You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.
I'm sorry, Rad Man,
but if someone came to me while I was grieving the loss of a loved one, and said the things your article says, he would feel the "heat" alright---of my shocked anger or of my laughing retort. Depending on his manner I guess.
I don't look at living (nor dying) with such a cold sterile lack of feeling. And I wonder why anyone does.
This time I agree with you, Brenda. The death of a loved one is not the time for truth and fact; it is the time for comfort and emotional support. Truth and fact can go out the window, unneeded and unwanted.
Best get a priest to do the speech. They deal in emotions, not facts, and are much better at keeping a straight face while standing next to a corpse and "explaining" that it is still alive.
Of course, let that priest go on too long, let his lies become too egregious, and "he would feel the "heat" alright---of my shocked anger or of my laughing retort". There is a limit to what a person can take, after all, even when grieving and wanting to assuage the grief of others at the same time.
But, if they came to you instead, with fantastic stories of invisible super friends who will decide to send that persons soul to eternal damnation or heaven, that is perfectly acceptable?
Buddhism described the same thing millenia ago.
I agree, that is beautiful. But I'm curious. What is beauty to particles of matter? Why does a colony of cells need to be consoled? To be assured that the life of their passed loved one had an impact? Why does a biological machine care about what became of the energy that once animated another biological machine? Aren't the emotions that we feel while grieving a loved one nothing more than artifacts of our evolution? Artifacts of the altruistic behaviors that evolved to maximize the propagation of our inherently selfish genes? If we're all about consoling grief through real truth, should that not be part of it?
"Don't worry, as you mourn the passing of your loved one, just realize that those emotions you feel are simply chemical happenings in your brain that made the physical existence of both you and your loved one possible, and they will subside in time and you will feel better."
And wouldn't words that put a poetic spin on the hard truths of this universe just be a kind of manipulation? A way to invoke the chemical reactions in the brain that finds something particularly beautiful or intellectually pleasing? Because the actual hard truth is that once someone is dead they no longer serve the purpose they were meant to serve. It doesn't really matter what happened to the energy that once animated them because their purpose was best served as an individual within their lifetime if and only if they helped propagate the species through either direct procreation or through the altruistic behaviors that assisted the procreation of others of the species. Isn't that the real truth?
Not by a long shot. The energy served as an individual not only served the one, but also served many before them and will continue to serve many others long afterwards. That's the truth.
That's why I specifically said "their purpose was best served as an individual". Their physical form can no longer sustain the energy that animated it previously. Yes, that energy continues on, but no longer as that individual and no longer serving that individual's needs. That matter and energy only took the form of that one individual for that short amount of time. And I totally agree the whole thing is beautiful. But it's that right there that I really want you to address. What is beauty in this context? You said you found that beautiful. Explain that. We're talking about reducing the totality of someone's life to being nothing more than the matter and energy that once formed them. So, what is beauty in that scenario if we're really being honest here?
Then, it would appear as if the very definition of individual is congruent with ones purpose in life as an individual. Well done.
Yes, that is obvious. Well done.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. It can range from observing the extremely gruesome and terrifying to the colors of a rainbow against an azure sky.
I would suspect the beauty of it was obvious, at least to me; the simplicity of understanding reality facing up to the false platitudes of myths and superstitions, especially in light of losing a love one within the confines of that understood reality.
It certainly has far more effect and relevancy for closure of those left grieving.
Right, I get that, but this is the problem I always seem to run into here. You and many others often only present your worldview in contrast to a spiritual worldview. I'm only given bits and pieces of it in how this or that makes more sense to you than the alternative explanation. But I never really get a fully fleshed out explanation that stands on its own. Like your comment that 'beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'. Let's break that down from your perspective. Who is the beholder? Isn't the beholder in and of themselves just that matter and energy in that particular form in that particular moment in time? Okay, so what constitutes beauty to that biological machine? This beauty that is so 'obvious' to you? Describe this 'obvious beauty' in the context of your materialism viewpoint? You're speaking of beauty as if it's this tangible, physical thing that differs from one individual to the next, and is obvious, at least to you. So, without basing it in contrast with my worldview, just explain it in the context of your own.
We do no such thing, it is the believers who defend their myths and superstitions, which they call their "spiritual worldview" in stark contrast to reality. Facing up to reality is not a problem.
Would that be the alternative explanation which includes that very spiritual worldview?
Not true, reality does in fact stand on it's own. You simply don't accept it due to your spiritual worldview.
Anyone whose sense are functioning.
I already did. Pay attention.
This thread is clearly speaking of an alternative worldview by placing it in the context of a generally spiritual situation by replacing the role typically filled by a priest/preacher with a physicist.
No, you didn't explain. And I know because I am paying attention. Your statement that 'that is beautiful' contrasts with your staunchly material worldview as you have presented it to me. Please resolve the conflict and help me understand. Reconcile your statement with your worldview. Flesh it out and show me how it makes sense. Typically, everything we are as humans, including our emotions, are just physical/chemical happenings of a material brain in the context as you see it. We are nothing more than that. Yet that 'reality' isn't addressed here.
Reality is beautiful. Have you ever read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman? Understanding our reality is beautiful. Obviously there is a little tongue and cheek here, but understanding and excepting reality is beautiful. I think you understand reality, but have not yet excepted it.
Sorry, but there's very little "spiritual" if any in thermodynamics.
That would be your problem, not mine.
There is no conflict, Luke.
Oh, I get it I think. I had to read it very carefully to understand what your not getting.
You see no beauty in the 'reality'. I do imagine it's a little hard to grasp when you are thinking up to this point is that you will be with God in a wonderful paradise after you die. It's hard to swallow what can be beautiful once that is taken away.
Excepting and understand the reality of how our energy pushes up flowers and how our very being has changed the hearts and minds of those still alive is beautiful.
You have just provided the context. Yes, we are nothing more than the physical/chemical and biological happenings of a material brain. That IS reality. Why do you have a problem with that? Why is it so difficult to compare events or objects around us as anything else but a resulting interaction between that and our brains?
I think the biggest concern I have about my funeral is that everyone there focus on my LIFE, not my death. I know what spiritual issues will be addressed at my funeral, and how they will be presented, but ultimately, I want the focus to be on how I lived my life, and whether I brought goodness to the world while I lived.
That's the way it should be.
8 years ago when my mom was loosing her long fight with cancer she said some strange things to me. She never complained of pain, I asked many times and she always said no. It had been months since she had eaten, but she was swollen up like a ballon anyway. She was the most optimistic person I had ever meet when not drinking and she had been not drinking for at least 10 years.
She look at me and said "RAD, when someone asks if my struggle was painful tell them yes." And then "what a life?"
I'm not so sure about this Rad Man.
I doubt I can be less orderly than I already am.
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