Home » Mathematics, News » Let’s just end infinity and be done with it?

Let’s just end infinity and be done with it?

8 infinity symbols

An article in the current New Scientist suggests,

Infinity’s end: Time to ditch the never-ending story?

Mathematics as we know it is riddled with infinities. The number line stretches to eternity and beyond, and is infinitely divisible: countless more numbers lurk between any two others. The number of digits in a constant like pi is limitless. Whether geometry, trigonometry or calculus, the mathematical manipulations we use to make sense of the world are built on the idea that some things never end.

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5 Responses to Let’s just end infinity and be done with it?

  1. Wise King Solomon declared: “I have seen the occupation that God has given to the sons of mankind in which to be occupied. Everything he has made pretty in its time. Even time indefinite he has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the true God has made from the start to the finish.”—Eccl. 3:10, 11.

    Almighty God, the Creator, enabled man to conceive of past and future time indefinite, or eternity. The lower animals have no such concept. Something implanted in the human mind by God gives man the concept of limitless existence.

    Now, if what the Bible says about man is true, we should be able to see evidence to this effect. Do we? Does man stand in sharp contrast with the animals? Does man alone think seriously about the future, concern himself with it and work toward it? Does he react to death in a way different from the animals, showing that he alone has appreciation for what life has meant to him in the past and could mean to him in the future?

    There is no denying that all living things cling to life. Instinctively animals that are eaten by other animals seek to escape their predators by flight or concealment. Many creatures will struggle against what appear to be impossible odds to protect their young from death. Such instinctive reaction to the threat of death plays a vital role in the preservation of creature life. But does this mean that animals have an appreciation for the past and future as does man?

    As we know, a man can reflect on the past and can plan for the future. In the privacy of his own home, he can think back to his boyhood days—his pranks, disappointments, failures, successes and joys. He can plan future moves—building a new house, purchasing furniture, determining the kind of education he would like for his children to get, and so forth. But can a dog, for example, meditate about its puppyhood, the children that played with it then, its becoming full grown and then mating?

    In his book Animals Are Quite Different, Hans Bauer shows what research has revealed: “The dog will always need an actual sense-impression to enable it to conjure up former incidents. He may be taken, let us say, on a certain occasion to an unfamiliar town in which he undergoes some experience or other. After his return home the impressions then received will have been forgotten. But if he goes back to the same spot he will remember them. It is in fact one of the special peculiarities and advantages of the human as compared with the animal psychological structure that the content of human memory is not associated with the needs of every day but embedded in the stream of consciousness as a whole.” Thus, unlike man, animals cannot at will reconstruct events of the past.

    But can they plan ahead for the future? Do not hamsters, certain ants, squirrels and other animals store up or hide food supplies for later use? Is not this a planning ahead for the future so as not to suffer want in winter? “No,” says the above-mentioned author, and he gives these facts in support: “They do not know what they are doing or why they do it. They simply proceed in accordance with instinct, the proof being that even animals removed from their parents at a very early age and kept in cages begin ‘collecting’ in the autumn. Such animals have never known winter conditions and will not be deprived of nourishment in the coming months. Nevertheless, they ‘hoard’ simply for the sake of ‘hoarding.’”

    Summing up the contrast between man and animals, he remarks:
    “The world of animals is therefore exclusively that of the present moment in the most literal sense of the word. For they can easily be diverted from even the most fascinating objects by others of more immediate appeal at the time and never afterwards return to the former.”

    Truly, then, man alone has a concept of “time indefinite,” the ability to meditate on the past and to look toward the future, planning for it.
    It is because animals live only in the present that for them death is clearly not the tragedy it is for humans. Animals seem to react to death as a natural course of events.
    Take the case witnessed in Serengeti National Park involving a lioness and her three cubs. While the lioness was away, the cubs lay hidden in a thicket. Then two male lions from another territory appeared. Finding the hidden cubs, they killed all three. They ate one, carried the other off and left the third behind. What did the lioness do when she returned and saw her remaining dead cub? She displayed no grief, no emotion, but merely sniffed at the carcass of her remaining dead cub—and then devoured it.
    It is also noteworthy that animals on which lions prey do not react with terror at seeing a lion some distance away. Once a lion has gotten its meal, herds of animals soon resume their usual routine. In fact, prey animals may come within one hundred and twenty feet of a visible lion.

  2. I have seen water buffaloes come upon unprotected lion cubs, and proceed to stomp them to death.
    You could call this some kind of awareness of the future, or simply instinct.

  3. I used to talk about God and people would ask me what was there before God. I would answer that God created Time.
    One day I realized that God created Space also.
    I thought this was a first until I read something by a rabbi shortly thereafter that said the same thing.
    How can we conceive of Someone who exists outside of Time and Space?
    Also, are Time and Space really “things”?

  4. Welcome to UD Jazz

  5. Time and space could be called “things”, I guess. I prefer to think of them as concepts myself, mainly because time isn’t tangible.

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