Category Archives: Science

Are Genes Us?

RSA – Are Genes Us?

An interesting talk on genes and how they relate to free will and determinism, with asides on American Exceptionalism and so forth. Gleevec (the drug I used to be on) gets a mention as an exception to the general lack of medical advancement on the gene research front. Also a nice discussion on how the free market has failed in developing these types of drugs, and how the two exceptions she mentioned were in fact bankrolled with public and charitable money.


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As particle physics revolutionizes the concepts of “something” (elementary particles and the forces that bind them) and “nothing” (the dynamics of empty space or even the absence of space), the famous question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is also revolutionized. Even the very laws of physics we depend on may be a cosmic accident, with different laws in different universes, which further alters how we might connect something with nothing. Asking why we live in a universe of something rather than nothing may be no more meaningful than asking why some flowers are red and others blue.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, not only is it now plausible, in a scientific sense, that our universe came from nothing, if we ask what properties a universe created from nothing would have, it appears that these properties resemble precisely the universe we live in.

Does all of this prove that our universe and the laws that govern it arose spontaneously without divine guidance or purpose? No, but it means it is possible.

And that possibility need not imply that our own lives are devoid of meaning. Instead of divine purpose, the meaning in our lives can arise from what we make of ourselves, from our relationships and our institutions, from the achievements of the human mind.

A universe without purpose

….from the creation of a socialist utopia via perpetual revolution of the masses. I jest.

The author, of course, refers to to the idea of a universe with purpose as a fantasy universe. Quite silly. The very idea of the universe coming forth from nothing, ex nihilo, is one of the most basic of Christian theology. Really, all of this is perfectly consistent with Christian thought, outside the fundamentalist strain that obsesses over the historicity of various narratives. Like the inability to find the particle that consists of nothing but itself, modern science has been remarkably consistent with Christian philosophical thought. It doesn’t prove anything one way or the other, but it is interesting.

In the end, I always find such ideas of finding ones own meaning in a meaningless universe, the creation of one’s personal ├╝bermensch of one sort or another, to be in some sense small minded, missing something essentially human.

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