Cosmologic philosophy: Howard A. Smith again (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, December 12, 2016, 17:19 (1342 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "I think the evidence, and the simplest conclusion, is that humanity is not ordinary and we may have a significant cosmic role. There are, therefore, ethical issues to consider, and religion can contribute a meaningful voice to this discussion. We should treat one another as the priceless beings we appear to be, and care for our rare cosmic home, the Earth. Modern science may have prompted this re‐evaluation, but addressing it will require the best of all our human abilities."

dhw: A nice summary of what we think we know and what we know we don’t know. It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have a significant “cosmic” role, assuming that by cosmos he means all the billions of solar systems that have come and gone and will presumably continue to come and go long after our own disappears. Does he really believe we will be able to control them? And I would question whether we need religion to make us treat one another as priceless beings and care for our home. But I would not question that we need to do both, and I have no doubt that Jesus, Moses, Muhammad,Buddha, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins would all agree.

Your question: " It’s not clear to me, though, why he thinks we have asignificant “cosmic” role, " relates to John Wheeler and quantum theory. the idea that without human consciousness to observe the universe it might not exist:

"The third answer touches on philosophy, and comes from quantum mechanics. (If you have taken any modern physics course, it is likely you will have heard this notion before.) Matter is composed of wave functions of probability that only become “real entities” when they are measured by a conscious observer. The quantum mechanical pioneer, John Wheeler, is one of several thinkers who have proposed that the unusual nature of the universe suggests it had to evolve conscious beings in order to become real."

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