After discussing the third law of thermodynamics and its relation to human life, consumption, and work, it should be clear why we go through the formidable task of bringing new life into this world. Those who have had the experience can probably comment on the huge energy drain involved – I already feel it in the lead-up to my first attempt. But as fusion is necessary to perpetuate the sun’s life, so it is with ours.
Reproduction (the Fusion Principle)
It is interesting how human fusion corresponds to hydrogen fusion within the sun. The hydrogen atom contains a proton and an electron, an inner core and an outward projection. Similarly humans carry the inner Feminine principle and the outer Masculine, seemingly antithetical qualities that yet hold us together. When two hydrogen atoms collide at just the right speed and orientation they combine to form a new atom, releasing a great deal of energy. And so do humans – when we fuse it results in the single largest burst of energy we are capable of – the creation of a new life.
In terms of dissipation reproduction is the greatest act. Out of consumption, work and reproduction, consumption has the lowest potential for dissipation – we can only eat so many cookies in one lifetime. Work has greater potential – one idea put into action can create a knock-on effect of consumption and production that reaches millions or billions of people (just consider the internet) – but on average work likely achieves a similar level of dissipation to consumption. Through the act of reproduction, though, we create another being that can both consume and work – double the dissipative value in one fell swoop.
But how much should we reproduce? Just as rampant consumption and excessive work ultimately conflict with the third law, so does “breeding like rabbits” or not at all. The correspondence with the sun makes this a pretty easy analysis. The sun undergoes enough fusion to sustain its life, and so should we. That makes 2 the sweet spot for our reproductive aims.
A Question of Survival
Last week I posed the question of how long human life would exist if, as antinatalists would like, we stopped reproducing. This is a more difficult question than just taking the age of the oldest humans alive now, and saying that is about how long we would make it. In fact it is so difficult that I haven’t received a response, nor could I find an analysis on the internet.
A big driver of the outcome would be the reason people quit reproducing. If people were made to stop through an act or threat of violence, chaos would ensue and we would likely bring about our own demise much more swiftly than the the average lifespan. If people voluntarily chose to stop reproducing, through an act of free will, it is unlikely that the same type of chaos would result. External control results in chaos; freedom does not. But – at the risk of, as AntiBullshitMan says, anthropomorphizing – it would be interesting to see how the universe responds. Would it punish an act against the third law by swiftly bringing human life to an end with disease, famine, etc.? Would it simply let us die out, given that a century or so is but a fraction of a blink in the universal time scale? Most interestingly, would it give us immortality, so that its greatest dissipative creation on Earth, the human species, could continue its function here? The romantic in me wants to believe the latter, but the realist says the second. After all, as the great Chinese philosopher Ming said, “We had a pretty good run here.”
Now let us hear from you. Is reproduction really the greatest act we can engage in? How long would we make it if we all stopped having sex? Or is this a pointless question, hence my inability to find a decent answer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section and productive week ahead!
- How Long Would Humans Survive if We Stopped Reproducing?
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