The Concept of Infinity and God

The Concept of Infinity and God

When you read the biblical description of God, you find that it involves qualities that atheists reject. An omnipresent, omnipotent, and eternal God are biblical descriptions that skeptics refuse to accept as possible. The foundation of the atheist worldview rejects an infinite eternity in heaven. Likewise, mathematicians rejected the concept of infinity for many years until the end of the nineteenth century. However, infinity exists, and mathematics doesn’t make sense without it.

Euclid’s geometry deliberately excluded the idea of anything infinitely small or infinitely large. The Greeks believed they could describe the entire universe with positive rational numbers. However, there are cases where a calculation cannot be made with a whole number or one having non-repeating decimal places. For example, the value of pi requires an irrational number with infinite decimal representation. A circle with a radius of one turns out to be 22/7, which is 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 if carried out to 100 places. The value of pi is called an irrational number because even at 100 places, it does not end. The digits after the decimal point are infinite.

Legend says that Hippasus, the first to prove that irrational numbers exist, was executed when his proof was published. The scholarly group known as the Pythagorean brotherhood was vocal about naturalism which had to deny the existence of the infinite. Eventually, it became evident that their view of the cosmos was impossible. And yet here in the twenty-first century, we find that denial of the concept of infinity is still the thinking of those who reject the biblical concept of God.

You can’t understand your life as having an infinite purpose if you reject the concept of infinity. The concept of the infinite is contained in the statement of Jesus in Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first last,” and Matthew 16:25, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has set eternity in the hearts of humanity. On a fundamental level, that biblical concept of reality makes sense, and the history of mathematics is a strong support for the credibility of the biblical concept of eternity.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “Mathematical Theology” by Doug Phillippy in the Fall 2022 issue of God and Nature