Sunday, March 04, 2007

The logic of limits

Willbefine left the following comment about yesterday's post (response to z0tl can be found at the end):

"What if either God or Infinity does not exist? For instance infinity might be in fact finite! Does that mean God does not exist too?"

Ah Willbefine, thank you for this... nothing more I love than an ongoing philosophical debate. Here are some of my viewpoints:

  • If God or infinity does not exist then there exists only one option to explain the coming about of life on earth. Chance. Mathematical probability suggests this is very, very remote - about as remote as a monkey sitting at a typewriter and typing out Shakespeare's 4th sonnet. But yes, it could have happened by chance, otherwise it would not be a probability.
  • "Infinity might be finite". Can't do I'm afraid. Mutually exclusive by definition. Either that or we don't speak the same language.
  • Furthermore, arguing the non-existence of infinity is not logically possible. An All-encompassing Finity will always be undone by a process called "infinite regression". For example, if the universe is finite in dimension - then what's on the other side? And if the thing on the other side is finite - what's on the other side of that? Neverending...
  • As to God's existence without infinity, yes, my argument may have had a hole in it. It depends totally on your definition of God. If I believed in a "God", I would maintain that a finite God would not be a "God". So for a God to exist, infinity must exist.
But does all of the above prove anything? Not neccessarily. Rather than proving the limits of God or infinity, it may just prove the limits of logical argument.

My personal take on the whole thing?

Nietzsche famously announced that "God is Dead"

BPG announces that "Dead or alive, finite or infinite, God's existence or non-existence is irrelevant."

And that is not out of synch with my "spiritual" beliefs. Although I refuse to be boxed into any "religion's" dogmatic category, I would probably be most aligned with Buddhist thought. Unlike other "religions" Buddhism's sole validation does not depend on the existence or non-existence of God. In fact, it's not a religion. Not even a philosophy. It is a METHODOLOGY.

A HOW to live your life.

A WAY, rather than a WHY.

And at the end of the day that's all that matters.

RESPONSE to z0tl

Hey Zaruthustra, sorry I'm only getting to you now, but the truth is I was so excited about the prospect of an ongoing metaphysics debate that I wrote the above before you had even commented.

You're saying: Because there was no time before the big bang infinite time does not exist.

Firstly, the Big Bang is also subject to infinite regression, no matter what Rog Penrose and mates have to say.*

Secondly: I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that because time had a beginning, infinity does not exist. What about if it doesn't have an ending? Does infinity have to have no ending AND no beginning to exist? where would that leave time with a beginning but no ending?? It is certainly not finite.

*The best synopsis of the Big Bang that I ever heard was given by the Dalai Lama. When asked if he believed in the Big Bang, he answered:
"Which one?"


  1. willbefine04 March, 2007

    Just to carry on this infinite debate. BPG said, "Furthermore, arguing the non-existence of infinity is not logically possible. An All-encompassing Finity will always be undone by a process called "infinite regression". For example, if the universe is finite in dimension - then what's on the other side? And if the thing on the other side is finite - what's on the other side of that? Neverending...

    In reference to the word "side" in the statement. What type of shape are you referring to? Take a ring of paper. Cut it. Put half a full twist at one end. Connect the paper together. Now run your finger along one side of the paper. Without leaving the paper your finger will travel along the inside and outside of the paper ring. Perhaps our universe has this shape? A continuum of space and time. Never ending but of finite shape?

  2. The finite was never a possibility for me. Math believes in infinity and I believe in math.

    Personally, I'll go as far as to say: "God IS math. Logical and infinite." Consequently, for me, the universe is governed by "infinite logic". I find this very comforting. :P

    What is an endless source of fascination to me, is evidence suggesting the existence of two powers in the universe. However it is unclear if they are just two sides of the same coin or if they are indeed opposing each other.

    [Apophenia on]
    Lithium is one of only four elements theorized to have been created in the first three minutes of the universe through a process called Big Bang nucleosynthesis.[Apophenia off]

  3. Never ending but of finite shape?

    I like this.

  4. i proclaim god = 3.1415... it has a beginning, it's 3, but no 1 can tell what the end of it may be.

    now regressing that definition into assfinity, i also metaphysically say: an omnipotent/omniscient pi (read god with capital G in afrikaans dialekt) IS NOT COMPATIBLE with free will [that can be both mathematically and philosophically shown, see Fermat, Socrates, et al page 8 or Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker's Guide to teh Galaxy, page 1).

    now since we HAVE NO CHOICE, but to believe in FREE WILL, i say let's give all this shittyphysical talk up now before we hug Nietsche's Horse and go nut:z!

  5. i proclaim god = 3.1415...

    I agree. :)

    IS NOT COMPATIBLE with free will

    Whoa. Wait. Why not?

  6. In fact, many call Buddhism the religion of no religion.

  7. I'm currently wondering which came first, agnosticism or bipolar. Nietzsche was mentally ill for the last dozen years of his life or so, remember. I gave up on God around age fourteen for no particular reason other than my inability to believe.

  8. After alot of random studying of varying religions -from catholicism to wicca- I came to the conclusions that mankind has a need for "god". God takes many forms dependant on what the individual can accept and be comfortable with, but in the end it is all the same thing. A superior being, a reason for existence, accountability, hope.... wether God exists and in what form is irrelevant. He fills a desperate need in humankind. After this eclectic studying I took what I personally needed and for myself I have kept the wiccan laws of "and it harm none-do what ye will" and also the thought that everything you send out negative or postive returns to you (the threefold law) if you think about everything you say or do and what reprecussion it might have on everyone and everything that pretty much covers everything. So that is how I try to live. I think about my words and actions. Will this hurt anyone or anything? If not then I go ahead and do it. I try to include myself in that... And so ends Raines veiws on religion and metaphysics :P

  9. @amanda:

    i also believe in apple PI, just so you no...

    also douggie adams says that of i dunno how many intelligent species documented in Teh Guide, only humAns still bother arguing about free will, so i'll cut my losses now & call it quit:z!

  10. only humAns still bother arguing about free will, started it! :P

    Just joking. :)

  11. God’s existence has been proven. The arguments are out there (, There is no doubt.


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