[FoRK] Re: "Thanks for the Facts. Now Sell Them."

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Fri Apr 20 01:51:41 PDT 2007

  The Universe isn't *only* a "place."  It's not just a coordinate system
  (albeit with some warps and wrinkles,) which "stuff" plays a
  game of D&D on top of.  Because the Universe is also *the stuff inside
  the coordinate system,* as well.  It's *also* all of the rules of the game,
  too.  Everything, all of it, is "Universe."  We may as well consider
  the universe an event, as much as we consider it a place, and all the
  individual episodes within it, as well.  This may be a relevant difference,
  with respect to your car analogy.


  Another potentially relevant difference is that your car didn't *make*
  you, and the car doesn't compose you.  Whereas I will argue that
  the universe, (rather than **only** your mom & dad,) made *you,* and
  that further, it composes you.


  So what can be credited with becoming conscious?


  Protogalactic clouds, suns and novas, gravitational & electromagnetic
  forces:  Without all that stuff, you aren't here, you don't work, you don't
  even have atoms to live through.

  I don't know if these womb & body "chains of causality" have anything
  to do with "is it conscious or not," or "did it become conscious or not,"
  or "what's to be credited with being conscious or not, ...."

  I do think they're good questions to talk over with your child, though.


  I imagine that it could go something like:

  CHILD:  "Wait, dad, can people talk with the universe?  Does the
universe talk?"

  DAD:  "Well, I don't think you can talk with empty space or rocks,
        but you can talk with me, right?"

  C:  "Yes, ..."

  D:  "And I'm part of the universe, right?  The universe made me, just like
        in this story, and I talk.  And the person who wrote this book talks,
        and is also in the universe.  And there are these symbols on the
        page, that we interpret.  So, at least parts of the universe can talk."

  C:  "OK..."


  From there, you will be either (A) branded as the weird dad who thinks
  of living things as "the universe come alive," (B) starting your child on
  a lifelong inquiry into his or her relationship with the universe, or
  (C) both.

  Personally, I go for (C.)  The benefit of (A)  (being branded weird,) is that
  at least, it gets people thinking and talking.  "What's up with that?  Did
  you hear his weird idea?  (No, what is it?)  Well, he said..."


  I suspect your child (C) may then, later in life, have a
conversation something
  like the following:

  Friend of C:  "God created us, and we live in his creation.  Those horrible
    scientists are just trying to confuse you, saying that we evolved
    from monkeys."

  C: "Well...  Wait-- what's so wrong with that?"

  Friend of C:  "Monkeys!  And they say we evolved from just the dirt
    and the water!"

  C:  "Well, wait-- my dad says he's part of the universe, and that he even
    loves the monkies, and that they are our kin.  Sure, we're smarter than
    them, but what's so wrong with the monkeys?  Your brother's dumb as
    a brick, but you still love him, right?"


  This is something I think, and I believe, and that I would be honored for
  my daughter to think, and to believe, and to remember me by:  The notion
  that we are the universe, (our own tiny parts of it,) and that it is
alive, at least
  here, and that it's worthwhile.

  I don't think it's only a matter of pandering to our ego's, and a need to feel
  special;  I think that notions, or a sense of **INTIMACY** with the world,
  the universe, in all senses:  human, (family, friends,) mechanics (machines,
  computers,) ideas (memes, imagination, movies, stories,) animal (furry
  friends, animals, cockroaches too,) plant (trees, plants,) rock, plasma
  (stars,) and even space and physics and basic order or mathematics --
  I think it's those notions that are primarily valuable here.

  We are doing more than just coddling our "specialness" egos,
  when we say: "We are those sorts of things."  Yes, it's great to be the
  first sentients.  Yes, I'd rather be me, than a worm.  I'm proud of what I am.

  But I can also feel affinity for the worm, and the tree, and the mountain,
  and the star, and take comfort in that affinity.  I'm sure this feeling is
  something that all of you have felt in your life, at one time or another.

  It's *definitely* something I want my daughter to feel, and to understand.
  And I'm sure that she will.

  I would still kill in a war (though I'll try to avoid war,) I would still eat
  meat (though I have my reservations,) I would still struggle fiercely with
  competitors.  I would still strip mine a mountain, for every ounce of silver
  I could find in it.  But this is no different than any other living creature.
  I can still feel connection, with the basic underlying life that is happening
  in all things.

  Again, I'm not saying that a mountain rock is "alive" and thinks
  and so on;  But it very clearly takes part in the life of the worm that
  lives in it, and can be considered part of the life of the worm.


  Nothing I said here is against, contradicts, competes with, confuses, or seeks
  to influence science.  Very differently:  It draws its life and
inspiration from what
  we learn through science.

  I honestly think that this is the most authentic way that I can make
  sense of my life.


  Lion Kimbro
  http://www.speakeasy.org/~lion/
  *also* in Seattle

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