Open to Infections

"Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out."
-G.K. Chesterton
 I'd like to begin with one of Zeno's Paradoxes. This paradox claims that we cannot reach any location. His reasoning is as follows. Before you can get someplace, you must get halfway there. After that, you must get halfway to your destination once more, and again, and again, and again. The space inbetween you and your destination can be divided in half an infinite number of times, and thus, you can never reach your destination. I am aware that technically, the majority of an object is made up of empty space, so think of this rather as the negative field from the electrons in your fingertips touching the negative field in the electrons of your destination, rather than actually bringing yourself into physical contact with a wall. Alternatively, you could think of this as a location on the ground that you can never reach. However, Zeno's paradox goes further. In order to get halfway to your destination, you must first get halfway to the halfway point. And before that, you must get halfway to that point, and to that point, and so on. Because these distances can be divided infinitely, we, effectively speaking, can't move anywhere. Rather disappointing, no? I liked motion. Unfortunately, it seems to have been proven impossible. I guess that's the end of that. I know that this post has only been a paragraph so far. There's more that I'd like to say. But seeing as how motion is impossible, and I must move my hands to type, this will be the end of the post. I won't be able to say anything else. Fare well, and may you have pleasantly motionless lives.

...You don't seem convinced that motion is impossible. I can't even see your faces from behind this computer screen, but I can still tell that you're not convinced. That's how unconvinced you are. Good. Zeno's paradox is stupid. It doesn't work. We can see that it doesn't work. We know for a fact from our day to day lives that it doesn't work. And yet, can you prove it wrong? I have seen an explanation from Aristotle saying that it doesn't work because it takes a shorter amount of time to travel a shorter distance, so when you divide the distance, you're also dividing the time. This may be true, but you can divide the distance infinitely. You can go down to a molecular level and still divide that tiny distance in half. What is the smallest distance in existence? Not the smallest measurement, but the point where we no longer move smoothly from one place to another, but instead just "teleport" from one location to another, as if we're pixels on a screen?

Here's my point with Zeno's paradox. I can't prove it logically wrong. I'm sure that there's a mistake in it. I know that there's a mistake in it. I know that it's logically wrong. But I can't prove it. I understand that it's wrong, but I don't understand why it's wrong. So, shouldn't I believe it, because I don't see how it could be wrong? No. I'm not that openminded. Openmindedness is good, to an extent. But there's a point where your mind is so open that you'll let in even pure idiocy. I believe that to seek the truth accurately, a certain amount of stubbornness is required. I refuse to believe Zeno's paradox, and would continue to do so even if everyone around me were to affirm it and speak it as truth. Why? Because it's worthless.
"One word, Ma'am. One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things- trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."
-Puddleglum; C.S. Lewis (The Silver Chair)
Bear something very important in mind: I don't reject Zeno's paradox because it makes me feel bad, I reject Zeno's paradox because it has no value. If it were true, how would it affect my life in any beneficial way? If the truth is worthless, then there is no value in believing the truth. These are not my feelings or my emotions speaking. It is only reasonable to reject what seems reasonable if it has no value. Now, I do believe that the truth tends to be fairly evident. For example, I can see that I can move. I don't fight Zeno's paradox in spite of the overwhelming evidence showing me that I cannot move. I can see the evidence against Zeno's paradox. Zeno's paradox was thought up in spite of all that we see, and yet even though we can see contrary, I can't explain it away. Some would say that because I can't explain it away, I ought to believe it, but because it has no value, and because I can see otherwise, I see no reason to do so.

We must not be so openminded that foolishness like Zeno's paradox is allowed in. And yet, we must not ignore the truth based on what we feel. We don't look at the truth and decide to believe otherwise because it makes us feel bad; rather, we look at what some claim to be the truth, and refuse to accept it because not only can we see otherwise, but it would be worthless to believe it if it were true. They say that we must examine it to see if it checks out, and yet, I see a basic summary as enough. Any more than that would be a waste of time, because even if I found that everything I had previously believed was a lie, even if I found that I really can't move and I'm trapped in one spot, what would be the value in the truth if that were the case?

There are times when we must be close-minded. I do not say this to encourage you never to change your mind, or to stick to what you believe nonsensically. Rather, we must not be deceived into leaving the truth simply because somebody knows his way around with words. We must ask ourselves, is there any value to the truth if what this person says is true? If yes, then it's an important topic. But if their statement would cause the truth to be worthless, then a brief summary is enough without an in-depth analysis. After all, why do we seek the truth in the first place, if not to glorify God?
"The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid."
-G.K. Chesterton

3 comments:

  1. Your destination is not an infinite space away, so you cannot divide the distance in half an infinite number of times, in reality people do reach their destinations. Sure you can divided the distance in half quite a few times but eventually you run out distance to divide.

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  2. I'm not quite sure about that. There are different types of infinities. For example, God has created us with eternal souls, and we will live with Him in heaven forever. So, in a sense, He's made us to have no end. But that's different than God, Who not only has no end but has had no beginning. You can start with 0, 1, 2, 3, and so on, and count upwards towards infinity. That's infinite, but it's a smaller infinite than if you also count in the other direction. -1, -2, -3, etc. So, there isn't an infinite amount of space between me and my destination, but at the same time, there is, just as there's an infinity between the numbers 1 and 2.
    Or, to look at this from another angle... Let's say you divide that space as many times as you can. If you run out of space to divide, then to divide that space would give you nothing, and thus, the space between you and your destination must be made of no space whatsoever, which doesn't make sense.

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  3. Imagine a freezer full of homemade ice cream that is 15 feet away. There is no way Zeno, or anyone else can stop me from getting to it. Period.

    Just in case I'm wrong, and I really can't move, I'll politely tell one of my kids that I'll share if they will hop to and fetch it for me.

    Problem solved!

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