Uncertainty

Not thinking too clearly today. Last night another person I was acquainted with died. Yesterday I mentioned that a former colleague of mine took his own life, even though he was a religious person. The idea of death itself isn’t on my mind as much as the changing landscape that accompanies it. The fact that I wasn’t close to either person who died, probably short-circuited the grieving part of death for me. It just left a little dimple on the surface of a still lake, as opposed to the roiling white-water rapids that signifies the death of a loved one.

I can’t really put my finger on what is bothering me. It is a general uneasiness.

Science and certainty

I understand that the certainty of the tenets of Newtonian physics does not explain the finer points of nature; those points beyond the measurement capabilities of the time. Even before Newton, the people who believed that the earth was flat would have failed if they had to build a huge suspension bridge. In the construction of the Verrazano Bridge that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, engineers had to take the curvature of the earth into account because the suspension towers were so tall and far apart, that the distance between them at the bottom would be smaller than the distance at the top if each one was perpendicular to the ground at its own location.

The ‘new’ physics of quantum mechanics, more than 100 years old, clears up some of what goes on in the unseen world at the atomic level. We don’t have to believe it, but the results are verifiable. For example, if the principles of relativity were not taken into account, global positioning systems around the world would not work; quantum effects are taken into account in the design of computer chips we use every day.

If only…

Kurt Gödel was a mathematician. He and Einstein used to take long walks together on the Princeton campus. Gödel was famous for his incompleteness theorems. The first one states, “…for any self-consistent recursive axiomatic system powerful enough to describe the arithmetic of the natural numbers there are true propositions about the naturals that cannot be proved from the axioms.” [1] “The second incompleteness theorem, an extension of the first, shows that such a system cannot demonstrate its own consistency.” [2]

It seems that even in mathematics not everything can be proven, and some axioms must be assumed to be true. (Faith?) Gödel also arrived at an ontological [3] proof of God. [4]

Other mathematicians and philosophers have also arrived at proofs of the existence of God (Liebniz [5] and Spinoza [6] for example).

If only I could understand, not only the ontological proofs, but also the mathematical proofs, Perhaps I would feel more comfortable in putting my faith in something. I do have an inkling that there is more than meets the human eye, but I am so much more comfortable with proof as opposed to faith and speculation.

How does this relate to my brother?

Maybe understanding these proofs would help me understand my brother, with whom I cannot communicate. He is autistic, of low mental status and nonverbal. On the other hand, it might allow me to disregard him, chalking up my inability to communicate as one of those axioms that can’t be proven.

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