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Cosmic Quote #87

“For thousands of years, billions of people have found meaning in playing virtual reality games. In the past, we have called these virtual reality games ‘religions’.”–Yuval Noah Harari

Geez, I’m already self-absorbed enough with two blogs and a podcast.  Why would I need to bother (with) that guy?

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Cosmic Quote #86

“If it turns out that there IS a God, I don’t think that he’s evil. I think that the worst you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever.”–Woody Allen in ‘Love and Death.’

And, as Woody also said: “There is no question there is an unseen world.   The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?”  Anyway, if relativity, evolution and carbon dating aren’t enough to convince you creationism is bunk, consider this.  Even god couldn’t screw humanity up this bad in just 6,000 years.  (Boy am I gonna get hate mail)

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Cosmic Quote #61

“To you, I’m an atheist.  To god, I’m the loyal opposition.”–Woody Allen

“Atheism is a non-prophet organization.”–George Carlin

priestsI must admit, golf was once my religion.  Now I’m a non-theistic existentialist, though I still occasionally play around–er, I mean a round.

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Cosmic Quote #58

“Physics is not religion. If it were, we’d have a much easier time raising money.”–Leon Lederman

Non Sequitur by Miley www.cartoonstock.com Used by permission

Non Sequitur by Miley
http://www.cartoonstock.com
Used by permission

I’d bet that if physicists could raise money the way televangelists do, they wouldn’t use it to build themselves mansions and buy themselves private jets.  Well, OK, maybe if the mansion was on Mars and the private jet could fly them there with a lab full of experiments.   Moral:  be careful what you believe in, you might have to pay for it.

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Cosmic Quote#56

“Not only is there no god, but try getting a plumber on weekends.” — Woody Allen

Osteen memeI have a hunch this guy has no trouble getting a plumber.

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Cosmic Quote #40

“I have a problem with religion or anything else that says ‘we have all the answers.’ We’re complex, we change our minds on issues all the time.  Religion leaves no room for human complexity.”–Daniel Radcliffe

Harry_Potter_14yrsMy head says he’s right, but my heart is broken.  I always thought Harry Potter had all the answers.  The moral of this story?  Never trust anyone with “The Mark of Zorro” on his forehead.

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Time Out: Possibilianism

“Our reality depends on what our biology is up to.”–David Eagleman

“What a life in science really teaches you is the vastness of our ignorance.”–David Eagleman

Note: Regular followers of this blog will have noted that I avoid discussions of religion and faith issues herein.  There is a reason for this:  I am not interested in discussing them.  Anyway, if you have read many of my posts you will likely have figured out where I stand on this by now.  However, I am making an exception with this post for a specific reason.  Possiblianism is to faith, what these Millennium Conjectures are to physics and metaphysics.  I am speculating on what might be the answers to unknown questions, based on what we do know about physics and cosmology–all the while keeping an open mind and not drawing any absolute conclusions.

In between theism and atheism lies a vast limbo generally referred to as agnosticism.   While the dictionary definition of agnostic is someone who believes the answer to the question of god’s existence and/or the meaning of life is unknowable, the term is often used more broadly.  The agnostic may be undecided.  The agnostic may not care and consider the question irrelevant.  Some point to such individuals and say they are just too wishy-washy to make up their minds.  The common thread among all of these, though, is that the agnostic sees no firm proof either way.  Along comes Possibilianism, which might be seen as a sort of proactive form of agnosticism.

The term Possibilianism was coined and defined by neuro-scientist and author David Eagleman, in discussion of his book, Sum: 40 Tales from the Afterlife.  When asked by an NPR interviewer whether he was a theist or atheist,  Eagleman replied that he considers himself Possiblian.   “I’m open to…ideas that we don’t have any way of testing right now,” he said.  That is a good way of explaining what my Millennium Conjectures are as well.

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I’ve read Sum, which is a compilation of 40 possible scenarios for what happens when we die;  none of these scenarios are typical religious views of heaven or hell,

or atheist views of eternal nothingness.   Many of the scenarios seem over-the-top bizarre.  Except when you stop to think about it.  None of them are really any more preposterous than what most religions already believe.  But all of them do have rather strong moral or philosophical points to them;  they are all excellent fodder for contemplation.   At any rate, it was a best seller that received rave reviews from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, The Observer and The Los Angeles Times.  

Below is a short You Tube discussion of the concept by Eagleman.  There are much longer ones available if you have the time and inclination.  As for my ever getting to conjecture #5,  I think I’m finally done with the preliminaries, so, yes, it’s a possibility!

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Cosmic Quote #4//Summer Rerun

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” –Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Droll?  We would expect that from the greatest raconteur of American letters.  But perhaps this is far more subtle and profound than a mere semantic joke.  Kurt Gödel proved with his incompleteness theorems that every self-consistent mathematical system must include statements that cannot be proven–the mathematical equivalent of “this statement is false.”  But Twain takes the classic liar’s paradox and applies it, it would seem, to all of existence itself.  There are things in life and in science we just can’t determine,  and that is the point of The Millennium Conjectures.   I need to ponder explanations for what the cutting edges of physics and cosmology are telling us, whether we can test them right now or not.   But don’t misinterpret this.  One of my readers suggested that if I believe things that cannot be proven scientifically, then it is no better than philosophy or religion.  I don’t know about philosophy, but this is most certainly nothing like religion, and for two good reasons.

  • First, these are, after all, conjectures and interpretations;  things I feel strongly could be true.  I do not believe absolutely that they are true.  As I said in an earlier post, they are what-ifs.
  • Second, I stand ready to alter or drop any of these conjectures if the light of further developments requires that I do so.  By further developments I mean new scientific discoveries or better explanations by individuals I consider to be credible scientists.

I don’t know of any religion that says either of those two things–let me know if you do.

Keep the above in mind as I present further conjectures.  Quantum Weirdness 103 will precede the next one, coming soon to a computer near you.

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The Sackler Laws #4: The Law of Political Activism

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things are not going to get better.  They’re not.”–Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“If god had not intended us to eat sugar, he wouldn’t have invented dentists.”–Ralph Nader

Note:  In general, I have avoided the controversies of religion and politics in this blog, though there have been hints at my views on both.  This post tiptoes dangerously towards the precipice of both, though it clearly points no finger at any specific political or religious viewpoint.  I’m bound to get flamed, anyway.

For the fourth and final** installment of the Sackler Laws, I bring you Law #4: The Law of Political Activism.  This is not to be mistaken for Law #1, The Law of Bumper Sticker Activism.  On the other hand, maybe it should be.  Both have to do with taking a good thing too far.  It is simply stated:

First class activists remain forever activists.  Second class activists run for office.

The greatest first class activists of all time, if you look at it carefully, rarely if ever ran for office.  Think Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Susan B. Anthony.  Yes, it’s true that great activists for freedom such as Nelson Mandela and Lech Walesa ultimately became president of the entities their activism wrought; but they were effectively drafted by popular acclaim that arose from the ultimate success of their leadership, they did not attempt to become politicians.

As a primary example of the type of second class activist I present to validate this law, I give you two words.

Ralph Nader.

Here is a guy who pissed off half the country–mostly the corporate world and the Republican right–with decades of pain-in-their-asses activism and left-wing proselytizing.  Then he ran for president on a 3rd party line and pissed off most of the other half of the country.  His siphoning of votes from the left in 2000 almost certainly enabled the election of the candidate most diametrically opposed to his beliefs.  Not satisfied with having made the world, as he saw it, worse, he ran again in 2004 just to thumb his nose at those that might have otherwise been his ally.

That’s about all there is to that.  The only one thankful to him, other than a few diehard loyalists, is me, if only because he gave me the best real world validation I’ve ever had for this aphorism.

But the question then arises.  If we know what a second class activist looks like, what does a third class activist look like. That one’s even easier.

Robertson

Robertson

Sharpton

Sharpton

And you were wondering how I would manage to piss off the religious nuts as well?  If you want inspiration for political activism, the Dr. Seuss quote above is a good place to start.  If you want religious inspiration–you’ve come to the wrong place.

200px-The_Lorax

**Nothing is final except death and…well, except death.  This will only be the final installment of the Sackler laws if I die before thinking up another one.

Signature       @MarkSackler

quote

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” –Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Droll?  We would expect that from the greatest raconteur of American letters.  But perhaps this is far more subtle and profound than a mere semantic joke.  Kurt Gödel proved with his incompleteness theorems that every self-consistent mathematical system must include statements that cannot be proven–the mathematical equivalent of “this statement is false.”  But Twain takes the classic liar’s paradox and applies it, it would seem, to all of existence itself.  There are things in life and in science we just can’t determine,  and that is the point of The Millennium Conjectures.   I need to ponder explanations for what the cutting edges of physics and cosmology are telling us, whether we can test them right now or not.   But don’t misinterpret this.  One of my readers suggested that if I believe things that cannot be proven scientifically, then it is no better than philosophy or religion.  I don’t know about philosophy, but this is most certainly nothing like religion, and for two good reasons.

  • First, these are, after all, conjectures and interpretations;  things I feel strongly could be true.  I do not believe absolutely that they are true.  As I said in an earlier post, they are what-ifs.
  • Second, I stand ready to alter or drop any of these conjectures if the light of further developments requires that I do so.  By further developments I mean new scientific discoveries or better explanations by individuals I consider to be credible scientists.

I don’t know of any religion that says either of those two things–let me know if you do.

Keep the above in mind as I present further conjectures.  Quantum Weirdness 103 will precede the next one, coming soon to a computer near you.

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