“I appreciate your contention but I would argue that your analysis is what is the purpose in a human life and not the meaning of life itself”
Only the conceit of humanity supposes that we have a greater meaning to our lives than the life of a fly, or a rat, or a fish or a dog. This same conceit also presumes that such animals are placed on this earth for our usage.
If you are looking for a metaphysical “meaning” to life, then I am afraid you won’t find such an answer from me.
Our brains only allow us to get more variety out of our lives, we certainly don’t appear to have any greater meaning. We are quite possible of destroying all life, if you wish to consider that a positive.
“Would you consider that the only real standpoint a scientist could take would be one of agnosticism? Is it important for scientists not to state an absolute when there is tecnically, no absolute proof? Is it incumbent on scientists to keep a very open mind? There have been many widely accepted beliefs debunked with further knowledge. Static Universe for example.”
Scientists are by definition required to have open minds. A theory is subject to constant testing and must be reimagined and recreated if a test proves the theory wrong. Einstein and Newton have their theories tested constantly – and our presumption than their theories are accurate is based on years and hundreds of tests reconfirming the predictions made based on those theories.
What a scientist does not do is create facts to fit our view of the world. We use the facts to define that view. If a fact arises that contravenes our current view point, then we adjust our viewpoint to correctly account for that fact.
That is the very definition of open-mindedness.
If God walks on the earth and provides sufficient evidence that they are indeed the supreme being, then scientists would have no reason, nor desire, to deny his/hers/its existence. Though we would likely continuously test the assertion that it is the higher power – but that is our nature.
The traditional, and perhaps correct, answer, when questioning the possible existence of life elsewhere in the universe is that it is “Highly improbable that there is life on another planet somewhere in this universe, it is equally improbable that there isn’t.”
Scientists don’t state anything in absolutes, they state things purely based on observations. Those observations lead to theorizing. And testing those theories outline our understanding. Science is an ever evolving entity that constantly adjusts to new observations.
What you are hinting at is that a scientist should be willing and able to support faith and science at the same time. There are scientists that do this – but I am not one, and I would hazard a guess that the underlying basic fears of humanity can impact a scientist just as deeply as any other human.
“Getting back to the morality question. When you know that something like smiling is universal and done from a very young age or the behaviour of twins raised by different families in different locations can be identical, is there a possibility that morality has developed as a genetic programme? Or that a fault in this programme results in sociopathies?”
Smiling is in no way universal. It’s not consistent even across our planet whether it be species to species or even race to race. There are races that consider smiling to be an indicator of dishonesty. Apes smile out of fear.
We anthropomorphise animals to give them human traits such as smiling. We see smiles in the front end designs of cars. I am not convinced that very young babies are smiling at all, but we certainly respond to them when that facial expression appears as if it is a good thing. That would appear to be reminiscent of a very successful training technique.
Dogs have learned that when we bare our teeth it’s a good thing, whereas dog to dog, it would be a significant act of aggression.
The twin thing is dubious at best. I consider it a case of selective sampling. I can think of at least a dozen sets of twins in my own personal experience who share nothing in common other than their appearance and parents. That does not ignore the strange coincidences, but the thing about coincidences is that we sure notice them a lot more when we are looking for them.
Genetic memory, or programming, is somewhat mysterious. We aren’t really in a position to create significant observable situations where the proposed hypothesis you are putting forth can be tested. Cloning certainly seems to be the field where this will end up being tested.
Does a cloned being directly reflect the parent if it is exposed to the same set of conditions? Does it vary when you change the environmental factors?
We do know that clones do NOT become physical duplicates. Recessive genes, and other factors cause them to vary drastically… or they don’t.
“As for biology. Is biology as we know it limited in itself because we have no other information beyond our earthly experience? Physics and chemistry can be tested beyond this planet.”
Biology isn’t nearly as limited as you might think. Our “earthly experience” has introduced us to creatures known as “extremophiles” with the suffix coming from the Greek word for love. So creatures that love extreme conditions.
These creatures are bizarre to a point of being truly alien. And indeed Astrobiology has been able to glean a huge amount from just studying these creatures, and exposing simple organisms to any other number of extreme conditions – discovering that the adaptation to those conditions is startlingly good.
This means that biologists have good reason to believe that our own solar system could be home to other life. The moons of Saturn offering us the most optimism.
Enceladus is a moon of Saturn that appears to be a frozen crust covering a liquid water ocean. And where there is water, there is – per our understanding – the chance of life. We have even seen plumes of water shooting through the surface. Gravity is a big deal, and stretching, distorting and otherwise moving this small moon’s “innards” around could definitely produce the heat necessary to keep the water liquid.
Titan, another moon of Saturn also has a few things going for it. While we are talking about temperatures cold enough to create lakes of methane, we are also talking about the only place we know of outside of earth where there are lakes of anything. And extremophiles might suggest that -180 degree temperatures and non-water lakes may not be enough to prevent life from forming and flourishing.
It’s highly unlikely, but Mars has always been a popular place for us to feel that life may now, or have previously, existed. We believed we saw methane on Mars, which is a byproduct of biological processes – but we aren’t finding it … yet.
Something else to remember about life, wherever it resides…
It is in the forges of the universe, things we call stars, that all building blocks of life are created. The death of massive stars is the reason we can exist. As Carl Sagan said, we truly are made of star stuff.
Never let it be said that science isn’t full of romance and imagination.