Monday, September 17, 2007

Absolute Truth

Is there such a thing as Absolute Truth? I'm inclined to think there probably is. I'm also inclined to think that logic is probably valid and that the validity of logic is probably part of Absolute Truth.

I realize that mathematicians have been unable to prove logically that logic is valid. Every proof of the validity of logic that's ever been published in peer-reviewed mathematics journals has at least one non-rigorous step. However, we have an immense body of empirical experience showing that logic always works, and it appears that the most reasonable explanation is that logic is valid.

If logic is valid, then everything that can be proven using the principles of logic as premises must be necessarily true in all possible realms of reality, and therefore must be part of Absolute Truth.

The ancient Greeks presented the concept of the Logos, a body of truth so absolute that even the gods, if they exist, must be bound by it. They can't do anything that's logically impossible. Anyone bound by anything cannot be a Supreme Being. The Logos itself cannot be a Supreme Being either, because it must remain forever unchanged, and must do only what its nature destines it to do.

Early Christian theologians were very displeased at the thought that a Supreme Being is impossible. Therefore, they invented a new form of Logos, the Word of Truth spoken by God. This means that the Logos is dependent on God, instead of God dependent on the Logos.

The ancient Chinese presented the concept of the Tao, the Way of All Things. All things must conform to the Tao. Ancient Chinese thought appears not to possess any well-defined concept of God, therefore the relationship between God and the Tao is not a part of Chinese Philosophy.

The Tao appears to have had little or no impact on Christian theology. Christian thought, in general, regards the Tao as quaint and amusing, but unimportant.

Physicists have noticed that most of the laws of physics appear to be based on a strikingly small number of mathematical formulations. You can see this readily in Richard Feynman's Lectures on Physics. Whereas most physics textbooks have separate chapters on static forces, dynamic motion, optics, acoustics, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, quantum theory, etc., Richard Feynman jumps back and forth amongst these various topics to show that the same mathematical constructs, with different window-dressing, appear at the root of all the laws of these various topics in physics. Therefore, these few mathematical constructs must describe the basic dimensionality of the entire universe.

Now, just who or what could have created such a universe? Could the universe be the necessary result of a body of Absolute Truth? Could the universe exist because its nonexistence would be logically self-contradictory? I find this a very intriguing possibility.

A few junior wanna-be theologians have suggested that God is Absolute Truth, but that idea has apparently not met with much favor in the general theological community. It would imply a powerless God who is incapable of making any decisions, but is absolutely constrained to create what must be created. Such a God would not be anything to whom congregations would sing hymns and recite prayers.

But the existence of Absolute Truth, at the present state of human knowledge, has not been proven. As Richard Feynman has said, our current knowledge of the universe is still not sufficient to determine whether a conscious decision-making God was needed for its creation. (Richard Feynman was Jewish, but he didn't let his religion get in the way of his intelligence.)

So that leaves us all free to believe that the universe was arbitrarily zapped into existence by the capricious whimsy of a conscious decision-making God. Personally, I have trouble believing any such thing.

No comments: