Infinity Never Ends
“To infinity and beyond!” That was Buzz Lightyear’s motto in the movie Toy Story. Did you get the joke? Infinity goes on forever. Yes, it does! There is no “beyond” infinity. It is impossible to go to infinity and beyond.
Infinity and eternity are like brothers. Infinity denotes space – distance. Eternity refers to time. They both go on forever. They have no beginning and no end. They are totally unlike the space and time we know. The universe we call home is not infinite. Time is not eternal. Space and time have a beginning and an end.
You and I are creatures of finite space and time. We cannot know true infinity or eternity. The Bible says so in Ecclesiastes 3:11. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (NAS) In other words, we are able to understand the general idea of eternity and infinity. But we can’t totally comprehend what those words mean.
Infinity is impossible for us to comprehend fully. Eternity is impossible for us even to imagine. Let’s start with infinity. We will talk about eternity in a minute.
Are We There Yet?
It’s like this. Suppose you get into a rocket ship. You travel at the speed of light for a billion years. Would you be any closer to the edge of infinity? Nope. Look out the front of the space ship. There is one more mile to go, then another, then another. Look at your watch. The seconds sweep by. There is one more second, then another, then another. Are you any closer to infinity than before? Nope.
So you travel for another billion years and trillions more miles. All those miles; all those years. Are you any closer to infinity than before? Nope. Are you starting to understand? Do you want to travel for another billion years? You will never reach the edge of infinity.
But space has limits. There is an edge to the universe. Scientists say they found it. A really good rocket ship can take us there. Our lives may play out within the boundaries of space and time. But there are boundaries. The universe has an end.
Space and time can be measured. We divide space and time into lengths and periods. We live in days and weeks and hours. We move about and keep track of inches and miles and pounds and tons.
None of these measurements make sense when we talk about infinity. Infinity and eternity cannot exist in space and time. They are too big.
Infinity and eternity play by different rules. Addition and subtraction do not make sense in the realm of infinity. Let me give you an example.
An Infinity Is a Lot of Books
Let’s say we are in a library that has an infinite number of books. We take away two billion books. How many books are left? The library still has an infinite number of books. Addition and subtraction follow different rules in a library with an infinite number of books.
Let’s say every tenth book is a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. How many copies of Pilgrim’s Progress are in the library. That’s right. There are an infinite number of copies of Pilgrim’s Progress in the library. As I said earlier, infinity does not play by the same rules as space.
So what? Who cares? Why should this matter to us? We will spend all of our lives in space and time. When we die we will go to a place totally different from this world. What will this be like for those who trust Christ as Savior? According to the apostle Paul,
But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (NAS)
Will we live there as infinite beings? Who knows? Why should we become concerned about infinity and eternity? God watches over those who love Him. We are safe in the love of Jesus Christ.
But understanding infinity is important. It makes a difference. Do you want to prove that God exists? Infinity and eternity form the foundation for these proofs. These proofs also work because of something called infinite regress
Infinite Regress? Not Possible in Our Universe
What is an infinite regress? It’s not just another confusing term. The idea of infinite regress is important. It’s one of the central ideas in the cosmological proofs for the existence of God.
Every series of events must have a first event. We could ask, “Why is point ‘A’ moving?” The answer: point B bumped into it. Point B must have been in motion. How did point B start moving? Point C bumped into it. Point C must have been in motion. How did point C start moving? Point D bumped into it. This is the beginning of something called a regression. We are looking back—regressing—in order to find the first event.
Point E bumped into point D. Point F bumped into point E. And so on and so forth. We might be able to regress back hundreds of points. But no matter how many points we regress, there must be a first event. No first event? Then we have an infinite regress. Infinity cannot exist in space and time. Neither can an infinite regress.
Here’s another example. Every year colleges play football. They field a school team. This team plays other teams. It’s big business and big money. But it’s more than that. College football is a time-honored tradition. Rivalries dominate the game. South Bend, Indiana, even has a college football hall of fame. (In Autumn 2014 it will move to Atlanta.)
Tradition! Rivalries! Hall of Fame! College football has been around for a long time. But what was the first game? That’s a logical question to ask. After all, there’s no evidence George Washington played football. Charlemagne never scored a touchdown. Julius Caesar never spiked a ball in the end zone. There must have been a first game.
There was. It took place on November 6, 1869. Rutgers beat Princeton, six goals to two. There may have been some earlier football games. The Princeton/Rutgers game is considered the first official game. See how easy that was? We knew there was a first game. Every series has to start with a first event.
Where did the first motion come from? Aristotle asked that question. We live in a world that moves. What started it moving? Motion could not start itself. An infinite regression is impossible. Who started the chain of motion? Aristotle says the source of first movement must be eternal.
Only God Is Infinite and Eternal
Herein lies the problem. God is infinite and eternal. He’s the only One who is. If we want to understand God and the philosopher’s proofs for God, we have to cross paths with infinity and eternity.
Logic and reason take us to the edge of infinity and eternity but we cannot cross. Our science, our experiences, our reason – none of these prepare us for the land of eternity or infinity. Our logic and reason may be valid. But they can’t take us to a place we cannot understand. However, we can know the basics of infinity and eternity. This will help us understand why these proofs for God are so powerful.
As we look at Aristotle and Aquinas and the others keep in mind that no finite being fully understands eternity and infinity. But we are able to look at these concepts. We can use these concepts to logically reason why God must exist.
So you think you are confused? Take a look at eternity. That comes next.