Friday, May 12, 2006


When you think about it, the universe isn't a terribly exciting place. After a million years of civilization, all those gas giants and nebulae must start to look the same. When you've seen one desolate windswept rocky terrestrial covered with fungi, you've pretty much seen them all. Truly advanced civilizations might not have any particular interest in exploring the universe after a certain point. They won't even need to, because their technology will enable them to build and explore better universes.

I admit being a little troubled by the idea that we might already be inhabiting one of these "better" universes.


W.M. Bear said...

Personally, I think a truly godlike intelligence is, for us, literally inconceivable. And the case for this is just that, if it WERE conceivable (by us, that is) -- in other words, anything like I've seen described anywhere -- we would be close to actually being that godlike intelligence. Maybe some people think we are but I don't, deeply mired in materialism and the mind-brain misidentification fallacy as most modern thinkers still are. Traditional religions in some respects may approach this reality more closely but the terms in which they attempt to do so are depressingly obsolete. Only imaginative efforts like Clarke's novel Childhood's End or "2001: A Space Oddyssey" begin to convey some sense of the sheer "unimaginableness" of a truly godlike intelligence. I like to think, whatever its nature, though, this intelligence might be "into" studying the process by which intelligence evolves in the first place. Being at the very least imnmortal (otherwise it could not be said to be truly "godlike"), waiting billions of years for an intelligent (or, at any rate, semi-intelligent) species like ours to "incubate" would be nothing for such an entity, absorbed as It doubtless is in the contemplation of unimaginable (again, to us, though perhaps of an essentially mathematico-philosophical nature) objects of thought.

Paul Kimball said...

Wm. Bear:

We're not the godlike intelligence - yet. But what about 1,000, or 10,000, years from now? What if, by then, we have devloped into something almost unrecognizable to us today, and - perhaps - have even mastered time travel?

After all, one of the key characteristics of God is that He is able to transcend time - indeed, for Him, times does not even exist, and he inhabits what Canadian evangelist called "The Eternal Now" back in the late 18th century.

We might not be God yet, but maybe someday we will be, which makes us God now, if you think about it...


W.M. Bear said...

Paul -- But that's exactly my point. I think a lot of antique (and even some modern) theology has been largely an exercise in self-deception, the self-deception lying precisely in the fact that theologians seem to delight in "conceiving the inconceivable" or, at any rate, making the attempt.

Paul Kimball said...


Oh, I don't know - I think we all like to try and "conceive of the inconceivable" from time to time. It's what separates us from the lesser mammals, like most of the guests on the Jerry Springer show.

Hmm... did I say "most of"? I meant "all of".

Seriously, I think we should be trying to conceive of the inconceivable, whatever conceptual framework (religious, scientific, etc) we try to put it in. It's the only way that we'll get any closer to the "inconceivable".


W.M. Bear said...

Well, it makes a nice Zen koan, anyway.