This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comment

← Whither Eagleman?

KenChimp's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by KenChimp

I look forward to David's response to Sam's challenge.

Although there is much to lament in some of the Star Trek movies, I did appreciate one theme of "Final Frontier". In the movie, there is a mystic from Vulcan who, rather aberrant from Vulcan culture, embraces his emotion. He seeks the Divine from collective legends of many intelligent humanoids and hopes to find it in an unexplored sector of the galaxy. To make a long story short, he and his minions hijack the Enterprise and take the ship and crew to a system where they find a rather powerful being claiming to be the God of humanoid legends throughout the Federation and beyond.

This "deity" appeals to all beliefs, and after meeting the believers (and skeptics), declares a joyous reunion with "its" children and "lovingly" commands that they take It aboard so it may travel to spread the good news of this reunion throughout the Federation and other civilizations.

Kirk, an atheist in the Star Trek universe (as Shatner is in real life), asks, and rightly so, "What does God need with a starship?" His impertinent and rebellious questioning leads to the (unsurprising) revelation that this "being" is no god, although it is a rather advanced form of life with capabilities well within the "magic" of Arthur C. Clarke's description of sufficiently advanced technology.

In the sense that there is an incomprehensibly large amount of possibility within the laws of physics, I'm a "Possibilian" as well. There may be a time, in the distant future, if human kind survives to become a Type I space faring civilization, that we find intelligent life forms so far above our own intellectual and technological capabilities that they are not unlike "gods" to us. How would such beings react to us? How would we react to them? These questions and many others fuel my imagination.

In spite of my imaginative curiosity, I must side with Harris on Possibilianism in the sense that Eagleman seems to be willing to embrace the tenets of the myths of primitive and violent bronze age tribes as "possible". I'm sure I'm not alone here in being adamantly opposed to the idea that these myths speak to factual existence of "deity" in any sense of the word "fact".

There is no compelling evidence that I am aware of to support the idea that there is a "divine being" at the heart of existence. It is the same for Roddenberry's fantasy idea of a super-technologically advanced species arising in the Milky Way and then leaving for parts unknown after genetically seeding many earth-like worlds throughout the galaxy to produce a variety of 'humanoid' species which arise and develop separately until finding one another as Type I and II space faring civilizations.

But beyond all the hoopla of human superstition, fear and imaginative awe, there is a teeming jungle of possibilities. Science is about pruning that jungle into a garden of actuality that the human species can thrive in.

In that sense, we're not banished from the "garden", but consigned to the garden made fruitful by physical properties of matter and energy through natural selection, and by our own understanding and design, as we continue our journey back to the stars from whence we came.

That's all the possibility I need to be content.

Wed, 31 Aug 2011 17:18:52 UTC | #865945