Aquinas, Gödel and Occam, Oh My!

It’s amazing to me the lengths that Christians (well, Catholics, insofar as they are still Christians) go in order to tell you that science doesn’t matter and that it doesn’t come close to capturing the essence of human (and divine) existence.

I agree! But the point at which they make a statement like this is the point that they also start trotting out so-called science to back up their belief constructs. Unfortunate. This is what happens when the Little Church in the Dell comes to the Big City and tries an extreme makeover on society by attempting to harness political machinery.

What ever happened to the Substance of things Hoped For and the Evidence of Things Not Seen? I, for one, think that there’s always room for a little (or a lot) of faith. It’s dogma that wears me down. Think they’re the same thing? Think again. Faith only becomes dogma when someone else tries to tell you the color and timbre and texture your faith is supposed to be. And where it’s supposed to be aimed.

And how you’re supposed to get out in the world and make more of the Faithful, either through procreation or through propagation of that Faith. Either way, they want missionary positions filled (groan, sorry, I know).

I have faith in my family. Faith that they are there for me when I need them. Faith that I will set aside whatever occupies the fore if my family needs me. Faith that my love for my partner is for life. Faith that he loves me in kind. Faith that I am capable of trust. Trust in things like love and life and Good Will.

I also have a certitude that there really is no such thing as Altruism, but that broad-enough and indirect-enough and long-term-enough self-interest is indistinguishable from altruism.

Frank Herbert once wrote: “‘What do you despise?’ By this are you truly known.”

So what do I despise? I despise closed minds. I despise liars and those who take pleasure in the misfortune of others. I despise the self-imposed ignorance of those who short their own brainpower in favor of their religion. I despise xenophobia, especially the kind that masquerades as love.

Most of all, I despise hypocrisy and duplicity, and the ignorance that seems to generate both.

Well, that was fun, but I never fully agreed with Frank Herbert on that. It never allowed for creative acts, for things beyond just neutral.

I might suggest that for the lion’s share of Christians (no pun intended), grasping at Jesus Christ is a desperate attempt to equalize all the individuals in a given society so that all the bonafide special and talented individuals are lost in that old “we’re all special in God’s eyes” bromide. We continue to increasingly celebrate the mediocre while becoming increasingly paranoid about those with wild talents.

I abide the ideal of freedom of religion, so long as the set of religions also includes the empty set (i.e., freedom to practice no religion or faith). It’s a natural tendency for the dogmatic to frame and label the world according to their own carefully constructed belief systems. Their identities, individual and collective, are tied up in requiring boundaries around things, including their own god.

Well, my identity is tied up in other things. You won’t find a satisfactory theism-relative label for me.

Forgive the crass dipping into boolean logic, but here’s where I stand:

  • If there is a god, she’s outside of our closed system and cannot be knowable by any measure.
  • If there is not a god, I still cannot escape our closed system and, like any closed system according to Gödel, there are unreachable truths AND unreachable falsehoods.

Kinda boring, I know. But this is where good old Occam comes in with his Famous Razor: the world around us—if you avoid the overweening assumption that the universe is just God’s Terrarium—becomes a magical place.

With Theism, you get “god did it”. Without assuming Theism, you get a wonderment that’s good for the soul.