Ask A Genius 463 – Religion, the Scientific Framework, Physical Models of the World, and Diminishment (5)
December 4, 2018
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: A functionally unlimited of them, too. It is a “for all intents and purposes” infinite.
Rick Rosner: Yes, although, that gets scary. But when you say, “Unlimited,” it tends to imply an infinity. Our experience of the world implies huge worlds but not infinite.
Jacobsen: I like the phrase “functional infinite” or “functional unlimited,” which means a very large finite but an unknown number for that finite.
Rosner: The whole thing is either an infinite set of things in the set of all possible things, which is problematic, or you have this infinity, or maybe not.
Jacobsen: In a similar way with can or cannot exist, some things are perceived to different degrees of fidelity. Not perceived by someone does not necessarily mean non-existent, but it’s not perceived into one’s cognitive apparatus. But then, other things are perceived to different perceived grainily or crisply.
Rosner: The best we can say is infinite or not infinite. Our ancestors will argue over this for generations to come.
Jacobsen: That’s why I like the prior mentioned phrase.
Rosner: The idea of IC, of the universe as a self-consistent information system, where any large system is built from information. It is a step back from the purely cold and godless Big Bang, big science, framework; that we’re currently under.
In that, it doesn’t impost God the Creator, but it does suggest a proliferation of consciousness in entities across the universe. In that, the universe has 10^22nd stars with something like half of those stars potentially having planets.
So, you have, at least, a billion-billion environments for life to evolve. If you look at the evolution of life on Earth, if life is going to evolve, then cognition is going to evolve. So, you have both the probabilistic argument, the Drake Equation or some version of the Drake Equation, that says, “Yes, it is unlikely that we’re the only consciousness in the universe,” then the technical aspect of consciousness as information sharing is not a miraculous thing but is a natural consequence of a large self-consistent set of systems.
It means that you have a system potentially full of conscious entities. Not in the kumbaya crystals and I hang amethysts from the wall of my bedroom and my chakra power…
Jacobsen: [Laughing] or hanging a picture of Mother Mary Magdalene on the wall.
Rosner: Yes, thinking beings probably arise in a bunch of contexts and they probably have consciousness, and the universe itself may have consciousness. Some of these thinking beings may survive for millions of years and, in the case of the universe, maybe many hundreds or thousands of millions of billions of years.
It presents that idea that there are conscious entities with godlike complexity and persistence, which is a baby step away from the fully cold universe.
Jacobsen: What about the pre-fully cold universe with the original major religions posited? Their views of the world.
Rosner: You talked about a particular religious philosophy that lives and serves to live in the cracks to fill in the blanks. There will always be blanks. What comes after people and future people will always yearn, people will not only yearn for science, for purely mechanistic explanations of things.
People evolved to search for significance. We evolved as omnivore survivalists. We look for exploitable regularities in the world to survive. So, people will always look for patterns within patterns and patterns within the ineffable.
The possible wondrous things that exist but just beyond our understanding. So, religion and mysticism will never go away. But there will continue to be squeezing, one would think, in the way religion has been squeezed for hundreds of years.
But the understood squeezes out the incompletely understood wonderful, which doesn’t mean what is understood isn’t wonderful; it also means the possibility that what becomes understood involves things that would be considered wonderful by religious people of past eras.
The idea that the unification or the unified nature of the universe, how every point in the universe knows how just about every other point in the universe is doing at every level of the universe speaks for a cohesiveness that may not have the same coziness of God being in charge of everything but does, possibly, offer a certain satisfaction in the wondrous ways that this happens.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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