Afterlife under physicalism

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Afterlife under physicalism

#1  Postby eveshi » Apr 30, 2011 6:16 pm

(p1) Matter/energy cannot be destroyed
(p2) What cannot be destroyed, exists forever
(c1 / p3) Matter/energy exists forever
(p4) In an infite time, anything that is possible happens infite times (something that never happens in an infinite time isn't possible)
(p5) It was possible that matter created my body (because I'm here)
(c2) My body will be created (in the exact configuration, e. g. with exactly the same fundamental components) infinite times

Where is the flaw? :)
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Re: Afterlife under physicalism

#2  Postby Teuton » Apr 30, 2011 7:14 pm

The so-called Infinite Replication Paradox:

"Imagine living in a universe where nothing is original. Everything is a fake. No ideas are ever new. There is no novelty, no originality. Nothing is ever done for the first time and nothing will ever be done for the last time. Nothing is unique. Everyone possesses not just one double but an unlimited number of them.
This unusual state of affairs exists if the universe is infinite in spatial extent (volume) and the probability that life can develop is not equal to zero. It occurs because of the remarkable way in which infinity is quite different from any large finite number, no matter how large the number might be.
In a universe of infinite size, anything that has a non-zero probability of occurring must occur infinitely often. Thus at any instant of time—for example, the present moment—there must be an infinite number of identical copies of each of us doing precisely what each of us is now doing. There are also infinite numbers of identical copies of each one of us doing something other than what we are doing at this moment. Indeed, an infinite number of copies of each of us could be found at this moment doing anything that it was possible for us to do with a non-zero probability at this moment.
It is widely believed that the replication paradox was first discussed explicitly by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in 'The Will to Strength' (1886). He realises that

'the universe must go through a calculable number of combinations in the great game of chance which constitutes its existence … In infinity, at some moment or other, every possible combination must once have been realized; not only this, but it must also have been realized an infinite number of times.'

The spatial replication paradox has all sorts of odd consequences aside from the psychological unease it creates. We believe that the evolution of life is possible with non-zero probability because it has happened on Earth by natural means. Hence, in an infinite universe there must exist an infinite number of living civilisations. Within them will exist copies of ourselves of all possible ages. When each of us dies, there will always exist elsewhere an infinite number of copies of ourselves, possessing all the same memories and experiences of our past lives but who will live on to the future. This succession will continue indefinitely into the future and so in some sense each of us 'lives' forever."


(Barrow, John D. The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless. London: Vintage, 2005. pp. 156-58)

But, strictly speaking, no one lives forever, since the infinitely many future duplicates of me are not numerically identical with me.
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Afterlife under physicalism

#3  Postby andrewk » Apr 30, 2011 11:29 pm

This worldview is plausible and some people hold it. However you need more propositions to set it up, otherwise p4 fails ("(p4) In an infinite time, anything that is possible happens infinite times (something that never happens in an infinite time isn't possible)"). Consider the function y=(t-1)(t-2) where t is time. This function crosses the t axis exactly twice, not an infinite number and not zero times, contradicting p4. Some processes may be irreversible.
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Re: Afterlife under physicalism

#4  Postby Teuton » May 01, 2011 12:20 am

A crucial premise in the infinite replication scenario is that a region of space/spacetime can contain only a finite number of particles, and that there are also only finitely many possible places and speeds for these.

"Consider a region the size of today's cosmic region, a sphere with a radius of 41 billion light-years. A region, that is, which is the the size of a single patch in the cosmic quilt. And consider filling it…with particles of matter and radiation. Here's the question: How many different arrangements of the particles are possible?
Well, as with a box of Legos, the more pieces you have—the more matter and radiation you cram into the region—the greater the number of possible arrangements. But you can't cram pieces in indefinitely. Particles carry energy, so more particles means more energy. If a region of space contains too much energy, it will collapse under its own weight and form a black hole. And if after a black hole forms you try to cram yet more matter and energy into the region, the black hole's boundary (its event horizon) will grow larger, encompassing more space. There is thus a limit to how much matter and energy can exist fully within a region of space of a given size. For a region of space as large as today's cosmic horizon, the limits involved are huge (about 10^56 grams). But the size of the limit is not central. What's central is that there is a limit.
Finite energy within a cosmic horizon entails a finite number of particles, be they electrons, protons, neutrons, neutrinos, muons, photons, or any of the other known or as yet unidentified species in the particle bestiary. Finite energy within a cosmic horizon also entails that each of these particles…has a finite number of distinct possible locations and speeds. Collectively, a finite number of particles, each of which can have finitely many distinct positions and velocities, means that within any cosmic horizon only a finite number of different particle arrangements are available. … Indeed, a short calculation…reveals that the number of distinct possible particle configurations within a cosmic horizon is about 10^(10^122) (a 1 followed by 10^122 zeros). This is a huge but decidedly finite number. … [T]he limited number of particle arrangements ensures that with enough patches in the cosmic quilt—enough independent cosmic horizons—the particle arrangements, when compared from patch to patch, must somewhere repeat. Even if you were able to play cosmic designer and tried to arrange each patch to be different from the ones you'd examined before, with a big enough expanse you'd eventually run out of distinct designs and would be forced to repeat a previous arrangement.
In an infinitely big universe, the repetition is yet more extreme. There are infinitely many patches in an infinite expanse of space; so, with only finitely many different particle arrangements, the arrangements of particles within patches must be duplicated an infinite number of times."


(Greene, Brian. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. pp. 32-3)
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Afterlife under physicalism

#5  Postby Fenrir » May 01, 2011 1:03 am

(p4) In an infite time, anything that is possible happens infite times (something that never happens in an infinite time isn't possible)


A supermodel did not knock on my door last night, even though it is vaguely possible (in my imagination) that one might. I have no expectation that if last night was repeated infinitely (or an infinitude of nights occurred) the result would be any different.

Surely a longer timeframe would increase the probability of something happening, but why should it increase that probability to 1?
Religion: it only fails when you test it.-Thunderf00t.
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Re: Afterlife under physicalism

#6  Postby Chrisw » May 01, 2011 2:42 pm

If there are an infinity of copies of me in a universe that carries on forever isn't it odd that, out of all these copies I could be I happen to be the very first, the original?

I know this because I know the universe has not been around for long (13.7 billion years is a trivial amount of time compared to the time needed for something like me to recur randomly).

Anyway, I think a better, modern version of this would be the idea of an infinity of universes or of big bang events. Poincarre recurrence isn't very plausible in an ever-expanding universe suffering from heat death and full of black holes.
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Re: Afterlife under physicalism

#7  Postby John P. M. » May 01, 2011 3:03 pm

My two cents would be... that it depends on what 'identity' really is. The idea invokes the paradox(?) of 'the perfect clone', where you could duplicate yourself down to the very tiniest detail. Which one of you would be you? Both perhaps? But if the first, original 'you' were then killed, could you be said to live on in your clone, from your perspective (well, you'd be dead, but I hope you get my point)?
In other words; would the exact 'copy' of you in a future universe really be you?
Now - one could argue that even in this existence we're not the same physical entity over the years anyway, but we are still continuously 'us' from our own POV. But there's a physical continuum there, that I think may make the difference.
But - my questions and suggestions are not rhetorical. Just thoughts I've had in earlier discussions on similar subjects.
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