Belief, Science, First Cause/Philosophy
First Cause, Knowledge & Infinity - Philosophy

First Cause, Knowledge & Infinity

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

One of the most wonderful thing about being human is the craving one has for ‘knowing’ and the momentary bliss that comes with the triumph and the thirst for ‘more’ that survives every time. As the horizon of human knowledge bubbles up into deeper and farther realities with the spark of every new idea that had generated upon so many already-thought ideas, the light of these ideas has become so immense and so speedy that one may feel an approaching time when all would be light, and darkness would have ended. And this might have been true, only if knowledge would have been a simple, logical, progressive venture - but it has proven not to be.

In the pursuit of knowledge perhaps what pulls us back the most is the anticipation of what knowledge itself really is.

Though knowledge has always been a personal experience but its historical progression shows how, in the span of centuries and millennia, one thought has fed upon another creating the enormous web of everything man has known and all that is available today for his immediate grab. It has, like in a tree the shoot grow on the root and the leaves grow on the stem, grown ideas upon data and theories upon concepts, shedding many a rusted ones for fresh brighter ideas, eventually making its feel humongously abstract; resembling nothing like the simple picturesque tree.

Knowledge is a personal experience built upon external data and the experiences others have had with that data and had shared it with others; it is a trade that goes on between thinking people, wherein people have personal properties but the value of that property is established only in exchange. Language is the medium of this exchange, the currency of which is being updated all the time. And the engine of the thought process is fueled by an indescribable substance; a sort of a craving, a desire, a question and momentary sparks of we-don’t-know-what!

But the issues of human knowledge are multifaceted, not only is its origination a question mark, or its substance too sublime to be detected by the five senses, but the very way it manifests its workmanship creates its own hurdles and pathways, basking man in its light for a moment and pulling him back into darkness every now and then.

One of the ways for knowledge to move forward is to break its object into smaller and smaller pieces and analyze each for clarity and surety, so that the function of each tiny component is known and so that when the thing has been put together again, man knows exactly how and why the whole thing is working. Perhaps one could say that a team of surgeons would want to scrutinize every organ of a body down to the microbes inside each cell to find out eventually that the body as a whole is healthy. Yet the essence of this knowledge would eventually be in the knowledge of the ‘whole’, wherein the knowledge of all the ‘parts’ was meant for flawless surety.

But those who are addicted to scientific inquiry all the time, may many a times forget the essences of wholeness. Not that the tedious work of detailing to the nano-metrics is not equivalent to acquiring knowledge, in fact each detail adds to the profoundness of the whole, but staying away from ‘wholeness’ will simply kill the life away from the object.

Yet scientific inquiry is just like this, it is not only dissective but also enclosed. All its sophisticated equipment are merely to aid the basic five tools of sense perception; you can only see more, hear more or feel more of physical movement. Man is not able to design a tool that can help him detect something that does not fall inside the perimeter of his five senses; anything that operates on a level beyond this detection is simply given to the phantoms; there can be no property ‘x’ in matter, such that ‘x’ cannot be heard, seen, smelt, tasted or touched! The nano-meter will tell how smaller and smaller the length is, the ammeter will show the deflection of the needle under different electrical settings, the spectrometer will show the effect captured on a photographic film by the beam of light that has passed through some slits and prisms; all are reliant on some eventual physical effect!

But let’s suppose, for the sake of discussion, that all matter is also producing a visual effect that is not dependent on the eye and light arrangement, but supposedly caused by the giving out of some h-rays that are not composed of wavelengths but some mysterious h-series that makes holographic images in the receptors of a detector that can detect them - so that all that the detector sees is only a holographic world of spirit-likes that have no touch, smell, weight or sound - would that be an impossibility just because we, the humans, cannot detect such a world. Or is it an impossibility to have hundreds of other parallel world all working on sets of tools independent from one another, right here on earth; if we are comfortable in thinking that all types of life is possible in distant planets in the universe, and so much fond of parallel Universes, why not here too!

Does knowledge comprise of only what the man-detector can sense through its organ-tools, or is man’s sense-knowledge an enclosed subset within the universal set that we actually call ‘knowledge’? This is a constant debate…

Yet man is tempted to believe that if there is anything out there, there must be a way for him to find it out! And he may have good reason to believe so, if surely he believes that everything is connected in relationships called laws, then only, is he sure that everything that happens anywhere in the universe must have some effect, however small, on the things that fall in his perception. That is the belief that urges man to think that if a Big Bang had occurred several billion years ago, it must have left some effect in the form of ‘maybe’ an ancient faint background light, that must be unassociated with any star or other object, and must be same in all directions, present everywhere in the universe, and that the wavelength of such a light might be detectable to a certain radiometer.

It is this same belief that all reality is essentially exposed to humanity, which leads him to think that if human language is a product of a complexity of neurons, axons and synapses and nothing of any mere sublime nature, then surely there must be some simple mathematical laws governing the language processes, that can either be unveiled by the analysis of the biology of the brain itself or by the logical analysis of language.

This led to Analytic Philosophy, which was based on the belief that rigorously analyzing the underlying logic of sentences will reveal their truth-values. Russell (1872-1970) believed that if the dust of misleading grammar could be removed from ordinary language, a set of true propositions would be found that would correspond with the atomic-facts, which the world of matter is ultimately composed of. Russell is also a leading figure for modern Atheism, Humanism and Free Thought.

Though common sense admits that language is based upon somewhat mathematical grammar laws - or else how would it commune between billions of speakers. But, is all of language that ‘does not’ correspond to atomic facts, a waste? Or was Analytic philosophy a dangerous loophole, compulsively breaking deeper and deeper into the sentence, when the prime essence of the sentence was to enable mankind to combine and rearrange idea from distant subjects and keep the kaleidoscope of human experience moving the fancy of the thought into yet newer and broader horizons. Observe the Buridan argument on the paradox “You know the one approaching,” resembling Eubulides’ Hooded Man paradox:

‘I posit the case that you see your father coming from a distance, in such a way that you do not discern whether it is your father or another.Then it is proved, because you do indeed know your father, and he is the one approaching; hence, you know the one approaching. Likewise, you know him who is known by you, but the one approaching is known by you; hence, you know the one approaching. I prove the minor, because your father is known by you and your father is the one approaching; hence, the one approaching is known by you.The opposite is argued, because you do not know him of whom, if you are asked who he is, you will answer truly “I do not know.” But concerning the one approaching you say this; hence…’

Even if Logic eventually finds out that indeed, ‘you know the one approaching’, is a true sentence, as in it satisfies the rules of Logic or not - it is doubtful that anyone can ever apprehend if and to what extent you actually know the one approaching, be it your own father - and that is where the infinity actually lies, it lies in what you are unable to measure with a physical measurement- it lies in the awe of the unknown. It is the sublime world of the conscience, wherein we know of no concrete atomic structures that can be broken down into discrete entities, it is made of feelings, memories and rearrangements which may be unique for every two receptors. Yes we do break down the thought via our words and sentences, yet it is largely unknown to us what enormous proportion of the thought is such that the tools of language are unable to cater or word out for us. Yet again how does it benefit mankind to go on for centuries to find if Achilles will win the race from the Tortoise or not?

Because between Achilles and the Tortoise there are an infinite number of infinitesimal points, all of which Achilles has to reach before he even gets close to the Tortoise - and it is impossible to cross an infinite number of points! Yet in real life Achilles would not take more than five minute to cross the Tortoise who is only a 100 meters ahead of him. Surely Achilles and the Tortoise have been a source of much intuition and have helped in adding much to the human knowledge, but they have also made a question mark upon the usefulness of mere Logic in comprehending the truth of all things. Perhaps filling the innumerable gaps, which sense data is unable to fill, by ‘rationalizing’ what we know,  with one’s rational ideas and conceptions is the only way that will allow Achilles to take his one step forward.

Perhaps the Quantum realm has given us our lesson; the subatomic particle does not have ‘any’ position until and unless its position has been measured. Elsewise it lives in the phantom! OR are we stubbornly insisting that whatever we are unable to measure does not exist? Because we are afraid that if anything we cannot detect by any physical means still exists, we are admitting to an idealist world with spirits and would-be’s, as oppose to the concrete world of empiricism.

Yet we know in our depth that the measuring cup will only measure the volume of the liquid, and the senses will only measure what they can sense, and the cup and the five senses have no choice but to be oblivious to what they cannot measure. And once the subatomic particle goes into the quantum realm, a realm we cannot measure, that is the realm of infinity for us.

Infinity is an abstract thinking, which re-originates between any two consecutive points in an infinite series. And its existence in human thought with no physical evidence to prove it, confirms a bulk of knowledge present in human mind that is extra-terrestrial.

The steps that Achilles had to take could be half a meter or a foot long, they could be 50cm, or 500mm or 50billion ‘billionths of a centimeter’  if we have found the ion of mercury that vibrates at this speed. For a nano-meter the length within a centimeter is very large indeed, but for the bare eye it is only that much. Perhaps time and space are stretchable; for the ant the dimensions would be different than would be for a giraffe or a subatomic particle in the same room; the more sensitive the device in the detector, the more space and time stretch out for it, and the slightest space becomes roomy and the smallest times becomes never ending. So! has truth to be approached by stretching the fabric of space and time more and more, trying to get into a depth, which may prove to be the horizon of yet another unseen universe within, OR considering how small we already are inside the wholeness of this Universe we abode in, should we not try to apprehend the wholeness as one complete essence, inclusive of both smallness and largeness, considering for convenience, ourselves in the middle of both.

Are space and time infinitely stretchable then? Indeed if they are, the infinite unfolding of the infinite stretches would surely require an ‘inquirer’ laced with the ability to detect the infinite levels of reality, one who can comfortably squeeze into the infinitesimal and know it as a whole big world and find another infinitesimal therein every time. For if such a detector does not exist, nor would that infinity exist as a reality - for reality is the dimension of existence that is lived /experienced by anyone whom experiences it. Therefore if infinity is real/true, someone who can measure it is also real/true, and both are logically compulsory for each other. Either both infinity and its detector/detectors exist or both do not exist in any given real time and space. But again, if for each level of infinity there would be at least one unique detector, then that would make them an infinite number of detectors, and indeed if they are all physical, they would over-stuff the universe, however small they may have been. Therefore it would not be irrational to think of a few or at least one such detector that has the ability to stretch into reality infinitely, though each level would not have to be necessarily inhabited all the time.

This brings us to the Cosmological Argument also known as the First Cause. Several positions against the need of the First Cause have been upheld, like: Why does the Universe, a system with seemingly infinite causes and effects, have to start with a causer who does not have a cause for its own self to happen?Why does that bearer of the first cause have to be God, if so could He too not be having a cause to Himself? Why does the first–cause have to be one and not several? If God should be considered the necessary-being, then why can the universe not simply be considered the necessary-being instead? If God created this universe, then what if there are many such universes, will there not be more gods then?

For one who wants to be scientific and logical there should never have been a question of an effect without a cause, i.e. a Universe without a Creator, as science simply disallows any existence or change without agency. The question is created when we couple the cause-effect idea with the idea of infinity; for if the First Cause is to be sought in an infinite regress in time then it is but the natural instinct to think that infinity never ends and beyond every horizon there will be another world beginning. Therefore it is understandable that though science begs for a Cause for a Universe made-of-matter; it is the immeasurable, unscientific, abstract idea of infinity bore in human thought that tends to hijack the simple scientific logic of a Cause for the Universe.

Before proceeding further it is necessary to decide then, that a Universe, comprising of matter, is not and cannot be infinite, neither in space nor in time. Secondly we have to admit that infinity is a possibility because our mind is capable of thinking it, even though it cannot be a possibility in a material world. The real world is made of multiple verses, but not an infinite number of them, as most of the infinite number of possibilities have been left vacant.

The world of matter that we ‘really’ live in is ideally stretchable, but practically to exhaust its stretch-ability would mean to issue utter chaos, and to leave no space to breathe in.

This is where the clash is happening; between a world of matter that starts and ends in time, that constantly changes from one state to another and nothing in it is permanent -  And the idea bore in the mind, of a permanently regressing, perpetual machine, both perfect and indestructible. Science does not allow us to think of matter as infinite or indestructible in any way, nor capable of spontaneous generation. One has to circumvent to the idea that the Universe, which is material and perceived by the senses, has to be but a limited Universe, its mere wideness, complexity and age cannot be taken as a proof of its self-sufficiency. However big the Universe is, its mere bigness should not overwhelm us - because it does end somewhere -and where matter does end, there can be other greater non-matter possibilities. If such possibilities do exist - and above all such possibilities exists a central possibility where every other possibility converges - we as men have no means via our sense perception to know that it does.

The real, material, empirical world is finite, and infinity is a possibility, which exist only in the thought of the human mind – but how and from what source does the mind harbor such phenomenon - having the capability of abstract knowledge - knowledge that is extra-universal, extra-matter and extra-scientific. Human thought is capable of conceptualizing an idea that is larger than anything in its immediate experience - is this conceptualization based on profound truth or on stray figments of unguided reflexes caused by slight misappropriations of the hormonal jets.

Are the neurotransmissions between the synapses of the brain cells the ultimate reality, or is ‘truth’ detected by the thought caused due to the fact that it is a dual national - both of this universe and a universe that exists beyond this one; the experience of which has an equal occupancy in its structure - an experience that may as yet be due - but unto which its evolution is inevitable. For such a conversion, has the thought been fashioned with tools that seem of no real use in the 4D world we abode in today.  And this is the vital question impending upon each thinker - will he recognize the extra-terrestrial reality of his existence, will he be sensible enough to know from the structure of his thought alone and without the aid of physical evidence that the possibility of infinity does surely exist, and if such a possibility is centralized, it may be magnificently creative, profoundly exotic and exceedingly noble; and when finally the messenger tells him that ‘Yes He is’ - he bethinks that surely that is the deep inner truth embedded in his soul that kept emerging upon his thought every now and then.

The thought tells us of the possibility of an extra-material existence, outside the Universe, and outside the scientific realm, which is capable of infinity and capable of creating and destroying matter out of non-matter because of the mere fact that infinity is such a complex thing of manifolds of nature. A sublime existence - which would leave its imprint on the sublime human thought, just like a remote light leaves its imprint on a photographic plate - the eye detects light, the thought detects idea - existence detects existence!

If that existence is not infinite in its self and is a mere finite subset of infinity then it is not God. It may be a cause, but will again be requiring a cause for its self too, therefore still be contingent. So the question of several universes, several gods and a cause for God are mere figments of rhetoric, meant to capture the thought in exactly the same logical intrigue as has captured those who want to shred language into its atomic form. Anything that is several and in need of a cause is not God, God is either uncountable, as in infinity, or One, as in composure. The unthinkability of being-without-a-cause is only for the 4D space-time material substance, for which science tells us so, but for something that may not be material, and may not be a part of the 4D physical system, the mind is very comfortable to think of such an existence; for sublimity coupled with infinity, coupled with the sense of beauty make the most pleasant, soothing and magnificent of thoughts.

It is thus concluded that the existence of an idea of something is the proof of its existence; reverting to Plato - knowledge is justified, true belief. It is the idea that leads to discovery not vice versa; it is the question that necessitates the answer not vice versa; man looks for around him what the thought guides him to look for, for if the idea would vanish, there would be no knowledge however much matter may be stuffed inside the Universe. Truth is what we ‘believe’ truth to be, and all physical evidence gathered around that ‘belief’ is a murky satisfaction, because proofs collected on the basis of the sense perception are only capable of giving incomplete, refutable verdicts, verdicts that are closest to observed facts and approved by a consensual body – a consensus often proved wrong in time.

Belief is based on ‘choice’ not facts, the atheists ‘chooses’ to disbelieve God and finds several incomplete, refutable observations that may support their choice of belief, the believer on the other hand chooses to believe and finds several proofs that are again un-provable in the absolute manner, because he is short of such detectors that could verify the Absolute.

So where does choice come from - it is the instinct embed in human thought - it is part of the framework upon which complexities of ideas, concepts and theories are formed, it is the subliminal magnet that is attracted to or repellent to a very, very strong non-material magnetic field originating from some infinitely far point that penetrates the Universe through and through. A magnet so strong that it bends the general human consensus towards itself - the majority of the human population ‘believes’.

Thus the First Cause does not have the need to be proven by the tools of sense perception, though it must not be disprovable either, as it has to be based upon absolute truth wherefrom the Universal system we live in has generated, and absolute truth cannot be refutable in any working system; though reaching the absolute truth may not be in-range for all systems. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal on explaining his idea of the ‘ego’ wrote in chapter4 of the Reconstruction of Religious Thought:

‘This something other than myself is supposed to possess certain qualities, called primary which correspond to certain sensations in me; and I justify my belief in those qualities on the ground that the cause must have some resemblance with the effect. But there need be no resemblance between cause and effect’.

There is no law in science saying that the cause and the effect have to be same in nature; a blow of air can cause a series of dominos to fall, the nature of air and the solid blocks of the domino are not same, nor the laws that governs the motion pattern of each are same, nor do the atoms of air interact with those of the dominos. The thought’s decision or command that a certain apple should be plucked from the tree and eaten is not similar in nature with the physical motion of the body or the actions performed to accomplish the act, yet it is able to cause such effects. Why then, should we require the First Cause to be similar in nature to the effect it has ensued. In fact an atom cannot generate an atom; a toaster cannot make a toaster, the act of creation demands a greater level of profoundness and intelligence. And the sheer immeasurability of the universe around us, give us a slight idea how profound that intelligence needs to be. And indeed, if the ontology of the cause does not have to be equivalent to that of the effect, then there is no necessity that the First Cause should have a cause for itself to happen either, as perhaps its ontology does not require so.

Again why should we speculate on a cause remote from us; for the mere remoteness that we associate with the idea of God makes us disconnect to the probability of His existence. The reasons for the necessity of the First Cause are not to be found in mere matter, nor are its reasons as remote from us as the edge of the universe; they are inside our soul, our thought. Because the First Cause is not the first-remote, it is the First-Present; its signature is imprint in each make, each item and each atom. The uncountable units of existence all bear its recognition, each one encloses a soul, and each soul bears the question, the answer to which is the Ultimate First Cause. The language of the soul is not a differential equation, it is an inclination like the inclination of the pole that tilts to the field resultant upon it from all magnetic forces working in the Universe; it is knowing without knowing! Yet - knowing for sure.

So the advice is, that like the pundits of science-only, one should not stubbornly look for fish where there is no water, nor try to detect heartbeat with an ammeter, nor look for scientific evidence in the sublime world. If you do not possess a detector, sensitive as is required, perhaps in your soul, that can detect for you the presence of a Source, wherefrom originate all souls, all love and all wisdom - then surely God does not exist for you – nor should you expect good from God.