Red Rock – Part 3

Decades ago I heard a story about a late 19th-century scientist presenting a lecture on cosmology. After he’d finished, an old woman came up to him and informed him that everything he had said was wrong.

“The world,” she said, “rests on the back of a giant turtle.”

The scientist asked mildly (smugly?) what the turtle rested on.

“You think you’re very clever, young man, but it’s turtles all the way down.”

There are many versions of this story: some cite an infinite stack of turtles, some tortoises, some rocks and mud. Some may have come from Hindu theology. Some are told for humorous effect; some are told to illustrate the conceptual problem of infinite regress.  As the Quote Investigator puts it, “The tale has been evolving for centuries.”

This story came to mind when I stood in Sedona a few weeks ago and saw red rock way above my head, and red rock and dust beneath my feet.

Forget the turtles:
It’s red rock all the way down.

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6 Responses to Red Rock – Part 3

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    If I may wax theological, the problem of infinite regress is that we humans believe — and believe really deeply — that if something exists, it must have been *created* by someone. Or something. “Turtles all the way down…” down to where? Where’s the bottom? Where’s the beginning? If the Creator created, who created the Creator? I’ve given up fretting that riddle. Sub-atomic particles are not things, but probabilities. Out of probabilities can come realities. Things. Beings. Life itself.

    There is no need for endless regression.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Indeed. The science of emergence offers one alternative to the “Who created the Creator?” problem.

  2. Marion Neiman says:

    I think I’ve said this before in response to another post of yours with beautiful photos of red rocks: I must get back to Sedona! It has been ages and the views are unequivocally awe inspiring.

  3. Mary Gibson says:

    Beautiful photos.

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