Variations on a theme

So, there was this last week. There’s still some in the shade in the trees and on the ground.

Oh, also, Lassie is adorable.


I went for it and tried drawing the pattern on hir shell, and that was definitely a mistake. Live and learn.

It can be hard to get a sense of scale from the drawing, so here’s a different reference.


And another reference.


wife: “Oh! Lassie pooped twice while eating. Normal-sized poops, too.”

me: “Sure, when Lassie does it, it’s impressive, but when I take a sandwich to the toilet it’s gross.”

* * * * * *

So, I’ve been watching some of NonStampCollector’s videos on YouTube, and they’re okay. I did quite like the Bible Slavery one, but I’m wondering if maybe that’s because when I was introduced to NonStampCollector by this video I didn’t see it comin’. Anyway, a couple years ago, he posted a challenge to theists. In it he mentions that the argument which gives him (and some prominent atheists) pause (but not significant doubt) is the fine-tuning argument. The fine-tuning argument basically says that the physical constants of the universe are only a handful of conceivable possible constants. These constants have resulted in a semi-stable universe which has lasted long enough to allow for the existence of life. (And some people will say, therefore, God.) There’s a good deconstruction of the argument here which I think misses a larger point in favor of taking care of the “and therefore God” part. Fair warning, I skimmed most of the deconstruction.

I think the larger point which is missed by The Secular Web is that although there are other possible physical constants, that doesn’t mean that we’re that super lucky. The key point, I think, is not that the constants are such that we have semi-stability, it’s that there is semi-stability. It’s merely a matter of homeostasis. First, let me say that we may or may not be as stable as we thought.

The Higgs field research at CERN has shown that there is a possibility that the universe could collapse/explode (sort of both from what I understand) at the speed of light in any number of places a few billion years from now (although, it’s also possible that it’s already happened somewhere and is rushing toward us and we don’t know it because of the speed of light and all). When the LHC finishes it’s maintenance and upgrades, we’ll be getting more data and have some better ideas about how the universe works.

Anyway, I would argue that systems tend toward homeostasis. I would further argue that that is not a physical constant so much as a law governing the interactions of physical properties. A sort of meta-constant. It seems like a logical conclusion. Particles and fields will either interact or not interact (electrons and positrons interact in a big way, electrons and dark matter don’t interact). As these (non-/)interactions continue, particles/fields disperse. Eventually, these (non-/)interactions will lead to semi-stability.

Stability does not require the same stability we have now. As energetic (and awesome) as the universe is, it’s somewhat tame. If dark matter weren’t dark, that would mean the vast, vast majority of the universe would interact with all the stuff we currently see. A universe potentially 500% more energetic than it currently is. Semi-stable, but crazy energetic. Therefore, the semi-stability of the universe is not surprising, it’s inevitable. This would mean that for any given physical constants, homeostasis will eventually be approached and a degree of semi-stability will be reached.

This is not inconsistent with our ideas of the early universe. Everything was so hot and crazy that the interactions we rely on now weren’t possible (mostly because there weren’t really elements yet). As the universe expanded, cooled, and particles/fields continued to interact, a degree of homeostasis was reached so that here we are.

Let’s assume, for the moment, that homeostasis can’t be reached. If the universe were unstable, it would be unsustainable. So, the universe would eventually cease to exist (explosion, implosion, space itself ripping apart in an epic ripple of cataclysm, whathaveyou). Then, what would happen? Well, if the universe rips itself apart/implodes/explodes, it ceases to be what it was and potentially becomes a new universe. Maybe that one will work. If it doesn’t, then it kills itself again (and again and again) until it lands on something that sticks around long enough for someone to argue that while they agree with the website that counters a proposition found on YouTube, that person could have agreed with it much more and will decide to bitch about it on his blog.

So, the fine-tuning argument doesn’t just fall apart because the leap from semi-stability to deity is illogical, it falls apart because stability shouldn’t be a surprise.

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, certainly not a physicist, but I’ve always been interested in the sciences. If my understanding of the science is wrong, please correct me (and point me to some good reading where I can learn more, too, please).

* * * * * *

I only exercised once. Fleh.

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