Minerva wrote:It's entirely possible that we're the first intelligent, sentient, technological civilization in the cosmos - some civilization, somewhere, some time, has to be first.
But it's very possible that we're not. Perhaps probable, even.
At this point, we just don't yet know. Let's keep trying to find out.
With all due respect, there's nothing science can say about that sort of suggestion and so it is essentially meaningless.pointfivenine wrote:Perhaps the older species in this universe have transcended, no longer existing on this plane?
Robin S wrote:The problem comes with defining "sapient".
Pause wrote:gmalivuk wrote:The Earth is actually quite a bit younger than 6 billion years, and no life could likely have survived the impact theorized to have created the moon, so life really only had about 3.5 billion years to evolve. There are trillions of stars older than our sun, any one of which could have planets like our Earth. I don't see why it makes any sense to suppose we're the first sentients when we know damn well that ours is far from being the oldest star.
The impact is believed to have been about 4.5 billion years ago, and the Earth's crust should have reformed and cooled fairly quickly, which leads us to a reasonable assumption that life managed to get going here within a billion years of having the opportunity. But multicellular life has only been around for another billion years or so, within which time it's rocketed along. Which leads me to think that the hard part is not the creation of life, but the creation of complex life.
Sample sizes of one are dangerous things, 'course. We might have been lucky to have life so early, or unlucky to have taken so long to create complex organisms. But as WraithXt1 already expressed, the sheer size of the universe, plus the knowledge that it's had twice as long again before we came along to produce something, with a good proportion of heavy elements (for making solid planets and organic molecules) for much of that time, makes me believe the chances of Earth being the first planet to have life are quite small.
Even if you subscribe to the strictest definitions of things like the galactic habitable zone, density of heavy elements required, galaxy formation and collisions, etc., that's a lot of annuli around a lot of galaxies' worth of opportunity, with a couple of billion years head start on us.
So yeah, I think it all comes down to complex life, and how easy it is to get it started. And I'm not sure we'll ever have a really good idea how lucky or unlucky we were to get sentient or sapient life from that state. I want to say it seems a natural progression, but... more dangerous assumptions.
Robin S wrote:Yes. It was the whole subject of discussion "in the first place" (by which I mean what you and I were originally discussing). You claimed that it would never be possible to prove objectively that another individual, or organism of any kind, was sentient, to which I replied that actually it might be.
So when logical - mathematical - consequences of, say, Maxwell's equations or General Relativity are tested, is that not applying logic to something ontological?yy2bggggs wrote:you're taking pure logic and deriving something ontological... it seems too magical to me.
Robin S wrote:So when logical - mathematical - consequences of, say, Maxwell's equations or General Relativity are tested, is that not applying logic to something ontological?yy2bggggs wrote:you're taking pure logic and deriving something ontological... it seems too magical to me.
Robin S wrote:Ok, that was a bad example. What about when some consequences of a theory are tested, the effective validity of the theory itself is inferred and other consequences of that theory are thereby deduced (which is more or less what happened with the Standard Model)?
Belial wrote:Define self-awareness.
McCaber wrote:Belial wrote:Define self-awareness.
I believe that the best definition of self-awareness is being able to argue about the definition of self-awareness.
WraithXt1 wrote:superglucose wrote:But how many of them support life? And it didn't just take one billion years, it took six billion years from the formation of the planet to this point.
Okay, are we considering only life as we know it? Or can we consider the possibility of other forms of life?
You've actually said two separate things there:litework wrote:I think this is is the main issue here - people tend to judge "life" or "sentiency" or "self-awareness" in terms of what we know and are familiar with, only as broad as the barriers of our limited human consciousness allow. I highly doubt that that is all there is, that we are all there is in terms of "life" in the universe.
Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding, but you seem to have contradicted your own argument: you yourself have just conceived of them.By "habitable" planets, we mean planets that humans or similar carbon-based lifeforms can live on, do we not? What if there are whooooooooooooooooooooole other forms of life which our puny waking consciousness cannot conceive?
This brings us back to the God issue.whole other dimensions undetectable to us
First, if you want to be accurate, we have considerably more than five senses. Secondly, we have lots of technology which allows us to detect things that we can't sense directly. If we can't detect it with technology, it might as well not exist, à la God.our whole 5 (WOW, we can count all of our physical senses on ONE hand!) senses...
Why does it matter that you can't see it? Clearly you can still sense it in some way, since you say you are speaking from personal experience. At the end of the day, isn't that what matters? You've already tried to narrow the sensory capacity of the human mind down to five senses - why narrow it further to one?Speaking from personal experience, there is a lot more around me than I can see, explain or physically prove (as frustrating as this is to me)
Again, it comes down to suspicion - essentially, gut instinct. Please correct me if you have a logical basis for your beliefs regarding this matter - plenty of people here, myself included, will be happy to discuss it with you. One last thing, though...I could never be so arrogant as to claim my species as being the "first" at much of anything. Humans are rather primitive in the grand scheme of things, I suspect.
What makes you think the egos of intelligent extraterrestrials will be any smaller than ours?Perhaps we can be universal Guiness Book record holders, though, for the species with biggest ego?
I wasn't trying to suggest that you did; merely that claiming the existence of beings beyond our ability to detect (at least, so far) or even understand suffers from the same logical problems as claiming the existence of God. It's not that it rules out the possibility of either's existence; I myself am agnostic, because I realize that there are some things about existence that we can never know. What I am saying is that even if such beings exist, by your definition there would be no way for us to discover or understand them, so the universe would effectively be no different from if they didn't exist.I don't believe in "God" so I don't think that is the only alternative to scientific explanations of the universe (such as creationism vs evolution, for example).
Robin S wrote: I realize that there are some things about existence that we can never know.
Robin S wrote:What I am saying is that even if such beings exist, by your definition there would be no way for us to discover or understand them, so the universe would effectively be no different from if they didn't exist.
Robin S wrote: I respect that you find it difficult to explain, but you must appreciate that until we have a logical argument to discuss we, as scientists, can't really get anywhere. My own gut instinct has nothing to say either way about the existence of such beings. I do feel, however, that speculation over matters like this without any means of evidence to give insight into the situation can only be of limited use.
superglucose wrote:But how many of them support life? And it didn't just take one billion years, it took six billion years from the formation of the planet to this point.
Robin S wrote:No doubt whatsoever, despite the fact that you honestly don't know just how unlikely it is for civilization to occur?
What you're essentially saying is that the inverse probability of civilization occurring is somewhat lower than the number of opportunities it has had to occur. All you have to go on, however, is intuition, which is notoriously poor in this sort of situation.SexyTalon wrote:It happened once.
Granted, we're probably the only intelligent life in this neighborhood of galaxies, but there's probably some elsewhere. I doubt, however, that they will be relevant other than existing. The distances are simply too vast.
SexyTalon wrote:Something like that, I suppose. I'm using the optimist's view of Drake's Equation. That being said, I also think that currently, SETI is a waste of resources better used elsewhere.