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Aaron Kinney (M, 42)
Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Jun 18, 2007
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Kill The Afterlife
The Radical Libertarian
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    God vs. The Second Law of Thermodynamics
    The Law of Conservation of Energy, aka the first law of thermodynamics, is a very fundamental part of physics, and is instrumental to our understanding of the universe.

    But it also has profound theological implications. The second law of thermodynamics is often thrown around by God lovers as an attempt to justify their faith empirically. But little do they realize that to assume one law of thermodynamics is to assume the whole set. And the first law of thermodynamics damns their invisible friend to the dustbin of mythology.

    The first law of thermodynamics says that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only change forms. Stephen Hawking phrased it beautifully when he said (to paraphrase), "Matter can never be created; it has nowhere to come from. And it can never be destroyed; it has nowhere to go."

    The matter and energy in this universe can change forms, but can never be created, nor destroyed. And this makes the notion of a creator superfluous since he has nothing to create. His work was done for him ahead of time by the very nature of existence itself.

    It is very interesting to look back before we discovered this law and see that, throughout time, the mystics have insisted that their creator is an eternal being. Yet in the light of today's knowledge, we now know that the universe itself (the alleged creation), is eternal. The truth is a bit less complex, yet a bit more awe-inspiring, than the age-old creator fantasy.

    Mon, Jun 25, 2007  Permanent link

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    alborz     Tue, Jun 26, 2007  Permanent link
    It's really startling to really think about the "beginning" of the universe (if that's even a correct way of putting it). There's nothing like grappling with the idea of existence and nonexistence to quell any doubts that there's a lot we don't know. Our minds just can't handle it. There's a whole world of reality at that edge - at the edge of existence and nothing. A whole world of information that we can't even begin to imagine.

    And yet, does it really make a difference? Why would we assume that we, insignificant specks in the universe, could possibly understand it all?

    We're just curious that's all.
    josh     Tue, Jun 26, 2007  Permanent link
    And yet, does it really make a difference?

    absolutely. the better our understanding of our universe, the better understanding we have of our own world. the better understanding we have of our own world, the better we can evolve in it. we are taking it one step at a time of course, however always striving for the ultimate piece of the pie.
    aaron kinney     Wed, Jun 27, 2007  Permanent link
    al,

    I understand where your coming from, but in regards to this:

    Our minds just can't handle it.


    I strongly disagree. More specifically, I will concede that we may dont understand it all **at the moment**, but there is nothing to support the contention that we can never even hope to understand it, even in principle.

    And this "nothing" that you speak of has never existed, to be sure. While our universe **as we know it** had a beginning, everything we know about reality points to a universe that is comprised of eternal matter and energy. If we are to assume or propose anything about nothingness, we can only support the proposition that nothingness is a concept that has never existed in reality.

    People love to ponder the question "why is there something rather than nothing?" and it is a valid question, but the reverse form of this question is equally valid. What I mean, is that there is no reason to assume that nothingness would be a default or more likely outcome as opposed to something-ness.

    Obviously Subtle,

    I agree with you 100% that it "absolutely" makes a difference. Information is the most valuable resource we have (aside from time itself). And the better information sets we have, the more efficiently and effectively we can use our time.

    Can we ever hope to discover everything that there is to discover about reality? I believe so. But I also believe that when that day comes, it will be a bittersweet victory.
    alborz     Thu, Jun 28, 2007  Permanent link
    I don't think evolution or life have any inherent value. Life is merely an arrangement of matter which we happen to place value on because we happen to be arranged to have it. In order for life to continue, it needs to evolve in reaction to other living matter and non-living matter (which suggests that non-living matter evolves as well). Living matter by nature, regardless of its intelligence or desires, wants to continue living; non-living matter wants to continue not living.** In this respect, placing importance on life is the ultimate form of anthropomorphism - which itself is just another evolutionary driver.

    I think curiosity is more the defining characteristic of humanity than the desire to evolve. It has been much more responsible for our evolution than our desire. Whether or not we desire to evolve, or even our evolution itself, does not matter - it is already set in motion through our curiosity.

    Another way of putting "does it really make a difference?" is: to whom or what does it make a difference? Well it only makes a difference to us. If/when we stop evolving and cease to exist, the rest of being will continue to evolve in and to our absence.

    Aaron, regarding nothingness - I think eternity presents the same problem to our faculties as zero. That we may at some point understand the infinity of the universe, suggests our achieving infinity in our mental capacities or otherwise. Which again, is something I find hard to comprehend...at the moment.

    Anyway, I feel like I'm getting too big for my britches. Embracing curiosity is the way to go for me.

    ————————————
    **(This could change as it must have done so a few billion years ago on our planet.)
    meganmay     Thu, Jun 28, 2007  Permanent link
    Aaron-

    I think what you may be neglecting to consider, or maybe just mention, is that "we" have only existed on planet Earth for a one millionth of a millisecond of evolutionary time, so if by "we" you mean human beings, i highly doubt the possiblity of us ever comprehending "it all."

    This may not be precisely what Al is saying, but if we understand ourselves as a process of intereacting bits of matter, as well as a part of an evolutioanry process whereby this matter is reconfigured into different forms over long periods of time, it may rash to assume that we, as humans, could ever fully understand ourselves because whoever "we" are, is in no way, shape, or form concrete.

    im also not sure that you even need to ask why we are here. I think it's much more interesting to think about how we are changing as evolutionary time goes on and question how much we can play a role in the universe at large.
    folkert     Thu, Jun 28, 2007  Permanent link
    Word to that.
    aaron kinney     Thu, Jun 28, 2007  Permanent link
    al,

    I don't think evolution or life have any inherent value.

    Well you have to put it in context. Value only exists in terms of a valuER. So the real answer is that life only has an inherent value to the living. In other words, our lives are only valuable to ourselves.

    Aaron, regarding nothingness - I think eternity presents the same problem to our faculties as zero. That we may at some point understand the infinity of the universe, suggests our achieving infinity in our mental capacities or otherwise. Which again, is something I find hard to comprehend...at the moment.

    I agree with you here, more or less. Zero and infinity are mind bending concepts. If you really want a great mindfuck, you should check out Everything Forever. Its amazing and it talks quite a bit about nothingness and infinity. It will certainly expand your perspective!

    I like your curiosity and your attitude of questioning everything. That philosophy is the key to progress :)

    Megan,

    I think what you may be neglecting to consider, or maybe just mention, is that "we" have only existed on planet Earth for a one millionth of a millisecond of evolutionary time, so if by "we" you mean human beings, i highly doubt the possiblity of us ever comprehending "it all."

    It does seem doubtful, to be sure. And of course, the more we know, the more we know we DONT know. And while our minds may currently not be able to understand everything, there is no reason to think that some kind of consciousness (post-human perhaps?) could understand everything in principle.

    im also not sure that you even need to ask why we are here. I think it's much more interesting to think about how we are changing as evolutionary time goes on and question how much we can play a role in the universe at large.

    Agreed. In the words of superfamous, "word to that" :)
     
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