Entropy Confusions

Defining entropy as the disordering of energy leads to confusion. There are two separate processes taking place in the universe - the dissipation of useful energy (entropy) and the concentration of consciousness ("growth"?). (Or if you prefer, there are two kinds of entropy, that of energy and that of consciousness.) Evolution is the process of finding more efficient ways to use the dissipation of available energy which is going on around us all the time, to concentrate consciousness. (Consciousness defined as a measure of complexity of information processing ability.)

Entropy is a relatively constant process while evolution often comes in bursts, though consciousness usually increases the rate of entropy. Supernovas are an example of accelerated entropy and evolution. They dissipate tremendous amounts of energy in a short period but also evolve matter from simple to more complex elements. Mankind's use of energy resources, even at its best, is another example.

Chaos is a lack of consciousness. We sometimes confuse energy with consciousness. That's why we talk about the disordering of energy. We're sort of meaning "reducing the consciousness of energy". Pure energy, has the lowest possible consciousness. A living human brain has no more energy than a dead brain or a head of cabbage of the same weight, though we like to think it has greater order, organization, structure or consciousness. We also talk about having mental energy when we mean something more like enthusiasm or spirit - which is closer to consciousness.

An organism grows old but it's energy level doesn't change. It wastes the energy it uses because it is no longer able to increase, concentrate or maintain its level of consciousness. Eventually it degrades to the point where the system can no longer be maintained. This is aging rather than entropy.

A forest fire destroys the "consciousness" (organization or structure) created by trees, plants and other animals, and perhaps even human lives but that's only a side effect, not its main process. First of all it dissipates energy.

Though the universe (and all its sub-systems) will continue to "run down" or dissipate its useful energy, it will never stop. Life will not eventually cease to exist or even become more difficult. It will instead continue to evolve and find more efficient ways to mine the energy resources of the universe. Entropy and evolution have no beginning or end, nor even any significant milestones.

A high ratio of evolution/entropy equals "good". A low ratio equals "evil". There is no absolute scale of good and evil since evolution and entropy are measured in different units, if at all. We can only compare relative values.

The forces of good always prevail eventually. Forces of good tend to unite and work toward the same goals. Forces of evil are self- limiting. They work against both evil and good. As they gain strength, they increasingly produce a condition of chaos in which no force, good or evil, can function or even exist.

Consciousness is something like love, which, "..if you give it away, you end up having more". That's because these, and information, are not finite. Energy and matter are finite, at least in any one system.


Send me your thoughts.
Dan Robinson, danrob@efn.org, Eugene, Oregon
My home page: http://www.efn.org/~danrob/