Can anyone paraphrase Godel's position in regard to faith as it relates to his other ideas? His grave is ten minutes away in Princeton, he was a contemporary of Einstein, and he knew the math - literally. Yet he even rejected a pantheistic idea in favor of a theistic one that averred prayer (petition) could be effective.

Considering his mathematical prowess, can you explain how such an obviously silly notion as a petitionable supreme being could be defended by him? I am truly interested in hearing (reading) earnest attempts to second guess this great yet misguided thinker.

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Math is codified logic. So you would assume that logic would be almost second nature to such a man. Since it is so easy to refute any logic I have ever seen stated that would allow for an omnipotent and omniscient (almost a contradiction right there) to also allow for free will and, from that, personal petition, I am at a loss as to how he could have held such a stance. Keep in mind, he was a contemporary of Einstein - and, therefore, was aware of the vastness and extreme age of the universe.

He may have been a 'one trick pony.' But that seems an oversimplification.
It's easy to apply formal logic to clearly defined mathematical problems, but mastering formal logic doesn't imply common sense. Plus, Gödel is known to have suffered from schizophrenia and intense paranoia in his later years, to the point he starved himself to death in fear of being contaminated or poisoned. It seems one of his brain hemispheres was top-notch while the other was deficient.
Re: his mental illness - I did not know that. Explains a lot.
I'd go with my usual explanation here: same as (almost) everyone else (including lots of great thinkers)! It's just more comfortable to believe. This obviously didn't conflict with his work, so no need to change. (In)security is a powerful motivation...
I could not have been 'comfortable' when you consider the company he kept. It would have been far easier to be a pantheist and leave it at that. And, while his ideas left a crack open for some kind of god - the highly specific type he defended defied the logic he needed to do his work.
Personally, I think we need to be more understanding an open in our dealings with people who believe in a supernatural power. To presuppose that they are "misguided" is to concede that this argument ain't going to go any further. Science, and mathematical thinking, is a quest for the truth. Many questions are still unanswered. Some people still choose to fill those gaps with a "god did that" explanation. Personally, I think that's a bit messed up, but unless and until the evidence can prove them wrong, let's just disagree with them rather than call them "misguided". Otherwise, you have no meaningful dialogue, and without a dialogue you have no pathway to agreement.
This is a part of what I am getting at. I am intrigued by those who not only exhibit true mental prowess and, yet, hold on to a version of faith that is intellectually ridiculous (and bronze-age monotheism really is on many points) - but to do it in when surrounded by people like Einstein - such that there isn't a cloistered, peer-pressure based comfort zone?

We know far less than we don't know. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool. So, as you suggest, it is quite reasonable for us to disagree - especially when it comes to questions of 'absolute truth.' And, if our position is basically - 'you're full of shit' - there is no room for dialog; as you say. In fact, this is one of my biggest gripes about trying to have a discussion about absolute truth with a believer in the first place.

But what about a staunch stance on something that is so readily shown to be indefensible - such as god creating Eden in the middle of the Sumerian civilization? Do we really have to avoid saying 'bullshit' to that?
Don't underestimate the power of 'wishful thinking'... there are plenty of examples of highly intelligent theists, whose beliefs SHOULD have been dismissed with a moment's thought, but weren't. Is there any other explanation?
It appears not. In fact, my friend suggested to me that changing the National Day of Prayer to the National Day of Wishing would make it constitutionally acceptable. ;^)
That's actually not a bad idea...
Martin, when it comes to calling supernatural claims misguided I fall back on my, probably childish, argument of "five sense or less". I call it childish because it is my childhood argument that remains unanswered.

Despite many studies, no human has ever been shown to possess more than 5 senses. There's almost 7 billion of us today and yet not one human has been shown to possess a 6th sense, of any description. Our proven 5 senses are incapable of sensing anything supernatural, therefore, I can assert that no human has ever been physically capable of knowing anything about the claims they profess.

The obvious explanation is that their, all too human, imagination has run a muck. Their logic is misguided by their irrational imagination. An imagination that clearly is the source of their required claims to a 6th sense.
Actually - balance is an example of a 'synergistic sense' - since we can sense a lack of it. Also, the inner ear physically registers when we are turning. It is a torus (hollow donut shape) filled with fluid with 'fins' that register when we are turning relative to the fluid. When we stop turning, the fluid swirls for a bit, giving us a false sense of turning - thus we fell dizzy.

But I know what you mean.

A good deal of the elctro-magnetic spectrum is beyond our senses to detect, yet we can 'sense' them with instrumentation. There is plenty that can be shown to exist that is beyond our natural senses - and those who believe in the supernatural try to squeeze their view through this 'hole.'

Nevertheless, how is it possible that a human can detect energy that not only is undetectable by the most sensitive instruments, but has to exist outside of the electromagnetic spectrum? And, if it does detect this energy, why can it not produce verifiable evidence that it has done so?




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