[Advaita-l] Created universe-finite or infinite?

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 12 12:18:12 CDT 2005

--- ramesh badisa <badisa66 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> “It is a mistake to assume or conclude that the Ishvara cannot
> create an infinite universe. Please read the excerpt from the
> Brahma vaivarta purANa at …”
> Badisa: As per modern Astronomy, the universe is expanding.
> Only a finite thing can expand and grow. Thus, universe is
> finite.

Firstly, in modern astrophysics, the question of whether the
universe is finite or infinite (so far as spatial volume is
concerned), has not yet been decided. Please read the extract at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe :
"There is disagreement over whether the Universe is finite or
infinite in spatial extent and volume."

Or you may want to read an interview with Joseph Silk, the Head
of Astrophysics at Oxford University,
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMR53T1VED_index_0_iv.html :
"We do not know whether the Universe is finite or not. To give
you an example, imagine the geometry of the Universe in two
dimensions as a plane. It is flat, and a plane is normally
infinite. But you can take a sheet of paper [an 'infinite' sheet
of paper] and you can roll it up and make a cylinder, and you
can roll the cylinder again and make a torus [like the shape of
a doughnut]. The surface of the torus is also spatially flat,
but it is finite. So you have two possibilities for a flat
Universe: one infinite, like a plane, and one finite, like a
torus, which is also flat."

The geometry of the universe and its finitude/infinitude is a
very complicated matter in modern astrophysics. I don't believe
you or I or anyone in the world at present has an answer to that
question, so there really is nothing to be gained by asking the
astrophysicists this question (at least as of today).

Secondly, astrophysics only considers the *physical* universe,
not the universe of mathematical objects such as numbers
(1,2,3,...). If mathematical objects are permitted as existent
entities, the universe certainly is infinite, since the set of
numbers, which is a part of the universe (consisting of physical
and non-physical entities), is infinite.

Thirdly, when you speak of the universe being finite/infinite,
you are probably speaking of the finite/infinite volume or mass
that is contained in the universe. Even in physics, space is
continuous -- there being an infinite number of points in any
given straight line. If the number of entities (points in this
case) in the universe is taken as a measure of the
finitude/infinitude of the universe, the set of such points is
certainly infinite, thus the universe is infinite. It is only in
the case of spatial volume or mass that there is doubt regarding
the finitude/infinitude of the universe.

> Let us forget this example of modern Astronomy.

OK :-) But even taking modern astrophysics into account doesn't
harm the view of the infinitude of the universe.

> Let us
> see what Gita 10/42 says. Lord Krishna here says that the
> whole created universe represents his one part. We do not know
> how many such parts exist. Doesn’t it show the finite nature
> of created universe?

Exactly the opposite -- for there is no reason why a part of
infinity cannot be infinity! 

Since Krishna is infinite, and if the universe represents a part
of Krishna, the universe can also be infinite, for any non-zero
part of infinity is also infinity!

> Sri Shankara and sri Ramanuja agreed on
> this too.

Please provide complete quotes with references of Shankara.

This list respects Ramanuja, but his teachings do not carry as
much authority.

> Also please refer Rig Ved 10.90.3 (Pado Asya ….
> Amruta divi ..) to understand the finite nature of created
> universe.

Are you referring to the quote, "pAdo asya vishvA bhUtAni"?

It only says that a quarter of the purushha has become the
living beings. I don't see the connection to the universe here.

Perhaps you have taken it to mean that a quarter of the purushha
has become this universe. In this case, since the purushha is
infinite, the universe is also infinite, for one-fourth of
infinity is infinity!

> With the help of Puranas, one can take many sides in
> a discussion – (why only this and why not that type) and thus
> no one can reach any conclusions. 

All of scripture leads to only one conclusion -- the created
universe is infinite.

> Namaste



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