Monday, December 7, 2015
IS INFINITY REAL?
IS INFINITY REAL?
I find it very interesting that when I ask someone this question, I usually get one of three responses. They are not always in these exact words, but the meanings are pretty much the same:
1. Of course! Why would anyone ask such a question? Have you never heard of God?
2. Of course not! Even the universe is finite. Only an idiot would even ask such a question!
3. What? Often followed by a blank stare, or a totally unrelated question like: “Where’d you get that shirt? Or, when do we eat?"
Could it be that there are three different kinds of people in the world? Believers, Non-believers and ‘Who-cares’ people? Let’s call them Type I, Type II and Type III, respectively. We could say ‘respectfully’ too, because of course, everyone has the right to believe any ridiculous thing they want to, whether it’s true or not. Let's have a closer look:
Type I, II and III people may fall into one of several sub-types:
Type Ia. Followers: “My father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, priest, minister, etc., say it’s true, so it must be true.”
Type Ib. Hedgers: “I’m hedging my bet: If it’s true and I say I don’t believe, I’m in big trouble; if it’s not true, it won’t make any difference!”
Type Ic: True Believers: “Based on personal experience, I KNOW it’s true! And people who don’t believe in God cause all the problems in the world!”
Type II People:
Type IIa. The Intellectually Arrogant: “No one’s smarter than me, and if I don’t believe it’s true, it can’t be true!”
Type IIb. Agnostics: God has never appeared to me, so, yeah, maybe, but … probably not.”
Type IIc. Atheists: “People who believe in God cause all the problems in the world.”
Type III People:
Type IIIa. Unaware: “Life is complicated enough without looking for something else to think about.”
Type IIIb. Self-Absorbed: “Life is too short to be bothered. I just want to have fun!”
Type IIIc. Innocent: “Hmmm, I haven’t thought about it.”
This of course isn’t all of the possible sub-types; you can have fun making up some of your own.
This question, however, turns out to have a definite answer-it’s not just a matter of belief.
We live in a somewhat well-ordered world, where there are many repeating patterns. If this were not the case, there could be no science or religion, life would be totally random and chaotic, and we wouldn’t last long. Science, philosophy and thinking with some level of certainty exist only because there are certain patterns that repeat according to systems of logic that we can discover and understand. In 1931, mathematician Kurt Gӧdel proved what has become known as the incompleteness theorems, which tell us that no logical system is ever complete. No matter how large and complex a logical system becomes, there is always more. As soon as we understand a portion of the system, we discover that there is yet more. It’s as if the universe is always expanding beyond our understanding, no matter how much we know. And our understanding of time, space and consciousness is limited by the limitations of our physical senses and the limited portion of our brains that we choose to use. Thus, there is proof, even in the physical world, that infinity exists. We just can’t experience it until we transcend the limitations of the physical body.
So does this mean that Type II and Type III people are idiots? No, of course not. Type II people are just wrong, and Type III people, well, some of them probably are idiots, but we love them anyway!