TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

If certain scientific laws remain consistent, is reincarnation / rebirth logical?

The theory of relativity E=MC^2 indicates that energy can be converted into matter. Energy can also be neither created nor destroyed. Due to the fact that these principles seem to hold true within the infinite nature of math, physics, and the universe, is re-incarnation not a logical idea based on our current level of understanding? For example, if when i die my energy can never be destroyed, and can be converted into mass, would there not be an instant within this infinite cycle that my energy will convert to mass and replay every possible scenario of existence possible?

Share:
  • Comment deleted

    • Mar 21 2013: However, if the universe is infinite in nature, over time, there would statistically (no matter how minuscule) be a time when the universe will collapse on itself forcing planets to collide and there will me another (out of million, billions, trillions of big bangs) when the energy originally from the soil your body, brain, ext will reform into another being. I personally have a lot of trouble envisioning this being that we as humans are programmed to think in a linear patter based on time with our lives taking place between conception and death. The thing that baffles me though, is if energy is infinite, no matter how small the probability is, or how long it takes, every possible occurrence that can take place across the infinite plane will take place. I have never heard of anything similar to this mentioned, or even disputed, and struggle to figure out whether it is a problem in my understanding of physics, or a valid idea.
      • Mar 21 2013: Luke,

        Consider,
        We do not know what actually is happening in the universe.
        Theories only.
        The universe is unknown to humans.
        Nothing is proven that the Big Bang is real.
        Energy might or might not be infinite.
        The speed of light may be unrestrained,
        We know so little and guess so much.

        No one has come back from death to dance a jig.
        (Except of course in religious books and tales.)

        Laws of Physics and valid ideas are true, until their not.

        Newton's law is taught today in schools.
        It is wrong.
        Everyone knows it is wrong.
        But, it works in the classroom to get the point across.

        Why bother to try and teach something that is really hard to learn,
        if it will never be used and quickly be forgotten.
    • Mar 21 2013: ZX,

      You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
      Thank you.
  • thumb
    Mar 23 2013: Actually what science has been trying to do is explain religion.
  • Mar 21 2013: Probably, but information does not survive once the brain is destroyed (i.e. dies). Depending on how you plan on being interred you will contribute more or less to the next cycle of existence.
    For example, if you are buried in a hermetically sealed casket, you will probably become soap and stay removed from the environment for several hundred years.
    If you plan on being cremated, you can immediately be useful to grit the walk when its icy.
    You can be killed and eaten by a bear, drown and be eaten by fish, or be lost in the wilderness and become fertilizer for plants.
    Information (that is what you probably think of as yourself) does not survive this transition back to remedial matter so no - reincarnation and rebirth are not logical regardless of what you may think relativity may offer.
    • Mar 21 2013: Gordon,
      It's a mistake to think that your thoughts and feelings, memories, etc. are all lodged away in your physical brain. Rupert Sheldrake gives a good example of this. It goes like this. The brain is like a radio or TV set. You don't think that the program your watching is coming from the TV itself do you. Nor can you go back to the TV the next day and find any trace of the program within the physical parts of the TV. ... Who am I to tell you that there are radio waves coming from a far off place sending invisible signals through the air that your watching and listening to. If you damage a tube in the TV, the picture does not come through, but the signal is still there. The brain is more like a sense organ for thought. .. an antenna if you will.

      Sheldrake was recently deleted from youtube recently by TEDx as being unscientific. You can find some discussions going on here and the lecture if you google it.
      • Mar 24 2013: There is a huge difference between organizing a coherent signal and broadcasting it as a transmitter and attempting to decode the signals that are produced in the operation of the transmitter. By that I mean it is impossible to decode what a transmitter is doing by examining the various electrical impulses that arise while the transmitter is creating the signal to transmit. Remove the antenna and it is incomprehensible.
        There is now and never has been any indication that the brain has a section that creates a coherent signal for transmission.
        Nor is there any indication that there is a section of the brain that can receive a signal and decompose it into coherent thought.
        Experiments to identify such a process have not shown any result.
        I have looked at Sheldrake's work and my conclusion is that his theories are unfalsifiable, his experimental technique very suspect and most of his data cherry picked to suit his own purposes.
        Experiments that have been done correctly do not show the predicted result.
        A real scientist would start looking for a better theory rather than claiming to be a visionary who is being persecuted.
        This guy is a scientific hack of the worst kind.
        • Mar 25 2013: Gordon,

          The allegory with the TV set is not pointing to the "sender or receiver" within the physical brain. .. but the signal itself. The spiritual element of the human being as existing free from the physical brain.
          The idea that "thoughts themselves" are "signals" that travel upon what Sheldrake calls the "morphic field" is nothing new. Esoterics have been saying exactly this for a few hundred years. So Sheldrake is picking up on this same phenomena and has given it a new name, one that sound more scientific ... I don't know much at all about Sheldrake. Never heard of him before I came over this big discussion on TED about him. It would be interesting to hear more of what you weren't satisfied with from his research.

          That the brain might be a sense organ for thought rather than a creator of thought is an interesting postulate.

          Should it ever be confirmed (via NDE for example) that the human being does in fact have a spiritual body that survives the death of the physical body, ...then .. it isn't such a big step to postulate that thoughts themselves arise from another place than the physical brain. If it could it be proven true that the spirit can exist free from the physical body, then why can't thoughts also exist free from the physical body..?
  • Mar 21 2013: Physical law is the methods we use to understand what we perceive and how various observations (generally) co-exist. Mathematics and measurement are just one of the many ways to better understand and document these relationships, why then would it be absurd to apply these to the energy of our consciousness. There are many ways to view and translate what we perceive, and we use these various tools to help in our understanding. I don't see why measurement should be ruled out when trying to better understand our place in the world we perceive?
    • Mar 21 2013: Luke,
      It may be that in the far distant future that we can actually develop tools to measure consciousness. I have even heard of some people managing to contact spirit beings on the computer ....

      I think our tools are far too "physical" But I also think that we have it in our own ability to make contact with souls that have crossed over the threshold. If one is open to such ideas. That this realm at all exists. There is not much room in the materialistic sciences of the day for such ideas. Although there are some asking such questions.

      I think that NDE will one day prove this realm of existence. ... That our consciousness survives physical death.
  • Mar 21 2013: Hi Luke,
    To try to apply physical laws to a spiritual state of existence is in my mind already starting off on the wrong foot.
    Why should we at all need to explain a purely spiritual state of "consciousness" in weights and measures that only can apply to the physical side of existence. I read a comment here about the " weight of the soul when one dies" It's an absurdity to think of the soul or spirit in that way.

    But the theory of evolution, drawn out to its furthest consequence, would be only natural to say that the spiritual part of our being evolves and develops just as our physical part evolves and develops.

    When you die, your consciousness continues on in another form / plane of existence. It does come back to the earth, again and again in another human form. Not an animal form. That would be evolving backwards.

    Rupert Sheldrake is (or was) a pretty hot item on TED these days. He has be censored off TED. He has some interesting things to say. . . You might not find him on TED though. Search the net or youtube. Otherwise there are lot of other interesting things about reincarnation.
  • thumb
    Mar 21 2013: This can easily be tested by weighing people as they die. The loss in mass times the square of the speed of light would be the energy of the "soul" that allegedly would be reincarnated.

    Despite the famous claim of the soul weighing 21 grams a weight loss hasn't been detected. Thus according to your own logic reincarnation does not take place.
  • thumb
    Mar 21 2013: Yes, we call it life
  • thumb
    Mar 21 2013: I believe that reincarnation (or alter-incarnation because time is not what most think it is) is most logical.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Mar 21 2013: Years ago I read many such books, though I've not read that one. When I lived in Maine, my neighbor's 2-year-old son talked about his last life, when he wore pretty dresses with full skirts, and how the family roles were changed in this life, though some of the players were the same. He said he lived in Georgia and it was all worked out (the family structure) before he was born. He wanted to be with his sister again and she wanted to be with him again. They all decided together - the mom, dad, sister, and brother. How a child little more than a toddler living in Maine could even know that Georgia was a state, or have a fully developed concept of what it was like to be a Southern Belle defies cultural norms. And how such a child could articulate such things as deciding before being born is impressive.

        I've also had experiences that I believe were alternate-life awareness - but nothing detailed enough for me to go back and check out. I wish I had thought to ask the young boy some detailed questions.
  • Mar 21 2013: Why not keep religion and science separate? Do you really believe that a tree falling in the woods makes no noise if no one hears it? Myself - I sort of like the Stoics and Meister Eckhart. Wait - that's not what you were talking about, but maybe that's the point. Remember that Einstein was very religious - Of course, Little Al from Princeton had other interests, and he did avoid the Presidency of Israel. Was the Buddha really what we would call religious in America? He sought to avoid reincarnation. You and he both have thought he was not reincarnated. So how great is the disagreement really? Armand McGill contends information in India used to be transmitted in ways beyone the normal five(5) senses. Okay - I'm not going to buy into some psuedophenomonology, but I do believe that we and all are parts of a whole. I don't know if that makes one a Stoic or Gnostic or reader of Meister Eckhart, but it makes sense to me. Maybe I get stuck in part of the Rig Veda, and i don't quite catch up with Mithrah and Mitra and Zoraster and Constantine the Great and Akenaten except when I do. Einstein tells us "religion is not for nothing." Except he probably said it in German.
  • Mar 21 2013: Luke Anderson,

    The theory of relativity E=MC^2 is only a theory. Not necessarily a truth. Not something I would bet on.
    There are many theories in the world. They probably contain energy themselves. A semi-colon or just
    a period both contain energy to be converted. Do these theories convert the energies themselves,
    or sub-contract the process. We can only guess about these things.

    Ole' Einstein was a wily animal. He grew up a normal kid, but had that job in the patent office, where he
    read other peoples patents. What a wonderful way to get ahead in life. Read, think and grow rich.

    So my answer is No.
    ===
    For some 2,000 years now, governments and religious organizations have hidden away peoples ideas
    for the advancement of humankind. Today, copy-writes and patents protect the intellectual properties
    of others. It is big business world-wide. It also slows down the advancement of humankind.

    Many governments impose penalties for the actual creation of ideas.
    Using ideas of others without permission of the supposed creator could result in fines and jail.

    During the inquisition, scientists were tortured and killed by their church(s) and government(s).
    ===
    But, Luke, don't stop. Keep asking questions. We all need to see the light.
    • thumb
      Mar 21 2013: You have misunderstood the word "theory". In a scientific context a theory is a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science.

      Both of Einstein's theories of relativity have been tested thoroughly. For instance your GPS wouldn't work without taking account for time dilation caused by gravity and relative motion.
      • Mar 21 2013: Faisel,

        You are right. But it is a narrow piece of pie.

        You may be wrong in your reliance upon the "well-confirmed" part.

        Like Newton and many other Scientist-adventurers, Einstein's theories
        leave much to be desired. Much that "may or may not" be shot down in
        future generations.

        I have a hard time acknowledging the good in Einstein.
        In my lifetime, too many people have died because of ideas he supported.