View Full Version : The mystery of the dead cat

2006-Jan-27, 01:45 PM
“Geology is like solving the Mystery of The Dead Cat. If you bring me a dead cat, all I can tell you is that it’s dead and it was once a cat. But if you bring me a dead cat and tell me you found it in the middle of the road, what killed it?”
“A car?”
“A truck?”
“Heat prostration?”
“What are we talking about here, Jack?”
“Context. The difference between road kill and a meal.”

With all the talk of Intelligent Design - and The Intelligent Designer – I thought my ideas on the situation might be best initiated by the above conversation from Episode 10 (Galileo Was Right) from the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon”. I refer, of course, to context.

Allow me to use the Space Shuttle to set my analogy. Now I’m sure no one here would deny that the designers of that craft are certainly intelligent, however, like all designer/product relationships the maker is exterior to the creation. One would not expect to find the designer of the shuttle (or a car, or a skyscraper, or a food processor) to build a device from inside the creation. In fact, any observer trapped inside the design would find it impossible to understand the context of the device, unless and until he made his way outside the contrivance.

Consider that the universe is expanding. Therefore, there must be a space outside the universe in which it expands. This would appear to indicate that the Intelligent Designer (if there is such a thing) must reside outside the universal sphere (or whatever shape it may haps be) and that we are completely unable to understand the context of the creation until such time as we can make our way to a window, stick our head out and take a look.

Is the universe simply a dead cat lying on the side of some inter-universal turnpike? Will we ever truly know? I’m afraid to say I doubt it. Surely no such discovery will be made in our lifetimes, if ever. So in my mind, all this talk about an intelligent designer is irrelevant, and our efforts are probably best spent in understanding the creation in which we find ourselves, until such a time as we can make our way to the end of the universe, find a window, see what’s outside and thereby begin to understand the context of the universe.

(to mod: I’ve tried to avoid politics & religion, but if you feel I’ve violated the forum rules [or that it’s just plain stupid], feel free to delete this message and we’ll call it even.)

2006-Jan-27, 02:03 PM
That's one of my favorite scenes in what is likely my favorite episode of FtEttM.

But yes. Without any evidence to show the context, and just like the metaphorical dead cat, all we can be really certain of is that there's a universe, and we appear to be in it.

2006-Jan-27, 02:37 PM
Haven't seen the series, but I like that a lot. Very good. Much more eloquent than my simplistic harping that faith and science need to stick to their areas of expertise.

2006-Jan-27, 02:40 PM
Yeah. The scene's just a bit longer though. Still, if their portrayal of Dr. Lee Silver is in any way accurate, I would have loved to take classes from him.

Disinfo Agent
2006-Jan-27, 02:46 PM
Interesting formulation of Kantian philosophy. ;)

Just one nitpick:

Consider that the universe is expanding. Therefore, there must be a space outside the universe in which it expands.Not necessarily.

My favorite Dead Cat Question is found in P.K. Dick's book Valis. :D

2006-Jan-27, 03:57 PM
My favorite Dead Cat Question is found in P.K. Dick's book Valis. :DHey! what was the question? :)

Disinfo Agent
2006-Jan-27, 04:04 PM
It's nothing like Gruesome's question, although it does have to do with theology. But you need to read the book to really appreciate it. It shows up right in one of the first chapters.

2006-Jan-30, 11:35 AM
Just one nitpick:
Not necessarily.

I suppose. Although I have a hard time comprehending an expanding field (the universe) doing so in the context of a space-less space. I'm sure it's a result of my objectivist look at things. If something's getting bigger, a larger area must exist to allow it to do so.

Disinfo Agent
2006-Jan-30, 02:43 PM
IThe size of the observable universe at that point was about 10^-35 meters. We don't know for certain how big the universe is (or was) beyond what can be observed, or even if it has a finite size.There should be many threads in the BAUT forums with discussions about the size of the universe.
Unfortunately, the search function doesn't seem to be working. :(

P.S. Even better link! (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?p=665574#post665574) :dance: