Since this is something that has been on my find for awhile, I wanted to get the thought-ball rolling. I have a couple of theories, but I want to see what other people think. Also, this is going to be a crazy in-depth description of "reincarnation" and why I think it's possible for the most part (so please bear with me).
So basic biology here: Humans are made of tissues (skin, muscle, bone etc) which are made up of cells (skin cells, hair cells, blood cells etc) which are made up of molecules (lipids, amino acids, proteins etc) which are also made up of even smaller particles known as atoms (electrons, protons, neutrons) which are also made up of even much smaller particles known as subatomic particles (quarks and it get’s even smaller in theory.) So this is the order you need to keep in mind. From largest to smallest.
The smallest known particles (atoms) are floating around in clouds of energy. They are never really touching one another. So apply this same principle to the larger scale. One would assume that since nothing’s really touching anything you could simply walk through a wall, but we know that’s impossible. There’s a barrier that separates all things from intersecting one another and turning into one hot mess of atoms. There’s barriers all around us at all times. It’s what keeps the atoms that make up the cells of our arms from colliding and merging with the atoms that make up the structure of the wall. Other wise we’d all just be transient beings, never being able to bind together. Think of a cloud of smoke that just wisps away and never stays in that big mass it once was. It dissipates into nothingness.
So what keeps us together? What prevents those from attracting and merging with some other atom? Sometimes nothing. The term free radical, refers to a lost particle that lost it’s connection with another particle and now it’s wandering about trying to find something to attract to. However, when it does find something to attract to, it often pushes something else out of the way.
This free radical causes a chain-reaction of breakdowns (basically chaos: the unbalance to balance, the disorder to order). This entropy (equalization/breakdown) doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction, but rather the rebuilding of something else, we'll say balance. That free radical is just going to keep going around bumping things out of order until it starts to form something else.
The first law of conservation of energy is that energy cannot be create or destroyed, but rather transformed. So when a person dies, what is really happening? Since our bodies are made of energy (see very first thing I explained) something has to come along (say a free-radical) that has to bounce everything out of order, in order to create something new. The energy itself is not destroyed but rather reformed. As a person dies, we see a deterioration of body tissues, wrinkly skin, loss of bodily function etc etc. Until we see a person die. But what is death? Does it involve a soul? What is a soul? Where will all those subatomic free-radical particles end up?
Look at all the little pictures to make one big picture. All the atoms that make up the molecules, that make up cells, that make up tissues, that make up a person. This large scale being is being de-constructed back into it’s small-scale parts. Everything is there, that was there before, but what happens to all those atoms?
So I pose the question: is it possible that reincarnation is actually the process of one person's (or objects) sub-atomic particles binding together to form another "physical" object and that we are all made from the same energy?
[Note: If you see an incorrect statement, or something inaccurate, please tell me! Apologizing now if I rambled. I'd like to hear what other Atheists have to say about this topic...]
Where to start? You need an education in physics and chemistry just for beginners.
How about pointing out the "flaws" and try contributing to this conversation constructively. Or are you just here for a good "trolling"?
What Doug is saying is that your understanding of physics and chemistry is so warped that it is difficult to know where to begin to point out the flaws with your "theory." I don't say this to be rude, but rather constructive - you should scrap this hypothesis completely because it doesn't even make sense from the perspective of chemistry, biology or physics, and then you should make an effort to learn about these scientific disciplines before beginning again with a new hypothesis.
To be more specific, and hopefully helpful, I'll just point out that the atomic particles that make up your body are held together by a chemical bonds caused by the electrostatic force of attraction between opposite charges. A free radical is an atom or molecule with an unpaired electron - making it highly reactive. To someone with a clear understanding of chemistry, your hypothesis reads a bit like gibberish. It is difficult to point out a single flaw when the entire thing doesn't make any sense.
Thank you Allen! I figured some things in there were going to be inaccurate if not entirely wrong, but your explanation helps! I just needed a starting point to get some feedback, go back for fact checking and then revise, you know for science and all :)
It's unfortunate that he couldn't contribute to the proposed hypothetical explanation, I'd like to get close to answering the "big philosophical question"!
I have always been curious about the concept of reincarnation, and perhaps taking a scientific approach is seems to be easier to understand and accept. The perspective of the mystic is always compelling but they can only offer further inquiry, so we find ourselves getting further from the original question. Preferably, we all would like to have answers that can only be discovered through scientific analysis but why not begin with philosophical hypotheses? I like the idea of chain reactions, metaphysics would agree that much of the events that occur in the universe are repetitive cycles, such as cell division, birth and death, yin and yang, and of course reincarnation. The body dies and creates life.
If I understand correctly, you're suggesting that these free radical particles are the soul? And it makes sense. When the mind dies so does the conscious, so how will we ever know if that is actually what is happening? Is there more to our thoughts and memories so that they carry over to another life like the free radicals you were talking about? But with the death of the ego and the conscious, our mind is left to decay with the body, but I would like to think that it is the subconscious that we need to tap into in order to really "know". So, maybe particle physics is the only science that can answer some of these questions. Science and religious philosophy, not to be mistaken with religion, ought to begin to work together to answer the unanswerable. After all, philosophy was once considered THE science, natural sciences.
Hopefully this is a positive contribution!
Well since the original theory needs some reworking with facts and proper terms, I'll answer this based on what I was originally thinking. I was thinking that something "free radicals/stray electrons/something" had to come along at the subatomic level and bump one electron out of the way to start a domino effect of breakdown that would ultimately cause the person's body to breakdown into it's smallest known particle and then disperse (what we call Death). Where that energy disperses to is a complete mystery to me.
For example, if Jane dies and her body degrades into the smallest subatomic particles that made her up, where do those small subatomic particles go? Do they start seeking out other particles because they're electrically attracted to one another?
And for that matter, when I'm saying "Soul" I guess I really mean her consciousness. I think everyone will have their own way of rationalizing and understanding this so we end up arguing over terminology and missing the point.
And when I say "Reincarnation" I guess I mean to say physical reincarnation, but not in the sense of the whole person's memories and past lives explanation. To me at least, it makes more sense that an electron that was part of Jane's elbow could seemingly, eventually form part of a molecule of air. (Quite the leap in terms of elbow electron to molecule of air, but I'm hoping you can follow my crazy logic).
Agreed. I come from a metaphysical/spiritual/mystical perspective as a way to help me understand existence. However I have full respect for science and its contributions to the world! Perhaps I also need further education in bio/chem and physics.
Would it sound irrational to say that thoughts do have some sort of physical form? such that if millions of people share an idea, some-thing is thus created in the image of the imagination. The larger the idea, the more likely it is to become true (with the help of science). So if you understand what I'm saying, maybe these "thought particles" are broken down to a subatomic level and transferred.
Not to worry, I think I catch your drift about the elbow analogy.
The Higgs Boson gives particles their mass and stops them floating forever like photons of light. Because mass equals energy atoms bind together. Yes we are full of empty space. It is said that if all the empty space was removed from all the billions of humans on the planet then we would fit into a space the size of a sugar cube. However it is difficult for the human mind to comprehend the smallness of the molecular world (or the vastness of space). The diameter of the full stop (ok period!) at the end of this sentence is about 10 million atoms long.
Subatomic particle cannot be reincarnated as they do not die. They are never destroyed. Of course they are “recycled” but they just go with the flow (of energy). If reincarnation of humans is on the menu then I want to come back as a ladies field hockey pitch please.
//. Yes we are full of empty space. It is said that if all the empty space was removed from all the billions of humans on the planet then we would fit into a space the size of a sugar cube.//
That is reminiscent of the Big Bang concept of reducing all matter down to the size of a basket ball before the event takes place..
LOL. I don't think you'll get to be that lucky if humans can be reincarnated, but see my reply to Matt (above). Would it be plausible for one trillionth of what used to be part of you, become part of something else? As in your atoms were recycled to become something else?
Regarding the recycling of even one trillionth of our atoms this is interesting.
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