The Infinite Possibility of Words

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine today.  We were having one of our normal debates, he was giving me the merits of math and science, and I was giving him the merits of reading and writing.  Normally, these debates don’t really go much of anywhere, because we both know that both sides are beneficial, and it’s just our personal preferences that make the difference.  Today, however, it took a different turn.  Somehow, we got to the point where we were debating which one was more infinite.  His argument for math and science was that it covers the vastness of the universe, goes beyond what we know, and therefore is more infinite than writing, which can only reach the limits of what our brains can imagine.  My argument for reading and writing was that math and science will always only have 1 right answer for every problem, and once you solve it, that’s it.  Sure, it may open up other things, but each of those things will still have an answer that we can reach and then move on.  Reading and writing don’t have just one answer.  You can come to your own conclusions about you think something means, but then you can talk to someone else, and they’ll have an entirely different interpretation.  That, in turn, may open up more things in your mind that you hadn’t thought of before, and so your thoughts and understanding of the words will keep going, and it has no finite ending.

Eventually, we, yet again, reached the point where we both accept that the other’s argument has validity, and we just move on.  And yet, I’m still thinking about it.  I’ve got this infinite idea of words stuck in my head now.  I know, it’s been said before in at least 50 different ways that words and writing are ever-powerful, but I’ve never thought before quite so much about the vastness of it.  Not vastness as in how many languages, stories, writings, etc. there are, but vastness as in what all it is capable of.  One sentence can change your mood.  One conversation can change your day.  One story can change your life.  We all have a story or a book that we keep going back to, the pages are worn from being read so many times, and every time we return to it, we take something new away from it based on where we are in our lives at the time.  For me, personally, it’s Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  Depending on my mood or what’s going on in my life, I can turn to a specific chapter, and something in it will always make me feel better or give me a new perspective.  For me, that story has no end, and what it has done for me is endless.

That, to me, is the true meaning of infinite.  Despite it being the same book every time I open it, it continues to change and adapt into exactly what I need.  I can talk to someone else who has read it and what they’ve taken out of it can be completely different than what I’ve taken, and then it just continues its endless journey through our minds and hearts.

If Going to Church Makes You a Christian, Does Going to a Garage Make You a Car?

“If going to church makes you a Christian, does going to a garage make you a car?”

I saw this on a bumper sticker the other day, and it got me thinking, and then kind of made me angry.  I understand that this is Christians trying to reach out to other Christians, and say “there’s more to it than just going to church and going through the motions,” but I really did not like the comparison they used.  Obviously, it’s meant to prove the point using an outlandish statement, but it reminded me so strongly of one of the common arguments against gay marriage:

“If we allow gay people to get married, then what’s to stop people from marrying their dog or their toaster?”

When you are using such incredibly similar arguments and one of them is meant to be so absurd that it’s obvious what the intended message is and one is meant to be taken literally, how can you ever expect people to take you seriously?

When your arguments are that incredibly ridiculous, how is anyone supposed to know whether you are speaking in satire or in earnest?

I’m not saying anything to try to get people to change their argumentative style.  If that’s the way you want to speak, go right ahead.  What I am saying is that if what you say and actually mean is so similar to what you say as outlandish satire, maybe you should sit down with yourself and honestly think about what you’re saying to people and how you or anybody else can be expected to actually believe what you’re telling them.