Sunday, September 9, 2012

Popcorn by The Colonel #8

“Tubby er not tubby, that is the question.” 
--John Wayne (as Hamlet)

The previous Popcorn talked about the -fer and -pher names popular in Middletown (e.g., Christopher). In one of them, Veronica, the -fer part comes first. Veronica is actually a Latin variation on the Greek name Berenice, which means “she who brings victory.” The Greek version starts with a “B” because the Attic Phereníkē became Bereníkē in the uncouth Macedonian dialect that happened to be the cradle tongue of Alexander the Great. In the “B” form it was popular as a royal female name in the areas ruled by Alexander’s successors. [0]

Romans adopted the name as Veronica, which in the late Middle Ages was fancifully misunderstood to come from Latin vera (“true”) and Greek ikon (“image”). The name applied to a legendary saint whose veil wiped the face of Jesus on his way to Roman crucifixion, miraculously imprinting a “true image” of his face on the veil. [1]

Rustic Middletown dialogue:

Gang (to Idler): Come with us?
Idler: Nah.
Gang: Whatcha doin’?
Idler: Nothin’.
Gang: Then why not come?
Idler: Ain’t finished. [2]

Reverting to antiquity, it’s an odd truth that ancients didn’t ask, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Aristotle, for example, apparently assumed that the world had always existed. At any rate, his starting point was an existing world. [3]

One modern argument against eternal existence of the universe is that all known natural processes are finite, so if the world had no beginning, all natural processes would have run down by now (entropy, heat death of the universe), but they haven’t. Ergo, there must have been a beginning within a finite past. [4]

The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are said to teach creation from nothing (creatio ex nihilo), but do they really? [5]

“When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste, God said, ‘Let there be light.’” (Emphasis added.) [6]

Behind the question, “Where did the welter and waste come from?” (one Middletown wag answers, “Lawyers!”) is the deeper question, “Where did God come from?” [7]

A believer might answer: “God didn’t ‘come from’ Middletown or anywhere else; God just is.” In the "God simply is" schema, space and time are parts of creation, and since God created them, God is superior to them, dwelling in a special no-place, no-time called “eternity,” which is not time extended infinitely backwards and forwards, but something qualitatively different that nevertheless permeates time and space, justifying the expression, “God is everywhere and everywhen, ” or, even more crudely, “All things are present to God.” [8]

Which is is more remarkable and in need of explaining in Middletown, being or nothingness? To marvel at existence, as many do, is to assume that being is strange and nothingness would be more normal and natural. But maybe nothingness is far stranger, “a closed spherical spacetime of zero radius.” Aristotle would not have approved. In a future column, maybe a discussion of "Seinfeld," the "show about nothing." [9]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God didn't come from Middletown?

That does it. I'm leaving.