The World Is A Place

I would be happy to burrow into a place without time, or to lose, as Kant called it, my a priori notion of time. If time is related to the experience of the senses, then I’d rather ditch it altogether. However, as I’ve always described this longed-for experience as “digging a hole and disappearing into the earth”, I can’t imagine how my senselessness could exist without space. That, I suspect, is the limitation of the human imagination. Or it’s the limitation of my imagination.

Heat death occurs at the zero threshold.

Heat death occurs at the zero threshold.

I imagine there’s a kind of barrier to be crossed in a quantum tunnel, if one can dig out such a thing. Judging by the slowness of my actions in time and space, I couldn’t approach the speed necessary to create such a place where time has reached zero and I would freeze into a senseless zone. For unknown reasons, my mind configures me as a kind of microscopic fetus clawing my way in the appropriate direction, and then, once there, toppling unwittingly into a concave area, the path there and place itself being similar in appearance to a mercury thermometer. So, perhaps, my image has changed a little, and I’m no longer a microscopic creature, but mercury falling down its tube as the temperature declines.

In our days of low philosophical drive, I’ve often heard agnostics express their distaste for the idea of eternity. If heaven–or a place of eternity–were real, it would be soooo boring!! It would be torture to live forever, so they postulate. But they seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of eternity, no doubt owing to Kant’s a priori notions. Eternity would not operate in the same way on the senses and, therefore, boring itself can’t be quantified in such a scenario, let alone be a descriptor of such. I’m not certain my mercury bulb is really an apt visual descriptor, either, except that it demonstrates the concept of crossing a barrier at zero. What happens past that zero threshold is not knowable, in the same way we can’t imagine what will happen at the “heat death” of the universe. Surely, it will be impossible to maintain entropy, in which case, time disappears, in which case…

I would like to imagine I could be frozen in that blissful place for an unknowable period measured not in time, but in ____. I’m at a loss to fill in that blank. I really, really want a space without time, even though it’s unquantifiable. By unquantifiable, I mean that it would occur in zero seconds, and then it would cease to exist unless it met with time again. Perhaps eternity is simply a fold at the farthest limits of space that doesn’t actually exist. Or perhaps my a priori assumptions are mucking things up–mine, not Kant’s. Perhaps at zero entropy, the universe as we know it ceases to exist and is recreated in a way that is unobservable to our senses now.

Oh, for heaven’s sake! All I want to do is lose my senses. That’s all I’m asking for, and writing my yearning for a zero entropy cavern is forcing me to become more acutely aware that I don’t have one and can’t because it’s an impossibility. I think I might put on a workout video–one so difficult that my muscles are reduced to jelly before the intense pain kicks in. If I’m going to sense, I might as well sense with all the gusto life offers.

In other words, here are some from Alexander Pope’s Dunciad, book IV:

In vain, in vain, — the all-composing Hour
Resistless falls: The Muse obeys the Pow’r.
She comes! she comes! the sable Throne behold
Of Night Primæval, and of Chaos old!
Before her, Fancy’s gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying Rain-bows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea’s strain,
The sick’ning stars fade off th’ethereal plain;
As Argus’ eyes by Hermes’ wand opprest,
Clos’d one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after Art goes out, and all is Night.

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7 comments

  1. Jill, I do not think of eternity as frozen time. I think of eternity as the experience of scale invariance (see the following animation):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wiener_process_animated.gif

    Where age after age of new discoveries and new activities and new creations and new adventures happen. Without ever coming to an end. Without ever diminishing the sense of awe–because in Heaven, awe and wonder are scale invariant–they never change no matter how closely you look at them. They never grow old, they never fade away…

    Or that’s how I imagine heaven anyway…

    1. I’m not even sure I mean frozen time, so much as no time to quantify at all (I realize I used the word frozen in there). I don’t know that we have the language to describe eternity outside math. Scale invariance as in, “In general, dimensionless quantities are scale invariant. The analogous concept in statistics are standardized moments, which are scale invariant statistics of a variable, while the unstandardized moments are not.” Ha, ha, sorry, playing off moments and mathematical moments.

    1. Hmm….Now that is an interesting question. I don’t know. I would assume so. Would the very “laws” of physics have been altered?

  2. Jill says: “Hmm….Now that is an interesting question.”
    Indeed it is. By “entropy”, I am concentrating here on the on the tendency to equilibrium through disorder of the present state of the universe. I am no physicist and not qualified to address all the theorems related to entropy as a whole.
    Jill asks ” Would the very “laws” of physics have been altered?: “
    I say yes and contend that the above proposed down winding state of the reality we live in is the direct consequence of the entrance of sin into the universe through the abuse of the dominion given to our first parents. Romans 8:18-24 This would mean that time and space (each of which presupposes the other) are not bound, either definitionally or ontologically to entropy, but in fact preexisted it.
    Gotta go for now

    1. I had always imagined that the Big Bang was related to God speaking matter into existence, and this potent act propelling the cosmos into the future–or into a movement that has a finite quality. Of course, these are all my imaginings, but I imagine that Eden was a place that did have a kind quantum tunneling, where place existed without time, and that was why they were expelled from it when they rebelled against God. Now my mind is spinning while considering it, though.

  3. Jill says: “I had always imagined that the Big Bang was related to God speaking matter into existence,
    As a very traditional reader of Genesis, I have nonetheless not ruled out a “big bang” as being the divine manifestation of God’s ex-nihilo creation of light, matter, time and space.

    Jill says: “and this potent act propelling the cosmos into the future–or into a movement that has a finite quality.”
    Finitude does not necessarily include eventual cessation of existence. We have been given eternal life and are nonetheless “finite” by definition, as only one infinite entity is even logically possible which is what the bible reports as well. The tendency to disorder and equilibrium, death in other words, is not “very good” as God declared His creation to be. I again contend through confirmation provided by the apostle in the 8th of Romans, that Adam as covenant head and dominion keeper of all that God had made, started this time bomb ticking as death through sin was inflicted upon the very cosmos by his act of autonomous self will.

    There are two and only two classes of being possible. Creator and creature. The whole of the finite latter being caused and sustained by the infinite former. The universe is not, has never been and could never possibly be infinite(definition required), even before sin.

    Jill says: “Of course, these are all my imaginings,”
    Everyone has them and yours are far more substantive than most. The fact that you recognize them as such when it is the case will continue to spare you all manner of woe.

    Jill says: “but I imagine that Eden was a place that did have a kind quantum tunneling, where place existed without time,”
    Morning and evening and days indicate time in some form as the universe was taking shape. Time itself is a creation of the Lord and hence finite, but as I said above, it need not end in order to be finite. It’s interesting that you seem to be saying that time itself is a symptom of sin. Or at least that’s’ the logical conclusion. If forced to be honest, it appears the creative author in you is proposing content not justified by the text. While fascinating, I’m not seeing where “quantum tunneling” has a place in the Garden narrative. Of course I don’t think you’re pushing this as an exegetical/expositional imperative anyway.

    Jill says: “and that was why they were expelled from it when they rebelled against God.”
    You did quite lose me here. How is “quantum tunneling”, even if present, the reason for their expulsion?

    Jill says: “Now my mind is spinning while considering it, though.”
    If one’s mind is not spinning they are not meditating on the things of our God.

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