Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Absolute Truth is More Than an Abstract Exercize

"Everybody their own truth" is seen as an ultimate truth, but how about "absolute truth -- is it logically possible"? Reading "Incoherence of the Incoherence," written by the Islamic philosopher Averroes, Ibn Rushd, brought absolute truth, as a conceivable concept, nearer to me. It is true, that minus multiplied by minus, results in a positive. This is not merely a mathematical agreement to make arithmetic easier -- the linguistic approach may display its true meaning. Saying "our neighbor never didn't have a dog" means that our neighbor always had a dog. This is a simple example. Truth says something about possibility. Is a certain phenomenon possible? It is not possible to divide a number by zero. Vice versa, multiply a real number by zero and then expect another real number other than zero as an answer. Possible? What do you think. Another example. Two plus three is five. Not four, not ten. Numbers are absolute eternal standards; they aren't produced items with a limited life span.

A more difficult next step would be considering existence versus non-existence. Do we ever consider what it really means: Non-existence. Is it possible to create non-existence. It is possible to create a void, an empty whole, but this is not the same as not existing. Non-existence is the absolute nothing and such is not possible in combination with existence, because matter, space, and form stand in the way as concrete, truly existing phenomena. It is possible to change a fire into air, but not into entirely nothingness. Creation and non-existence do not match, creation and change of form and matter, however, do very well. Creation of empty nothingness means disappearance of matter and form, and this implies, that these latter two have to move somewhere else. This somewhere else means an existing place or a new shape.

Averroes' main opponent, the theologian Al Ghazali, believes that God's will is enough to create non-existence and new existence alike, and also that His will was enough to create the universe from nothing. His line of thinking has been followed by the majority of the Islamic world, however, also in the Christian world it has contemporary followers. Modern thinkers consider the possible occurrence of a "big bang" to be the initial creation, by a Force that may be called God. Other modern thinkers contemplate a possible intelligent design by a Maker that consciously and deliberately develops new species and landscapes, or even new galaxies. Al Ghazali saw no limit to Divine power; Ibn Rushd, however, believed in absolute possibility versus absolute impossibility. Divine Omnipotence to Ibn Rushd does not mean creating the impossible, but abstaining from the impossible and being able to create everything that is possible.

The second issue is time. Creationist believers think that God in His Omnipotence creates within time. Time can be abolished and re-created by His will, and time was created when the universe was created. However, is it possible to create the universe from the non-existing? Who would do that? An existing force: God. This means that absolute nothingness is impossible. If God is eternal and limitless, it is inconceivable that God should have originated from something or somewhere. Not even God can exist in the non-existing, so creation in the non-existing is equally contradictory. It's a jolly idea, nothing further. In order to understand, it is better to consider the universe. Is the universe just our heavens and earths with their galaxies? What if there is another universe bordering "our" universe, or that ours was preceded by an older one and will be followed by another universe. And a heavenly trash can for everything that has been destroyed by our Lord. This does not solve the main issue, namely that all this belongs to the same divine creation. Therefore, it is impossible to conceive non-existence as a creation, as the difficulty of matter will stand in its way. There will always be God left and the other parts of His creation. Considering all this, it is possible to conceive a destruction of the universe when it is preceded and followed by creation of something else. On a limited level, it is possible to imagine non-existence. Time in all this is an objective standard and integrated eternal part of existence. Time measures the lives, temporary existences and movements of individual items in creation, and it is no creation by itself, according to Ibn Rushd.

Al Ghazali, however, says that time was created when the universe was first created. At first sight it seems possible to invent a time zone for each planet, each galaxy, but that does not solve the issue of creation itself, existence as a whole. If there were more time systems possible in existence, it would be possible to imagine a shift of universes in their order of appearance. An existing universe could trade places with a future universe. The hereafter could trade places with the present life. This is not possible, and it shows why it is not possible to imagine more than one universe or creation. Time and non-existence as a creation by God seems a nice exercise of thought rather than real truth, to Ibn Rushd. There is only one universe, and it answers to certain natural truths that we nowadays call laws of nature. Time dictates the order of events independently and equally for no matter which item or event in the universe. Like numbers, time is an absolute eternal standard and not bound to any individual item with a limited life span. Is this Divine will?