A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Universe and Us

There are only two reasonable explanations: either there are infinite universes or some designer with essentially infinite processing capacity ordered up this one.  Neither “explanation” deals with the infinite regression to first causes, but the former is fundamentally the more parsimonious and agrees with at least the behavior of this universe as we presently understand it.

Further, time must either not exist outside of a construction like our universe or what we recognize as time has very different properties outside of our universe.

Aside from some rather odd assertions, it is pretty clear that we and something that we comprehend as the universe exist.  The implication of this is that we are somewhere.  In human logical terms that would mean that there is a somewhere else.  This ‘here and there’ idea is clearly not so simple, but still has powerful appeal. 

We are limited in language to existing words, or at least conceptions that can be generated by those words in combination.  And so, when using space and time I can only be referring to the way such things manifest in my very local experience.  All the suggestions of cosmology are that our human personal perceptions are woefully inadequate.  It is the most likely case that time and space are peculiar to the universe that spawned us.  There is apparently no reason to assume that another universe would have any qualities similar to this one.  All of our old standbys, atomic structure and matter, fundamental forces, duration, distance, mechanics none of them would have to be or be of a similar form in another universe.

We will most likely never be able to empirically demonstrate these conjectures.  The energies that we can generate may get some speck of matter (whatever that is) to conditions resembling the first instants of this universe (whatever that means), but it is exceedingly unlikely that we will command energies that can take us out of this one into another.  But we can guess that it would be the ultimate in foreign travel, and, of course, another universe would most likely be totally disruptive of any organization not its own.  Perhaps we might think of such an intrusion to be a little (a tiny tiny little) like sprinkling water onto a red hot fry pan.

I am thankful for these little exercises in escape from thinking about how our species is driven by its own adaptations to the destruction of the thin film of living space on our little out-of-the-way planet.  I continue to hope that in these flights of fancy something will come to mind (the very human mind) from the fine print of our deal with the universe that might help lead the way to a return to ecological balance.  Nothing serious to report yet.

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