God?

*Disclaimer: I don’t mean to offend anyone w/ this piece about religion or God’s existence… if I do, I do not all mean any harm… Just sharing some thoughts, ya feel?

I took the 16PersonalitiesTest that my friend Ivy showed me. After answering the test’s questions, it tells you what type of personality you have — “Logician,” “Architect,” etc. The test said that I was a Debater, someone who liked “thriving on the process of shredding arguments and beliefs” — someone who cannot resist an intellectual challenge. I see it. I like to get into arguments with my friends for fun, about topics like music (How bad is country music? Very) or movies (Hands down, the Godfather is THE best movie ever created). But, religious arguments are always the ones to lower my vehemence — religion is a sensitive topic for everyone, but also because religion is such a gray area for me.

Being a Muslim-American in a society that is hell bent on incriminating Muslims for every terrorist attack is… uncomfortable.  But being a Muslim-American who has conflicting thoughts about religion is even more uncomfortable. I’m a STEM nerd; I love numbers and learning about how things work. But despite my passion for the sciences and “secular topics,” I hold some religious beliefs as well; I’m always holding a tiny glimmer of hope that there is a God somewhere above us, blessing us with moments of happiness and bliss. Because I think the most concrete proof of God, of the validities of a religion, is in the tiny moments. Where something good happens, like your teacher randomly deciding not to do a homework check, or when you narrowly escape something dangerous like a fall, and you silently send a thank you to whatever deity you believe in. But then I think of so many tragedies that have occurred, so many deaths — the Holocaust, the Syrian refugee crisis — and why said deity could sit by while so many suffer. *

Kurt Godel, an Austrian mathematician who shook the foundations of mathematics, supposedly proved God’s existence with a ontological proof arguing that “God, by definition, is that for which no greater can be conceived. God exists in the understanding. If God exists in the understanding, we could imagine Him to be greater by existing in reality. Therefore, God must exist.”

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Computer scientists at the Technical University in Vienna proved that this theorem put forth by Godel was mathematically valid. However, I don’t think that this proof would have any religious person in a debate whooping for joy, because I think that it would make even that person uncomfortable to think about. It’s odd proving spirituality with pure mathematics. It’s odd connecting something that is so… uncertain, seemingly nonexist something as concrete as mathematics. Because something fantastical, that is all about belief and faith, that is proved by pen and paper is bizarre. You’re bridging the divine with the existing, the intangibility with tangibility. I suppose opposites do attract.

But then sometimes I believe that math is the framework behind our universe, behind every single atom and quark. Some say that math is invented; I believe math is discovered. For example, toss a pebble into a pond. The steady waves that incur slowly resonate throughout the pond then fade out of existence by following a rate of change equation that mathematicians and calculus fanatics discovered. Take a look at the person next to you. You and that person are attracted to each other, according to the mathematical equation of gravity. I was talking to someone recently who said that if God were to exist, he would be a mathematical genius, with an infinite mathematical capacity:

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So who knows: maybe God is a grand being floating above us, controlling the laws of physics, mathematics, everything we see.

Godel took it a step further with his famous incompleteness theorem. The theorem, in the simplest of terms, states, that in any mathematical system, there are statements which can neither be proved nor disproved. In other words, in a mathematical system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The theorem also states that a mathematical system cannot prove its own consistency, or show that it lacks contradictions.

So, you can’t prove everything. No statement alone can prove itself true. It’s an uncomfortable thought, too. In the most heated of arguments, you can’t always prove something is true. So, where’s the limit on what we can prove? I remember my English teacher Mr. Eaton saying last year that you can’t even prove that we exist. Try it. Try proving that we exist. For all we know, we could be living in a computer simulation, or existing in some kid’s science fair project about the universe — a very complex, infinite, science fair project. 

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