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[personal profile] xenophanean
Had a vaguely original thought today, so I thought I'd share it.

Perhaps, we should look at the astronomical universe in a different way. Perhaps we should ask why are things the way they are, rather than just trying to analyse what they are. I'm suggesting an analysis of the benefits of making various cosmological factors to be as they are, rather than just assuming that they're random and a mathematical puzzle created by random chance. It's a sideline, but you might find something, so it's worth a shot.

Why? Have I suddenly decided that Our Lord and Saviour put everything there for a purpose? No, that's not why.

The point is this, because if you get a "no, it isn't" it kills three rather irritating birds with one stone. The first is Theism. If you assume a kind of blank Theism, i.e.: No, Christ didn't get resurrected, and the books are cosmologically bollocks, but still there might be an intelligence setting this up. So, you look up, and try to analyse if there's a why behind it all. If there is, you'd sure as hell want to know what it's about.

Second up, there's the geekily popular Simulation theory, that beings in other universes could conceivably make subordinate (but totally believable) simulations of their own, in which case we're probably in one. I suspect (but can't logically analyse due to lack of the appropriate mathematical/logical/bullshitting skills) this has a wider application in that our universe could be subordinate to some other intelligent thing in a wide variety of situations. It is a strange little theory, but interesting nonetheless.(and also a kind of superset of the first example)

Third up, is that we're a bit flummoxed by our existence, mediocrity theory (as I understand it) say we should be pretty average, but we're not, we appear to be unique amongst all we can see. There are explanations that civilisation necessarily flourishes (as we have) and then inexplicably vanishes (ah, nuclear weapons or something)*. Well, maybe it doesn't, perhaps all these things we don't understand amount to that there's clearly and obviously other life up there, we just don't know enough yet to see the wood from the trees.

What these lead to is a proposition: suppose there is a reason to this setup, we should at least determine if we can see one, as if there is some intelligence behind this, we'd learn a lot more by understanding its interactions than assuming natural laws for things which don't have them. It doesn't mean that we're saying that there is, it's just taking an assumption and running with it and seeing if you get any meaningful results.

Anyway, rare philosophy entry over, see you all in two years time.

*Or maybe things like us are rare but numerous (say, 2 per galaxy), this totally evades the problem, but is far from proven.

Date: 2010-08-09 08:21 am (UTC)
ext_79424: Line drawing of me, by me (Default)
From: [identity profile] spudtater.livejournal.com
First: there's no killing off theism that easily. You might as well point out that human backs are completely sub-par for the task, our retinas are back-to-front, and our appendices are more likely to kill us than help us out in life. At which point the theist you're talking to will mutter something about "ineffability" and ignore you. Moving to an even more abstract level — that of cosmological constants — is not going to help.

Second (and third): you've been reading Charlie's blog, haven't you?   8^)

Not sure what analysing cosmological constants will say about simulation theory — if they're suboptimal, does that really disprove it? If they're optimal, does that prove it? The latter sounds a stronger argument than the former, but even then it's hardly conclusive.

One idea that has been posited, which is not creationist in terms of a supreme being or a simulation-runner, is the one of so-called "evolutionary cosmology". In this, universes spawn other universes with similar cosmological constants. There will be a natural evolutionary pressure towards universes which are both stable and active enough to spawn many other child universes. Which could explain a certain... optimisation of our own universe's cosmological constants.

Of course, this won't explain it if our own constants are fine-tuned towards not only cosmological optimality, but rather the evolution of life itself. In which case either we show that the latter is just a natural outcome of the former, or we're back to various creationist theories again.

And finally, of course, there is always the argument that our various constants aren't arbitrary, but are the natural consequences of a more basic unifying theory. (In the same way that the set of chemical elements aren't as arbitrary as they first appear, but rather arise out of the mechanics of quantum and atomic theory). This, I gather, is the theory which most appeals to physicists — and is also, I have to admit, the one that appeals most to me.

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