "Arguably, the net intelligence, perceptivity, and responsiveness of life . . . have increased over geological time. Where before we might have been tempted to deny the existence for this direction in life because it suggested some sort of mystical entelechy, we can now see that these trends of evolution are natural. . . . There is no need to bridle at talk of life's purpose".

However, even as they reject traditional supernatural and interventionist redesigning by an erratic Architect wielding a gigantic eraser, Deists can reasonably attribute the evident direction and purpose of Evolution to front-loaded, bottom-up design by an eternal Architect who draws with ideas and intentions, and who got it right the first time. But this take on teleology only works if we also infer that the Designer intentionally left room for He/r progressive, intelligent design** to unfold gradually, and to find it's own way through space and time without a predetermined destination or course corrections from Ground Control. Hence, it's our job to steer the spaceship Earth, brilliantly designed and produced by Providence.



* Dawkins warns that "one of these lines [memetics] is progressing much faster than the other one [genetics], because cultural changes are so much faster than genetic ones". So he seems to be uneasy that gradual Darwinian and Genetic evolution have been surpassed by the emergence of supercharged Mental Memetic evolution. The trajectory of evolution now looks like a rapidly-climbing power curve that could lead to self-destruction, and he doesn't expect G*d to save us from ourselves. So IMHO our only "choice" is to collectively grab the steering wheel of this runaway vehicle, and get it back on course---to design newer and better memes which can overcome the inertia of plodding mundane evolution.

** Presumably S/he designed the Process, not the Product.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:05 am

Does an ant crushed in the in the gears of the clockwork really matter to the clockmaker, and vice versa?

Maybe we are simply not in a position to truly understand the "design" and "purpose" of the universe at all, perhaps we are just motes in God's eye?

(Sorry for the nerdy Sci-Fi reference, but it is a kick ass book)
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:25 pm

Uriah wrote:
Does an ant crushed in the in the gears of the clockwork really matter to the clockmaker, and vice versa?

Maybe we are simply not in a position to truly understand the "design" and "purpose" of the universe at all, perhaps we are just motes in God's eye?

If the clockmaker/antmaker put a tiny piece of He/rself into each ant, then being crushed in the gears might hurt a little bit.

Since Deists don't have a direct revelation of G*d's intentions, all they can do is speculate on divine purposes and concerns. But, since we have concluded from the indirect evidence that something above and beyond this physical universe is responsible for the ambiguous situation we find ourselves in, we have no choice but to re-build our crumbling, inherited worldviews from the ground up.

The Judeo/Christian/Muslim traditions have made it easier for their adherents by writing an authorized instruction manual. So all they have to do is follow the prescribed rules and formulas. But Deists have rejected those man-made rulebooks as a sham. Which leaves us in the position of starting over from scratch to construct a viable worldview. And most of us have cobbled together an odd pastiche of bits and pieces of older traditions, glued together with our own personal logic and reason.

My purpose, in pursuing the Intelligent Evolution / Informationism theme, is to add some rational scientific evidence to prop-up my patch-work beliefs with something close to hard facts. And the resulting G*d profile is closer to the amorphous and indifferent Tao, than to the loving and hating cloud-king of the Bible. Of course it's easier for us to identify with a humanlike deity, with personal feelings and faults. But I have concluded that the all-encompassing Prime Mover of the universe is both Good and Evil, both Positive and Negative, both Transcendent and Immanent.

However, just as I can't personally relate to the multidimensional universe of String Theory, I also have difficulty with the monolithic, monistic deity of my philosophical and scientific calculations. So I tend to humanize my G*d-concept just enough to facilitate thinking and talking about ideas that are way out of my league. Consequently, I sometimes depart from pure, abstract Vulcan logic, and use "anthropo-mental" metaphors, such as design, purpose, intention, and will, to describe the thoughts and actions of Factor X, that I cannot understand otherwise.

That's also why I don't judge too harshly, those religious people who also cling to their little god-dolls. Yet I must remind them, and myself, not to mistake the metaphors and analogies for the Real Thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:01 pm

That makes sense, always a pleasure to read your responses G!
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:55 pm

This is my latest post on FFF under a similar topic.


Prophet, Thanks for your detailed and rational response to the ideas presented in the previous posts. This is the kind of high-minded dialogue I was hoping for. I was looking at these questions from your perspective just a few years ago. So I can see where you are coming from.

Quote :
I missed the point of the article? The article quite clearly advocated the fine tuning argument, not the first cause argument

Perhaps I should clarify that you missed the point of my posting the article. It’s true that the author is “advocating the fine-tuning argument”. But it’s also very telling that he essentially admits that his choice between the only two reasonable options is a matter of Faith [or Taste, if you prefer]. The Multiverse theory is a logical extrapolation from proximate experience to ultimate conclusion. But MT is not an empirical fact; so the “reason” for choosing one over the other is basically a vanilla/strawberry esthetic preference: "if you don't want God . . .” try the Multiverse, you might like it.
Quote :


I pointed out why this is a false dilemma in my post; namely: a) it assumes that the only type of life that could exist is life similar to our own, and b) positing a creator does absolutely nothing to explain why the constants are what they are anyway, and c) it assumes that the only reason a universe might have for existing is to create us.


Apparently the author, and the scientists he quoted, don’t agree with you that Multiverse versus First Cause is a false dilemma. Note that he said, "if you don't want God, you'd better have a Multiverse". That sounds like a real dilemma to me. Otherwise he could have said, "Since God does not exist, the Multiverse must exist". The conclusion I drew from the article is that the Multiverse argument is weak, but some kind of Eternal Evolution is the only viable alternative to Evolution with a definite beginning in time, i.e. - creation ex nihilo. So we'd better get busy and tie-up the loose-ends mentioned in the article.

a> Fine-tuning advocates, like Paul Davies, make generous allowances for other forms of life. But we have no logical or empirical evidence for “pure energy beings” or any other hyper-natural science-fiction aliens. Other than life-as-we-know-it, what kind do you think would/could arise from a coarsely-tuned universe?

b> Positing an unknown, hypothetical Causative Agent is a common, and reasonable, tactic for scientists to move from anomalous evidence toward a reasonable explanation of an observed phenomenon. Just as the scientifically-respectable Dark Matter and Dark Energy hypotheses “explain” some otherwise paradoxical astronomical observations, the Prime Mover hypothesis is a logical explanation for the otherwise paradoxical existence of the universe. Unless, of course, you arbitrarily omit such a possibility from your list of options.

c> The philosophical First Cause concept does not require any “assumptions” about the “reason” for creating a universe. You could just accept our existence as a meaningless necessity: creation is what Creators do---it’s their job. But if you were inclined to make a guess about divine motivation, what other reasons would you offer for consideration? A hypothetical self-existent Being decides to make a world: 1> Just for funsies; 2> Because She’s fond of bacteria and beetles; 3> She likes to torment sentient beings; 4> For intellectual companionship; 5> etc. Personally, I have no idea why an eternal Causative Agent would make a temporal playtoy full of sentient beings asking unanswerable, childlike questions: "Mommy, where did I come from? Those moot questions make CA puzzling, but not implausible.


Quote :

The problem with the first cause argument is that it involves special pleading; specifically, it asserts that all things require a cause, therefore the universe needs a (anthropomorphic) cause, but my lovely first cause is magically exempt from the requirement that all things require a cause. The point being, that if we're allowed to do that, then we can just say the universe is exempt from the requirement that all things require a cause, without positing a superfluous entity.


Actually, the First (Final, Ultimate) Cause argument is a case of astute philosophical reasoning. Like the first Law of Thermodynamics (LOT), “all things require a cause” is a true statement only within a closed system. Once you project your inquiring mind beyond the system you are a part of, all bets are off. Until the 20th century, most scientists assumed that this universe was either a finite closed system, or an eternal open system. But the LOT, along with the discovery that the universe is expanding, put a damper on Einstein’s unwarranted assumption that the steady-state universe is static and eternal, going round-and-round in circles forever. So he adjusted his worldview to accommodate an increasingly undeniable scientific fact: This world began, suddenly and without warning, only a few billion years ago and is now in the middle of a one-way trip to oblivion. When a new baby is suddenly introduced to a family, inquiring young minds want to know, “where did that thing come from?”

As a result of the Relativity/Quantum/Big Bang paradigm shift, scientists began to look for another “natural” explanation for the seemingly miraculous emergence of the universe at a singular point in time. The ancient creation ex nihilo option was rejected a priori as speculative and non-empirical. So after years of head-scratching, a modified version of the old steady-state theory* emerged from the chalkboards: What if our “uni”verse is not the only one? What if universes are a dime a dozen? What if our undeniably fine-tuned-for-life cosmos was merely the lucky result of an infinite regression of trial runs? * *

In that case, unless you are a sentimental fool, the eventual extinction of our home universe is not such a big deal. Maybe, there are zillions of bubble miniverses expanding and popping all around the infinite reaches of a beginningless and endless Omiverse. Doesn’t that make you feel better about the meaninglessness of our pathetic existence? It’s like the eternal reincarnation of Karma, except with no progression, and no ultimate resolution. We could found a godless religion on a slam-dunk concept like that.

* but still speculative and non-empirical.

* * Infinity answers every possible question, but it doesn’t answer any particular question.



Quote :
1: Self existent entity A causes entity B.
2: Self existent multiple instances of entity B.

::There are multiple instances of entities of type B.

This was essentially my position until recently. It’s easier to believe in a hundred horses, than in one magic unicorn. But to avoid getting distracted by obviously fictional stories, let’s stick with your philosophical vocabulary, instead of mythical models of reality. As the article made clear, neither the God-concept nor the Multiverse Hypothesis is a scientific Theory, yet. So let's not pretend it is.

Entity B is what we used to call the Universe (one circle). As far as we can tell with our scientific methods, Entity B is not self-existent, and that is the crux of the problem before us. The scientific story says that Entity B has a finite existence. That being the case, we look for a reason to explain why it is here. The two options before us are; a> re-define entity B as the “offspring” of a Self-Existent Greater Entity (B' prime); or b> define entity B as the “creation” of a Self-Existent Greater Being (A').

What’s the difference? If the eternal Entity B’ is assumed to be made of recycled matter and energy, then the emergence of Life and Mind from Matter must be assumed to be an inevitable, natural, evolutionary progression***. But the inexorable Laws of Physics are known to actively work against complexity and organization, so that Life & Mind (anti-entropy) seem to be highly improbable exceptions to the general rules of matter and energy. That’s why the observed “fine-tuning” of the universal constants are viewed as anomalous by most scientists. Having solved the philosophical “what came before?” question by re-definition, we are still stuck with the scientific question, “how did Life & Mind arise from lifeless and mindless matter?” And we can’t so easily define that one away. What is the natural Law of Order - Life - Mind, equivalent to the Law of Entropy - Death - Decay? ****

Since they obviously don’t “want” to accept eternal Entity A (eternal Mind), their only recourse is to believe that Entity B (eternal Matter) is self-existent---despite all the evidence to the contrary. So I think the resolution of the First Cause / Multiverse conundrum hinges on our understanding of the nature of Life & Mind----and of Information. But that is a thread for another day.

*** Both sides of this issue must make a lot of assumptions. But that's just the nature of scientific theory and speculative philosophy. Assumptions are only a problem when they become axioms by default.

**** I have my own theory about that; what's yours?

Quote :
Any explanation proposing multiple instances of a known entity is superior to one which proposes a single instance of an entirely new type of entity.

That may be a true statement, as long as you confine your discussion to the system ("universe of discourse") you are a part of. But when you go outside your own system (in your metaphysical imagination) to look for an explanation for the very existence of the system, you are now in unknown territory. South American Indians had never seen horses or armored riders before, so they couldn’t fit these foreign entities into terms of known entities. Instead, they were forced to make-up some new terminology, such as "Manimal" or "God/Monster", depending on the viewer’s hypothesis of what he was seeing. It took a while to see the cavalry from the Spaniard's alien perspective. Likewise, the Causative Agent of the First Cause hypothesis is probably something we are already familiar with in our world of Space/Time, but we have difficulty recognizing it in an Infinite/Eternal context.

In our case, the eternal Entity "X" could be called a Multiverse (multiple mutant copies of one-verse) or Omniverse (the whole of which our universe is a part). An advantage of the Omniverse hypothesis is that it can be logically defined in metaphysical (mental) terms to “explain” the Life/Mind processes we experience. Most people don’t realize that Eternity and Infinity are inherently metaphysical concepts---they don’t exist in physical Reality, and neither does the Multiverse / Omniverse.

Quote :
This can be done by positing simultaneous the existence of every possible creator, who each creates a universe with their own particular choice of constants.

But William of Ockham warned us about multiplying entities beyond necessity. By definition, there is room for only one Eternal and Infinite Entity. So you don’t have the option of positing multiple copies of something that is inherently unique and singular. Eternity is not a long time; it is both the absence of time and the whole of time. Infinity is not a long distance; it is both the absence of space and the whole of space. (depending on subjective or objective viewpoints). If you multiply one times one, you still get one. If you multiply zero times zero, you still get zero. confused Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:01 am

Continued . . . reply to another poster.


Quote :
I´m not shure that I understand the "fine-tuning"-view either ? Isn´t the point of having many universes, that has an influence on each other, that it increases the chances for a universe like hours to develop ?

Yes, if at first you don't succeed in making a living universe, try-try-again & again & again until you get it right. That way you don't need a Fine-Tuner, all you need is Forever.

By definition, in Eternity anything possible is inevitable. But that's also the definition of deity: "In God, all things are possible". The problem for scientists is that the bible-god is presumed to create intentionally and perfectly, but they see no evidence of that in the world. So they look for another explanation. I also looked for a reasonable alternative to the traditional God Hypothesis, and I think I may have found it in 21st century science. But I'm still not sure, so that's why I put my ideas up for skeptical analysis by people who are not inclined to interpret the evidence as I do.

If you are really interested in such abstruse topics, I would recommend that you get a copy of the recent book by Paul Davies: The Goldilocks Enigma, also under the title Cosmic Jackpot. Davies is an astrophysicist who specializes in Cosmology. His book discusses the Anthropic / Fine-Tuning / Goldilocks / Multiverse questions in great detail. But he is an excellent writer who keeps it as real and understandable as possible. You may not agree with his conclusions, but I daresay you will not be able to refute his facts or his reasoning.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Sat May 30, 2009 6:07 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Here's some additional, speculative, thoughts from my Intelligent Evolution Glossary, on the God = Multiverse theme:

[snip, for brevity]

The “Wave Function” of a quantum wave/particle is a mathematical expression for the set of all potential states of that particle. Therefore, the wave function
of the whole universe is the set of all possible states of the Cosmos.

Some Quantum Cosmologists have interpreted this incalculable expression as a multitude of coexisting universes, or an infinity of parallel universes, or
an eternal regress of bubble universes. But the IE interpretation of the Cosmic Wave Function is simply that everything-that-could-possibly-exist (the
meta-universe or Omiverse) exists all at once—in superposition, to use a quantum term. And some traditional terms for that timeless, limitless, all-encompassing
state of affairs are “Eternity”, or “Infinity”, or “Deity”. So I will just take the next step and refer to the Wave Function of the Universe as “God”.
The un-created “Creator” of IE is everything that ever was, and will be—including this Creation.

The “God Function” is a metaphorical expression for the set of all past and future, actual and potential states of Being.

Fascinating! The word I usually use to say this is the GodForce… without knowing how, this is no hypothesis to me, but Fact… even though I’m unable, with current technology and/or language, to “prove” it.

In the “Formal Tenets of Faith,” it says: “2 That this godenergy (or force) manifests in myriad and various ways or forms. This energyforce has created and is creating many universes (along with our own), and we inhabit but one of them.

That each universe (including our own) is governed by a complimentary set of cosmic laws, which we know as the laws of nature, and universal law (such are the laws of gravity, entropy, action/reaction, et cetera).

That these rules and laws operate independent of any being's understanding or even knowledge, regardless of belief or agreement.

That anything and everything which abides by these laws can exist in this universe.
That nothing which does not abide by these laws can.

3 THAT ALL THINGS AND ALL LAWS EXISTING IN ANY UNIVERSE ARE MERELY ASPECTS OR MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS OVERALL FORCE.

That this overall force (or energy) has no smallest or largest part; it is totally all-inclusive. It is likewise that which is responsible for the phenomenon called "charm -- the binding of all molecules and atoms to one another
-- as well as the form and shape of all universes, both in specific and in general.

That the BALANCE is also responsible for the phenomenon called "luck" or "chance" --- the rules and laws governing this aspect of the GodForce merely not understood by humankind, yet.”

I could go on, of course, but needless to say, I’m – shall we say – gratified that scholars, philosophers, with all their research, etc. have touched on a subject I thought I “made up.”

I never went to college; the only “higher science” I studied was STAR TREK and “Stranger In A Strange Land,” plus logic puzzles.

I’ve never understood “the First Cause,” since nothingness means just that… nothing. It didn’t seem logical to me, so I interpreted that to mean that there was always “something/someone,” but and “event” called “the Creation” equally made no logical sense. I myself observed that creation and destruction happened continually in microcosm… since Nature was patterned, chaotic, cycled, why would (or should) the rest of the Universes be any different?

And this is not something I believe… to me, I am already convinced.
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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Sat May 30, 2009 7:11 pm

I view nothingness simply as a neutral state between all the various forms of "something".

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PostSubject: Re: Human-Oriented Evolution?   Sun May 31, 2009 6:23 pm

Quote :
In the “Formal Tenets of Faith,” it says: “2 That this godenergy (or force) manifests in myriad and various ways or forms. This energyforce has created and is creating many universes (along with our own), and we inhabit but one of them.
I'm not familiar with the "Formal Tenets of Faith". Are we supposed to accept, as a tenet of faith, that this hypothetical "EnergyForce" has created a multiplicity of universes? For me, it's just a plausible possibility, not a fact. I bring it up only to counter the Multiverse theories with other logical options.

Quote :

I’ve never understood “the First Cause,” since nothingness means just that… nothing.
There are several threads on this forum discussing the meaning of "nothingness". They might shed some new light on the old koan, "what do we know about nothing?" But, be advised, that the concept of nothingness is irrational (you have no experience with nothing), hence some of the implications of emptyness may be counter-intuitive (so as to unscrew your head from your neck). For example, zero is the inverse of infinity. Don't meditate on the meaning of that statement for too long, or your brain could turn into mindless mush.

Quote :
GodForce
In my attempts to put these traditional, arguable religious and philosophical concepts into more testable scientific terms, I have coined the term "In-Form-Action". Perhaps the 21st century Information sciences with be able to "prove it" , or at least get closer to the truth in our blind gropings to understand the mind-itching anomalies we lump into the empty set hopefully labeled G*D.
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