What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Is there life after death?
Stay tuned and I will answer all of these questions and more in one simply blog post. Oy vey! Yeah baby, yeah!
A good writer is compelling and interesting. To date my blog has really been about a brain dump of ideas more than compelling writing.
In this blog post I will water the roses of interest a little harder. What? How does one water "harder" and why would that make for better roses? lol. Oh well, maybe next time. Onward!
What is the meaning of life? To answer that let us first examine what is the purpose of philosophy. Philosophy is to life what science is to life for most of human history. It answers questions.
I am a philosopher. It took me awhile to figure out what that meant. When I first thought of myself as a philosopher I thought it meant filling the gaps of science. I also thought it meant coming up with witty metaphors to help lay people relate to complicated issues that would escape regular folk otherwise.
Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.― Albert Einstein
Imagine yourself living before the advent of the printing press. The scientific process has yet to come to the fore. What is the truth the best describes reality? The truth for you will mostly entail one-part fact and 99 parts reason. Philosophy connected the dots between facts. Philosophy developed a sophistry that while nowhere near as sophisticated as quantum mechanics it was still more intricate then most people would dare to tread.
Philosophy and religion have suffered the same fate: obsolescence by way of the scientific process. To whit, you probably use about as much philosophy in your day-to-day living as you do religion, that is to say none at all.
So if philosophy is obsolete then does that mean the meaning of life is obsolete? ha!
No, philosophy is not dead. Like religion then philosophy needs to be re-defined. Philosophy is no longer in the truth business. What business is philosophy in then? Philosophy is in the guessing business.
“The more you know, the more you know you don't know.”
Kobayashi Maru: a no-win scenario test of character in the face of no known options.
The correct answer to the Kobayashi Maru, of course, is to conduct oneself with the most desirable character for recorded posterity. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around then all options are meaningless anyway. The only meaning is character in the Kobayashi Maru.
Philosophy in many respects is every bit as relevant as it was yesterday, just with a different purpose. The more we know then the more we don't know. What if you are in a situation faced with the unknown? What then? This is where philosophy kicks in. Philosophy provides the best guess possible. But in no way is philosophy to be considered truth but just the best guess running.
Also, philosophy is still in the business of providing metaphors. The average person still needs to understand complicated topics like nuclear power. Good philosophers will help them along on this path. Religion, then, can still have a purpose in the knowledge framework. Religion can never compete with philosophy's role in guessing in the face of the unknown because religion is about contextualizing by oversimplifying things for people who otherwise cannot understand. Oversimplifying is not compatible with making the best guessing decisions in the face of the unknown.
And finally we arrive. Now we are ready to begin our work understanding the meaning of life.
The great philosophical debates about the universe are between the theist and the atheist. Does god exist? Is there life after death?
I highly recommend watching the above video. The religious and non-religious alike are well represented in a philosophical debate about life after death.
It was the above video that motivated to write this blog post. About one-third of the way into the debate Sam Harris discusses a cutting edge philosophical concept that this universe is just a computer simulation. One of the Rabbi's responds by saying that in this view then even an ocean wave can be resurrected and there is nothing special about life's place in the universe, nothing special about consciousness.
The Rabbi, much to his chagrin if he knew, is correct.
Let us call this the babymaker.
In philosophy today the juxtaposition between theist and atheist, the crux, the fulcrum, and the nexxus of the philosophical difference is the watchmaker debate. If you look into the depths of life and see a watchmaker then a supernatural god is in order. If you do not see a watchmaker then the natural is sufficient. The watchmaker is a personal decision for most people and not one of reasoned argument.
But there is a third option that makes more sense than either: the babymaker.
First, please recognize we are not talking truth here but we are talking guessing. The truth of the matter is we do not have a scientific process for proving anything supernatural, including god. We don't know anything about the supernatural.
I don't know is the only truth answer to the question, "Is there a god?" Or, rather, I don't know is our only shared truth answer. As the rabbis in the video above point out people can have personal truth and personal revelations about the truth of god. But that personal truth cannot be shared because it cannot be independently verifiable. You may have a near-death experience but that truth is only good for you. In God We Trust must go because we collectively don't know. Science is the only arbiter of our collective truth.
So why concern oneself with philosophy at all then?
Because what we don't know encompasses more than what we do know.That means every day we need to make decisions in the face of the unknown so we need to guess. Philosophy helps us with the best guess possible.
For this argument let us suppose you are a scientist asking for money to research if god or the supernatural exists. Should you fund such an unknown and if so where do you begin to look?
Well, dear reader, one would begin by looking for the babymaker, not the watchmaker.
Below is a chain of philosophical thought that starts with an assumption, applies some universal principles and them moves to a conclusion, the babymaker.
- Assume humans can only make guesses about things that humans can reason about. The supernatural that defies human reasoning may very well exist but would be a pointless experiment to run. You literally wouldn't know where to begin.
- The copy principle. The universe is built upon a principle of building blocks and copying. From atoms to DNA to quantam phenomena everything exists in multiple copies. There is no such thing as a distinct particle that is unique. Any configuration of natural atoms, particles and phenomena can occur again.
- The principle of pattern replication applies: what occurs once can occur again and patterns observed are the most reasonable as starting models for addressing the unknown.
- Parents have babies and do not understand the underlying process.
- The universe creator is a parent and something that does not understand how the universe is created but just possesses the ability to do so.
- The universe creator is running an experiment to understand why and how the process of universe creation works.
- The information capacity of the computer monitoring this universe must be greater than all of the information in this universe. In other words, the computer gathering the data on this universe is itself a universe.
- Most of the universe information can be compressed. Suns and galaxies all exhibit common entropy patterns that can be information compressed. This explains why so much of the universe is just stars. The total entropy is large but can be compressed. Most of our universe information can be compressed in the experiment observing computer leaving lots of room for expanding upon information about life of entropy differences.
- The meaning of life is to transcend what the creator knows and help advance the understanding of the technology of universe creation itself.
- We are aware of the experiment. Consciousness is a feedback loop between the experiment universe and the experiment running universe and therefore a paradox. What is being recorded is itself the recording device.
- Everything is being recorded and therefore everything, including ocean waves can be "resurrected". More aptly put, everything can be played back.
- The experiment has a beginning and ending so as to provide a final evaluation.
Whoever created this universe does not understand what they created. The universe creators are running an experiment and possibly more to transcend. We are part of that transcending process.
This guess is the best guess to date. As science ever edges forward then like all other guesses the babymaker model of no facts will be refined and replaced as the facts come in.
So who are the parents of our universe parents? The answer is we don't know. But unlike the question of our universe parents, we fundamentally don't care. So there are unknowns and then there are unknowns. The first set of unknowns are the ones we may possibly be challenged with making a decision in the face of. The second set of unknowns will never manifest in our universe and so we don't care. We don't care about the supernatural we can't understand.
The above is really just a mental exercise and nothing more. The above illustrates the purpose and the process of modern day philosophy. Modern day philosophy provides us with the best guess going when faced with the impossible and the unknown. In the face of the impossible, in the face of a Kobayashi Maru, philosophy recommends a guess to remain true to your character on the off chance others may learn of your endeavors.
As an atheist what I believe about the origins of the universe is "I don't know".
As an atheist what I guess about the origins of the universe is the babymaker.
Scale your empathy, scale the world!
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The future is coming!
Innovate at a rapid pace!
Slow speed ahead!
Well come! and well met!