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What do you Atheists think about reincarnation and the law of conservation of mass and energy?

Law of conservation of mass and energy: Mass and Energy can not be created or destroyed only changed into different forms.
A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right? Therefore it’s something physical, and can not be created or destroyed.
To be honest this is probably the only reason why I’ve given reincarnation a possibility. I want to know what you guys think though?
I am an Atheist by the way, and please star if you find my question interesting :p

29 COMMENTS

  1. At least there is evidence of the conservation of mass and energy.
    How can you operationally define and quantify soul/spirit/consciousness? What Units do you use?

  2. You are overlooking the fact that energy can only give rise to consciousness when following the pathways of the brain. That is difficult to do when the brain is dead and rotting. The energy may continue on, but not the consciousness.

  3. “A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right?”
    And this energy is contained where exactly, and stay magically coherent why exactly? And since when are souls and spirits given and not figments of the primitive imagination?
    Your “identity” is locked inside a cage of meat called a brain containing cells which need a metric buttload of energy to keep what you consider to be “you” going. Energy input fails or process runs it course = end of you.

  4. energy has no sentience nor does it have consciousness.
    The soul, the mind is dependent on the precise construction of the brain and the chemistry that functions within. Once the mind ceases functioning, I think it would be the end of the soul.
    Its like asking, is a building still a building after it is reduced to rubble? The building blocks of the mind is still present after death, in that the organic matter is recycled, and the energy dissipates as heat… but they no longer contribute to the functioning of the mind. Therefore, the mind no longer exists after death.
    The soul is NOT just energy.

  5. I believe that the matter and energy that makes up our bodies is recycled into new life. Unless we choose to be embalmed and sealed in a waterproof vault for all eternity (or until they decide to build a golf course and deluxe homes on your burial site). Then you just molder under ground.
    I don’t believe our consciousness survives our death, but I believe the effects of the actions we performed when we were alive do. We create our immortal imprint while we are drawing breath, not after we’re dead.

  6. So where does a song go when you turn off your iPod? Is it resurrected somewhere else?
    No. The sound turns into heat, mechanical motion, and the like, and is gone.
    Just because there is energy in your brain and cells, the law of conservation of energy doesn’t guarantee it stays in the cohesive form you’re familiar with any more than it guarantees your body does.
    Quite the contrary, we would expect any ordered pattern to degrade without a constant input of energy. Dissipated into the environment. Gone.
    The energy still exists, but the PATTERN was what you were really interested in.
    This doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely not so. But it does mean that your trying to connect concepts in ways that would predict rather different results than you’re hoping for.

  7. Energy can change forms, however, such that the electro-chemical processes that constitute whatever it is that makes up our essence could conceivably be simply converted to heat.
    It’s just that, given the length of time that man has been using scientific method and recording the results, we don’t have any verifiable observable evidence of reincarnation, so it’s just not very likely — though not impossible.

  8. You seem to be misunderstanding the meaning of energy, I do not think it is accurate to say “A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right?” when you are using the word in terms of the law of conservation of mass and energy. The definition of energy in the law seems to be different than the way you are using it to describe the soul/spirit/consciousness.

  9. Consciousness is not just energy. It is a configuration of a brain with metabolism. The metabolism stops at death and the configuration of the brain usually decomposes.

  10. that does not make any sense. you are kept alive by chemical energy from the food you eat, and that is radiated mostly as body heat. it isn’t as if there is some bit of energy that resides within you that vacates the premises when you die. the energy that animates you is constantly being replenished and lost

  11. Reincarnation – crap
    Laws of phisics – real
    Now, wasn’t that easy?
    >>A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right?<< A soul does not exist except in the vivid imaginations of gullible people.

  12. A soul/spirit is theoretical and based on faith. Science has never “discovered” a spirit or soul and thus, has never measured it. Therefore, as far as we know, there is no energy associated with a soul/spirit because as far as we know, they don’t exist, at least in the physical sense. They could very well exist, but it’s not something that gives off energy.
    Plus, the law of conservation refers to physical mass, to literal atoms and subatomic particles. Souls are not atoms or subatomic particles.

  13. Souls aren’t real.
    If there were some energy that was a soul, it would be detectable. There is no unaccounted for energy anywhere in your body

  14. “A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right? Therefore it’s something physical, and can not be created or destroyed.”
    When you switch off your computer, where does the operating system go?

  15. ‘Energy’ is a loose term. To be accurate, you should refer to sub atomic particles. As for re-incarnation, I don’t really accept it as a soule or spirit is a concept, never really proved. A conscience is really just your brain’s ability to judge situations in concepts of ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘not good or bad’. It’s ones sense of guilt really. Since your brain works on nerve impulses being sent the energy would not even be able to transfer into another type of ‘energy’ which is able to free move without being constrained by physical barriers.

  16. A soul isn’t energy in the same sense as light or heat.
    If a soul is physical, then you run into even more problems with reincarnation. What separates the soul from your perception of neural functions? If the soul is simply a special form of energy, what makes it enter into another body after death? Is each soul a distinct form of energy, or can two souls collide and intermix? If the soul is simply energy, why would people claim they know who they were in a past life? The soul can’t store information–that’s a process of your brain.
    You really need to think this through more. As for me, I think we don’t have souls–we just interpret our choices as proof of being distinct, partly supernatural entities.

  17. For starters, there is no such group as “you atheists”. Atheists, like agnostics (me) and religious people, like Gandhi and Osama bin Laden, are individuals and don’t necessarily all think alike.
    Given that, the Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy might just apply to consciousness. I personally think that makes a lot of sense and I personally think that reincarnation (although not necessarily in human or even earth-bound bodies) makes a lot of sense. Note that I said “I personally”, I don’t pretend to speak for anyone else.
    Blessings on your Journey!

  18. I think that atheism has fallen into the trap of dogmatism and many of us are refusing to think. As for the whole ‘is consciousness energy’ thing, I agree that it is problematic. It smacks of magic and yet, our own laws seem to demand it. Unless we consider it a composite of lesser energies but that seems like an unfounded cop out. I thought about this for awhile and I figure that awareness means that either the universe is aware (b/c energy is aware) or there’s some arbitrary threshold where organizations of energy become aware and that both of these scream of the same thing: something outside of hard ‘energy not aware’ materialism . I figure choice excludes cause and effect ruling everything. And that means that , since science is based on cause and effect, choice exists outside of science’s reach and is therefore, if it exists, magical. So I figure this makes room for gods. And when you add in the supposed extra dimensions we supposedly have…. so, strictly speaking, I’m agnostic. But since arguments about gods are overwhelmingly with Xtians or Muslims, I call myself an atheist b/c they describe their god as omnipotent and loving us and this is practically self disproving. All you have to do is add a single drop of ‘life sucks’ and the whole thing vanishes in a puff of smoke. Little kids know this. Adults beat that brain like an anvil until it reshapes into theism.

  19. I would like to enlighten a few people regarding what reincarnation “is.”
    We go through life accumulating karma. Karma is action (any action) contaminated with the delusion. Desire is delusion, desire is the source of our delusion. Delusion stems from ignorance of our interdependant and inherently empty nature. Who am I? The tthings I see? Hear? Taste? Feel? Discern? Am I my thoughts? Am I all of these things, or none of these things? Are these things outside of me, or inside of me? Does my “self” lay in my ability to manipulate things around me? Picking up books, for example? The river moves the rock down the stream. The leaf floats in the air. This is all that there is.
    In life, we accumulate karma. Everything is balance, all things are manifistations of polarity. Karma is action contaminated with desire. This karma ripens, and balance is met. When we die, “we” die, but our karma has not ripened. Balanced has not been met by the experiencier. The experiencer is interdependent upon everything else for existance. This is expressed by the Von Neuman chain in quantum physics…. everything that is matter or “not matter” is actually ocsillated potentialites in a continuous state.
    Anyway…. I hope that might help with the question.
    I suggest learning about Tai Chi.

  20. “A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right? Therefore it’s something physical, and can not be created or destroyed.”
    There is no evidence that consciousness exists separately from the physical body. You’re asserting facts that are not evident.
    Your consciousness consists of chemical and electrical activity going on in and between cells in your brain. When you die, the activity ceases due to rapid catastrophic brain damage when the flow of oxygenated blood stops. Energy and mass have not been created or destroyed, they’ve simply changed into a state where they are no longer capable of producing your consciousness.
    Consider the result of taking a sledge hammer to the inner workings of your computer. You aren’t destroying any matter or energy by doing so, but the computer will rapidly become incapable of running any software, because the electrical pathways have been damaged. Your brain, and therefore your consciousness, operates on a very similar principle.

  21. Sure, the energy that goes into keeping a person conscious will find its way out into the greater universe after that person’s death. However, regardless of whether that same energy somehow all manifests into another person’s consciousness, or if that new person’s consciousness comes to be through energy from other sources, it’s still functionally equivalent; you’ve still got a new individual with no memory of or association with the one who died.
    The dead person might have been “reincarnated”, but that doesn’t MEAN anything in and of itself, especially to the person who died. They’re still dead.

  22. I think it is utter bollocks.
    Your ‘soul’, your consciousness is not just energy. It is the movement of energy within the physical and chemical construction of the brain. it is how this matter and energy is organised that matters.
    You are constantly changing that energy out for new energy because of the second law of thermodynamics. If it was not for this huge energy source of the Sun we would be in deep trouble.
    When you die the matter stays there, but changes form. It loses it’s organization as it rots. And the same for the energy. Whatever energy was left dissipates as heat or is used by other organisms.
    Think about it this way.
    If I take a lump of clay, it is not a vase.
    But if I mold the clay into the right shape i can make it vase shape.
    And if I fire that clay it will hold water and will be a vase.
    If I then take a hammer and smash that vase into dust, and spread the dust to the four winds –
    it is no longer a vase.
    Sure all the atoms were there before it was a vase, all the atoms are there after it was a vase. But it was only a vase when it was vase shaped and capable of holding water.
    All the energy and matter that is in your brain was there before your brain functioned to produce a sentient consciousness, and all the energy and matter will be there afterward. But it is only a sentient consciousness when that energy and matter is in just the right shape.
    Reincarnation, IMHO, is just wishful thinking.

  23. “A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right?”
    A human “soul” is just the subjective experience of the processes of a human nervous system. Just like the internet would not exist without the wires, hard drives, modems, and terminals that give rise to it, consciousness would not exist without a functional nervous system. Take away the hardware infrastructure, or even damage it significantly, and it’s just lights out.
    “Therefore it’s something physical, and can not be created or destroyed.”
    Matter/energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed. A stick of dynamite is just a bundle of matter/energy, but you have no problem envisioning the transformation of that energy into sound, heat, and light energy when it explodes. Afterward, although the atoms that made up the stick of dynamite still exists, the stick itself no longer does.
    Similarly, when you cremate a body, the energy stored in its molecules is dissipated into the atmosphere as heat and light. When you bury a body, the energy stored in its molecules is used to nourish the decomposition agents that pick it bare. Just because the matter and energy of some object continue does not mean the thing itself continues as well.

  24. I have no evidence of reincarnation, and I don’t really know what it means anyway. Precisely what is reincarnated? What part of a person continues to exist, and how is this known (to those who claim it)? Before any serious consideration could be given to that, there needs to be a much more precise definition about what is meant.
    Conservation of mass/energy holds true at a macroscopic scale in the universe we observe, but at the quantum level that can break down a bit. Indeterminacy of time and other properties allows for constrained non-conservation, in a way that balances out at greater scales.
    It seems to me that the whole idea of reincarnation is wishful thinking by humans who don’t like the idea of mortality, rather than a idea which has come from any real evidence. It tends to refer to humans only, and involves unidentified and vague mystical ‘essential components’ that are perpetuated. There is no actual substance behind it, and I don’t see how quantum mechanics has any bearing on this.
    So it’s just wishing for a reality, not detecting one.

  25. This atheist thinks that re-incarnation is only possible over unimaginable periods of time if we live in a pulsating universe (i.e. big bang – big crunch – big bang – big crunch ad infinitum) then eventually (like the monkeys typing a Shakespeare play, given enough monkeys and enough time) every possible combination of atoms will happen over and over again.
    Conservation of mass is disproved by the atomic bomb (or by living things converting their food into heat). Conservation of energy is about to be disproved at CERN.
    Where you seem to going wrong is with your statement “A soul/spirit/consciousness is just a bunch of energy right?” Wrong – here is no soul/spirit and consciousness is a characteristic of living things not a tangible entity.

  26. Just because your brain dies does not mean your soul dies too. Look around at every single thing around you. The Law of conservation of matter states that nothing is ever created nor destroyed but converted into different form. The universe is expanding always weights the exact same no matter what. Just because the universe is expanding does not mean its producing more matter. Its like if you took a pair of socks and pulled on both ends. Your simply expanding whats already there, not creating anything new. . Ok Im getting off subject, Look at what happens to the water in a lake, some water evaporates and goes into the clouds, which then rains and goes back into the lake, and some water soaks into the cracks into the earth and goes into an underwater stream which also evaporates and goes through the same process only more slowly. So its a big circle, the circle of life. Same happens with anything you can think of. Can you name one thing that does not get transferred into another form of energy. Not one thing is destroyed just recycled. No matter how you look at it, we must all be part of the circle of life. Our soul seems to grow each time it goes through the circle. Weather you are reincarnated or stay a spirit it still seems like you must be going through the cycle. It just wouldnt make any since to think that we are completely different from every single other part of the universe. I had a crazy dream last night, I started flying around like I was in spirit form. I already knew that I was doing what is known as astral projection but I had never experienced it for myself until last night. I woke up with a new way of looking at life. I know that my physical body is not all that I am, and that god does exist and he loves us. I think were suppose to learn all that we can from life, and realize tha the earth is 6.5 billion years old, our body life cycle is only 75 years, come on now guys that means that it is possible that if we have lived since the earth has alone not even talking the universe, that we could have lived 87 million life times. When you really start to do the math everything starts to make a little more since. We must have a spirit that far far far outlives our lifetime, if not than we are almost non existent and that just doesnt make any since.

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