Rebirth of Reason

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Post 0

Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 8:22amSanction this postReply
Ok, I was out mowing the yard (where I do some of my best thinking), pondering all these new objectivist ideas in my mind, when I thought of something. The lucky chance of running out of gas gave me the excuse to run in here and share it with you guys before I go back out and finish mowing.

Growing up, I've heard that one of the arguments against evolutions and the big bang is the 2nd law of thermodynamics, that all systems tend towards equilibrium. I've been struggling with this thought, and then somethign popped into my mind. We headed towards equilibrium, just like a pendulum. Think of the big bang as the zero point. However, a pendulum doesn't stop there. At that point it is as max velocity and zero acceleration. From that point, it swing to the other side. So my theory is that the universe is some sort of colossal pendulum, with the big bang at the middle of each, gigantic swing. The energy on the "upswide" of the swing pushes evolution, and provides the energy for the organization of matter. Eventually, things begin to decay and fall apart, the universe collapses, and "comes out on the other side."

What do you think?

Jeremy Nix

Post 1

Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 8:13pmSanction this postReply
Well, it's an interesting idea, but it's based on an incorrect version of thermodynamics.

The way a pendulum works is that a force exists which pushes the system back to equilibrium. However there is nothing at the equilibrium point to make the pendulum stay at that point - it keeps swinging until the energy is dispersed through air resistance, etc.

The second law is what causes the energy (gravitational potential energy), stored in the pendulum at the top of it's swing, to disperse into the surroundings. The second law does not cause equilibrium (in which case it *would* have a pendulum-like effect) it causes energy dispersal. Once all the energy has been dispersed or diffused outwards, in a closed system, no more energy flow can occur. So when the universe eventually runs out, there will be no more energy flow, and there can be no 'other side' to that state.

The energy used by life, by biological systems and human technology, comes from harnessing this energy flow to provide a reverse enrgy flow to some systems. For example photosynthesis harnesses the dispersal of energy from the sun to store energy in ATP. This does not violate thermodynamics, as there is still a net dispersal of energy - energy is lost from the sun, and a small fraction of it is stored by biological systems.

So to summarise:
Creationists are wrong that life and evolution violate the second law. The second law doesn't tend toward equilibrium but rather for the dispersal of energy from where it is concentrated. After maximum dispersion, there wil be no more energy flow, so a 'pendulum' effect could not occur. However the process of life does act against the energy flow (by harnessing it) and so it will slow down the dispersal of energy.

Post 2

Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 11:50pmSanction this postReply
K, that makes sense. Thanks for clearing it up for me!

In other news, I had to sit through several speeches at my graduation ceremony today. All but one included references to God, and most of them talked about self-worth being what you do for others. I wanted to vomit.

Post 3

Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 9:46amSanction this postReply
Sorry about the speeches, but congrats on your graduation anyway!

Post 4

Monday, May 31, 2004 - 12:25amSanction this postReply
Ok, now I have a question related to evolution.

Today my dad was watching a video that had a bunch of creationists "debunking" evolution on it, while I was on the other computer and could not help but hear it in the background.

Most of their arguments were ridiculous. They repeatedly attribuated Darwin the "honor" of creating the evolutionary theory. I had to laugh at this, albeit quietly. But one argument I didn't know how to refute, and it deals with genetics. Evolution is the process of life becoming increasingly more complex. The only question is, where does the new genetic information come from? A reptile and a bird have vastly different genetic codes, so where's the discrepancy?

Any information regarding this, and other aspects of evolution vs. creation would be appreciated!


Jeremy Nix

Post 5

Saturday, June 5, 2004 - 3:42pmSanction this postReply


Talk Origins is where you will find a lot of the information you are seeking.

As to who "created" the theory of evolution, read this poem by Charles Darwin's Gradnfather, Erasmus Darwin.

Organic life beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.

Erasmus Darwin. The Temple of Nature.
It seems as though Erasmus had Charles beat to the ideas which he (Charles) is claimed to have created.

Not being all that interested in the theory of evolution, I can't begin to give an intelligable answer to how organisms with more genetic material come to exist, when they are contingent upon organism with less genetic material as being their progenators.
I suspect that my question is as flawed as my level of ignorance concerning the theory. 

Post 6

Sunday, June 6, 2004 - 8:45pmSanction this postReply
If anything, it is life that violates the pre-eminent, physical laws of the universe.

This is why each life form ultimately dies... Although life seems like a self-sustaining system, it is really only conditionally sustaining, so long as the conditions for its replenishment exist.  The universe's goal is for all things and systems to find a balancing equilibrium... We humans experience this as death.  

Yet, as life begets life, you have more and more forms tragically competing for continuing existence and pre-eminence.  This is why tree grow tall; they're really trying to outgrow each other in height, to absorb the most sunshine with their leaves. 

So basically, maintaining life indefinitely is hard for each organism, and eventually wear and tear take their toll and eventually death occurs.  Now, if you could find a way to maintain the proper replenishment/erosion ration, maybe "Dorian Gray" organisms could come into being.

But my point is that this condition of erosion or entropy (or "equilibrium" as you so pleasantly put it) is consistent with natural, universal, physical law. 

And in essence, each life form that has ever existed, is a thumbing of the nose at universal law.  Life is a wonderful and glorious form of spite, a rebellion, against nature itself.  Each of us is the perpetuation of an accident which should not continue to exist.

There is a famous comic book series called The Watchmen, in which an all-powerful quantum-powered superhero scientist named Dr. Manhattan, arrives at a shockingly heroic conclusion about human life, which he shares with his existentially distraught ex-girlfriend, while both of them walk across the surface of Mars, as Earth faces imminent nuclear armageddon, and as Manhattan has washed his hands of the entire human race, there on Mars. 
And so, for your interest or possibly not... here is the scene, in its entirety:  
Manhattan:  Laurie?  Are you alright?  I don't think your life's meaningless.
Laurie:  Oh no, well, obviously that's what you're going to say because anything I'm stupid enough to believe is true, you just disagree with it and...  Uh... You don't?
Manhattan:  No.
Laurie:  But... Listen, you've just been saying life is meaningless, so how can...?
Manhattan:  I changed my mind.
Laurie:  But why?
Manhattan:  Thermodynamic miracles... events with odds against, so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold.  I long to observe such a thing.
And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg.  Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that precise daughter... 
... until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged.
To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold...
that is the crowning unlikelihood.  
The thermodynamic miracle.
Laurie:  But... if that's me; my birth, if that's a thermodynamic miracle... I mean, you could say that about anybody in the world!"
Manhattan:  Yes.  Anybody in the world.
... But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget...
... I forget.
We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions.  Yet seen from another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away.
Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly.
Dry your eyes... and let's go home.
Man, I still love that.

Post 7

Sunday, June 6, 2004 - 8:47pmSanction this postReply
By the way, the single best thing on the real essence of life within the universe that I've ever, ever read is an illustrated book called The Way Life Works, by these writers named Hoagland and Dawson.

Definitely worth picking up.

Post 8

Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 9:33amSanction this postReply
Hello all,

Thanks for the replies. Sorry I haven't said anything but I've been away for the week. I'll be leaving again today but I'll be back Wednesday. I appreciate all the answers and they are helping me piece together everything.

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