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Small Fish... Big Pond...

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:46 am
by SmokeyD
The other day I ended in a very interest philosophical debate with an evangelical friend of mind. I make the distinction that he is and Evangelical only to preface his view. He told me that everything (Yes, EVERYTHING)...is about 6000 years old. Well our debate probably went the way that these things do, and in the end we ended up drining a couple of beers.

But, in part of our exchange, the topic of life on other planets came up. I mentioned "The Drake Equation".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation
If you are not famililar with it, it has been a source of much maligned, and often misquoted conjectures about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

Bottomline, the link below does a great job in showing me (and us hopefully) how truly small we are, and in my humble opinion... how hard it is for me to imagine that we could possibly be alone out here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

Please watch it and tell me what you think. For me, the most intriguing part was the 70yr mark for radio communications...

Re: Small Fish... Big Pond...

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:34 am
by Lockes disciple
Very interesting stuff, SmokeyD. I've read about the Drake Equation before and I've read and seen several videos where they illustrate our planet and solar system, but I hadn't seen that particular youtube video.

I find the philosophies in Jainism, Pantheism, Taoism and Zen Buddhism to be interesting, although there is wisdom in all religions. Religion is reasoning; mankind's attempt to explain and understand life and the world around us. No one knows what happens when we die... no one. Despite what's written in any religious text book or depicted in a science fiction drama, no one knows. We hope, we believe, we are attracted by certain concepts, but no one knows. It's futile to try and know what happens when you die because, by definition, you have to be dead to know. That makes people uncomfortable; the not knowing. So we use our ability to think and reason to try and make conclusions that will allow us solace and a sense of understanding and peace of mind about the human condition.

I am a secular Humanist and I remember having a debate with a Christian friend of mine. I brought up the idea that conformity to any one religion, Christianity in particular, is no different than what ancient people did because of their lack of scientific understanding of the world. In ancient Egypt, for example, they prayed to various gods and goddesses for prosperity, health, a good harvest, etc. They killed people as sacrifices and performed very specific traditional ceremonies. Their dogma was based on their need to understand and prosper. They didn't have scientific knowledge of meteorological conditions that would cause a rainy season or a drought like we do today in the 21st century. There was no weather man on the television in the morning telling the residents what to expect in the coming hours, days and over the weekend. If the weather didn't permit a fruitful harvest that season, they had decided it was because a god was angry and they were being punished.

It's interesting to think that that is exactly what takes place today, in the so called civilized-modern-era. When hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast or after the 9/11 attacks, there were many that believed that God was punishing them/us. Many people converted to a religion, they held open prayer sessions, they recruited non-believers to their religion. There was backlash towards Muslim's after the 9/11 attacks and the government and FEMA after Hurricane Katrina. Just like the ancient Egyptians thinking the gods or goddesses were angry and making human sacrifices, so to did we need scapegoats and people to blame when tragedies beset us.

Our minds try to make sense of the world. It's in our DNA to be problem solvers. The human intellect is what provides us to dominant the planet. It's almost as if natural selection learned that, after millions of years of building bigger, stronger and more fierce animals, "it" decided to instead start developing the intelligence of one particular species. It wasn't long until that single attribute allowed that species to dominate. But the blessing is a curse in the sense that the human mind could be "too smart for it's own good." Animals don't need to contemplate their own existence in order to be happy. They don't spend time pondering existential questions. If a dog is hungry it eats. If it's tired it sleeps, etc etc. Same with animals in the wild. They live without the "burden" of questioning their own existence. Humans, don't posses that luxury. We wonder. I'm not saying I'd prefer to be ignorant, but it's interesting to think back to when we were children and had our "innocence", when we weren't plagued by the harsh reality of the horrors of the world. When all that mattered was running and playing and candy and fantasy and make-believe.

People use phrases like "Everything happens for a reason" which really means, "I need to understand why this event happened because I don't like the idea that there are events taking place that I can't comprehend or, to a certain extent, predict. I don't like being out of the loop." People want as much control as they can get. That's how one prospers. Learning as much as you can so that you can make informed decisions. I'm not bashing religion. There is a comfort in having a belief system that allows one to make sense of the world. There is a need for order and structure with regard to making civilizations stable. So, "everything happens for a reason" is a way of perpetuating the belief that we must know what is happening around us so that we can empower ourselves to have as much control as possible over things that take place.

I think it's pretty foolish to think we are the only intelligent life in the universe. That the universe, in its infinite ability to create, only made one intelligent species in this vast expanse of space. That humans were the best and only design the universe could produce. I wonder though, if human beings are humble enough to make contact with other intelligent life. In films and science fiction stories, aliens are always described as either benevolent creatures with supernatural abilities or green monsters trying to eat us. I guess those two choices provide more drama. Depending on their level of intelligence, which would have to be far superior if they could travel all the way from their planet to ours, it seems like they'd avoid making contact with us because of our primitive and violent ways. They'd say, "We remember back when we used to suffer from the global problems you humans suffer from. No one came to help us. No superior species stopped by and taught us to change our ways, gave us a renewable energy source, or allowed us supernatural empathetic abilities that bonded our species closer. No, we learned from our mistakes and bettered ourselves on our own and that is the way. So, until you humans do that for yourselves, we won't interfere in your development. We'll be waiting in a somewhat neutral location and once you make it there we'd love to reminisce and exchange information."

Re: Small Fish... Big Pond...

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:11 pm
by DarthLocke
SmokeyD wrote:The other day I ended in a very interest philosophical debate with an evangelical friend of mind. I make the distinction that he is and Evangelical only to preface his view. He told me that everything (Yes, EVERYTHING)...is about 6000 years old. Well our debate probably went the way that these things do, and in the end we ended up drining a couple of beers.

But, in part of our exchange, the topic of life on other planets came up. I mentioned "The Drake Equation".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation
If you are not famililar with it, it has been a source of much maligned, and often misquoted conjectures about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

Bottomline, the link below does a great job in showing me (and us hopefully) how truly small we are, and in my humble opinion... how hard it is for me to imagine that we could possibly be alone out here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17jymDn0W6U

Please watch it and tell me what you think. For me, the most intriguing part was the 70yr mark for radio communications...


Thanks for the links!
No I am with you anyways, just because I think it's not very evolutionary for us to be the only beings and/or [this] Earth being the only place where living things can exist.

First you would have to define "life" or living which generally involves 'movement' (evolution). So what about "water" is water living? it certanely is a magor componant for life expanding. I just learned the other day that Earth's water may have orginally come from Jupiter and astriods carried the water her at the early stages of earth.

I say if there are water and photons, there is a good chance of life, especially in the most primative state: photoplankton, fish, algea, viruses, single-celled orgnaisms, bugs, ect, ect. --Let alone "M" theory.


I am a secular Humanist and I remember having a debate with a Christian friend of mine. I brought up the idea that conformity to any one religion, Christianity in particular, is no different than what ancient people did because of their lack of scientific understanding of the world


This! Exactly. I try to convey this with technological advancement and magic all the time, but people totally don't get what I mean, because they can't see outside themselves, nor are they interested in the human history to make comparitive religion/philosophical observations.

Re: Small Fish... Big Pond...

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:31 pm
by SmokeyD
DarthLocke wrote:
First you would have to define "life" or living which generally involves 'movement' (evolution)


The beauty of the Drake Equation (in part) is that it uses three factors to quantify 'life', broken down simply they are basic life (Slime Mold/Bacteria or above), 'Intelligent Life' (human equivalent or self aware), and life capable of developing decernable technology...

If you crunch conservative numbers with the equation, there could be billions of civilizations at or near our level, and millions of civilizations that are so far advanced from us that their science would appear to us as magic...

If you look back at our own progression, there have been more scientific advances in the last 100 years than in all rest of recorded history. Imagine not only the things that a person (or even a scientist) thought were 'impossible' 100 years ago, but then imagine how those same '100 year ago people' would look at our daily life in society.

My point (in the original debate) is that 'God' is bigger than my friend gives him credit for.

Re: Small Fish... Big Pond...

PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:18 pm
by brentoid
nice post smokeyD...i've never been religious at all, never saw any proof that any sort of divinity exists...

& just because something cannot be explained by scientific methods, does not mean you have to then believe in the bearded dude upstairs...

is the world not amazing enough for people that we have to invent stuff that we cannot prove exists?

but of course in terms of science, there are grey areas...you cant quanity love scientifically, yet we know it exists? is it biochemical ? maybe...as well science hasnt to my mind been able to answer what came before the big bang, was it merely gravity? if so where did all the matter come from? ...in the same way, if you follow the christian bible as it is written then you leave out the dinosaurs, the formation of the planets, the sun, evolution...

i hope someday in the future, when humans have stopped killing each other over stupid belief systems, and no longer will people starve & go poor because some greedy bastard wants a bigger house, we can reconcile these two near polar extremes...

Re: Small Fish... Big Pond...

PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:24 pm
by DarthLocke
SmokeyD wrote:
DarthLocke wrote:
First you would have to define "life" or living which generally involves 'movement' (evolution)


The beauty of the Drake Equation (in part) is that it uses three factors to quantify 'life', broken down simply they are basic life (Slime Mold/Bacteria or above), 'Intelligent Life' (human equivalent or self aware), and life capable of developing decernable technology...

If you crunch conservative numbers with the equation, there could be billions of civilizations at or near our level, and millions of civilizations that are so far advanced from us that their science would appear to us as magic...

If you look back at our own progression, there have been more scientific advances in the last 100 years than in all rest of recorded history. Imagine not only the things that a person (or even a scientist) thought were 'impossible' 100 years ago, but then imagine how those same '100 year ago people' would look at our daily life in society.

My point (in the original debate) is that 'God' is bigger than my friend gives him credit for.


Well I am a pantheist so I obviously 100% agree with this.

Pantheism is the view that the Universe (Nature) and God are identical.[1] Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Ancient Greek: πᾶν (pan) meaning ‘all’ and θεός (theos) meaning ‘God’. As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that “God” is best seen as a way of relating to the Universe.[2] Although there are divergences within Pantheism, the central ideas found in almost all versions are the Cosmos as an all-encompassing unity and the sacredness of Nature.


Don't get me wrong there are branches of this and thus one can say that anything can become 'god-like' with proper conditions as it is a matter of each situation in both short and long term comparisons. It's all about the ability to control, rather than there is just any one controller at any one given time or place, as humanity proves this with itself everyday.