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Pi's Infinity: An Analogy - by John Prytz

My theist debatingacquaintance, MG, from another place, who just doesn't accept the concept of atemporal infinity[#] (either a linear one or a circular one, either one withcyclic events) on the grounds that you can't get to "Now" from eitherthe starting point of an infinite past or by going backwards from an infinite future.I'd argue that the everyday concept of mathematical Pi disputes MG's assertion.


[#] Despite thefact that theists accept the concept as given that God is an eternal /everlasting being without beginning and without end.


[Note: I debatedwith MG the reason I think that there is a temporal infinity and as such any specifichappening would have to ultimately repeat. I often used the analogy of walkingaround a sphere an infinite number of times and thus repeating being in aspecific location at a specific "Now" or approaching "Now".MG responds...]


MG – “There is noreason to think a repetitive pattern will emerge. Just think of numbers like pi(an infinite set of numerals that never repeats nor demonstrates any cyclicalpattern).”


JP – Even in Piyou will find repeating patterns. How many times will you find say 27, 33, 42or 007 within the Pi sequence? Each time you find, say 42, that’s a repeat ofthe first 42! Even the number "4" is a unique event that randomlyrepeats. For that matter, you could consider Pi to be a series, not ofnecessity in sequence, of ten separate 'events' - 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,and 9. Nice try!


MG - "Even if it did repeat over andover, it would be true that it had repeated a certain number of times. If thatnumber is infinite, then an actually infinite number of events had to betraversed prior to the current one for that particle, and we are right back inthe same contradiction."


JP - Go back and re-read my analogy withthe sphere and how you can go around and around an infinite number of times,participate in an infinite number of events, and still be within spittingdistance of "The Present Moment".


MG - "Pi might have the same numeral show up, butnot in any CYCLICAL PATTERN."


JP - And I stated exactly that! Re-read my post.


MG - "You messed up on this one. Just admit it andmove on."


JP - I admit no such thing! The infinity of Pi (ah,you've admitted an infinity) is composed of a finite number of individualnumbers (0 through 9). That's a good analogy for there being an infinite numberof individual finite events. Note that I have consistently said that infinityconsists of an infinite number of finite events. You are just one finite eventin a sequence of infinite finite events and collectively that is what infinityis. Back to the Pi analogy: The number 4 is a finite event (like you are afinite event) within the infinite sequence we call Pi. The finite number 4happens an infinite number of times in the sequence we call Pi. The number 4 istherefore infinitely cyclic within the Pi sequence but the number 4 itself doesnot have any specific cyclic pattern within the Pi sequence. 


MG - "And as long as 4 doesn't come up with cyclicalregularity in pi, then pi counts as a complete counter-argument to yourcyclical time argument (for which you presented zero evidence)."


JP - As long as 4 comes up again and again and again,whether in an irregular pattern or in a regular pattern, and as long as 4stands in for some sort of event, then translated to a cosmic setting, thatevent has happened again and again.




*MG argues for an absolutely temporal finite Universewhich required an actual creation and therefore a creator, and therefore Godexists and God done it. However, perhaps even a finite Universe is an infiniteone. By analogy, Pi has a finite beginning yet it has apparently infiniteduration. Or, even if Pi does eventually repeat or come to finality, there's1/3rd which also has a finite beginning but which is also infinite in duration.Therefore, even if our Universe had a finite beginning, it is still infinite ifthere is no temporal end to it.


*It would take a temporally infinite you an infinity oftime to calculate the entirety of Pi, but in attempting to do so, you would beSOMEWHERE within the sequence at any given moment, a moment you would call"Now". In other words, you could have started a journey through timestarting an infinite amount of time ago and still be at a point we call "ThePresent Moment" or "Now".


*Looking Infinitely Forward: Let’s say for sake ofargument that the “Looking Infinitely Back” problems have been resolved in MG'sfavor. That is, the Universe had an absolute beginning a finite amount of timeago. Now there’s the “Looking Infinitely Forward” versions of issues to beresolved.


But doesn’t the issue of not being able to get from aninfinite past to “Now” also work the other way around? Presumably if you starttravelling – even if mentally – back from an infinite future, you couldn’t thusin time travelling backwards ever reach “Now” either. This is relevant becauselike Pi [#], we have a finite beginning yet, according to theists, have ‘life’everlasting or everlasting ‘life’; ‘life’ eternal or eternal ‘life’ in theafterlife. So how do you come back to “Now” from the infinite future? So,theists have the same infinity problem only in reverse.


[#] I’m not really sure how one can have a one-sidedinfinity as in an infinite past that terminates, or a finite beginning thatnever terminates. Yet, Pi has a finite beginning yet an (apparently) infinite‘end’.


*If you can actually have a one-sided infinity as increation hence an eternal 'life', or Pi, then logically you can have aninfinite 'beginning' or a 'beginning' an infinite amount of time ago, and afinite ending, or in other words what you can term as "Now". If one,then the other. If the other - finite beginning; infinite 'end' - thensomething can undergo an infinite journey in time and arrive at"Now". 

Science librarian; retired.

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