as salam `alaykum
A few days ago, a person posted an objection under the “The Foundations of Religion” article. Hereunder is the response to it. I took the liberty of changing the wording of the question a little bit so that the question becomes clear.
wa `alaykum salam
The author said: Basically this says that, if an eternal amount of time has been concluded then eternity has come to an end, which, I think, is wrong.
Visualize the eternity (infinite spectrum of time) as the infinite real number line. Now suppose we are at number 8, which represents some point in time, say the present. There is an infinite amount of time, or numbers in this case, prior to the number 8 (namely from minus infinity to 8). Does it mean that the number line has come to a stop? No. There still is an infinite amount of time or numbers in this case, in front of 8 (namely 8 to positive infinity).
Answer: Here is the first problem:
The author said: “Visualize the eternity as the infinite real number line.”
Your proposal falls apart already here. Infinity cannot be visualized, because visualizing it would take an infinite amount of time. Truly visualizing it would never be achieved, which is exactly the point we have made. You cannot reach true infinity. It is because infinity cannot be reached that we say that the real countable events that took place before we existed today must be a limited number.
For example, imagine yourself riding on this line, starting at 8 and going backwards to the beginning of that line and back. You cannot ever finish this ride even backwards if it was infinite.
The author said: “Now suppose we are at number 8.”
Here there are at least two problems: you are assuming you have reached a number after an infinite number of events. This cannot be because they could never have finished. You cannot finish an infinite amount of events before reaching a particular event, be it 8 or any other number. That is why the real events that took place before our existence must be limited.
Another problem with the idea is that the number line in mathematics cannot represent time. It was not designed for that. The number line simply means that any time a mathematician mentions a larger or smaller number than another number; another mathematician can mention a larger or smaller number than those. This is as long as there is life left in them, for even this counting activity ends with the end of the mathematicians counting. The number line does not represent time; it does not prove anything in itself.
Here is another substantial problem with your proposition:
The author said: “There is an infinite amount of time prior to the number 8 (namely from minus infinity to 8).”
Remember that we are talking about real countable events. Real events cannot be counted as minus, because a negative number cannot represent something existing, i.e. you cannot say that a “minus event” happened. In a subtle way you have shown our point, because on the number line countable events start at “1”, and cannot be negative. In other words, when you choose the number “8”, then you are saying that only “8” events have taken place before we are here today. “8” events cannot be infinite, because “8” is not equal to infinity. What you are saying is that “8” real events are equal to an infinite number of real events, which is clearly false.
Then the author proposed that after reaching “8” events: “Does it mean number line has come to a stop? No. There still is an infinite amount of time or numbers in this case, in front of 8 (namely 8 to positive infinity).”
When we say that there were a limited number of events, namely “8,” in this case, that have taken place, then we can accept that it can continue after that and never end as long as the Creator has willed it. We cannot accept, however, and no rational being can, that “8” past events are equal to infinite past events!
The author said: “If there were a mathematically rigorous proof for the existence of God, none would be happier than me. But this particular proof is not one of them.”
My response is that then you should use your mental facilities to defend the proof, not attack it with imaginary evidences. The proof is rock solid and has withstood the test of time.
Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji