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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

Future spirituality

24 11 10 - 08:13

If history is anything like the past (heh) we will see ourselves go through a series of cycles, revisiting the same conflicts in an attempt to solve them. With each one, we get closer to a solution, sometimes paradoxically by learning what does not work.

One of these cycles will be religion, which is currently recovering from a 2,000-year flirtation with middle eastern dualism.

But religion, even for us skeptics, is tempting. It makes people happier. They seem to be more inclined to live sane lives. It gives them a center and a goal that transcends immediate politics and social pressures. And in pushing back social pressures -- the original form of sick human bullshit -- religion is pure nihilism of the active type.

But where do we find a new religion? Some think in quantum physics:

The second law, one of the most famous in physics, states that order cannot come about spontaneously. Work must be done to create it, and that work (in the technical, physical sense of measurable amounts of energy moving things around) is converted into heat in the process. Since heat is, at bottom, the disorderly movement of molecules, the order created by the work done is more than counterbalanced by the molecular disorder of the newly liberated heat.

Maxwell’s demon, however, overcomes that. The homunculus in Maxwell’s original thought experiment could sort the molecules of air found in two connected boxes according to their velocities. It controlled a trap door between the boxes and allowed only fast-moving (ie, hot) molecules through in one direction and only slow-moving (ie, cold) ones through in the other. When the molecules had been thoroughly sorted in this way the temperature difference between the boxes could, so the theory went, be employed to do useful work in the way that the hot and cold parts of a steam engine do.

The search for real physical systems that behave like Maxwell’s demon has gone on ever since. In 1929, though, Leo Szilard, a Hungarian physicist, added a wrinkle. He realised that Maxwell had failed to consider the energy which the demon would require to decide whether a molecule was moving fast or slowly. This binary decision is equivalent to one bit of information. Storing this bit, so that it can be acted on, requires energy. Szilard calculated that at room temperature one bit of information must take at least three thousand-billion-billionths of a joule of work to store. Not a huge amount, but enough to balance the equations and restore the laws of thermodynamics to their pristine state.

Szilard’s observation had an interesting implication, which was that information is, itself, a type of energy—an observation somewhat analogous to Einstein’s, 24 years earlier, that mass is a type of energy. - The Economist

Rather, information and matter convert to and from energy. This brings with it a number of interesting suggestions.

If the ordering of matter and energy is information, and this information is a counterpart to energy that keeps it from entropy, the transaction of information in the world becomes a primary goal, not one secondary to matter and energy itself. The trade between energy and information keeps the energy in motion.

In this case, the persistence of patterns including consciousness may have more of a role in the universe than we thought, and may be more persistent.

Food for thought.

five comments

From observing evolution and how life came from matter which was otherwise lifeless, it seems that the role of consciousness in the universe is more important than most seem to think. The basic trend of the progression of the universe seems to be into further and further novelty, and consciousness, and by extension language, writing, culture, art, etc. are examples of the universe becoming more and more complex. So our role, assuming that we survive and are successful, is to create more complexity in the universe through spreading our seed and then give birth to even further complex things. To think that the wonder of consciousness, which is birthed from the universe, is entirely separate from it apart from the senses, is pretty hard for me to believe. The real question then is just how much and in what ways it is connected to the outside world. Andrew - 24-11-’10 13:57
Information is the catalyst, such as the electromagnetism between atoms or the spark between neurons, that guides cause and effect. To think that all the pieces of our universe shape it to such a definite form is impressive. What lies beyond the 15 billion light-year long range of visible light, which is still expanding? Humans must seek the void. All hail the Cause for it has created Effect and let every being cause its due effect! Anti-Bacterial - 24-11-’10 16:07
<span class='registered'>Felix</span>
"Mind or thought is not yours or mine. It is our common inheritance. There is no such thing as your mind and my mind (it is in that sense mind is a myth). There is only mind, the totality of all that has been known, felt and experienced by man, handed down from generation to generation. We are all thinking and functioning in that thought sphere just as we all share the same atmosphere for breathing."
-- UG Krisnamurti
Extracted from http://www.ugkrishnamurti.com/ugkrishnamurti-net/Final_Remembering.htm Felix (Email ) (URL) - 25-11-’10 08:24
Spirituality is not religion
"But religion, even for us skeptics, is tempting. It makes people happier. [...]"

Or it makes them automatons whith a prejudice toward predefined, watered down value systems inherited from people conquered by said middle eastern dualists. Spirituality is not religion - 27-11-’10 04:44
What I mis in the article and the comments, is a definition of information. Usually this is defined as the 'degrees of freedom' of a system, the independent cöordinates in which the system can be described. The important feature here is that it is part of a description of a system, rather than of 'the system itself'. Saying that information is somehow constitutive to reality is in this sense a form of idealism, the description of the system is identified with 'the system' itself.

One interesting recent developement in the philosophy of physics is interpreting quantum mechanics as consisting of three basic information-theoretic constraints (look for the CBH theorem if you're interested). In this description, information becomes, in a sense, the fabric of reality.

This is still a long way from reconciling science with some the tendencies of some of you to religious 'thought'. Reading about this apparent need for religion, and the attempts to unite its pathetic features with scientific thought, is something indeed beyond my comprehension. Simon (Email ) - 30-11-’10 13:35

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