Debunking Infinity

I used to believe infinity extended in all directions: outward into space and inward into the tiniest particles, from the past into the future, backward and forward in the reflections of a mirror reflecting a mirror, and around and around a circle. However, now I suspect that “infinity” means little more than “goes a very long ways.”

If you keep following a circle or a figure eight (the symbol of infinity) around and around, the shapes seems to go on forever, but who could follow them forever? Someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on the very best crack could only follow the symbol around and around for a couple days at most. Once the crackhead stopped tracing the shape, the eternal symbol would cease to be eternal. A circle and a figure eight do not go around and around forever. They just sit there. Only our eyes go round and round.

A mirror reflecting a mirror seems to recede into eternity, only — you may have noticed — you can never quite look at that eternal point. The hallway of reflected mirrors always curves out of sight. The reason? Your eye is always in the way. Your eye would need to be in the exact center of two perfectly parallel mirrors to see the so-called infinite regression, but your eye would scoop up the light and break the sequence. Let’s imagine an eye at that perfect center that can somehow see but which does not stop the light. Wouldn’t the reflections keep going forever? No, at some point, the light would be down to a single photon and that photon cannot get any smaller. There seems to be a limit to smallness. The photon would keep bouncing back and forth until it was refracted by the air or absorbed by an atom, but it would not carry the image of a mirror any longer.

When I thought that space was infinite, it pleased me to think that I was at the very center, since any point of an infinite space can be called the center. However, when scientists say that “Space is expanding,” they are suggesting that space is finite. Infinity cannot get any bigger. Only something of a limited size can grow. Scientists discovered that the universe was expanding when they noticed a red shift in the light from stars, especially the most distant stars. When an object moving away from the viewer emits light, the wavelengths get stretched, giving the light a reddish tint. When such an object is moving toward the viewer, the wavelengths get squished and appear bluish. Not only is the universe expanding, but the rate of expansion is accelerating.

You may wonder, “If space is limited, what exists outside of space?” You may imagine yourself approaching the limits of the universe in a spacecraft moving at warp 250,000, but if space is curved, you would never reach the edge; your course would turn and you would continue traveling through space until your dilithium crystals were drained. You would not, could not travel forever, even in an imaginary spaceship.

You may also picture yourself, godlike, sitting outside of the universe watching it blow up like a balloon, but if you think this way, you are thinking in spatial terms. There is no space outside space. There are no seats outside of the game. You need to move your mental eye inside the stadium. Space is not an eternal emptiness which the universe expands into. Space is itself a thing, like a fabric, that came into existence during the big bang.

We tend to picture the big bang from the outside (as in the picture to the right), like we are observers watching fireworks on the fourth of July, but this is a mistake. Again, there is no outside. Another problem with this conception is that we cannot start watching before the explosion happens, because there was no “before.”┬áThere was no time before the big bang. Time, like space, was something that came into existence. To more accurately picture the big bang, place your imaginary eye in the center of the singularity at the moment of hyperinflation and watch the universe expand outward from you. (Of course, there would be no light yet, but we are using imagination after all, so we can allow ourselves some liberties.)

Will the universe eventually slow down and contract back in upon itself, crushing all matter and energy back into another point, a singularity where all the known laws of the universe break down? Will a new universe be born? Or will the universe keep expanding forever? Current evidence suggests that it will keep expanding until all the energy has dissipated. Since matter is energy in its most basic form (if I understand the physics right), then all matter would eventually fizzle out. Would this dark universe continue indefinitely or would space and time, which are also things, fade out of existence?

The future is perhaps the only direction that might continue indefinitely, but I doubt it. I find myself hoping that the universe will contract and be reborn again, but why do I care so much when I can only a tiny, tiny fraction of the life of my own star, much less my galaxy? Why do I want so much to believe in infinity? I do not even use all the space in my small apartment, but somehow the idea of infinity gives me more breathing room. Infinity is a pleasing fantasy. Although I am finite, something is not.


6 thoughts on “Debunking Infinity”

  1. Fascinating thoughts. One concern about the “no outside” hypothesis is that it may require an uncaused beginning. But all experience tells us that beginnings have a cause and the cause is independent of its effect (the reverse is not true). That is it exists “prior to” and “beyond” its effect (although in the case of space and time these words are of limited use). If space and time began, it is reasonable to suppose that they had a cause. If so, the cause exists independent of space and time, and so there must be something “beyond” space and time. This is hard to think of in the dimensions in which we exist, just as a two dimensional “flatlander” can hardly imagine a three dimensional existence. But some scientists and mathematicians are modeling multidimensional possibilities.

    Atheistic scientists were disturbed when they first discovered the big bang, because rather than an eternal universe, with matter as the self-existent reality as they supposed, the universe seemed to be created “ex-nihilo” pointing to a “non-material” cause existing prior to the known universe. Descriptions of a “singularity” are not unlike sectarian descriptions of an immaterial God.

    Perhaps more serious, is the notion that we can deny the existence of anything beyond that which we experience. We cannot say that there is nothing beyond space and time anymore than my four-year-old self could say existence ended at the bus stop (the limits of my known universe). And logic favors the idea that something does indeed exist beyond the known universe, or else, from whence did it come?

    As scientists peer further and further into space, they continue to see more stuff. I’m reminded of a joke about how “hillbillies” give directions: “Go two farsees and turn right.” A farsee is defined as “far as the eye can see.” Even hillbillies know that existence doesn’t end at the limits of our vision.

    Another problem is viewing infinity in terms of space and time at all. Many scientists admit that beyond the dimensions we experience there may be more, and beyond our universe there may be more. They now debate the possibilities of multi-verses and mother universes. Infinity certainly seems possible within these theoretical frameworks, but they are still thinking in terms of space-time. A slight shift in thinking can change everything: singularity NOT as an undefinable mysterious material/immaterial reality, NOT as everything and nothing all at once, NOT an unimaginable enormity in an unimaginably small space, but RATHER as MIND itself. Of course our minds extend beyond our bodies. It’s an easy thing to demonstrate. The post-it note on my computer screen is an extension of mind. A “re-minder” that transcends the space-time of my body. It’s a simple matter for mind to create such transcendent realities because that is what it IS.

    Relationships also are “immaterial” and “material” all at once. They don’t fall on our retinas. My relationship with you extends beyond my body and brain. You are not contained within the space-time of my body-brain. And I am not contained within the space-time of yours. Our relationship is not simply a mental representation consisting of so much neuro-chemical reaction. Our relationship exists BETWEEN us, within AND beyond each of us as individuals. Neither of us can point to it, but both of us know without question that it exists.

  2. Mike’s comment in March 2012 hits on one word that to me, epitomizes the chasm that exists between understanding or just accepting this fact on “INFINITY”!!! The word that he mentioned was “Atheist”—which automatically throws the discussion into what some choose to call believing in “A Higher Power” [Or not to believe that]!!! As for me, I have chosen to believe in the former—and I truly believe that the Holy Bible and HOLY GOD of that Bible, has the answers that point us to the fact of INFINITY—which comes by “FAITH” and not sight [“Sight”===scientific reasoning and complete human understanding][As Hebrews 11:1-3 tells us]!!! Almighty GOD is “INFINITE”—which is synonymous with “ETERNAL”—and since our “Finite” minds cannot fathom or touch the realms of a full understanding of INFINITY [For only EL-GOD is INFINITE—HIS thoughts being much higher than mankinds—as the Holy Bible tells us]; we must therefore as subordinate and lower creatures in the ETERNAL KINGDOM that is to come, believe HIM [By “FAITH”] concerning HIS INFINITE POWER—UNDERSTANDING—ETC…!!! Mankind [Like SATAN] is trying to “Be like GOD” [ISAIAH 14][Ezekiel 28]—and in this world of the testing of mankind [for that future ETERNAL KINGDOM soon to come]; only those who accept the Lord JESUS Christ [Jehovah of the Old Testament Manifested in the Sacrificial flesh of His Own Sonship] by “FAITH”—will pass the test and enter therein!!! By “FAITH” we understand to a point that[Genesis 1] and [John 1] clearly tell us that ELMIGHTY GOD Spoke HIS Perfect Creative thoughts and desires into physical manifestation and existence; and the physical elements, particles, atoms, etc… were fashioned by HIS Power and Love for sharing life with HIS potential subjects—and they came into existence!!! HE started with the lowest form of Created life and worked to the highest [Man]; so in “that sense” and “that structure”— EL-GOD is an evolutionist in that evolving and structured pattern of Created life!!! The difference between THAT True evolutionary Idea, and the scientific one—is that every seed was to bring forth of it’s individual specific kind [With no hybreeding or crossing of seeds]!!! Man’s scientific theory says that one species merged into another—and the somple fact that anything hybrid cannot reproduce itself “should” dispel the scientific evolutionary idea; for if that occurred in the beginning of time [In EDEN]—then there would be no offspring to be fruitful and multiply on the earth!!! AGAIN in closing, Science and Mankind is trying to be like GOD [Through Satan’s Inspiration]—and although they can come close in theory and thought; they will NEVER achieve a full understanding and manifestation of The Germ of Life [The ‘GOD Particle’ as they call it]—for that alone belongs to the CREATOR/SAVIOUR—and we must ultimately accept it by “FAITH” in HIS Creative WORD!!! AGAIN [Hebrews 11:1-3]!!! To better understand these things from TRUE BIBLICAL Facts—and from a TRULY SENT Ministry from the Almighty [That bridges the chasm of a finite earth to an INFINITE GOD and Heaven]; then I encourage you to LOGON: “”!!!!!!!! May that TRUE GOD of Creation and Faith enlighten you as you do!!!!!

  3. I despise the saying, “Those who can’t do teach.” Teachers are disgustingly underrated, and their gift for explaining things is frustratingly unappreciated in our country. You explained very complicated ideas in such an easy to understand way. I wish my science teachers had been as good at teaching things as you… instead of using complicated, incomplete explanations or some that were even flat out wrong. My third grade science teacher told us the moon is partially dark because it has a shadow on. There is no shadow on the moon! Light simply does not hit one side! If it had a shadow, (blocked light), it would be an eclipse!
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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