Gödel’s personalistic theism

Telic Thoughts points us to an article by Héctor Rosario about the religious views of the prominent logician Kurt Gödel, that, for all their logical pedigree, are certainly not atheistic:

An important aspect of Gödel’s theology – one that has been greatly overlooked by those studying his works – is that not only was he a theist but a personalist; not a pantheist as some apologetic thinkers may portray him. To be precise, he rejected the notion that God was impersonal, as God was for Einstein. Einstein believed in “Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men” (Einstein, 1929). Gödel in turn thought “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person” (Wang, 1996: 152).

According to Rosario even Gödel’s belief in the afterlife was rationally based.

Gödel expressed his belief in the hereafter in the following terms, “I am convinced of the afterlife, independent of theology. If the world is rationally constructed, there must be an afterlife” (Davis, 2002: 22). “His arguments were, as always, rationally based on the principle that the world and everything in it has meaning, or reasons. This is closely related to the causality principle that underlies all of science: Everything has a cause, and events don’t just ‘happen’” (Casti & DePauli, 2000: 87).

So if a world class logician was a personalistic theist who even believed in the afterlife, what is one to make of the carte blanche claims of the New Atheists that religious belief is irrational? Now, in my opinion, there are religious beliefs that are irrational. In fact, prominent theologians throughout time have fought that irrationality. However, when committed logicians (of which there are many besides Gödel) support the rationality of some religious beliefs, the so called defenders of rationality will have to take them on before their rhetoric should be taken seriously.

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One Comment to “Gödel’s personalistic theism”

  1. A variation on a personal relationship with a diety:
    One can have a respectful personal relationship to an impersonal diety and this can affect the conduct of human affairs, like a swimmer (or kayaker) paying close attention to the flow of currents in a mighty river…

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