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09-15-1999, 06:09 PM
How can something have "always" existed? LDS belief is that eternity stretches in both directions, both the future and the past. Is there a satisfactory scientific answer that explains the concept of "always"? Is there anything that has "always" existed, even before the Big Bang? And for theists, has God "always" existed as God? Please support your claims with cites, scriptural quotes, links, or whatever.

It boggles my mind to imagine that the past has no beginning, yet that's what my religion teaches. Does science teach the same?

tracer
09-15-1999, 06:50 PM
Well, Always existed. I have it on Laserdisc, as a matter of fact. It's not Richard Dreyfuss's best perfromance, though.

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I'm not flying fast, just orbiting low.

StrTrkr777
09-15-1999, 07:33 PM
Hey, I liked Always very much. It was close to being a chick flick, but still I liked it. It is not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it is a very good movie, IMHO.

Or are you just saying that Richard has done even better than he did in that movie?

Jeffery

Glitch
09-15-1999, 07:42 PM
Perhaps the closest thing to always in terms of science is infinity.

Ideally to express "always" it would be nice to have an equation which approaches both postive and negative infinity as n increases. I don't know is such a equation exists. However, there are plenty of equations that approach infinity.

Take for example,

sum(1/n) n=1 to n->infinity

1/1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 + 1/5 ... = infinity as n -> infinity. Therefore no matter how long you move along n you can always get closer to infinity but not quite there. This equation literally goes on forever or always.

Note that this isn't always true. Take

sum( (-1)^n/n) n=1 to n->infinity

-1/1 + 1/2 - 1/3 + 1/4 ... approaches a finite number.

Okay so it isn't the best form of always. You get what you pay for. :)

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It's bernard, just under new management

tracer
09-15-1999, 08:32 PM
StrTrkr777 wrote:

Hey, I liked Always very much. It was close to being a chick flick, but still I liked it. It is not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it is a very good movie, IMHO.

Or are you just saying that Richard has done even better than he did in that movie?

I liked it 'cause it had lotsa twin-engine airplanes in it. It's supposed to be based on a WW2 movie called A Guy Named Joe, but I've never been able to find this earlier movie on video to compare the two.

But Richard Dreyfuss is a comic actor. Even in the most dramatic scenes, he looks like he's about to break out into an impression of Curly (from the 3 Stooges) going "Woo woo woo woo woo!". Always as one of Dreyfuss's best performances? You've gotta be kidding! Did Smoke Get In Your Eyes or something? ;)

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I'm not flying fast, just orbiting low.

Gilligan
09-15-1999, 08:45 PM
Always Super Long, Long, Long Ultra Maxi Pads (with wings) approach infinity in both directions.

09-15-1999, 09:53 PM
Geez, everyone's a comedian! ::: grumble :::

Glitch
09-16-1999, 01:07 PM
Veg: You're going to go make me find my old math books aren't you?

y=x^3 does not approach both negative and postive infinity as x=1 to x->infinity. If you say from x->infinity to x->infinity it does of course, but that is kind of like saying always is from -infinity to +infinity which is kind of like cheating which why why I was looking at infinite sums.

Now, as to the infinite sums, I admit my particular example was probably a bad one. It has been awhile since I was in modern algebra class.

Maybe an easier example would be:

sum(n) n=0 to n->infinity.

But again for some reason this seems like cheating to the philosopher side of my brain.

Anyway, always is always. Eternal is eternal. There really isn't anything that matches it in human existence/perception.

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It's bernard, just under new management

Keeves
09-16-1999, 01:37 PM
There really isn't anything that matches it in human existence/perception.because we have no frame of reference with which to concieve of such a thing, much less describe it. The closest we can do is to use an analogy by which we can pretend to understand it. For example, if the physical universe can be described as "curved" then there must be a larger eternity in which that universe exists, and in respect to which that universe is curved.

Did that make any sense?

VegForLife
09-16-1999, 02:30 PM
y=x^3 does not approach both negative and postive infinity as x=1 to x->infinity. If you say from x->infinity to x->infinity it does of course, but that is kind of like saying always is from -infinity to +infinity which is kind of like cheating which why why I was looking at infinite sums.
Sorry, Glitch, I see what you're getting at now. I'll think about it some more.

Rich

barton
09-16-1999, 03:34 PM
I dimly remember the mathemagican's definition... he opens a door, revealing a long line extending to apparently forever. "Follow this line. When you get to the end, turn left."

VegForLife
09-16-1999, 03:38 PM
I believe the equation y=sqrt(x) is what you're looking for, Glitch. The solution approaches infinity and negative infinity at the same rate. Unfortunately, since |y|<x for all x>1, I think this is also a poor example of a way to reach infinity (I know that "reaching" infinity isn't really what you're trying to do, but I think you get my point). Conceptualizing infinity is pretty difficult. . .

Rich

VegForLife
09-16-1999, 03:40 PM
Ack! My greater-than and less-than signs got morphed into HTML code, I think. . .

I'll write it out: ". . .since the absolute value of y is less than the value of x for all x which are greater than 1. . ."

Rich

tracer
09-16-1999, 03:54 PM
Yeah, you gotta be careful when an HTML interpreter's involved.

I always play it safe by encoding a less-than sign (&lt; ) as &amp;lt; and a greater-than sign (&gt; ) as &amp;gt;.

And an ampersand (&amp ;) as &amp;amp;. :)

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I'm not flying fast, just orbiting low.

tracer
09-16-1999, 03:56 PM
And a semicolon followed by a right parenthesis by putting a space between the two of them, around here. *grumble*

09-16-1999, 04:57 PM
Another thing: don't ever type the word "Ducking" with a capital D if preceded by a colon. :D

VegForLife
09-17-1999, 12:54 AM
Ideally to express "always" it would be nice to have an equation which approaches both postive and negative infinity as n increases. I don't know is such a equation exists.
y = x^3 works, doesn't it?
1/1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 + 1/5 ... = infinity as n -> infinity. Therefore no matter how long you move along n you can always get closer to infinity but not quite there. This equation literally goes on forever or always.
True, but there are different degrees of infinity (Dex can probably explain that better than I can). When n=1,000,000, the solution is around 14.4, and when n=2,000,000 the solution is just over 15 (with a precision to ten decimal places). I'm not sure that's the best example of "reaching" infinity.

As for a description of infinity, I've always liked the one given by the mathemagician in "The Phantom Tollbooth."

Rich

Gaudere
09-17-1999, 12:58 AM
As for a description of infinity, I've always liked the one given by the mathemagician in "The Phantom Tollbooth."

I've forgotten it. So what was it? I've "always" loved that book...

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"Eppur, si muove!" - Galileo Galilei

Glitch
09-17-1999, 07:24 AM
I thought of the perfect sum last night to describe always.

sum( n*(-1)^n ) n=1 to n->infinity

-1 + 2 - 3 + 4 - 5 ...

n=1 r=-1
n=2 r=1
n=3 r=-2
n=4 r=2

Hence as n->infinity r-> +infinity & -infinity. This eqaution in a half-science, half-art kind of way describes always. I know, I know ... I am half-baked. ;)

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It's bernard, just under new management

Momotaro
09-17-1999, 08:19 AM
I'm going to try a serious answer now.

The traditional view of the Big Bang is that when it occurs the universe comes into being. Time appears as a dimension, or a quantity, constrained by the universe. It doesn't make sense to talk about time outside the universe or before the universe just like it doesn't make sense to conceive of matter oustide of the universe either. Time is a consequence of the 'rules' of the universe.

What that means for Christians, if I may be so presumptuous, is that before the universe existed, there was no time. Anything existing before (tricky word to use) is timeless. One could argue whether something could exist in such a conceptual nothingness. I can't answer that.

I was forgetting Stephen Hawking, our present time equivalent of Einstein. He came up with 'virtual time,' a time line that is infinite and unbounded by the Big Bang. Actually, Hawking wants to do away with the whole concept of Big Bang, but when I try to follow his explanation my brain overheats. As for virtual time, I don't know anyone who really understands what that means, not even I. Sorry to be incomplete.

Satisfied?

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Only humans do inhuman things.

WallyM7
09-17-1999, 08:32 AM
Boy, that's a good one! Infinity will make your hair hurt if you think about it too much. For example, there's an infinite number of integers: 1,2,3,4,.....n. But there's also an infinate number of even numbers: 2,4,6,8....n. And odd numbers. And an infinite number of other series. Yet these infinities are contained inside the integer infinity, so they must be smaller infinities. There's an infinite number of numbers between 0 and 1: .0000...n. A smaller infinity than the others. This is bizarre.
Quantum physicists use infinity, but they don't like it. In some equations the "Infinity Disease" rears it's ugly head and throws out nonsensical answers. The workaround, called Renormalization, is to put in, by hand, other infinities to cancel out the ones you don't want. This produces the desired answer, but physicists admit that they are missing something. Kinda like cheating.
If you ask a hard-boiled cosmologist what happened before the Big Bang, he will tell you that there was no "before." Both Time and Space came into being at the moment of the Big Bang. Personally, I find this answer unsatisfactory.

So, what is the answer? Nobody knows.

Perhaps the Universe will someday collapse, and another Big Bang will occur, as it always has, and as it always will. Ad infinitum.

Of course, if that's the way it is, it puts God out of a job.

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You are unique - Just like everyone else.

Polycarp
09-20-1999, 03:06 PM
Working with concepts like "'before' time began" can give you Excedrin headache #sqrt(-1).

Momotaro is right in essence. Traditionally metaphysicians have used "ontologically prior" and "...posterior" to explain cause-and-effect relationships in a non-temporal paradigm. (That sentence wins the William F. Buckley Award for Pretentious Obfuscation, but you try to rephrase it for greater clarity.)

Eternity is not identical to perpetuity. Something that "has always been and always will be" is not necessarily eternal. Eternity is the state in which all of time is viewed as equivalent, much as one gets a birds-eye view of all a county at once from a high-flying plane, or the whole planet from a satellite. It is not that God sees you reading this post with the same clarity he saw the Crucifixion and will see the year 3000 Millennium party -- it's that he sees you with the same clarity he sees the Crucifixion and the 3000 party. Think of him as the supergenius scriptwriter/director who is instantly able to adapt the plot of the movie to match the ad libs of 6,000,000,000 actors. (Assuming you accept God's existence for the sake of argument, of course.)

In a totally "natural" world, the concept of eternity becomes a nullity; there's no need for it. And the need for perpetuity depends on your understanding of cosmology.

WallyM7
09-20-1999, 06:39 PM
Polycarp, there is nothing in your post, that I can see, that is logically inconsistant.

But it has little explanatory power.

After re-reading it, I see that my previous post has even less.

I think maybe our brains are simply not wired to deal with infinities.

Sounds defeatist, I know, but I think it's true. Maybe. I dunno.

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If you're an optimist, you haven't been paying attention.

Polycarp
09-22-1999, 06:13 AM
I've always wondered if there's any truth to the factoid, which I've seen several places but never in a reliable documented source, that George Cantor, the mathematician who proved that not all infinities are equal, suicided. After rereading the last few posts, I think I can understand why! :-/

If I've got this thread sorted out right, we seem to have some sort of consensus going that it requires the existence of matter and/or energy to have meaningful space and time. Ergo, "before the Big Bang" is as meaningful as "colder than absolute zero" -- conceivable but with no meaning to the real natural world.

My post was to suggest that the idea of eternity needs to be distinguished from an infinite time track (=perpetuity), and to try to clarify that distinction.

WallyM7
09-22-1999, 09:02 AM
Polycarp, the problem is not with your explanation.

It's with my inability to understand it.

I'm having trouble sorting out the difference between eternity and an infinite time track.

Is this related to Hawking's imaginary time idea? If it is, don't waste any more time on me.

I've read "A brief History of Time" twice, and I have not been able to grasp this concept.

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If you're an optimist, you haven't been paying attention.

Polycarp
09-22-1999, 09:53 AM
Wally, did you ever hear the old story about the genius professor (if cartooned, usually drawn to look like Einstein) who proceeds to lecture, leaving his class behind after the first 30 seconds or so, gets about halfway through his lecture, says, "It is therefore obvious that...", pauses, scratches his head, walks out the door, is seen sitting on the lawn, lost in thought, comes back in, says, "I was right; it is[/is] obvious," and proceeds on with the same arcana he had left off with.

Okay, try this analogy: to Mr. A. Square of Flatland, whom I believe we have all encountered, it is only possible to get to any point on a line by traversing the intervening points. However, the observer from the third dimension notes that the "plane" on which Mr. A. Square lives is actually a hypercrumpled surface surrounding a point which is only an infinitesimal distance from [i]any point on the line in question. Pursuing the analogy further, the length of the line represents infinite time; the point represents eternity, to which all the points on the line are equally present.

The only cure for a paradox is a metaphysician.

Seelie
09-23-1999, 01:49 PM
And now, back to the original topic:

> Is there a satisfactory scientific answer
> that explains the concept of "always?"
Yes. Read up on the unified field. You can also look into the Mayan and Aryan concepts of cyclical time as opposed to linear time.

> Is there anything that has "always"
> existed, even before the Big Bang?
There are three possibilities for the universe:
1. An infinitely expanding universe.
2. A universe that will expand, then contract and collapse.
3. An infinitely oscillating universe. meaning one that expands, contracts, then expands again. Thus an infinite cycle of "Horrendous Space Kablooies" (I like Calvin's name better).
Last I read by Hawking, he favored possibility #3.
Either way, the energy for the big bang, and the matter thus created come, ultimately, from the unified field, which was not created in the big bang (at least, not according to anything that I've read). If I'm understanding this wrong, please correct me (as if I needed to ask).

> It boggles my mind to imagine that the
> past has no beginning, yet that's what
> my religion teaches. Does science teach
> the same?
Read up on Quantum Mechanics. You'll find a limitless volume of similarities between the findings of QM and the experiences and knowledge of the mystics of all flavors.

Religion and science are only at odds when one side thinks that the words used are more important than the truth they aim at and use reductionist logic to insult the other.

WallyM7
09-23-1999, 01:57 PM
I think I grasp it now.

Linearity v "the thing in itself, i.e. Time."

But that would imply, by way of the library analogy, that things don't happen, they just are.

Our perception of time passing, of events occuring, are an illusion.

Much as a roll of film projected on a screen.

Events are unfolding on the screen, but everything that will occur is already a done thing.

The big casualty here is the concept of free will.

That bothers me.

But maybe that's how it really is.

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If you're an optimist, you haven't been paying attention.

Seelie
09-23-1999, 02:30 PM
According to Quantum Mechanics, what we percieve exists. That which we do not perceive does not. According to our current paradigm, we see the tree because it is there for us to see.

There was a wonderful article in Discovery last year about a guy at Berkely I think, that was causing interfearence patterns with Sodium ions (that means getting them to bump into themselves) and then shining a light on them and measuring the speed they reformed into one ion. Sick thought really. If you don't look, it can be in more than one place and more than one condition at a time, whichever one you look at, suddenly becomes the only one.

And yes, according to quantum physics, all possibilities exist simultaneously at all times and we only experience the one that we choose to perceive. If you're worried about free will, reread that bit: it's us that do the looking. We choose where to place our attention, thus we create the world we experience.

Polycarp
09-23-1999, 04:31 PM
"The world is like a new suit of clothes; if it doesn't fit, make alterations."
-- the old woman in Silverado

If, however, space and time are created by the existence of mass and energy, and time is directly related to entropy, then a contracting universe should experience time reversal.

Finally, re: free will, read what I said again about the difference between eternity and perpetuity. If God doesn't have foreknowledge but just present knowledge of all times, then His knowledge no more precludes free will than my watching you tie your shoes compels you to tie them.

Momotaro
09-23-1999, 10:23 PM
Polycarp, I understand from 'A Brief History of Time' how entropy and time relate, but I don't understand why you say that a contracting universe would experience time backwards. Are you saying that a contracting universe would reverse entropy?

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Only humans do inhuman things.

Seelie
09-24-1999, 12:45 AM
I remember a beautiful analogy for our perception of time (I think from Borges?). If you imagine a library full of books, all of them exist at once--every part of every book all there on the shelves at the same time. To make any sense out of the information, however, we have to read just one book at a time and in a linear fashion. Nevertheless, that we must perceive the information in a linear fashion does not require that the information only exists in a linear relationship to itself.

the first supraliminal
09-24-1999, 07:57 AM
The only cure for a paradox is a metaphysician

Polycarp, I hope you meant metaphysicist. Let's please keep the doctors out of this.

As for the OP, because we have concepts of infinity doesn't mean they exist. We attempt the explain our universe with conceptual models, but the models don't fully fit.

As for science, you've only got theories.

If you really want to know, well, I guess you gotta be there.

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One beer is less than two beers.

Polycarp
09-24-1999, 11:50 AM
Momotaro, I think that's what I'm saying; this is on the edge of my conceptual capacity. But if entropy is defined as greater disorder over the progress of time, then having a universe where contracting causes greater order would imply that entropy runs backwards.

Beeruser, yep, the two terms are synonymous AFAIK. I used the "metaphysician" one to make a pun on "cure." In other respects, you're right -- conceptual frameworks only model -- are not equivalent to -- reality.