Saturday, May 30, 2009

Who's an Infinite Being - Me or God

Is anybody out there? | And another thing...

Tom Harris MP posts:
WATCHING The Big Bang Theory tonight, there was a good gag about the Drake Equation, which aims to quantify the probability of Earth coming into contact with extraterrestrial civilisations.

I’m vaguely familiar with the concept, because when Carolyn and I visited Washington, DC, in 2000, I took part in the Drake Equation test at the Smithsonian. Basically, it starts out by telling you how many stars there are in our (the Milky Way) galaxy. Then you have to guess what proportion of those stars have planets orbiting them, and then guess what proportion of those stars have habitable planets, and so on. Eventually the computer presents you with the number of planets, based on your own assumptions, which, at this moment in time, sustain intelligent life.

The answer I was given? One. Earth.

I would argue that, even if there is only one civilisation in this alaxy, there are literally billions of galaxies. There may be intelligent life out there, but we could never contact it or it us simply because the distances are too great.

If, however, the universe, or multiverse, is infinitely big, then all possibilities must be realised a infinite number of times. This idea was around in the time of Epicurus, but seems quite popular with cosmologists these days - otherwise out world looks so oddly “just right” for us that it is hard to resist idea that it was designed.

On unfortunate problem of an infinite universe, however, is that if you go far enough there must be *somewhere* a person who is exactly the same as you - i.e. the complete same conflux of sub-atomic particles, with all you experiences and memories. More than that, there must be an infinite number of such “you”s. Plus infinitely more “not quite yous”.

So either the Universe is infinite, which implies both you are I are infinite beings (within the must greater number of infinities). Or the Universe is finite.

And if it’s finite it looks like a fixed up job, just right for human life.

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