Monday, November 22, 2004 +

The Jaki-Gödel Theorem

From Stanley L. Jaki, “A Late Awakening to Gödel in Physics”:

Gödel himself retained something of his childhood belief in God. He felt a thorough disdain for materialistic positivism and saw his theorem as a devastating weapon against it. Surely, the idea of a God who can freely create one particular universe out of an infinitely large number of possibilities, could not be alien to Gödel’s thinking. He could have therefore found an inner prompting to connect physics with his theorem. It is therefore somewhat puzzling that he did not see his theorem as a proof that one cannot turn physics into an argument against the contingency of the universe.

Herein lies the ultimate bearing of Gödel’s theorem on physics. It does not mean at all the end of physics. It means only the death knell on endeavours that aim at a final theory according to which the physical world is what it is and cannot be anything else. Gödel’s theorem does not mean that physicists cannot come up with a theory of everything or TOE in short. They can hit upon a theory which at the moment of its formulation would give an explanation of all known physical phenomena. But in terms of Gödel’s theorem such a theory cannot be taken for something which is necessarily true.

Father Jaki adds:

Apart from Gödel’s theorem, such a theory [of everything] cannot be a guarantee that in the future nothing essentially new would be discovered in the physical universe which would then demand another final theory. . . .