COSMIC MYSTERIES AND OUR NEED TO KNOW

By Paul M. Lewis

Watching Stephen Hawking’s “Genius” series on PBS recently has reminded me what fascinating topics theoretical physicists study. They specialize in asking such big questions as “Where did the universe come from?” and “Is there a center to the universe?” And while it’s true that there has always been a degree of contention in regard to how these questions are answered, there is at least general consensus on the Big Bang itself, that is, the very beginning of the universe. That term may be a bit misleading, however, in that physicists do not believe it to have been an actual explosion. In fact, the term Big Bang was coined as a kind of put down of the theory by an early doubter. Instead of an explosion, it was probably more of an almost inconceivably rapid expansion, followed immediately by what is called “an inflation,” indicative of the fact that the infant universe moved rapidly outward, expanding in all directions. And the universe continues to expand even now, 13.7 billion years after the initial expansion. No less a figure than Einstein, himself, long doubted the idea of an expanding universe, but even he finally came to accept it, due to the patient observations of another renowned scientist, the great astronomer Edwin Hubble.

How did the Big Bang come about in the first place? Where was it located? And doesn’t it make sense to think of it as having somehow occurred in what might be thought of as the center of the universe? These are all legitimate questions to ask. The answer to the first, that of how the Big Bang came about, is very simple: no one knows. In that sense, it becomes, at least for now and in the absence of further scientific break throughs, more or less a philosophical or a theological question, although naturally scientists do continue to explore it. Regarding the query having to do with the Big Bang being in the center of the universe, the problem it raises becomes a question of logic. To think in locational terms assumes there was some “place” to be. However, there could have been no place for the universe to begin in until there actually was a universe. In other words, how could there have been a physical place, before there was such thing as space to be in? This also means another way to think of it is that everywhere is the center of the universe.

Before the Big Bang, nothing at all existed. It’s extremely difficult for us to conceive of nothingness. Language itself begins to break down, but it’s clear that nothing cannot be “a thing.” The definition of nothing is “no thing,” a complete non-existence of whatever can be perceived by our senses. How can we imagine what this might be like? Some might suggest we can envision it in terms of outer space being a vacuum, that is, of it “containing nothing,” again, as if nothing could somehow be contained. But even that is not the case, since physicists now understand that space is actually filled with Dark Matter. And as much as Dark Matter is unperceivable, it is known to comprise some 80% of all of the matter in the universe. On the other hand, normal matter that can be seen (i.e. asteroids, comets, stars, planets, galaxies, cosmic gas, as well as you and I and all the creatures of the earth and on any of the other planets) therefore accounts only for about a fifth of the known universe.

Theoretical physics routinely deals with imponderables. It works at the edges, at the border between science and philosophy/theology, between what can be known empirically and what can be inferred, or imagined, or intuited. Take another question that physicists are currently studying, that of the multiverse. The idea is that there may be many universes aside from the one we live in. Some even suggest that evidence points to there possibly being an infinite number of these universes, all existing in parallel form. In part, this originates from studies done by the German physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Schrödinger is one of the founding fathers of Quantum Mechanics, which studies the mysterious workings of the micro world of atoms and subatomic particles. He posited that a quantum state is the sum, or the “superposition,” of all possible states, hypothesizing in his famous “cat experiment” that an imagined feline in a box could be both dead and alive, and that we simply point to one or the other state as a kind of convenience, a sort of book-keeping device, only knowing if it is one or the other when the box is opened and it is observed. Additionally, according to another famous student of the field, Werner Heisenberg, quantum particles can exist in multiple locations simultaneously. This is referred to as his Uncertainty Principle, whereby the location of a subatomic particle can be calculated, but not its speed; or the speed can be calculated, but not its location. Some subatomic particles even appear to spring automatically, if fleetingly, into existence from nothing. All this happens at the tiniest—the quantum—level.

At the macro level, on the other hand, String Theory has to do with the workings of gravity and the vastness of the universe, and may ultimately help explain both Dark Matter and Dark Energy (the latter being the mysterious force that is thought to drive the expansion of the universe). The holy grail of modern physics is to come up with a theory that would adequately explain the universe using both the laws of Quantum Mechanics and those of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, which deals with the macro universe. So far, unfortunately, no genius physicist has yet been able to explain this so-called Grand Unification Theory.

As for the multiverse, speculation on that question has not yet risen to the level of an actual theory. In fact, it is useful to remember exactly what is meant, in scientific terms, by the word theory. What it is not, and what many non-scientists believe it to be since this is how the word is used in everyday speech, is a kind of guess—as in, “your theory (of whatever) is as good as mine.” Instead, scientifically, a theory is a system of ideas meant to explain something, based on principles independent of the thing being explained. Thus, we speak of the Theory of Evolution—which is not a guess at all, but a hypothesis that has been tested and retested over the years, and proven itself to be true beyond any reasonable doubt. This is also the case with Quantum Mechanics, whereas String Theory (admittedly, confusingly) has not yet been fully accepted by the scientific community as a whole.

So, we see from merely a short sketch that there are myriad puzzles, inconsistencies, and mysteries in the universe. Any number of others could be added, such as the inexplicable nature of Black Holes, and other singularities like the Big Bang itself. How the two are alike, or not alike, is as yet unknown. And what happens to Space-Time, when it enters into a Black Hole, if even light itself cannot escape its super gravitational pull? Does intelligent life exist on other planets? How did self-reflective consciousness come about? And what exactly is antimatter, which was created at the time of the Big Bang? In principle, when antimatter comes into contact with matter, the latter is annihilated. So, how do we exist? One possible explanation is because there is one extra particle of matter for every billion particles of anti-matter. And is this a matter of luck, or something more mysterious, more mindful?

Which ultimately brings us to the question of God, or if you prefer, some ultimately unknowable Universal Intelligence. How does he—or she, or it—fit into the picture? Does he exist? My own theory, to use the everyday vernacular form of the word, is that he does, and the way toward understanding him lies within, in private, not out there in the practices of organized religion. As Einstein once famously said: “Teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up the source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests.”

To be sure, science can help point the way, by examining the mysteries of the universe that we somehow have an innate longing to comprehend. Even if we never get there by using the scientific method, or generally through the normal processes of the human mind, at least we know we are trying to elucidate these ultimate questions. And if, as I believe, there is a Mystery Beyond All Mystery, one we will never fully plumb with our ordinary minds, then I should think such a Divine Being would really be pleased with the efforts of his clever, curious and ever-striving creatures.

TRYING TO KEEP AN EYE ON THINGS

By Paul M. Lewis

You know you’re getting old when… I suppose there’s an endless string of completions that could be made to that sad beginning.

I was faced with one of my own the other morning when I woke up, opened my eyes, and saw a weird kind of amorphous, squiggly, circular outline dancing in the center of my vision. I remember saying to myself, “I don’t think that was there yesterday, was it?” As if some other person, other than the I of the dancing squiggle, might have been there to answer. The reply came back swiftly enough as a fairly definite “no, not that I recall!”

So, what to do, I wondered. Should I just ignore it and hope really hard that it would go away? This is a strategy that has worked for me in the past, sometimes with better results than others, to be sure. Or should I mention it to my partner? That, I knew, could have only one consequence: he would insist that I call the eye doctor as soon as his office opened up and try to get an appointment. And not that he wouldn’t have been right about it. Sometimes I may have the tiniest tendency to procrastinate, especially when it comes to dealing with doctors.

In this case, however, it was clear even to me that I really had to act. The background is that, for whatever reasons of genetics, or karma, or just the simplest of unfortunate happenstances, I was born with amblyopia in one eye. Sometimes called “lazy eye,” amblyopia is a condition wherein the brain favors the stronger eye over the weaker one. It can be corrected, if caught in childhood, which mine unfortunately was not. This means that my vision today mostly relies on my one good eye. I’m more or less legally blind in the other, and it was of course the good eye that now displayed the wavy lines.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about the visit to the doctor’s office. Suffice it to say that I did get in the same day, and he told me that this is just something that happens as people get older. Something about the vitreous humour, the clear gel between the lens and the retina, pulling away from the back of the eye. Most of the time, the moving circle that results eventually goes away, but you never know how long it may take, and if there are other symptoms, worse ones (e.g., exploding lights, whole darkened areas), then I needed to call him anytime, night or day, which I have to admit got my attention. I pictured myself no longer able to drive a car, maybe even not able to go to the gym anymore because I couldn’t make out the machines, or at least the buttons and levers you need to make the machines operate. I imagined bumping into grumbling people, while I stood there mumbling, “Oh, very sorry, but I can’t see a damn thing.” And what about reading? My God, what about reading?

The good news is that my worst fears have not come true, at least not yet. The darkened outline of the jostling circle seems to be diminishing. As a result, I’m having fewer fantasies about running into people while attempting to get on the treadmill. Still, all this makes me wonder: Is the body beginning to fall apart? In one sense, I suppose the answer is as simple and direct as, yes, absolutely! It could be said that the body begins to fall apart as soon as we’re born. It’s just that the process starts to get more apparent when you enter into your 70’s. Who ever called these the golden years?

All of this made me reflect further about the whole notion of what it means to fall apart. There’s a scientific term referring to this sort of thing that I have long been fascinated by. It’s called “entropy.” Stephen Hawking defines entropy as “a measure of the disorder of a physical system.” He goes on to talk about entropy as it relates to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which he defines as “the law stating that entropy always increases and can never decrease.”

That’s technical speak, of course, but here’s my take, using less scientific verbiage. What we’re talking about is the increasing unavailability of a system’s energy source and the gradual decline of that system into disorder. In other words, the demise of the body’s physical energy, the slow and steady contracting of the circle of life, ending in the diminution of our physical abilities as we age. When we’re young and full of energy, we’re eager to explore the world, to make our mark, to do something that makes a difference. With age, the energy it takes to do such things becomes less available. In extreme old age, or catastrophic illness (whichever comes first), we no longer have any energy at all to expand outwardly. Everything becomes focused inward.

This is what it means for a body when entropy begins to set in. At first, the gel of the eye pulls away from the back of the socket, creating peculiar shadowy shapes. If we’re lucky, that eventually dissipates. If not, it pulls away, tearing the retina and causing permanent damage to your ability to see and interact with the world out there. But note the part about being lucky. Is it really true, does chance, or random happening, have anything to do with entropy? It might in the detail of it, that is, in terms of how things happen (such as wavy lines in front of your eyes, or something else), but not in terms of its ultimate eventuality. As Hawking says, entropy always has its way.

Even so, the bigger issue isn’t so much about it simply happening, but about whether or not there is a larger, a greater scheme of things, a plan that our lives follow that has a meaning we can point to, beyond the stark imposition of natural law in our lives. These are questions that science has nothing to do with. Does religion, or philosophy, or even mysticism? That’s a question only each of us can answer on his or her own.

Who knew that waking up one fine day and seeing zigzaggy, undulating lines could bring about such thoughts? Even if the lines do go away, as I think mine are, or eventually will, it leaves me to wonder when some other morning will come when I might wake up and something is there that won’t go away. When will entropy finally catch up with my personal system, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics begin to exert its final, inexorable effects? As in physics, so in life, there are no reprieves from such laws.

Steven Hawking comes to mind yet again while reflecting on all of this. There’s someone who really understands entropy, not just in the abstract, scientific sense, but in terms of what it has done to his body. Talk about disorder and the break down of a physical system! How has he handled it? How has he managed to hold things together all these years? I don’t know him, but I can only imagine that it is surely with determination, definitely with dignity, and probably even with a measure of humor.

To me, this raises the question of whether there’s an even more fundamental law of the universe, one that charges us with facing our inevitable disbanding, the failing of our personal physical universe, and the release of the atoms of our bodies into the cosmos; in other words, the dissolution of our bodies. Human laws can be broken, even if there may be consequences to pay. The physical laws of the universe cannot be. They are inexorable, fixed forever, inevitable, utterly inescapable.

Whether there are yet other laws still, higher ones if you will, that require us to face ultimate questions of meaning, of purpose, or of cosmic design, is again up to each of us to answer on our own. But in the end, what could be more worth our time to look into? My own hope is that, maybe someday, I will get to see beyond the entropy of physical systems, past the universal laws of dissolution and disintegration into something higher and grander, something permanent and unmoving, beyond questions of unwinding or decay. Call these laws what you will, the word matters little, but this is what I would like to catch a glimpse of, wonky eye and all.

ENTROPY AND THE LOSS OF CHILDHOOD FAITH

By Paul

 Church buildings, just as religions themselves, come and go.  That is the nature of reality, as we normally perceive it.  All entities in the physical world have their beginning, their growth into eventual maturity, and their inevitable decline and demise.  This is in accord with the basic principle which physicists call entropy.  Here is what Steven Hawking has to say about it (although his main topic in this case happens to be black holes, in the process he gives a very good brief explanation of what is meant by entropy): 

“The nondecreasing behavior of a black hole’s area was very reminiscent of the behavior of a physical quantity called entropy, which measures the degree of disorder of a system.  It is a matter of common experience that disorder will tend to increase if things are left to themselves.  (One has only to stop making repairs around the house to see that!)  One can create order out of disorder (for example one can paint the house), but that requires expenditure of effort or energy and so decreases the amount of ordered energy available.   (The Illustrated Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, Bantam Books, November 1996, page 130)

He goes on to explain that this is in exact accord with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that entropy in an isolated system always increases.  We see this basic principle in all things, even in the stars, which too have a birth, a period of growth and maturation, and an eventual dissolution.  Entropy, then, is essentially a measure of disorder, and when energy ceases to flow and to hold things together, we say that the organism in question dies.    

So, if even stars (and, of course, people) die, then why not church buildings?  Now, you may be wondering at this point what the reason is for my going on so insistently about church structures.  The answer is because I happened to have read recently in an article in a local newspaper that the church across the street from where I grew up in upstate New York is about to be torn down.  Normally, I readily admit, such news would hardly rise to any level of great importance.  However, for me it does feel big, indeed, inasmuch as this particular church, both the building itself and what it came to represent for me (it was called St. Patrick’s), played such a major role throughout my childhood. 

St.Patrick’s, first of all, was an enormous structure made of red brick.  It loomed huge over the entire town of some 17,000 souls, who at the time clustered around.  And yes, I understand that much of what we once, as children, thought to be vast in size and scope, upon later inspection in adult life will appear far smaller, less grandiose, almost pathetically less imposing.  But I assure you that this is not the case in regard to St. Patrick’s.  I returned many years later as an adult who had traveled the world and had seen something of both the great medieval cathedrals of Europe and the imposing ancient temples of Asia, and this building, St. Patrick’s, still felt as though it towered over all other structures in its domain.  It dominated the neighborhood and the city itself in a way that made everything else feel and somehow even appear to be less.    

St. Patrick’s was built well over a century ago, originally constructed to mimic the great basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, France, minus the final tower.  For reasons I have never been able to discover, that crowning glory of the building was not added onto St. Patrick’s, due – I always supposed anyway – to lack of funds.  The church, after all, was created as a result of the accumulated donations of hundreds, if not thousands, of poor working Irish in the neighborhood, people like my grandparents and their parents, who labored for a pittance in local factories.  As such, there was only so much money to go around.  Still, in the end they were able to create an imposing structure, splendid, even awesome in its impact.  And this, after all, was the very point.  Just as with any other building constructed for such purposes, St. Patrick’s was made to inspire, to move, to uplift, and to remind people that there was more to life than the drudgery of life’s everyday concerns.  The idea was, literally, to make people look up upon entry, so that they would also feel uplifted. 

Whether or not this architectural feature always worked as it was designed to remains of course a matter of opinion.  It both did and did not for me, I know.  On the one hand, I spent many a morning serving mass in this great church, warm and comforted against the snowy blasts outside.  Inside, according to the old Tridentine rite, the priest celebrated the liturgy in Latin while facing the altar, his back to the people, as we altar boys responded in a Latin learned by rote. At the time, I understood nothing of what I said, although somehow, even now sixty years later, I can still recall almost every word.  Old grandmothers sat in the back, fingering their beads, as the priest spoke majestic words from afar.  Neither these grandmothers, nor virtually anyone else in the entire congregation (the church was filled on Sundays for six different masses) understood what the priest was saying.  But it seemed to matter very little to them in that world of my youth.  People believed that the words were both magical and sacred, and that was enough. 

Those days, to be sure, are now long gone, both for me and for just about everyone else.  Yes, there are a few holdouts who still insist on the mass in its ancient form, and the ultra conservative Pope Benedict XVI has even issued a so-called motu proprio, essentially a kind of executive order, called Summorum Pontificum, which allows bishops to grant permission for the ancient liturgy to still be used in certain circumstances.  But essentially the old mass is dead today, just as, I would argue, the Church itself is also dying.

And why not?  The principle of entropy works here every bit as much as it does with any other organism (organism, that is, in its most general sense, as some kind of an organized whole with interdependent parts). St.Patrick’s, too, is about to die.  Due to ever dwindling attendance, it was closed by the diocese of Albany late in the year 2011, and the local bishop and the city appear to be about to sell it to something called “The Price Chopper.”  Being unfamiliar with this company, I make the assumption that it may be a sort of so-called big box store, which sells otherwise useless items to people who essentially do not need them.  Or, I suppose it could be a grocery store, and living bodies, highly organized organisms that we are, do after all need the input of continued food (i.e. energy) in order to maintain our organized structure.  One way or another, it will replace what was at least intended to be a temple to Spirit with a temple to the body. 

My own brother died on Easter Sunday, 2011, and his funeral mass (non-Tridentine) was celebrated in St. Patrick’s Church.  It was the first time I had been inside the structure in many decades, but it looked exactly as I remembered it.  I imagine that his funeral was one of the last ever to be held there.  From my own admittedly self-centered point of view, I experienced all of it as a sad, if oddly fitting, final goodbye to childhood faith and family, and an ironic, if unwilling, welcome to the entropy that we, all of us, must ourselves one day face. 

I actually take some solace, if you can believe it, in the First Law of Thermodynamics.  It states that energy can be changed from one form to another, but it can neither be created nor destroyed. St.Patrick’s, for better or for worse a building meant to inspire and to uplift, will soon be ripped apart, brick by brick, and in its place a structure put up whose purpose is ostensibly to chop prices.  Is this an equal trade of energy?  I will leave that for you to decide.  The Catholic Church has done as much harm as it has done good in the world, and many (myself included) would say it has done far more of the former than of the latter.  At least the Price Chopper, it can be said, is honest and utterly unpretentious in its self-presentation, and does not purport to be more than it is.

There is no escaping entropy’s final verdict.  We can only put it off for so long.  And so St.Patrick’s too will go, whether I like it or not, replaced by a mere emporium.  That, too, will one day crumble and return to the chaos from which it originated.  When I was a child, the priests of St. Patrick’s used to tell us: remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.  They could have said the same thing about churches, and church buildings, too.  But energy – another form of Spirit? – that’s something else altogether.  It lives on in its essence, permanent, unmoving, unaffected by the laws of physical change.  It has no parts into which to disintegrate, has no ordered organization to fall into disuse or disrepair. 

That’s where I want to live.  Here is one of one of my favorite passages, from Chapter XII of the Bhagavad-Gita (Sir Edwin Arnold’s translation, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, California, 1975, page 111).  The Lord Krishna (an incarnation of the Divine Spirit) is speaking to his disciple, Arjuna:  Whoever serve Me – as I show Myself – constantly true, in full devotion fixed, those hold I very holy.  But who serve, worshiping Me, The One, The Invisible, The Unrevealed, Unnamed, Unthinkable, Uttermost, All-pervading, Highest, Sure – who thus adore Me, mastering their senses, of one set mind to all, glad in all good, these blessèd souls come unto Me.” 

Now those, in my view anyway, are words you can really build your house on, and no entropy, however powerful, will in the end shake its unmovable foundations.

 

  

SCIENCE AND MYSTICISM, WILL THEY SOMEDAY MEET?

By Paul

“He (Pope John Paul II) told us that it was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God.”  Stephen Hawking writing in “A Brief History of Time.” 

I’ve been reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” recently, and I have been wondering why it is that the late Pope might have declared it to be forbidden to delve into the Big Bang, in other words, into the beginning of the universe.  I have to say, I see absolutely no reason why it should be forbidden.  

But let me start first of all by saying that I am in no way a physicist, and I possess little or no background or training in science.  Still, the older I get, the more I honor what science can teach us, and I deeply respect the intellect and the profound curiosity about the origins of the universe evidenced by so many scientists today.  Indeed, from what I can see, science has taken up where philosophy once left off.  But just because I have no formal training in science, does not mean that I, or we, or any of us, cannot understand the basic concepts uncovered and elucidated by such thinkers as Stephen Hawking and his many colleagues throughout the world. 

Time began at the Big Bang.  Everyone seems to agree on that.  This is because there was nothing before it, or at least nothing that we can know.  Physicists refer to the Big Bang as a “singularity,” by which is meant a point in space-time at which the curvature of space-time becomes infinite.  Now, infinite is not a word we normally expect to hear from scientists.  We would think to hear it more from theologians.  But there it is, part of the currently accepted definition of the scientific term “singularity.”   The only other known singularities occur within black holes in space.  In each case, all laws of physics dissolve, both those which describe the universe at a macro-level, which is to say, Eisenstein’s Theory of General Relativity, and those which describe it from a micro-level, that is, Quantum Mechanics, which teaches us about all that is smallest in the universe. 

For the longest time now, scientists have been attempting to come up with a theory that would, in a sense, marry these two ways of understanding the universe, the unimaginably big and the unimaginably small.  Much progress has been made, and it seems as though ways have been devised to understand how three of the four basic forces of the universe do interact with one another.  These three forces are electro-magnetism, the strong force, and the weak force.  However, no way has yet been devised of incorporating the fourth force, gravity, into one Theory of All.  String Theory, and its cousin M Theory, have been proposed, but so far there has been no satisfactory way of testing this empirically.  And even then, there are a number of matters about this theory which remain controversial, not the least of which is that it posits eleven different dimensions, seven more than the standard four we currently have (i.e. up, down, across, and time). 

Understanding the Big Bang might unable us to see how all four forces of our universe interact together, thus allowing us to posit something like a One Force of All Theory.  This is because in such a case we could, as it were, peer into a “place” that was infinitely small, yet one which contained all that exists in the universe.  In the infinitude of its smallness, the Big Bang event contained at least in potential all the energy, all the matter, and all the antimatter that ever existed, exists now, or ever will exist in the universe.  Everything, in a sense, came from this infinitely small nothingness, and from there it spread out (at the time of the Big Bang) into what we now know to be our continually expanding universe.  Thus, the macro and the micro were one, bringing together the four great forces of the universe as we know them today. 

However, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle indicates that we cannot predict events with complete certainty (it states that we can measure the speed of a particle with great accuracy, or the location of the particle, but we cannot measure both simultaneously).  What follows from this is that, from the point of view of physics, we will probably never fully be able to predict things.  However, at the same time we know that, once again given a singularity such as the Big Bang, the ordinary laws of physics as we understand them cease to exist, and so within such a singularity, with its infinity of density, all of the basic forces must have merged.  Therefore, who is to say that what seems contradictory today in nature was not once in some way reconciled?  The same might also be true in regard to what is happening even now in black holes.

We may of course never be able to prove what happened in a singularity like the Big Bang, or even in a black hole.  Indeed, if the definition holds, it would seem to be almost contradictory even to try.  However, human beings by their very nature appear to be endlessly curious, even when it comes to those things which otherwise appear irreconcilable. 

So, I say bravo for those scientists who continue searching.  Or will the answer ultimately be found in mysticism, rather than in science?  In other words, maybe in the end science cannot go where its own tools by definition seem to be useless (although that is not the same as saying that it is forbidden to try).  Or maybe another idea is that someday science and what we now call mysticism will in some sense merge, and scientists will become the true seers of the age.  In fact, doesn’t the very definition of the Big Bang sound in certain ways an awful lot like some theologians’ definition of God?  I still remember the prayer we said as Catholics when I was a child, which ended in “as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.”  Sounds a lot like the singularity of the Big Bang, doesn’t it?  And after all, the very word science is derived etymologically from the Latin word scientia, meaning knowledge.

So, I say it’s OK – and more than OK – to look into the beginnings of the universe.  It’s actually not only all right, it is perhaps a requirement of being human.  It is maybe the very culmination of being human.  Hindu philosophy, too, talks a lot about the reconciliation in Spirit of all the contradictions of all the pairs of opposites.  And the Tao Te Ching declares: “Nonbeing penetrates nonspace.”  Could it be someday in perhaps the distant future that science-cum-mysticism will finally enlighten us about Infinity?