Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Infinity does not exist in our dimension"

A bunch of the ACA'ers went on a pub crawl last Friday. The crawl started out at Dog & Duck pub, the home of the ACA'ers happy hours; then we went on to 6th street. On the way there we were approached by folks who were handing out fake million dollar bills. It was some kind of Christian evangelist thing. Along the edge of a "bill" in small print there were questions such as "will you go to heaven"? Since most of us wore "Godless pub crawl: pubs, not popes" T-shirts made for this occasion, we must have been a tempting target for evangelists, and there seem to be quite a few of them hunting for souls to save in the nightlife district on a Friday night.

Not surprisingly, two of them got into an argument with Matt, the president of the ACA. One of those guys told Matt he would prove there is a God in 30 seconds flat. Needless to say, their argument lasted a lot longer, and most of the ACA'ers got bored and wandered off to our next stop, the Darwin pub (no connection to Darwin that I could tell!) It became tedious quickly, but not before I had a chance to hear this gem of an argument. The evangelist attempted to argue from the "first cause", to which Matt replied: if everything must have a cause, then who created God? The evangelist guy said, God doesn't have to have a cause or creator, he always existed. Matt said something along the lines of, you can't simply dismiss a question of whether God has a cause; just like it is meaningful to ask that question about anything else, it is also meaningful to ask it about God; you can't just arbitrarily declare that God has no cause. Matt tried to explain it by analogy: no matter how big a number you can think of, you can also imagine an even greater number, and so on all the way to infinity. The evangelist guy somehow felt existence of infinities threatened his beliefs. He said, no, I don't have to (imagine an even bigger number). I can stop any time. Infinity does not exist in our dimension, he added.

I loved that last remark. :-)

I blame science fiction. :-) Seriously. I blame popular sci-fi shows and movies for putting terms like "infinity" and "dimension" into the vocabulary of people who cannot grasp these very simple and intuitive mathematical concepts... but don't shy away from using them in a debate!

After the Darwin pub all the ACA'ers went on to their next stop, but I decided to save my liver and go home.

Pictures from the godless pub crawl can be found in my photo gallery.

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