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Richard Feynman - Proportion

  1. Apr 23, 2014 #1


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    Hi everyone. I don't know if this is the right place for this thread, but I couldn't find a better one.

    In one of the Feynman's interviews, he says "So …altogether I can’t believe the special stories that’ve been made up about our relationship to the universe at large because they seem to be…too simple, too connected, too local, too provincial. The “earth,” He came to “the earth”, one of the aspects God came to “the earth!” mind you, and look at what’s out there…? how can we…? it isn’t in proportion…!"

    What does he mean by 'proportion'? I guess it has to do with the universe, but what kind of a proportion does he talk about? Any ideas?
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  3. Apr 23, 2014 #2


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    I assume he was referring to the fact that that just in the observable universe alone there are estimated to be many billions of galaxies and each is believed to contain many billions of stars. That's on the order of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. How come he picked ours? And that isn't even getting down to the order of planets, which are even more numerous.

    Religious people just deflect that by saying he didn't PICK our, he created it. Human evolution is not big on their agenda, nor is cosmological evolution.
  4. Apr 23, 2014 #3


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    Have you ever tried to calculate something like, for example, the volume of the Earth vs the volume of the observable universe? If an amoeba claimed to be the chosen being for which the entire USA has been created, its ego would be good couple dozen or so orders of magnitude less bloated.

    It's just another way of saying we're a tiny, insignificant speck of dust in the mindboggingly, discombabulatingly, bamboozingly vast expanse of the universe.
  5. Apr 23, 2014 #4


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    Actually, I was think we're smaller than that :smile:
  6. Apr 27, 2014 #5
    Why would a supposed creator of the universe even bother to create earth?
    And why did he have a son? To take over the business after his own retirement? God&Son ?
    No that could not have been the reason. Anybody?
  7. Apr 27, 2014 #6
    ask your local church
  8. Apr 27, 2014 #7


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    The motivation of 'god' is irrelevant. Science is concerned with discovering the rules of the game.
  9. Apr 28, 2014 #8
    By "proportion", I believe he is referring to how limited we are to observing the universe and relating to it. We can barely see past the Sun and Moon with our unaided eyes other than the flickering stars, so naturally we chose Earth to mean something special and thus all religions revolve our how special our planet is.

    If we were to live on Mars, all religions would revolve around God arriving or watching over Mars. If we lived on Venus, all stories would revolve around Venus. However, since we are on Earth, every story revolves around Earth and not anything else, because we don't really know of any other place like we know Earth.

    However, As our knowledge grows this proportion begins to even out. For example, if we began discovering life forms on other planets this would disprove many religions, causing them to slowly crumble. The more we understand, the more religion becomes obsolete.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  10. Apr 28, 2014 #9
    The 'mindboggingly, discombabulatingly, bamboozingly' simple truth is that "God" = physics, creator of all things, font of Universal Law.
    Non-equilibrium thermodynamics is how life was created, and evolution is how life has diversified.
    We humans are 'special' to God because we are the first life forms on this 'mindboggingly, discombabulatingly, bamboozingly insignificant speck of dust' to be able to realize this.
  11. Apr 28, 2014 #10
    Its a bit stubborn to say we are the "first" life form when we haven't even taken a human passed the moon and the furthest we've been is a little more than 18 Billion Kilometers with Voyager 1, which may seem like a lot to a human, but is barely classified as a step in relation to the Galaxy let alone the Universe.

    Sure, the fact is we have yet to discover any life form anywhere else. The other fact, however, is that we haven't even really looked.

    Perhaps if we've explored at least half of the entire Universe and found nothing we can begin to even think we are "the first" or "the only" or any other similar phrases. Until then, I believe it is best in the eyes of science to keep an open mind if we wish to progress and become an accomplished race.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  12. Apr 29, 2014 #11
    (W)e are the first life forms on this 'mindboggingly, discombabulatingly, bamboozingly insignificant speck of dust' (meaning 'Earth') to be able to realize this.
  13. Apr 29, 2014 #12
    ...It is remarkable how we're able to think and accommodate such ideas. However, it is not elegant at all -that god-human-universe relation thing.
  14. Apr 29, 2014 #13


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    Of course it is. Just ask someone at your local church. :smile:
  15. Apr 29, 2014 #14
    Well! Been there and it is not even worth discussing. Sometimes i compartmentalize..:biggrin: (Waiting 'closed pending mode...').
  16. Apr 29, 2014 #15
    Or creating them.
  17. Apr 29, 2014 #16


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    As long as you constrain yourself to theory and observation, you are doing science. Otherwise, you are indulging in philosophy. Science is about the nature of the universe, not the reason it exists. That does not exclude theism, merely renders it irrelevant.
  18. May 2, 2014 #17
    The existence of the universe IS relevant to its nature. Just because we can't make an observation and explain it right now does not make it irrelevant, it simply means we don't know how and are not knowledgeable enough. Philosophy is important for science. Let us not forget that it is Philosophy that sparked the concept of the atom, not science. Had it not been for the Philosophy, I may not be typing this message right now. It was also philosophy that brought the *idea* that the stars were actually just like our Sun, but very far away and must also have planets like our own. There have been many important events where philosophy set us on a track and science moved us forward.

    100 years ago, the thought of teleportation being possible seemed ridiculous. It was nothing but an idea conjured up in the imagination. Now we see it as a scientific possibility.

    Sometimes we need to look passed what we can observe and just take a leap of faith. This is why we have Thinkers. It does not matter how right or wrong they might be, that is not the goal of thinking.

    Quit getting so hung up on "doing science". What happened to doing things just for the purpose of thinking? Imagination is what has and will always push us forward and science will always be the test of our imagination.
  19. May 3, 2014 #18
    You have some strong points in this argument, however its I feel its flawed in some regards.

    Philosophy is oft times a hindrance to observations to correlations of measurements.
    A new unexplained measurement correlates to a change in philosophy.

    science is a progressive development of taking a current understanding, finding flaws in that understanding, coming up with an idea to solve that flaw, developing a hypothesis to correct that flaw, finding testable means to justify that hypothesis. finding means to disprove that hypothesis.

    A new understanding can change any of the aforementioned steps

    However no matter how flawed a hypothesis is, it always increases our level of understanding
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  20. May 3, 2014 #19


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    Nonsense. What you are calling philosophy in that context was what WAS science, to the extent there was any science, back in those days (~500BC). Now that a rigorous scientific method has evolved, science has separated from philosophy.

    I don't completely disagree w/ your argument, but you would make it better if you stuck to the facts. You sound more like a philosopher than a scientist :smile:
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