Why Are We Here? : Martin Nowak

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Why Are We Here? : Martin Nowak

Quote:Ard: Some people of faith would be very nervous that you could explain altruistic behaviour by the laws of nature. What would you say?

MN: That they give a mathematical explanation for why these actions can actually be the ones preferred by natural selection, that’s very good.

Ard: Yeah.

MN: And I’m not nervous, but curiously, long ago, when Newton had the mathematical description of gravity, he asked himself briefly the question, you know, by having a mathematical description of gravity, do I take away from God? Does this take away from God? And he made the remark ‘Hypotheses non fingo’ – I make no hypothesis as to why there is gravity. This could as well be the action of God. So just by having a mathematical description of gravity, it doesn’t take away God as a reason for why there is gravity.

Ard: And the same is true for…

MN: For anything we could learn about the living world: for natural selection, for the mathematical description of natural selection.

Quote:MN: I think mathematicians unveil eternal truth, you know, that exists independent of evolution. So you have something like prime numbers, numbers, they are just principles that exist. So, for me, the material world is an instantiation of fundamental principles.

David: Right. But if I’ve got those, then surely I don’t need God. I mean, in other words, there are these truths and they are the things which make the world the way it is, and they’re there before I thought about them, so I’m discovering them…

MN: But those fundamental principles, these eternal fundamental principles, for me, that is God.

Quote:MN: Yeah, again, you have to ask yourself, what is the meaning of goodness and where does goodness come from? And I would agree with Plato, that goodness is a form – is the highest form: it’s the form that illuminates all other forms, because all other forms that exist, it’s good that they exist.

Ard: And so goodness is something that exists independent of us?

MN: As the highest form, yes.

Ard: As the highest form. That’s really interesting.

David: If you see these truths as being out there, then when we think of them, the way a lot of people think is that, ‘I’m making this up,’ or ‘I’ve grasped it.’ If they’re there, then it’s more of an encounter, isn’t it? That you’re encountering something.

MN: So Socrates and Plato, they asked themselves, what is learning? And they came to the conclusion that all learning is only remembering.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(This post was last modified: 2023-10-30, 05:44 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)

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