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"The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective"

14.01.13

 

Where does it all come from? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe?
What is good and what is evil? The scientific narrative of cosmic evolution demands that we tackle such big questions with a cosmological perspective. I tackle the first question in Chapters 4, 5 and 6; the second in Chapters 7 and 8; the third in Chapter 9 and the fourth in Chapter 10. However, where do we start to answer such questions wisely? Doing so requires a methodological discipline mixing philosophical and scientific approaches.
In Chapter 1, I elaborate the concept of worldview, which is defined by our answers to the big questions. I argue that we should aim at constructing comprehensive and coherent worldviews. In Chapter 2, I develop criteria and tests to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of different worldviews. In Chapter 3, I apply those methodological insights to religious, scientific and philosophical worldviews.
In Chapter 4, I identify seven fundamental challenges to any ultimate explanation of the origin of the universe: epistemological, metaphysical, thermodynamical, causal, infinity, free parameters and fine-tuning. I then analyze the question of the origin of the universe upside down and ask:what are the origins of our cognitive need to find an explanation of this origin? I conclude that our explanations tend to fall in two cognitive attractors, the point and the cycle. In Chapter 5, I focus on the free parameters issue, namely that there are free parameters in the standard model of particle physics and in cosmological models, which in principle can be filled in with any number. I analyze the issue with in physical, mathematical, computational and biological frameworks.
Chapter 6 is an in depth analysis of the fine-tuning issue, the claim that those free parameters are further fine-tuned for the emergence of complexity. I debunk common and uncommon physical, probabilistic and logical fallacies associated with this issue. I distinguish it from the closely related issues of free parameters, parameter sensitivity, metaphysical issues, anthropic principles, observational selection effects, teleology and God's existence. I conclude that fine-tuning is a conjecture, and that we need to study how common our universe is compared to other possible universes. This study opens a research endeavor that I call artificial cosmogenesis. Inspired by Drake's equation in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, I extend this equation to the Cosmic Evolution Equation, in order to study the robustness of the emergence of complexity in our universe, and whether or to what extent it is fine-tuned. I then review eight classical explanations of fine-tuning (skepticism, necessity,
fecundity, god-of-the-gaps, chance-of-the-gaps, weak-anthropic-principle-of-the-gaps, multiverse and design) and show their shortcomings.

In Chapter 7, I show the importance of artificial cosmogenesis from extrapolating the future of scientific simulations. I analyze two other evolutionary explanations of fine-tuning in Chapter 8. More precisely, I show the limitations of Cosmological Natural Selection to motivate the broader scenario of Cosmological Artificial Selection.
In Chapter 9, I set up a new research field to search for advanced extraterrestrials, high energy astrobiology. After developing criteria to distinguish natural from artificial systems, I show that the nature of some peculiar binary star systems needs to be reassessed because of thermodynamical, energetic and civilizational development arguments which converge towards them being advanced extraterrestrials. Since those putative beings feed on stars, I call them starivores. The question of their artificiality remains open, but I propose concrete research projects and a prize to further continue and motivate the scientific assessment of this hypothesis.
In Chapter 10, I explore foundations to build a cosmological ethics. I build on insights from thermodynamics, evolution, and developmental theories. Finally, I examine the idea of immortality with a cosmological perspective and conclude that the ultimate good is the infinite continuation of the evolutionary process. Appendix I is a summary of my position, and Appendix II provides argumentative maps of the entire thesis.

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