Saturday, January 06, 2007

Improbability of Life Sustaining Environment For Millions of Years

4. An almost incomprehensible set of requirements for support of life as we know it on this planet maintained in critical balance for either millenniums (Bible) or millions of years (science). Such balance is beyond the imagination of most humans to contemplate without intelligence tweaking systems which might have otherwise gone awry. (Consider how science is now telling us that a mere 6% of warming might destroy human life that has survived for a very long time without help from science.)

Bernardo's Response to #4. Our universe can sustain interesting chemistry; It's a universe where a variety of bonds and energy states and energy transfers and forces between a variety of particles can happen, thanks to certain proportions between certain fundamental constants. Say that such a universe is very unlikely (which it is, given that, as far as we know, those fundamental constants could all conceivably have had very different values). Now, say that all possible universes exist, parallel to each other. On the (relatively few) universes where chemistry (and thus life) can happen, it's quite likely (given enough planets) that life would arise. If that life became intelligent, it might realize that its own existence is very unlikely. But, with an infinity of universes, something "very unlikely" is bound to happen. You might say something like "I'm lucky to have been born in a universe that is this friendly to life", but the fact is, you COULD NOT have been born anywhere else. So, as far as I can tell, there is no luck involved, no huge odds miraculously overcome. Of all the universes that can exist, of COURSE we ended up coming into being on this one. We might marvel at our luck, but that's like a polar bear concluding the existence of God because how else could the bear have been fortunate enough to have been borne on an environment so ideally suited to the bear's needs and wants.

Randy's Response: We not only would marvel at our luck, but we would marvel that we would having any hope of being that lucky tomorrow, also. A very small change could unravel the whole thing, but hasn't. Doesn't that seem beyond ones ability to imagine as just lucky. You can call it an explaination. I would just call it "let me think of some story since I have absolutely no idea."


bernardo said...

"You can call it an explaination. I would just call it "let me think of some story since I have absolutely no idea"."

We keep saying this to each other. I wonder if there's a way to bridge the differences in what we consider to be explanations versus made-up speculative non-explanatory stories. I'm going to have to think more about this.

bernardo said...

But getting back to the specific topic of this post: Physical constants do not change, or change very slowly, or at least have always been observed to change very slowly if at all, every time anyone has bothered to check. So I do not worry about the possibility of waking up tomorrow to find that my hydrogen bonds no longer work or that all non-iron atoms in my body are undergoing noticeable nuclear decay.

In other words, while it is easy to imagine an infinite number of universes, each with different "settings", it is hard to imagine that any one of those universes can change enough for the chemistry in it to "unravel". It could happen. Or aliens could land on my street tonight and kill me. But since it has never been observed, I'm not going to worry about it. I'm better off worrying about earthquakes, meteors falling into my house, and lightning strikes. I would say my "luck" in not having died from a meteor falling on me is greater than my "luck" in not having come apart due to changes in the physical constants of the universe.

truth machine said...

"Consider how science is now telling us that a mere 6% of warming might destroy human life that has survived for a very long time without help from science."

It would only destroy human civilization, not the human species, which would only be a setback of a few thousand years, not "a very long time". This sort of equivocation is very common among religious people -- because they must be intellectually dishonest in order to maintain their fantasies for a lifetime.

Randy Kirk said...

The point wasn't actually that it would destroy every last human, but that somehow this planet has survived and thrived through either 10,000 years or 10 billion years with a huge number of environmental aspects having to be in perfect balance. Either this is totally improbable in a naturalistic world, and therefore science should be careful about believing that natural or human causes will disrupt it in our lifetimes; or we have somebody with their finger on the control panel.

Randy Kirk said...

Here is another place where the debate is not being seriously joined. I think because it is beyond the scope of most of our tiny brains to think that the earth is self-healing, and that it is self-healing in a way that favors life. WOW!

Cordin said...

Just throwing this out there to see where it may lead:

If the geologists of the last couple hundred years are correct, there have been five mass extinctions of life on earth where entire flora and fauna disappeared never to exist again. The extiction rates vary from 38% to 96% of all species. On the flipside, new life forms appear above these extictions.

Earth seems to have come very close to losing its life several times. Ironically, if an asteroid had not hit the earth 65 million years ago -cleaning out the 'mature trees' that others might grow-, humans may never have been. (I'm assuming evolution here.) I would hazard a guess that there are other 'lucky' planets where 'the replicators' did not continue to self-aware beings. Life is tenacious though. It is found at some of the hottest and coldest environments on earth. Some will say God, but I believe this is a testament to the power of random mutation coupled with natural selection.

Tom Foss said...

Doesn't that seem beyond ones ability to imagine as just lucky. You can call it an explaination. I would just call it "let me think of some story since I have absolutely no idea."

Argument from personal incredulity.

Mr. Kirk, since you have expressed the desire to have an intelligent debate, and you have solicited criticism, I suggest three things to you, which should entail minimal effort on your part:
1. Familiarize yourself with Bronze Dog's Doggerel entries. They are linked from the front page of his blog.
2. Do a quick search for "list of logical fallacies." There are quite a few good comprehensive ones out there, I'll recommend starting here. Familiarize yourself with some of these as well (maybe read through the fallacies tab at Skeptico too.
3. Do a quick search for "Douglas Adams" and "puddle" together. Hopefully that will bring up the passage which shows the backwards reasoning behind this post.

I advise this in hopes of increasing the quality of debate here. You have some interesting arguments and you show a willingness to listen, but your use of common fallacies makes it difficult to take your commitment to debate seriously.

Anonymous said...

Part I
Earlier it was impossible for us to give any satisfactory answer to this question. But modern science, rather we should say that Einstein, has made it an easy task for us. And Stephen Hawking has provided us with the clue necessary for solving this riddle. Actually scientists in their infinite wisdom have already kept the ground well-prepared for us believers so that one day we can give a most plausible and logically consistent answer to this age-old question. Let me first quote from the book “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking:
“The idea of inflation could also explain why there is so much matter in the universe. There is something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero.”
Here the question stops. So the clue is this: if we can ultimately arrive at zero, then no further question will be raised, and there will be no infinite regression. What I intend to do here is something similar to that. I want to show that our God is a bunch of several zeroes, and that therefore no further question need be raised about His origin. And here comes Einstein with his special theory of relativity for giving us the necessary empirical support to our project.
God is a Being. Therefore God will have existence as well as essence. So I will have to show that both from the point of view of existence as well as from the point of view of essence God is zero. It is almost a common parlance that God is spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, and all-pervading. Here we are getting three zeroes; space is zero, time is zero, change is zero. But how to prove that if there is a God, then that God will be spaceless, timeless, and changeless? From special theory of relativity we come to know that for light both distance and time become unreal. For light even an infinite distance is infinitely contracted to zero. The volume of an infinite universe full of light only will be simply zero due to this property of light. A universe with zero volume is a spaceless universe. Again at the speed of light time totally stops. So a universe full of light only is a spaceless, timeless universe. But these are the properties of light only! How do we come to know that God is also having the same properties of light so that God can also be spaceless, timeless? Scientists have shown that if there is a God, then that God can only be light, and nothing else, and that therefore He will have all the properties of light. Here is the proof.

Anonymous said...

Part II
Scientists have shown that total energy of the universe is always zero. If total energy is zero, then total mass will also be zero due to energy-mass equivalence. Now if there is a God, then scientists have calculated the total energy and mass of the universe by taking into consideration the fact that there is also a God. In other words, if there is a God, then this total energy-mass calculation by the scientists is God-inclusive, not God-exclusive. This is due to two reasons. First of all, even if there is a God, they are not aware of the fact that there is a God. Secondly, they do not admit that there is a God. So, if there is a God, then they have not been able to keep that God aside before making this calculation, because they do not know that there is a God. They cannot say that they have kept Him aside and then made this calculation, because by saying that they will admit that there is a God. At most they can say that there is no God. But we are not going to accept that statement as the final verdict on God-issue, because we are disputing that statement. So the matter of the fact is this: if God is really there, then total mass and total energy of the universe including that God are both zero. Therefore mass and energy of God will also be zero. God is without any mass, without any energy. And Einstein has already shown that anything having zero rest-mass will have the speed of light. In other words, it will be light. So, if God is there, then God will also be light, and therefore He will be spaceless, timeless. So from the point of view of existence God is zero, because he is spaceless, timeless, without any mass, without any energy.

Anonymous said...

Part III
Now we will have to show that from the point of view of essence also God is zero. If there is only one being in the universe, and if there is no second being other than that being, then that being cannot have any such property as love, hate, cruelty, compassion, benevolence, etc. Let us say that God is cruel. Now to whom can He be cruel if there is no other being other than God Himself? So, if God is cruel, then is He cruel to Himself? Therefore if we say that God is all-loving, merciful, benevolent, etc., then we are also admitting that God is not alone, that there is another being co-eternal with God to whom He can show His love, benevolence, goodness, mercy, compassion, etc. If we say that God is all-loving, then we are also saying that this “all” is co-eternal with God. Thus we are admitting that God has not created the universe at all, and that therefore we need not have to revere Him, for the simple reason that He is not our creator!
It is usually said that God is good. But Bertrand Russell has shown that God cannot be good for the simple reason that if God is good, then there is a standard of goodness which is independent of God’s will. Therefore, if God is the ultimate Being, then that God cannot be good. But neither can He be evil. God is beyond good and evil. Like Hindu’s Brahma, a real God can only be nirguna, nirupadhik; without any name, without any quality. From the point of view of essence also, a real God is a zero. Mystics usually say that God is a no-thing. This is the real God, not the God of the scriptures.
So, why should there be any need for creation here, if God is existentially, as well as essentially, zero?
But if there is someone who is intelligent and clever enough, then he will not stop arguing here. He will point out to another infinite regression. If God is light, then He will no doubt be spaceless, timeless, etc. Therefore one infinite regression is thus arrested. But what about the second regression? How, and from whom, does light get its own peculiar properties by means of which we have successfully arrested the first regression? So, here is another infinite regression. But we need not have to worry much about this regression, because this problem has already been solved. A whole thing, by virtue of its being the whole thing, will have all the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness. It need not have to depend on any other external source for getting these properties. Thus no further infinite regression will be there.
H. S. Pal said...

Welcome Pal,

I admit that I cannot grasp what you have written. I've read it twice, the second time from the back to the front to see if I could figure it out that way. I'm not being facetious. I really, honestly have no idea how God being no-thing advances the debate or how philosophically, mathmatically, or otherwise you can reach that conclusion.

Is there a way to simplify this or use analogies?