A discussion about religion, reality and reason
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20th Apr 2014, 12:29 PM
Average Rating: 5 (1 vote)
Author Notes:
Sorry about the skip week. Between the stitches and the oral surgery, and buying a new computer system, it definitely has been an interesting couple of weeks.

Originally used by Douglas Adams (love his many books!) in this speech here. Often used to refute the anthropic coincidences, but seen in context, was used to argue of how the conception of God came about.

He seems to be more complaining about the sort of believer who fights climate change, because we're "destined" to be here, and God won't let us disappear.

And these are often the same people who believe in the story/parable of Noah as literal truth. In which humanity was almost wiped out entirely.

Not all theists are like that; many see the environment as a trust given by God, like the workers in a vinyard that Jesus uses in parables. That we should take care of the trust given to us, knowing we will someday be held accountable. We also don't reject the consensus of the scientific community on climate change.

Many see this "puddle" analogy...maybe Adams did himself--that life will adapt to any conditions around it, and consider any adaptation as remarkable. I hope I've demonstrated...and will give a few more demonstrations---that such is NOT the case...that we live in a large landscape of possibilities, most of which would not allow intelligent life to evolve at all.

We live in a very isolated puddle indeed, no matter how temporary we are.

(For those who have been drawn here for the first time, perhaps by the mention of Douglas Adams, if you look at past strips, you'll see what I mean about changing the constants, the number of spatial dimensions, etc.)

Oh, and for those who are so inclined...

Happy Easter.

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User comments:
tom (Guest)
I like the last panel a lot.

But...the picture is incomplete.

I can't help thinking that Douglas Adam's analogy, like any analogy, is meant to evoke thought, not to describe reality perfectly.

Perhaps it just came to the puddle's attention that it has never seen rain. But it's smart enough to see that this observation needs to be tested to see if this has always been the case. As a good scientist, it will design experiments to test this hypothesis.

It sees no other puddles nearby, but it knows this alone means little because the horizon for a puddle is pretty close. But what does nearby mean. Is the moon nearby? Mars? Europa? Any star within our galaxy? In a universe 41 billion lightyears wide, what definition of nearby constitutes a significant sample size?

Where did it "spring" from? Possibly it's artesian, and it just naturally manifested from the ground up.
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the very concept of rain probably wouldn't exist for the puddle, after all there is no phenomena in which to support this concept within its lifetime.

as for a horizon, it hasn't moved at all, therefore it may theorize about the rest of the world (or what it would probably consider to be the universe), but the come up with the concept of a horizon is a long shot.

as for where it sprung from implies that hasn't always been there, a remnant of an old ocean. it simply was a puddle by the time it achieved sentience (and thus doesn't have recorded a time when it was otherwise). given that we are treating the puddle as a single individual it may have some sort of subconscious recognition of presentient stuff, manifesting itself in the form of gut feelings and dreams. it may dismiss the ocean dream as simply that in its primitive form it was too unaware of its surroundings to imagine itself a puddle and was focused too internally (imagining itself as large with the world under it, instead of small with the world around it).
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Al Schroeder (Guest)
Oh, I agree that it was an analogy meant to evoke thought. But a lot of people use that analogy as a final answer---the last thing Adams would have wanted. I was just pointing out a better analogy is a puddle in the desert. And yeah, there could be any number of "natural" explanations...but it's still something to wonder about.
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tom (Guest)
Yes. Exactly.

An analogy, (which is really just a less formal way of saying "model"), only has predictive power within the constraints of it's parameters. Claiming a particular analogy is the final answer in some situation is essentially saying it has unlimited predictive power in that situation.

People who make that claim don't realize how unserious they sound.

They rarely understand that analogies or models, (or how about "parables", if you want to go real old school), all embody assumptions and premises that limit their scope of applicability. They aren't seeing it in context, as it were.

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