Are we real?





So I was intrigued when I saw this space related programme on television - not your usual Discovery channel rubbish - this was a Channel 4 programme and I loved it - addressing a number of key questions......

For as long as we can chart human history humans seem to have attributed their existence to the work of an intelligent designer, a 'god' who created all life. All religions that I know of tell us some sort of creation story that addresses the question as to why we are here. For scientists on the other hand traditional views have been concerned with 'how' rather than 'why' we were created, and that is undoubtedly an easier question to answer. Essays I wrote in my academic years argued that religion was merely a tool which exerted control over people and not only gave them hope, but a sense of purpose. My views have altered little, yet my faith in the scientific quest to answer why we are here is somewhat more hopeful. According to the scientific community and their version of creation we ultimately owe our existence to the fundamental laws of nature. It all sounds so simple...from a few natural laws and an inert gas comes all the complexity and diversity of life, the universe, and everything.

The notion that the universe was created with purpose begins to disintegrate in the fact of the greater understanding about how complex systems can emerge from randomness, and they do so with no further input than a few simple rules.

There is a general view amongst physicists that the laws of nature that have allowed our creation are accidental. They are simply a property of mathematical principles that have nothing to do with our existence, or the existence of anything else for that matter. Life, the universe and everything exists by pure accident. However another view which employed a mathematical approach to studying the laws of nature found that tinkering with these laws just slightly could make life impossible. hen working from this approach it looks as though these laws have been set accurately and purposefully to encourage the evolution of life.

The laws of nature can be defined by a set number that provides the parameters for the evolution of the universe as we know it. One of these numbers in particular, the so called cosmological constant, has to be very tiny if the universe is to grow old enough and big enough to contain stars, and life. The cosmological constant can be considered as the intrinsic mass and volume of intensive space, which Einstein had suggested was not zero. It turns out that this number needs to be set to an accuracy of one part in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. If there was any minuscule variation and life would essentially be a non starter.

It seems that the numerical parameters that have set the universe on its course to make stars and consequently life are so accurately set that its difficult to imagine they got that way by chance. Yet if they didn't get there by chance then surely it was by design....However cosmologists have come up with an idea around the invocation of a designer. How do you feel about the suggestion that the universe we inhabit is only one of many....If there are many universes then there will have been many big bangs creating them, and each of them could have resulted in a universe with a set of natural laws. Therefore we would have been existing in a universe which is one of many...each with its own peculiar set of laws to define it. If that was the case then it would not have been so surprising to have found a universe with a set of finely tuned natural laws which would encourage the evolution of life.

Cosmologists who subscribe to the multiverse idea have therefore followed the next step of questioning. If we are only one universe of many and such complexity of our own intelligence can arise from simple rules, what other intelligence might be out there?? At present our brains are the most complex things that we know of in our universe (excluding that of my families). It has taken four billion years of evolution to get from simple single celled life to humans. Our sun has around another six billion years before it dies in a flare up that will engulf all of the planets around it, including our own.  That would mean another 6 billion years of evolution...and apparent increased levels of intelligence.




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