Eternal Numbers

I am of a school of thought that God tries to communicate to man in ways that the man of the day can understand. But, always, is the caveat from God that his ways are not man’s ways. His thoughts are not man’s thoughts. His view of life and its purpose is not man’s view. But none of those things stop God from doing what he can to make man more like him.

And when I say God communicates in ways that man can understand him, it’s not that God limits his communications. God’s communications take a certain level of preparation in order to understand and to realize that they are, indeed, messages to us from a person that has a great deal to say to us, if we will but receive those messages. And so much of that communication is mathematical.

I’m not speaking of taking numbers of things in scriptures to manipulate them to get deeper meanings. Rather, mathematics is what defines the entire universe. To me, it stands to reason that mathematics defines that which is beyond our universe, as well.

As I read the scriptures, I am fascinated with the statements that things that seem numberless to us have their number known to God. When God says that there is no time in his realm, that he has made worlds without number to us, and that his course is one eternal round, I take notice. To me, they imply of a number system that exists to properly count and manipulate the universes, to sum each beginning and end of a time-space continuum and to connect it to the ones ahead of it and to the ones behind it.

“Ones” is not even the right word to use to describe to us these bounded near-infinitudes. We exist as mortals, with our spirits barely intersecting with the time and space of this universe, completely unable to see curvature of space from our vantage point. Indeed, all that we can conclude from looking up at the stars is that our view is imperfect.

And when we look at a number such as pi, we find that, again, our view is imperfect. We have calculated 13.3 trillion digits or so of that decimal and never does it repeat, terminate, or even show signs of being a random generation. Our efforts to get to the end of that number can only be finite in this time and space that we have. A few hundred digits suffice for even the most sophisticated of our calculations, so we round it off and move on with things. Yet, there it is, its digits continuing on and on. Because we have not found the termination, we say it does not terminate. Yet, we do not know for sure. We can never know for sure because we have no way of viewing what seems to us to be infinite.

And pi is not alone: nature and natural phenomena are constantly described by numbers such as pi. The square root of 2 has been calculated out to 2 trillion places, making it the second-place number for how determined mankind is to get more digits of. The number e has only been calculated to a few billion digits. These numbers seem out of place among a people more comfortable with tapping fingers to get from one to ten. Yet, there they are. Are there operations we do not know and numbers we do not use that cleanly produce neat, exact representations of both those numbers as well as the integers we desperately cling to?

And what of the beginning and end of our time-space continuum? In ten to the tenth power to the fifty-sixth power years, a universe can go from big bang to heat death to quantum tunneling that produces a new universe. While the causality between elements exists from bang to bang, we do not see a way for causality to continue across such events. Time, therefore, exists between the bangs, but not across them. Eternity, therefore, embraces not just two or three generations of time, but all of them. Such a perspective would have a way of numbering all these things, and that way of numbering would be capable of precision beyond our comprehension, because time would not exist for those that are eternal.

So what mathematics would exist for God and those in his realm? What geometries do they comprehend? What operations are necessary for the angels to execute in order to number the generations of time and space and the matter and energy within them through eternity?

I cannot pretend to answer those questions authoritatively, but I can begin to probe in those directions and, in so doing, I find great beauty and wonderment in mathematics, more so than I did before.

One thought on “Eternal Numbers

  1. Rita Webb

    There’s a very rough version of Relativity in the Pearl of Great Price.

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