https://secularhumanism.org/2018/09/letters-6/

In “Infinity: Just One Damn Thing after Another” (

In “Infinity: Just One Damn Thing after Another” (

*FI*, June/July 2018), Kenneth Nahigian unnecessarily complicates the concept. He brings in a version of Zeno’s Paradox, that an arrow goes halfway to its target an infinite number of times, so can never reach its target. Zeno was a philosopher, not a mathematician, living in an era before the concept of a limit (the basis of calculus) was discovered independently by Newton and Leibniz. They showed that infinite sums can converge to a limit. In Zeno’s case, we can begin with one half, then add half of that (one fourth) and keep adding halves. This infinite series has the limit 1, which is the Zeno target.Philosophers and theologians have misused the concept of infinity, meaninglessly claiming that an infinite god with infinite power has lived an infinite amount of time. Infinity is a useful construct created by humans and need not exist in reality. Infinity, like gods, is not sensible (known through the senses). Mathematically there are many types of infinities, just as people believe in many gods. My mathematics students have sometimes falsely treated infinity as if it actually existed as a real number, and such misuse often got them into trouble. And so it is with many god believers who treat a deity as a real person.

Regardless of current disputes about infinity, I’m happy that we can freely discuss our views without meeting the same fate as Giordano Bruno in 1600. He taught that the universe was infinite with an infinite number of worlds like ours. It was considered heretical for finite man to discover the nature of the infinite, which was so clearly allied with the nature of God. Bruno was burned at the stake, one of the last victims of the Inquisition.

Regardless of current disputes about infinity, I’m happy that we can freely discuss our views without meeting the same fate as Giordano Bruno in 1600. He taught that the universe was infinite with an infinite number of worlds like ours. It was considered heretical for finite man to discover the nature of the infinite, which was so clearly allied with the nature of God. Bruno was burned at the stake, one of the last victims of the Inquisition.

*Herb Silverman*