Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coming soon: Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly

I'm about to release a second print publication, which I'm calling Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly. It will be released hopefully within the month of July of this year. Instead of being a typical book in its own right, it is a collection of essays that I have written around the topic of infinity, particularly as it is applied (usually misapplied) to the topic of "God."

Front cover design for Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly
The short work includes sixteen essays, many of which were originally written for this blog and have since been edited, augmented, and prepared specifically for inclusion in this collection. Several of the essays are entirely new to this collection, though, so routine followers of this blog will have plenty of new material to chew on.

I've written, put together, and decided to publish the collection in print primarily to address a few themes that I think are important. The decision to put them in print was a bit of a struggle for me, but I hope it will help them reach more minds and be taken more seriously. Putting it in print adds weight and seriousness to the endeavor, which I think it deserves in this case, instead of simply leaving it in blog format.

The central themes of the piece, from my perspective (please, when it's available get it, read it, and come up with your own!) include
  • Mathematics is a human endeavor that does nothing to point to the existence of any "God,"
  • As the foundation of the previous theme, that Platonism (the reification of ideals) is an erroneous way to think about just about everything,
  • Mathematics and theism, among many other things, are axiomatic realms of abstractions used to describe or understand reality, not reality themselves,
  • The concept of infinity is desperately tricky to work with philosophically without making mistakes (for both theists and atheists),
  • That the application of the concept of infinity to "God" is simultaneously necessary and fatal to modern theology,
  • Infinity is fraught with paradoxes and therefore may not apply to reality,
  • Infinity isn't a number or anything like a number,
  • Infinity is weird.
The title, Dot, Dot, Dot, refers to the three dots called ellipsis (...) that indicate the continuation of a pattern (say of numbers) off "to" infinity, for example the "natural numbers" are 1, 2, 3, .... The idea with the title is to have captured the idea that a great deal of what's going on with infinity, as happens in our thinking and as gets applied to our philosophy and even science, gets swept up and hidden within those three dots, but simultaneously, essentially everything about infinity is contained within them. They are the story where infinity is concerned, and they're the part we ignore with that dot-dot-dot notational convenience called ellipsis.

The subtitle, Infinity Plus God Equals Folly, is, I hope, self-explanatory. It applies, for my purposes, to theists, but I don't spend much of my time tackling that low-hanging fruit. Indeed, only two of the essays are directly targeted at theists (one at William Lane Craig and one at Anselm of Canterbury, although Alvin Plantinga gets a brief mention). Most of the time is spent on the math, bringing in key points about the God discussion along the way. An atheist's argument is also given some attention. Historian and outspoken atheist Richard Carrier has an essay dedicated to one of his arguments as well. The misuses of infinity are common. Indeed, I even indict myself a little bit.

There's plenty there for any reader that's interested in thinking about philosophy (including especially mathematical ideas) as it gets applied to theological topics, or for anyone that's interested in this bizarre end of abstract reasoning in the mathematical realm.

I do hope people will find interest in it. I found writing it and compiling it to be rather a lot of fun, and since it pressed my thinking, I sincerely think it will press the thinking of others. Stay tuned to the blog or my Twitter feed for updates on publication progress. It should be fairly soon!

5 comments:

  1. Will either of your books become available in paperback on Amazon.ca?

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    1. Holy crap! I thought the first one was. So... yes, absolutely if I can figure out how to make that happen. Thanks!

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    2. Did some looking into it. Apparently there's some complication with Canadian law that prevents Amazon from opening a fulfilment and distribution center in Canada, and so until that situation changes, it may not be possible to get the print versions in Canada! Oddly, it appears that periodically Amazon.ca will order a handful of them and sell them until they run out. I'll keep looking into options, and hopefully the paperbacks will become available in Canada as well when I can figure out how to make that work.

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    3. Hopefully this gets figured out. I bought your first book (halfway through now)and have it on my computer but would like this next one in print. Seems to me that your next book might be a bit more technical and I prefer to flip through a hard copy when the material is more complicated than trying to click through pages on a screen. (won't stop me from buying it though!)

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    4. Wow, thanks! It's hard for me to gauge how technical mathematical writing is sometimes now because my area of familiarity blindness is enormous. I've got a couple of people test reading it for me to give me some idea of that. I feel like I made it as accessible as I could, given the subject matter.

      I hope they get this sorted out as well. It looks like there's a way for me to get around the problem, but I'll have to pay for it. Might be worth it, so I'll consider it.

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