A Question of Beginnings (III)

February 1, 2012 at 22:45 | Posted in Everything | 2 Comments

This post is a response to AKH’s inquiries in regards to my former posts on the subject of the “end” of the universe (and the rejection of the study of the origin of the universe).

“In what scientific basis is the idea that the universe may be going towards an omnipresent death?”

Before I give you these bases, I want to respond to your entire comment, because those bases are not the point of the former posts.

The point of “A Question of Beginnings” was to abandon the scope of Science for the scope of Philosophy. The generalizations outlined here are proven by Science, but they were not discovered by Science; they were discovered before Science, and Science used them to interpret the world. Herbert Spencer’s Philosophical basis (which includes all types of evolution, from evolution of the species to evolution of planetary systems) is what I have outlined here. Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin were buddies, and Darwin discovered evolution “first”; but Darwin leaned on the biological/observational side of Science; Spencer stuck to philosophical deduction and reasoning for his concept of evolution. Science has already proven Herbert Spencer’s idea of species evolution, but Science is not advanced enough (or is too advanced for us to understand) this other type of Evolution. If you want to learn thermodynamics and other hard physics, you can (that’s where the proofs are), but I already tried, and I hated it. I’ll explain why I don’t necessarily need these in a moment.

“I don’t see how evolution would lead to perfection aside from coincidence, as it isn’t a being with intentions, but just a word used to refer to the principle that things change over large amounts of time as that which cannot be sustained (rather than that which is imperfect) is lost, and that which arises and is significantly beneficial remains.”

The first thing to note is that intention does not imply consciousness (I think you are assuming it means “a being put this in motion” but you have to remember that I never make that argument). Cannot an atom moving towards another atom because of an imbalance in the electron field be called having the intention of moving towards said atom? It’s a metaphor used by humans to understand why things move, especially ones that cannot mathematically or physically explain why they move. I can say it intends to move, but I cannot say that “it mathematically must move because…”, because I am not a Scientist. Being a philosopher and not a scientist, I feel justified in saying “intend” instead of some complex formula.

Here’s another metaphor (this one is used by chemistry professors):  Scientists (or at least, people trying to explain to us lay persons those tough scientific principles) often say atoms are “attracted” to each other with an imbalance in their electron fields, but that doesn’t mean they literally are attracted to one another, and does not imply they have consciousness. It’s just a method of comparison by which humans learn general things about earth. And that’s what Philosophy is:  generalizations about reality that can be applied through all fields in order to obtain knowledge. Some argue this is archaic but I say we lack it now.

I’d like to continue down the trail of the use of “intention.” If we trace back our race to animals, do animals have intentions? Their intention is not conscious, but it is willed, it is survival (the intent to survive). What about plants? Do they have intentions? Not conscious, certainly, and not willing. What kind of intention could a plant have, if it has no consciousness, will, or conscious will? The intention of a plant is purely biological:  the intention of the plant is the intent to grow, and nothing more. Trace it back further. What is the intent of inorganic matter? The atoms of inorganic matter have the “intent” of combining together to form more sustainable wholes. So their “intent” is purely physical, a phenomenon of some type of magnetism that can be explained by mathematics and the function of energy in matter.

And plus, if we look at intention as “determination to do something,” we definitely see why this is used as a metaphor:  because Evolution is very determinant (except where dissolution is prominent and makes “mistakes” in organisms that are evolving).

“after many years of evolution humans still struggle with happiness: it’s not beneficial to survival or the propagation of our genes because it makes us relaxed, despite the fact it’s something we want and many of us use it as a standard for how good a life is.”

When did I say that any utopia would be formed, that humans would evolve into “happy” beings? If you thought by perfection I meant some human type of perfection, I didn’t explain what I meant. So I’ll do it now. By perfection I meant the complete balance of energy and matter in the “system” called the universe. So I actually meant “stabilization.”

I know that I said that Herbert Spencer’s idea of a utopia being created was folly, because he earlier said that we would instead experience “omnipresent death”; I never said that a utopia was the correct view of Spencer because it isn’t. It doesn’t make sense with his other conclusion, and as you pointed out, Evolution doesn’t lead to it. So in that case Spencer was, indeed, wrong.

“Another example of what I’m trying to get across: humans have weak lower backs (they are easily injured), but if we somehow did not end up modifying our species using genetic engineering in the future, this would likely never go away, as it’s no criteria on which to select mates and it doesn’t usually affect people until middle age or older (if ever) and is not usually a barrier to survival.”

Humans are not the end product of evolution. That is a very moot point if you believe (as I believe and as I am sure you also believe) in an old earth. We can’t say we are the end product simply because we are the first species to have the ability to say so. Think about this:  why do species evolve into new species? Because the imperfections of the lower species cannot be cleaned out anymore (i.e. evolution cannot physically transform them into anything better within their species), so they must take on new forms that can take on more adaptations and take out more imperfections.

“Applying this to the universe, I see no reason energy and matter would be lead to equilibration, going by either the way evolution works or how evolution would lead the universe in that direction (what quality does it have that means evolution would lead the universe to it?).”

The quality is the movement of energy. Energy moves from a high-energy area to a lower-energy area, kind of like the movement in osmosis. That’s what Evolution is (Evolution isn’t some random biological phenomenon, as I stated in the post:  it is also a phenomenon occurring in inorganic objects like solar systems or stars, or even atoms). Thermodynamics, the study of temperature in a system, has proven that energy cannot be created or destroyed, and that it spreads out in a system so that a high concentration of energy (in the universe, there are multiple of these centers, but in thermodynamics you deal with one “system” which is something like a cylinder) produces a heated center and emanates throughout the cold outer areas until the entire area is equally occupied by energy. The only reason Evolution happened was because, somehow, an uneven distribution of energy ended up being in the universe. We’re being moved by a (still called) “divine” cause, which is beyond our control; that “divine “cause is NOT a god, but energy that moves us; it is energy that moves us to live, it is energy that moves us to move it along its way to equilibrium more quickly. The only true reason for existence that is not made up is the passage of energy through an imbalanced system, but that isn’t a reason at all, more like a circumstance.

So to respond to that question at the beginning (though I may have responded somewhat already), thermodynamics is the basis of what I am saying. I am not versed in thermodynamics; what I do know is that it posits that temperature exists, that heat is a byproduct of the transference of energy from high to low areas of concentration, and that an equilibrium of energy in a system is what is naturally supposed to occur over time.

In conclusion:  Spencer said that the truth of Religion and the truth of Science could be combined:  that is, the “Unchangeable Essence” of the universe, which religion called god and science called “law,” were the same thing, but that science described it more empirically, religion more generally. Philosophy, though, is the best way to view “law” or god, and we see through its scope that the general and the empirical can be combined to form a vertical plane of knowledge (i.e., one that can be applied on both macro- and micro- levels, and everything in between) that can be transposed onto other fields in order to make generalizations to be filled in by fact and to be overturned if the case be necessary.

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  1. Oh, cool. :3

    That’s an interesting take on things, though the science in regards to the universe could change later (science does that sometimes), what does this point to? A spherical universe of energy and perfectly arranged matter?

    I see where you were coming from after the whole “intention” thing, and although I like to use scientifically accurate terms, I guess using language that’s easier for WORTHLESS COMMONERS to understand is a good thing since we’re on a blog and you want to communicate to a group of people, and a neutral one at worst – language does evolve after all, and I actually have a second definition in my mind of the word “attract” referring to when something (especially a magnet) is drawn towards something else, with no intention involved.

    Also, you know more about thermodynamics than me. I don’t know if I’d be able to grasp it easily, I’d probably be in a similar situation to you, but I don’t have enough interest to begin looking into it.

  2. Yes, the science is changing at such a rate that I don’t even know what it means anymore (Quantum Physics is ridiculous: even if I understood it I bet it has already been surpassed). It’s so specialized now that I can’t grasp any of it. So I turn to philosophy instead.

    “A spherical universe of energy and perfectly arranged matter?” Pretty much!

    The reverse phenomenon in language is when scientific words become common: magnetism becomes the word “attraction” when it is implied between two people. So yeah, it goes both ways, and in all it does help us understand the world easier, even if it is partially incorrect.

    I really don’t know much about thermodynamics. I’m going to get a book on it someday, hopefully soon, so that I can actually understand it. The last book I had on it compared the phenomenon to molecular science, so I didn’t get it at all.


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