Faulty new-age reasoning?

I’m going to use a sentence from a person I admire and follow, whose work I am fond of. Thus I am not disclosing the name. Still there are too many new-age-like thoughts that need to be uncovered and an inference apparently sound becomes untrue. You may say I am lacking poetic sense. But this sentence was not taken from a poem: the issue here is that the author stated the sentence as a teaching moment. And that terrifies me. It’s a beautiful, suggestive sentence. We have heard or read it already.

If the sky is infinite, it has no boundaries, it’s everywhere. You are one part of it: the sky is within you. [Thus] you are within everyone and everything.

Let us assume for the moment that the assumption is true: the sky [the universe] is infinite. Has it got no boundaries? First false inference: the universe may be infinite but bound in one direction. For instance, it may have a west boundary, and still be infinite. The line starting at point zero and going forever to infinity has certainly the zero boundary. So an infinite sky [assuming the sly is infinite] may be bound. However, by definition, the universe **must** contain everything, so it must be true in some sense that it “is everywhere.” But not because it is boundless or infinite.

If it is everywhere, then certainly you and I are part of it. Is the sky part of me? Well, in a poetic sense, yes. But it’s really myself who am within the universe. This little inference is wrong. If I am part of something, then it’s not true (though I’d love it to be!) that “that something” (even if it’s infinite”) is part of me!! Example: “I am part of the Internet” certainly doesn’t mean the Internet is within me! The “spirit” of the Internet is, but that’s BS! Ok, up to now, that’s a lot of BS in just one sentence!!!!

Again, one may say that I lack poetic sense, and I love poetry! Or that I want to spli a hair in four and miss the poetic points of the sentence. Which brings me to asking: what is exactly the point of that sentence? Who does it help? Or is it uttering some syntactic sugar so to help us feel well for a second?

Thus, for the sake of poetry, I am including a brief parenthesis with a nice little (nonsense) poem.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

Now this is poetry!

Let’s go on. For all I said before, the conclusion is another great piece of BS. “I am within everything and everyone”. I will accept though that this conclusion may actually have some truth, notwithstanding the faulty inferences that yield it. It’s true in a sense that part of me (99% of my DNA for instance) is within everyone, but not really everything. Thus I am certainly connected to all other human (and to a lesser extent to all living beings), but not to rocks or diamonds! Come on, of course I am connected to rocks, you may say, since we both come out of the same big bang, or because Peter is the rock upon which I found my church, or whatever, but… that’s stretching it!

Now, let’s go back to the first assumption, which we thought initially as true. But is it really true that the sky is infinite?

Well, no, no way. At least, we don’t know. If I don’t know something, I must stay with known evidence, though it may be hard to accept. In fact, for our humble mind, it’s a lot easier to accept the universe is infinite (after all, the universe is greater that all of us, and it’s unthinkable…), that that it may be finite. As soon as we think the universe is finite, our mind jumps to ask: “Then, what is there **beyond** the universe?” Which is an unfair question to ask. Because Out Of The Universe There Ought To Be Nothing. That’s it. The universe is everything there is, by definition. Thus, there’s no “outside it” even if it’s finite, and even if I cannot understand it. It’s our mind who wants to believe it is infinite! It may be, but we think it is not, since we have absolutely no evidence.

Now, I showed a faulty reasoning together with many false assumptions as they are commonly used in the media and by people. Only reason can defend us from such BS. This doesn’t mean of course we should only use reason. Sometimes, the heart without any reason is quite good! Still, beware of false science and worst, of fake reason!

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About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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