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« All Play And No Work | Main | Frightening »

Chicken And Egg

Ken Silber discusses some recent work (by an Oregon lawyer...) that may indicate that the universe is self replicating, and that we may even have created it ourselves.

This kind of stuff is always fascinating to me, because I have a (non-scientific, so far) belief in a teleology--that the purpose of life, and particularly intelligent life, is to help the universe come to know itself. I've been thinking about how one might derive an ethical system based on such a belief, but not hard enough, because I haven't made much progress. This takes the idea one step further, in which the purpose of life and sapience is to not only give the universe consciousness, but to help it reproduce as well.


Posted by Rand Simberg at August 11, 2003 08:44 AM
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Did We Create the Universe?
Excerpt: From Kenneth Silber's Tech Central Station column: Has an Oregon lawyer discovered the secret of the universe? Gardner's hypothesis is called the "Selfish Biocosm." It states that intelligent life plays a key role in a cosmological cycle wher...
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I Have to Consider This on More than One Level
Excerpt: Selfish Baby Universes Kenneth Silber Has an Oregon lawyer discovered the secret of the universe? This question arises in connection...
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I Have to Consider This on More than One Level
Excerpt: Selfish Baby Universes Kenneth Silber Has an Oregon lawyer discovered the secret of the universe? This question arises in connection...
Weblog: blogoSFERICS
Tracked: August 11, 2003 01:17 PM

If the idea that Earth is a self-regulating organism is the Gaia hypothesis, does that make this the Uranus hypothesis? ;)

Posted by Jay Manifold at August 11, 2003 10:22 AM

I see a resemblance to the way James Blish ended the last in his "Cities in Flight" series of books.

Posted by Kevin McGehee at August 11, 2003 10:39 AM

Thanks for the link, Rand. Toward the book's end, Gardner tries sketching out some ethical implications of his hypothesis. His emphasis is on intergenerational fairness and altruism. It's a bit vague, and I suspect not the ethical theory you'd derive. Was one of various topics (Gaia is another) too long for a short review.

Posted by Ken Silber at August 11, 2003 11:17 AM

There already is one. That is the basic belief that underlies Wicca.

In brief, the Universe is an expression of polar opposites, most commonly referred to in Wicca simply as Goddess and God. Male and Female, Anti-Matter and Matter, Light and Dark, Destruction and Construction - all of these are important polar opposites, and Wicca seeks the balance of these forces. In particular, the worship object of Wicca is the union of Goddess and God (yes, it's somewhat fair to say that we worship sex - it's the central act of relevance in the Universe).

The sum total of all of this is the Universe, and the Universe as a whole is Divine. It is the role of all of the constituent parts to do their bit in maintaining the balance that allows the Universe to exist in good health, just as it is the responsibility of each of your cells and tissues to keep you existing as a healthy whole, though they can have no direct experience of the totality of a person.

All of that said, most Wiccans would read that and say it's close but not quite - and that is because most Wiccans (at least, most American Wiccans) are basically into Wicca for hedonistic and new-agey touchy-feely reasons. Like the Libertarians, being on the fringe means attracting the oddballs. If you are interested in learning more of the philosophy behind this, the sources that work for me are typically Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wiccans. Ray Buckland, Janet and Stuart Ferrar, Doreen Valiente and Vivianne Crowley.

If you are looking online for information, the Alexandrian and Gardnerian forms of Wicca are the ones which have the most philosophical and teleological bent.

Posted by Jeff Medcalf at August 11, 2003 11:28 AM

Silber says

The Big Bang thus resulted from a Big Crunch in a previous universe.
If he's referring to the standard Big Bang model, all present indications are that the Universe cannot collapse in a "Big Crunch" -- not only is the density too low at the present time for eventual collapse, but dark energy is increasing the expansion rate. AFAIK virtually all cosmologists have given up on this sort of cyclic process.

He later mentions the cyclic Ekpyrotic Universe, and while here the term "crunch" might make some sense, it's not in this four-dimensional spacetime continuum that the "crunch" takes place; rather, it's a collision (and "impact" rather than "crunch" is the more accurate term) between our 4-D spacetime and another one, separated in a fifth spacelike direction, that causes the next high-energy state (which is unlike the classic "Bang" in that it begins in an already-"inflated" condition, rather than in an expansion from a singularity). Ekpyrotic theory, unfortunately, is far from wide acceptance...

Minor points, perhaps, but if Gardner's arguments require a cyclic universe we must recognize that there is very little present support for such a beast.

Posted by Troy at August 11, 2003 11:53 AM

Wiccans should try reading a little of Carl Jung which they ripped off or maybe they should try Hinduism which some think Carl Jung ripped off.

Posted by Jardinero1 at August 11, 2003 02:46 PM

Or how about Heinlein's final books which were dominated by the idea that creating a work of fiction creates a new universe where Sherlock Holmes, Barsoom or Huck Finn really exists. Which implies our universe has an author, too. Or how about Frederick Pohl's Gateway series, where the Foe are destroying the universe in order to recreate it more to their liking. Or has was mentioned earlier, Blish's final "Cities In Flight" book, which ends with a race to determine who will be at the magic spot to influence the nature of the recreated universe(s).

Or just go to Amazon and search on "anthropic".

Posted by Raoul Ortega at August 11, 2003 08:51 PM

[Homer Simpson voice]Mmmm....archetypes....

Posted by Jeff Medcalf at August 12, 2003 05:55 AM

mmmmm... yes; served fully individuated.

Posted by Jardinero1 at August 12, 2003 07:52 AM

.....served fully individuated.

Posted by Jardinero1 at August 12, 2003 07:58 AM

It sounds more like the 'Manifold' series by Stephen Baxter. It has the same basic idea of advanced intelligences at the end of time reaching back to modify the universe to create additional universes.

Posted by Annoying Old Guy at August 12, 2003 04:07 PM

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