What Are The Limits Of Possibility?

The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.
– Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction novelist (1917-2008)

It wasn’t possible for humans to fly, with or without wings. Perhaps the greatest genius of all time–certainly the greatest polymath of all time–Leonardo da Vinci designed a few flying machines, but none proved workable. Now people can “walk” in space, move through air with jet-power packs strapped to their backs, and even travel in airplanes, snoozing and dining at their leisure.

It wasn’t possible to see past that glass ceiling known to astronomers from ancient times as the visible heavens. Now telescopes allow astronomers to see light that began its travel up to 13 billion years ago, in places we can’t even imagine.

It wasn’t possible to speak with someone who was not within shouting distance from you, unless you used a drum whose beat could be heard a little farther away. Now I can use my cell phone from a seat in my boat to speak by phone with someone who lives on the opposite side of our planet. People in desert communities speak with others in desert communities or on mountain tops by satellite phone.

What’s possible? Does it indeed have any value to claim that something is impossible?

Judging by what has developed out of impossibilities of the past into possibilities of today, we would not be on certain ground to state categorically that anything is impossible. The question should not be “What is possible?” or “What is impossible?” but “What do we want to do and how can we do it?” Asking the question “How can we do it?” opens the gateway to previously unimagined possibilities.

What purpose is served by claiming that something is impossible? Believe it or not, it has some value. It serves as motivation for those with vision beyond the immediate to show that the “impossible” really is possible. I used to be functionally illiterate, going back about 20 years. This article will be read by people on six continents today. As a middle-aged adult, I learned to read and write. Some say that’s impossible, or nearly so.

Don’t rule out anything.

Can anyone prove that God exists? Likely not. Can anyone experience God? Definitely. But the people who have experienced God have little real interest in proving what they have experienced to doubters and naysayers. God doesn’t proselytize. Neither do those who know him.

Are there bigger questions than that?

Possibly.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want their children to have the best possible advantages in life as they approach adulthood. And for people who want to know what they missed in childhood so they can experience it as adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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