In the last article we suggested that truth should be consistent with our knowledge and reason. Reason can mean something like common sense, and consistent with our knowledge. Another sense of reason is logical, which can have two meanings. When we say that Harry is the logical choice of candidate for the job, we mean consistent with the facts. In this article we are going to use logical to mean valid reasoning. statements, etc can be impossible in the following ways:
Impossible in principle.
Impossible in practice.
If I say: I was both at home and in town at a certain time, then this is logically impossible. I cannot be both located at home and be in town at the same time. This is logically impossible. Similarly, if my thoughts and the chemical and electrical events in the brain are the same, then when I look at them, both should look the same. If two things are the same thing then they are in the same place and have the same qualities. As my thoughts and chemical and electrical events in the brain do not have the same qualities, then they are not the same thing. It is logically impossible.
If something is logically impossible then it cannot be true. Further it cannot be true in any universe. This is the conventional view.
In modern times, however, quantum theory tells us that an electron is both in one position and at the same time in many other positions. This statement is logically inconsistent, and therefore nonsense. However, quantum theory is a very good theory in physics and predicts many new phenomenon. This too is inconsistent! (If the theory is illogical then it is nonsense, and nonsense cannot be a good theory!) We are going to ignore the implications of Quantum Theory here because:
The mathematics used to derive it is not irrational. Presumably the proof doesn't involve sudden inconsistent jumps in reasoning, so the irrationality may be the difficulty in translating from mathematics to everyday English.
Many thinkers, such as Einstein and Schrodinger (who developed the basic wave equation that is the basis of Quantum Theory) have very strongly opposed the interpretations of this theory in everyday language. (Schrodinger argued for the rest of his life against the interpretations of his equation!)
Although it is claimed that there are no known disproof of Quantum Theory, clearly Quantum Theory doesn't work in the Middle Realm because footballs, for example, do not appear and disappear like electrons do in the Quantum Realm. We are not both out shopping and at home!
Quantum physicists do not claim that at the very instant they are observing measurements indicating, for example, a sugar molecule is present they are at the same time receiving measurements that a water molecule is present!
They do not claim that Schroedinger's cat is observed both as a living mewing being and a dead one at the same time. They say that 'according to Quantum Theory it is both dead and alive', not that anyone sees it simultaneously in both states!
We will anyway assert that if something is illogical, it cannot be possible in any universe. A square circle cannot exist, even in a dream, because if it were square, it wouldn't be a circle! If anyone claimed to see a square circle we would simply ask if it had sides. If the answer was, yes, then it wasn't a circle, and if the answer was, no, then it wouldn't be a square!
Did you think, 'Why can't two things exist in the same space? After all, matter is supposed to mostly space so there is plenty of room.' If you did you would be making a mistake. We are not saying that two things can't exist in the same space at the same time, after all, sugar and water when mixed together do. However, the sugar and water molecules are not existing in exactly the same space. If in a given space there is a water molecule, then there isn't a sugar molecule there at that same instant of time!
It is claimed that time travel is impossible, logically. If I could travel in time, then I could in principle go back and murder my father when he was a baby. As he wouldn't then grow up and beget me then I wouldn't exist. If I didn't exist, then I couldn't go back in time to murder my father. Therefore, as he would grow up and beget me I would exist. As I can't both exist and not exist, which is what time travel implies, then time travel is impossible. It is not merely impossible, it is logically impossible. Therefore cannot occur.
The purpose of logic is not be arrogant and to have a closed mind. Nor is it to refuse to investigate things when there seems to be some information supporting them, even if they are illogical as we conceive them. However, if something is illogical then it is impossible.
Next: It's against my principles!
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Last modified on: 27-Sep-98.
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