Universe, part II

This is in response to Universe.

At times The Universe feels like God in new robes.  The Big Bang (it’s capitalized!) has a remarkable amount in common with Genesis.  Many scientists at the beginning of the 20th century including Einstein were believers in a static universe.  This was in part due to abhorrence towards the supernatural implications of the Big Bang. 

Religious leaders felt vindicated by the Big Bang, as though it proved that we were “created.” 

Reading my co-bloggers previous post we see that science uses the word universe more as an expedient and not to explain existence in itself.   However, given our penchant for piecing together phenomena temporally it is inevitable that a new creation myth would arise that accommodates the modern scientific belief.  Wikipedia defines the universe as “everything we perceive to exist physically, the entirety of space and time, all forms of matter and energy.”  It defines God as a “single omnipotent being” and “overseer of the universe.”  The two become interchangable even in terms of “creator” vs. “cosmos” depending on who you talk to or what you read. 

There are many scientists that entertain and encourage these trains of thoughts, so one cannot simply blame the layman.  An example is the notion of a “unified theory” or “theory of everything” – which smells again remarkably like God, or Leibniz’ Monadology.  There is nothing wrong with this and it is quite fun to speculate, but holes can be poked in these arguments that shade their limitations.

Brian Greene in The Elegant Universe, claims that “for the first time in the history of physics we therefore have a framework with the capacity to explain every fundamental feature upon which the universe is constructed.”  He is referring to string theory.  His use of the word universe does not refer simply to a closed system. 

Another way to word this phrase would be to say “for the first time in the history of the physics we have tempted ourselves into sculpting a fixed definition of a fundamental feature of the universe and indulged in the notion that such a definition encapsulates reality, which is right in line with our mythmaking inclinations as humans.”

We have a funny tendency, and not one without merit, to devise assumptions based on collected evidence.  However, rarely are we satisfied to say that our evidence is lacking, being limited to only our experience and capacity, and we cannot adequately explain what is “going on”.  Our words always seem to suffice.

It’s remarkable that our little human brain can conceive the “universe” as a systematic whole.  We can make sense of what we observe, but beyond that reality is a bit out of sight out of mind.  There are many things we can’t explain at all except in elusive and rough terms – starting with our own living consciousness.

In the end we will never be able to explain where we “came from,” and as activephilosophy once pointed out science isn’t necessarily well equiped to answer this question either.  This in no way takes away from the magic of life and in fact makes it all the more amazing that we are here and now.

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3 Responses to Universe, part II

  1. activephilosophy says:

    Hey There!

    So I basically agree with this post. However, I want to state what I believe is a TRULY important distinction.

    You say, ‘There are many scientists that entertain and encourage these trains of thoughts, so one cannot simply blame the layman.’ This is very true, but what I what I was trying to assert in my post, ‘The Universe,’ is fairly different than what you are asserting.

    Disclaimer: The definition of science I am about to state is rarely actually used even by scientists. When I used the term science, I simply speak of the method, which FUNDAMENTALLY has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with humans. In it’s purest science, is independent of humanity. You don’t need a human to do it. The results have to bearing on humanity and most importantly there is no emotional value to it.

    I called the universe, ‘simply a closed system.’ What I meant was that from observations we assert the existence of a big bang. A face value there IS NO reason that this should have been a preferred conclusion or assertion. Science (tried to) ‘assign’ an initial probability to all solution and then parred down the possibilities into a group of most likely realities that matched observations. It just so happens that this led us to a ‘BIG BANG’ theory. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! This means that scientist did NOT go looking for a ‘Genisis’ like description of the our cosmos (i.e. a beginning, middle, end etc.). It just so happened that when they did go looking we more or less ‘stumbled upon’ this solution. We did not specifically want it or did we change our data to make it appear as such. In the purest sense The DATA say there was a big bang NOT humans.

    What DID happen, however, is that the INTERPRETATION (not the result itself) is what emulates Genesis. This is is an important distinction that I think that even most scientists neglect to acknowledge.

    Brian Greene did say, “for the first time in the history of physics we therefore have a framework with the capacity to explain every fundamental feature upon which the universe is constructed.”

    By reading this statement, you can almost hear the excitement (emotion) in his voice. This somehow means that this result is exciting, because even though we didn’t anticipate it, there serendipitously exists a fundamental similarity between what the DATA tells us and what we wanted (but lied and said we were indifferent) to happen.

    The reason that I posted this response is because, I think statement is misleading “for the first time in the history of the physics we have tempted ourselves into sculpting a fixed definition of a fundamental feature of the universe and indulged in the notion that such a definition encapsulates reality, which is right in line with our mythmaking inclinations as humans.”

    It may be true that scientists indulge and can tempt themselves. Data does not. Thus I think we need to be careful to separate scientists for data (science) when talking about claims of science like the big band or evolution.

  2. Pingback: Universe, part III « Active Philosophy

  3. deadondres says:

    I hope it’s ok…I made this response into a new post.

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