Commonly held concepts about the theory of infinity, whether from the philosophical, mathematical, or theological disciplines, are flipped on their head in the provocative book Forever Finite: The Case Against Infinity.
Author Kip K. Sewell, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in philosophy, posits that we would be better served by discarding the notion of an ultimate limitlessness and accept that areas of study that are dependent on that definition (mathematics, physics, cosmology, and theology) be redefined with the understanding that everything has a limit.
At first glance, this oversized book looks daunting; the author presents his thesis in a hefty 824 pages, nearly the size of a phone book of yesteryear. However, his presentation is straightforward and accessible to a wide swath of readers. In fact, Sewell is upfront about the fact that he aims to reach audiences ranging from erudite philosophers down to those with a passing curiosity about the subject, any of whom may have questions as to how infinity applies to science and theology alike.
Sewell is not afraid to take on heavyweight philosophers such as Kant and Aristotle, and counters Albert Einstein himself in the realm of physics. Theology is not safe from his challenges in such chapters as “Is God Logical?” Overall, his arguments, though provocative, are crisp, logical, and well-presented.
In addition, Sewell has arranged the book more like a library of the topic, with many sections and subsections, and while he recommends reading it in its entirety for the most thorough understanding of the thesis, he acknowledges that completely reading the introductory chapter, followed by perusing the bullets at the end of each subsequent chapter and reading the entire final chapter will provide a serviceable explanation of his theory.
A book with such a controversial theory demands citations and references, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Sewell provides chapter-by-chapter notes, a bibliography, and a complete glossary as reinforcement for readers to decide for themselves whether his notion is credible. In addition, he provides adequate tables and figures as illustrations.
The heft of this tome will certainly scare away many readers, but size alone is no reason to avoid this book. Aside from whether readers agree with the intriguing thesis and whether it can ultimately be proven true, the accessibility of the author’s presentation and the text’s thoroughness make this an intriguing read.