The Principle of Sufficient Reason

Leibniz famously stated that everything must have a reason and a cause, and that, metaphysically speaking, it would be impossible for there to such a thing that doesn’t have a reason or a cause. That reason and/or cause doesn’t necessarily have to be of conscious origin, the reason/cause that solar systems form is because of the interplay between the solar nebular and the developing stars within, with most of the dust and gas going to form the star and the rest being essentially leftovers relegated to form the various planetary bodies of the solar system that is being formed from the remnants of the solar nebula.

Nothing of the creation of solar systems can be shown to have had any discernible conscious intervention in the creation of said solar system, and yet we still know the reason solar systems form. Could something of the same be said for the universe, that even though Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason mandates that everything has a reason and a cause, that said reason and cause don’t have to be of conscious, divine origin?

I would be interested to hear the apologist’s attempted rebuttal of this notion, for Occam’s Razor dictates that those explanations that are less parsimonious be discarded in favor of those explanations that are more parsimonious, or require less assumptions, so by using Occam’s Razor, would it be acceptable to state that, per Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason, that said reason the universe exists is less likely to have been of supernatural rather than natural causation?

Explaining the Great Filter

The cited paper describes the hypothesis of “The Great Filter,” a
proposed explanation to Fermi’s Paradox, and the explanation I find the
most compelling. According to a hypothesis there is a Filter causing
potential civilizations to never attain interstellar colonization, but
where exactly this Filter lies is unknown.

If the Filter lies past us, if say, the Filter is the chance for life to originate then we’ve long
since past the Filter and have nothing to worry about, but if life is
common in the universe (this is the reason why some scientists dread
discovering alien life on Mars and Europa) then we haven’t reached the
Filter yet, and therefore have reason to fear.

In line with this hypothesis any positive result we get from SETI would be bad news, for
it means that since life is common, especially intelligent life, that
the Filter therefore lies ahead of us, and any negative results we get
from SETI are good news, for the Filter is long behind us.

Given the likelihood that we are not alone in the universe, what this means is that we have reason to fear for our future, and given that we are currently bombarding ourselves with a number of different threats (nuclear Armageddon and global warming being the two foremost threats we are currently subjecting ourselves to), the Great Filter may not lay that far off in our future.


Life on Venus

Some compelling content from Mr John Michael Godier, this time he covers “10 Unsettling Solar System Possibilities.” Personally the one I found the most compelling concerned the possibility of life in the atmosphere of Venus, which I will elaborate on below:

It is known for a fact that Venus once had liquid water on its surface, like how Mars used to and how Earth currently does, and it is a fact that Venus has long since lost that water, with the surface of Venus now being a “hellish, heated wasteland” unsuitable for life. But in the atmosphere of Venus there exists a place suitable enough for extremophiles to exist, being at roughly the same atmospheric pressure as the surface of the Earth currently is.

It is possible that some life survived to call this portion of the Venusian atmosphere home, after all, microbes have been found living high up in the atmosphere of Earth as well, what’s to prevent some extremophiles from living in the atmosphere of Venus?

And as the old saying goes, life always finds a way. I once brought up an argument based off of simple thermodynamics that abiogenesis is inevitable.[1] So even though we don’t know for certain that life developed on Venus, this argument further bolsters my case.

We may have even detected possible evidence of microbial life in the atmosphere of Venus, when NASA was undergoing its usual scanning of Venus they detected small blots wherein UV was prevented from reaching the surface of Venus, and UV-absorbing microbes have been offered up as a possible explanation for this anomaly, and would also explain where these hypothetical microbes get their food, they metabolize UV radiation as an energy source.

[1] For a link to the cited paper proposing that argument in question, seeĀ here.

Addressing “criticism”

On Usenet some trolls have raised some vacuous, so-called “criticisms” in response to my essay called “A Purposeless Universe“, one of these so-called “criticisms” is reproduced down below:

Your argument seems to be that because we are unable to recognize any
sign of awareness, that means that the he universe has no awareness.
You have a rather exaggerated opinion of our capabilities, that if we
can’t see something, it therefore mustn’t exist. – Martin Harran, Original post available here.

One notices that the “critic” above refuses to address how we can be able to recognize signs of awareness within a universe devoid of any signs of awareness or any other form of cognitive activity. This is the same for the other trolls as well, of which I refuse to repost their so-called “criticisms” for both the sake of brevity and to avoid repetitiveness within my refutation of their crap.

One also notices that said troll disses our capabilities as a species, apparently the scientific method can only go so far, without any justification for this incredulity. Really, this troll engages in a fallacious argument from incredulity here. Note that there’s no way to falsify his assertion, he’s claiming that the burden of proof is on me, the author, to show that the universe isn’t aware when it’s the other way around.

The entirety of our knowledge as a species can be derived from two sources, a priori reasoning and a posteriori reasoning, essentially rationalism and empiricism, respectively. A priori reasoning is knowledge derived from logical deductions and rational analysis, and a posteriori reasoning is knowledge derived from empirical observations.

These two forms of reasoning are what the scientific method is based off of, and to diss the best way that we, as a species, can gather knowledge is very insulting and absolutely REEKS of arrogance. Perhaps said troll will be willing to explain how we can be able to detect evidence that our universe is aware and capable of cognitive activity?

Don’t plan on it, if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, trolls always refuse to respond to challenges in an honest and direct way. There’s no reason to suspect otherwise.

The Earth is NOT Flat

I can’t believe I have to write something about this, I really can’t. Some idiot on Usenet is now spouting flat-earther nonsense, so therefore I feel compelled to dispel this nonsense, one way or the other. The Earth is NOT Flat. If the Earth were flat, we’d be able to see across the horizon, far beyond ten miles, theoretically we’d be able to see everything on earth depending on the scale of the objects in question, but we can’t. It should go without saying (“should” doesn’t necessarily correlate with “would,” as I have unfortunately learned over the years) that the reason this is is because the curvature of the earth prevents you from seeing anything beyond ~10 miles in either direction.

The curvature of the earth is why, if one observes a boat on the horizon, the sail would seem to disappear before the actual ship would. The curvature of the earth is why we have time zones, because we derive our time from the sun, and the sun’s rays don’t hit earth all at the same time, one side of the earth is in night, the other is bathing in daylight, and this is true no matter what time of the year it is.

The curvature of the earth is why the Antarctic and Arctic circles possess at least a day of complete darkness and complete daylight, and the amount of time spent in either complete darkness or complete daylight depends on how distant one is from the poles, wherein “night” is six months long, and the period where sunlight bathes the poles is also six months long.

The fact that people still believe this crap is astonishing, it’s not that hard to figure out. If you’re a flat earther, then you should be ashamed of yourself for being so willfully stupid. It’s mind-boggling, it really is.

A Purposeless Universe

It should go without saying that our universe has no intent, if such a vast universe were made solely for us, a meek species of ape that can only inhabit a small portion of the surface of one average planet, in one average solar system, in an average, minor even, arm of an unextraordinary galaxy that is merely one out of hundreds of billions of galaxies in our own universe alone, why is it that the vast majority of that universe is deadly, far and wide, to humanity. Indeed, the universe is trying to kill us every day. To think that we are special, that this universe was made just for us, is absurd, and it is not only absurd, but arrogant and foolish as well.

One could accuse me of being a nihilist, but I am merely stating objective reality, and if one were to continue reading further, you will see that is not the case at all. Just because the universe is without purpose doesn’t mean you, the reader, are without purpose, or I, the author, am without purpose. It would be absurd to say otherwise. But we weren’t “created” with any divine plan in mind, the fact that we exist at all is statistically unlikely, the result of a chance encounter between one sperm and one egg, which itself is the result of a chance encounter between one man and one woman. Your parents. If one were to roll back the clock, would your parents still get together and have sex on that particular night that that particular sperm and egg happened to combine? I don’t know, but I don’t think the universe is deterministic, so if I were a betting man, I would bet that the probability of that chance encounter happening again would be effectively nil.

But what does give us purpose, then, if no one intended for us to even exist? Well, you see, the answer is simple. We ourselves give our lives whatever purpose we desire within our own limited time here on Earth. So don’t lament that fact, embrace it instead. You can be out there, creating a legacy that will far outlast your death, if you only cared enough. We ourselves determine if we will be remembered or not by future generations based off of our actions, and in that respect, only we can give ourselves purpose.

Why Racialism is Bullshit

The above website hosts an excellent article on why human races don’t
have a biological basis, namely stating that “human population diversity
is too subtle to be placed in arbitrary geographic groupings, or
‘races'”. For example, in China the farther north you get the more
shoveled the people’s teeth become, whereas the farther south you get
the less shoveled the people’s teeth becomes. Africa also has the
world’s highest genetic diversity, which is something we’d expect if the
Out of Africa hypothesis was true, and that is what we find. Indeed, if
we use genetics as a basis for “race” West and East Africans would be
completely separate races.

Instead of race we should focus more on ethnicity, or clines, which
better fit human population diversity. Examples of clines including the
Irish, the San Bushmen, and Fijians. There’s a reason Africa is home to
the most genetically diverse people on the planet, and it ain’t because
of Adam and Eve.

This is not to say that there aren’t any genuine differences between the various human populations, there are, but the concept of there being distinct “races” within our species doesn’t cut it, it’s bullshit, and in fact is an impediment to better understanding of the evolutionary history and population biology of our own species, Homo sapiens.

An even better model to use when modeling human populations is the concept of the demes, or “breeding population”. A standard breeding population is around 25,000 people, in which people are more likely to breed within their demes than without, a good example of a demes today would be the Amish. An ethnic group such as the Han Chinese aren’t a demes, they consist of one billion people and have multiple demes within their ethnic group.

To fling a light into the future

I believe that if and when are to go extinct, the whole sum of human
knowledge and culture should be preserved somehow for future
civilizations to see. If future sapients arise on Earth, then the
knowledge preserved could be a huge boost to their civilization,
depending on their level of advancement, if alien species were to come
to Earth, then the knowledge preserved could shed light on the
mysterious structures still apparent far into the future, such as Mt.
Rushmore, and on the species who built them, us. On a more short-term
scale, if humans are long-lived as a species, then we should do more to
warn our future descendants about the dangers of nuclear silos,
essentially signs saying “Keep Out: Dangerous Radiation Within”.

If our future descendants somewhere along the line had lost
civilization, only to rebuild it, then we should both make sure they
know to stay away from nuclear sites as well as making it even more
prudent to preserve our knowledge in case disaster strikes. After all, it is imperative that we find some way to preserve our knowledge to serve as our ultimate legacy, for millions of years from now it won’t matter what the color of your skin was, or what creed you adhered to, the only thing that will matter will be the collective memory of mankind, in this way, we are all remembered, even if not individually, certainly as a species.

The Problem of Evil

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not
omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he
both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor
willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus

This is a fundamental problem that theists have grappled with for
millennia, if God is all good, then why is there evil in the world?
There has never been a satisfactory answer to the question. This doesn’t
affect all types of deities, since there are some literal gods of
evil, or for believers of misotheism, that God is actively malevolent.
But it does affect the Abrahamic God, who is perhaps the most worshiped
deity in the world today. The Abrahamic God is supposed to be
omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, but several of
those contradict each other. If God is omniscient, then he knew about
the Holocaust, and he knew that billions of people would be sentenced to
Hell for all eternity for crimes that aren’t infinite in nature, and
many of them had no way of knowing they had committed any damnable sins
in the first place.

Therefore, if God is omniscient, he is not omnibenevolent, and while
some will bring up that God gave people free will, then why punish
people for the sins they’ve committed if he gave them the means to
commit those sins in the first place, and knew about them committing
those sins. Shouldn’t God be held responsible? Furthermore, why is an
all-powerful being, so far above us mere mortals, so narcissistic as to
punish people for not believing in him? Is he that pretty?

If God is omnipotent, then he is not omnibenevolent, since he had the
means to stop evil from ever taking place. If God is omnipresent, then
he is not omnibenevolent, since he supposedly sees everything and is
everywhere at any given time, he would see evil taking place, and if he
is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, then he would stop those sins
from taking place, but he doesn’t.

God never answers the prayers of people praying that genocide wouldn’t
come onto them. Billions of people across the world are still living in
soul-crushing poverty, and God never helps them, even after they pray,
and pray, and pray for some relief. But God does give a shit where
your car keys are, or whether your local sports team wins the game, but
he doesn’t give a shit about nuclear disarmament, or preventing
nuclear war, or stopping climate change, or ending world hunger, or
ending poverty. Why?

“Were you there?”

Creationists like to use this as a “gotcha” argument against so-called “evolutionists”, but in reality the question is fallacious at best, and utterly meaningless at worst. First thing’s first, one can easily reverse this question and ask the creationist if they were “there” at the creation of the earth by God, of course they’ll say “God was there”, ignoring the fact that the only “evidence” they got is a book shown to be completely unreliable about damn near everything back to front, their God couldn’t even get his damn creation story straight, so why should we view the Bible as reliable since the whole damn thing is riddles with contradictions?

The second problem with it is that it assumes that eyewitness testimony is the most reliable form of evidence, when we know for certain that the case is the exact opposite of what they believe. Eyewitness testimony is the least reliable form of evidence, not only because memory is prone to error, but because the supposed “eyewitness” may have biases or illicit motivations that may cause them to commit perjury and lie about the events they witnessed.

The third problem is that it, probably unwittingly, disses the forensic sciences. Why do all that work investigating a crime scene when the eyewitness said some random person do it, and if eyewitness testimony is the most reliable form of evidence, they must be right, right? Science is nothing more than forensics, we uncover what happened in the past based off of the evidence left behind, there’s always a trail to follow, and that trail doesn’t go away, no matter what the irrational, paranoid, bigoted liar for Jesus wants you to believe.