FOM: theology and mathematics holmes at
Wed Oct 20 12:04:33 EDT 1999

Dear FOM'ers:

      The concept of an omniscient Deity is certainly relevant to
foundations of mathematics.  The question of Its benevolence is only
relevant to the foundations if we fear that It may act as a Cartesian
demon to confuse our reasoning (Its tolerance of ordinary human
nastiness is not a foundational issue).

      Unfortunately, the Mind of God is perhaps too capacious.  We can
consider sets as extensions of Divine ideas; very well and good.  God
is certainly aware of Its own ideas and can conceptualize about them.
Some Divine ideas (such as "Divine idea") fall within their own scope,
and some (such as "material object") do not.  God may (and thus must,
by the necessity of Its nature) form the idea "Divine ideas which do
not fall under themselves" (we may call these "ordinary Divine ideas").
Now of course the question of whether ordinariness of a Divine idea is
an ordinary Divine idea rears its ugly head...

      This reasoning (certainly not original with me!) indicates that
foundational problems in mathematics can revertebrate into other
disciplines, even theology.  It should be noted that my synagogue
attendance is regular, so one may guess that I'm not convinced that
this is a disproof of the existence of God...

And God posted an angel with a flaming sword at | Sincerely, M. Randall Holmes
the gates of Cantor's paradise, that the       | Boise State U. (disavows all) 
slow-witted and the deliberately obtuse might | holmes at
not glimpse the wonders therein. |

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