Author Topic: Life  (Read 982 times)

jcm

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Life
« on: October 10, 2007, 09:26:29 PM »
Sometimes the size and enormous detail of life gets the better of me. I understand that gravity is the drive force that squashes matter onto itself. Gravity is the component that creates stars and planets, thus creating a hospitable place for life. Aside from events before the big bang, gravity, and what gives matter mass; we have a good understanding about everything contributing to life and the universe itself. I understand that what are the most fundamental components in my body are the same fundamental components of the universe. All real things are built up from elementary particles into more and more complex combinations. What gets the better of me is the transition from a rock to a life form. It is a rather beautiful and inspiring view of the world to know that life rises up against gravity. Life creates its own energy by going against the grain. However, when I’m feeling lazy, I think a conscious effort could be to blame. It also scares me to think that out of evolution and gravity I sprung up without any effort on my part. This kind of kills a sense of self to me. What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by jcm »
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs

Will

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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2007, 09:31:32 PM »
I love it. It's like a big puzzle to me. The more I uncover, the broader my understanding of the universe, and that's really exciting. I'm not a scientist by trade, but reading about and learning is what I do for fun.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Will »
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McQ

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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2007, 12:46:36 AM »
Well, jcm, there's not just gravity at work (although a fundamental force), but the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces too. It is amazing and awesome to see how the fundamental forces of nature work in ways so that we exist; that matter exists; that anything exists.

Lots of great books to read about all these wonderful things too. Maybe we should start a book thread with various topics?
« Last Edit: October 11, 2007, 12:59:27 PM by McQ »
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SabineMaia

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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2007, 04:37:52 AM »
The more I learn about life and the universe, the punier I feel. The set of circumstances that arose to make life (as we know it) are so mindbogglingly improbable, that it makes you feel fragile and vulnerable. Needless to say, I understand about your lazy moments. Still, I think the audacity that life has to exist, despite all the variables that could have stopped it, makes it more beautiful than any myth.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by SabineMaia »

jcm

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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2007, 02:04:55 AM »
Quote from: "McQ"
Well, jcm, there's not just gravity at work (although a fundamental force), but the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces too. It is amazing and awesome to see how the fundamental forces of nature work in ways so that we exist; that matter exists; that anything exists.

Lots of great books to read about all these wonderful things too. Maybe we should start a book thread with various topics?


Well McQ, I didn't say that gravity was the only force at work. Next time I will be sure to read to the class a brief history of time in its entirety.  :wink:
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by jcm »
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs

McQ

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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2007, 03:00:55 AM »
Quote from: "jcm"
Quote from: "McQ"
Well, jcm, there's not just gravity at work (although a fundamental force), but the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces too. It is amazing and awesome to see how the fundamental forces of nature work in ways so that we exist; that matter exists; that anything exists.

Lots of great books to read about all these wonderful things too. Maybe we should start a book thread with various topics?

Well McQ, I didn't say that gravity was the only force at work. Next time I will be sure to read to the class a brief history of time in its entirety.  :wink:


Hey now...you did ask for our thoughts! I want equal time for all the forces, that's all! Fair and balanced.  :wink:
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by McQ »
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jcm

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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2007, 10:22:08 PM »
Quote from: "McQ"
Quote from: "jcm"
Quote from: "McQ"
Well, jcm, there's not just gravity at work (although a fundamental force), but the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces too. It is amazing and awesome to see how the fundamental forces of nature work in ways so that we exist; that matter exists; that anything exists.

Lots of great books to read about all these wonderful things too. Maybe we should start a book thread with various topics?

Well McQ, I didn't say that gravity was the only force at work. Next time I will be sure to read to the class a brief history of time in its entirety.  :wink:

Hey now...you did ask for our thoughts! I want equal time for all the forces, that's all! Fair and balanced.  :wink:


Hey this ain't fox news, but I will allow your little forces equal time. :)
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by jcm »
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs

Steve Reason

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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2007, 08:36:17 AM »
Well as far as our place in the 'verse, on one hand we matter very little regarding our consciousness and accomplishments. On the other hand, we matter very much; in fact the universe couldn't do without us -- dead or alive.

As far as the unlikelihood of us being here and the complexity of things, it really doesn't seem all that remarkable. What would be remarkable is if we got a totally unexpected result from what the laws of nature tell us. Like if we could fly or breathe in outer space, or the light of the sun didn't make it all the way here or something. I think the fact that we are here is obviously because no other outcome was possible. Another universe might produce a different result, but not this one. I wouldn't call it predestination that life exists, but I would say that's it's unlikely that life wouldn't exist in the universe.

What amazes me is that humans exist. Because that didn't have to be so. Another meteor could have hit us before we gained awareness, or this species or that could've dominated. And I'm even more amazed that I exist! That certainly didn't have to happen.

I'm like Will, learning about the universe is what turns me on. How things work together, and why things work together fascinate me. And just the sheer beauty and immensity of it.

But as far as my place in it and how I fit in and all of that, it's not something worthy of my time to think about. I just try to enjoy life as best I can and let the philosophers argue such things. Besides, those kind of questions can lead to suppositions like religion because of someone's need to feel like they are more than what they see.
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2007, 04:32:17 AM »
Lately I've become preoccupied with contemplating my existence.  It can be endlessly frustrating if you think about it for too long.  Occasionally I have my lazy moments and think "this is just too awesome to have happened on it's own", but then I am reminded that saying "god created the universe and everything in it" doesn't explain a damn thing, so why believe it?  Why not just say "I don't know" and in the meantime let science keep doing what it does?  Inevitably these internal conversations end with me throwing up my hands and giving up.  What a pointless thing to dwell on when there's so much out there to experience.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by User192021 »

jcm

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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2007, 09:39:02 PM »
Quote from: "User192021"
Lately I've become preoccupied with contemplating my existence.  It can be endlessly frustrating if you think about it for too long.  Occasionally I have my lazy moments and think "this is just too awesome to have happened on it's own", but then I am reminded that saying "god created the universe and everything in it" doesn't explain a damn thing, so why believe it?  Why not just say "I don't know" and in the meantime let science keep doing what it does?  Inevitably these internal conversations end with me throwing up my hands and giving up.  What a pointless thing to dwell on when there's so much out there to experience.


I would like to get to that point and stay there, but it is like a drug :)
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by jcm »
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs

User192021

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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2007, 09:48:13 PM »
Quote from: "jcm"
I would like to get to that point and stay there, but it is like a drug :)

Haha, I think about that too.  Sometimes I wonder to myself "What if I'm the person who finally uncovers the truth about life?"  What if I decide that religion was right afterall?  I hope that doesn't happen.  Would I lie and say I'm still an atheist or would I devote my life to religion?  Knowing myself, sooner or later I would have to come clean and live a proper religious life....which would suck, although I suppose if I thought I had really figured it all out, I would be more than happy to go back to church and spend my time praying.  Oh well, I've already gone that route and I know where it leads.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by User192021 »

SteveS

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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2007, 05:03:37 AM »
Sense of self is something I'd really, really like to understand.  I don't get it at all - how does it work; what makes it function?  

Also, that little "rock to life" thingamajig:

Quote from: "jcm"
What gets the better of me is the transition from a rock to a life form.

 is similar to a favorite thought of mine --- what, fundamentally, is the difference between a human being and a rock?  We're made of the same stuff, right?  Just a bunch of quarks and electrons arranged in a different way is all.

Tell you what I like to thing about: the sameness of people and "the environment".  In other words - I don't live on earth; I don't live in the environment; I don't live in the universe.  Rather, I am a part of the earth; I am a part of the environment; I am a part of the universe.  What I'm getting at is we tend to see ourselves as separate from our surroundings, but we and our surroundings are the same - we are a part of our surroundings.  We are a completely natural consequence of the laws of physics and the chemical composition of the planet (which is a consequence of the chemical composition of the universe).  Same as rocks, right?

In yet other words, imagine if an intelligent star-faring alien exploratory expedition came across planet earth ---- would they conclude that the skyscrapers and concrete road surfaces were "unnatural" developments?  No - of course not.  So - we normally see ourselves as separate from nature and divide our surroundings into "natural" and "artificial", but if we take a step back then in a certain sense everything is natural.  We are natural, and everything we do is natural.

Why does my sense of self try to tell me I'm different from everything around me?  Weird, right?  Its like being ego-centric only on a whole new level  :wink:
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by SteveS »

jcm

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« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2007, 12:21:39 AM »
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 0462155344

SteveS, check this video out and listen to what Dawkins says 9 minutes in. This video is awesome and has made me really think ever since I saw it.

I agree with what you said about natural or artificial stuff. Fundamentally everything is the same. What I am so perplexed about is one’s self. In my body I have more automatic systems at work than I do manual ones. I grow hair, digest food, breath, heal, and pump blood, all without any conscious effort on my part. A lot of living is done for me, even though I feel like I own my body. Sometimes I take it a step further and question the fact that I am myself at all. If I came into this world and grow without much help on my part, is the “me” in my brain really me? Am I living in something else’s effort to create a consciousness for me? If you think about it, the brain or consciousness is not more than natural stuff either. For every process or memory in the brain, there is a piece of matter that accounts for it. Kind of removes the magic of self
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by jcm »
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs

SteveS

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« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2007, 05:12:26 AM »
Thanks jcm - I seem to recall coming across this video before - either that or there is a section in the "God Delusion" that is very similar.  In any event - these are all interesting thoughts.

I completely agree that there is no magic about sense of self --- just mystery.  Why am I not aware of my automatic systems?  Why am I not aware if I'm growing a cancerous tumor?  Its like the mind is only aware of itself on a high level --- we have to study what we're made of and how we work --- how come we don't just know?

Eh.  My conscious mind seems to be desiring another beer right now....
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by SteveS »

jcm

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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2007, 06:39:28 PM »
Darn, you mean I have to wait for people to actually research this stuff? If only we were all born knowing everything…that would be much easier.

Maybe one day we will be able to feel cancers growing or detect radiation with our senses. Or is it, once life forms reach a particular level of awareness, they stop evolving in the traditional way. Humans build things like computers, scanning and communication devices. Is this different from traditional evolution or is this the next natural step? Humans no longer rely on their bodies to develop new functions, they build tools. I’m not sure if this good or bad. People these days are lazy and rely on technology way too much. I hope we don’t soon live in a world where humans sit on a slam like Jabba the Hut; and communicate via the internet with wires straight in your brain and take a pill for every bodily function.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by jcm »
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. -cs