A small spoiler follows.
The point raised in this book is - the Earth looks much different thanks to life it has than it would without it. Consider e.g. mountains that erode slower because there are forests and foliage that disperse the wind. Would it not be the case that advanced alien life existing in the universe also affects its evolution? So what if some of the physics we study is actually not how the universe looked at the start? Could the speed of light have changed because of aliens weaponizing physics in past wars? Could the curled up dimensions string theory postulates be actually be another consequence of powerful entities doing wide-scale manipulation of the universe? Maybe initially, before life, the universe actually had 11 full, expanded spatial dimensions?
I do highly recommend the book.
Yeah I thought all those stars looked suspicious.
http://diyhpl.us/~bryan/papers2/physics/astrophysics/The%20m... (starting at page 203, chapter 9)
previously on HN, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10252222
So what you are saying is that there is a chance Godlike beings with advanced mastery over physics could exist?
Or consider we've fucked up the climate change problem and Earth suffers from runaway global warming. We all die. 500 years from now, an alien probe from Proxima Centauri passes through the Solar System. The aliens would see Earth and wonder how a Venus-like planet formed in (what we call) a habitable zone. Maybe they'd end up reconsidering their models of planetary evolution ("Surely it couldn't be aliens", they'd say, "that's ridiculous! There's no proof of other life out there except our own!").
Maybe the wide-scale manipulation of what we today consider fundamental physics is possible. Surely, a lot of popularly accepted sci-fi technologies would be able to do that if one would follow them to their obvious conclusions at scale (one shovel can dig you a ditch; a thousand shovels will dig you a great canal). And if it is possible, what's to say it hasn't already happened?
Your comment reminded me of Author C. Clarke's third law:
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
So is Mars.
"These possibilities might seem wholly untestable, because part of the conceit is that sufficiently advanced life will not just be unrecognizable as such, but will blend completely into the fabric of what we’ve thought of as nature. But viewed through the warped bottom of a beer glass, we can pick out a few cosmic phenomena that—at crazy as it sounds—might fit the requirements."
Dark matter as intelligence substrate is a testable hypothesis (though not to our present instruments), although there is no evidence to support the theory right now.
These two propositions are quite different, and there's nothing wrong with a bit of idle speculation, as long as one keeps in mind that it is unlikely to accrue evidence either way in our lifetimes. (Though I suppose inasmuch as our physical theories gain understanding of dark matter as a strictly physical process, that does reduce space for the 'dark matter as information-substrate' hypothesis even further).
Disclaimer: I am no expert on either ID or evolution theory. Most of my info comes from reading Meyer and Dembski, who are both pioneers of ID, so I'm clearly biased. Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Oh, and when did evolution theory come up with a "testable hypothesis" (not a simulation) for stuff like protein evolution, the Cambrian explosion, and DGRNs? Because until evolutionists can fully explain and demonstrate how and why the above don't contradict with the current model, evolution theory also reduces to metaphysics.
You can't claim that your theory is "proven" when there are aspects of biology that don't fit with your theory. It's like saying gravitation is true when there is 1 m^2 of area on Earth where gravity breaks down.
They are not interested in the world. They are interested of persuading you that "something" created the world. They don't care of science, they care about crafting a message that will drive more peoples into churches.
Do note that Dembski does not feel this line of inquiry is interesting anymore, and Meyer's credentials of a doctorate are not in natural science but philosophy and history.
These short lived living things, routinely "evolve" in predictable and unpredictable ways, in front of the researchers proverbial eyes.
Evolution has been proven to be much more than a "hypothesis".
Take the example of DGRNs (mentioned in my previous comment). It is proven that even a slight change in the structure of a GRN completely breaks embryonic development. In other words, if a random mutation is introduced during gene development, the embryo will simply die. So how do entirely new species form if embryonic development is basically impossible? The same applies to protein evolution.
I would be more accepting of chemical evolution if the time scale we were considering was much longer. Many people have computed the approximate probabilities required to get a functioning protein from random mutations, and it turns out that it simply isn't feasible given the age of the universe, and this planet.
You're ignoring a huge body of evidence: the fact that all living organisms on Earth use the same genetic material and the same genetic code. This is strong evidence for common descent, and common descent is an obvious prediction of the theory of evolution and requires highly implausible ad hoc hypotheses on any other assumption.
> how do entirely new species form if embryonic development is basically impossible?
It isn't impossible; it's just unlikely, because beneficial mutations are rare. But this is part of evolutionary theory.
> Many people have computed the approximate probabilities required to get a functioning protein from random mutations
These computations ignore the fact that natural selection is not random. That means the sequence of events from one functioning protein to another is not a random walk through the space of all possible proteins, as the computations assume.
(Computations based on permutations and combinations of atoms also ignore the fact that chemical reactions are not random; only a vanishingly small fraction of all possible mathematical combinations of atoms actually occur, the rest are chemically impossible.)
This process builds up a cumulative pile of evidence supporting the theory. On the other hand you construct a test of the theory that can disprove it. So far no such test has been found to disprove evolution.
It's true that we don't yet understand every single biological mechanism and every single facet of developmental biology and how they relate to natural selection. However that's not sufficient to 'disprove' evolutionary theory. To do that you'd need to actually prove that evolutionary theory could not explain them - not that it's unlikely it could explain them, but that it's impossible. As it happens the number of thing evolution has not explained is getting smaller as we find the connections and demonstrate them.
So on the one hand we have vast troves of experimental and observational results successfully explained by evolution and this trove is increasing rapidly. On the other hand, we have some mechanisms or results where it's not yet completely clear if or how evolution explains them, but this number is decreasing. Finally we have no tests that have disproven evolution. At this point this makes Evolution through natural selection one of the most practically successful and predictive theories science has ever produced, right up there with quantum mechanics.
Has it predicted and explained everything in its domain? No. but few theories have yet done that. Even quantum mechanics still has some odd edge cases that are tricky to figure out.
So the thing about 'proving' scientific theories is that it's morevlike 'proving' a piece of forged metal. You test it to see if it breaks. Science is really about usefulness. It's test show whether a theory is useful in solving some call of problems. Evolution through natural selection has so far passed every test it's been given in which a colclusuon has been reached. That's encouraging evidence that it will pass the others as well.
Meanwhile ID has nothing to show whatsoever. It's an intellectual dead end. Personally, I'm very glad my Christian faith doesn't hinge on it.
On top that, there has been a harsh dismissal of ID theorists by the evolution community, even though ID has been correctly pointing out significant flaws with evolution. For example, there was an incident a while back of a journal editor being severely reprimanded for accepting to publish a paper that slightly mentioned ID.
Of course, ID itself hasn't been providing alternative hypotheses to evolution that are, well, testable. It's important to note that ID theory in and of itself is not pushing for "God", but rather an intelligent entity in general. So for instance, ID would agree with the idea of the whole "universe simulation theory".
As you've stated, evolution is more fleshed out then intelligent design and the fact that it's a Scientific Theory means that it was well tested via the Scientific Method that is established to cast doubt. Just that statement is so powerful because a group of folks actually attempted to disprove and/or prove via a method that is reproducible. ID is merely a suggestion that has almost no way to be proven/disproven. Centering an argument on a possibility is always entertaining when taken with a grain of salt, however, when a hypothesis becomes a counter argument to a Scientific Theory, credibility is difficult to achieve.
The crux of my issue with your comment is that you use the word "theory" interchangeably. While evolution is a Scientific Theory, ID is a theory (lower case t), defined by "an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true". Comparing the two is disingenuous.
Perhaps, but my thinking is that such a design choice could have a significant advantage we haven't noticed yet.
> Scientific Theory means that it was well tested via the Scientific Method that is established to cast doubt
This is a central issue I have with evolutionary science in general, and neo-Dawrinism in paricular. It has become somewhat of a "cult" within the scientific community. No single evolutionary biologist wants to risk his/her career attacking a particular aspect of evolution, which is partially why ID theorists are doing most of the attacking. Another problem is that evolutionists want you to present an alternative if you do end up attacking the theory. The argument I've seen is "don't attack if you can't come up with an alternative!". But if the theory is flawed in the first place and isn't able to explain a number of important issues, why should your theory be accepted as truth?
In a nutshell, evolutionary scientists don't want the scientific method to apply to areas where evolution is weak, to avoid discrediting the theory. Remember, if evolution theory is proven to be false, Darwinists (and naturalists) won't have an alternative.
> In a nutshell, evolutionary scientists don't want the scientific method to apply to areas where evolution is weak, to avoid discrediting the theory. Remember, if evolution theory is proven to be false, Darwinists (and naturalists) won't have an alternative.
If a Scientific Theory is verified to discredit evolution, then all those Darwinists and Naturalists will have plenty of things to work on. Besides being Nobel Prize worth and exciting because of the possibilities.
I now regret replying to your comment and putting in the work. A shame.
What I'm saying is: This person isn't actually a troll. He's not doing it to mess with you. He really does believe what he's saying, and you cannot convince him otherwise until he relinquishes the core idea that led to it, which in this case is his religion.
That's a really good point. I partially hoped that at least there would be a good counter argument to gain an insight into why the individual has formed such ideas.
I even linked to the BYU paper that was counter to my beliefs, which had interesting points that can create a thoughtful conversation.
However, I didn't realize that regardless of how I said something, I was attacking a core idea of a person, which isn't a good way to start a conversation.
What you are really saying is that is his/her core idea is wrong and this leads to behaviour that clothes itself as trolling ("cannot convince him otherwise until he relinquishes the core idea that led to it, which in this case is his religion").
He/she could easily say the same thing about your core idea, so I fail to see how this adds to the discussion.
I'm fairly confident that the main reason that ID theorists push ID is because of religion. Like, extremely confident. Also, very few attacks against evolution theory are scientific. I'll explain why below.
> But if the theory is flawed in the first place and isn't able to explain a number of important issues, why should your theory be accepted as truth?
It is an accepted fact within the scientific community that all scientific theories are flawed. They are approximations at best. Einstein's theory of general relativity is probably one of the most complete & supported theories that we have, but there are things that Einstein's theory can't explain (like gravity).
This is why I said most of ID theorist's attacks on evolution theory are unscientific. Because pointing out what a theory doesn't explain is not enough. You must either find empirical evidence that contradicts either a supporting hypothesis or models based on the theory. These types of empirical contradictions are why Lamarkian evolution theory is no longer popular.
What's amusing to me is that the current process by which scientific theories are created, challenged, disproven, and modified very much resembles Darwinian evolution in action. The same goes for belief systems as they battle for resources (individual's attention and faith), the fittest ideological strains survive, and the strains that aren't able to replicate die out. Christianity itself is an amazing example of evolution over the centuries, having mutated into tens if not hundreds of different strains, all of which continually compete for resources, while some strains can only be read about in the history books such as the Byzantine Orthodoxy, the early Puritans, and the street preacher Methodists.
This is a legitimate scientific question but - since we have pretty much zero evidence suggesting this has happened, we have to assume we're studying a "virgin" universe. But if physics was somehow manipulated by aliens, science should be capable of eventually figuring this out too - at the very least just because if you have a capability of doing something, then it's easier to notice evidence of someone else doing that thing in the past.
The fallacy here is in the assumption we had a complete idea of an immutable theory of physics, the universe and everything, when that is clearly not the case. It's the same handwavery as from theologists, as dear as it might be, that many physicists aren't or weren't free of, as well.
Edit: TL;DR: An axiom is not something that is provably unprovable, it something that remains to be proved.
Yet you assume the axiom could have been proved wrong by aliens, which would give the opposite of the axiom as new universal law, which would be paradoxical. Thus, the axiom couldn't be wrong nor right, for it's not a statement, it's a paradox devoid of meaning. If that's what you implied, I might as well just be missing how that is useful. I understand that Hilbert's axioms of Geometry work the same way, so I am not dismissing the idea of axiomatics. I'm just saying that the axiom defines space and time under the presumption of an understanding of laws. Thus I think, obviously the conclusion, universal laws wouldn't exist or could be broken is rather unpractical, to put it mildly.
However, I am not (ever) sure what I am even saying. So take it with a pinch of salt. On the one hand, if axiomatics are part of our logic framework for laws, an axiom couldn't a priori define laws. On the other hand, I'm tossing the idea around for a while, that our understanding of logic arises by proving itself into existence, so we prove axiomatics a viable framework simply by using it to axiomatize.
In the likely case the the previous paragraph is written ineligibly: all I am saying is, that axioms should be self evident, so it isn't really worth the many words, except as an exercize in formalizing unfinished ideas in a dialog. Just to see if get any immediate push back, in case I am wrong, or ignorance, in case the topic is really self-evident or absurd or whatever.
In your other comment:
> Could the speed of light have changed because of aliens weaponizing physics in past wars?
Because the speed of light is a dimensional constant, it doesn't make sense to say it could have changed in the past. Only dimensionless constants, like the fine structure constant, can hypothetically be different at other points in space and/or time. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimensionless_physical_constan...
the idea had some pretty serious consideration of serious scientists though.
As for dimensionless constants, the way I see it, it simply suggests that something else must be changed to get a meaningfully different c.
Wasn't there some quote which went something like: "A good scientist gives the right answers. A great scientist asks the right questions."
Also, theorizing an entity beyond our understanding is fundamentally different from theorizing an entity beyond our universe.
No, they are functionally and ontologically equivalent.
The article is amazing, and remember us to be humble, because we don't have all the answers and there's a lot yet to be seen.
So there's no answers in the article: only questions.
We are beings of condensed energy. Would we be “real” to beings in the neutrino / dark matter world of physics? Or would we "nothing" in their reality? Even if they studied us, would a rock appear to be any different than a human when viewed from the realm of WIMPs? To hear physicists Dawkins and Krauss think about this and the concept of “nothing”:
We all know at some level that the universe is not just full of "dumb rocks" (quoting Alan Watts). Evolution CAN coexist with the unknown. We're all mapping a sandbox from the inside, so to speak.
Evolution is a thing, physics is a thing, and it can all happen in consciousness.
But the notion of "god" and "intelligent universe" are so loaded these days, that a materialist has to find all kind of funny ways around it.
I think it's valuable, to try to express old ideas in a more modern language... But let's be honest theories like the "universe is a imulation", or that intelligence somehow pertains to alien life ... are just ways to postpone the hard problem of consciousness.
The Physicalist Worldview as Neurotic Ego-Defense Mechanism
I actually commend that. Opening up to the idea that physical reality is something far stranger than we've imagined is a great way to open oneself to the possibility that "physical reality" isn't at all the sort of thing we've long imagined it to be.
Same with the simulation hypothesis. There was this article recently:
And it contained this gem, which may actually get the right wheels turning in some minds:
"If the universe is a computer simulation then we should look at the player, not the level."
I've tried googling, but there's just too many "Alien" theory books out there. Hoping for some solid recommendations.
They don't show up until like book 3 of the series though.
But instead science fiction often makes spacefaring civilizations exactly like our own, but with spaceships intead of trucks.
2010 is a much better book than movie.
The rest of the sequels are not great in any medium IMO.
The article discusses a possible connection b/w life and expansion, but maybe it's more simple: perhaps it's only possible we can ask this question because had it not been for the accelerated expansion of the universe, we'd would have had neighbours close enough that they might not be too happy we popped in and were working on our own ideas about what to do in the neighbourhood.
If we've already crossed that border without knowing it, we could be observing our own life form in physics, and not that of "aliens".
In dreamful sleep, we exist at a level of consciousness where what we observe is indistinguishable from ourselves. And yet we rarely notice.
There's no analogy with dreaming.
I think, probably not.
(Extremely improbable quantum tunneling would allow it though.)
I kinda have to assume you didn't connect the facts that an infinite universe rejects the Big Bang model? Because there is definitely plenty of evidence for that model.
Yes, there are epistemic limits to science, that does not mean it's not evidence. And an infinite anything is an extraordinary claim. It's practically the most extraordinary claim.
That's still my understanding after some cursory googling to make sure I didn't totally forget something from college.
Any discussion of the characteristics of the universe outside the observable universe runs into some interesting epistemic problems around what constitutes evidence. Maybe it's turtles all the way down, or teapots. Good luck trying to estimate the prior probability of an infinite number of possibilities with an ape brain that evolved to hunt and gather on the Savannah.
I find a lot of pop science at the fringes of our knowledge (QM and astrophysics) relies a lot on infinities to justify cool stoner ideas that are unfalsifiable and chosen entirely based on human biases of what would be "awesome". I do have a very strong bias against these because of this obvious element of wishful thinking. The infinite-alternate-realities-of-the-gaps argument is just the god-of-the-gaps argument for the "I fucking love science" crowd.
Could there be structures that are provably impossible to create after some time?
Things that exist outside of our ability to have language to describe them are godlike. (There is an open question about whether the set of such things is irreducible or open to conquest at some point in time)
If the caveman trapped you and tried to figure out what you were up to? Yes, to him it would be physics. However -- this is just another way of saying that he'd have no symbols to grasp your behavior and would be forced to create various mental models that he could share with others.
Donald Rumsfeld famously talked about knowns and unknowns. But there is another dimension of things we have no symbology to begin discussing. There be dragons.
An alternative title might have been: "alien life might be found in observations physicists struggle today to explain."
Three Body Problem sounds interesting. Will check it out.
I'm not a physicist, but isn't that not how heat death works at all? Reducing temperature by spreading out matter doesn't help the "problem" that low-entropy energy becomes scarce.
Now we'll be a little less surprised when they mention they've been around all this time.
Perhaps Kurzweil wasn't that far off after all..
What about the other 68 percent?
Or what about, Musk's we're living in a virtual reality? That is, a reality defined and determined by unseen powerful forces.
Is Science finally preparing to offer Religion at the table of "What is Life? And Why?"
"influence" is an interesting word, because the difference is, if they influence or world in terms of nature, that's a wholly lot different than the concept of God, a powerful entity watching your every step, ready to place you on a burner for eternity at any point, if you don't please him or if he is just having a bad day.
Bacteria also influence our world, I would argue however, that they're quite removed from the concept of God.
Look, it's simple: God made the whole thing. But you don't want to believe in God so you invent funny theories to explain away God.
Even IF a god existed the same questions would still apply
There is the only one way to prove something - it is to show that there are logical truth of all the statements and implication all the way back to the starting assumptions. Students learn this in an undergrads AI class, leave alone the basics of mathematical logic.
This shit is full of gaps in logic, just a pile of memes upon memes (dark energy, my ass!) and bullshit all the way down. Just a single flaw in logic anywhere in the chain of statements is enough to throw away all the crap. A single failed assertion.
Things which are not confirmed by independently replicated experiments are beliefs not facts. Socially constructed memes. The people who speculate about unproven sets of beliefs are sectarians, not scientists.
This and similar bullshit is no different from the cosmology on the walls of Egyptian pyramids or the stories about angels pushing the planets to keep them moving on its orbits.
The entire realm of astrophysics and particle physics would beg to differ with you. Just because we don't yet know the maths, or truths, behind the studies does not relegate the science to the realm of sectarians or religious figures.
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Way to go EU..