Originally Posted by Anon La Ply
Martin, I understand and relate to your frustration with "god of the gaps" thinking and superstition. I like rationalism the certainty with which some "rationalists" declare their beliefsabout reality strike me as irrational, given how much we don't know.
I have problems with a "rational" model that dismisses and ignores a massive chunk of reality that has profound effects on physical reality - subjective reality. The reality as experienced by trillions of organisms on Earth.
Bottom line is we don't know. It's fair to discount the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Zeus, Odin, etc, but how can we be certain about the nature of reality? We don't understand the conditions before the big bang, nor the nature of consciousness or its relationship to the brain (or the kind of consciousness experienced by animals which don't have brains). We have not yet unravelled the quantum mysteries, string theory is looking good but if proved opens up more riddles. What is 96% of the universe is comprised of other than placeholder labels of "dark matter" and "dark energy"? What is the shape of the universe? What happens at the singularity within black holes?
There is much cause and effect that goes on every moment - and it's happening to you, in you right now but we are not at all aware. The thing you're eating right now might be the trigger that starts or prevents a cancer. Or we might make a decision now that results in us meeting a future life partner. These events are knowable but since we don't know we ride our logic and instincts and hope for the best.
My favourite wild speculation of the week is that our next major breakthrough will be a deeper incorporation of information into our dimensional models. Apparently information is the one thing that isn't destroyed when stuff goes into a black hole - instead it remains at the event horizon. I suspect there will be interesting things found in relation to information and quantum entanglement.
We are all actually made of information, not matter. We are each temporary self-organising patterns. Proof of this is that we replace every cell in our bodies every 7 years - yet "we" persist. We are not made of matter, we ingest and organise matter to maintain ourselves but what makes us "us" is not matter.
I heard one philosopher liken consciousness to digestion - just another process of the body. At first I thought that off beam, given the prosaic nature of digestion and the much larger transformative power of consciousness. But there are similarities - both are processes in the body that largely act without our knowledge. One processes matter, the other processes information.
One thing we can all agree on is that over a lifetime both digestion and consciousness produce lots and lots of sh1t :) Fertiliser maybe? But of what?
// end excretion :)
Deep and provocative thinking. I especially like the concept that consciousness may be just another bodily process, like digestion. Freaky! Virtually all creatures have some kind of consciousness so this is interesting to consider. One thing that occurred to me: consider that bacteria are just cells adapted to living outside a body and multicelled organisms evolved as collections of highly specialized bacteria that rely on each other for safety, mobility, protection, nutrition, water, etc. So our real purpose in life could be nothing more than providing a place for single-celled organisms to thrive for a little while.
I agree the bottom line is we don't know. Like you, I don't fill the knowledge gap with jellyheaded speculation about UFOs, supernatural beings, conspiracies and other stuff. All the items you mentioned are knowable and understandable and it is possible that someday, we will have the answers.