Friday, January 16

Why are we here

I watched the recent BBC television series by that title on the ABC by physicist Professor Brian Cox who I find is an engaging presenter. His earlier brush with fame was whilst he attended university in Manchester, when Cox joined a band as a musician which enjoyed several hits in the UK charts including a number one "Things Can Only Get Better", the anthem that swept Blair into power.
In a similar vein his effervescent presentation style is winning over audiences in increasing numbers, not that anything is particularly new, but rather I think his passionate energy can be contagious.  Furthermore Cox does not appear to have any agenda, other than to inform and entertain his audience, in what he finds interesting, in the belief that will correspond with their curiosity or interest.

He thinks it’s naive to say there is no GOD. In fact he readily admits he hasn’t any of the answers, but rather wants novelists, artists, philosophers, theologians and physicists to debate and discuss the important philosophical questions that confront us. Such questions as:  
Why are we here”? “How did the universe make us”? “What made the universe?”
Cox thinks science is undervalued with the capacity to be a force for good in education and society, a positive view which spills over into his creative approaches. He outlines with some conviction, the precision in relation to the events and conditions over billions of years as was necessary for life as we know to blossom and expand in complexity and splendour.  What we know of these events stands in stark contrast to the extremes that lie elsewhere across the universe. So he asks the question: Are we a happy accident and is humanity either unique or possibly one of the very few planets that can sustain advanced life forms amongst maybe 350 billion galaxies? .
Cox begins his presentation by reference to trainee Hindu priests, and their religion that he asserts is based on a surprising degree of intellectual rigor and then proceeds to draw analogies of meandering rivers, spotty leopards, camels, asteroids, and Samurai swords to illustrate his argument, that whilst science is underpinned by simple rules, it will also lead to evolved complexity. His ideas are similar to what is proposed by Stephen Wolfram who demonstrated in his cellular automata experiments the high degree of complexity that can arise effortlessly just as a consequence of following certain simple rules of growth.

So that the conclusion is, because of the precision of the early universe, and the subsequent inflationary impacts within simple rules that this miraculous set of events ensured the capacity to sustain advanced forms of life.

Science as a Philosophy
Early science was considered philosophy and it is only in our more recent times the two are separated. I think science can help in ensuring we have a new understanding of the world.
But just as yesterday’s history teaches us how we have changed our views on any number of things we should not assume today's science will represent tomorrow's truth, particularly in relation to attempting to explain the mystery of our origins and of existence. So the question is “Why are we here? “Is it a precursor, to gain experiences prior to entering another world once our life on this one ends? 

Your views are most welcome!!



Tom said...

There is much that I like about Brian Cox, his style, his enthusiasm for science, his sense of wonder, his joy in the simple things about the universe as well as the big.

He also asks questions without presuming to know the answers. That is the mark of a genuine, non-dogmatic or bigoted scientist. No question is too small or too big. Yes, I have a great admiration for this prof..

♥ N o v a said...

He's very cool. A rockstar scientist. The telly series, he said, is a "love letter" to the human race. How cool is that?

I think that we are here, to learn and to prepare, for the next world. I just don't believe that once our existence here ends, that it is all over for us. It just seems so pointless then, to endure what we endure during our lifetime, only to have it all be for naught once we no longer exist in this world.

susan said...

Science in its ideal form is a very different matter from the way science is often practiced in our current period, a form that could be viewed as group-think. If we could turn the former onto the subject matter of all those footprints of spirit in the physical world, who knows what new horizons might open up? Who knows how our civilization itself might be transformed?

An article called 'The Folly of Scientism' written by Austin Hughes is a fascinating narrative about the topic of modern science and philosophy.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Tom
Pleased to see your strong endorsement of Bran Cox, which mirror my feelings. Also I assume you’re on the road to recovery after the eye operation.
I am looking forward to the next series on the ABC
Best wishes

Hi Nova
I also thought that expression was very cool. It does seem so pointless to endure what we endure during our lifetime, only to have it all be for naught once we no longer exist in this world.
Best wishes

Hi Susan
Thanks for your comments and the reference which I read with interest, but I also think some of the authors criticisms could be applied to aspects of modern theology.
According to Karen Armstrong it is only in the modern period that theologians started to treat God as a scientific explanation and in the process produced an idolatrous God concept.
In its original form science simply meant ‘knowledge”, just as
I think the essence of philosophy might be considered simply as a logical progression of ideas.
Best wishes

Rachael said...

Sounds like an interesting program. "Early science was considered philosophy and it is only in our more recent times the two are separated." yes it's a shame that happens and I do enjoying reflecting on where different fields overlap. We've become very specialised but at a price. - Rachael