Monday, February 23, 2009

Is Complexity Actually Simplicity Itself?

Try to imagine infinity. Now, try to imagine infinity plus one. Now, as you may have guessed, infinity plus one equals infinity. That’s because the infinite encompasses all that there is and being able to add one to it would mean that it’s not all that is, but that it’s finite. And if you can’t add something to infinity, then you can’t subtract something from it.

Finite = limited
Infinite = limitless

Therefore, any object that is infinite would, by its very nature, be undivided and it’s contents would be unseparated. Any object that is at all complex must have at least two parts. An infinite object, because it is undivided from itself or anything else, has only one part. Therefore, it would be the simplest object in existence.
Nonetheless, I have hunch that complex objects can be infinite and that, in fact, infinite simplicity and infinite complexity are one and the same.

Now, let us see if I’m right.
From an Encarta article on Rube Goldberg:

“’The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts’ was extremely popular for its depiction of outlandish and intricate mechanical devices that were designed to accomplish absurdly simple purposes.”

From an Encarta article on comics:

Goldberg’s work featured wildly complex and ingenious contraptions rigged to fulfill what were often trivial purposes, such as turning on a light. The phrase “a Rube Goldberg device” has become a part of the American lexicon, referring to anything that is unnecessarily intricate or complex.”

Is it possible that the entire universe, and whatever lies beyond it, is just a gigantic Rube Goldberg machine?

After all, according to mainstream science, for which naturalistic philosophy is a foundation, nature not only has a trivial purpose, it has no purpose at all.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Hamlet Act 3, scene 1, 55–87

Eternal Hope

What prevents any of us from hoping in God?
Earlier last month, I had a conversation with my neighbor, a man who’s been severely handicapped from birth. If you were to see his apartment, you’d see models of tanks on his bookshelves, videotapes about WWII, and, most notably, a Marine Corps-themed clock on one wall which plays the Marine Corps Hymn at the top of every hour, and a giant red Marine Corps flag on another wall. For most of his adult life, my friend has desperately desired to be a Marine. He has about three years, probably, before his age disqualifies him from eligibility for enlistment. He had pinned all his hopes on becoming a Marine and now he’s beginning to realize that that won’t happen for him.
I asked him what gave him hope now, what gave him the strength to go on? He spoke of a woman who worked at the gym where he worked out, who he was very much “head-over-heels” for. He said that the hope that they would be together one day gave him the strength he needed to go on. He said this even though recently the woman told him that she regarded him only as a friend and nothing more.
He lives a very limited existence. He spends most of his day either in his apartment, watching his antenna TV, or working out at the gym. He has two or three friends. He has family, though they’re not very close, except for his two younger brothers who, themselves, have served in the Marines.
So, if it becomes clear that this woman he is smitten with will never feel the same way about him, what life raft will he cling to next? He is always hopeful that he can find a cure for at least some aspect of his disease. But, what if he doesn’t? His disease is a progressive one, slowly eroding his ability to care for himself as the years and decades pass. He could lose his sight and his hearing. He could completely lose the use of his arms and legs, and the ability of even holding himself upright in his wheelchair. To top it off, he may die at no older than 65 years of age. That’s about another 30 or so years for him, which is a lot of time. But, these days 65 years is relatively young.
My point is this: my friend has already had his dream of becoming a Marine pass by. If the woman he loves rejects him and the cure he needs never comes, then where will he turn to for help?
Where there’s life, there’s hope, and where there’s no hope, there’s no life. For my friend to have to be periodically in search of a new source of hope to keep him alive is very shaky ground to stand on. This will be so, as long as these new sources of hope are transient ones. Is there a source of hope that will never fail? Not in this universe. In this universe, all things have a beginning and an end. Ultimately, everything and everyone fails.
If there is any other lasting source of hope, it must lie beyond space and time, for only in such a place could something exist that would never, ever fail. And something that is never-ending is also, by definition, never-failing. The Bible says that God is this something, or Someone, which exists beyond the universe.
Though what I’ve written above makes logical sense to me, I’ve never been truly willing to trust God with my life. I have had the feeling that God cannot or will not save me, that I’ve already been consigned to Hell. I did ask Jesus to save me, but I am worried that my life in the 20 years since then has not brought forth the fruit indicative of saving faith.
Why do I despair? Why can’t I hope in God? But, if I despair, then what keeps me hanging on desperately, white-knuckling my way through life? What keeps anyone hanging on?

Notes on “HOPE”:
Phone call, 10/05/08
When asked what gave her the strength to live through each day, Mom said, “That’s what we’re here to do.” To survive.
She added that she thought we were given “gifts and time” to use to our best ability.
I said that when I asked myself that question, the first answer that came to mind was, “Fear of death.” I continued, “I suppose that’s a kind of hope.” I’m choosing what I know over what I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me after I die. The dictionary says hope has to do with expectations. I choose life because I don’t know what to expect with death—Heaven or Hell?
But other people, I think, may put their hope in death, so to speak, expecting that it will be better than the lives they’re living.

If ‘hope’ can be defined as ‘desire accompanied by expectation,’ then ‘despair’ is best defined as, ‘dread accompanied by expectation.’
1. Feel extremely frightened: to feel extremely frightened or worried about something that may happen in the future. 2. Be reluctant: to be reluctant or frightened to do something because it is unpleasant, upsetting, or annoying.
n (plural dreads)
1. Terror: a feeling of great fear or terror, especially at the thought of experiencing or encountering something unpleasant. 2. Source of dread: something that is dreaded. 3. Awe: a feeling of awe and reverence (archaic).
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

My therapist suggested today that the beauty in the world can be a source of hope.

A Few Good Words to Know...
“Faith,” “Hope,” “Despair,” and “Dread”

The meanings of the word “faith”...
As a noun: 1. Belief without evidence. 2. Confidence; trust. 3. Belief in God, the Bible, etc. 4. A specific religion. 5. Anything given adherence or credence, e.g., a man’s political faith. 6. Allegiance; faithfulness.
Here’s another definition . . .
“Faith has both an active and a passive sense in the Bible. The former meaning relates to one’s loyalty to a person or fidelity to a promise; the latter, confidence in the word or assurance of another. Faith is not merely what a person believes, i.e., accurate doctrine or creed, but also and more importantly, that the object of his faith is valid.”
The meanings of the word “hope”...
As a verb: 1. to desire with expectation of fulfillment. 2. To wish, to want.
3. To have desire or expectation, e.g., “to hope for the best.”
As a noun: 1. Desire accompanied by expectation. 2. The reason or cause of such desire. 3. The thing hoped for. 4. A person or thing about which one can be hopeful.
The meanings of the word “despair”...
As a noun: 1. Feeling of hopelessness: a profound feeling that there is no hope. 2. Cause of hopelessness: somebody or something that makes somebody feel hopeless or exasperated, i.e., He was the despair of his soccer coach. vi (past de•spaired, past participle de•spaired, present participle de•spair•ing, 3rd person present singular de•spairs)
lose hope: to feel that there is no hope.
[13th century. Via Old French from Latin desperare , literally “to stop hoping,” from sperare “to hope,” from spes “hope.”]
And a related word: “dread”...
As a verb: 1. To feel extremely frightened or worried about something that may happen in the future. 2. To be reluctant or frightened to do something because it is unpleasant, upsetting, or annoying.
As a noun: 1. A feeling of great fear or terror, especially at the thought of experiencing or encountering something unpleasant. 2. A feeling of awe and reverence.