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Saturday, October 20, 2007

An intelligent universe

I've been listening to Alan Watts' lectures this morning, thoroughly recommended. They're pretty short, easy to digest ...and make sense for me. Available as a podcast too.



"You cannot get an intelligent organism such as a human being out of an unintelligent universe."

Hmm. I guess that means I must be intelligent...?




Comments have been disabled for this post.

Those received between the time of first publishing and the removal of the comments include the following:

Thomas Hurst said...

That comment reminds me of a couple of Jehovas Witnesses we had visit us a few times, years ago. They attempted to convince me that life can't come from non-life because of the second law of thermodynamics; that the entropy (disorder) of a closed system always increases.

When I explained that the entropy of the universe overall is most certainly increasing even while life might reduce it locally, just as tidying a desk might reduce entropy on the desk but increase it everywhere else by expending that energy, he agreed with me, but seemed to think I was agreeing with him. Maybe I should have explained it to him using smaller words, but he swiftly moved on to the similarly flawed "a hurricane can't build a 747" analogy.

"Intelligence can't come from non-intelligence" sounds much the same. How the hell would he know (does he have any peer reviewed papers?), and how do you solve things like the infinite-regress problem of an intelligent universe not being able to come from a non-intelligent one.. is it smrt universe all the way down?




Joseph Said...

Thanks for your comment Thomas.

I won't try and argue my case based on any scientific theory, because I'm not educated enough in that field.

However, I would say that for me personally, there is so much sense and interconnectivity in all that is and all that happens around me, that it feels far less probable that this is a result of coincidences occurring within a disordered universe, than the results of some form of action carried out by some form of intelligent energy.




Anonymous said...

My word Joseph…this sounds remarkably like you subscribe to the concept of “intelligent design” (ugh…)…next thing you’ll be telling us you’ve “found God”.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are programmed to try to make sense of what is happening around us…we look for patterns, things that are familiar, things that we can hold onto, so we don’t get overwhelmed by the infinite randomness and complexity of life. It is a strength but also a weakness. Questions we can never know the answers to need to be explained somehow…thus, you end up with religion and various other ideologies that serve no purpose but to put our minds at rest. To allow ourselves to relax and to stop searching for an answer that may/will never come.

Strangely enough, this links in with the entry below. Why can we not be happy that this is all there is? Why can we not be happy that we will, live, love and die and nothing more? Why do we have to believe we are special in some otherworldly way, are we not special enough to the people we love already? It is this dissatisfaction with is what we already have, the lives we already lead, that frustrates me. All this stuff about life-force and stuff…in the end, does it really matter? The here and now is all that matters…and even if there is anything after, well, let’s just say you won’t be in a position to blog about it!

I am also beginning to get a little concerned all these “motivational” tapes/books you seem to be consuming. Admittedly, you seem pretty happy at the moment…perhaps deliriously so. The only problem I have with them (putting aside the fact I think most of it is woolly-minded clap-trap) is that many of them have exactly the same amorphous messages just put in slightly different way. More often than not their messages are hopelessly indistinct…like a cloud or a Rorschach inkblot…or a politician. Politicians try to be all things to all people. That requires them to say nothing, but to sound like they are saying something. They toss in a little spin to try to get all those people with those different views to see in the politician things that they like. Many of the slogans Nightingale/Kiyosaki et al spew forth are amorphous and generic in their actual meaning, but have the effect of making people think they have just gotten good advice. This is also why horoscopes often appear to be so “apt”. Their aptness is self-provided. In effect, their cryptic obscurity provides a random set of ‘answers’ that the reader fabricates into something seemingly appropriate and useful. Perhaps these motivational tapes are filling some spiritual void…? Who knows. After all, we all have an overwhelming desire to believe in something, anything…and these tapes are always vague but full of promise, emphasising enthusiasm/devotion over rationality and clear thinking…sounds a bit like organised religion, no?

Additionally, if you keep listening to stuff that reaffirms beliefs you already hold – it becomes less a process of self-improvement but a process of self-stagnation - your opinions become brittle, unbending and blinkered. You lose the ability to look at situations from a different perspective, so deeply entrenched become these views. Reliable decisions are only made if based on the clash of conflicting views.

I can’t understand this latest entry…we gain satisfaction when we know we’ve done our best. Disappointment comes when you know you could’ve/can do better – in turn, this dissatisfaction is the fuel from which determination comes. Determination is how progress in any area of our lives, in society in general, is made. The desire to succeed this is what you need. Of course as long as you are clear of your definition of success. Maybe Darren is dissatisfied because he knows he can achieve more. If he just sat back and rested on his laurels he may never be truly fulfilled…he’d always have that niggling thought that he could do more. In this situation the idea of writing down your goals is a good one - if you know what you where you want to be you won’t be constantly striving for some unspecified goal. You’re confusing determination with undeserved self-satisfaction.

[this comment has had the final paragraph removed]




Joseph said...

...quite a lot, but it's not fit for publishing.

My apologies, anon, for inferring that you are "stupid", which of course I do not believe to be the case. As a result of that I had a very restless night, forgot to feed the dog and woke up in a sweat!

My apologies also for removing your final paragraph, and your next comment in its entirety - I do not wish to have that conversation here, although I shall keep the comment for when the book comes out :-) Clearly, you have strong negative views on the subject, just as I did. There is much evidence to support your argument.

However, there is also much evidence to the contrary. I'm now making a conscious choice to go with the latter school. Ultimately, none of it matters, so if I am proved wrong in the long term we can smile and move on.

Perhaps I am naive in believing that people are fundamentally good.

joseph





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