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View Diary: New Curiosity Images Bring Home That Mars is a Real Place, We'll Be Seeing Soon With Our Own Eyes (283 comments)

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  •  Here's the problem with that. (0+ / 0-)

    When you make the argument that the first life developed through an "emergent phenomenon" -- and here we are borrowing language that comes from chaos theory, that's a very good theory.  HOWEVER, by resorting to chaos theory, you come up with a theory that cannot be easily tested unless it's reproduced, either in a test tube or in evidence obtained on another planet, like Mars.  One more reason Mars could be very important, even if everything has been dead there for 4 billion years.

    Chaos theory gives us a good way of explaining how complex behaviors of things like hurricanes can emerge from simpler ruled processes like quantum mechanics and newtonian physics, but it does it by giving up on a clear step by step explanation of how any particular hurricane gets the way it is.  It says: That's just the way complex shit happens.  We'll never be able to untangle all the processes leading up to the creation of any particular hurricane but we can accumulate observations about the behavior that emerges from a number of hurricanes.

    Using this method for the explaining how life evolves from first lifeforms is sound.  We can accumulate observations about how life "snaps into" different niches once the game of life gets started.

    But it doesn't explain how that first lifeform began.  We have to resort to appeals to emergent phenomenon from non-life processes.  There's no consensus on what that process was.  So we are operating in the dark, and appeals to statistical probability are at the very least premature.  Which is one of the points I was making to Troubadour.

    If they [the steps of evolution] are all so impossible, then either (a) we shouldn't be here...
    Hope I'm not quoting you wrongly.  I've never said our existence was impossible, that life was impossible, that anything impossible ever happened.  I don't believe in that kind of shit.  

    But excluding the impossible doesn't exclude the HIGHLY IMPROBABLE AND RARE.  It is unsound to jump from the fact that something DID happen to the conclusion that it must happen frequently.  For instance, life may be so improbable that we don't ever encounter it again in this universe.  Appeals to the magnitude of infinity aren't magic bullets that solve all problems.  For instance, there could be an infinite number of parallel universes in which life developed, and many more in which it never develops.  Obviously you and I debating this on the Internet did happen so it was possible, but that doesn't mean that you and I have clones on other planets within this same Hubble volume sitting down at identical computers.  It is possible but the probability is still finite and so is our Hubble volume (visible interactive universe).

    Your next question might be, well, it's not impossible, but if it's so IMPROBABLE, then how did we get here.  And that's simple.  The anthropic principle.  If it had to happen somewhere, because of the premise that everything possible will eventually happen given INFINITE time and space and trials, then hey, we had to happen somewhere, and where it happened, there we are.  The result of something so improbable that we will never encounter its like again.

    I'm not saying that's how we got here.  I'm saying it's another possible explanation that is just as sound as the chaos theory explanation.  It's an explanation, however, that precludes the likelihood of life on other planets.  Before we can leap to the conclusion of life being ubiquitous in the stars, we must first come up with a less fuzzy explanation of how the first life develops.

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