Monday, September 6, 2010

Truth, beauty, elegance, and reality

Doug Chaplin has a post on Theology - Queen of the Sciences. Carl Kinbar reflects on Historically conditioned scriptures - a topic that has come up on several blogs.

I wish our use of language in theology was as beautiful and precise as the language of mathematics. In my work in information technology I realize that no matter how precise or formal a language is, its statements, even if to specification, are still incomplete. It could be that I need to have been fluent in Latin or something but I think even Scholasticism has limits. Theological language seems to me to lack the convincing elegance of e.g. Euler's identity - recently blogged at NPR as something of great beauty (HT Entangled States). Personally, I think such beauty, like a good poem or the space between the notes in a piece of music, points us beyond our limits. That there is God beyond our limits can neither be proved nor disproved. Mathematics as a closed system has such things too, I think. Or so it seems to me from Gödel's incompleteness theorem. (But I am a long way from my early math training.) As one who engages with this unprovable God and who yet retains some ordinary space and time - this being my 65th birthday, I think all our work and words need to be governed by 'critical realism'. I find this is well expressed in the acrostic poem of Psalm 34. David's touch of madness.

Perhaps David's faith is simply a bootstrap - a part of the order of reality by which an earthling lifts itself up - but can I lift myself up? Why would I even bother? What is up that I would want to be there? The postulate of temporal necessity just puts time in the place of God. Time is not sufficient as even our science shows. Science for all its precision, has difficulty with the place of time and gravity. My experience, subject I admit only to my own criticism, but subject within the wider body of humanity and the world, says to me that the reality of God is not deceptive. Trust will not be disappointed. Here's a positive comment on it from another blog worth following - one that knows music, art and poetics too.