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We Need To Further Define Ourselves

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Posted by Harvey on January 13, 2002 22:11:57 UTC

Hi Mario,

***H: How could a cosmic order be responsible for something so intricate unless it represented something 'intelligent'? M: Why not? Why does complexity indicate intelligence? Incredibly complicated natural formations have occured due to simple natural processes. The symmetric yet unique forms that snowflakes take, for example, or the fractal patterns formed by trees. All of these things follow from simple, natural laws.***

I'm not sure what you mean when you suspect a cosmic order exists. Are you saying something akin to mathematical order that is based on multiple axioms?

***H: Also, the design shown in physics equations favors the emergence of intelligence in the universe. M: I don't understand what you mean by this. Why would the universe favor the emergence of intelligence? I would suspect that entropy would cancel this out in the long run.***

It depends on what the laws of physics are that make possible the formation of galaxies, stars, planets, life, etc. So far the universe appears to be plentiful in the stuff that makes the evolution of life conceivable quite often in the universe. True, we only have our one planet to gauge the success of emergence of intelligence, but what gave birth to intelligence seems to be natural processes given the 'truth' of the laws of physics, chemistry, bio-chemistry, etc. It at least appears likely that evolutionary processes leading to life are potentially common. I'm assuming we agree on this issue.

That being the apparent case, we should consider we should look at the physics that lies the foundation for these apparent possibilities in the universe, and here we see a great deal of order that is entirely unexpected (e.g., finetuned characteristics of the physical constants as well as very unique laws such as Pauli's exclusion principle that if they were not 'just so' there is no apparent possibility for large scale structures in a universe). If there is a cosmic order that requires order in the universe, then this order appears to require very specific order. It is odd indeed that this specific order happens to allow at least the staging ground for biological evolution given the many things that we wouldn't normally expect to be the case. It is so unexpected that we are still at a loss after 400 years on explaining a good deal of this order.

Instead of other possibilities for the laws looking more and more possible to support biological evolution (i.e., what we can conceive of laws to vary and still make evolution possible), the actual experience of science is that life looks like it can exist in a very small band of conceivable values for the physical constants as well as an even smaller band of conceivable differences in our currently known laws of physics (i.e., remove just one or two of the many well-known physics or chemistry 'laws' and life is impossible). So, I don't think it is an invalid argument to accept the Anthropic Principle in some form as a basis to better understand our universe.

***H: we shouldn't take some deist approaches by saying the cosmic order worked for the start of the universe but somehow stopped working after it all got going. That wouldn't make sense. M: Agreed. Which is precisely why I suspect that your divine order is not sentient. A watchmaker God who crafts the entire universe, sets it in motions, and then proceeds to sit on his hands for all eternity seems a bit ludicrous. So, if God is acting in our universe, wouldn't we expect to see signs of intelligent intervention in the universe around us? Why don't we? Why does the universe seem to follow fairly rigid laws? If God is out there, an intelligent, thinking force with a will of its own, I would expect to see it acting in our day to day lives more.***

I think my use of the terms 'intelligence' and 'consciousness' need to be in quotes. We don't have a word that I know of that quite expresses the type of intelligence or type of consciousness that I suspect the divine order to possess. The concept behind a holistic principle (e.g., divine order to the universe) is that everything in the universe must be considered as part of the whole and that components of the universe (physical constants, evolution of galaxies, Pauli's exclusion principle, whatever...) must aid to the creation of the whole. If the components do not add to the cumulative whole in a manner that is consistent with the holistic principle making up the whole (i.e., divine order), then that component simply cannot exist.

Intelligence and consciousness are a little misleading in this setting if you mean a being which exists in time as part of the universe as it surveys the situation and makes the 'right' decision with respect to its holistic mission. If this is how someone conceives of a cosmic intelligence or cosmic consciousness, then I think this slightly skewed. Rather, the holistic order does not allow other possibilities other than the one that achieves the holistic purpose. This necessarily limits the world toward design in a manner which appears as a supreme mind. However, because it is only trying to meet a minimum goal of achieving the end result, it takes what we see as a natural process. A natural process is merely a minimum path. In a sense, God takes the minimum path but achieves the maximum result.

I don't think the terms intelligence and consciousness are not entirely misconceived notions. For example, the divine order 'knows' or is cognizant of the meaning of all the events in the world since it must be in order to decide upon all the individual events that make up the whole. In order to be cognizant of all the events occuring in the universe, it must also be cognizant of itself (i.e., consciousness). However, I want to emphasize that I think it is incorrect to think that this means a being who is thinking things through and considering all possibilities and then makes its mind up. This, I think, is too anthropomorphic. Rather, I think God is simply 'aware', simply 'intelligent', simply 'existing', in a manner which all things work out for good.

I enjoyed Carlin's quote. I saw him live in Las Vegas once and it was great. Too bad he didn't become a physicist. It seems the best presenters of science have the best humor. You wonder how much interest in science a comedian/physicist could muster.

Warm regards, Harv

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