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spk1121
spk1121
Steve K
Mon, Aug. 6th, 2007 01:17 am
Science Musings

I was recently watching some of the season 9 episodes of Stargate SG-1 on DVD, and one of the episodes features the concept of the multiverse.  Basically, the premise is that every choice made makes up the reality of our universe, but that all other possibilities are played out in parallel universes.  While this sounds fascinating and makes for fun stories on the show, think about the "every" in the theory.  I have a hard time believing that my deciding to take a nap or waiting to go to the bathroom determines the fate of the universe we live in.  I dunno, it all seems pretty mundane.  I prefer to think our existence is special, not one of many realities.

Speaking of existence, I'm sometimes irritated when people bash "intelligent design," like evolution has no flaws in it whatsoever.  I'm not saying evolution is wrong -- the creation story in Genesis could be literal or metaphorical.  I do believe that, either way, God was the ultimate designer and everything is according to His plan.  Anyway, the thing that gets me is that "science" is supposed to be replicable.  One criticism of the multiverse theory, as well as string theory, is that they are almost more philosophy than science.  In other words, you can conjecture all you want and posit ideas that make sense, but you can't prove anything.  And when it comes right down to it, you can't do this for evolution either.  Are there some interesting links?  Sure.  Yet no one has ever been able to create life in the lab.  I know SynBio and others are addressing this with their attempts at Life 2.0, but no luck so far or in the foreseeable future.  That's why, despite many people's convictions about its validity, it is still known as the theory of evolution.  Abiogenesis hasn't been proved and I'm rather skeptical that it ever will be.

I also find ethics to become a bit more murky when it comes to evolution.  A sad fact of history is that religion has been used to justify all sorts of horrible things, such as slavery and war.  However, there is a sense in all of them that human beings are special and that there is more to existence than what appears on the surface.  Meanwhile, evolution is literally "the survival of the fittest" -- nature red in tooth and claw.  If humans are mere animals, why care for their well being?  One could argue that, in evolutionary terms, rape is a highly useful tool.  After all, don't you want the more successful members of the species to propogate most rapidly?  If a group of marauders successfully pillages a town, this indicates that they are stronger and possibly more clever than the group they overwhelmed.  Therefore, the women in a vanquished town or city are serving the fundamental tenets of biological advancement by being subjected to the ravages of "the fittest."

If we are at war with "another," it is a biological imperative that we do anything and everything to succeed.  Therefore, annihilation is a perfectly justifable course of action.  Shouldn't we simply exterminate the people along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, thereby leaving no one to shelter Al Qaeda?  It would certainly be the easiest course of action.  After all, isn't "tool making" a primary sign of evolutionary development?  If cavemen who mastered fire and used stone chisels were superior to others, then we are far superior to others with our nuclear energy, stealth bombers, and super-computers.  We are clearly superior as a race of people, aren't we?  Therefore, we are clearly justified in maximizing our potential, even at the expense of others.  After all, the tree of evolution doesn't care if an animal meets a "dead end" among its branches.  Why should we?  Hmm...

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Current Mood: dorky dorky

9CommentReply

wendanyon
wendanyon
Wendy
Mon, Aug. 6th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)

I actually read an interesting article for my library class this summer that proposed that the evolution of the human mind was not simply a matter of better data processing (the computer analogy a lot of people like to make) but that things like compassion, creativity, and mysticism also play an evolutionary role, possibly in that they prevent us from overspecializing in mere logic, which is evolutionarily disadvantageous.

I'm generally of the opinion that the universe works the way it works, but knowing how it works tells you nothing definite about its purpose. And it's a hell of a lot more fun and interesting to lean towards the (perfectly rational) assumption that there's more to it than scientific inquiry can poke.


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spk1121
spk1121
Steve K
Tue, Aug. 7th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Re: random thought

I read something recently about how evolutionists are thinking that humans were NOT the proverbial king of the jungle and instead were pretty low on the food chain. When one hominid saw another being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, he was able to speculate about the future and wonder if he would ever be in that situation. If so, he would want help and this caused the rise of empathy, which led to bonding and teamwork. We tend to think so highly of logic nowadays, even building an entire species around the concept on Star Trek, that sometimes we forget that other traits make us who we are and contribute a great deal to the successes we've had. And yes, I concur that you can't know it all so you might as well enjoy the universal ride. :)


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jesc
jesc
Lady Miss Jessica
Mon, Aug. 6th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
random thought

I think one of the things that sets humans apart from most animals is that we have a capacity for advanced emotions, like empathy and compassion. I guess that's why most humans don't run around raping people and what have you.

In nature (take the rain forest for example) it is a really cut-throat environment as far as competition for survival among species. Different rules apply when it comes down to competing for your survival and your species' sustainability. The relative comfort and protection of our society allows for luxuries such as emotional attachment, laws, and human rights.

If the world as we knew it collapsed, we would probably need to return to our more primal roots in order to survive (killing, raping, etc). All the rules would change.


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spk1121
spk1121
Steve K
Tue, Aug. 7th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)
Re: random thought

Hopefully, we won't experience doomsday anytime soon! I am glad we don't live by "tooth and claw," I just thought it would be interesting to think about what it would be like if we did and how people might try to justify it.


ReplyThread Parent
psychogryphon
psychogryphon
Kim
Mon, Aug. 6th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)

The scary thing is some people out there really believe all of what you just said!!


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spk1121
spk1121
Steve K
Tue, Aug. 7th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)

Indeed. I tend to think people like Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin thought along these lines. *shudder*


ReplyThread Parent
sarah_mae13
sarah_mae13
Sarah Mae: Radical, Militant, YA Librarian
Tue, Aug. 7th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)

Well really most of science is a "theory" it doesn't mean that it's not true or correct.

Also, there is difference between believing in evolution and being a strict biological determinist which I would say most of your argument against evolution in this entry is.

I am definitely an evolutionist(?) but I am absolutely not a biological determinist. I believe that people have free-will and the ability to create values and morals and standards to guide their behavior and societies and not just act on instinct.


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spk1121
spk1121
Steve K
Tue, Aug. 7th, 2007 07:54 pm (UTC)
Determining

Also, there is difference between believing in evolution and being a strict biological determinist which I would say most of your argument against evolution in this entry is.
Well, the latter half of this entry would be. I'm not necessarily arguing against evolution here -- as I said above, I honestly don't know and I believe the creation story can be taken literally or metaphorically. (Though I personally tend to lean towards literal.) What I am arguing against is the people who seem to think "the light of science" will solve all the world's problems and that things would be so much better if all religion were to magically disappear. I acknowledged religion has been used to justify bad things, but I'm saying it could be just as bad or worse if "science" ruled all ethics! As you said, it depends on how people create and apply standards of conduct. Just being the devil's advocate here, if you will. :)


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squealnakedcatj
squealnakedcatj
squealnakedcatj
Sat, Aug. 11th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...

Wow, great topic for discussion and interesting responses too. I imagine people approach the "tooth and claw" in times of war, especially when you are isolated.


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