Godel on God

My previous post refers to some aspects of Godel’s famous theorems about incompleteness in mathematics. But since the context which brought them to mind was a posting on an atheist blog it’s ironic that Godel believed he had a proof of the existence of God.

The irony is compounded by the fact that he was allegedly reluctant to publish the proof because he was worried that people might think that he actually did believe in God – but in fact he apparently did! Of course he also went essentially mad, but his wife claimed that he read the bible regularly and he once described himself as “baptized Lutheran (but not member of any religious congregation). My belief is theistic, not pantheistic, following Leibniz rather than Spinoza.”

And among his papers at death was a page entitled ‘My Philosophical Viewpoint’ which lists fourteen points including:
1. The world is rational
10. Materialism is false
14. Religions are, for the most part, bad – but religion is not.

In the light of the way he expressed the undecidability results in his 1951 Gibbs lecture (“Either . . . the human mind . . . infinitely surpasses the powers of any finite machine, or else there exist absolutely unsolvable diophantine problems”), perhaps the result of his God proof should be expressed as “Either God exists or Modal Logic is fundamentally flawed”. As for me, not having either the will or the capacity to get into modal logic, it could go either way – or perhaps I could say that, within the powers of *my* human mind, both questions are undecidable.

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