Monday, June 29, 2015

The World Created in Six Days--But they were very long days, with many small steps.,

First, the notion of the “big bang” reflects the premise that the universe began when, all of a sudden, everything came into existence out of nothing, with no explanation of how this happened or where it all came from.  Second, the story of the evolution of life on this planet reflects the initial premise that inorganic material – the primordial soup – spontaneously gave rise to organic entities, with no explanation of how non-living matter can, all on its own, suddenly become alive.  Third, this perspective assumes that consciousness emerged along with increasingly sophisticated nervous systems and brains, with no explanation of how organic matter develops a capacity for cognition and information processing.  These three claims – that the whole universe magically emerged out of nothing, that organic life magically emerged out of inorganic chemicals, and that mind magically emerged out of matter – require no less faith, and are no less fantastical, than the belief that God created the world in six days.
One of my colleagues wrote the above as part of a larger argument. It may be useful to keep in mind:
1. All the big bang cosmology, and the inflationary scenario, depends on how we might model,  in a physical sense, the emergence of something from nothing. The idea is that as the world cooled down from the big bang, there emerged orderliness, much as cooled water becomes crystalline ice. That orderliness is the something that arises
2. There may be speculation about before the big bang, but in general physicists see time as something denominated by events (not by an external clock), and before the big bang there was no time.
3. As for living matter, it is likely that we will find matter that exhibits various levels of what we would call living. In other words, the living-ness was not a single step, but more likely was a series of incremental steps. Non-living matter surely on its own develops in this way, but it is unlikely that there was a single step that divided time into before living and after living.
4. As for organic matter developing cognition and information processing capacity, we find that there are many steps along the way, and different living matter displays various degrees of consciousness etc. Much like #3.
5. Being living matter that is conscious, cognitive, and information processing, is an ongoing process. It has not stopped with current mankind. It's not that we will come to see the current era as being only half living and half-dumb. Rather in millennia new steps will be developed.

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