The Science - Science Fiction thread

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  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Ostandia
    Posts: 39,857

    Sorry that solat flare struck you, friend.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    How would I build the universe?

    Creationists like to think of God as an architect, or rather as a clockmaker. God woke up one morning, decided that pure emptiness is pretty dull, and set out to create a giant cosmos. So far so good. But then Creationists take a nasty turn. They think of God as a magician, a sorcerer who waves his staff, shouts a few spells and suddenly has nothing transformed into everything. Pretty impressive trick, but alas also quite insulting. Imagine that you’d accuse a cook of having just thrown some crap in a microwave oven and two minutes later a hot meal pops out. That must hurt if the good man did in fact spend a lot of time on carefully selecting his ingredients, cutting and slicing them with unmatched technical skill, and then cooking them and seasoning them to achieve the highest culinary quality.

    I’m going to pretend that I were God a few moments before Creation. (Trust me, I’d never apply for the job as I’d dread seeing millions of people throughout the centuries kill their own kind in my name.) Since I must start from scratch – there’s almost nothing available to me, expect a lot of energy crammed down to the size of a pea – I’m going to think this thing through for a moment and work out a methodical approach.

    Firstly, I’m going to need matter. I can’t just cough up trees, rocks and cats, so I need to start small. One possible approach is to cool down that pea of energy by allowing it to rapidly expand to an enormous volume. Bits of energy will meanwhile condense into particles which my precious humans, several billions of years from now, will discover are too small to be seen by the unaided eye. Since such small particles are themselves fairly useless, I must now devise some rules by which they can cluster together. I can’t allow them to hook up without any laws governing the process at all; that would lead to meaningless chaos. I will therefore think up four fundamental forces which will allow some interactions but forbid others. ‘Four’ is still a reasonably small number by the way. My humans, countless aeons from now, will possess enough fingers on each hand to count these forces so that's okay.

    To do something hurriedly, usually invites errors and blunders. So I’m going to let this newly created universe run its course on a relaxed pace. First, my tiny particles – some of which are electrons, up-quarks and down-quarks – will need a few hundred thousand years to marry into hydrogen atoms. Meanwhile my universe keeps expanding and thus also cooling down, and when it’s become cool enough, the least impressive of my four forces, ironically also the one destined to become the dominant force in the universe, gravity, will pull dense clouds of hydrogen gas inwards and set them on fire – technically: cause them to fuse into helium. As such, shiny lumps of matter called stars are born. My humans will one day gaze upon these stars and be mesmerized, but we still have a long way to go.

    My first stars will burn violently and fast; they shall also die violently and fast. In their final struggle against their inevitable implosion, helium and hydrogen atoms will rapidly fuse into heavier elements, like carbon. (Note to self: carbon appears to display interesting chemical properties. I might be able to build my living matter out of them.) After the implosion comes an explosion and vast clouds of fusion debris are hurled into the cosmos. Now everything can start all over again. New and in some cases more quiet stars are born, but also tinier lumps of matter which do not turn into a fusion oven: planets.

    Again, no need to get too hasty. Since I invented time, I did so to my own liking. Things are going fast enough for me. After all, what’s a million years, right? Anyway, let’s see what sort of fun we can have with these planets. Some are pretty boring, exceptionally cool and featureless lumps of rock, others are violent swirls of hot gas, others still are somewhere in the middle. Now, if I should ever want to experiment with living matter, I might want to start with ‘average’ living matter: not too weak, not too strong either. So a fairly hospitable planet needs to be neither too cold nor too hot, neither too big nor too small, neither too chemically monotonous nor too chemically violent, … And so here and there, scattered throughout my ever expanding cosmos, I will allow such cosy planets to be born. They will be too distant from each other though for my living creatures to make contact. And that’s me keeping a bit of control over my animals. I’ve got a feeling they may be of a rebellious kind; last thing I want is an interstellar coup aimed at me.

    Finally, after enough time has passed, life can originate. Now, again, why do things too hastily? My humans for example will be flawed enough – many of them will in fact be complete booboos – so let’s take our time to set them up well. Let’s see which way life itself prefers. I’m going to cut the strings here. Let life figure out its most natural course by itself. Okay, that might be dangerous. What if the dominant species on some of these planets actually proves an insult to my Creation? There has to be a way to make my universe self-correcting, when I’m on vacation in a parallel universe for example. I see, no worries. For if a dominant species screws up, it probably screws up good enough and effectively terminates itself. Less cleaning to do for me. Also, after about a hundred billion years I’ll most likely have grown tired of my universe. But I built in an anti-boredom device called entropy. It’s a fancy word that expresses my universe’s tendency to always progress to a higher state of chaos. But that comes with a price: more chaos equals more spreading up of matter and energy and that equals a total freeze-down. No more shining stars, no more breathing animals, no more waterfalls or planetary collisions. Ah well, I’ve had my fun, but I can use the rest before I ever think about creating another universe again.


    This is how I’d do things if I were God… And guess what, this is how scientists proclaim things work. Creationists, however, are always on the fence. They refuse to accept scientific evidence – evidence means it’s true – because they feel it opposes the idea of a divine Creation. While I myself do not support the idea of a divine Creation either, I have tried to demonstrate that the scientific explanation of the origin of everything could in fact be much less of an insult towards God than the simple, biblical explanation which Creationists so stubbornly cling to. Modern cosmology needs not necessarily remove God from your heart if you truly want to believe. All it takes is to disconnect God from the biblical cage of Creationism and treat God as a much more sophisticated and clever entity than the microwave God of Creationism. Or you may simply choose not to think of God when exploring science. Both options are a lot better than to swing open a book, take a few notes, then grab a gun and a few bullets and earn your place in a non-existent heaven by sending other families to the real hell of death and suffering.
  • Posts: 246
    I think this is pretty much where the catholic church stands at the moment. they seem to now accept empirical science and no longer take the bible literally as record of creation.
    It's a start I guess.

    In the absence of any explanation for the big bang I can see that it satisfies a need in some people to invoke a creator deity. (of course, those same people are content not to concern themselves with how this supposed deity itself came into being!)

    What's laughable though is how people make the leap to connect their vague creator theory with whatever organised religion they've bought into. Can't be Zeus, can't be Thor, can't be a sentient teapot, it's definitely God off of that bible book.


  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 It was this or the priesthood.
    Posts: 28,231
    That was an absolutely amazing post, @Dimi, and I am once again forced to revel in your brilliance. I especially liked your argument stating that to call a hypothetical creator a magician is an insult if they (as you did in your outlined plan) let their creations react and form over billions upon billions of years.

    The question of where the hell we all came from is a perplexing and infinitely fascinating one, but I don't really see science and religion meeting in the middle to the point that there is a clear understanding and respect between either side.

    The groups of the religious and the groups of the scientists can be so polarizing at times it's amazing, and almost forbids such a notion. On one hand we have some of the religious practitioners present in America who accept the idea that a creator (God in this case) has formed all we know from the very beginning of time, and they don't really bother to question how that came about or why we were created beyond their faith in that belief. They are much more interested in holding prayers where they connect to this God in an meaningfully spiritual way so that they can confess their sins to him or his representatives on earth. I feel as if "God" serves less as an interesting mystery to ponder for this group (causing them to question how he was created if he is the creator or why he made us this way) and more as a personal tool of a therapeutic nature that makes them feel safe and forgiven of their bad dealings.

    Then on the other hand we have the scientists who do nothing but question the origins of everything around them, something I think many religions shy away from because they realize close analysis will poke holes in the Bible's teachings, and also because they just accepted the creationist theory from an early age because a serious looking man with a cross said it was that way or their parents told them about it, and your parents never lie to you, right? When these scientists see something acting in the universe they investigate how it may have come into being, finding answers that lead to dozens more questions because of that great discovery. These investigations and hypothesis are not flights of fancy either, but clear results derived from rigorous testing which end up forming their evidence to support their findings. They even have the ability to question and test theories despite the fact that information that came before may refute them. It's a constant battle of thinking, formulating, testing, failing and testing again until conclusions can be made with certainty that form stepping stones bringing them closer and closer to understanding the universe. In other words, they are infinitely questioning everything and applying hypotheses and testing, while some of the religious practitioners just accept the creeds of their particular religion and don't dare to question anything, especially the existence of a God, for fear that their lives will hold no meaning after their discoveries, that they'll be deemed a heretic by peers or that their "safety blanket" (God's providence and overall benevolence) will forever be tugged away and burned.

    I feel some of the religious are more concerned with finding solace in God and the presence they feel he has in their lives until they reach the point of judgment at the pearly gates and receive entry into a better life beyond this existence. It's as if some are simply biding their time on earth until they can die and finally live a greater life in heaven (something which isn't even a proven universal fact supported with clear certainty), whereas scientists are already fascinated enough with the lives they are living presently and wish to solve as much of the world's mysteries as they can while they are breathing, as they have no evidence to support the existence of the afterlife which the other group subscribes to.

    I can only find myself siding with the scientists, or in a religious context, the disbelievers, dissenters, heretics or skeptics. I can't help but formulate the personal belief that God was only created so that people throughout the ages were kept in check. If authorities of power of religion tell their citizens across centuries that unless they act benevolently and serve their bosses/masters/kings well they will be deemed a sinner and sent to burn in a fiery pitt called Hell, they will try their best to behave for fear of the fate that would await them if they sinned. With this in mind many of these said religious practitioners question nothing and simply nod and behave, not realizing the ruse which they have been tricked with since the beginning of time, not to mention just how many donations churches get every year from them. If I could ever find any religious faith to cling to (don't hold your breath on that), I would likely group myself with deists, because I have run into humans before that no God in their right mind would create, and the senselessness of so much that happens in this universe from poverty to war and violence between our own kind would make me conclude that the creator must have made his world and then left it to run itself long, long ago. Until then, I'll remain a disbeliever.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    Great stuff, @Brady! :-) You have a fine way of explaining your thoughts.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,838
    You guys just don't get it. God is a master model railroader. History is just the 'painted background' you see on most layouts. It isn't real and hasn't happened. Were you around when your grandfather was born? ha! see? and he isn't really real, but some sort of puppet. something to connect that background with the layout.

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    Thanks for that, @lunnchoop! :-)
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    Wonderful, @Thunderfinger. :-)
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    It’s Christmas. What better moment to discuss religion? So I was asked today if science will ever positively prove that God doesn’t exist.

    I can honestly say that science will never be able to prove that God doesn’t exist. For starters, the meaning of the word God is vague, inconsistent and personal; in a sense God is undefined. Two people may think they practice the same religion and consequently conclude they worship the same God, but that’s almost never the case. And because anyone’s meaning of the word God is essentially unreliable, because God is not clearly defined, God is neither verifiable nor falsifiable. There is no objective authority on God, written down in equations that can be tested. As a result, science has no business talking about God because it couldn’t make rational statements or reliable predictions about God.

    Instead, science can at best try to show that the universe can be explained without God; that science doesn’t need God to piece together where everything, including life, comes from. This is what most cosmologists, evolutionary biologists, quantum and particle physicists try to do. But does that mean they themselves automatically believe God isn’t real? To be honest, I’ve had interesting conversations with cosmologists who practice religion despite totally removing the idea of a Creator from their work.

    In a sense, there are three groups of scientists: those who practice science and religion, those who are fierce opponents to the notion of a Creator, and those who are quite frankly indifferent towards God, especially in their work. The first group can actually be very creative concerning God. You see, physicists are looking for that one fundamental superforce that unites all other interactions in the cosmos, yet it’s very difficult to find this force. Some propose that this one cosmic force-behind-everything may one day very well be the mathematical description of God. Others claim that as long as the true precursor to the Big Bang isn’t fully understood, we might as well call it God – and even if it is understood, it could still be called God. Others still have other opinions, but it’s not like religious scientists are such a rare breed.

    In conclusion, science cannot disprove that which is essentially irrational; it can only show that the universe doesn’t need God to work. But that in itself needn’t steer scientists away from a bit of faith themselves.

    I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Ostandia
    Posts: 39,857
    Present cosmology is as absurd as religion.
    I do not believe in a big bang. I believe consciousness arose at one point because it was possible. Not just possible, I believe it is a natural and potentially eternal state. Consciousness is what builds the universe (or multiverse if you will). You may call that God or something else.
    Religion (and especially the patriarchal religions) is all about control. Some are worse than others.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    @Thundefinger, glad I know you well enough to realise you're pulling my leg with those first two sentences. ;-)
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Ostandia
    Posts: 39,857
    Not really. The big bang has not been proven, it is a theory built around a problem, an ad hoc solution and it has always seemed preposterous to me. I have been reading alot about the holographic universe theories as well as the electric universe theories lately, and the more I learn, the more the big bang sounds ludicrous. It explains nothing anyway.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited December 2014 Posts: 18,897
    Well to be frank, the evidence in favour of the Big Bang seems conclusive enough. The WMAP observations of the cosmic background radiation, for example, is exactly as predicted. Also, the Big Bang explains quite a bit actually, from Hubble's Law to the material build-up of the universe. Admittedly, some details are still being discussed and those discussions often lead to interesting interpretations, such as the various types of multiverses currently being considered. But I'm pretty sure one day we'll get there. Also, proof that everything can be created from "nothing" seems to be imminent.

    We can literally look back to 380 000 years after the Big Bang and the way the universe was back then, perfectly fits our Big Bang models. So I'm still far more inclined to go with the hypothesis that works very well mathematically and that seems to withstand most if not all of our currently conducted experiments.

    I was never a fan of the holographic universe hypothesis but of course that doesn't make it any less possible. ;-) Still, it's a product of string theory, a theory which I find too young and immature to already produce such cosmic concepts. So far, string theory has only worked on paper but not a single experiment or measurement has concluded anything specifically in its favour. But I will be honest, my reservations concerning string theory may have something to do with some of its more vocal practitioners trying to diminish quantum theory - by far the most successful theory ever born in science. Without it, I wouldn't even be typing these words right now. ;-)
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Dancing at midnight under the BeBop Moon
    edited December 2014 Posts: 11,756
    I am a Christian, as you know, Dimi. My faith is something real and is not based on things that can be "proved" in a scientific way. Faith, indeed, goes beyond the realms of believing in material things that we can see, hear, touch, or reason through. It is more than that. That is why I find meaning in expressions such as "a leap of faith". In no way does this denigrate science, because I think science (properly studied) is good and very helpful. My belief does not denigrate my Christian roots either. There are plenty of Christians who believe that evolution is a fact; that does not take away from our faith in God. Even my favorite Christmas movie, the classic black and white Miracle on 34th Street has a line that I have always liked, about faith. If I can remember it correctly, it says "Faith means believing in things when common sense tells you not to." Faith is more than what can be proven to our material based, critical thinking self. It is beyond that. Faith, by its very essence, means believing in something bigger, more complex, not easy to explain, mysterious yet compelling.
    I am completely comfortable with my faith, but that is my personal belief. Other religious people have different ways of explaining their faith. I just thought I'd take a moment here, since I respect you and what you bring to these discussions, Dimi.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    Thank you, @4EverBonded. I profoundly respect your contribution. You're absolutely correct that science and religion need not denigrate one another. Science mustn't try to rob people of their inner feelings; nor must religion pretend it can debunk science on the basis of its disagreement with certain passages in the Bible.

    Unfortunately this happens all too often. Some conclude from that that science and religion must inevitably clash at one point. I don't think so. Science has no business trying to disprove God for example. This is what I wanted to make clear in my earlier post. :-)
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Ostandia
    Posts: 39,857
    @DarthDimi, the problem with the evidence in favour of a big bang and an ever expanding universe is that they need to come up with all this mumbo jumbo to fit the evidence to the hypothesis. I am talking about dark matter, dark energy, black holes. Dark dark stuff that is totally unverifiable and should make up 97 per cent of everything there is. I could be wrong, but something else is also not right.

    Another thing that bugs me is when they see things that happened shortly after the big bang. Really, in what direction was that exactly?
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,838
    Discussing religion and the existance of (a) god are two completely different things.
    The first is a social tool, the second is scientiffically impossible, and I'll explain why.

    First off, most see this 'all mighty beeing' as supernatural, capable of altering things, changing dispite nature's laws. Well, basically, science is always checking itself, and 'nature's laws' as we know them are always under scrutiny, changed whenever we find something that goes against these laws. So, in effect, whenever we find such a spaghetti monster capable of interference with everyday life, we'll try to figure out how it does such magical trics, and make new calculations accordingly, thus making 'super' natural things natural. That's the strength of science and the weakness of all the 'gods' as described in so many religious books. They'll never live up to their supernatural state, as it's impossible to be super natural.

    Religion is just a very good way to keep people in check. you start with a set of rules. But as soon as you tell anyone 'i don't want you to do that' sooner or later somebody will come along and say 'but I'm doing it anyway'. If you tell that person an allmighty, all seeing force who looks exactly like granddad, but is far more powerfull, will see everything you do and will be very cross with you and make you burn for eternity if you brake that rule, it's far more impressive.

    So it works as a lovely way to scare not even children, but even adults into following the rules. Organised religion's got some more tricks up it's sleeve. Humans don't like uncertainty. So, tell them that, if they burn a candle, put fruit in the river or dance a silly dance the harvest will most definately be rich, and they'll do it even if they doubt the effect. Why? Because we want certainty, and what if it works? But if two people do that dance and it 'works' becouse the harvest IS good, you'll have the whole village dancing the next year. And will they stop when the harvest isn't good? No of course not! they probably did it wrong/ not long enough, and so we getreligious ceremonies. These become social gatherings where you can see who's important/elligable for marriage, etc. and now the religion has a stable base, as it has a triple function: creating order, giving hope AND creating social interaction.

    And how about that religious feeling? well, that's a combination of the certainty given, especially after life, (but not necceserraly, ask any strict protestant) and the social interaction. Even better, it often creates a superiority feeling towards those who don't believe, as the believer is part of a 'chosen'group which goes to heaven, whilst the rest will go to hell. So religion gives a confidence and a superior feeling which gives purpose as well (as is anything with a reward at the end, and in this case, conveniently after death, so you can't complain if it isn't true).

    @4Ever this is not meant to be disrespectfull. The above points however should, imo, be considered by all who follow any religion/ideaology as the negative versions are extremely damaging to others. If you take them in a positive way, they can help you along fine in your life.

    Personally, I've seen too much religious hypocracy and hate to believe in anything other then that lovely impending death. When I'm done I'm done and I'm gone. No judgement, just the memory of those who're still alive. For me, the only judgement that counts is that of those who're close to me. No redemtion if I c*ck things up badly. Nothing but a terrible guilt, which might even cut my life short.

  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Dancing at midnight under the BeBop Moon
    Posts: 11,756
    Oh I am not offended or upset at all, @CommanderRoss. People simply have differing opinions and faiths. Everyone needs to make up their own mind. I do believe in God for sure, without any need for material evidence. Religious customs and behavior/dogma of churches through the centuries, the reason to keep people in check, etc. are different issues. I would probably agree with much of you on that. But my basic faith is in God, and as as Christian that means Jesus Christ, too - that is undaunted by any scientific or rational or material or other theories set forth. And therefore, I do believe in an afterlife also.

    Faith is beyond basic calculation and the usual reasoning. It is beyond politics and economics. It is beyond simple explanations. That does not make it less viable or less real, or less important, to those who have a genuine faith. Faith is supremely, utterly personal; it is in one's own heart and mind.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 18,897
    @DarthDimi, the problem with the evidence in favour of a big bang and an ever expanding universe is that they need to come up with all this mumbo jumbo to fit the evidence to the hypothesis. I am talking about dark matter, dark energy, black holes. Dark dark stuff that is totally unverifiable and should make up 97 per cent of everything there is. I could be wrong, but something else is also not right.

    Another thing that bugs me is when they see things that happened shortly after the big bang. Really, in what direction was that exactly?

    My good friend, simple red-shift analysis is all it takes to notice the continuous expansion of the universe. The red-shift is some form of the Doppler-effect which we can all experience every time an ambulance drives by our house with the sirens really loud.

    The existence of dark matter, indeed, must still be verified. Dark matter was suggested as a way to make observational data fit our models of the universe. I can see why this can be considered a weakness of the hypothesis, however it really isn't. Firstly, it's not *just* something science cooked up as a theoretical deus-ex-machina to escape an issue. It was reasoned out, mathematically analysed to the bone and submitted for harsh falsification to sceptics. It may yet prove nonsense, but as the years pass by, evidence for dark matter seems to only grow more numerous. Furthermore, in the 20th century we have continuously proposed the existence of something many years before that something was actually discovered in experiments. Neutrons, quarks, neutrinos, antiparticles, ... were all suggested in theory before they were actually shown to be real via reproducible experiments. I am fairly confident that with the growing capacities of our particle accelerators, we may hit upon dark matter sooner rather than later.

    As for the Big Bang, we can't "see" anything before 380 000 years since the event, at least not with conventional methods. Electromagnetic radiation simply couldn't escape the hot soup of charged particles that constituted the entire universe before that point in time. (Photons, the carrier particles of electromagnetic radiation, interact with electrically charged particles.) But after 380 000 years the universe cooled down to the point where atomic nuclei and electrons married into neutral atoms. From that moment forth, radiation could "shine" freely. Now at first the universe was incredibly hot but as it expanded, it cooled down. The background radiation from the big bang also 'cooled down', meaning that the frequency of the photons which carry this radiation lowered to the point where they passed by the visible light spectrum and ended in the lower radio-wave range. Now the interesting thing is that the COBE/WMAP data aren't the only sources we have for these contemplations and calculations. Even before these data were collected, astronomy, through cruder methods, had already established a Big Bang theory. These methods are totally independent of one another, and of the COBE/WMAP observations, yet they all return the very same conclusions (albeit in some cases with a higher numerical precision). In about a hundred years of Big Bang theory, we are still gathering more and more evidence in its favour. Of course every once in a while some ambitious wannabe, eager to get a book published, hopes to create commotion by claiming that he can disprove the Big Bang. However, almost always there's either an easily detected flaw in his reasoning, or he does suggest a Big Bang himself but with a minor few details slightly adjusted. In a way, the Big Bang theory is a more solid and waterproof theory than the theory of gravity. ;-)
    Discussing religion and the existance of (a) god are two completely different things.
    The first is a social tool, the second is scientiffically impossible, and I'll explain why.

    First off, most see this 'all mighty beeing' as supernatural, capable of altering things, changing dispite nature's laws. Well, basically, science is always checking itself, and 'nature's laws' as we know them are always under scrutiny, changed whenever we find something that goes against these laws. So, in effect, whenever we find such a spaghetti monster capable of interference with everyday life, we'll try to figure out how it does such magical trics, and make new calculations accordingly, thus making 'super' natural things natural. That's the strength of science and the weakness of all the 'gods' as described in so many religious books. They'll never live up to their supernatural state, as it's impossible to be super natural.

    Religion is just a very good way to keep people in check. you start with a set of rules. But as soon as you tell anyone 'i don't want you to do that' sooner or later somebody will come along and say 'but I'm doing it anyway'. If you tell that person an allmighty, all seeing force who looks exactly like granddad, but is far more powerfull, will see everything you do and will be very cross with you and make you burn for eternity if you brake that rule, it's far more impressive.

    So it works as a lovely way to scare not even children, but even adults into following the rules. Organised religion's got some more tricks up it's sleeve. Humans don't like uncertainty. So, tell them that, if they burn a candle, put fruit in the river or dance a silly dance the harvest will most definately be rich, and they'll do it even if they doubt the effect. Why? Because we want certainty, and what if it works? But if two people do that dance and it 'works' becouse the harvest IS good, you'll have the whole village dancing the next year. And will they stop when the harvest isn't good? No of course not! they probably did it wrong/ not long enough, and so we getreligious ceremonies. These become social gatherings where you can see who's important/elligable for marriage, etc. and now the religion has a stable base, as it has a triple function: creating order, giving hope AND creating social interaction.

    And how about that religious feeling? well, that's a combination of the certainty given, especially after life, (but not necceserraly, ask any strict protestant) and the social interaction. Even better, it often creates a superiority feeling towards those who don't believe, as the believer is part of a 'chosen'group which goes to heaven, whilst the rest will go to hell. So religion gives a confidence and a superior feeling which gives purpose as well (as is anything with a reward at the end, and in this case, conveniently after death, so you can't complain if it isn't true).

    @4Ever this is not meant to be disrespectfull. The above points however should, imo, be considered by all who follow any religion/ideaology as the negative versions are extremely damaging to others. If you take them in a positive way, they can help you along fine in your life.

    Personally, I've seen too much religious hypocracy and hate to believe in anything other then that lovely impending death. When I'm done I'm done and I'm gone. No judgement, just the memory of those who're still alive. For me, the only judgement that counts is that of those who're close to me. No redemtion if I c*ck things up badly. Nothing but a terrible guilt, which might even cut my life short.

    @CommanderRoss, great piece of writing, sir! :-)
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Ostandia
    Posts: 39,857
    I have problems with the theory of gravity as well, but thanks for your elaborate reply.
    I guess scientists will always be able to find what they are looking for when their minds are set.Damn! I should have taken up science when I was younger.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited December 2014 Posts: 23,883
    From my point of view, humans are the only 'beings' looking for explanations to the unknown. Dogs don't do this, and neither does any other species. We seem to always need meaning in order to be happy. All races and religions are like this which is fascinating. It's part of the human condition to need 'meaning' or 'purpose'.

    Science finds the answers......with time....and all of the greatest inventions that we all rely on are all due to science. I believe science will eventually find the answers to all our questions, just not in my lifetime. It's the only absolute truth that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I have faith too. Personal faith. I've always had it, from a young age. It's just a knowing belief that there's more to it all than we know. That's currently true, and it will always be true. There is always more to learn. One needs personal faith to remain sane in this world since we'll never know everything or have answers to everything. We all have a conscience for a reason. We all know right from wrong inherently. This is a deeply personal thing.

    Organized religion and dogma I have absolutely no time for on the other hand. That to me is a 'control the masses, aggrandize myself' nonsense that I can do without. Convenient narratives and story telling. Every race and creed has its own version of the truth and believes in their version. That's fine, but to me until science catches up, those are just convenient narratives. The only positive purpose it serves IMO is to bring a sense of shared community and belonging to those who need it, but the narratives I can do without.

    Eventually science will get there. That's what keeps us going. That's why we evolve. Science should never be denigrated or discounted. It is a noble endeavour.

    My motto: The earth was flat until someone politely pointed out and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to all us heretofore ignoramuses of various religious persuasions that it was & is in fact round. Now we all know better.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,838
    @bondjames we don't know if we're the only beeings looking for explenations to the unknown. For all we know dolphins have been theorising for thousands of years that there's a vast ocean beyond that air layer that's holding them back. And now I'm only talking about creatures on this planet. it's highly unlikely that there are no other planets with live on them in our own milkyway, let alone space. Yes, we strive for purpose in life, but I dare to theorise that all concious animals have such a sense of purpose. Why else would one meerkat safe another from a scorpion, or a monkey try to revive his dying friend on an Indian railway station?

    I find comfort in the fact that we'll never know everything. That's the fun of it. Exploring, finding new things, is fascinating and gives a sense of purpose. The next Columbus, or Stanley, or Abel Tasman (I'm Dutch after all ;-) ) is now working for NASA or ESA or perhaps the Japanese space agency, or in some medical labratory working on drugs against cancer, or... you name it. The next Otto Lillienthal or Orville Wright may work for Virgin Galactic or the Russian Space agency. I may never be able to play such a glamourous role, but my work now helps a democracy run along and in a few years I hope to have my own company, adding just my little twopence to the future of mankind.

    Yes, there's more then we know, that's why we're trying to find out what, and that process is called science. That's my 'faith'.

    @Darth, thanks!
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited December 2014 Posts: 23,883
    @CommanderRoss I think we are in agreement.

    I'm totally for science. Everything we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is directly attributable to scientific endeavour & logical analysis.....and yes, other species may actually be searching for meaning. We really don't know. It was wrong for me to assume otherwise.

    There are of course some areas (perhaps areas that are quite important, including meaning/purpose/beginning of life as we know it etc.) where science is not quite there yet.

    My point is that science may never be quite there on these matters during any individual's specific lifetime. There will always be questions to the unknown that need answering. In the meantime, personal faith or belief is as good a solution for comfort for the masses as anything. I don't have any problem with that. Not everyone can be a scientist and some people need to have a belief system that they can hold onto in the meanwhile.

    However, I have concerns about 'overreach' from organized religion or any organized entity. Telling us how to think, what to think, what's good and what's wrong, how one group is bad and another is good. I think all of us actually have good and wrong inherent within us, if we look deep enough. Even a small infant knows that violence is bad. I believe as a species we need to learn how to tap into that more personally and rely less on 'organized' religion for solutions. We also need to think for ourselves more and to question more. In a way, we have to think a little more like scientists.

    I also have a problem with religious zealotry ignoring what has been proven by science, or attempting to prevent funding for research into things that can help find solutions or answers, or prevent people from questioning authority or accepted principles. That's completely wrong. That's an attempt to control thought or ignore indisputable truth. History has shown that is wrong.

    Organized religion's most effective purpose is to convey a sense of collective belonging for those who need it, which is fine. It's the dictats I have a problem with, and people holding onto irrational narratives against the evidence to the contrary.

    In terms of mottos, I certainly don't believe that 'ignorance is bliss'. Quite the opposite. I also don't believe that 'curiosity killed the cat'. Curiosity is essential to moving forward as a species.


  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,838
    @bondjames if curiosity killed the cat (or not, if it's Schrodinger's pet) we can at least ascertain the cat most likely was having fun, as it was, indeed, discovering new ideas, things, places. We do indeed agree. Anyone's personal beliefs are fine by me, as long as nobody is abusing those for powerplay. We (thankfully) have secular lawbooks that'll tell you what you can or can't do. We don't need any organised religion for that at all.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Ostandia
    Posts: 39,857
    It is a bit funny how scientists will embrace a hypothesis based on circumstantial evidence and probability if it is a fashionable hypothesis, and at the same time discard a hypothesis that is just as probable maybe even more, if it is an unfashionable hypothesis. Then only hard irrefutible proof will do.
    http://starburstfound.org/sqk-cosmology/
    for a different look at the redshift phenomenon amongst other things
  • Posts: 246
    It is a bit funny how scientists will embrace a hypothesis based on circumstantial evidence and probability if it is a fashionable hypothesis, and at the same time discard a hypothesis that is just as probable maybe even more, if it is an unfashionable hypothesis. Then only hard irrefutible proof will do.
    http://starburstfound.org/sqk-cosmology/
    for a different look at the redshift phenomenon amongst other things

    I might agree with you if you change 'fashionable' for 'fundable'.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    edited December 2014 Posts: 18,897
    You bring up something interesting, @Thunderfinger.

    By the end of the 19th Century, scientists thought they had pretty much figured it all out. Newtonian mechanics held sway over all of physics, Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism were worshipped like a divine creation and atoms were generally considered a neat trick to explain things on paper but not at all 'real'. In fact, careers had previously been ruined over the proposal of atoms as real particles.

    How little the physicists-who-had-figured-it-all-out knew.

    In 1905, Albert Einstein demonstrated, all within the span of one year, that Newtonian mechanics was not absolute (hence his special theory of relativity), that Maxwell's laws could not explain every phenomenon involving light (hence Einstein's light photons as an explanation for the photoelectric effect) and that atoms are bloody real! Some scientists were at first reluctant to accept these new discoveries, which formed an entire paradigm shift as it were, but Einstein's reasoning - in some cases backed up by experiment - was waterproof so they had no choice.

    Very soon, quantum mechanics arose from the fruits of Einstein's "annus mirabilis", with others, like Max Planck and Niels Bohr, soon making one discovery after the other. They shocked the physics community time and again, were sometimes ridiculed, yet ultimately won because their ground-breaking theories led to more successes at an exponential rate. Chemistry became so much more successful in figuring out chemical bonding thanks to Bohr's work. Soon, even technology found practical use for these "weird" quantum mechanical theories and so whoever dared go against them simply made a fool of himself.

    Then, halfway through the 1920s, some younger minds challenged the quantum pioneers themselves. Heisenberg, Schrödinger, de Broglie, ... launched a series of hypotheses that even the older quantum physicists thought too crazy for words. Bohr and Einstein mocked the famous uncertainty principle, which basically took a dump on the deterministic view which they and the Newtonians before them had always endorsed. Yet within a couple of years, the notion of uncertainty, of probability at the quantum level, proved the only correct way to approach things. Many things still left unexplained to chemists suddenly became clear as day thanks to Schrödinger's orbital theory. The behaviour of recently discovered sub-atomic particles, the physics behind the transistor, the laser and photo cell was born from the loins of the second generation quantum theories. Einstein later admitted that he had been clumsy dismissing some of these revolutionary ideas (even if he kept searching for ways out - only he never found any).

    But the newly crowned kings of quantum mechanics, like Schrödinger, were themselves not entirely pleased with some of the hypotheses that were built on their own triumphs. Schrödinger was so irritated by some debates over the particle-wave duality, that he created the Schrödinger Cat paradox, just to demonstrate how silly his aspiring successors were behaving. Yet some of them, like Hugh Everett, suggested clever solutions to the cat paradox, demonstrating in fact that the so-called paradox in actuality wasn't one.

    So you see, the 20th Century is littered with examples of really unpopular and unfashionable theories and hypotheses replacing older ones. Scientists at the forefront of one revolution often failed to support another. Money almost never had anything to do with it since the practical uses of many of these revolutionizing theories often didn't become obvious until many years after they had first been suggested. It's true that some theories struggle hard to get accepted; after all, it did take us close to 2500 years to fully accept the existence of atoms (we now have them on photo so there's no more denying their reality.)

    But good theories always prevail. Good theories offer a way out of something other theories struggle with; good theories simplify things, which makes them very appealing to at least a younger generation of open-minded scientists who haven't committed their trust in formerly established paradigms to inflexibility yet; good theories create a new frame from which to generate more ground-breaking theories. Returning to the subject of for example dark matter and the Big Bang, many alternative theories have been proposed but I believe none of them has of yet solved all or most of the problems the Big Bang theory still struggles with whilst also simplifying our understanding of the universe and spawning new, attractive hypotheses.

    Of course I could be mistaken. I'm not actively involved in any active research any more so I have to learn things when I can read them in a book or on a trustworthy website. So far, I haven't come across any theory that from a scientific standpoint does a better job than the Big Bang theory, but maybe one day I shall. In my case it has nothing to do with whether or not something sounds fashionable though. String theory is somewhat fashionable nowadays but I'm a sceptic, simply because the essentials of quantum and particle physics it seeks to replace are themselves still simpler, 100 % backed up by countless everyday technological applications and because they keep advancing more and more great hypotheses which, one after the other, prove absolutely correct. Even the elusive neutrino, once designated "the ghost particle", hasn't managed to escape us forever. Even the Higgs boson, elegantly designated "the God particle", has been found in the debris of aggressive high-energy particle smashings. These neutrinos and Higgs bosons help to make the Big Bang theory more complete, like missing pieces from a puzzle finally getting the place they were born to occupy. Meanwhile, some other theories labour hard to find flaws in the Big Bang theory, but for every leg they (think they can) saw from under the chair of the Big Bang theory, the latter simply puts three more chairs around the table of success.

    By now I have become old enough to maybe find radical paradigm shifts in physics that occurred in my lifetime. I am well aware of the fact that scientists sometimes prefer to stubbornly cling to tradition rather than to accept something new but also better. However, "tradition" isn't what it once was any more. We no longer cry tears when something that used to sound good has to suddenly go. We're not like the physicists of the 19th Century who barely allowed Arrhenius to pass his final test because they were repulsed by his proposal that atoms could carry charge too (i.e. ions) but couldn't find any flaw in his reasoning. In fact, we have become very susceptible to sudden, dramatic changes in our line of thinking, as long as a few conditions (see above) are met. Black holes were a mere few decades ago considered crackpot physics, fine as far as Disney goes but hardly worth a serious physicist's time. Yet some faint signals from space were enough to send scores of astrophysicists on a pursuit for Black Holes. We now detect them at a rate of one per day. Modern cosmologists are even open to the (probably) eternally unfalisifiable concept of a multiverse. You see, they don't slam the door in your face when you present something that shakes the foundations of cosmology, as long as there's something to work with in your hypothesis. When modern cosmology tells an hypothesis to go away and hide in embarrassment, there's most likely a very good reason for it. Besides, the Big Bang theory is one of the most challenged theories in the history of science, yet it has stood its ground for nearly a 100 years now, not just because it sounds good but because the suggested alternatives so far have always sounded worse (meaning less complete or downright flawed). Meanwhile observations via ever improving space probes and experiments with ever improving particle accelerators keep returning more evidence to support the theory. Some details may be slightly adjusted over time - e.g. we went from "somewhere between 10 and 20 billion years" in the 90s to "13.7 or 13.8 billion years" today for the age of our universe - but the overall outlines of the theory remain intact.

    Perhaps another Einstein is needed to single-handedly introduce a whole new kind of thinking, radically changing our view of the cosmos, solving many of the problems we are still left with. When that happens, I'll be very excited. But until then, I try to keep track of all the successes of cosmology, particle physics and quantum physics, many of which eventually secure a warm place in our own household technology, in our medical equipment, in our scientific research, ...
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