Liam Proven (lproven) wrote,
  • Mood: tired, nostalgic, pessimistic

The Omphalos Argument, or, "how long is fake history?"

Take the religion of your choice. If its creation myth is true, then much of the world is a clever prop, a fake stage set.

The argument is clever and simple.


* the Earth is full of evidence of great age. You can look at how long water wears down rock, and how long it takes sediment to pile up, and so on, and model the age of the Grand Canyon and so on. Do this, and you get many millions of years. So obviously, the Genesis story is not true.

* But look at radioactive decay and so on and you get a much longer age: hundreds of millions of years. Study stars and the spectra of their light, work out the makeup of other planets and so on, and you get billions of years.

* But most religions' creation myths say it's much newer. Typically thousands of years.

* However, it is axiomatic in $RELIGION that $HOLY_BOOK is correct, because $DEITY wrote it.

* Therefore, $DEITY made the world with all the evidence that it was older in place.

(Side note: therefore, $DEITY is a liar.)

* So, if $DEITY did this, then when did [he/she/it/they] do so?

Let's say they did it 100,000Y ago. They made all the animals and plants, etc., and buried fossils in the rocks. Humans wandered out, carved rocks, made cave paintings, etc but the buried fossils are fake.

_But_ if you accept that, then maybe they did it 6,000Y ago.

If so, then this is part way through recorded history. The Pharaonic civilisation in Egypt is in the Christian's bible - but the Pharaohs' records go back to 5 or 6K BC. Before the Christians, before the Jews.

Therefore, if the Christians' bible is true, then their [1...3] god(s) made the world with a bunch of stelae with hieroglyphs on, and set up an Egyptian empire full of people with false memories of older kings, etc.

Ah, but, if their small incestuous collection of semi-fused some-alive some-dead Schrödinger's Gods could do that - fake a whole civilisation half way through its existence, fake lots of Stone Age relics, fake cave art from before the alleged Creation, etc. etc. - then why stop there?

There were ~4KY of existence before Yeshweh of Nazareth. Maybe all that was faked too? It's a god (or three) - they can do perfect fakes. Perhaps all the Jewish history is fake. Perhaps, if Yeshweh the Carpenter was *the* Messiah, the anointed king - there were lots of messiahs around then - then all the pre-Yeshweh stuff is fake.

But then Christianity took centuries to spread. Several big-name saints were centuries after Yeshweh's (alleged) time. So maybe their deity/deities made the world in 300AD and faked all the earlier memories?

Or maybe it was the 1st prophesied Christian end of the world - 1000AD. Maybe he/they faked it all up starting then.

But no, look, I was born in late 1967. I am the central being in my personal universe, right, so all before me was faked. All the history, memories, movie footage, sound recordings - the god[s] faked those right before I was born. My mum was real so that I could be born, but her belly-button was fake.

Ah, but what if the god/s made *me* with fake memories? Ah, well, in that case, maybe the world was made in 2000AD and all the stuff I remember, my scars etc., are fake.

Maybe t(he)y made it at the start of this thread and all the stuff we all remember from yesterday was a fake?

Or maybe it was Created complete and intact when I typed the D at the end of this word:


Bingo. Creation. Everything known by everyone in the universe is fake, newly-made

See what I mean?

Accept the creation of fake evidence of ancient times, and all bets are off. All we know, all we can remember, could be fake.

*OR* the evidence is true, the holy book is wrong, and the universe is ~13 billion years old and our ~4.35 billion year old planet is orbiting a sun only a couple of hundred million years older.

In which case, everything else we can see is probably true, too. Billions of stars in each of billions of galaxies, stretching out into unreachable distance.

And as the Kepler probe has told us, most stars have planets, and lots and lots of them have small rocky planets. Way more than Frank Drake estimated.

So our planet is nothing special, one of trillions, which means lots must have stable orbits, liquid water, active lithospheres generating a strong protective magnetic field keeping most of the charged particles out... and that probably means life.

Billions of planets full of it, unreachable from one another across the light-years.

And many of those must have evolved brains, because brains are very useful. Our planet has gratuitously-smart mammals, molluscs (cephalopods), arthropods (mantis shrimp) and more.

And if they evolved brains, then it's likely an arms-race happened and they evolved intelligence and later technology.

And the answer to the Fermi paradox, I fear, is simple.

Technology runs out of control and technological civilisations kill themselves off. Afterwards, there aren't enough easily-accessible resources left for any descendants to rebuild.

So intelligent technological civilisations probably happen all the time, but burn out really quickly, before they get far. Life is chemical and quite fragile. It is very unsuited to interplanetary travel, let alone star travel. That's why there are no detectable space-faring aliens.

And most technological civilisations flare and burn out before they create successor machine-phase civilisations. If they do, those probably aren't terribly interested in biology and meat life-forms
And that's the answer to Enrico Fermi's big question: "where are they?"

They're dead. And we will soon join them, before we make AIs or anything else.

By the way, the Omphalos Argument is also one of the core inspirations behind Terry Pratchett's wonderful novel /The Dark Side of the Sun/, before the Discworld stuff and my personal favourite of his books. Go read it, it's brilliant.
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded