The Infinity Problem
By John Prytz
There are numerous nearly incomprehensible scientific concepts we have lots and lots of trouble wrapping our heads around. There are physics concepts like quantum mechanics; extra/hidden dimensions and relativity theories; biological concepts like the mind/brain duality, free will, self-identity, and the nature of consciousness; there’s the mathematical concept of the square roots of negative numbers; and metaphysical/philosophical issues like why is there something rather than nothing or what exactly is the nature of reality?
But one of the most mathematical / physics / theological/philosophical conundrums is the concept of the infinite, or infinity. That’s up for discussion this round.
All infinities are equal, but some are more equal than others.
*Nothing: Nothing is defined here as the total absence of all mass and force particles (i.e. – electrons, photons, etc.). That’s nothing.
*Infinity: Infinity means that no matter how far you go (in time or in space), you can always go farther. That’s infinity.
*Nothing can create itself.
*From nothing, nothing comes.
*Only from something, something comes.
*Something can’t be created out of anything.
*There are no spatial/temporal boundaries or walls.
*If N, then N+1.
Infinity and Mathematics
*When it comes to pure mathematics, we know that there are an infinite number of negative numbers; an infinite number of positive numbers; an infinite number of even numbers; an infinite number of odd numbers; an infinite number of values between any two consecutive whole numbers (like between 10 and 11). We know about infinity in mathematics, that, for example, Pi has an infinite number of places after the decimal point. We know that there’s an infinite number of lines that can be drawn between any two places.
But all of that is just pure abstraction with little if any connection to real existence and practical matters and associated operations.
Infinity and Physics
*Time and Space: The basic premise here is that no matter how far you go, temporally or spatially, you can go even farther. In other words, if N, then N + 1.
*Matter and Energy: The basic rule here is the First Law of Thermodynamics. Matter/energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The obvious implication is that therefore matter/energy has infinitely existed.
*Infinity can be either unbounded or bounded. Infinity is unbounded like in the case where two parallel lines just extend indefinitely without ever meeting. Infinity can be bounded. For example, the Earth is bounded in that it is finite, yet you can travel around it in time and in space an infinite number of times.
*And even some scientists who should know better loosely throw around the term “infinity” or “infinite” with rather reckless abandon as in stating or referencing “infinite density” or “infinite temperature.” That’s just nonsense.
Infinity and Theology
*Either a deity or deities exist or they do not exist.
*If a deity or deities do indeed exist, then they are either eternal or created by a previous deity or deities.
*If a deity or deities are eternal, everlasting, forever existing – that’s equivalent to infinity.
*If a deity or deities are created, that of necessity leads to an infinite regress.
*Therefore, no matter how you slice and dice, there’s a theological infinity to be dealt with, all the more so when many theologies promise an eternal afterlife existence.
*However an eternal afterlife existence would be an eternal boring hell. Unlike the Vulcan philosophy of events having an Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC), there’s actually only possible a finite diversity in the finite combinations. Thus, in an infinite/eternal afterlife, you’re going to eventually endlessly repeat what you have already endlessly and repeatedly done before. Boring.
Infinity and Philosophy
*It is even claimed that God (as a representation of some deity and the supernatural) couldn’t from His infinite past arrive at “now” to do whatever God wanted to do “now”. Hogwash!
*So, the philosophical / meta-philosophical question is, if there is an infinite past, can you ever arrive at now? It’s all too easy.
*The Timeline: In an infinite timeline there are an infinite number of events, each of which is finite (i.e. – like the event that is you). Here’s a useful analogy. Let’s assign each unique and finite event a unique number. How many unique numbers are available to be assigned? Well we know from the above that there are an infinite number of unique numbers available which would take an infinite amount of time (an infinite timeline) to count off those infinite numbers of unique numbers.
*No matter where you are on an infinite number line, you can make progress, say by counting forward from say 100 (where you are) to 150 (where you want to be “now”), or backward for that matter from 150 to 100.
*You can arrive at any specific event on an infinite timeline just as you can arrive at any specific unique number in the infinite number line. No matter where you are on an infinite timeline, you can make progress towards “now” by going say from Saturday to Sunday; January to February; 2001 to 2002, etc.
*One additional aside, you don’t actually have to make progress to arrive at “now”, whenever you are you are at the present or the “now”.