The Future, As Absurd Idea

I’m dedicating this blog to my son, John, whose birthday is today.  He started me blogging, and his interest in media and the future has given me much to think about.

As I was driving this morning I was listening to NPR’s On the Media which aired a story, “Does Science Fiction Predict the Future of Journalism?”  At least from the story it seems that journalist and professor Loren Ghiglione concludes that speculative fiction, aka science fiction, has proven to be a better predictor of what the future will bring than what “futurist” experts predict.  Futurists often base their thinking on current science, while speculative fiction writers invent the science which the future often holds.  Thus speculative fiction writers are not encumbered by existing limitations in technology nor in logic and thus are enabled to imagine a wide variety of technologies that currently are impossible or totally absurd.

The idea of “the future” helped me to understand the Big Bang Theory and the expanding universe.   The sense is that there really is nothing beyond the universe, but as it expands (something like an inflating balloon) it is in fact creating space. [So whereas the amount of matter plus energy in a closed system may be a constant, and thus E=mc2, space and time are not constants].  I always had a difficult time understanding how the universe could be expanding into “nothing” since it seemed to me the outer edge of the expanding universe must be pushing against something.  However (and this is where the future helps me understand this concept), I don’t think of the future as existing, and so time is expanding into nothingness and creating a larger time scale.    Time is not pushing against something that already exists but is in fact creating its expanding existence. [Even though we can imagine the future, that doesn’t mean it exists yet.  Time is wonderously strange – changed by gravity, and dependent on one’s point of observation].   The time it has taken me to type this, did not exist before.  Time isn’t filling something, it is creating something.  In the same way that time expands and creates more of what is, so too space is expanding and creating more of itself, or perhaps more of it is in the process of being created.  Space is not pushing against anything; it is not reducing something else while it expands.  There is nothing beyond the end of the universe.  This is a most marvelous mystery of a logic which is beyond my comprehension, just like the future and the nothing beyond the end of the expanding universe.

In the On the Media story, two quotes worth pondering:

Albert Einstein said, “If at first an idea does not seem absurd, there is no hope for it.”

I’m going to mix a little religion in with science here, for I think this remark applies very well to the claims of Christ’s disciples that He is risen from the dead.

Loren Ghiglione said, “The future is likely to be counter-factual and not built upon what has just happened.” 

When we try to envision the future based only on what is, we cannot see the future at all.   One needs only think about Johnnes Gutenberg or Thomas Edison creating devices, which they could not even envision what they were capable of doing to the world or what they would come to mean for the world.  Guttenberg went bankrupt, and Edison had to try to catch up to competitors who used his inventions in creative ways and who could imagine popular uses for his devices that he could not.

And the implication for Christianity?   Though Christianity is totally based upon Torah and the Old Testament, it was unexpected and really a New Testament.

2 thoughts on “The Future, As Absurd Idea

  1. Darrell

    John: Happy Birthday, I pray that God blesses you in every way; more importantly, I pray that your relationship with God grows through the time given to you.

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