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infinity - could it lead to reincarnation?

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Posted (edited)

im not religious or spiritual or any of those things. Im an atheist.

im also not a scientist, but i love science.

i was listening to a podcast with some scientists/cosmologists/physicists talking about the universe today. and i heard them mention the theory that in the infinite universe, in infinite time, anything that can happen basically WILL happen. this led me to a question. does that mean that you or i could be born again?  i mean even if the universe itself had to go on for ever, or even be born and die itself an enormous number of times in order to achieve this , if the number truely was infinity, then by the law of probability, it has to eventually happen right?  and given the fact that you or i will have been dead in the meantime ,we might not have percieved any passing of time at all in between. slightly optimisic view i guess.

another problem it poses is what does it really mean to be "you", as a child your body was made up of completely different molecules than it is now, so, arguably you are  not even the same person you were then, you just think you were. and in some future universe, even if your life were to be repeated verbatim , would you even be you then? or just a different you,  while the current you would remain dead. i dont know.

but its food for thought.

part of me thinks that this is just way too outlandish to be possible even in an infinite universe, in infinite time. but on the other hand, perhaps that is because my brain cannot truely grasp infinity. I  mean.  a truely infinite universe  just has to keep on trying until it happens, right?   it can keep rolling the dice until the numbers come up!

  im sure there must be a mathematical way to demonstrate that even in an infinite universe it would be impossible to repeat even one person because it  it is just infinitely unlikely to happen.  i would be really interested to hear feedback from someone more knowledgable than me on the subject.

 

Edited by boo

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There’s a lot right with your post (which is admittedly more philosophical than astronomical... don’t feel hurt if mods move it). A few points stand out to me:

- We ARE different now than before. Every cell in our body is always getting recycled. I think the average to complete this for every single cell is 8 years. You’re not even exactly the same person reading this as you were when writing that original post. You’ve drank water, eaten food, the connections in your brain have been pruned and reinforced, the bacteria in your belly has evolved countless different colonies. Change is the only constant. 

- Infinity IS hard for our human minds to grasp. We evolved counting seeds and arrow head and antelope. We can barely conceive of thousands or millions, let alone infinities. With that said, it’s important to recall that infinity is just another abstraction. A useful tool in math. It’s not somehow magical and doesn’t make impossible things possible. It’s another type of number.

- Probabilities DO get really interesting when considered over vast epochs of time. The probability that something unlikely will happen changes when considered in the next 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years, 5 centuries, 5 millennia, 5 infinities... Its easy to speculate that another “you” could exist, but the amount of time required is likely several times older than the universe itself. 

- Not everything can be compared to a roll of the dice. If you roll a dice enough times, you can achieve nearly any combination of results. In our reality, however, certain rules apply. Certain chemicals attract and repel to form certain molecules. Certain forms are more successful in an environment than others and evolve more successfully. Certain forces apply, and all of this is well before you get to the level of complex organisms and life forms, or even cultures. Given enough time, nearly anything is possible, if considered within the rules of the system. The main problem here is the amount of time required for these things is several times older than the entire universe. 

- Most concepts of reincarnation are pretty silly. We are formed from atoms formed by exploded stars, and we do get recycled by other organisms when we die. Our molecules decompose or get eaten by a beetle or burned into the air or absorbed by a mushroom or a tree. In that sense, we reincarnate, sure, but much like you’re not even the same person now as you were when you wrote that post, you’re most certainly not the same “person” after death as you were while alive... while you were “the universe expressing itself as a human being for a little while.”

I probably missed the important parts of your question. Sorry for that. These are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. Thanks for letting me share them with you and for the opportunity to do so presented when you asked your kind thought provoking questions. Not all questions have answers, but that doesn’t make it any less fun discussing them. Cheers.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, iNow said:

There’s a lot right with your post (which is admittedly more philosophical than astronomical... don’t feel hurt if mods move it).

 

!

Moderator Note

Well your correct this thread certainly doesn't belong in the Astronomy and Cosmology forum as it is more philosophical than hard physics. So I will move it to the Philosophy forum.

 
Edited by Mordred

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, iNow said:

"The main problem here is the amount of time required for these things is several times older than the entire universe"

indeed, but that is to assume that the life of the universe itself is finite and that it can only happen this one time.

We know the universe had a beginning, and therefore we can say that it will have an end too. That really paints a finite picture.  however , before the big bang there must have been certain conditions, probably some kind of highly unstable conditions  that gave rise to it otherwise it wouldn't have happened.

so in order for another big bang to happen all that would be needed is for those conditions to be restored. I don't think we would be correct to rule that out, since we know it happened once, and if it can happen once it can happen again and therefore can happen infinite times. The chances of the universe being "born" through a big bang scenario, and the chances of life on earth evolving and so on were just as unlikely the "first" time as they would be the second, but yet know that given enough time, these things do happen. for all we know the existence of you and me could be as common as once per universe , given that the universe is also infinitely broad (in terms of space), that wouldn't be impossible, however improbable it was.

thanks for engaging with me on the conversation 

Edited by boo

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10 hours ago, boo said:

and i heard them mention the theory that in the infinite universe, in infinite time, anything that can happen basically WILL happen. this led me to a question. does that mean that you or i could be born again?

This has been discussed quite a few times on the forum, so you can probably find some other opinion about it if you search. (Although the search function on the forum is not great.)

My opinion is that this view is hopelessly naive. 

At least they limited it to anything that "can" happen. Too often, people just say "anything can happen (possible or not)."

But it isn't guaranteed that everything possible will happen. Take the similar claim that the infinite decimal expansion of Pi must, at some point, contain all the works of Shakespeare (or whatever). That is not necessarily true. It would require Pi to be "normal" for one thing.

It is quite easy to create an infinite, non-repeating series of numbers. It is also quite easy to define such a series such that some number will never appear (or only appear once).

And, then, we don't know if the universe is infinite or not. But we are fairly sure that it will not last forever (at least not in a way that is conducive to more humans existing).

And, finally, if there were an exact copy of you somewhere, would that actually be "you"? Would it count as being born again if you have none of the motorise or experience of the first "you"?

And (finally, finally) you could never know. So does it matter!

 

I suppose it is one of those ideas that is fun to play around with. But there isn't much value in it, in my opinion.

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Posted (edited)

yeah, since my last post i have started to think about it in another way.

perhaps the only way for it to really be  "me" or "you" is if it happened in  literally exactly the same place at the same time. 

so if you could look at the universe from a point of view independently of time itself, then our lives could be depicted as replaying over and over again infinite times, from a point of view independent of time itself we are immortal. however the reality we live in as humans, we only get to see it going forward in one direction at one speed and therefore we only get to see it once.

maybe thats it....

 

Edited by boo

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2 hours ago, boo said:

We know the universe had a beginning

Just a small nit to pick. We don't actually know this. The inflationary model seems to suggest it, but we lack certainty on this question.

2 hours ago, boo said:

given that the universe is also infinitely broad

Likewise here. We don't really know. We have some models which suggest one thing, while other models suggest other things. They're mutually exclusive with one another, and both appear to be internally consistent and valid... pending additional evidence.

2 hours ago, boo said:

thanks for engaging with me on the conversation

My pleasure

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Strange said:

And, finally, if there were an exact copy of you somewhere, would that actually be "you"? Would it count as being born again if you have none of the motorise or experience of the first "you"?

And (finally, finally) you could never know. So does it matter!

its right, you could never know.

just to muse a little further on the subject, if nobody minds.

i was watching a film last night called Replicas (with Keannu reeves)  where he accidentaly killed his whole family, but was able to clone them a transfer their minds into the newly cloned bodies (which took two weeks to grow in special pods) - sorry about the spoiler

this kind of deals with exactly this question. For Keannu's character he got his family back. but are they really the same people? or are they just different but identical people?   my instinct tells me that the original family is still dead. 

if i were to define consciousness its this feeling that I am somewhere in here, inside my body looking out through a window. if that makes sense.  I feel that there is more to me than just some meat, bone and organs. There's someone in here, looking out , pushing the buttons and driving the vehicle. so to speak. 

No being can see the consciousness of another , only the individual themselves could know if a new reincarnation, or a new version  its really them or not. (another being would not know if the new replica really was the old one, or just thought they were) 

but what I'm trying to say is that, yes it does matter to me, even if the experience  and knowledge from a previous live could not be carried over,  because id like to be able to continue the experience of  being inside looking out.  that would be enough.

I have to admit that idea of the consciousness being something in and of itself , and weather or not it really exists at all ,is something i really struggle to understand I guess a lot of us do.. Maybe it doesn't exist, but it sure feels like it does.

 

Edited by boo

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1 minute ago, boo said:

f i were to define conciousness, its this feeling that I am somewhere in here, inside my body looking out through a window. if that makes sense

In case you ever wish to explore this more, what you describe here is probably better covered by the phrase “sense of self.” We have this feeling if there being a “pilot behind the eyes,” but most neuroscience suggests all of this is actually the result what’s known as a “post-dictive illusion” wherein the brain is attempting to organize a diverse collection of signals into a coherent story or narrative. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re more than a biological bag of meat and mostly water. 

6 minutes ago, boo said:

I feel that there is more to me than just some meat, bone and organs.

There is, and there are vast colonies of bacteria that have enormous affect on our wellbeing, digestion, and general state of mind. There are also viruses treating us like hosts, invading our cells and hijacking our DNA every waking moment. There are mites and various other bugs making their home on our skin and each of us is a fairly amazing ecosystem that could be studied for centuries and still not understood in our entirety. 

9 minutes ago, boo said:

what im trying to say is that, yes it does matter to me, even if the experience  and knowledge from a previous live could not be carried over,  because id like to be able to continue the exerience of  being inside looking out.  that would be enough.

You’d probably have better luck with AI, uploading your mind to some (not yet invented) computer interface. That seems more likely to me than infinite probabilities and reincarnation. 

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7 hours ago, boo said:

this kind of deals with exactly this question. For Keannu's character he got his family back. but are they really the same people? or are they just different but identical people?   my instinct tells me that the original family is still dead. 

Similar questions arise when people talk about things like uploading their mind to a computer. Is that still the same person?

It reminds me of an old Steve Wright joke: "Aliens broke into my apartment last night, stole all my belongings and replaced them with exact copies." There is a mental disorder called Capgras Delusion where a person thinks that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member (or pet) has been replaced by an identical impostor.

7 hours ago, boo said:

if i were to define consciousness its this feeling that I am somewhere in here, inside my body looking out through a window. 

I don't actually feel like that. I wonder if different perceptions of our self changes our views on what "consciousness" is.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Strange said:

I don't actually feel like that. I wonder if different perceptions of our self changes our views on what "consciousness" is.

wow,  it never occurred to me that different people would feel differently about this

are you sure you are not an android?  maybe not a bad idea to check your body for serial numbers , barcodes, or prick your finger to see if white stuff comes out instead of red   :D

seriously though that is interesting, i wonder now if its only me, or only certain 'brain types' that percieve it this way while others dont. I am a visual thinker, i am an artist, so maybe this has something to do with it, not sure.

Edited by boo

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8 minutes ago, boo said:

are you sure you are not an android? 

No ... :) 

8 minutes ago, boo said:

seriously though that is interesting, i wonder now if its only me, or only certain 'brain types' that percieve it this way while others dont. I am a visual thinker, i am an artist, so maybe this has something to do with it, not sure.

It may be related, but I remember reading about some research that looked at how people saw themselves in relation to the outside world. Some people had a very clear "this is me, that's the world" view, while others had a more holistic "I am part of the world and there is no clear dividing line". These (perhaps not surprisingly) related to all sorts of things like empathy with others, beliefs (whether spiritual, religious, aliens, etc), interests, etc. (I have tried to find it again since, without much luck.)

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11 hours ago, iNow said:

In case you ever wish to explore this more, what you describe here is probably better covered by the phrase “sense of self.” We have this feeling if there being a “pilot behind the eyes,” but most neuroscience suggests all of this is actually the result what’s known as a “post-dictive illusion” wherein the brain is attempting to organize a diverse collection of signals into a coherent story or narrative. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re more than a biological bag of meat and mostly water. 

thats so freaky to think about.

im glad i dont smoke marijuana anymore, i dont think i could take it  LOL

 

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12 hours ago, iNow said:

this is actually the result what’s known as a “post-dictive illusion” wherein the brain is attempting to organize a diverse collection of signals into a coherent story or narrative.

There are lots of experiments that demonstrate this. One is the stopped clock illusion, where the brain fills in the missing information while the eyes were moving from what it can see now (not what it saw before). And so you think you had a period looking at the clock as it is now, and therefore stationary. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronostasis

As saccades (eye movements) occur all the time, the brain is constantly making up stuff you "saw" in the past to fill the gaps.

And then there is the fact that it takes a hundred milliseconds or more for touch senses to reach the brain than it does vision. So, when you pick up a cup of tea, the brain has to fool you into think that what you see and what you feel happen at the same time. And are happing now, rather than a fraction of a second in the past.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, boo said:

thats so freaky to think about.

im glad i dont smoke marijuana anymore, i dont think i could take it  LOL

Really? If all I can perceive is the past, I'm glad I'm stoned now.

It gives me time to catch up.

Edited by dimreepr

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Just so we’re clear and in case there was any confusion, I was not under the influence when typing my post. ✌️

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49 minutes ago, iNow said:

Just so we’re clear and in case there was any confusion, I was not under the influence when typing my post. ✌️

LOL

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2 hours ago, iNow said:

Just so we’re clear and in case there was any confusion, I was not under the influence when typing my post. ✌️

:lol:

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