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In Ominous Parallels, Leonard Peikoff illustrates statements that current scientists make: "Quantum Mechanics ... refutes causality, light waves refute logic, relativity refutes common sense, thermodynamics refutes hope".

I was able to follow the pairings since indeed Quantum Mechanics says that electrons jump somewhere without reason, that light waves are both waves and bullets, that relativity sais that gravitation is curved space (makes no sense because can't be visualized). But what about the last one, thermodynamics and hope ? I just don't see any connection. Can anyone explain?

asked Oct 13 '12 at 17:56

rarden's gravatar image


edited Oct 13 '12 at 18:00

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure he's referring to the notion of the "heat death" of the universe.


answered Oct 14 '12 at 13:11

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

A common mis-portrayal latched onto by some theists is that thermodynamics, specifically entropy is represented by deterioration. You build a house. If it is not actively maintained, it will crumble. Roads, automobiles, in fact just about any man-made material good breaks down and deteriorates over time.

Viewing that everything simply breaks down and deteriorates over the long haul is a pretty bleak forward outlook, which could easily be read as hopelessness an a general world-view.

This view, however, is derived not from the system as a whole, but looking at isolated sub-systems within it.

answered Oct 14 '12 at 16:10

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

Just to clarify the science a little, the Wikipedia article cited by John ("Heat death of the universe") contains a section titled, "Current status," which nicely summarizes the scientific issues regarding the proper scientific application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (pertaining to entropy). As Dream Weaver seems to be noting, one cannot properly apply the Second Law only to the Earth, because the Earth continues to receive huge quantities of energy from the Sun. One must include the Sun in the analysis, as well (and possibly effects from the rest of the Milky Way and beyond, also). In response to the Sun's energy, it is entirely possible for the Earth to continue to evolve toward increasing "order" (decreasing entropy) rather than decreasing order, for as long as the Sun continues to burn. The Sun, meanwhile, is widely predicted to burn out long before the universe as a whole ever comes close to reaching thermodynamic equilibrium and a correspondingly maximum entropy throughout (if it ever does). Those who worry about a predicted thermodynamic end of the universe (which is not necessarily endorsed by science, as the Wikipedia article explains) ought to be more concerned about the expected finite lifespan of the Sun, without which Earthly life as we know it would be unable to survive. Fortunately, we still have many billions years to go before the end of the Sun kills us all.

answered Oct 14 '12 at 22:30

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Oct 14 '12 at 22:43

Actually, I think we should be more concerned with the life expectancy of the Earth. I read an article once that stated when the continents reconnect in roughly 250,000 years, volcanic eruptions will release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, rendering the planet uninhabitable. There is plenty of time for us and many more future generations...but I'd say that's about it. I personally believe we'll be able to maintain the human race not just on another planet, but also live in self-sustainable spaceships far out in the future. My point is, we'll be fine.

(Oct 14 '12 at 23:32) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

I guess unless mankind can figure out how to light stars and engineer some source of the elements, even self-sustaining space arks will eventually run out of fuel. Entropy's a bi%$h... I find these arguments akin to "if you're gonna die, why bother living". I don't care about entropy, I am going to have the greatest time and achieve as much as I can when I can. If you are interested in this and have $2.99 in your pocket, see this doc http://amzn.to/SY2ebS There is a great second thing to watch afterwards from the BBC show Horizon called "What happened before the Big Bang".

(Oct 15 '12 at 10:05) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

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Asked: Oct 13 '12 at 17:56

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Last updated: Oct 15 '12 at 10:05