Crane flies and God (and me)

Discussion in 'General Discussion Forum' started by zegh8578, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. Stone Cold Robert House

    Stone Cold Robert House Mojave Rattlesnake

    Jul 6, 2015
    Animals like the crane fly are one of the things that make natural selection unbelievably fascinating to me. What do these things do that allows them to still exist, what niche do they fill in their ecosystem and what advantages do they have as far as evolution goes? Not many, as we've seen. But that's not important. What's important is that they don't really have disadvantages either. So we have this strange and kinda useless bug who doesn't seem like it would survive for many generations, yet it does because there's nothing in particular stopping it. And there are so many things this also applies to. Why do we have the appendix? I don't know, it doesn't serve any purpose for us other than possibly getting infected which is a huge hassle, but that's not the point because having it won't make me better or worse at finding a partner and reproducing.

    At the same time, since we're always looking at such long timescales, pretty much everything but those few exceptions appear to be perfectly fine tuned for increasingly better adaptation - because they are. It's really rare for any aspect of biology to be "neutral" for selection as the appendix apparently is our how some animals are able to survive under their selective pressures even though by themselves you'd think they wouldn't. Even if you just have a high school understanding of biology (which, while incredibly basic, is sufficient to easily grab this concept) you'll realize how every little thing from a minuscule secondary function of a cell to the universal hereditary mechanisms that this whole mess is based on, has something that makes that organism more likely to pass its genes along than its peers. Even if, let's say, a mutation I carry only makes me 1% more likely to reproduce than everybody else, we may still see it become more prominent because we're talking about millions of individuals going forward for millions of years.

    Everything about it is so amazing to me, and even though I always try to learn more about evolution, ecology etc, that knowledge is still as vast as it was from day one. And I hope more people continue to be interested by it every day.
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  2. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Aug 16, 2010
    In my opinion there is a plan, as far as I can tell from my very limited knowledge of the universe.
    Causality is, as far as we know, valid, and nothing happens without a reason. Of course there's quantum mechanical uncertainty that can't be overcome (at least according to most interpretations), but if one could know the initial state of the universe one would know the time evolution of the universe and thus everything (with some uncertainties).
    Now of course it's not really possible to encode that much information inside this universe (outside Tipler's Omega Point, that is), but if you looked at another universe it would work.
    That's what we know to be true by empirical testing. Of course causality (and all known phyisical laws) could be invalidated at some point, but right now we have no reason to not assume causality.
    And thus every state of matter is a time evolution of a previous state of matter, right back to the time when our current laws of phyics came into effect. That includes our thoughts as well, because as far as I can tell our neurons are way too big to have relevant quantum effects in them. So our freedom of thought is really an illusion of freedom, but it doesn't matter because in this case the illusion is just as good as the real thing.
    So yeah, there's a "plan", so to speak. But nobody can actually know it, so it doesn't really matter.
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  3. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Good points, and me and my uncle teamed up to explain this to my aunt (as in, his sister) who insisted that humans were "destined" to grow bigger brains in the future, and lose our small toe. We had to explain that for us to lose toes, toes would have to become detrimental to our survival - or become detrimental to sexual selection, either way, people with toes would have to die - or at least never reproduce. Evolution does not always "favor the strongest" or whatever, as we can see in the crane-fly.

    Hass, careful you don't fall into the void there :D

    As for futurism, with humans it is kind of an all or nothing. If we stay on earth, we will go the way of the earth, sooner or later. However, if we are able to actually planet-hop before then, the result will most likely be the opposite - we will be unstoppable, and in theory, we would persist in this universe untill the universe itself has to end :I
  4. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Aug 16, 2010
    What void? I'm perfectly happy with my personal form of nihilism :D
  5. AskWazzup

    AskWazzup Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Aug 21, 2008
    If everything is predetermined by default, everywhere, then there is no illusion, as there is no such thing as freedom (whatever freedom means)?

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  6. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    A Plan. But when you say Plan, what do you actually mean by that? Like a designer who stood behind the curtain and said, bring it on! And things just happend? I am genuely curious. Because I would love to hear about that in detail. By you. The one guy who studied physics.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  7. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Aug 16, 2010
    Indeed, that's what I meant. The illusion of free thought and actual free thought are indistinguishable from another.

    A plan in the sense that everything (to a quantum mechanical level, at least) is predetermined. That if you somehow knew The Plan you'd know what happens next. Have you heard of Conway's Game of Life? There are rules and there is an initial condition. So if you know the rules and the initial condition you will always know the end. Starting the Game of Life with the same set will always yield the same result, so you can predict every cell at every instant.
    It would be the same with the universe, only of course on a grander scale: If you know the initial conditions and the rules you know everything (again, uncertainties on the QM level).
    This doesn't say anything about a designer or God or anything, so far. Our current understanding of the universe really can't say anything about that, because our laws of physics break down when you go to the very beginning of the universe and beyond. In current models it's a singularity and therefore a big mathematical "Fuck you!", so we don't know shit.
    So is it possible that our universe is "just" a simulation, a hugely complex Game of Life being run on a huge computer in a bigger universe? Sure. The whole quantisation and random events of QM are actually a bit of an argument that this is actually the case (given our bias towards digital computations, of course). The programmer of that game, by all means, IS God. Or maybe some student programmed it, being the Demiurg, and now the actual Sysadmin-God is trying to fix all the bugs, who knows.
    Or maybe our universe is a "reset" of a past universe that went into a Big Crunch, and Tipler was right and there was an Omega Point where an infinity of calculations could be done in finite time, and those calculations are our current universe? Maybe this universe will end in the same way? Who knows.
    But where did the first universe come from? That's the big question in the end. The Big Programmer's universe might be a simulation itself, and where do those iterations end? Who knows. There's probably some argument in Information Theory that tells us if we even CAN know. It's as much a philosophical questions as everything else.
    But does it matter, really? If our universe is a simulation, or a purely quantum mechanical rebirth of a past universe with time losing all meaning in the Big Singularity, thus having no beginning and no end, just existence for no reason? Maybe Azatoth sits in the middle of everything, I don't know. We live here and now, and we can only go forward in time. What we do with our time is our own business, and personally, I think we should use it wisely, because that time we have is the time we KNOW we have.
  8. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Everything that happens is geared towards happening according to the "rules of physics" we are part of. The fact that I type what I type at this very moment is a direct result of the "domino effect" of everything interacting with everything within a certain frame of possibility, and in that sense, it is all predetermined.

    Like Morpheus says, what happened happened and could not have happened in any other way. Otherwise, The Matrix was just a mess of quasi philosophy and a forced need to make kung fu out of everything...

    Especially in infinity, we are doomed to happen at least once, and here we all are, happening that once

    To shake things up, we can imagine an infinite set of "laws of physics", an infinite set of manifestations of energy and matter, and so on. Universes that aren't "big" at all, that are simply different from what we are used to. After all, we only know one single universe

    One of the first "philosophical epiphanies" I had as a teen, was to no longer think of "why does the universe exist?", but to think of it as - it can not not exist, simply because that is not an option. The only other option is to exist. So, that answered that. :I
  9. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Religion taches that the only meaning of life is death, and death only. Hell, a lot of people area actually pretty ok with the idea of a massive genocide at the hands of their vengeful deity and everything you do in life being all around getting some form of reward or punishment after you are dead. That's not really a meaningful life if all it is is a chore you get through to go live in the magical land of ponies afterwards. It's actually pretty fucked up.
  10. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Right. Gotcha. Kinda like in the newtonian-pre-quantum sense of, if you know all the variables it's just a question of math.

    Though I find that idea to be extremly boring if I am honest. I am not saying that it's impossible. I just find the concept of determinism and simulation yeah ... boring :p

    But hey! Who said the Universe has to be exciting?

    I just thought for a minute that you meant something different with plan, like some inteligent design. After all we know we could be nothing more but a science-school project ... benevolent god my ass.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  11. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Well, not all religion. Like I mentioned before, "basal" religions, such as animism and shamanism put a lot of emphasis in life and various attributes of life

    The death part is more in the Abrahamic religions, and is - in my opinion - closely related to war. In order to convince masses of soldiers to commit to wars of conquest - not merely skirmishes for survival, but organized wars of politics (the difference between City state warfare of Mesopotamia vs tribal warfare in the jungle, the latter happens spontaneously, as resources are directly threatened, the first happen more conciously, planned, as a tool of political power) - you need a reward in death. A soldier is supposed to give his life for... what exactly, a fat old king?
    By making the king divine, and make death one of the biggest rewards, it becomes much easyer to have people fight and die for apparently shallow causes.

    In order to keep the death-reward relevant, and to prevent it from seeming like a timely excuse, the death focus is maintained even "in peace time", and is made the focus of the religion.
  12. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Now that you mention Shamanism, even there you will find examples of practises that are seen today under modern values as barbaric, like the practise of human sacrifice. We should not forget that. This was a common theme in many of the European religions before Christianity came.

    Also on some unrelated note, the 40% that no one seems to really care about. This is really a great documentation about religion. And it shows the inherent flaws of religion, despite the groups that try to do good things in it's name.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2016
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  13. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    Imho, "political religion" is often "fake" religion, as in a lot of politicians pretend to be religious, as a power tool - a very efficient power tool, tried and tested, one have to remember that.

    It is easy to wonder how certain people of power "can be so stupid", but it is often just a necesary act

    Many people underestimate how calculated and deliberate power can be

    Good docu, it actually pokes a lot at precisely what I mean - people in power, like that senator, being probed hard about really - a talking snake? Really? That intelligent man, behind that desk - he has to maintain it!

    Also, I like that priest who actually points out that science cannot be in the bible, simply because of the time period separating it, historically. In Norway, among protestant priests, it is quite common to incorporate and accept a lot of natural science, to their christianity - that sure, God created the solar system, set things in motion, lets evolution run along, plays and makes miracles here and there, Jesus arrived, that kind of thing (which in turn is more tuned with the general acceptance and understanding of natural science in Norwegian culture)
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
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  14. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Yeah my use of "Religion" was incorrect. I should've been more specific.
  15. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    You know, believing in religion is really nice and dandy and all that.

    But you really have to question the sanity of a person if discussions literaly end like this,

    You know you should not do this, it's bad for the world.

    Blargh! RarRar! God told me I can do this, because this planet is mine!

    You know you should not do this, it's bad for animals, they have feelings too.

    Blargh! RarRar! God told me I can do this, because animals have no soul!

    You know we should do this, because it can save lifes.

    Blargh! RarRar! God told me you can't do this, because it's against the (insert religious text here)!

    And that is where I feel religion can become really dangerous, even in moderate less extreme forms, because those are the same people that eventually end up in charge and which have to make decisions that actually touch on science or research or something that affects everyone. How can you be sure that someone will be open to hard evidence regarding a very important topic, let us say global warming when he thinks that the highest autority is an invisible man who made the earth literaly in 6 days. Or when someone has to consult Jesus on political matters, like wars, conflicts, votes on military decisions. And they have to reflect on it first, what would Jesus do in a poll about either new social reforms or buying the next stealth technology?
  16. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    A perfect summation of the insanity of atheism: the inability to recognize the paradox of their stated belief.

    "Science" as a concept has been the subject of an unfortunate, growing myth and cultural movement over the past several decades, and NOT as a result of Bible Belt creationists building it up into some boogeyman straw man to scare their ignorant children. No, those are a separate discussion entirely. I'm not talking about the creationist boogeyman "science", I'm talking about the atheist-theist-paradoxical "science" as an entity. The entire IDEA of "science" as an object, or a compendium, or a summation of knowledge or understanding... is just a falsehood. It's no less a false idol than any religious scripture, because science is NOT a thing, a being; science is a process. It's a MINDSET, not an almanac. Thus where said paradox originates. Discounting the prospect of being misled by religious stories, only to turn around and deify a nonexistent concept as a tangible thing to revere. It's maddening that they don't see themselves doing it.

    The scientific process is merely a particular method by which to apply deductive reasoning. That's it. Nothing more. Saying "science is most of the time correct" is on equal footing with "God has a plan". It's NOT a tangible thing, so why do these people who think there is some kind of rift between theology and "science" perpetuate the myth that it is a referential thing no different than any God? It would be absolutely fine, of course, if they would admit that all they're doing is faith. But they assert otherwise, and that's what's so staggeringly frustrating about it all.

    Also, the whole premise that "science" and "religion" are at war with each other is just another myth (not that terrible fools on either side aren't perpetuating it gladly), but that's a topic for another discussion...

    As for how Dawkins exhibits such "patience" in the face of overwhelming ignorance... I'd have to say it stems from his equally overwhelming conceit. Matt Stone very aptly described Dawkins as "the smartest stupid person alive" because of how intelligent he clearly is, and yet how radically stupid the things he is capable of saying are. You should choose your idols more carefully if you want to look up to the likes of Richard Dawkins. I love Ricky Gervais and Jim Jeffries and George Carlin and plenty of other comedians who use religion as their personal punching bag. But like someone mentioned elsewhere, talk to biologists about biology. I love comedians for their body of work, their comedy. I don't look to them for religious advice. =P
  17. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    There might be yet unsolved questions. But the science we apply, gravity, evolution, etc. are facts. We use it all the time. Even religous people. There is zero room for religion here. That's simply how it is.

    As far as the real world goes Science is doing a perfect job really. The moment you come up with things like inteligent design, filling the gabs and so on, you're starting to argue out of ignorance. For all practical purposes and explanations, Science is the way. What you believe spiritually is your thing. And what positive trait you get out of it as well. If you need religion to keep going, that's fine too. But you should never get the feeling that religion could explain anything here. And this is not paradoxal or a growing myth or anything. It's real hard data and facts. There is nothing that religion can explain in the real world. And it never has. And it never will be. Because religious texsts, books and beliefs are not scientific or writen to be scientific.

    Even as religious person you have simply to accept the fact that as far as the real world goes Science is the way to go. There are catholic priests that can accept that for gods sake. This has proven to be true since Newton - but even HE made the error of filling the gabs with "god". If you want accurate and good explanations for the things that happen around you, sience is the way to go. No spirits. No ghosts. No super natural beeings. And definitely no intelligent designer. If you're not interested in explanations, that is alright. I respect that. But than don't look for answers in religous texts about scientific questions. It doesn't matter if you're an atheist, angonistic or religious. It is more of a question, how far could we be today in our research if religion didn't play any role here?

    Bad wording on my side, sorry for that. I will try it again. Science is actually always correct. If we stay in the real world. The kind of world that gives us TVs, Computers, Tools, understanding of Evolution and the like. And there is no room for arguing or questioning it. Gravity, Electromagnetism, Nuclear physics and so on. Those aren't merely concepts. They are real aplicable subjects which came from Science and we use them every day. Where is it incorrect? Where is gravity or nuclear physics not working? That's what I am talking about. I hope that clears it up. Again. There is no arguing about Science as a whole and it's use as tool to explain the world around you.

    Actually you could argue that it kinda is.

    In any case, there is definitely more to it than just beeing a mindset. Because we are not talking about ideas or ideologies and just thoughts. We are talking about real applicaple areas here.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2016
  18. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite Board Cop oTO

    Aug 16, 2010
    Science (and physics in particular) is "correct" in the sense that it can give accurate descriptions and predictions. In the end, physics is nothing but math applied to observation.
    That math (if mathematically correct) is incontrovertible unless it is empirically shown to give false predictions, as math is not subject to interpretations and is, by all means, universal.
    Classical mechanics, for example, are reasonably accurate at low speeds, but break down at speeds close to the speed of light. And even at low speeds there is still a relativistic correction, although it can be neglected for most purposes, making the math easier.
    This whole talk about "correct" and "incorrect" is kinda pointless, it's all about what predictions hold up and which do not.
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  19. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    No doubts about that. But I would say for example, to declare dark mater/energy as the sign of god, just because it contradicts the predictions is for sure the incorrect way to look at the issue. And there are enough people which seriously suggest that as solution.

    What I am trying to say is, there is no real alternative to the empirical research, the repeated observation, experimentation and theory crafting as how it's applied in Science if you're looking for answers about how the world works. Faith as how it is displayed and used in religion simply can't possibly fill that gap.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  20. Delbert

    Delbert Vault-Tec Employee

    Sep 16, 2015
    I'm open to all religion, but not open at all to extremists, fundies, and science deniers.