Re: Big Bang and Extropy

Eric Watt Forste (
Wed, 7 Aug 1996 17:42:05 -0700

Crosby_M <> wrote:
>Finally, Lerner makes the most important point of the book: "By positing an
>end to all things, conventional cosmology necessarily implies one of two
>philosophical stances: either a blind existential pessimism, humanity
>condemned to a meaningless existence, or a dualistic faith like that of the
>Middle Ages, which finds meaning only in the world beyond."

This is only true for people who seek to find the meaning of their life at
the end of vast time, instead of just opening their eyes to the world
around them and finding the meaning of their life in what they are
experiencing and what they can do to improve the immediate quality of their
lives and the lives of the people around them. I'm not slamming big hopes,
big dreams, big ambitions! These are wonderful things. But they are far too
uncertain to be reliable foundations for all our other values. I think
people benefit from connecting their values as closely as possible to the
immediate reality in which they live.

I've read Lerner's book, and like you, I was disappointed by the lack of
economic sophistication revealed in his value-analyses. But I was also
disappointed by his buying into the traditional Western
theological-cosmological quest to find the ultimate basis for values as far
away as possible from the world of everyday experience. And further, I was
a little bit disappointed in that the whole book just seemed to be a
premeditated attack, an axe-grinding exercise with a preconceived
conclusion, a holy war or a mission from God.

But I wasn't too disappointed with that last bit, because it'd be hard to
take away that aspect of the book without taking away what I liked about
it. What I liked about the book is that it identified an emerging
orthodoxy, a new superstition (the sort of thing you see in Tipler's work,
which I haven't read yet and so cannot really criticize and shouldn't even
mention, I suppose) developing out of the unquestioning acceptance of a
highly speculative theory. Lerner might have come to write this book after
looking around as hard as he could for an example of a developing
superstition, an unquestioned orthodoxy for the next few decades, and
trying to nip it in the bud. And if this last was truly his motivation,
then I can't fault him at all.

If I were an astrophysicist or a cosmologist, I'd worry about the ultimate
destiny of the universe, because that would be part of my job. But I'm not,
so I'll worry about it in a few hundred years, maybe. Sooner, if I manage
to clear away all the other stuff I'm interested in.

Eric Watt Forste <>