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It seems there is a lot of controversy over this topic on Brainden.... Understandable... Well I just mean spiritual as in God but also as in ghosts and things. What is your opinion?

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I belive ther is an "after" world,after you die you could become someone else.......God is a broad subject and i tend to try not to think of him as someone to beleive in sometimes because just as some of us view the ancient greek society and the gods then is how people will view us in 10 thousand years.....we tend to base our phenomenas on this we can not proved but believe in.....so even though my family is catholic and i am going to a catholic church i am quite nuetral and do not believe nor dis-believe in God but there is no way i would ever tell my step mom and step dad that....they would probably dis-own me.

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Please let us make a distinction between purpose that a theist derives from their deity and purpose that the individual derives from their experience. In my experience the universe has the following purposes: It intends to annihilate all hope for life on Earth in about 5 billion years. Meanwhile it allows us to take Newton's laws of motion on pure faith in nearly every aspect of our every day lives despite the fact that they are an approximation. It allows me to pursue a rich variety of experiences as a result of being assigned a conscious mind even though nobody can identify precisely how or when that conscious mind originated.

There is a big difference between nature and purpose. It is the nature of the universe that at some point in the future, life on this planet will be annihilated. However, the universe does not exist simply to destroy us, just as you do not exist for the sole purpose of inadvertently stepping on ants. Purpose is a human concept, one that we constantly project onto everything else in the universe. Even to things we admit have no utility we give an aesthetic purpose. But above all, we seek purpose in the things that make us feel small, especially when we don't understand their nature. The more mysterious or vast something seems, the greater the purpose we imagine for it. It makes us feel especially good when we imagine a part for ourselves in that purpose.

You also jump to the incorrect conclusion that "Science" is my "Faith". However, there is nothing about Newton's laws, or anything else in science, to believe in. The whole scientific apparatus is a method we devised to express what we observe about the behavior of our universe. Believing in science is like believing in mathematics, literature, or music.

Edited by d3k3

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In fact, as you well know, Newton's laws have been resoundingly proven false. They are useless when trying to explain simply observable phenomena such as gravitational lensing. (But how does the fact of gravitational lensing affect our daily lives?)

Is that so? Are such value judgments really applicable? In stating that Newton's laws are proven "false", you assume they were once deemed "true". However, science is about knowledge, not truth. Newton's laws continue to predict, with the same accuracy as ever, events within the range of the observations on which they were formulated. We just need to accept and stay within its limits.

Even if we had a "complete" scientific knowledge of the universe, we would still have use for Newton's laws, because they simplify many problems to the level where we can make useful predictions of events in a reasonable time.

They are chipping away at the edges of this problem, proposing testable hypotheses, but isn't it the height of hubris for us to proclaim science and reason has triumphed when it has such a miserable failing score (How far would you get in school if you got 4% of the answers right on your tests?)

This is a ludicrous analogy. If I postulate that exactly half of the universe is made of invisible ice-cream bars, have I come up with a better theory? You cannot judge the value of the sum of our knowledge by how much we still do not know.

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Is that so? Are such value judgments really applicable? In stating that Newton's laws are proven "false", you assume they were once deemed "true". However, science is about knowledge, not truth. Newton's laws continue to predict, with the same accuracy as ever, events within the range of the observations on which they were formulated. We just need to accept and stay within its limits.

Even if we had a "complete" scientific knowledge of the universe, we would still have use for Newton's laws, because they simplify many problems to the level where we can make useful predictions of events in a reasonable time.

Try the thought exercise of replacing "Newton's laws" with "the bible" in the above statement.

Science is all about posing falsifiable hypotheses. If it isn't falsifiable it isn't a "valid" hypothesis from the perspective of science. Whether you call a verified hypothesis "true" or merely the current best guess is a separate issue.

This is a ludicrous analogy. If I postulate that exactly half of the universe is made of invisible ice-cream bars, have I come up with a better theory? You cannot judge the value of the sum of our knowledge by how much we still do not know.

Can you judge the value of the knowledge that you do not know?

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I belive ther is an "after" world,after you die you could become someone else.......God is a broad subject and i tend to try not to think of him as someone to beleive in sometimes because just as some of us view the ancient greek society and the gods then is how people will view us in 10 thousand years.....we tend to base our phenomenas on this we can not proved but believe in.....so even though my family is catholic and i am going to a catholic church i am quite nuetral and do not believe nor dis-believe in God but there is no way i would ever tell my step mom and step dad that....they would probably dis-own me.

I think this is a very sensible position to be in. Good philosophizing! :D Not everyone is as open-minded and thoughtful as you

edit: I also agree that our god(s) today will be deemed as ludicrous ten thousand years from now... maybe there will be a different religion then

edit2seeksit: I tried replacing "newton's laws" with "bible" and it didn't hold up. The reason is because, as you said, science allows itself to be proved wrong and admits that it's constantly changing with new data and theories in our expanding knowledge of the universe. If the bible likewise adapted, correcting (biblically) false statements (or metaphors) and reinforcing its teachings with new observed faiths and things then there wouldn't be as much of a problem. But the problem is that the bible is held as absolute truth in some mystical, unchangeable way, and this is what leads to its intellectual stagnantism

Edited by unreality

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Source for your percentages? Though, I suppose it won't really matter, I get your point, 'Science has explained very little.' The LHC may or may not provide some answers, we'll see.

Here's a good summary:

http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_matter.html

We don't know everything now, but we will. Eventually..

Science already has a list of "things we cannot know". Just to name a popular example from basic quantum mechanics, if you know precisely the location of an electron, then you cannot know its velocity. If you know its velocity, then you cannot know its location. This is the fundamental nature of tiny particles. Their fundamental nature is blurry, fuzzy, indeed one might choose the term mystical.

Another example that fits well into the topic of this thread (which we're straying away from rather too much) is the wave-particle duality of all matter. You and I can be considered as solid objects; but at the same time we must also be considered to consist of waves that have some finite, non-zero, presence and influence *everywhere* in the universe. That means that our essence--our spirit--roams the universe. We all populate this parallel "spirit world" where we are waves. Science has shown that you cannot describe the entire range of a thing's behavior simply by describing the behavior of the solid matter--you must also take into consideration the behavior of the equivalent field of waves.

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^Okay, totally not what I meant. We will eventually know all the laws the govern the universe, assuming we're around long enough to figure them out.

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Science already has a list of "things we cannot know". Just to name a popular example from basic quantum mechanics, if you know precisely the location of an electron, then you cannot know its velocity. If you know its velocity, then you cannot know its location. This is the fundamental nature of tiny particles. Their fundamental nature is blurry, fuzzy, indeed one might choose the term mystical.

actually, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle applies to ALL objects, small and large, or so my chem teacher tells me. The effect gets astronomically smaller as the object increases in size. So you cannot know where YOU are and YOUR velocity at any given moment (within very small degrees though)

in fact there's quite a lot of connected "uncertainty principles", including the one you mentioned.

But this is not a limitation on science. Science discovered these principles - they limit small-scale knowledge of particle locations and such but this doesn't impede on science in any way and are actually rather useful... science discovered those limits, they aren't limits to science itself. It's like science discovering that there's a limit to how much ice cream I can eat. Oh boy! Science is doomed!

Another example that fits well into the topic of this thread (which we're straying away from rather too much) is the wave-particle duality of all matter. You and I can be considered as solid objects; but at the same time we must also be considered to consist of waves that have some finite, non-zero, presence and influence *everywhere* in the universe. That means that our essence--our spirit--roams the universe. We all populate this parallel "spirit world" where we are waves. Science has shown that you cannot describe the entire range of a thing's behavior simply by describing the behavior of the solid matter--you must also take into consideration the behavior of the equivalent field of waves.

yes - science has shown that. Pretty cool stuff that science has shown us, huh? What's your point? That science reveals interesting and deeply philosophical ideas that we would have never thought of on our own? Because I agree. Who knew that we were all waves deep down! But saying the waves propagate in a mysterious nether-realm of spiritualism is going a bit too far. The waves are right here in our universe, in fact right where you are. They oscillate so tightly that they don't travel much at all. Hence the illusion of solidity

[edit - typo]

Edited by unreality

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I think this is a very sensible position to be in. Good philosophizing! :D Not everyone is as open-minded and thoughtful as you

edit: I also agree that our god(s) today will be deemed as ludicrous ten thousand years from now... maybe there will be a different religion then

edit2seeksit: I tried replacing "newton's laws" with "bible" and it didn't hold up. The reason is because, as you said, science allows itself to be proved wrong and admits that it's constantly changing with new data and theories in our expanding knowledge of the universe. If the bible likewise adapted, correcting (biblically) false statements (or metaphors) and reinforcing its teachings with new observed faiths and things then there wouldn't be as much of a problem. But the problem is that the bible is held as absolute truth in some mystical, unchangeable way, and this is what leads to its intellectual stagnantism

Midnight's fresh ideas are indeed good philosophizing. The spirit world has evolved as man's knowledge and experience evolves.

Actually that's the point of replacing "Newton's laws" (1680) with "the Bible" (4004 BCE to approx. 400 C.E.). My point echoes your own. Both Newton's laws and the bible are static, frozen in time, efforts to explain reality. If we're going to have a bible, it ought to be a living one. Lots of modern liberal religions approach this by allowing their theologians to constantly evolve new interpretations of the words of the bible. The words are static, but the meaning is allowed to change.

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Hmm, that's food for thought, thanks :D

Thinking about it, you're right about Newton's laws being just as static. That being said, for the most part of that paragraph except for the first sentence, I was talking about science vs. religion not Newton vs. Bible.

But very interesting on Newton's laws being static... the difference is of course that new data is collected every day and every second and continues to support the original laws. That's not true for the bible... or maybe it is in a religious sense. The fact that it's still around means it's a damn good religion. But just like Newton's Laws don't apply in a warped spacetime hyperspace brane or whatever (you know what I mean), the bible's religious support does NOT cross over into other realms of thought such as science. I hope you get the analogy, I made that kind of quickly

I'll say it again... Newton's Laws continually gain scientific support just like the Bible continually gains religious support. But they are only relevant when applied within their respective fields. You can't take Bible passages and try to impede on things like science... in other words, things like "Adam and Eve" have to be taken as metaphors and religious messages, not anecdotes of realism

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actually, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle applies to ALL objects, small and large, or so my chem teacher tells me. The effect gets astronomically smaller as the object increases in size. So you cannot know where YOU are and YOUR velocity at any given moment (within very small degrees though)

in fact there's quite a lot of connected "uncertainty principles", including the one you mentioned.

But this is not a limitation on science. Science discovered these principles - they limit small-scale knowledge of particle locations and such but this doesn't impede on science in any way and are actually rather useful... science discovered those limits, they aren't limits to science itself. It's like science discovering that there's a limit to how much ice cream I can eat. Oh boy! Science is doomed!

yes - science has shown that. Pretty cool stuff that science has shown us, huh? What's your point? That science reveals interesting and deeply philosophical ideas that we would have never thought of on our own? Because I agree. Who knew that we were all waves deep down! But saying the waves propagate in a mysterious nether-realm of spiritualism is going a bit too far. The waves are right here in our universe, in fact right where you are. They oscillate so tightly that they don't travel much at all. Hence the illusion of solidity

[edit - typo]

We're cross-posting! :lol:

My point? I was just responding to Iz's remark that eventually we'll know everything.

Our whole bodies don't often (like once in a bazillion bazillion years) just translate through a wall. But what about some key, well directed thoughts? Thoughts are perhaps just a few electrons buzzing between neurons, perhaps a chemical component there as well. But the physical content might be so tiny that it can get out there at a distance and do ... (fill in your own belief here, such as "the power of prayer").

Yes, the waves are right here in our universe--or at least that's one way of looking at it. But sometimes in math it's convenient to change coordinate systems. Just a thought.

BTW, there's another great aspect of quantum mechanics that has truly mystical properties--quantum entanglement. That's where two particles at any arbitrary distance from one another are intrinsically connected.

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But very interesting on Newton's laws being static... the difference is of course that new data is collected every day and every second and continues to support the original laws. That's not true for the bible... or maybe it is in a religious sense. The fact that it's still around means it's a damn good religion. But just like Newton's Laws don't apply in a warped spacetime hyperspace brane or whatever (you know what I mean), the bible's religious support does NOT cross over into other realms of thought such as science. I hope you get the analogy, I made that kind of quickly

I'm with you all the way :D

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Another example that fits well into the topic of this thread (which we're straying away from rather too much) is the wave-particle duality of all matter. You and I can be considered as solid objects; but at the same time we must also be considered to consist of waves that have some finite, non-zero, presence and influence *everywhere* in the universe. That means that our essence--our spirit--roams the universe. We all populate this parallel "spirit world" where we are waves. Science has shown that you cannot describe the entire range of a thing's behavior simply by describing the behavior of the solid matter--you must also take into consideration the behavior of the equivalent field of waves.

Bravo. You have managed to take the entire field of physics completely out of its context...

When you look closely enough, matter does not appear to be composed of particles or waves, but something that has certain properties of each. However, "chunks and ripples" are the closest analogies that most people (including myself) are able to understand, because those are concepts of which we have first-hand, tangible experience. When we talk about the aspects of that matter that are particle-like, it is convenient to think of it as a particle, and when we consider aspects that are wave-like, it is convenient to think of it as a wave. But nothing is simultaneously both: "particle-wave duality" simply means that neither is a complete and accurate description at every scale. The last thing it means is that we inhabit our corporeal existence in the chunk universe while our spirit twins prance about in the parallel ripple universe. That's the sort of conversation that normally took place while I was watching Laser Floyd at my local planetarium.

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The last thing it means is that we inhabit our corporeal existence in the chunk universe while our spirit twins prance about in the parallel ripple universe. That's the sort of conversation that normally took place while I was watching Laser Floyd at my local planetarium.

That bit is meant in jest, but I suppose now it sounds rather unnecessarily condescending. Apologies.

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Short Answer: maybe.

Longer Answer: Most likely not.

Really Long Answer: I consider myself an atheist ... that is no god, no magic, no ghosts, no ESP, no miracles, when you die you rot in the ground, etc. and the world seems a lot simpler at first. Then as you get to know more about the way things work and you realize that not only is the "real world" (read: "science") more interesting, complex, and awesome that you originally thought but it is more interesting, complex and unusual that any religion ever predicted. That's it for me. I don't know everything and neither does anyone or anything; but what I do know is enough for me to be satisfied with the universe (through my understanding of science) for the rest of my life.

Weird Answer: I have more than a partial understanding of Quantum Physics. One thing that it teaches is that our universe is constantly splitting into "parallel universes" to cover every possible future outcome of a random event. It also implies there are many possible pasts where "parallel universes" converge, that could have lead to this exact moment in time. Some of these could be from universes that have no set physical properties (magic is possible, for example). However, I consider the probability of this to be so low* that it not worth considering.

steps off of soap box, looks around, no one is listening

Hey, isn't this site supposed to be about brain teasers and such!?

*because you would have to account for the fact that continuity in such a universe with no set rules would be nearly impossible to perceive.

Edited by hugemonkey

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Can you judge the value of the knowledge that you do not know?

Uh, no.... which is exactly my point. You are the one who asserted that our current state of knowledge is basically worthless, based on the absurd notion that we would get an "F" in Omniscience 101 for not being able to correctly identify at least 50% of everything in the universe.

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I don't know everything and neither does anyone or anything; but what I do know is enough for me to be satisfied with the universe (through my understanding of science) for the rest of my life.

I don't know everything and I don't have the confidence that you have that science has long term useful answers to the practical reality of our lives. Science has influenced our planet for what, 500 years? Longer if you include Aristotle and Plato, etc. But it has not succeeded in pointing humanity in a direction that is sustainable. Life got along fine without science for what, 500 million years, conservatively? Until science has sustained itself for at least a few million years, we're not going to be sure we have reached a sustainable balance with this new and radical way of operating an ecosystem.

Look what we've done with our reason and our science. Population is exploding, resources are being exploited, our nest is soiling. We have the theoretical answers; but they are competing with things beyond the scope of science, such as greed, and with massive, sometimes superficially compassionate abuses of science, such as overuse of antibiotics.

Bottom line: I am very, very dissatisfied with the part of the universe that science has exposed, and want to work hard to restore our whole being's balance with it.

Weird Answer: I have more than a partial understanding of Quantum Physics. One thing that it teaches is that our universe is constantly splitting into "parallel universes" to cover every possible future outcome of a random event. It also implies there are many possible pasts where "parallel universes" converge, that could have lead to this exact moment in time. Some of these could be from universes that have no set physical properties (magic is possible, for example). However, I consider the probability of this to be so low* that it not worth considering.

*because you would have to account for the fact that continuity in such a universe with no set rules would be nearly impossible to perceive.

The "Level III Multiverse" as it is called is a truly amazing place. We flow in a vast unseen "braided river" with parallel channels that we cannot observe. Every choice we make produces a division of the currents. To get philosophical about it, my purpose in life is to steer myself toward what I call "the noble channel" - the life lived best. Science has little to say about which ethical or values-based choice to make most of the time. So again, I find science to be merely a small part of a balanced existence.

steps off of soap box, looks around, no one is listening

Hey, isn't this site supposed to be about brain teasers and such!?

I'm listening :D I found your post fascinating: it teased my brain a whole lot. I hope BD always has a place for discussions of the Brain Teasers that aren't just games, but are also helpful in our real lives.

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Hi hope nobody minds me diving into this

I don't know everything and I don't have the confidence that you have that science has long term useful answers to the practical reality of our lives. Science has influenced our planet for what, 500 years? Longer if you include Aristotle and Plato, etc. But it has not succeeded in pointing humanity in a direction that is sustainable. Life got along fine without science for what, 500 million years, conservatively? Until science has sustained itself for at least a few million years, we're not going to be sure we have reached a sustainable balance with this new and radical way of operating an ecosystem.
What do you think science is? A doctrine? A political movement? Science is merely human knowledge, acquired with discipline (in other words, distinguishing between what we know and what we don't know). As such science has been around as long as humans have known anything, although the discipline attached to it has been formalised more over time. Science is certainly not a way of operating an ecosystem.

Look what we've done with our reason and our science. Population is exploding, resources are being exploited, our nest is soiling. We have the theoretical answers; but they are competing with things beyond the scope of science, such as greed, and with massive, sometimes superficially compassionate abuses of science, such as overuse of antibiotics.
Being able to apply reason and acquire greater knowledge is part of what has enabled the human race to accomplish so much, and thus to expand our population and create environmental problems. Should we now degrade our intelligence and return to ignorance? Sure, if we could unlearn all that medicine has achieved in the past 500 years we could drastically lower the survival rate of babies, and lower our own life expectancies by becoming much more likely to succumb to disease and malnutrition. That could solve the overpopulation problems. And you could tell people to stop using technology too, so we don't keep producing stuff that pollutes the environment and uses up resources. We could all go back to a hunter-gatherer existence, like it was before we learned all that stuff that enabled us to do more. Good luck with that.

Knowledge and reason has got us into a lot of messes, but ignorance and superstition won't get us out of them. Science is not a magic wand to solve all the world's problems, and neither is better technology. We need greater social responsibility and better political systems too. Our intelligence has given our species more power than our social development is ready to handle, but we won't solve our problems by turning our back on intelligence.

Bottom line: I am very, very dissatisfied with the part of the universe that science has exposed, and want to work hard to restore our whole being's balance with it.
Science only shows us what is real. I'm sorry if you don't like reality, I find it very satisfying and intriguing.

The "Level III Multiverse" as it is called is a truly amazing place. We flow in a vast unseen "braided river" with parallel channels that we cannot observe. Every choice we make produces a division of the currents. To get philosophical about it, my purpose in life is to steer myself toward what I call "the noble channel" - the life lived best.
If the Level III Multiverse view is correct (it seems likely to me), you cannot choose to steer yourself down any one path. Every choice that you make will result in equally real versions of you going down every possible path. Which is a nice thought, since you needn't regret too much missing out on all the things that you "could have done" with your life. Other versions of you living out different versions of your life would be no less real than the one reading this post.

Science has little to say about which ethical or values-based choice to make most of the time. So again, I find science to be merely a small part of a balanced existence.
On the contrary, I find that my ethics are very much informed by science. It's just that science doesn't provide me with a rule book of ethics. Throw away your holy books and you have to make up your own rules. That's when ethics and values really come into their own, but when making any kind of decision, ethical or otherwise, it's never a bad idea to be well informed, and that's what science is all about.

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Great thoughts, Octo

Our intelligence has given our species more power than our social development is ready to handle, but we won't solve our problems by turning our back on intelligence.

In a nutshell, that's my point. I love it when I "dance around the ring and suppose" to quote Robert Frost, and then somebody smart comes along and just "sits in the middle and knows"! I advocate no more reversion than is necessary to sustain our planet to the seventh generation of our descendents and beyond. I think wisdom requires us to use such forethought. We need to work toward a balance between our social/moral development and our cognitive faculties. One solution is to use birth control to get the population down to manageable levels. There is some level of population where everybody can have all the tech we have now and more and have the planet's natural renewal processes able to keep up with it.

If the Level III Multiverse view is correct (it seems likely to me), you cannot choose to steer yourself down any one path. Every choice that you make will result in equally real versions of you going down every possible path.

The problem with that is what's called "decoherence": we are embedded in a single stream of consciousness. We are not able to view any of the alternative realities, only the one we chose (usually without even consciously doing so). When our choices are conscious ones, however, we have control of which channel we enter. In some parallel universe your post causes me to snap! I post a hideous flame here, get banned from the board, and then go out and become a mass murderer. It is an absolute certainty that that happens, since every possible outcome (every possible arrangement of every particle in the universe) happens somewhere in one of the parallel universes. But it ain't gonna happen in my stream of consiousness because I intend to choose the "Tao" - the Noble Channel - as best I know how. The (arguable and perhaps controversial) result is that I steer myself toward a universe that contains more net good, therefore I affect the outcome of my life and that of those around me in ways that can exceed my conscious control. This can be considered an effect of my Spirit, or so I argue. :P

Edited by seeksit

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I don't know everything and I don't have the confidence that you have that science has long term useful answers to the practical reality of our lives. Science has influenced our planet for what, 500 years? Longer if you include Aristotle and Plato, etc. But it has not succeeded in pointing humanity in a direction that is sustainable. Life got along fine without science for what, 500 million years, conservatively? Until science has sustained itself for at least a few million years, we're not going to be sure we have reached a sustainable balance with this new and radical way of operating an ecosystem.

Just because one idea is older than another does not necessarily make it better. And Newton et al. didn't sit around scratching their heads thinking: "We need a new and radical way of operating an ecosystem. I know: let's devise the scientific method!" Science is a system of organizing, expressing, and testing new ideas. Nothing more.

Look what we've done with our reason and our science. Population is exploding, resources are being exploited, our nest is soiling. We have the theoretical answers; but they are competing with things beyond the scope of science, such as greed, and with massive, sometimes superficially compassionate abuses of science, such as overuse of antibiotics.

It is not the fault of science that we have not always used its principles wisely. The fact that we have exploited scientific discoveries to facilitate over-consumption, and create weapons of mass-murder does not mean that we could not make better choices in the future, or that we would not have made similar poor choices with another way of thinking.

While the health of our planet has recently become of increasing concern to us, you seem to hold the belief that abuse of our environment is something that did not exist before the scientific method, and therefore was caused by science. However, the ancient atmosphere was poisoned with the smoke and fumes of forges, and the wood, peat and oil burned in ancient homes for heat and light. Ancient people scorched and salted croplands and poisoned water supplies, to make land uninhabitable for advancing armies and rival civilizations. Ancient lands became barren from over-intensive farming. The extent of damage was less than it is today, but only because the population was much smaller. People had the same, if not worse, disregard for their environment in ancient times as today. There is even evidence of pollution during the neolithic age.

You seem to have an idyllic notion of the world before "science" (by which you appear to mean the modern scientific method as put forth by, e.g., Newton & Bacon), but in reality it was one of filth, plague, and squalor. Before sanitation, we drank brackish water poisoned with our own feces, rotting corpses, and the effluent of workshops. We were crawling with lice and other disease-carrying parasites. Before modern medicine, people died in appalling numbers of dysentery, consumption, pox, and simple infection. Before chemistry, workshops and forges belched their noxious fumes unchecked into the atmosphere. While I'm not suggesting these problems to have been eradicated, the fact remains that the world is a much more inhabitable place now than it was at any previous point in human history. Why else do you think the "population is exploding"?

If you still insist on laying blame for the current state of our planet at science's feet, need I remind you of the atrocities committed in the name of faith? Condemning science because we have used it to create atomic bombs and an economy that is not sustainable in the long term is no different than condemning faith for the holy wars and "cleansing" committed in God's name. Neither argument is justified, because neither addresses the true cause of events.

Science has little to say about which ethical or values-based choice to make most of the time. So again, I find science to be merely a small part of a balanced existence.

That is not true. Ethics is a major branch of the study of philosophy, which many people (especially philosophers) consider to be the "ultimate" or "mother of all" science. It is anything but silent on the topic of value-based choice.

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In a nutshell, that's my point. I love it when I "dance around the ring and suppose" to quote Robert Frost, and then somebody smart comes along and just "sits in the middle and knows"! I advocate no more reversion than is necessary to sustain our planet to the seventh generation of our descendents and beyond. I think wisdom requires us to use such forethought. We need to work toward a balance between our social/moral development and our cognitive faculties. One solution is to use birth control to get the population down to manageable levels. There is some level of population where everybody can have all the tech we have now and more and have the planet's natural renewal processes able to keep up with it.
I don't think any amount of reversion is at all realistic, but we certainly do need to find social solutions and in the end population must be stabilised somehow. Until we master interstellar travel, there is no such thing as "sustainable growth". That much we agree on, I think. But we should not blame our woes on science or reason. All human attributes are equally to blame for what is wrong in the world (and I must agree with d3k3 that there's a lot less wrong with the world now than there has been in the past). I wouldn't mind so much if you were to single out greed, intolerance, or other human weaknesses. But what you seem to imply is that we should abandon science and reason to try and find another way. Or, to put it in other words, we tried to think clearly and we still have some problems, so clear thinking must be to blame, let's all turn to sloppy thinking instead. That's a flawed argument in so many ways (though at least it embodies what it advocates). Our reason has given us power, which we have sometimes abused. But unreason only serves to promote further abuses of power. It will not stop the march of technology (there will always be people who use the knowledge and intelligence which exists). Promoting unreason only helps to spread ignorance among the uneducated. It gives people an excuse to cling to superstition and religion, and helps a privileged few to abuse positions of power behind a screen of religious respectibility. It also gives people a handy excuse not to worry about the large scale problems of the world. Overpopulation? All part of God's plan. He told us to be fruitful and multiply, so I'm sure if we just follow orders he'll have a mysterious solution up his sleeve. Human catastrophes? God's judgement on us/them. Inequality between rich and poor? God made it that way, he must have known what he was doing. Pollution? God won't let it get too bad, he'll step in and sort it out if he wants. Anyhow, God made the world for our consumption, so we should just go on consuming. Lots of ways to abdicate responsibility! When you believe in mysterious forces beyond your control, you can hardly be expected to take control yourself.

The problem with that is what's called "decoherence": we are embedded in a single stream of consciousness. We are not able to view any of the alternative realities, only the one we chose (usually without even consciously doing so). When our choices are conscious ones, however, we have control of which channel we enter. In some parallel universe your post causes me to snap! I post a hideous flame here, get banned from the board, and then go out and become a mass murderer. It is an absolute certainty that that happens, since every possible outcome (every possible arrangement of every particle in the universe) happens somewhere in one of the parallel universes. But it ain't gonna happen in my stream of consiousness because I intend to choose the "Tao" - the Noble Channel - as best I know how. The (arguable and perhaps controversial) result is that I steer myself toward a universe that contains more net good, therefore I affect the outcome of my life and that of those around me in ways that can exceed my conscious control. This can be considered an effect of my Spirit, or so I argue. :P
Going off at a bit of a tangent but what the hell, I like multiverse theory. When you talk about what will happen in "my stream of consciousness", are you referring to the "me" in this universe, or the myriad "me"s in all universes? Because they all have their own different streams of consciousness, independent after the point of branching off from our universe. Unless all other universes contain mindless soulless automatons and the only one with the real you in it just happens to be this one. But that would be a bit wierd wouldn't it? So if it is possible that you snapped and posted a flame in another universe (lets call that universe2), then you2 made a conscious choice to do so (or you2 think you2 did). Maybe you2 thought something like "Maybe in some parallel universe I'm going to post a sensible reply, but it ain't gonna happen in my stream of consciousness because I've had it up to here with the Tao from now on! I steer myself toward a universe that contains more flaming, therefore I affect the outcome of my life and that of those around me in ways that can exceed my conscious control. This is how my Spirit works, so there!". In a level III multiverse, you'll need a Spirit for every eventuality.

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:offtopic:

Science is not a magic wand to solve all the world's problems.

I apologize for quoting you out of context, but that statement is just too delicious not to point out. Sounds like something George W. Bush would have said.

/ :offtopic:

Loathe to waste a post with off topic silliness, I should like to address the OP, or at least the subject line:

I don't know about a spiritual world as such, but I enjoy the fact that you can neither absolutely prove nor disprove the existence of an afterlife. At best, one can only theorize and speculate. Thus, we end up in debates like this one, where arguments can be made on both sides, but where any real proof is unattainable.

It has been mentioned here recently that humanity has created the concept of God/gods, reincarnation, multiple versions of an afterlife, etc, so that we can feel like we're part of some grand, important plan. In short, to satisfy our hubris and/or our natural fear of our own mortality.

I contend that the excluding of those possibilities based on mankind's, as yet, very limited perception of "Life, the Universe, and Everything" is hubris on a comparable scale, at least. And that is OK. We've gotten quite far in a relatively brief period of time thanks to our overdeveloped sense of self importance.

So I can't answer the OP. My gut tells me that science will eventually stumble upon enough evidence (because discoveries this big are rarely found where you're looking) to confirm some sort of soul/spirit/non-physical self. Is that your "spiritual world"? Maybe. I'll leave that to the folks with the drive and passion to find it out.

As for me, I'm content with looking into the face of my little girl. That's where I see the divine. Watching her grow, learn, and succeed will be my "Heaven." I'll do my best to raise her to be strong, kind, clever and happy. Anything beyond that is just details.

Continue the debate, though, by all means. It has been thoroughly engaging.

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Ahh, babies. Proof that nothing in life is random. If randomness existed, you could open a baby's nappy and the smell would propagate outward by means of Brownian motion and you would get a few leading particles giving you a hint of what's to come, gradually building up to a crescendo of stink. However, it doesn't work like that. Sometimes you open one up and have a good few seconds to think to yourself "wow, no smell at all, funny that, because it looks like it really ought to...", and then it hits you. Like a punch in the face.

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I don't think any amount of reversion is at all realistic, but we certainly do need to find social solutions and in the end population must be stabilised somehow. Until we master interstellar travel, there is no such thing as "sustainable growth". That much we agree on, I think. But we should not blame our woes on science or reason. All human attributes are equally to blame for what is wrong in the world (and I must agree with d3k3 that there's a lot less wrong with the world now than there has been in the past). I wouldn't mind so much if you were to single out greed, intolerance, or other human weaknesses. But what you seem to imply is that we should abandon science and reason to try and find another way. Or, to put it in other words, we tried to think clearly and we still have some problems, so clear thinking must be to blame, let's all turn to sloppy thinking instead.

Ok, I'm with you and d3k3 to this point. But there's where you seem to start putting words in my mouth--"setting up a straw man"--and then criticizing them. So let me try to clarify.

Maybe we humans aren't thinking as clearly as we suppose. Maybe we aren't quite as advanced as we like to think we are. What leads us to believe that our skills at clear thinking are at any sort of pinnacle of evolution?

So what I intent to say is that we need to *advance* our thinking toward a mature course that will lead to sustainable balance and harmony with that tiny, fragile shell of habitability we are confined to on this little insignificant planet.

With that as a background, let me address the proposition put forth by you and d3k3 that "there's a lot less wrong with the world now than there has been in the past." Honestly, *of course* human quality of life is vastly improved. That's a no brainer. The problem is that we're continuing our species' pathetic self-centered perspective. Is the world better for ... (pick your favorite endangered species, your favorite rain forest, your favorite natural ecosystem, etc.) ... honey bees, sea turtles, coral reefs, polar bears, sperm whales, puritan tiger beetles, etc., etc.?

In a mere few thousand years of organized civilization (since we mastered the rudimentary sciences of animal husbandry, agriculture and permanent settlements), Humanity has wrought a degree of mass extinction and general destruction that has not been seen for perhaps 65 million years. The geological strata that are currently accumulating, that will be viewed by some putative geologist millions of years in the future, have an obvious "signature" of our destructive presence that is more distinct than that left by the Chicxulub meteor impact on the K-T boundary back when the dinosaurs went extinct.

Lots of ways to abdicate responsibility! When you believe in mysterious forces beyond your control, you can hardly be expected to take control yourself.

What I'm saying is that some humans (present company excepted, I hope), are blindly trusting in the "mystical" power of science to make our lives better rather than opening their eyes to the big picture and looking to the long term legacy that we are bequeathing this poor planet and our g.g.g.g.g.grand children.

Going off at a bit of a tangent but what the hell, I like multiverse theory. When you talk about what will happen in "my stream of consciousness", are you referring to the "me" in this universe, or the myriad "me"s in all universes? Because they all have their own different streams of consciousness, independent after the point of branching off from our universe. Unless all other universes contain mindless soulless automatons and the only one with the real you in it just happens to be this one. But that would be a bit wierd wouldn't it? So if it is possible that you snapped and posted a flame in another universe (lets call that universe2), then you2 made a conscious choice to do so (or you2 think you2 did). Maybe you2 thought something like "Maybe in some parallel universe I'm going to post a sensible reply, but it ain't gonna happen in my stream of consciousness because I've had it up to here with the Tao from now on! I steer myself toward a universe that contains more flaming, therefore I affect the outcome of my life and that of those around me in ways that can exceed my conscious control. This is how my Spirit works, so there!". In a level III multiverse, you'll need a Spirit for every eventuality.

There are two perspectives with which one can examine the Level III Multiverse: the perspective of a dispassionate external "observer" solving the Schrodinger equation in infinite dimensional Hilbert Space, and the perspective of the actual mortal individual that lives within the resulting reality. The former is like a "god", detached from what he is studying. That can only be done theoretically. From that perspective every universe is equally present and all are valid solutions. There you can view all the different streams of consciousness and their associated probabilities. However each one of us is encased in a real body that makes choices and is embedded within this framework, not detached from it. The equations say that these embedded observers *cannot* observe more than one stream of consciousness defined by their choices and by the arrow of time. We can sit and theorize about things we cannot hope to observe in other parallel realities. And we can make real deductions about them. But in the end we all have to "come back down to earth" and actually make our choices.

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:As for me, I'm content with looking into the face of my little girl. That's where I see the divine. Watching her grow, learn, and succeed will be my "Heaven." I'll do my best to raise her to be strong, kind, clever and happy. Anything beyond that is just details.

Grayven, congrats on your healthy little girl. There is indeed no greater and more profound experience than raising a child. My avatar is my youngest, now 17 and a National Merit Scholar (sorry for the shameless bragging). Parenthood is a massive committment, but I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything!

Edited by seeksit

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