Is Our Universe Finite or Infinite: A Philosophical Discussion

3 Nov , 2013  

Is Our Universe Finite or Infinite: A Philosophical Discussion.

So I want to get a little weird here. Just a little weird, like maybe how you act when no one is looking or maybe even better how you act when you’re not even watching yourself. I want to talk about space. About the stuff between Science Fiction and textbooks. About the concept of the Universe. I say concept, because it isn’t something tangible– at least not in the classical sense. The Universe has effects and consequences- as to say, we know it exists because of the secondary aspects of it– but, in an entire sense, we cannot be exactly sure what the Universe is, if only because it isn’t something we can hold in even the biggest hand. I am not a quantum physicist or a theoretical astronomer or whatever other prestigious title exists that would allow me to polemicize a respected opinion on time and space– I’m just a guy who has had some time to think- and because of that, I’ve fallen into a few logic pits and my thoughts around me are slowly turning to tar. First now, the Universe.


In its more basic sense– the Universe can be one of two things, it can be finite, having a fixed amount of matter in it, or it can be infinite, meaning the amount of matter has no upper level. Even if you’re absolutely positive that we live in a Multiverse, as to say that there’s any number of similar versions of you vibrating at a different frequency, you still have to acknowledge that, amongst these Multiverses, still the singular Universes have properties that either can or cannot be defined. Lucky for us, it is a binary question.

 the singular, cubed universe

Yes, the Universe is Finite

Well that’s no fun. On a stupendous, purely metaphysical scale, this takes all the pizzazz out of it. Yes, we will be searching for the final frontier- but what happens when we get to it? Not that we ever would, given that the Universe is dozens and dozens of billions of light years wide, but still, it’s the idea that hurts. Lets say that the Universe is finite- meaning there is a quantifiable amount of matter in it and not that there are boundaries. Side-note: this is important because, on some levels, a finite yet boundaryless Universe as proposed by Hawking and Hartle would mitigate a lot of the discrepancies between the two theories, but, still for us, there’s something it doesn’t explain.


If the Universe is finite, that would mean that the amount of matter in it is not only consistent (conservation of mass much?) but also quantifiable. Given what we know about closed systems, this creates one spooky question: if we live in a quantifiable and closed system, do we have free will? Even with its most liberal usage, no one would consider actions in a consistent and closed system to be that of free will. No matter how many times we run through the motions, the same outcome will always be produced. Essentially, what a finite Universe does, is turn everything into a mathematical process- one that could theoretically be mapped by an equation. It would be a really, really, really complicated equation, but still, an equation. Most likely, it would be an equation that could never even be replicated (I mean, it’s byproducts are the tangible outcomes of existence, right?), but, still, lets take it a step further. So we’ve got this equation that, as a whole, is essentially just a painting on the wall. We can’t do anything with it, but it sure is cool, right? Well, maybe we can do something with it. What if we took a piece of it out- something that was so relatively minuscule and tiny that we actually could syphon off enough power from the known Universe to emulate its results. What we had just done was duplicate reality. Because we’d mapped this ultimate equation and because we Frankensteined it to life, we created something that already existed and, given the stimulus around it, would always act in the same way. The flip side is that, given a linear timeline and multidimensional Universe, we’d never actually be able to test it to see if it acted the same, but still, in theory, it would.


Where it gets real wonky is with the understanding that we, as humans, exist in this ridiculously complex equation and, given that, we can be defined as a series of mathematically charged symbols. Boom, pow, fizzle- you’ve just become immortal. The implications of this are mind-numbing; it turns singular consciousness from a bubble that we exist in, to a plane or wavelength that is shared by whatever beings exist in its uniqueness.  But, again, this is something we only have to worry about with a finite Universe and if the Universe is finite (and constantly expanding, like we know it is) then eventually it will stop-expanding and collapse upon itself, turning into a nasty-wasty black hole hell-bent on tearing apart literally everything that exists. And when that happens, then what? Maybe a giant reactionary bang from all everything that ever was being sucked back towards its primeval base– fitting, right? A boundaryless existence for a boundaryless Universe. But maybe that’s not true- maybe the Universe is infinite. Maybe this shit just goes on and on and on.


Yes, the Universe is infinite

So we’ve decided that the universe has no upper limit to the amount of matter in it. It just goes on forever and rather than anything being created or destroyed, it just is there. This inherently must be boundaryless and every dimension must exist on a flat plane that does not loop or doughnut. So it is infinite- so it is always expanding and becoming larger and cannot possibly stop- what does this mean? Infinity is a crazy concept. I remember being on the playground when I was a kid and saying “you’re stupid times infinity” and it kind of made sense because to me, infinity just mean “a huge number” but that’s not what it is, really. Infinity isn’t a huge number, it is all the numbers. It is numbers we haven’t even thought to consider, numbers so large that they would take the entire length of time to count up. Infinity is a ridiculous concept for the same reason WWE RAW Cagean infinite universe Matches are a ridiculous concept- because when you take out the rules, things start to get real. If the Universe is finite, we can understand our existence. Even on the most remedial terms, we can say “we are because we are” and that make sense. Some stuff happened and that resulted in me sitting in my living room on a broken foldable chair eating lukewarm pizza rolls– because there is a B, there must have (at one point) been A. But in the infinite, there is not just one set of outcomes. Instead of, B pulling A, B and A are totally disconnected. Yeah, something had to happen for us to get here, but then again it didn’t have to happen because, in the infinite, every possible thing is concurrently happening and everything happened 5 seconds ago and everything happened 5 million years ago. There are a billion people just like me typing this exact same article. There are a billion people just like me typing this same article but with a computer made out of rubber chickens. The infinite not only allows for everything, it demands it.


I’ll say, this is partially semantics. We can talk about infinity as a concept because we have language with defined terms. As much as I like words, I’m not going to say that they perpetuate our existence. Maybe there is no such thing as “the infinite”– maybe there are fuzzy boundaries that direct the limitless matter around us? Maybe it is made-up. I think that would be more likely. An understanding that the infinite is not actually infinite, like a train that goes on forever but can never leave its tracks. That allows for free will, that allows for an existence to occur that isn’t constantly being destroyed by it’s own limitless potential, and that allows for an existence to occur that isn’t constantly moving towards collapse and destruction. It allows for a little bit of ambiguity, but I like that. I’d rather have ambiguity I can understand that some creeping secret hidden in the shadows. So maybe I was wrong, maybe it isn’t binary. Maybe that’s just another mistake mankind has made to attempt to understand something it cannot.

What do you think about the Universe and its finiteness/infiniteness- discus below.


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Walter Blake Knoblock By  -    
Walter Blake Knoblock is a lot of things. Follow him on twitter @WBKnoblock and on