Thursday, October 19, 2006

Goldilocks Enigma

Life is not a box of chocolates it is a bowl of porridge.

Why life is a bowl of porridge

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Goldilocks. Her story of hunger, peril and a bowl of porridge that was “just right” is probably familiar to most of us. In most tellings, the fairy tale doesn’t mention whether our golden-haired heroine spent much time pondering why the bear family residence should contain a seat, a serving of porridge and a bed, all of which are ideally suited to a young human. As far as she was concerned, that’s just how it was.

But physicist Paul Davies, author of the bestseller The Mind of God, thinks perhaps she should have given it some thought. His new book, due out next month, takes the blonde waif’s name and applies it to rather more interesting question - why is the universe just right for life?

In The Goldilocks Enigma, published by Allen Lane, Davies suggests that one of the most significant facts about the universe is that we are part of it. Although, at first glance, the existence of life seems irrelevant to cosmology, he argues, in fact the universe is “just right” for the existence of life, and the development of intelligence, in a rather spooky way.

The British Physicist Paul Davies was interviewed on BBC Hard Talk about his pantheist views of a living universe based on his book the Goldilocks Enigma.
As a physicist I was impressed with his breadth of scientific perspective on our living universe, especially his emphasis that most of his colleagues fail to appreciate biology and its importance.

That the universe is designed to become self-concious, I am paraphrasing, which is why conciousness in humans, sentience, is so important, not an after thought. He used as an example of self depreciating arrogance Stephen Hawkings comment that humans were simply a pile of scum on a planet of no importance.

WHO hasn't ever wondered why we are all here, or whether there's a purpose? Or if we will ever find satisfactory answers to such questions? The "Goldilocks enigma" is the puzzle of why life can exist in the universe; in other words, why the cosmos is "just right" - like the porridge in the famous fairy tale. Unlike the plethora of popular science books that subtly skew themselves towards addressing "cosmic" questions, this one tackles them head-on. It is a crash course in cutting-edge cosmology and an encounter with a mind-bending universe that gives birth to itself. From issue 2571 of New Scientist magazine, 30 September 2006, page 60

Davies argues that the universe has a design and a plan, and he was vehment that this is not ID which is just creationism in scientistic clothing. It is actually closer to the pantheistic idea that the universe is alive, a self-creating conciousness that is in a state of becoming concious of itself. Which may be the humble role we play in the great big picture, that rather than being pond scum, our development of rational, reasoning processes, that see the big picture, the big bang, the infintesmily small components of atomic particles, act as a meme for the universe in which we are a part. It is part of sciences attempt at the elegant theory of everything. Not Deus ex Machina but Deus est Homo.

Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | Masters of the universe

Paul Davies goes a long way towards suggesting that he believes the creation of life to be somehow the 'goal' of the universe without suggesting that it is the work of a higher intelligence or God. That is to say he tends towards the belief that the principle of life 'builds purpose into the workings of the cosmos at a fundamental (rather than an incidental) level, without positing an unexplained pre-existing purposive agent to inject purpose miraculously.' (Read that twice.) This belief is his tentative solution to the 'Goldilocks Enigma', the 'reason' why planets such as our own are 'not too hot and not too cold but just right'. Davies is prepared to let this sense of purpose remain unexplained, but to propose that the universe is somehow geared toward its own understanding, because only 'self-consistent loops capable of understanding themselves can create for themselves, so that only universes with (at least the potential for) life really exist'. (Read that three times.)

Michael Frayn and Paul Davies tackle an astronomical topic in Making Sense of the Universe.

This ippr discussion in association with the New Humanist, featured Michael Frayn, author of The Human Touch: Our Part in the Creation of a Universe and Paul Davies, physicist and author of The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?

At this event, both writers posed some provocative questions such as: Is our existence a lucky fluke or does it have meaning? Why should the universe be so exquisitely bio-friendly? Is there even a universe 'out there' or, is it an artefact of consciuosness, a projection of the stories we tell about it?

For interesting debate in the blogs see:

Not Even Wrong » Blog Archive » The Goldilocks Enigma

Science In Crisis: The Goldilocks Enigma

Theodora's Kut and the Goldilocks Enigma

mutations of mortalityIntelligent Design

What makes the universe just right for life?

Meaning of it all






Intelligent Design

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