Sunday, February 26, 2012

Faith and The Theory of Everything

A friend alerted me to this article: 
"Lent and the Science of Self-Denial"

I was with the author until his final paragraph: 
 The best thing about science is that hard, empirical answers are always there if you look hard enough. The best thing about religion is that the very absence of that certainty is what requires — and gives rise to — deep feelings of faith. Lent — and Ramadan and Yom Kippur — teach both.
I think he got things backwards. It is faith which is certain; science can never be, because in order to achieve certainty, science needs to be able to overcome the problem of induction.

If the ultimate goal of science is a Theory of Everything, Stanley Jaki thinks that it will be impossible to achieve because it will always be incomplete:

(via Wikipedia:) He was also among the first to claim that Gödel's incompleteness theorem is relevant for theories of everything (TOE) in theoretical physics.[3] Gödel's theorem states that any theory that includes certain basic facts of number theory and is computably enumerable will be either incomplete or inconsistent. Since any 'theory of everything' will certainly be consistent, it must be either incomplete or unable to prove basic facts about the integers.

[In 1966, Jakii writes in his "The Relevance of Physics," Chicago Press. p. 129] “ It is on the ultimate success of such a quest [for a TOE] that Gödel's theorem casts the shadow of judicious doubt. It seems on the strength of Gödel's theorem that the ultimate foundations of the bold symbolic constructions of mathematical physics will remain embedded forever in that deeper level of thinking characterized both by the wisdom and by the haziness of analogies and intuitions. For the speculative physicist this implies that there are limits to the precision of certainty, that even in the pure thinking of theoretical physics there is a boundary present, as in all other fields of speculations. ”

Faith is where certainty happens. I like J.B. Phillips version of Hebrews 11:1-3

1-3 Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old. And it is after all only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command—that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible.

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