The Science - Science Fiction thread

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  • DarthDimi wrote:
    Nothing definable as far as we can tell. One can only call it "emptiness" I guess and I've described what it implies. Some crazy stuff, wouldn't you say? ;-)

    Very crazy !


    What if it is all recycled every 15 billion years. Black holes suck us all up and then create another universe. Or is God?
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited July 2012 Posts: 21,994
    One of science's major mysteries. Keeps things bloody interesting. ;-)
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    Posts: 15,534
    DarthDimi wrote:
    Nothing definable as far as we can tell. One can only call it "emptiness" I guess and I've described what it implies. Some crazy stuff, wouldn't you say? ;-)

    Very crazy !


    What if it is all recycled every 15 billion years. Black holes suck us all up and then create another universe. Or is God?

    How about a big crunch ? I understand the concept (the universe would shrink back to where it was at the beginning)... but what would trigger the end of expansion and start of shrinkage ? surely the universe would hit something that was beyond it ?
  • Perhaps that's where the laws of physics end and something unknown takes over?
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited July 2012 Posts: 21,994
    Perhaps that's where the laws of physics end and something unknown takes over?

    That's how I see it too.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited July 2012 Posts: 15,534
    'anymore confusing and I'm afraid my ears will pop !'
  • Posts: 1,817
    I'm a political scientist but I love physics and math. While I read articles on physics I would love to understand more. My only hope is that we in the study of politics could have something like the Standard Model of Particles so we can search our Higgs boson.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,460
    One of the theories I'ver read about the universe is that it actually is infinite. Then there's the concept of the universe beeing some sort of 5th, sixth or whathaveyou dimensional globe. Just like you can always go in an eastern direction on earth, you'll never have to go back to reach the same point.
    The big bang would have been just an enormous explosion in a region in the universe.
    Then there's the idea that there are many more universes, floating along in another form of space.
    But I guess many of those theories stand or fall with the descovery of black matter, of which they now claim ought to be 40% of the universe.

    And on a lighter note, all who've read the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy know there's a restaurant at the end of the universe.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    One of the theories I'ver read about the universe is that it actually is infinite. Then there's the concept of the universe beeing some sort of 5th, sixth or whathaveyou dimensional globe. Just like you can always go in an eastern direction on earth, you'll never have to go back to reach the same point.

    The most current consensus seems to include exactly 10 dimensions. Interesting stuff. Michio Kaku wrote some interesting, popularising books on the subject.
    The big bang would have been just an enormous explosion in a region in the universe.
    Then there's the idea that there are many more universes, floating along in another form of space.

    The multiverse seems mathematically accurate. I'm still checking out what Brian Greene published on the matter in one of his last books.
    But I guess many of those theories stand or fall with the descovery of black matter, of which they now claim ought to be 40% of the universe.

    I prefer the term 'dark matter'. ;-) That said, exciting stuff here. We keep learning about matter beyond our wildest dreams. Since chemistry is my field, the nature of matter is more or less my major point of interest. These are exciting times for sure.
    And on a lighter note, all who've read the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy know there's a restaurant at the end of the universe.

    Very funny, this. :D
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,460
    Ah, yes, dark matter. i'm a bit tired and my brain somewhow tries to fill those black holes with anything that's floating by..
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    Even geniuses make mistakes. ;-)

    zelfbeeld.jpg
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    obin_gam wrote:
    I'm looking for something that has the same feeling as Battlestar Galactica, set in space where its wartime or alike where politics have a large part to play in the story. Any suggestions?

    I've been eyeing Iain M Banks' The Culture-series and it sounds somewhat interesting, and also Old Man's War. Are these good? Other suggestions?

    @obin_gam

    Being a huge fan of Sci-Fi literature, I can make a few suggestions, however I need to tell you I'm mostly into hard Sci-Fi, where the science is more important that the fantasy so to speak.

    My hero is Isaac Asimov. I love this man even more than Ian Fleming! His robot novels, foundation novels, empire novels or all together. I found the latter to be extremely addictive! Other Asimovian Sci-Fi worth praising is End of Eternity (concerning time travel) and The Gods Themselves (for those of us who are into physics). Bottom line, Asimov rocked when he was still alive but he's far from modern of course. You need to enjoy cerebral storytelling to fully enjoy Asimov, and be into science.

    Second in command is Arthur C. Clarke. His 2001 novels, the Rama series (although there's a heavy tone shift from the second one onwards due to his collaboration with Gentry Lee) and several others are spiritual journeys, where people are often less important than spaceships, space itself and mysterious forces permeating it. But I love them.
  • Posts: 268
    I got Randevouz with Rama from the library and started listening to it, but it really didnt fly with me. It felt very... well, cold, in lack of a better word. I guess I want the characters to have somewhat of a depth to them hehe, will try out Foundation next, and see how that goes!
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    Clarke doesn't care for his characters very much. Starting with the second novel in the Rama series, Rama II, characters take front position suddenly, all this under the influence of his co-writer Gentry Lee.

    I strongly suggest you start with The Caves Of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots Of Dawn and Robots And Empire by Asimov. They are very character driven, plus the first three books are great whodunits combined with truly amazing Sci-Fi. Also, they serve as the spiritual precursors to Foundation. These are the books that won me over instantly. I've been worshipping Asimov since Caves and Sun. It's important you read Caves to get to know the world and the characters but starting with Sun, you get into space and on the settler worlds and there the fun REALLY begins!

    Enjoy, @obin_gam.

    PS: Rama does make for an interesting read if you allow yourself to sit through it but I can't emphasise enough that it's a guided tour aboard an alien ship and not the chronicles of interesting people. The chronicles begin with Rama II. I'm not even sure you need Rendezvous to kick off Rama II but it surely helps and besides, I'm a completist. ;-)
  • edited August 2012 Posts: 2,782
    0 1 Orson Scott Card Ender's Game [S1] 1985
    0 2 Frank Herbert Dune [S1] 1965
    0 3 Isaac Asimov Foundation [S1-3] 1951
    0 4 Douglas Adams Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy [S1] 1979
    1 5 Robert A Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land 1961
    -1 6 George Orwell 1984 1949
    0 7 Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 1954
    0 8 Arthur C Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
    0 9 Isaac Asimov [C] I, Robot 1950
    0 10 Robert A Heinlein Starship Troopers 1959
    0 11 Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 1968
    0 12 William Gibson Neuromancer 1984
    0 13 Larry Niven Ringworld 1970
    0 14 Arthur C Clarke Rendezvous With Rama 1973
    0 15 Dan Simmons Hyperion [S1] 1989
    0 16 H G Wells The Time Machine 1895
    0 17 Aldous Huxley Brave New World 1932
    0 18 Arthur C Clarke Childhood's End 1954
    0 19 H G Wells The War of the Worlds 1898
    1 20 Joe Haldeman The Forever War 1974
    -1 21 Robert A Heinlein The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 1966
    0 22 Ray Bradbury [C] The Martian Chronicles 1950
    0 23 Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five 1969
    0 24 Neal Stephenson Snow Crash 1992
    1 25 Niven & Pournelle The Mote in God's Eye 1975
    -1 26 Ursula K Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness 1969
    0 27 Orson Scott Card Speaker for the Dead [S2] 1986
    0 28 Michael Crichton Jurassic Park 1990
    0 29 Philip K Dick The Man in the High Castle 1962
    0 30 Isaac Asimov The Caves of Steel 1954
    0 31 Alfred Bester The Stars My Destination 1956
    0 32 Roger Zelazny Lord of Light 1967
    1 33 Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1870
    -1 34 Frederik Pohl Gateway 1977
    2 35 Madeleine L'Engle A Wrinkle In Time 1962
    0 36 Michael Crichton The Andromeda Strain 1969
    3 37 Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle 1963
    -3 38 Stanislaw Lem Solaris 1961
    -1 39 Carl Sagan Contact 1985
    -1 40 Isaac Asimov The Gods Themselves 1972
    0 41 Philip K Dick Ubik 1969
    0 42 Vernor Vinge A Fire Upon the Deep 1991
    0 43 John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids 1951
    1 44 Anthony Burgess A Clockwork Orange 1962
    2 45 Robert A Heinlein Time Enough For Love 1973
    -2 46 Neal Stephenson Cryptonomicon 1999
    -1 47 Kim Stanley Robinson Red Mars [S1] 1992
    3 48 Mary Shelley Frankenstein 1818
    -1 49 Walter M Miller A Canticle for Leibowitz 1959
    -1 50 Daniel Keyes Flowers for Algernon 1966
    -1 51 Isaac Asimov The End Of Eternity 1955
    0 52 Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth 1864
    0 53 L Ron Hubbard Battlefield Earth 1982
    2 54 Iain M Banks Player Of Games [S2] 1988
    2 55 Peter F Hamilton The Reality Dysfunction [S1] 1996
    -2 56 Ursula K Le Guin The Dispossessed 1974
    2 57 Orson Scott Card Ender's Shadow [S1] 1999
    -3 58 Neal Stephenson The Diamond Age 1995
    3 59 Greg Bear Eon 1985
    0 60 Philip Jose Farmer To Your Scattered Bodies Go 1971
    0 61 Kurt Vonnegut The Sirens of Titan 1959
    -4 62 David Brin Startide Rising [S2] 1983
    0 63 Philip K Dick A Scanner Darkly 1977
    0 64 Niven & Pournelle Lucifer's Hammer 1977
    1 65 Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale 1985
    -1 66 Arthur C Clarke The City and the Stars 1956
    2 67 Michael Crichton Sphere 1987
    0 68 Harry Harrison The Stainless Steel Rat [S1] 1961
    1 69 Robert A Heinlein The Door Into Summer 1956
    -3 70 Alfred Bester The Demolished Man 1953
    0 71 Gene Wolfe The Shadow of the Torturer [S1] 1980
    2 72 H G Wells The Invisible Man 1897
    -1 73 Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space [S1] 2000
    -1 74 Robert A Heinlein Citizen Of the Galaxy 1957
    2 75 Dan Simmons Ilium 2003
    5 76 Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars [S1] 1912
    -1 77 Connie Willis Doomsday Book 1992
    0 78 Robert A Heinlein The Puppet Masters 1951
    0 79 Robert A Heinlein Have Space-Suit - Will Travel 1958
    0 80 C S Lewis Out of the Silent Planet [S1] 1938
    -6 81 Philip K Dick The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch 1964
    7 82 Cormac McCarthy The Road 2006
    -1 83 Richard Morgan Altered Carbon [S1] 2002
    1 84 John Scalzi Old Man's War 2005
    3 85 Edwin A Abbott Flatland 1884
    0 86 Iain M Banks Use of Weapons [S3] 1990
    -4 87 John Wyndham The Chrysalids 1955
    -4 88 Ursula K Le Guin The Lathe of Heaven 1971
    -2 89 Clifford Simak Way Station 1963
    0 90 Philip K Dick VALIS 1981
    1 91 John Brunner Stand on Zanzibar 1969
    1 92 Stanislaw Lem [C] The Cyberiad 1974
    3 93 Julian May The Many-Colored Land [S1] 1981
    0 94 David Brin The Postman 1985
    0 95 Greg Bear The Forge of God 1987
    3 96 James Blish [C] Cities in Flight 1955
    6 97 Robert Louis Stevenson Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde 1886
    0 98 Arthur Conan Doyle The Lost World 1912
    -8 99 Arkady & Boris Strugatsky Roadside Picnic 1972
    1 100 Clifford Simak [C] City 1952

    A good list to start with. I'm starting at no.100 and review as and when I finish.
  • Posts: 246
    I have a question that boggles my mind everytime I ask it to myself - what triggered the Big Bang ? What happened before ? What existed before the Big Bang ?
    The universe includes time as well as space so when the universe started time started at the same time. Then it doesn't make sense, within the Universe, to ask 'what happened before' - there wasn't a 'before'.
    A big headache I have is everytime I think that if the universe if 'finite', I wonder what it must be like at the edges of the universe.... and what's beyond it.

    I don't think the universe has edges as such. Whilst it's expanding and finite, it's also unbounded. Have you ever played the arcade game asteroids?

    The Earth's surface is also finite and unbounded. There are no edges that define the end of the Earth. If the Earth was getting bigger it would make a reasonable 2D analogy for our 3D universe.

    The trouble is that with the speed of light being the theoretic maximum, we can't send anything off into the universe fast enough to traverse it and catch it coming back from the opposite direction.
  • Posts: 246
    What if it is all recycled every 15 billion years. Black holes suck us all up and then create another universe. Or is God?

    Black holes are still part of the universe. Just very heavy parts - wandering around eating up everything they can. A bit like Americans. (joke)
    But they also leak some of their mass as radiation. Eventually, when black holes have gobbled up all the mass in the universe, they'll have nothing left to consume and will simply waste away as they convert their mass into radiation.
    Ultimately, the universe - the same universe as we see now - is left as nothing but space and background radiation. For ever.

    Oh, and it's not God. Science is all theory, but the non-existence of God you can take to the bank.
  • Posts: 12,436
    With a successful Mars landing?!!! Boy oh boy do i hope they discover some form of life! Would have a huge influence on the debate regarding life on other planets!
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    The Mars landing is exciting for sure! Life? I doubt much can be discovered about life on Mars and even if we found traces of water or at best amino acids or something similar, I seriously doubt it'll add to what we already know.

    Life on other planets is a given, I'd say. Traces of life have been discovered on asteroids even after they hit Earth.

    For those interested in extra-terrestrial civilisations, I can highly recommend this book. It's interesting and intelligent, and above all incredibly well written by Dr. Isaac Asimov.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Anon wrote:
    Oh, and it's not God. Science is all theory, but the non-existence of God you can take to the bank.

    Schoolboy error Sir. One of the cornerstones of the scientific process is that you cannot empirically prove something doesnt exist only that it does. Therefore as outlandish a theory as it is we cannot 100% rule out that God did it all, only that his existence is 99.999999% likely to be complete bollocks.
  • Posts: 246
    Anon wrote:
    Oh, and it's not God. Science is all theory, but the non-existence of God you can take to the bank.

    Schoolboy error Sir. One of the cornerstones of the scientific process is that you cannot empirically prove something doesnt exist only that it does. Therefore as outlandish a theory as it is we cannot 100% rule out that God did it all, only that his existence is 99.999999% likely to be complete bollocks.

    You're essentially right of course. Missing a good few 9s after the decimal point there, but yes.

    I suppose my point is that while the scientific method doesn't provide absolute truths, just ever more likely ones, inventing the idea of an evidence-free magic man to paper over the cracks provides no truth at all.


  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,460
    Since you guys started it I'll make the header for an open goal (sorry, it's a Dutch expression but I think you get the point). For science adjusts to the facts, whereas religion works with fixed dogma's. God is almighty (according to them) and created life on earth. Well, if scientists find an old bearded man floating through space, and can actually proof he started life on this planet, then there's proof there is (a) god. There is a catch though. Religion also states that god stands above nature's laws. But as said, science adjusts to the facts, so new rules will be sought to explain this god's behaviour and the results of that behaviour. When they've done that god will not be above nature's laws anymore, just a beeing that's part of the universe. Hence, god will no longer be (a) god.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Since you guys started it I'll make the header for an open goal (sorry, it's a Dutch expression but I think you get the point). For science adjusts to the facts, whereas religion works with fixed dogma's. God is almighty (according to them) and created life on earth. Well, if scientists find an old bearded man floating through space, and can actually proof he started life on this planet, then there's proof there is (a) god. There is a catch though. Religion also states that god stands above nature's laws. But as said, science adjusts to the facts, so new rules will be sought to explain this god's behaviour and the results of that behaviour. When they've done that god will not be above nature's laws anymore, just a beeing that's part of the universe. Hence, god will no longer be (a) god.

    Hmm. Not sure. He would still be God just an explainable God. That is the beauty of science - it only ever seeks to add to knowledge and if this being was proven he would be absorbed into our understanding of our universe. Religion however seeks to hide knowledge when science threatens its archaic drivel (creationism being taught in schools anyone?)

    This quote will always perfectly illustrate for me how with some simple logic you can virtually prove that God does not exist:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,460
    Since you guys started it I'll make the header for an open goal (sorry, it's a Dutch expression but I think you get the point). For science adjusts to the facts, whereas religion works with fixed dogma's. God is almighty (according to them) and created life on earth. Well, if scientists find an old bearded man floating through space, and can actually proof he started life on this planet, then there's proof there is (a) god. There is a catch though. Religion also states that god stands above nature's laws. But as said, science adjusts to the facts, so new rules will be sought to explain this god's behaviour and the results of that behaviour. When they've done that god will not be above nature's laws anymore, just a beeing that's part of the universe. Hence, god will no longer be (a) god.

    Hmm. Not sure. He would still be God just an explainable God. That is the beauty of science - it only ever seeks to add to knowledge and if this being was proven he would be absorbed into our understanding of our universe. Religion however seeks to hide knowledge when science threatens its archaic drivel (creationism being taught in schools anyone?)

    This quote will always perfectly illustrate for me how with some simple logic you can virtually prove that God does not exist:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    Yep, you got the gist of it. Religion by it's nature thrives on the unexplainable. Not only is there supposed to be the omnipotent ' God', but his existence is proven by ' unexplainable' or 'above natural' happenings, better known as miracles. That's why religion an science clash. As soon as science has explained a miracle (warmed up red resin makes the madonna statue cry), the miracle, and thus the grounds to believe, is gone.

    I've once had this most interesting discussion with a religious fanatic ho tried to convert me:
    person:' read the bible and you believe'
    me:' but I don't understand the bible, it's a mixed up bag of stories contradicting eachother'
    person:' yes, but as soon as you start believing you'll understand'
    me:'but I was supposed to start believing when I read the bible, which i don't understand'
    person:'no, but as you start reading god will give you a sign'
    me:'ah, but i did start reading it'
    person:'then ask god to give you a sign'
    me:'GOD,WILL YOU GIVE ME A SIGN?'
    me:'did you see anything?'
    person:'no....'

    I know that last bit was pushing it but I had fun. That person somehow didn't.
  • Posts: 246
    Since you guys started it I'll make the header for an open goal (sorry, it's a Dutch expression but I think you get the point). For science adjusts to the facts, whereas religion works with fixed dogma's. God is almighty (according to them) and created life on earth. Well, if scientists find an old bearded man floating through space, and can actually proof he started life on this planet, then there's proof there is (a) god. There is a catch though. Religion also states that god stands above nature's laws. But as said, science adjusts to the facts, so new rules will be sought to explain this god's behaviour and the results of that behaviour. When they've done that god will not be above nature's laws anymore, just a beeing that's part of the universe. Hence, god will no longer be (a) god.

    cf. the works of Oolon Colluphid



  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited August 2012 Posts: 21,994
    I find it difficult to rule out the existence of a god based on the laws of physics.

    Allow me to explain. Scientists admit to being clueless as to which physical laws, if any, take matters inside a black hole in hand. The laws of physics as we know them, seem not to apply there. By the same token, scientists generally seem to believe that if parallel universes exist (and it appears to many that they do) they could be subject to entirely different laws than our universe. Lastly, scientists have fairly little to say about the pre-big bang universe. Whatever entity existed, pure energy or something else, the conditions of its existence are by no means understood.

    There are still mysteries over which scientists, myself included, tend to fantasise rather than produce empirically supported theories. God might simply be one of those mysteries. In the end, we do have a particle for everything, for every bit of matter, for every interaction (force), even since recently for mass. How about emotions, love, happiness, ...? We tend not to treat them as physical concepts, however we cannot deny they exist. Silly as it may seem, a universe in which all is explained safe for emotion, for example, is still not completely understood. What if - just what if - there is something missing in our outlines of the scope of physics? Just what if God, if one chooses to apply that name to what I just described, is simply being ignored as something that could be understood if only we found the right angle from which to approach it empirically? Obviously we have thousands of years of myth building behind us, expanding the meaning of God almost to a caricature of Man's desire to have an almighty father figure guiding us into this complicated life - and the next (which we so desperately crave). But at one point the celestial objects were, likewise, reduced to the level of romantic nonsense. Modern science, luckily, imposed reason and mathematics onto the heavens and gave them a firm theoretical canvas on which not our imagination but instead conservation laws and fundamental particles lead us to the truth. God might yet turn out to be the most complicated of all physical endeavours, perhaps one so powerful in its mystery we shall never fully comprehend it.

    Either way, God cannot be proved by science to exist just yet, but neither can God be disproved. There are such peculiar things in life that seem so odd from a scientific point of view, we tend to neglect them or dismiss them as a silly by-product of our fickle emotions. But even our desires, emotions and such exist, in fact they are out there, and we cannot deny their existence. Everything that exists, even if it doesn't manifest itself as a substance or an interaction between particles, should at one point be tested by physics, described by physics, and understood by physics. Saying it's merely our imagination while producing no conclusive evidence for that is nothing if not a mere weakness to which many of us, scientists, are prone. If you think God is gobbledegook, then that is of course your prerogative. But saying God doesn't fit the laws of physics and therefore doesn't exist, sounds a bit precarious to me.

    I'm a scientist yet I believe in God. I am aware of the fact that in my current understanding of the universe, God has no place. At this point, He's either above and beyond, or He doesn't exist. I choose option 1, where God is disconnected from our universe as we know it, but I choose to believe in Him. I tend to say that even if I'm wrong, the good things I can take from my belief in God, are worth it. Besides, I am a modest believer. No-one else will ever be bothered by my personal religious moments. I seek my own private niche, like a walk in the forest or a quiet moment alone in the house, where I contemplate a great many things, do it my own way and if I'm happier afterwards, I say thank you. And that's all there is to it. It doesn't matter what / who / where God is; to me it only matters why He would be (if indeed He is). My belief in God serves an increase in my personal happiness. Since it doesn't come through harm to others, substance abuse or other controversial means, who can object to that? Some people paint, some write poems, some philosophise and some talk to God. But if we all find happiness in any one of these activities, who's to say that's wrong? No-one may like your painting, but if you like it, isn't that after all what matters most? Ergo God may exist and yet He may not, but if believing in God gives people warmth and comfort, isn't that, again, what matters most?
  • Posts: 246
    DarthDimi wrote:
    I find it difficult to rule out the existence of a god based on the laws of physics...
    I appreciate your candour in expressing your personal religious belief. Thanks for sharing it here. I am heartened, scientist that you are, that you seem, from what you say, to have eschewed the organised religions. That is to say that your god does not seem to me to be the Abrahamic god that we generally talk about - that genocidal maniac who killed virtually the entire population of the earth just because they didn't praise him enough.

    And I'm glad that your belief gives you happiness.

    I also have a belief - that the universe is wondrous and natural - it boggles my mind to look at a sunset, a flower, a human and think about how these things came to be. It boggles my mind to think about my own consciousness and how that could come about too. But I never seriously consider a deity behind the scenes; that would be no different from putting my faith behind any number of sci-fi conceits such as "it's all a simulation in a big computer". Such notions may be entertaining in the short term, but are of no use to me in real life.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    Anon wrote:
    it boggles my mind to look at a sunset, a flower, a human and think about how these things came to be

    I want to build on that, @Anon. It boggles my mind that the wonders of such trivial things are lost on so many people. Many people live their lives never wondering about the fundamental particles that constitute all matter, about the forces that make matter possible, about the exchange particles that carry over said forces etcetera. Many people never ask 'why' and take things as they come. Granted, not all people have the luxury to think about that, but among those that have such luxury, few actually are prepared to dig deeper than some superficial concepts they pick up here and there. Physics and chemistry reveal a beauty unmatched, IMO, by any form of art, be it poetry, music, or something else. Even if people fail to get past the maths required for the usual science text book, there are very good alternatives available where scientific concepts are explained qualitatively rather than quantitatively and that do offer the magic that has inspired so many for so long, myself included. One day you wake up and find that all those things that you took for granted, are nothing short of marvel and awe. Even the most common flower is the result of a gazillion chemical and physical processes, making its beauty something more than the sum total of nice smells and gorgeous colours.
  • edited August 2012 Posts: 246
    Completely agree with you.
    DarthDimi wrote:
    ...Even if people fail to get past the maths required for the usual science text book, there are very good alternatives available where scientific concepts are explained qualitatively rather than quantitatively and that do offer the magic that has inspired so many for so long,..

    The problem is that when it comes to the transcendent, in many societies kids are more likely to get answers from whatever kind of church they're exposed to than be guided onto the path of scientific righteousness. Even in more enlightened societies, the rational scientific establishment often leaves kids to find that initial desire for knowledge on their own. And of course, many kids and adults alike never get that spark - they never ask the questions and never get their minds boggled.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,994
    True, @Anon. One tends to gravitate more towards the easy and comfortable, rather than to that which requires a rather steep climb initially (but with a glamorous pay-off eventually.) The thing about science, in my experience at least, is that the more you know and the more you think about it, the easier it gets, the more rewarding it gets and the more, dare I say it?, enjoyable it gets. Rigorous religions are different, in that they hardly ever encourage criticism and falsification of their own concepts, prefer to enslave their followers to cheap doctrine and usually don't result in joy and mental rewards in the long run.

    Only those who manage to disconnect Faith from fabricated mass hysteria, find real comfort in it, I think.
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