Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just suppose

Suppose we were to discover that messages that we thought had to come from outer space. We use them for information. We learn to build spaceships based on that information. Then, discover evidence that the source did not evolve. Now what do we do?

35 comments:

oozzielionel said...

It appears that in the scenario, the only contact that we have from the source is through messages. We were able to decode the messages and build craft capable of space travel.

Then we received another set of messages stating that the source denied that they had evolved.

Since they were competent in engineering, do we conclude that they are also competent in biology? philosophy? theology?

Dan Gillson said...

BUILD MORE SPACESHIPS.

B. Prokop said...

In that case, we just wait a generation or two until we've evolved beyond them... and kick their asses!!!

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"In that case, we just wait a generation or two until we've evolved beyond them... and kick their asses!!!"

Why suppose the aliens have asses? I think your bigotry is showing Bob.

Papalinton said...

This sounds very much like Victor attempting to analogize and justify a belief in Gods and concomitant teleological intentionality.
No. It doesn't work that way. I'm relatively sure the answer, if indeed there is an answer to the cycle of life that does not punt straight to a non-explanation such as 'goddidit', will be found within a naturalistic explanation [whatever that might mean into the future]. It seems unlikely we will discover a separate external source, such as a supernatural sphere replete with non-substantial entities. Because once we reach understanding it becomes a natural explanation. Supernaturalism is a broadly based euphemism for things we simply don't know at this time, as humanity travels the continuum from the known towards the unknown, an adventure of discovery about the natural world. Along the way, what was a supernatural explanation transits to a natural explanation. This experience has been demonstrated over and over, year after year, century after century. What was once thought to have been the workings and acts of supernatural entities and/or forces have since found a common and understandable explanation. And if we, as Victor says, " ... then discover evidence that the source did not evolve", and just we did with the discovery of gravity we would accept it as a natural phenomenon, because it will have crossed the evidential threshold from the known to the unknown.

From this process that we have repeatedly experienced over and over and over, it is not a stretch to pose the philosophical issue that our conjuring of Gods with qualities of goodness, justice, etc etc are an extrapolation, projecting our own existential requirement as an organism, evolutionarily built up over eons of time as part of our species', or any species for that matter, genetic survival expression.

We will find an answer, but we won't find a god at the end of a rainbow. If we do then we surely are living in a matrix.

Papalinton said...

" ..because it will have crossed the evidential threshold from the known to the unknown."

should read

".. because it will have crossed the evidential threshold from the unknown to the known."

Crude said...

Suppose we were to discover that messages that we thought had to come from outer space. We use them for information. We learn to build spaceships based on that information. Then, discover evidence that the source did not evolve. Now what do we do?

Engage in frantic denial that we had learned what we thought we learned.

B. Prokop said...

"Engage in frantic denial"

Sadly, history teaches us that your scenario is the most likely outcome of such a discovery.

William said...

There are naturalistic scenarios for the above as well as those requiring a Creator.

Evolution requires reproduction. A life form that grew and changed over time but did not reproduce might be intelligent at some point but not be truly evolved.

jdhuey said...

Anybody that has read any science fiction at all knows that you just don't trust everything that aliens say to you. There is no reason to think that aliens can't be self-deluded, just like humans. Or that, they just might have an ulterior motive for lying to us. Caution and skepticism are always called for with dealing with our ET friends.

Crude said...

Caution and skepticism are always called for with dealing with our ET friends.

The single most common reason anyone ever gives to wholeheartedly trust scientists is 'Look at all the great technology we have that is related to science!' Given that, I think if some aliens give us spaceships, that reasoning would demand we give considerable credence to their statements about evolution.

Of course, someone can say that just because we're given a lot of technology doesn't mean we should trust the metaphysical or scientific views of the source. In which case, that attitude is going to boomerang back to the Earth scientists.

Eric Thomson said...

Off topic, but I'm very sad to report the death of one of my intellectual heroes, Fred Dretske. His book Knowledge and the Flow of Information is one of the best works of philosophy I have read.

In this age of histrionics, he was a thoughtful, honest, and thorough thinker. He was typically more thorough in discussing the weaknesses of his position than the people who thought they were providing original critiques of his work.

He was always kind and patient with me, a neuroscientist, peppering him with questions via email and after talks at the philosophy colloquia I would attend at Duke.

RIP, Fred Dretske. In most of the extensive discussions I had with Victor about the AfR, Dretske's influence was lurking barely under the surface.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Eric
Yes, a sad day indeed. Fred Dretske was a philosopher in every sense of the word.

How is your book coming along?

Papalinton said...

h/t Harry McCall over at DC.

Hollywood had God/Yahweh down pat decades ago"

Crude said...

Hey Linton.

Why don't you tell us the core of Dretske's philosophy... in your own words? ;)

Dan Gillson said...

Re: the OP

If we discovered that the creatures didn't evolve, then we'd merely have to account for the fact in our schema of what we know about the creatures. But I have a few questions:

1. Are we sure that they are more advanced than we are? For all we know, they could be simple life forms whose sole purposes are to build spaceships and to tell others how.

2. Does 'not evolving' entail 'not having a history'? I.e., could these creatures be said to evolve in the sense that their histories unfurled, not in the sense that they descended from genetically simpler progenitors?

Sauls Thomas said...

TAMPOSTASY

FOR THE FAKE ANGLO-SAXON MONARCHY

isgodimaginary.com/forum/index.php/topic,54144.0.html

Sauls Thomas said...

Just suppose you FOUGHT AGAINST PHYSICAL BEINGS instead of ABSTRACT IDEAS!

Dan Gillson said...

... Wut?

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

Rule one of internet conversations:

Never respond to anyone using caps lock!

Dan Gillson said...

I thought it was "Don't mention Hitler". Now I'm all confused.

B. Prokop said...

See the next thread down.

Crude said...

Just suppose you FOUGHT AGAINST PHYSICAL BEINGS instead of ABSTRACT IDEAS!

I like to think this is targeted marketing. 'How can we market the Ultimate Fighting Championship to more diverse markets, like people interested in philosophy and theology?'

oozzielionel said...

@ Dan
Regarding your (1): These aliens do seem ignorant of ethics and intergalactic politics, otherwise they would know better than to give this planet advanced space travel technology.

Crude said...

These aliens do seem ignorant of ethics and intergalactic politics, otherwise they would know better than to give this planet advanced space travel technology.

Why? Maybe advanced space travel technology would solve a lot of ethical problems.

It may give us access to abundant resources that end, once and for all, A) the need to fight over said resources, or B) the need to form large governments to oversee the distribution of and secure the rights to said resources.

Not to mention, the only 'intergalactic politics' there are to be ignorant of amounts to 'Haven't they seen Star Trek?'

Ilíon said...

a fool: "I thought it was "Don't mention Hitler". Now I'm all confused."

another fool: "See the next thread down."

So true: Hitler? Lenin? Meh! They are both murderous leftists. But I repeat myself.

B. Prokop said...

I thought it was "Don't mention Ilion" or he will appear... but it looks like mentioning Hitler does the same thing! Hmmm... I wonder if there's some connection...???

Ilíon said...

The "scarce resource" that most wars in history have been fought over is the control over other humans' lives. So, even if every physical resource were to magically become abundant and easily exploitable, there would still be wars.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon is a rightist.

Hitler was -- like Prokopf is -- a leftist.

So, yeah, there's a connection ... somewhere.

B. Prokop said...

The political spectrum is actually a circle, and the two extremes of right and left meet on the far side. So yes, Ilion is kinda correct here... there's not much difference between a rightist like Ilion and a supposed (granted for the sake of argument, though he wasn't actually) leftist like Hitler.

And no, Crude. This isn't me breaking my "no political discussions" pledge. By definition, no discussion is possible with Ilion.

Dan Gillson said...

Alert! Alert! We have gone full Godwin!

Ilíon said...

"rabid" right-winger: "So true: Hitler? Lenin? Meh! They are both murderous leftists. But I repeat myself."

bloody-minded leftist: "The political spectrum is actually a circle, and the two extremes of right and left meet on the far side. So yes, Ilion is kinda correct here... there's not much difference between a rightist like Ilion and a supposed (granted for the sake of argument, though he wasn't actually) leftist like Hitler."

Isn't it simply amazing, the things the lying leftist apologists for leftist mass-murder (and for mass-murderers) will say, just to avoid admitting that the Stalinist lie that the National Socialists were "wight-wingers" is, in fact, a lie?

What this lying fool is asserting is that in their purest expression -- in the essence of what makes them what they are -- rightism and leftism are identical and indistinguishable.

Ilíon said...

... but then, leftists (being liars to the core) don't al all mind asserting obviously false moral equivalencies.