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  • #138871
    Daizan
    Participant

    This is a question that I have been posing to people in recent weeks after a Deist I know made the statement.

    Is the universe friendly to life?

    I’ll let you guys answer before I chime in with my thoughts.

    Have fun.  :plight

    #147050
    Kol Drake
    Moderator

    .

    I believe everything you need to know (or have questions about) can be found in the tome of wisdom, “Life, the Universe, and Everything” by Douglas Adams.

    Is the universe ‘friendly’ to life?

    Is this assuming the universe has some human like disposition that can ‘feel’ favorably or disfavorably toward life?

    I do not think the universe ‘cares’ one way or the other.  However, the basic building blocks for potential life are throughout the universe.

    #147059
    Daizan
    Participant
    Quote:
    I believe everything you need to know (or have questions about) can be found in the tome of wisdom, “Life, the Universe, and Everything” by Douglas Adams.

    One work of fiction is as good as any other I suppose.

    Quick aside question: How do you prefer to be addressed? Kol Drake, Kol, Drake, or something else?

    Quote:
    Is this assuming the universe has some human like disposition that can ‘feel’ favorably or dis-favorably toward life?

    For the sake of discussion, the implications of “friendly” should be left vague.

    As I stated in the opening post, the opinion that made me curious about this question was given by a Deist. The argument was in essence the anthropic principle. This states that the universe as a whole is conducive to life because life exists here on Earth. His conclusion was that the truth of this argument was supportive of the notion that the universe was created.

    Personally I found the argument to be weak. In our observable universe, life exists in it’s entirety on one planet. It cannot exist elsewhere unless we duplicate most of the conditions. Life is the rarest thing in the universe, self-reflective life is ever rarer still.

    Quote:
    I do not think the universe ‘cares’ one way or the other.  However, the basic building blocks for potential life are throughout the universe.

    Agreed. Every phenomena requires a specific set of circumstances to manifest, why should life be any different. If we can surmise that a star can go supernova without anything metaphysical behind it, why must sentience be behind life?

    #147060
    Aslyn
    Participant
    Quote:
    Personally I found the argument to be weak. In our observable universe, life exists in it’s entirety on one planet. It cannot exist elsewhere unless we duplicate most of the conditions. Life is the rarest thing in the universe, self-reflective life is ever rarer still.

    On the contrary, that would only be true if it were also true that a) the conditions in which life exist have not been replicated elsewhere and b) if the pre-requisites for life are as narrowly confined as they are for existence of life on Earth. Rightly so, it’s quite possible that life could emerge under conditions other than those that exist on our planet – the only difficulty with such a hypothesis is that it’s impossible to test under current conditions. This is not, however, to suggest that life only exists on Earth – indeed, it’s both scientifically unlikely and metaphysically arrogant to suggest that the life existing on our planet is the only life to emerge in the entire Universe.

    As it stands, if we’re considering the basic existence of life, you’ll want to establish pre-requisite conditions under which such a thing can come into being. But, as I’ve said, such conditions are naturally subjective, based on an environment such as we have on Earth. But, then again, even then, the conditions are fairly uncertain. Most would say that an oxygen-nitrogen-carbon dioxide atmosphere would be required, with significant deposits of water, not to mention temperatures appropriate to sustaining metabolic function. But is this always likely to be the case? Let’s face it – life has existed in different forms of millenia, and our planet has not always been the same as it was at that time. The conditions for life when the dinosaurs were around would be hugely different from the ones we have now. By that definition, would they not be alien?

    So, no, I don’t think it follows that the conditions need to be replicated – it could well be that our narrow definition of the conditions required for life may be utterly unjustified, and isolated purely to our own planet. But I sincerely doubt we’re the only ones here – even if ‘intelligent’ life were never discovered, I’m fairly certain there are nonetheless other living organisms in the Universe on other worlds than the one we inhabit. As I’ve said, the very notion that, of the millions if not billions of planets in the Universe, only this one is inhabited by life seems not only unlikely but a fairly arrogant assumption of Humanity. Call it the petty belief that we are all ‘God’s children’, as though that somehow makes us special.

    #147063
    Memnoich
    Participant

    The possibility for life on other planets notwithstanding, see Contact “awful waste of space”, the universe is not “friendly” to life. Aside from all the emptiness of space, toxic fumes, radiation, poisons, all the different ways to die, life is about struggle, challenge. Which feels better being given a car, or earning it? If there were no struggle, no challenge, if the  universe were “Friendly” to life, then there would be no point to it. Struggle defines us by the choice’s we were forced to make. Challenges defines us by the effort we had to put forth. What would life be like it the universe was “Friendly” to life? No poetry, no stories, no science, everything would be given to you. Effort would be almost unneeded. I see the universe like a bowl of Alcohol, kills 99%, but its that 1% that struggles, that overcame the challenges and difficulties that deserves to live. 

    #147077
    Daizan
    Participant

    Hi there Aslyn,

    Quote:
    a) the conditions in which life exist have not been replicated elsewhere and b) if the pre-requisites for life are as narrowly confined as they are for existence of life on Earth.

    All we have to work with is the definition of life and the conditions for it’s existence here on this world. So under that definition your assertion (a) is false because the only life that exists off this world (that we know of) is native to this world and the conditions to maintain it must be and have been duplicated. As to (b), our current definition of life is all we have to work with until proven otherwise.

    Quote:
    Rightly so, it’s quite possible that life could emerge under conditions other than those that exist on our planet – the only difficulty with such a hypothesis is that it’s impossible to test under current conditions.

    It is true that there are possibilities of life existing in a yet undiscovered manner. However, until there are facts to back up the hypothesis it is just speculation and wishful thinking.

    Quote:
    This is not, however, to suggest that life only exists on Earth – indeed, it’s both scientifically unlikely and metaphysically arrogant to suggest that the life existing on our planet is the only life to emerge in the entire Universe.

    Once again given our current understanding of the universe and our observational data, life does indeed only exist on Earth. Scientifically speaking we have only mathematical probability of life existing elsewhere. Until life is observed elsewhere we have equal likely-hood that we are alone and that there is lots of life out there. Right now all we have is us (meaning all living things on this planet) and that is the fact.

    Quote:
    As it stands, if we’re considering the basic existence of life, you’ll want to establish pre-requisite conditions under which such a thing can come into being. But, as I’ve said, such conditions are naturally subjective, based on an environment such as we have on Earth. But, then again, even then, the conditions are fairly uncertain. Most would say that an oxygen-nitrogen-carbon dioxide atmosphere would be required, with significant deposits of water, not to mention temperatures appropriate to sustaining metabolic function. But is this always likely to be the case? Let’s face it – life has existed in different forms of millenia, and our planet has not always been the same as it was at that time. The conditions for life when the dinosaurs were around would be hugely different from the ones we have now. By that definition, would they not be alien?

    Ah but our current definition of life does provide for a variety of environmental conditions.
    from Dictionary.com unabridged. (note: only the first two definitions are used since these are the ones germane to the discussion.)
    1. the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.
    2. the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, esp. metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/life

    So under this definition prehistoric life would not be alien. Then again, by this definition no extraterrestrial life would be alien so long as it holds said properties.

    Quote:
    So, no, I don’t think it follows that the conditions need to be replicated – it could well be that our narrow definition of the conditions required for life may be utterly unjustified, and isolated purely to our own planet.

    Until proven otherwise, it’s the only definition that we have to work with so it is the basis of rational inquiry.

    Quote:
    But I sincerely doubt we’re the only ones here – even if ‘intelligent’ life were never discovered, I’m fairly certain there are nonetheless other living organisms in the Universe on other worlds than the one we inhabit.

    I agree that it is possible, but I accept that this is mere speculation based on nothing more than probability given the size of the universe. Until the headlines scream “Bacteria Found In Martian Ice” or “They’re Here!” it’s fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, fantasy drives inquiry, but the fact remains that the totality of life as we know it exists on Earth and this life cannot exist elsewhere in the universe unless the conditions for it’s maintenance are duplicated (either through nature or technology).

    Now with that said, the origins of life are still a mystery. All we can say for certain is that somehow a specific set of conditions were met and non-living material became living beings (sentience is something for another thread). Gaps like this in our knowledge is where metaphysics like to creep in and discount facts with speculation.

    Quote:
    As I’ve said, the very notion that, of the millions if not billions of planets in the Universe, only this one is inhabited by life seems not only unlikely but a fairly arrogant assumption of Humanity. Call it the petty belief that we are all ‘God’s children’, as though that somehow makes us special.

    But so far this is the most rational assumption given the data we have. It has nothing to do with some made up deity (I forgot to mention that I am atheist), it’s simply Occam’s razor. With no observational data to back up the claim it requires too many assumptions to assert that there is definitely life elsewhere in the universe.

    Good talking to you.
    R

    #147089
    Beral Khan
    Participant

    To, once again, quote Douglas Adams… or possibly misquote…

    THE UNIVERSE
    Age: 15 billion years
    Size: Infinite
    (as big as big gets)

    Total Population: Finite number
    (in fact, considering that space is infinite and there is so much more vast nothingness within the universe it is not only finite, but infinitesimal when averaged out. Thus bringing us to the next observation.)

    Average population per area of space: 0 (this is, of course, when rounded to the nearest number.)

    Therefore people do not, by the average of the Universe, exist, and any people you come across are mere figments of your imagination.

    #147095
    Memnoich
    Participant
    Quote:
    To, once again, quote Douglas Adams… or possibly misquote…

    THE UNIVERSE
    Age: 15 billion years
    Size: Infinite
    (as big as big gets)

    Total Population: Finite number
    (in fact, considering that space is infinite and there is so much more vast nothingness within the universe it is not only finite, but infinitesimal when averaged out. Thus bringing us to the next observation.)

    Average population per area of space: 0 (this is, of course, when rounded to the nearest number.)

    Therefore people do not, by the average of the Universe, exist, and any people you come across are mere figments of your imagination.

    So what you’re saying is, this conversation is also a figment of my imagination. I knew the universe is only my dream, that means I’m in control, MUAHAHAHAHA…..

    We are all but dreams, the question is, who is the dreamer.

    #147098
    Jax
    Keymaster

    My first question is to define life. 

    From my perspective, everything is alive, from atoms and subatomic particles even all the way up to the most sentient of beings.  Therefore, the universe is nothing but life, and thus friendly to life. 

    But I do agree that you can’t use a single solar system (aka ours) and extrapolate to the rest of the universe.  We have no way of knowing at this point whether our form of carbon based life is unique or common, or what other types of life are out there (speaking in the more common definition of life)  We have to be careful with those types of assumptions. 

    #147106
    Spenserf
    Participant

    to answer the question…. without getting too much into debate about semantics haha, is the universe friendly to life? not that I can tell.  Doesn’t seem to hate us though either.  I mean tracing back to the basic question of why all of this around us even exists in what we know as reality, it seems pretty fantastic to me that the cosmos would be present in the first place let alone align in such a way to give us a stable environment to pop out on.  Is it friendly? maybe not in the literal sense, in that if I tried to float about exposed in space I wouldn’t live too long. But then again the fact that we’re even here gives me great comfort.

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