Speculative Philosophy (in my definition) is philosophy for which there is little or no empirical evidence. It is traditionally what religion is concerned with. Then as science reveals more about the nature of the universe, religion retreats and science takes over. For instance, before the shape of the earth could be scientifically established, it was up to a person's belief system to determine what it was. Religion chose to believe the world was flat. Today most people and also most religions have adopted the scientific view that the earth is round. There are still some, however, that believe the earth is flat. Another example is the fact that, before Galileo, the Catholic Church officially believed that the sun went around the earth rather than the other way around. Galileo even had to publicly repudiate his belief that the earth went around the sun or he would have been put to death by the church. In fact it wasn't until the 1950s that the Church officially repudiated the doctrine and adopted the scientific doctrine that the earth goes around the sun. Another example: despite a large amount of evidence for evolution and the fact that the earth is approximately 5 billion years old, some people continue to believe that life was created en masse about 5000 years ago as it says in the Bible.
This web site takes the approach that religious doctrine should confine itself to areas that have not been definitively proven by science and are, therefore, open to speculation. However, these matters can also be dealt with by philosophy. In fact any definition or solution that can be imagined can be possible. Therefore, why not be imaginative and creative rather than dogmatic? And what criteria would someone apply to a possible solution of all the ones that could be imagined? For instance, it has been fairly well established that the universe started at a certain point with a huge explosion known as the big bang. It has not been established yet conclusively how the universe will end, but there are two theories: 1) a big crunch in which a contracting universe implodes back to a point or 2) the universe will continue to expand until the temperature approaches absolute zero, so-called heat death. Well then, this is a matter for speculation. My own theory is that there will be a big crunch. Why? Esthetically, this is more palatable since there is a definite end corresponding to the definite beginning. It's more symmetric: big bang corresponds to big crunch. By the way symmetry is sort of an esthetic guiding principle for a lot of scientists including Einstein who was guided by other vaguely religious principles such as “God does not play dice with men,” his famous reservation about quantum mechanics.
Therefore, all the big questions such as whether or not God exists (or, more importantly, what is the nature of God if he/she does exist,) the fate of the universe, the fate of human society, the fate of the universe and other "big questions" will be considered here.
Spontaneous Generation has to do with the origin(s) of life. In Darwin's Theory of Evolution, if you go back far enough in time, at some point after the creation of the earth, there must have been a point at which the first life form came into existence and then all life evolved from there. Of course, it's possible that life came into being simultaneously at several places or came into being at several places at several different points in time.
A scientific approach says that life must come into existence wherever and whenever in the universe conditions are right. The propensity for life to start must be ubiquitous. Why? Because most scientists believe that all fundamental laws apply anywhere in the universe. One location is not favored over another. The law of gravity, for example, is believed to be ubiquitous.
Therefore, there must be some mechanism in the universe for life to start and it must be ubiquitous. Maybe at the sub-atomic level there are life precursors which, as inorganic matter tends to form ever more complicated forms, tend to form into more complicated forms and combine with a life energy to become animated. Just as gravitons have never been observed but are believed to exist, maybe a certain kind of mass-energy which we might call a lifoton exists and once sufficiently formed into a complex form becomes a rudimentary life form which can then evolve into more complex forms. The most elementary form of life would need at least to reproduce and be able to evolve. Physicists are looking for a Theory of Everything. However, there Theory of Everything excludes life. Why? Physics only has to do with non-life forces, energy and matter. Physics is at an impasse not being able to account for over 90% of the matter in the universe - the so-called dark matter and a certain amount of the energy - so-called dark energy. What if dark matter and dark energy had to do with life forces in the universe? Ultimately, I believe, physics will have to include life in its purview.
I believe there is a primitive life mass-energy. Wilhelm Reich had a theory about a universal life force which he called orgone energy. He believed it was responsible for the life force in each living organism and could be accumulated in a device he invented called an orgone accumulator. Maybe he wasn't far wrong. Part of the problem is that biologists haven't looked into the construction of life at sub-atomic levels. They haven't built the atom-smashers, and super conducting, super colliders that physicists have built in order to ascertain the structure of matter down to the level of quarks and beyond. Correspondingly, there has not been the theoretical effort by biologists to come up with a scientific theory for the spontaneous generation of life. The attitude of biologists is “let's study the life that is here” and not worry too much about how it got here.
Well, since there's no scientific theory about how life got here, it is a subject for speculation. First speculation: Life can originate wherever and whenever in the universe conditions are right. What, you might ask, are the right conditions? Well, certainly, conditions similar to those existing on earth, namely a “middle distance,” planet from a star similar to our sun with a solid surface. We have seen even on earth life can exist under horrendous conditions such as deep in the ocean near heat vents and in other very toxic conditions.
I believe there is a whole undiscovered sub-atomic world that contains the precursors and progenitors of life. As these basic building blocks, which are ubiquitous in the universe in the same way that photons are ubiquitous, encounter propitious conditions, life can “take root” so to speak. From there, life evolves over time. As we know, higher forms of life can evolve.
We know that there are billions of stars in the universe similar to our sun with planetary systems similar to our solar system. Therefore, it is probable, although no extraterrestrial life has to this point been discovered, that life exists in many places in the universe other than earth.
Perhaps the elements of life, the forces, masses, energies, and the laws regulating them obey physical laws already discovered such as laws of gravity, Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism etc. or perhaps they obey a different set of laws. Perhaps, as these elements combine, they would obey laws similar to those in chemistry. In short a merger of the hard sciences and the life sciences might be necessary in order to get at the most basic understanding of life in the universe.
A Theory of God
Historically, there have been many notions or concepts of God ranging from polytheism, in which there are many Gods some of whom embody human attributes which are less than Godly such as jealousy, vengeance etc., to the monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The monotheistic religions envision a God who is the creator of the universe, and stands outside the universe monitoring and regulating to some extent what transpires within the universe. Christianity believes that God manifested Himself as a human being in the person of Jesus. There has been much wrangling within Christianity about how God could split Himself in three pieces, so to speak, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Actually, it seems to me that only two pieces are necessary: Jesus - God manifested as a human being - and the Holy Ghost - God remaining over and above the universe as monitor and regulator.
In his role as Creator, God is conceived as a watchmaker - one who builds a universe much as a watchmaker makes a watch - and then sets it in motion. The Deists, in fact, relegate that role to God and nothing more. The Deists maintain that, after God created the universe, He then stepped back and had no further interaction with it i.e.He doesn't interact with it as monitor or regulator as conventional monotheism believes. In my belief system, I try to speculate on the nature of God consistent with what we know and experience as human beings both in terms of scientific discovery and also everyday experience. For instance, we know from science that the earth isn't the center of the universe as was the official orthodoxy in the Catholic church long after Galileo suggested that the earth goes around the sun and not the other way around. Also I accept that the earth is roughly 5 billion years old and not approximately 6000 years old as the Bible suggests. My belief system has to be consistent with science as science is generally accepted. Some of the more esoteric scientific theories such as string theory, which has no experimental verification, are still open to speculation, and I don't accept them as established fact. Even quantum theory which has proven its value in a practical sense still isn't understandable to a lot of physicists.
From everyday life I accept the fact that God doesn’t interfere with the course of at least some natural or manmade disasters. On September 11, 2001, God, if He is all powerful and all knowing, could have stopped the airplanes from crashing into the World Trade Center. Still they crashed into it and many good God believing people were lost. In January 2005, the tsunami killed a whole lot more spreading widespread misery, loss of life, loss of livelihood and general mayhem over a large part of the world. Again many people questioned their faith since, they ask, why would a loving God cause so much misery to innocent people, namely all the children who were lost or orphaned. A reasonable answer to this dilemma is that God doesn't interfere with natural or man-made processes no matter how destructive they are. God is neutral. Another answer is that God does not have the role of monitor or regulator or one who can step in to prevent bad things from happening.
My Theory of God also tries to be consistent with certain esthetic principles which all scientists and artists accept: simplicity and elegance. In other words when comparing two belief systems, I would give preference to the one which is simpler and more elegant just as a scientist would prefer a Theory of Everything which boils down to one simple equation rather than a number of disparate pieces. In that respect Einstein was most successful, if not lucky, to have boiled down his theory to E = mc2. He also unified gravitational and electromagnetic theory thereby simplifying physics considerably.
Therefore, I accept that, as it says in the Bible, “In the beginning, God... .” I accept that God existed before the universe was created. I accept that there was a moment of creation known in scientific circles, as the Big Bang. Also, from esthetic principles, I accept that the universe will have a finite lifetime and will end in the Big Crunch, although science has not concluded that this will happen. The other alternative is that the universe will go on expanding indefinitely and will effectively end due to heat death
it will become so cold that no life could exist. Esthetically, it is more pleasing that the universe will end at a finite point in time rather than to exist eternally as just a bunch of space junk. Since I believe in the Big Crunch, I also believe that God will exist after the universe ends much as I believe that God existed before the universe began. This is symmetrical which is another esthetic principle.
The crucial question, however, is not whether God exists but what is God's nature and how does God interact with the universe, in particular, with human beings. Is it possible to have a personal relationship with God? Does God answer prayer? Is there a destiny to the universe? to human society? I believe that most religions come about more to fill human needs than as a response to objective reality. When I was a child, I believed in Santa Claus. Here was a person, with godly powers, who cared about me, brought me toys and presents once a year and was generally a good guy. Santa Claus was God-light, God for children, someone kindly who it was very difficult to offend. Of course, if you did manage to offend him, you would get coal instead of presents in your stocking, but I never heard of any child who actually was so bad that they got coal in their stocking. I didn't want to let go of my belief in Santa Claus because it was comforting, but I had to in light of the objective reality that my peers, at a certain age, started to believe that Santa Claus was just a myth. Well, I think, if Santa Claus, is a myth, God, in the form that I was taught to believe in him which was basically Santa Claus for adults, may be a myth too. Myths are important however. They reassure and comfort us. If a child loses a parent, how can the other parent tell the child anything other than that the dead parent is in heaven with God. To say that the other parent is dead and you have no idea if they even exist in any form any more is almost heartless in comparison. Nevertheless, myths, while comforting, may not be true in an objective sense. If we are really searching for the truth, we have to admit that myths may be necessary for their soothing value, but may not be true.
I don't believe that God stands outside the universe either monitoring and regulating it or keeping a hands off policy and letting whatever happens happen. Instead I believe that God is the universe, that God became the universe at the moment of creation, that the universe represents God in a different form than He existed before the universe started, and God will exist in a different form after the universe ends. If God is the universe or the universe is God as long as it exists, still God is more than the universe if God is infinite and eternal while the universe is finite and time limited. I think that God’s intention in creating or becoming or manifesting himself in the universe was to let the universe unfold according to natural principles. That means that He doesn't control everything that happens. Natural occurrences can be very destructive; manmade occurrences can be very destructive. That's the nature of freedom and not having every instance and event completely defined. That's the nature of drama. Maybe the purpose of the universe is nothing else but the unfolding drama in accordance with certain principles that were incorporated in the Creation. I believe that God, far from being static, all knowing and all powerful in particular details, is constantly changing as the universe is constantly changing. God is dynamic. I believe that God, in a sense, died as the universe was born and that God will be reborn when the universe dies. In fact God may have built other universes before the present one and may go on to build other universes after the present one ends. In the meantime, the universe develops in accordance with natural principles meaning that God has given up the power to prevent bad things from happening. He has delegated that power to the principles that He, after all, implemented in the design of the universe in the first place.
So are we just after all at the mercy of natural disasters? No, not at all. We learn from our mistakes and our errors of omission and commission. For instance, after the tsunami, we realize that a warning system, which had been implemented in other parts of the world, could have saved countless lives. Even in Thailand, the chief weatherman, who was subsequently fired, knew about the earthquake which caused the tsunami two hours in advance of the actual destruction. The destruction occurred in many areas hours after the earthquake. People in those areas would have had enough time to get to higher ground. Instead there was no alert and people died somewhat needlessly. As a response to 9/11, America is implementing homeland security measures that should have been implemented long before and which might have prevented the tragedy. Such things as tracking student visas, for instance.
So is prayer effective? I do believe in Extra Sensory Perception (ESP). I believe there is a form of energy and a communication medium beyond the electromagnetic spectrum. I think that prayer or meditation could affect this space in a positive or negative way. People and animals can sense danger sometimes without receiving information through any of our recognized senses. There are events that happen for which there is no physical explanation. The natural universe is much richer than that envisioned or considered by conventional science at the present time but still subject to natural law although those laws may not have yet been discovered. As an example, I had an Old English Sheepdog once by the name of Sir Thopas. We had gotten the dog as a puppy and raised him. When he was approximately two years old, I was persuaded to sell him due to the breakup of my family. I found what I thought was a good home about 40 miles away. After a month or so Sir Thopas showed up on my doorstep. We had a great weekend together, and I was glad to have him back and would have kept him. However, the people who bought him called and asked perchance if he was there, and I had to be honest and give him back to them. How did that dog travel those 40 miles across freeways and other roads? How did he know which direction to go? How could he pinpoint my house? I also know of a cat that traveled across the whole United States to find its original owner. Things like this have no natural explanation at least in terms of what we know as natural at the present time. I believe science will one day provide an explanation but new principles, laws and forces may have to be discovered first so that what we know as natural will be greatly extended.
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