Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August is the Happiest Month -- Popcorn by The Colonel #57

A point too little made is that time and eternity are as different as chalk and cheese. Eternity is not time infinitely extended, but something else altogether that the human brain may not be hard-wired to grok (or maybe it's hardwired not to grok). If God is everywhere, then God is everywhen, a notion expressed in the saying, "All things are present to God." God, if he exists and is all-powerful, is no more bound by time than by space; both belong to the created realm. The saying "time keeps everything from happening at once" looks at the plenum one way. Another viewpoint holds that everything is happening at once. Faulkner was treading this ground when he said, "The past is not dead; it is not even past." 

Consider that a sleeping dream that lasts "subjective" hours, days, or years may last only a few seconds or a minute of "objective" time. Contrariwise, one may dream for what seems but a few seconds and wake up surprised to find that hours have passed. Maybe our unconscious minds are in touch with an atemporal dimension.

The qualitative chasm between time and eternity responds to one objection to heaven, that it would be boring as hell, so to speak. Mark Twain pointed out that nothing, no pleasure or other occupation, most particularly not choral singing, could maintain its allure through infinite time or infinite repetition. Good point, but if eternity is not infinite time, that objection goes away, leaving only all the rest.

An interviewer once asked Einstein if he could explain his theory of relativity in twenty-five words or fewer. Einstein, no dope even before the polar bear incident, said no, he couldn't, but he said: "Before my theories, people thought that if all the matter and energy in the universe disappeared, time and space would remain. My theories say that if all matter and energy disappeared, time and space would disappear, too." Not bad for 38 words. Take that, shallow interviewer.

"A God who cannot pass at will between existence and nonexistence, or dwell in both at once, is not a supreme being, but a slave to Aristotle." So the question is teed up: is the law of non-contradiction a bottom turtle? Put another way, is the cosmological constant necessary or was it the product of how the stars lined up (so to speak) when the Big Bang popped?

Were you let down to learn that the expansion of the universe will not slow down, stop, and reverse itself? That it won't collapse back into a wee egg, time and history having played out backwards in the process? 

Was your disappointment at learning that the expansion of the universe is speeding up somewhat alleviated by the thought that the experts don't know why? 

Has it ever bothered you that there may be six to eight more dimensions "curled up" inside the four we know? (Height, depth, width, and time.) 

Have you ever suspected that no number of attentive rewatchings of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension will ever fill in all the plot holes? Did vital sequences end up on the cutting room floor in the effort to make the film the great commercial success it wasn't? 

Is there no end to the asking of rhetorical questions?

Three big questions for physicists and others are (1) origin, (2) consciousness, and (3) free will. (There are others, of course -- just inquire within.) Questions 2 and 3 are complicated by the existence of our colleagues on this planet, namely animals. Remarks on animals fill the remainder of this column. 

But first, ponder for a moment that Nietzsche's last sane act may have been trying to stop the mistreatment of an animal. There are worse ways to go out. 

Animals may be our friends, but there’s not a one who’ll pick you up at the airport. --Bobcat Goldthwait

Groups of animals often have colorful names: a “pride” of lions, a “school” of fish, a “rack” of lamb. --Ellen DeGeneres

I find that ducks’ opinion of me is greatly influenced by whether or not I have bread. --Mitch Hedberg

Dolphin-safe tuna is great if you’re a dolphin, not so much if you’re a tuna. --Drew Carey

Animal testing is terrible. I mean, they get all nervous and give the wrong answers. --Fry and Laurie

Q. What does a snail say when he rides on the back of a turtle?
A. Whee! --Will Durst

How do snails resolve their differences? They slug it out.

A woman in Florida got bitten on the hand in a zoo at the shark petting tank. Who could have seen that coming? --Jay Leno

“See the fox running through the snow. Then he’s attacked by his mortal enemy: the fox. Fox on fox. Man, what a sight.”  --Jack Handey

Animals have advantages over humans: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, no clerics to disturb their last moments with unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, no costly funerals, and no lawsuits over their wills. --Voltaire

Full disclosure: "Popcorn by The Colonel" is a production of Quality Nonsense, a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization.


Anonymous said...

Middletown police report citizens calling to report what sounds like fireworks all over town. Further investigation reveals that it's nothing more than the sounds of people heads exploding having read today's Popcorn.

John Bigbooty said...

What does this have to do with Social Security numbers?