What "Timeless Truths" Can Tell Us (Part II)
My last post ruminated on the nature of “timeless truths” – such as the laws of geometry and of logic - and what worldview better explains the existence of such permanent concepts. I argued that the existence of eternal and unchanging ideas necessarily required an eternal and unchanging mind to ground them. A commenter disagreed, raising two interesting challenges. The first was whether my point was that the value of pi was dependent on an eternal and unchanging mind to recognize it; if so, he felt I was mistaken, as the value of pi remains constant because it is basically built into the definition of what a circle is.The second challenge stemmed from my description of the mind of God as eternal and unchanging. As he put it, “If it is eternal and unchanging, how could it have any thoughts at all?”
Unpacking the assumptions which underlie these questions is the first step in understanding the cause of the disagreement. The challenger assumes that circles simply exist - that they always have and always will. Consequently, it stands to reason that a value such as pi – a measurement relating to a circle - would always be the same, regardless of whether or not a mind existed to recognize it.
The problem with this challenge is that it takes as a given the very thing which is under consideration: the existence of “ideas” such as mathematical concepts by which things like circles can be quantified or measured. After all, there are no perfect circles – or lines for that matter – in nature; these things exist only in our minds, and things in nature more or less approximate them. Our intelligence allows us to “see” how various relationships exist, and to make use of this understanding to gain valuable knowledge of, and mastery over, nature.
What we are discovering as we learn more about these abstractions, and these relationships involving concepts such as lines, angles, energy, mass, logic, etc., is that they are in fact a language of sorts…
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