citrakayah: (Default)
Some atheists and agnostics wonder at why others persist in religion, labeling it foolish or indicative of lack of brainpower. But as I write this, I am all too aware of what I think is one of the main reasons: a sense of eternity.

The idea of an end to existence is a rather terrifying one. I believe in no deity, soul, or afterlife, and as a result I can only hold on to a small hope that I'm wrong. Irrational, yes. But for some people, the knowledge that they will one day die, and that everybody they know and love will face complete oblivion, may well be too much. Perhaps religion is the only thing that keeps them from going insane. I resort to a quest to leave something behind. I am very much aware of one basic fact, and that is that my life is ultimately worth very little, at least on a very large scale. I may have some innate value, but I will die someday, and while the point at which I die may matter very much to me, the objective worth of my life at the planetary scale is determined more by what I can do for others and what I can leave behind than by my own worth without anything contributing to it.

I don't really fear many things, at least not in the dreading sense of the word. Ticks, decay, and loud noises can scare me, but I don't dread them. I do, however, dread the second law of thermodynamics. If it is correct, and the amount of matter and energy in the in universe is finite, then the universe shall eventually die a heat death. The stars- all of them- will die, and everything else will too, as the amount of energy in the universe slowly becomes useless. There might be some matter floating around, even after black holes start swallowing up massive amounts of matter, but even if there is there will be no one to see it.

I think that's another reason why some people look to religion. If you believe in a never-ending universe, or something that persists beyond the end, I suppose it makes things easier. Humans, I think, do not deal very well with lack of constancy. I myself deal with this by hope.

There are several potential ways to avoid a heat death. First, the second law of thermodynamics might be wrong. That would be very pleasant but is something I find rather unlikely. Second, there might be ways of getting around it. I personally hope that the multiverse is infinite, and that there are ways to reach new, young universes (and, of course, that we will find them). When that happens, the system won't be closed anymore. It will always expand, because there are an infinite number of universes to gain order from and bleed heat off into- or universes to simply move to.

My secondary hope is the collapse of the false vacuum won't actually cause the extinction of all life but provide us with a slightly different set of physics, which would include exploitable loopholes in the second law of thermodynamics.

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Citrakāyaḥ

November 2016

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