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Tony Grist

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Putting Some Thoughts In Order [Oct. 27th, 2014|12:17 pm]
Tony Grist
If you think the universe is so much dead matter you'll consider it an amazing fluke that self-reflective life has emerged on planet Earth.

If, on the other hand, you think the universe- down to its tiniest constituent parts- is a living thing you'll expect to find life everywhere- and everywhere developing in the direction of self-aware intelligence.

Brian Cox- TV's newest science bod- is a dead universe man. Or seems to be. (I'll allow he may have been misrepresented in the press) He is reported as saying (in a programme I'm not bothering to watch because I can see I won't agree with it) that we could be the only civilisation in the galaxy.

Cox's position represents scientific orthodoxy as it exists in the year 2014. It's based not on scientific evidence but on a philosophical premise or presupposition.  Dead universe, living universe: Neither thesis is- scientifically speaking- any more respectable than the other.

At present the evidence simply doesn't exist to prove either case. I have my prejudices and can call up evidence which I know my opponents will dismiss out of hand ( Near Death experiences? just the last ditch convulsions of the dying brain.) so I'm not keen to get into arguments.

But I've very few doubts. Ask me how I can be so sure and I'll say because I'm sure. How annoying of me.

I am not, by the way, arguing for the esistence of God. God- as far as I'm concerned- is a distraction, a mistake- the artefact of minds accustomed to think in hierarchical terms. The universe isn't a concern that needs to be created and then bossed about but an endless unfolding. Think fractals. Think depth not height.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-27 03:47 pm (UTC)
The problem with talking about civilizations is we don't know what a completed one would look like. Is ours old or middleaged or juvenile? Not having anything to compare it with, we've really no idea. I suspect a truly advanced civilization would be so far beyond our understanding we might not even know it was there.

We've seen that life can flourish in all sorts of contexts that would kill us- underwater volcanic vents for example. This suggests there could be civilizations everywhere- including in some (to us) highly unlikely places.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-10-27 04:52 pm (UTC)
If we define "life" as "any repeating pattern which uses resources from the environment to make occasionally-imperfect copies of itself" -- and I do -- then we can imagine a LOT of places that life can exist other than where we live.

(Occasionally-imperfect copies allows change, which allows evolution, which I think is necessarily a part of life. "Fire" isn't "alive", because it only ever makes more fire, and never anything that is different fire.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-10-27 05:34 pm (UTC)
I don't have a definition of life. I'm not sure about reproduction being one of its necessary functions. I'll have to think about it.
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