one question about objective reality you'd want answered

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by sonak, May 10, 2013.

  1. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If you could find out the answer to one question about something objective about the universe that would make you happy, what would it be? (so no questions like "will I ever get married?" Will the Cubs win the world series in my lifetime?" etc. it's supposed to be something theoretically answerable now)

    what would it be?


    is there an afterlife?
    is there a God?
    is time travel possible?
    is there intelligent life on other planets?

    those are examples of what I mean
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd say if I could have tangible proof to confirm or deny any one of those questions you listed, I'd have to pick is there intelligent life on other planets. Knowing that would put the concept of humanity in perspective.
     
  3. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    These are pretty much the big ones, aren't they? :lol:

    Truthfully, I don't know. As neat as it would be to know if there is alien life, I can live without finding that out. Unless I am ever going to have any kind of interaction with that life, its existence is ultimately irrelevant to my own. Same with time travel. Unless we're actually going to discover how to do it in my lifetime, I can't really be bothered to care.

    So I don't know what question I'd want to answer.
     
  4. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    There is no way of knowing if (and no reason to think that) your first two questions, just like any other metaphysical question, are even theoretically answerable.
     
  5. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Why wouldn't they be answerable? I assume we're asking the question and just being bestowed the truth; we don't need to be able to prove it.
     
  6. auntiehill

    auntiehill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I can't possibly comment on at least two of those questions, in regards to "objective reality" (seems rather redundant there), without terribly offending many people.
     
  7. Ashu

    Ashu Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I'm pretty sure i can some how manage to offend someone regardless of how i worded things on any of these =/
     
  8. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is there intelligent life on THIS planet?

    Oh come on, SOMEBODY was gonna ask.....

    That said, I want answers to ALL of these questions.
     
  9. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    I guess the most basic question I can think of would be "Why is there something rather than nothing?"
     
  10. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    That would just be religion. I'm not satisfied being bestowed the truth, nor would I trust anyone who would bestow truth upon me without evidence.

    As to why they wouldn't be answerable, that depends on how the question is framed. You can define god in a way that can be tested and disproved; if, for example, you claim god is a being who answers prayers then you could disprove that by doing a controlled experiment to see if prayer has any effect. This has been done, and it's been proved that prayer does not do anything. But you can also define god in such a way that his existence is unfalsifiable, and therefore not within the realm of science (or reality). If you claim that there was a creator who created the universe at the point of the big bang so that it would develop exactly as it is observed and that he directed evolution so that it would proceed exactly as observed and took incredibly great pains to make it look as if there was no intelligence behind it at all for some reason (or maybe was just drunk), then the proposed created universe would bear no observable difference to the actual universe and thus the claim is unfalsifiable and unprovable.

    Of the 4 questions, the last one is the only one I'm really interested in. Though the time travel one is exciting as well. I'm pretty sure the answers to 1 through 3 are no, though, and there's not enough evidence for them being 'yes' to excite me into wanting answers.
     
  11. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was just giving examples of the types of questions I meant, not attempting to get answers or comments about those specific ones. Sorry if I was unclear.

    As to "objective reality," I just mean a truth about the universe that could theoretically be verified now, just so we didn't get questions like "will I ever be happy?" or something like that. I guess my phrasing was awkward.
     
  12. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    Meh...my half sister once threw a hissy fit over something I wrote on FB (it was really benign too), and I pointed out to her that if her faith was offended by facts then she'd better get a stronger faith or give it up.
     
  13. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I am operating under the assumption that whoever/whatever is giving me this knowledge has done the legwork and proven it.

    Maybe "bestow" is the wrong word. What if it was something we were born knowing, rather than something we discovered? Universal truths that we are simply aware of.

    Not belief. Not faith. Not religion. Just truth. Like gravity. Maybe we didn't always know what gravity was, but we always knew it was there, even if we didn't know that we knew it was there. :p
     
  14. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    ^But history has shown us that our supposed innate truths are as often wrong as right. Quantum physics turns practically all out innate knowledge about how the universe works right on its head! I'm not going to be satisfied that something is truth (especially something as improbable as god, an afterlife, or time travel), without seeing some pretty darn convincing evidence!
     
  15. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    Discussing whether or not the questions are answerable completely misses the point of the OP's hypothetical scenario. "If you could find out" is the basic assumption of the question.
     
  16. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    You're right, conversations should stay within extremely tight parameters and never stray into the realm of the Totally Relavent and Interesting.
     
  17. Shaytan

    Shaytan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And to learn that all the idiots around me during my life might still follow me after my death. No thank you, I'd rather stay naive.

    Don't care.

    It sounds better in a fiction.

    Interesting if not hostile.

    I want to discover spring and summer.
     
  18. Roger Wilco

    Roger Wilco Admiral Admiral

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    What's for lunch tomorrow?
     
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    All of your examples are grammatically yes-no questions, while your description doesn't seem to mandate that. So, in the first place, I'm wondering whether I'd be restricted to asking a yes-no question.

    Secondly, your parenthetical temporal restriction that the question must be theoretically answerable now is incompatible with at least one of your examples, namely number four, "is there intelligent life on other planets?", because in order for the question to be a valid one to ask under such a restriction, the asker must already be assured that there is enough currently available evidence to decide it, which would all but eliminate the need to pose it to something like a magic oracle in the first place. The whole idea of a magic oracle is that it knows things that are generally out of the reach of mortals, including things that are impossible for them to verify, at least at present, but which are nevertheless true. In addition, seeing to the far corners of the universe, that are beyond our ability to observe and that will remain so for the foreseeable future, if not indefinitely, is at least as magical as seeing into the future. That parenthetical temporal restriction doesn't seem thoroughly thought out.

    Put concretely: what if the closest intelligent life exists a billion light years away? How are we going to verify that?

    Thirdly, finding out the answer is supposed to make me happy? Again your examples seem relatively limited. The examples seem like they're taken from a greatest hits list of philosophical and scientific questions. Other sorts of purely personal questions, that fit the description of inquiring on something objective about the universe implicitly, might make a person happier to know the answer to than any of those sorts of questions.

    For example, assuming the question need not be yes-no, asking

    How does any given person find a way of obtaining happiness?

    might be worth considering. It's worth thinking about whether the objectivity is implicit in the question and whether the question is answerable, and/or whether the inability of some people to find happiness would be indicated in the answer, since getting a road map to happiness in return should go a really, really long way to providing a key to happiness.

    However, assuming the question need not be yes-no, and that the intent is to stick close to the philosophical and scientific greatest hits, I'd actually consider asking

    What is objective reality?

    assuming, for one thing, that I'd have convinced myself, or the oracle would agree, that if objective reality doesn't really exist then that should be clear from the answer.
     
  20. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    no, "is there intelligent life on other planets?" is a question that could be theoretically answerable NOW assuming one had access to the sort of knowledge one would need. I only mean that the question must not relate to something requiring future knowledge about some uncertain outcome or something unobservable.(such as "will I be happy with my life?")

    so your question of how to obtain happiness is sort of the opposite question of what I had in mind for the thread, but of course you're free to ask what you want.