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Interfaith Walk for Peace
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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #21
08-05-2016 09:13 PM

I suppose that when people say that if God exists she exists necessarily, they mean that if she existed there would be no possibility of her not existing. Unlike everything else in the universe, e.g. me, sub-atomic particles, the galaxy, anti-matter etc.

I'm not sure how one would argue for or against the notion that the lowest prime number (2?) exists necessarily, in all possible worlds. I know some people believe that mathematical statements such as '1=1=2' are necessarily true (in all possible worlds?) - or does that raise different issues?

But I agree that in any case one should not try to use the lowest prime number as a foundation on which to erect an ethical system.
('He treated her in a shamefully un-two-ist way'?)

No doubt these are the sort of questions that people will be chatting about on the inter-faith walk.

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crassbelch
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Posts: 130
Joined: Nov 2013
Post: #22
08-05-2016 09:38 PM

[Post removed due to abuse -admin]

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #23
08-05-2016 10:10 PM

I can only speak as a Christian. It is true that male language is usually applied to God in the Bible, but there are several texts where God is referred to as a mother. It is also true that in Christian doctrine the relationship between the first and second persons of the Trinity is characterised as that between a father and a son. However, this is only analogical language and God in his/her essence is above gender. One can't call God 'it', because he/she is seen by Christians as personal. So ringing the changes between 'he' and 'she' seems a reasonable stratagem, although, like all human language about God, inadequate.

I see there is a typo in my previous post. I meant '1+1=2'.

This post was last modified: 08-05-2016 10:12 PM by robin orton.

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lacb


Posts: 623
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #24
09-05-2016 08:25 AM

Quote:
It was also there in the Middle Ages, with the development of the ontological argument for the existence of God, had a passing appeal for Bertrand Russell, and an enduring one for Kurt Gödel


It is interesting that Gödel should be mentioned in this context. Though it is true that he was a devout Christian, he was also driven literally mad by his discoveries and this hastened his end. Though he had attempted mathematical proof of God's existence, he later found this hard to reconcile with his celebrated incompleteness theorem. This, via a very elegant proof, shows that one cannot construct a mathematical system in which everything can be known. There will always be statements that cannot be proved either true or false. Given that he believed that mathematics was the language of God, the implication that God could not be perfect, or did not exist, drove him insane.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #25
09-05-2016 09:15 AM

If maths is the language of God, does he (if you prefer) use it to communicate with us? Or is doing maths just a way for us to listen in awe to his inner musings?

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #26
09-05-2016 09:32 AM

It's more, Robin, that God is part of the language of some whose mathematical thinking takes them beyond the subject's legitimate limits, e.g. Gödel and St. Anselm.

This post was last modified: 09-05-2016 09:34 AM by Tim Lund.

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lacb


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Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #27
09-05-2016 10:26 AM

Gödel's incompleteness theorem, and IIRC most of his work on logic, are all within the mainstream of mathematics. His proofs are studied and are valid.

I would say it is more akin to saying that mathematics is something that is discovered, rather than invented. The one subject in which you can know things. As such it could be regarded as something that is independent of God. I think even St Augustine (of Hyppo) looked at it this way.

This post was last modified: 09-05-2016 10:27 AM by lacb.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #28
09-05-2016 11:06 AM

Quote:
I would say it is more akin to saying that mathematics is something that is discovered, rather than invented. The one subject in which you can know things.


I'd agree that maths is discovered rather than invented, but the same goes for Uranus, or any other part of someone's anatomy.

What's different about maths is that it promises, and often delivers, knowledge without always needing to be validated by external observation. As such, maths has a dangerous allure for those who are hostile to modern science. I think such people also see maths as essential to science, then pick up that pure maths isn't actually science, and conclude that there is something flawed about the whole discourse of modern science.

BTW, is this actually what is talked about on these inter faith walks?

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #29
09-05-2016 11:17 AM

@lacb: Independent of God in what sense? Is God himself subject to the rules of mathematics, or is mathematics (as we know it) in some sense dependent upon his 'Word', like everything else in the universe? I don't know what Augustine said about this, but my guess would be that he took the latter view.
@Tim: Not on the one I went on, but one lives in hope.

This post was last modified: 09-05-2016 11:20 AM by robin orton.

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lacb


Posts: 623
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #30
09-05-2016 01:26 PM

The former actually:

Quote:
Six is a number perfect in itself, and not because God created the world in six days; rather the contrary is true. God created the world in six days because this number is perfect, and it would remain perfect, even if the work of the six days did not exist.


Though he did consider God capable of imagining infinity which is a pretty nifty trick I am sure you would agree. In fact He/She understands it all - a consistent line of thought until Gödel messed it up.

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robin orton


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Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #31
09-05-2016 02:22 PM

How interesting. But where do numbers (including perfect numbers) ultimately come from? Augustine, I have just reminded myself, believed that Platonic Forms had a real existence in the mind of God. Those Forms presumably included numbers, and presumably Gödel's incompleteness theorem applied to them even before they became open to human investigation. God could still 'understand it all' (including the Gödel bit) in the same way as he could create a universe which incorporated various elements of contingency and uncertainty but which was still 'very good' (Genesis 1.31)

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lacb


Posts: 623
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #32
09-05-2016 02:45 PM

Great question. Numbers, in maths, come from axioms. In other words assumed to exist. So, the incompleteness theorem would not apply to them, only to the set of all statements that derive from the starting list of axioms. It doesn't actually matter which axioms you start with either. 1+1=2 is a good example.

Actually, it is debatable whether even God could know something that cannot be known, and this is where, if you believe that maths and number are pure and existed without the hand of God, a logical problem occurs and this sent Gödel mad, poor thing.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #33
09-05-2016 03:23 PM

If you're going to start talking about what God knows, (as opposed to what she understands), I shall bow out, lest my head explode.

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #34
10-05-2016 03:25 PM

At the risk of lowering the tone of this thread, I wonder if I could add the observation that Pascal, brilliant mathematician of course, was also subject to the same error. As Voltaire so well observes in the last of his Lettres Philosophiques

Quote:
Le christianisme n’enseigne que la simplicité, l’humanité, la charité ; vouloir le réduire à la métaphysique, c’est en faire une source d’erreurs.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #35
10-05-2016 03:38 PM

Quote:
As Voltaire so well observes...


Oh, him. Man of straw argument, I suspect. Does anyone really 'want to reduce Christianity to metaphysics'?

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #36
10-05-2016 03:58 PM

Except (perhaps) Gödel?

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Tim Lund


Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #37
10-05-2016 04:10 PM

Quote:
Except (perhaps) Gödel?


And many other mathematicians, both mediocre and outstanding. My point is that from them, God language is a déformation professionelle, and it should not be allowed to impress non mathematicians.

This post was last modified: 10-05-2016 04:11 PM by Tim Lund.

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Poppet2


Posts: 59
Joined: Oct 2013
Post: #38
13-08-2016 01:05 PM

This walk is a great idea. I've always wanted to ask questions about other faiths and have the opportunity to visit where others worship, and discuss these faiths.
What a wonderful opportunity.

When will the next walk take place?

This post was last modified: 13-08-2016 01:06 PM by Poppet2.

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robin orton


Posts: 716
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #39
14-08-2016 11:33 AM

I think they've happened annually over the last few years, so presumably there'll be another one in May or thereabouts 2017.

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