Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A few theological thoughts

The existence or non-existence of God is so, irrespective of people's beliefs and ratty quarrels. But if He does exist and is the creator of the universe then he cannot be described in terms of space and time, so His nature is ineffable.

Even in the purest of knowledge - mathematics - Kurt Gödel showed that there are assertions that even if true are unprovable and so there is no complete knowledge.

Academic theology was of little interest to either Jesus or Gautama Buddha (who said don't speculate on how the arrow got there, just pull it out). When St Thomas Aquinas had his mystical experience, all his theological writings seemed like straw to him and he stopped altogether.

Roll up your battle flags and show what you believe by how you are. That's quite daunting enough for me.


READER: PLEASE CLICK THE REACTION BELOW - THANKS!

All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

7 comments:

A K Haart said...

"Roll up your battle flags and show what you believe by how you are. That's quite daunting enough for me."

Me too. Merry Christmas.

Sackerson said...

And a merry Christmas to you and yours also.

Nick Drew said...

wise words

best to all at Xmas,

and may the top-most branches of the Christmas-Tree of the Hierarchy of Argument prevail in 2015!

Sackerson said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Nick!

Martian said...

"Even in the purest of knowledge - mathematics - Kurt Gödel showed that there are assertions that even if true are unprovable and so there is no complete knowledge."

Wrong. Firstly, Gödel's work was concerned only with formal systems, like Russel's and Whitehead's 'Principia'. Secondly, Gödel showed that such a system was either incomplete or inconsistent. Thirdly, even within a formal system, it may be easy to see that a statement is true even though it is unprovable within that system.

Sackerson said...

Thank you for your comment and clarification, Martian.

However, as I understand it Gödel showed that any system capable of generating the natural order of numbers has this loophole. Since science works with mathematics, this tiny flaw is incorporated in some way.

When we attempt to model the world we do want both completeness and consistency, and at a subatomic level at least we seem to struggle to achieve that. I'm not sure gravity's been sorted out theoretically, either.

Russell said that he was a philosophical liberal, i.e. all our knowledge is provisional. So to be consistent, he also said that he was not, strictly speaking, an atheist but merely regarded the existence of God as improbable. I imagine he was considering an anthropomorphic concept of God in this respect; other concepts are possible.

You say that it may be easy to see that a statement is true, yet the point of science is to proceed from what we think is true, to look at what our certainty is founded on. Until Russell and Whitehead's work showed that mathematics was a branch of logic, not even mathematics had an indisputably robust foundation. It seems that even after their work, we now know that there are twigs on the branch that we can never reach from the bough.

The central point I was making is borne out, I hope you'll agree, by what both of us have said: we have to accept that there may be more truth than our systems can catch in their nets, and to be humble about the limitations of our knowledge.

Wolfie said...

parameters, parameters... its all about the parameters.