Fermat’s Last Theorem

30 01 2011

If God were real, he couldn’t be proved. If God were proved, he wouldn’t be real.

If God, as described in the Old and New Testaments, actually existed, then he would be, ipso facto, unprovable since his thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways not our ways. Presumably (and this is a safe presumption, given the biblical evidence), his ways are so high above ours ~ indeed, infinitely higher ~ that no human conceptual system of knowledge (high math, formal logic, the scientific method, etc.) nor instrument of measure (electron microscope, particle collider, super computer) could ever reach to him:

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

The sword guards the way to eternal life and truth, and only those who God gives passage will re-enter that Kingdom. Sound like mythology? So do multiverses and the reverse arrow of time and a handful of other theories that I heard at the Cal-Tech conference (sponsored by the Skeptic Society) on Origins of the Universe.

On the other hand, if we could prove God’s existence through a system of logical suppositions and syllogisms, we would have finally proved that we had created God in our minds. If it works one way, it can work the other. If we can reach God by an effort of our minds, then our minds could have just as easily “reached” him by invention. If your arm is long enough to reach the cookie jar in the corner cupboard, then it’s logical to assume that you put it there. But the truth is, and we’re reminded of this all the time by the very ones who think God is a fiction, that Christianity is completely unreasonable. Indeed it is. This is not something you make up.

And it isn’t something you finally arrive at, either. This isn’t Fermat’s Last Theorem, which will eventually give rise to new modes of calculation or number theories or new systems of inquiry. God will never be proven, one way or the other. And if you can’t prove something in principle, it can’t be disproved either. So we operate on faith, which is the only way God gave us to glimpse him.

Faith isn’t a method of inquiry. It’s a receptivity to epiphanies, to revelations. It’s a repository of stories. As such, it lies beyond our control, and some people don’t like that. Makes it seem so superstitious, so gnostic, so convenient. But then, only a few people ever solved Fermat’s last theorem. And when they finally did, they showed their proofs for all to see. Likewise, when people of faith receive epiphanies and revelations, they tell their stories for all to hear. It’s just two ways of arriving at truths of different kinds. Some truths lend themselves to proofs, others to stories. We only reach the truth of God by way of the latter.

Does that rankle some? Yes. Be that as it may, that’s the way God intended it. What are you gonna do?

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