Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Energy and Survival

Many are unsatisfied with the afterlife being a religious dogma, held without empirical evidence. Those of a more scientific bent have dubbed the belief in some afterlife "the survival hypothesis", hoping to give it such evidence.

One tack is to claim that Conservation of Energy supports the idea that some part of us remains alive eternally. The scientific principle says that energy is neither created nor destroyed, and the soul thus may be preserved.

However, this argument has many problems. First of all, claiming the soul (however that may be defined) is "energy" in this regard makes little sense. Many so misuse the term "energy", to find confusion is not surprising.

In science, energy means the capacity to do work. Now, some may define the soul as something like this (for instance the "life force") but most mean the mind or personality. To call this "energy" then does not follow. How is the sum of our thoughts, feelings etc. the "capacity to do work"?

However, as I said, the term "energy" is often used for something entirely different, more like the "life force" that was mentioned. We see this reflected even in popular culture like Star Wars, where the Force has been defined to be "an energy field created by all living things". The latter is just nonsense scientifically, though the Force is essentially like the chi or prana of the East, unsurprisingly as the Jedi are very Eastern influenced.

If by "energy" then the "life force" is meant, though, science called no longer be called to aid the hypothesis. Science long ago discarded this concept of the life force. Life is not a simple force, but a sum of many biochemical processes. In the same way, the soul as our mind is not a scientific idea either. The scientific consensus is that the mind comes from or is a part of the brain that dies along with it.

Assuming we granted that the mind is energy, however, that still does not mean it would survive death, because proponents of this idea neglect an important fact. Conservation of Energy does say that energy is not created or destroyed, true. It is, however, transformed. Death means that our energy is transformed from something animate to inanimate.

The search for an afterlife will have to rest on something else. 

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