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Old 12-24-2011, 02:50 AM
basman basman is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 648
Default Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)

Originally Posted by Mike View Post
The impenetrability... Gödel proof.
Mike I appreciate your clarifications and explanations but don’t you help make my point—that Hitchens was a man of ideas, capable of abstract thought and that academic philosophy need have nothing to do with either?

When I was an undergraduate my down-the-hall neighbor was a guy doing his PHD in philosophy at UBC and we became, and still are, friends. Once I was in his apartment for a drink with him and his very smart wife and she said, teasing him in fun, (I of course paraphrase) “The world around philosophers could be burning but they will huddle together in their in their own detached world and do their philosophy oblivious to the fire.” My friend nodded resignedly as though accepting some truth in what his wife said.

So it may be a high intellectual achievement that Godel could form a deductively valid proof that God necessarily exists from fairly weak premises, which, if I understand this, doesn’t seem much more interesting than being the converse of “simply accepting the axioms to be false”-- simply accepting the axioms to be true. So okay. And there are all kinds of abstruse complexities running thorough and around ontological arguments for the existence of God, both in their formulations and in the critiques of them. They are a source of delight and exhilarating mental exercise for those so inclined. But, finally, the ontological argument will convince no one serious and reflective, as has been said, who does not start with theistic presuppositions.

So, nothing follows from Hitchens messing up Godel’s proof, if that’s what in fact he did, which goes to whether he was a man of ideas or capable of abstract thought, the denial of which status and capability has been here asserted.

Itzik Basman
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