Monday, April 22, 2013

Just because it's funny

About to watch M. Night Shyamalan's Signs in my Philosophy through Film Class. Reviewing it, I am enjoying the quirky humor, but this particular scene is one of the best in that regard. For some reason it just puts me in stitches:

And, of course, there is a Facebook Page - Move Children! Vamanos! Seems like some pretty good meme fodder... Developing?

Rationality and Cosmological explanation

This very brief story about Steve Hawking’s , and the snippet below...
He closed by outlining "M-theory," which is based partly on ideas put forward years ago by another famed physicist, Caltech’s Richard Feynman. Hawking sees that theory as the only big idea that really explains what he has observed. M-theory posits that multiple universes are created out of nothing, Hawking explained, with many possible histories and many possible states of existence. In only a few of these states would life be possible, and in fewer still could something like humanity exist. Hawking mentioned that he felt fortunate to be living in this state of existence.
...brought this to mind: The debate over the rationality of competing beliefs or theories considering the origins of our universe and/or life can usefully be treated as dealing with one or more of the statements in the following simple argument:

(1). If you have competing explanations of something, and each relies on assumptions that appear equally implausible, then the explanations are equally irrational (or rational) to hold.

(2). Theistic theories of the origins of the universe, or life, rely on the assumption of a designing intelligence that is not part of that universe, but who accounts for its existence, and features, and who, in turn, does not exist due to the actions of some third entity, but is eternal. This appears implausible.

(3). Non-theistic theories of the origins of the universe or life rely on assumptions of several sorts, including; an infinitude of multiple universes; things coming to be from nothing; matter just happening to possess inherent properties that cause it to self-organize in ways that inevitably bring living beings into existence; chance events of immensely improbable dimensions, as to be practically impossible given the probabilistic resources of the universe; a universe that is itself eternal & etc. These appear similarly implausible.

(4). The implausibility of the theories in each family seems roughly similar.

It follows that

(5). These various explanations of the origins of the universe and life are equally irrational (rational).

Formally in its simplest form:

1. If members of set (a,b,c) are P, then they are all Q

2. a is P, b is P, c is P...etc.

3. a & b & c..etc.. are Q.

Each of the positions which are staked out in the debate can be seen as addressing one or more of the statements (2)-(4) in the fleshed out version, (2) in the skeleton. They try to argue against the equal implausibility thesis, making the case that their favored view is actually more plausible than the alternatives. I take it that (1) is non-controversial. Whether or not you accept (5) in the fleshed out version {(3) skeletal}, depends on which of (2)-(4) fleshed out or (2) skeletal you accept/reject.