Is the Earth Special or Not?

What you forget is that humans are capable of such a value distinction/bias whereas other things in the cosmos are not capable of thought.(because they are things).
While all things in the cosmos are unique. The earth is special… it’s home… Judgements of value are made on precisely such premises.

I was thinking more about false intuitions that humans have when it comes to calculating probabilities. For example, which of these poker hands is the least probable?

4 clubs, 8 hearts, 9 spades, 3 clubs, 10 diamonds
10 spades, Jack spades, Queen spades, King spades, Ace spades

The answer is that they are both equally improbable, but people tend to think the royal flush is much more improbable.


What does the concept of something being special have to do with probability?
Even the most common things can be special.

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Maybe it is happening a lot. I think the already existing life would dispose of it quickly though.


Nice hypothesis, but if so,

  1. We should be able to duplicate abiogenesis in the lab;
  2. We should see at least some of the intermediate abiogenesis steps in nature;
  3. Existing life can only process what looks like food. Cellulose is a well known organic material that cannot be broken down by a lot of organisms and is known to last a very long time in dry conditions.

I don’t see how any of these follow. I’ll expand on my point later. Enjoying family time. Take it easy.

14 posts were split to a new topic: George and Patrick Come to Terms?

Very often it is said that Earth is special because the probability the existence of an Earth-like planet is so improbable.

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So by your logic if we find another planet like earth with intelligent life… both planets would cease to be special?
Do you think life is special? And consciousness, which is the ability to experience life?
It’s a strange philosophy that reduces the value of things which are intrinsically priceless.

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Personally, I would think that both planets are special.

Absolutely. Atheists think many things are special. I think my parents are special, even though there are billions of parents out there. I don’t tie specialness to improbability.


There then… I agree with you on that.

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A curious conversation… To me the question is not whether there are other planets precisely like ours, or precisely like Mars, the question is whether there are other planets that have sustained life long enough to somehow develop conscious beings with the capacity to even discuss among themselves whether or not their planet is subjectively special to them. Your parents may be special despite billions of others - but that is not the kind of teleologically-tinged “meta-special” that was held before the Copernican principle and which is said to have been dislodged by it. Our biosphere would still be “personally” special to our species, if there were billions of other biospheres - but we don’t yet know whether or not there are - and if there are not… surely there is a worthwhile distinction here?

The probabilities of a royal flush hand and a specific random worthless hand may be identical, but there is only one royal flush and a plethora of unique but equally worthless hands. We don’t yet know how many each-“unique”-but-all-sustaining-the-life-of-conscious-being planets there are. The Copernican principle seems to be arguing that we used to think the Earth was a royal flush, for some vaguely defined value of importance, but now we know it’s just a random hand, of which there may innumerable others. (See, for example, Sagan calling Earth an “insignificant planet of a hum drum star” in the backwater of the Milky Way, or other similar remarks by similar figures)8

But the Copernican principle has, thus far, only dislodged the geospatial uniqueness of the Earth. We still only know of one unique biosphere, of one place where creatures can even have a “meta-special” conversation about whether or not they are themselves special. In fact we are learning how Earth’s “backwater” geospatial location within the Milky Way’s “circumstellar habitable zone” is in fact more amenable to that biosphere’s uniqueness (e.g. closer to the center of the galaxy, the greater density of stars and their GRB’s and supenova’s probably regularly sterilizes any nearby planets), or how its “hum drum star”, unlike many other types, is the right type needed for an energy output that’s stable enough over billions of years to support nearby life.

Now it may be that our galaxy, or our universe, is awash in biospheres - awash in intelligent creatures all subjectively claiming their planets as special. If this is true, than the Earth would not be “meta-special” in the sense that the Copernican principle is seen to be dislodging. But thus far we still do not have any evidence that this is true. And if it is not, would it be so suprising if the only planet with conscious creatures was in fact the “favorite” planet of a conscious creator? It’s not that I would be surprised if that were not the case - humans as a rule are quite full of themselves, after all, even in their theology - but it just seems premature to me to be assuming that it must be.


Yeah. That has become clear here already…

Seems like everyone agrees. Right?

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