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Lifeism
Posted: 06 October 2009 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was wondering if I qualify as being a humanist, but I can’t quite bring myself to accept the term.  It occurred to me that I have more intelligent conversations with my dog than with the average human – so it would seem wrong to limit myself to “humanism” and it might insult and exclude my dog.

I strongly suspect that there are many forms of life on Earth that are considerably more intelligent than the average human – it’s just that we are not intelligent enough to recognise it.  Leave an unarmed human being against most animals in the wild and the human will lose. Even finding a good definition of “intelligence” is next to impossible. Dogs see the world in terms of sounds and smells. They excel in those departments and can bite, run, endure cold, digest meat rapidly and do all sorts of amazing things that we can’t do. At the same time they can love unconditionally and be affectionate without asking for anything in return – which are qualities seriously lacking in most humans.  Sure dogs can’t count very well, but can you find truffles?

Being a “doggonist” would also be too limiting because there is such varied life out there. Whales manage to navigate around the entire planet apparently using sonar – displaying extra-human intelligence also. Their bodies are put together to withstand phenomenal natural conditions in the deep oceans and polar circles.
The separation of body and mind is an artificial construct so as to be able to study the body scientifically without interference from religion centuries ago. Intelligence is build into the bodies of all animals – stunning intelligence like how to navigate to the exact tiny stream where you were born many years ago on the other side of the Atlantic.

I’m just not sure that it is adequate to be a “humanist”. Let’s face it, we started off as bacteria that got together and evolved collectively. At what point did we become “human”? Hopefully we will continue to evolve into something very much better than what we see today. So why on Earth be “humanist”?
Perhaps the answer is to be a “lifeist”. Let’s face it we share 98% of our DNA with pigs so let’s not get too snobby about that 2%.

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Posted: 06 October 2009 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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And if you are concerned about all life, does it upset you that when you brush your teeth you are killing millions of innocent bacteria?

Occam

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Posted: 06 October 2009 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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How are you so sure they are innocent?

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Posted: 06 October 2009 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Scientist you truly dislike labels. I do too. But believe me if the person is even giving a half-hearted effort to live by “humanist” values than you can be assured that it is adequate. Adequate for all life and the Earth. I don’t like labels either. But it makes communication here with semi-strangers easier.

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 06 October 2009 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m sure it’s a great improvement, but not sure if it’s really adequate. I think that we humans underestimate nature and the power of life in general. When you think that they have found bacteria 5km down in the Earth’s crust living off sulphur and multiplying at a rate of about once every hundred years (if I remember correctly) there is just no end to how life has taken over this planet. Richard Dawkins described it in astronomic terms as an Information explosion - as opposed to a supernova which is just matter instead of information. Dawkin’s lack of physics let him down in that book “River out of Eden” because he didn’t realise that - as described by John Wheeler (ex no 1 physicist in the USA) man is capable of travelling anywhere in the universe in the span of one generation. This means that we can literally colonise the entire universe in 25 years given enough resources. Dawkins didn’t realise that his theory is much more powerful than he thought - when combined with this insight. I just think that humans can learn so much from nature that I prefer to relate to nature than to humanity. Humanity is not a good reference - in fact it is generally pretty crap.

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Posted: 06 October 2009 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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the scientist - 06 October 2009 03:24 PM

...as described by John Wheeler (ex no 1 physicist in the USA) man is capable of travelling anywhere in the universe in the span of one generation. This means that we can literally colonise the entire universe in 25 years given enough resources.

I think you need to look that one up. The universe is 42 billion light-years across. It is impossible to travel fast enough to traverse that distance in 25 years.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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fotobits - 06 October 2009 04:52 PM
the scientist - 06 October 2009 03:24 PM

...as described by John Wheeler (ex no 1 physicist in the USA) man is capable of travelling anywhere in the universe in the span of one generation. This means that we can literally colonise the entire universe in 25 years given enough resources.

I think you need to look that one up. The universe is 42 billion light-years across. It is impossible to travel fast enough to traverse that distance in 25 years.

Not so. Wheeler gives explicit details on the subject in his book “A Journey Through Spacetime and Gravity” which you are welcome to look up yourself anytime - remember this guy built the hydrogen bomb and was America’s top physicist. He wrote books too.
How long does it take light to get to you from a star 100 million light years away?  For the light which is travelling the time required is ZERO - no time at all - the same for 42 billion light years distance or any distance you choose. For you standing still the time required is 100 million years. Wheeler does his calculations based on travelling at 8/10ths of the speed of light - which he claims is technically feasible with current technology - but prohibitively expensive.

The main drawback is that you can get to anywhere you want, but when you return to Earth it will be gone and so will all the humanists.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 03:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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fotobits - 06 October 2009 04:52 PM
the scientist - 06 October 2009 03:24 PM

...as described by John Wheeler (ex no 1 physicist in the USA) man is capable of travelling anywhere in the universe in the span of one generation. This means that we can literally colonise the entire universe in 25 years given enough resources.

I think you need to look that one up. The universe is 42 billion light-years across. It is impossible to travel fast enough to traverse that distance in 25 years.

Ship-time, it is possible to traverse any distance in any time whatever, just so long as you can get arbitrarily close to the speed of light.

(Not sure Wheeler ever was the greatest physicist in the US, BTW. At any rate, this result is completely uncontroversial, and follows from Einstein’s equations).

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Posted: 07 October 2009 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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dougsmith - 07 October 2009 03:54 AM
fotobits - 06 October 2009 04:52 PM
the scientist - 06 October 2009 03:24 PM

...as described by John Wheeler (ex no 1 physicist in the USA) man is capable of travelling anywhere in the universe in the span of one generation. This means that we can literally colonise the entire universe in 25 years given enough resources.

I think you need to look that one up. The universe is 42 billion light-years across. It is impossible to travel fast enough to traverse that distance in 25 years.

Ship-time, it is possible to traverse any distance in any time whatever, just so long as you can get arbitrarily close to the speed of light.

(Not sure Wheeler ever was the greatest physicist in the US, BTW. At any rate, this result is completely uncontroversial, and follows from Einstein’s equations).

First, it would have helped if the scientist had given a frame of reference when he stated we can travel anywhere in the universe in 25 years.

Second, traveling anywhere in the universe and colonizing the entire universe are two completely separate things. Conflating the two is like saying Christopher Columbus colonized the Western Hemisphere when he landed on a Caribbean island.

Third, this is more than an engineering problem. Just because Einstein’s equations suggest it is possible to travel to the far reaches of the universe does not mean it is possible to build a ship to do so. The universe is 42 billion light-years across. The Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago. Cosmic Inflation made the universe accelerate faster than light speed at the beginning, and any information farther than 13.7 billion light-years is forever out of our reach.

Fourth, this is an insurmountable engineering problem. Where are you going to find enough fuel to accelerate to .8c, then flip around and decelerate, even for a one-way trip? There are also a lot of things out there that will make you dead, quick. Protecting the passengers from stellar radiation while still inside our solar system will require a magnetic field as strong as earth’s. More fuel necessary. There are many unknown chunks of rock scattered around our solar system. It will only take one to destroy the ship. When the ship leaves our solar system and moves beyond the protective bubble formed by the stellar wind the risks rise exponentially. There is a lot of gas and dust out there. At relativistic velocities even an extremely small particle can cause catastrophic damage. These problems, including finding sufficient fuel, multiply when you begin talking colonization vs. exploration.

Fifth, how are you going to choose a destination? We have no way of knowing what is 13.7 billion light-years away right now because we can only observe it as it was 13.7 billion years ago, so it is impossible to do something as simple as choosing a destination. This colonization effort will never make it past the project planning stage.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hey, we’ve gone from “impossible” to “it’s an engineering problem” in a day. How come if yesterday you incorrectly thought it was impossible then today you are an engineering expert on the subject? There was a time when people thought that going through the sound barrier was an insurmountable problem.

Quoting John Wheeler:

“Can we mortals ever reach the speed of light? No. However to harp on that no is to lose sight of the wonderful yes message of space time geometry. Yes, in one year of our own proper time, we can - travelling in a sufficiently fast rocket - penetrate any number of light years in space, go anywhere we choose. Do we want to go to the most distant known star and get there in our lifetime? Then, granted a sufficiently fast rocket we can do it.  With speed close enough to the speed of light, we can make the ageing factor so small that while the Earth and stars age 50 billion years we age 40 years. The extent of space and time that in principle is accessible to a single mortal is almost inconceivable. Despite the enormous practical problems, space colonisation is changing from dream to design, and soon to doing.  Billions of lightyears of space wait for life to animate them. Billions of years lie ahead to capture the billions upon billions of sites useful for life.  The universe will grow ever more exciting. That’s reason enough to want to stick around and drop in on act after act of the show. We someday can!”  -  from “A Journey Through Spacetime and Gravity” Page 52.

My statement about colonizing the universe in a generation was metaphorical - expressing the essence of the possibilities revealed by physics. The reality will no doubt be a lot more surprising that any of us can guess.

Perhaps Wheeler was not the No 1 physicist in the USA - that’s a matter of opinion. He was certainly one of the very best. He invented the term “Black Hole” by the way - so his work is in everyday common speach.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Go ahead, dream about what is mathematically possible. The rest of us will stick to reality.

Answer this: Where are you going to go and how will you get there? Vague answers not acceptable. You need to specify a destination. We can discuss how to get there alive after you choose a destination.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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VYAZMA - 06 October 2009 02:41 PM

Scientist you truly dislike labels. I do too. But believe me if the person is even giving a half-hearted effort to live by “humanist” values than you can be assured that it is adequate. Adequate for all life and the Earth. I don’t like labels either. But it makes communication here with semi-strangers easier.

Do labels really make communication easier? Or do labels prevent communication? One thing is for sure, if you want to draw something the biggest obstacle to observation is the tendency to recognise everything as symbols. An artist has to learn how to observe and to push aside those symbols to be able to see properly. In verbal terms labels appear to have a similar effect. They allow people to quickly pigeonhole things without thinking. That is probably useful for superficial banter but not for penetrating inquiry. If I’m looking for superficial banter then I probably don’t go to forums titled “Center For Inquiry”.
I have often found in life that progress is made when ideas that are simply accepted as common sense are challenged. Where is the inquiry in accepting an arcane and inappropriate term such as “atheist” or and inadequate and limp term such as “humanist”?

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Posted: 07 October 2009 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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fotobits - 07 October 2009 11:03 AM

Go ahead, dream about what is mathematically possible. The rest of us will stick to reality.

Answer this: Where are you going to go and how will you get there? Vague answers not acceptable. You need to specify a destination. We can discuss how to get there alive after you choose a destination.

Until today you were utterly ignorant about the realities of spacetime travel and your initial comment here suggests that little has changed- so instead of giving you a solid destination I prefer to suggest that you get lost.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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For anyone else who cannot get their head around spacetime travel - ponder the fact that you are currently travelling in a spacecraft at 67000 miles per hour or 30000 metres per second and you don’t have the slightest idea where you are or where you are going. That spacecraft is Earth.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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the scientist - 07 October 2009 12:01 PM

I prefer to suggest that you get lost.

Scientist, please refrain from insults. They are against the rules.

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Posted: 07 October 2009 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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dougsmith - 07 October 2009 01:17 PM
the scientist - 07 October 2009 12:01 PM

I prefer to suggest that you get lost.

Scientist, please refrain from insults. They are against the rules.

It wasn’t an insult - it was an alternative to a definite destination. Getting lost!

Is there anyone here with an IQ over 80?

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