I was going to write this big post to follow the ideas of the last one, but I just haven't had any focus lately. I jump around from one thing to another, can hardly sit still or stick to any one thing. So I think I'm just going to post this link to an article I read recently in Astronomy magazine (The official article is pay-only, but I found it posted in full on a forum). It sort of blew my mind. It shouldn't have, because the idea is latent in the concept of a Multiverse, but somehow it never had an impact on me until now:
It means the Big Bang was probably just a local event, a big to-do in the ’hood, confined to only the observable universe.
But she slightly misspoke. It’s not a very small percentage that’s observable. You see, any fraction of infinity is essentially zero. It means we cannot see even a few paintbrush strokes of the celestial masterwork. All we can ever hope to study is 0 percent.
That is just straight up amazing, in the original sense of being lost in a maze. I've been trying all week to work out the implications, but it's like my mind keeps sliding off the issue. That in addition to my general lack of focus. Where does it leave us?
Personally an infinite [and eternal] universe makes much more sense to me than one starting from one place at one time. That is to say, the big bang still makes a lot of sense, but not as the start of literal existence. I can see that it would explain how the current state of things got going, under these specific natural laws and in this specific form; but the whole getting something from nothing is kind of a deal breaker for me.
Also, as far as my metaphysical understanding goes, it jives better with that as well. This concept of knowing 0% doesn't refute what science has found. No. But it does allow for a deeper understanding. If the "Laws of Nature" aren't absolute across the wider multiverse, there's nothing to say they're absolute even here in our universe. Knowledge becomes relative, which is demonstrable regardless of this finding.
The easy, simple analogy is a dictionary. A dictionary contains all words, defines one word with other words, which can themselves be found in that dictionary. It rests upon itself. The Bible does the same, and so do the collected works of science. Internally, it works beautifully (well, not the Bible so much, which contradicts the crap out of itself). But the question is whether it has external consistency. A dictionary is great, but what ties it to reality besides its own circular logic? A dictionary of the Spanish language is also true, for example.
Likewise science, which does tie out to the wider world in most cases. This is why I love science, because it works from observation and facts. But from any given set of facts, any number of ways of connecting the dots (the facts) exists. Science goes for the elegant, simple theory. But a Rube Goldberg universe is possible too, full of horribly complex interactions causing things. And there is also the problem of spontaneous events, not replicable in a laboratory, plus the whole inner mental world which so far is completely beyond the Pale of the scientific method, being a materialist method (as it should be, mind you).
In the end, the good thing about an infinite universe it that, if truly understood, it would free us from the provincialism of ego and prejudice. Everything becomes possible, and nothing is sure. Our boundaries remain, of course, I am still me, the Theory of Gravitation is still the Theory of Gravitation... but now the backdoor is opened, connecting everything and erasing the isolation of a worldview that rests upon itself.
Some would say that is a horrible, insecure way to live. Like blindly flailing about in a void, with nothing to stand on. Me, I believe it is freeing. To know nothing is to stand in awe of everything. Who knows where that might take us?
Looks like I wrote a big ass post anyways. Oh well.