Math, Machines, and God

“The demand for consistency treats the disease by seeking to extend it to the entire organism.”__Philip Slater

So what is the “disease”? In a human body, we would say whatever makes it sick. “Dis-ease” not “not at ease” with its environment.

But in society, if everyone adapts to a bad environment, how do we know the society is sick, especially if it cannot recognize what is “bad” about its environment? If we are adapting to a bad environment, ad we seek to consistently adapt, then we have eliminated all processes of feedback that may warn us of danger.

Ultimately, there must be a way to “take stock” of our environment, be able to respond to it as an individual, and have the freedom to break with the standards of others.

Seeking consistency, especially in math,  has proven to be a futile search, unless there are constant processes of feedback allowing us to check our premises. Godel’s theorem, deals with this problem to some degree:
In any consistent axiomatic formalization of number theory, there exists undecidable propositions.

But that’s just the first part. The second part says:
No such system ca n prove its own consistency from within itself.

We cannot conclude for certain that the human brain is subject to such limitations, but if we take these principles and extend them “outside” each human brain, we are forced to reduce society to the same limitations described by Godel’s theorem.

Whatever the functions by which the human brain operates, we cannot completely capture all those functions by erecting abstract rules for society to control each human brain.

There is a far greater complexity to the interaction of each human brain making decisions than can be demonstrated by a series of algorithms. In fact, there is much randomness that may occur, which cannot be programmed by the most complex set of algorithms. In fact, the more complex the system,  the greater likelihood of undecidable propositions. If we take this mathematical conclusion and apply it to human decision-making, we see some interesting things. First, “freedom” from all restraints is not desired by human societies. Too much freedom creates an inability to anticipate future situations and react. Therefore, human societies will seek to reduce their decision-making load collectively to ensure certainty.

Alvin Toffler points this out in the book  Future Shock.  Technology, by giving us ever more options, writes Toffler, gives us more uncertainty because of the increase of choices. The tendency, therefore, is to develop cults and sub-cults to reduce the decision load and give us more certainty in every day relationships.

As Eric Hoffer writes in The True Believer, “Freedom aggravates as much as it alleviates frustration. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual. And as freedom encourages a multiplicity of attempts. it unavoidably multiplies failures and frustrations”.

As technology multiplies the free choices before us, the frustration of not knowing the outcome of our choices makes us fear too much change, so we seek ways to reduce our decision load by cults, sub-cults, or mass movements.

Worse yet, if we seek truth, Godel’s theorem tells us there is no way to get all truth in one package, so we know that, even with the most disciplined attempts, we will arrive at more undecidable propositions, and therefore more uncertainty.

Slater writes of this as responding more to “internal circuitry” than responding to our external environment.

Hoffer writes that the developments of cults and mass movements depend on “renunciation of self”. If we renounce our selves for the greater glory of the movement, we have become a part of something that is wonderful, and by extension we are wonderful. As Slater poined out(my previous essay) we will gradually seek to make ourselves part of a greater sysem of abstract rules tha ignore the ineractions of ourselves as individuals. This leads to the condition of self renunciation.

Bu now we know, due to Godel’s theorem, that we cannot, by the most formal and consistent system, avoid the infinity of undecidable propositions in that system. That is, you can’t get “there”(truth in one package , or God as truth in one package) from “here”.

If society is based on an illusion, that is the illusion. The human tendency, however, is to abandon one illusion and then start the same illusion by simply altering the contents of that illusion. That is, if we can’t find truth by renouncing our selves in one group, we seek to find truth by renouncing self in another group. All such attempts ignore the self in favor of a greater system which itself is an illusion.

It would appear that the story of the Tower of Babel and Godel’s theorem work to force us into constantly splintering and speciating because we can’t seem to learn that one lesson, that the world does not and will not operate according to our plans, dreams, or whims.