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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Infinity and the Brick Wall

Reading and discussing philosophy has always stirred my imagination, yet the 'ultimate question' has nagged me since I was 11 years old, for I recall it very vividly. In 6th grade we had this huge playground, at the far end was a rather large shade tree, and one afternoon after running about during recess, I found myself with a buddy under the shade of that tree, cooling off. Soon we both flopped to the ground, on our backs, hands clasped behind our heads, both of us looking up through the leafy tree branches to the blue sky. And this is what I recall most, saying outloud to myself, "How high is the sky?" Then my friend saying something like the sky goes up forever, and I added that the sky and outer space just had to go on forever. I don't recall if 'infinity' was in my 6th-grade vocabulary at the time, but that was my firm belief, for, and this I recall saying, "If outer space had an end, then what would it be? A brick wall? Then something would have to be on the other side of the brick wall." Okay,

I'm no longer in the 6th grade, and know that space and time and this material world are a tiny bit of IT ALL. Even 'quantity' are things of this world, so to even say IT ALL can only be a notion of a being of this material world. Of course I believe in a God, a Creator of all that we humans can sense, and within this belief I can stir my imagination with all the insights that science has uncovered. Yet when I talk to, or read the thoughts of someone who does not hold a belief in a God, or Creator, or Higher Power, then the discussion is limited to 'this world' as something that came about, and all we can really do is investigate the material world, for after all we have no instruments to sense the immaterial, so the atheist either ignores the immaterial world (all that humans cannot sense with either our senses, or instruments) or allow reasoning to become an instrument of investigation. I guess that is what I was using while wondering under that shade tree, an 11-year-old brain reasoning that infinity had to exist, yet reasoning couldn't fully grasp it.

For a moment I'll attempt to use reason as if I were an atheist. For the most part we are simply another accumulation of atoms that came together by chance and evolution and have a very brief existence before dissolving and disassembling into the original atoms that constructed us, and that is it. Birth, life, death. Period. No rhyme or reason. This presents two great concerns for us, life is ultimately meaningless, and the complex electro-chemical reactions within our skull are simply that, and no more. This Godless brain is no more special than the computer you are using, pull the plug, it is dead -- blank. To really believe this and confront it as a reality is more than many folks can take, for it can very easily lead to 'madness' or any of many mental 'disorders.' Some intellectual atheists busy themselves with mental activities that for the most part keep them from confronting the void. But in the end, all the activities are just hammering more 2X4s to that door from which behind is the ultimate reality -- nothingness.

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