Like Hawking observed, once he grasped the significance of Gödel’s theorems for TOEs, when faced with the choice between completeness and consistency, the good money’s on the latter. Whenever we deal with problems involving “beginning,” we cannot avoid playing philosophical whack-a-mole with circular reference, question begging tautology, causal disjunction and infinite regress; each time we shut an ontological door, we close some epistemic window.
Still, those theorems apply to formal systems and Gödel would probably be the first to suggest that we needn’t necessarily PROVE a truth in order to SEE it. For example, we’d have to travel with Whitehead & Russell over halfway through the Principia to establish the axioms required to prove that 2 + 2 = 4, but most of us can see that truth without the extra bother. Gödel, himself, formulated an ontological argument for God.
The practical upshot of this is that we can imagine one day having a grand unified theory, the truth of which we’ll be able to see but not prove, the axioms of which we may or may not find terribly interesting.
Any good theology has already embraced Gödel’s theorems to the extent that it truly traffics in FAITH and not rationalism, empiricism, positivism, etc That’s why we call it faith, because it is SUPERrational, the SUPER implicitly referring to those existential axioms that we employ although unable to prove, save for the fact that we can, with the psalmist, TASTE and SEE the goodness of the Lord.
One take-away from your excellent point is that those who pursue evidentialistic and rationalistic apologetics, who exhibit no epistemic humility whatsoever, somewhere along their way, have lost sight of the fact that there is a LEAP involved that cannot be logically coerced only lovingly coaxed. Neither God nor love are syllogisms. (Not even moral theology, Rick Santorum!)
Published on Mar 1, 2012