Computer Scientists Claim Proof of God

[30-second sound clip] You are about to leave reality and travel into another dimension — a dimension that exists beyond the laws of nature, unknowable by evidence and reason — a wondrous land of Oogity Boogity! There’s a signpost up ahead: Next stop — The Drool Zone.

All the news today seems to be political, so we’ll post about something we saw a couple of days ago — which we don’t fully understand. It’s in the Daily Express, a national tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. Their headline is Scientists use mathematical calculations to PROVE the existence of God. The newspaper article has over 700 comments. Here are some excerpts from their story, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

SCIENTISTS have ‘confirmed’ the existence of God after proving a mathematician’s theory which suggests that there is a higher power. Two computer scientists say they proved that there is a holy supreme force after confirming the equation.

Exciting, huh? Let’s read on:

In 1978, mathematician Kurt Gödel died and left behind a long and complex theory based on modal logic. Dr Gödel’s model uses mathematical equations that are extremely complicated, but the essence is that no greater power than God can be conceived, and if he or she is believed as a concept then he or she can exist in reality.

Kurt Gödel did that? Really? Wikipedia’s write-up on him says (with their bracketed inserts):

Gödel was a convinced theist, in the Christian tradition. He held the notion that God was personal. He believed firmly in an afterlife, stating: “Of course this supposes that there are many relationships which today’s science and received wisdom haven’t any inkling of. But I am convinced of this [the afterlife], independently of any theology.” It is “possible today to perceive, by pure reasoning” that it “is entirely consistent with known facts.” “If the world is rationally constructed and has meaning, then there must be such a thing [as an afterlife].”

Back to the Daily Express:

Or as Dr Gödel put it through his equations: “Ax. 1. {P(φ)∧◻∀x[φ(x)→ψ(x)]} →P(ψ)Ax. 2.P(¬φ)↔¬P(φ)Th. 1.P(φ)→◊∃x[φ(x)]Df. 1.G(x)⟺∀φ[P(φ)→φ(x)]Ax. 3.P(G)Th. 2.◊∃xG(x)Df. 2.φ ess x⟺φ(x)∧∀ψ{ψ(x)→◻∀y[φ(y)→ψ(y)]}Ax. 4.P(φ)→◻P(φ)Th. 3.G(x)→G ess xDf. 3.E(x)⟺∀φ[φ ess x→◻∃yφ(y)]Ax. 5.P(E)Th. 4.◻∃xG(x)”.

You get it, right?

Sure. Then the tabloid says:

But two computer scientists have used computers to run such complicated [huh?] which they say confirms that the equation does indeed add up.

After that garbled sentence, the Daily Express tells us:

Christoph Benzmüller of Berlin’s Free University, who ran the calculations along with Bruno Woltzenlogel Paleo of the Technical University in Vienna, told Spiegel Online: “It’s totally amazing that from this argument led by Gödel, all this stuff can be proven automatically in a few seconds or even less on a standard notebook.

Yes, totally amazing. Well, dear reader, your Curmudgeon has no opinion at this point. We await your input.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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35 responses to “Computer Scientists Claim Proof of God

  1. Can proof of the existence of the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Loch Ness monster, and Bigfoot be far behind. I eagerly await the news of their “proofs.”

    By the way, you cannot prove anything regarding “reality” vis mathematics. You can make predictions based upon patterns perceived, but “proof”? Nope.

  2. By golly, it’s true!

    And for further proof, I have received an email–on my computer–from The Supreme Diety of the Cosmos, informing me that he is about to kill off in a freak tornado a distant relative of mine I had never heard even though he has named me as a beneficiary of his estate of $987,873,227,987!

    And all I have to do is send $1500 to a bank in Lagos to cover a few incidental legal fees!

    Take that, you heathen unbelivers!

  3. Steve Ruis says:

    By the way, you cannot prove anything regarding “reality” vis mathematics.

    Oh yeah? Watch this:

    1. If god exists, then 2+2=4.
    2. 2+2=4.
    3. Therefore, god exists. Q.E.D.

  4. If you go to the referenced article itself, perhaps the associated stories and pictures at the bottom of the page are more relevant and mind stimulating and are, of course, products of the same mathematical minds entertained in the story. I think the authors also used an abacus to do their calculations.

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  6. Eddie Janssen

    I have the audacity to try and outdo our Sacred Curmudgeon:
    1. If god exists, then god exists
    2. god exists
    3. Therefore, god exists. Q.E.D.

  7. Eddie Janssen, you need a bit more in step 2.

  8. Michael Fugate

    One can find the papers here:
    http://page.mi.fu-berlin.de/cbenzmueller/

    A verbal description
    A1 Either a property or its negation is positive, but not both:
    A2 A property necessarily implied by a positive property is positive:
    T1 Positive properties are possibly exemplified:
    D1 A God-like being possesses all positive properties:
    A3 The property of being God-like is positive:
    C Possibly, God exists:
    A4 Positive properties are necessarily positive:
    D2 An essence of an individual is a property possessed by it and necessarily implying any of its properties:
    T2 Being God-like is an essence of any God-like being:
    D3 Necessary existence of an individual is the necessary exemplification of all its essences:
    A5 Necessary existence is a positive property:
    T3 Necessarily, God exists:

    Not sure this gets one to Jesus, Christianity, or an afterlife….

  9. Mathematician here.

    We call that kind of argument, a “snow job”.

  10. Under the motto, better a blow job than a snow job?

    (sorry SC, a mathematician made me do it)

  11. Every philosophy student recognizes this as the Ontological Argument, first attributed to Anselm in the 11th century.

    As so often happens, newspaper journalists manage to sensationalize a rather mundane story. Dr. Christoph Benzmüller and Dr. Bruno Woltzenlogel apparently developed yet another sophisticated program for analyzing mathematical proofs and testing their rigor. To demonstrate their software’s capabilities, they probably thought Kurt Godel’s famous attempt at the Ontological Argument provided a good test–and a very famous one which wouldn’t step on any living mathematician’s toes. My guess is that they never dreamed it would get picked up by the non-academic media.

    The Ontological Argument has gone through many revisions through the centuries and everybody from Leibnitz and Descartes to David Hume and Bertrand Russell have weighed in. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the evolution of the debate over this “proof of God.” Personally, I always found it a yawner—and fundamentally flawed in assuming that that which can be imagined thereby must exist. Nope. This is one theist who is unconvinced by this “proof.”

  12. MichaelF confirms my suspicion: this is the modal argument.

    http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/theistic-proofs/the-ontological-argument/the-modal-ontological-argument/

    using modal logic

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-modal/

    My view: be suspicious when people use semantics (and math is a language) to prove something about our reality.

  13. Must be true: the article in Spiegel online is from 2013. So the Daily Mail took more than three years for a peer review…

  14. Professor Tertius, you’re back! Good to see you.

  15. @Professor Tertius
    Your analysis of this is welcomed, too.

  16. Here’s another proof:

    1. God is truth.
    2. If truth exists, God exists.
    3. This sentence is true.
    4. Therefore, God. Q.E.D.

  17. BTW, this tabloid sounds like the National Enquirer’s stories. Perhaps DJT should add it to his required reading list.

  18. Kurt Gödel had other strange ideas. One of them was that you had to live by the “macrobiotic” diet – a system based on oriental religions. He became so paranoid about his food that he final died of malnutrition. Here’s a bit from an article about him: “He trusted only his wife, Adele, and would eat the food she prepared for him (or alternatively, she would taste any provided food before he ate it). When she became ill in 1977 and had to be hospitalized for six months, Gödel refused to eat, and eventually died of malnutrition in 1978 at the age of 71.”

    A guy like this might come up with important truths (he did) and he might also be a nut – I think he was.

  19. Mike Elzinga

    Answers in Genesis has a similar line.

    1. Reason and logic cannot exist without God

    2. Reason and logic exist.

    3. Therefore God exists.

  20. Michael Fugate

    Ask the people killed in the Flood, if God is “positive”.

    Prof. Tertius – glad you are back!

  21. @Cynic
    I hesitate to mention Godel’s analysis of the USConstitution (which his friends stopped him from explaining to the citizenship examiner).
    @Mike Elzinga
    This sounds very much like pantheism. I guess, whatever works so that I’m not related to the monkeys.

  22. I am delighted to see the return of Professor Tertius! The sharpness of your enquiring mind, the depth of your learning, but above all the kind and generous spirit with which you share your insights have been greatly missed here. I hope you have returned to good health, and I look forward to reading your thoughtful posts in future.

  23. Professor Tertius!
    Megalonyx says exactly what I feel. Welcome, welcome!

  24. My reaction to seeing a comment by Professor Tertius was the opposite of my feelings when I see contributions by KevinC.

  25. The validity of the argument becomes more clear by the substitution of “Flying Spaghetti Monster” for “God.”

    “May you be touched by his noodly appendage!”

  26. Good to see you.

    At my age, it’s good to be seen.
    Thank you all for the very warm welcome.

  27. Holding The Line In Florida

    Prof Tertius! Indeed a great welcome back! An echo to many of these posts. You have been missed!

  28. Gobel says “3.G(x)→G ess xDf. 3.E(x)⟺∀φ[φ ess x→◻∃yφ(y)]Ax. 5.P(E)Th. 4” I believe he has failed to multiply by the speed of light, which totally invalidates his equation.
    In the meantime, what type of disturbed mind could possibly come up with such balderdash? A seriously deranged one? Correctomundo…
    Quite the bizarre one wasn’t he?

  29. This brings to mind the story of confrontation between Euler and Diderot. Euler supposedly said to Diderot:
    (a+b^n)/n = x
    Therefore God exists.
    And Diderot was reduced to silence.
    Unfortunately for the truth of the story, Diderot was a competent mathematician with publications to his credit.

  30. Professor Tertius! Ditto ditto ditto all the kind words above! You have been deeply missed.

    Three cheers for your return to this wonderful blog! Hip, Hip, Hooray!

  31. Sidney Harris said it best: “Then a miracle occurs…

  32. Mark Germano takes us from the sublime to the ridiculous by mentioning

    contributions by KevinC

    I’m not sure that’s the right word–except in the sense that cattle could be said to ‘contribute’ to global methane levels…

  33. Einstein was great friends with Goedel, but said of him he’s gone totally insane. He voted for Eisenhower”

    I am old enough to feel deeply nostalgic for the days when Eisenhower was the less preferred choice.

    Tertius, delighted to see you back in action, hoping you will again honour me by disagreeing with my blog posts

  34. The argument above is gibberish. It states that existence is a “necessary property” of God, which can be restated his way: God exists because He wouldn’t be God if he didn’t exist.

    I find it hard to believe that Gödel really believed this absurdity, which can be applied to just about anything from unicorns to werewolves to Superman.

  35. From Wikipedia entry on Euler:

    There is a famous legend[62] inspired by Euler’s arguments with secular philosophers over religion, which is set during Euler’s second stint at the St. Petersburg academy. The French philosopher Denis Diderot was visiting Russia on Catherine the Great’s invitation. However, the Empress was alarmed that the philosopher’s arguments for atheism were influencing members of her court, and so Euler was asked to confront the Frenchman. Diderot was informed that a learned mathematician had produced a proof of the existence of God: he agreed to view the proof as it was presented in court. Euler appeared, advanced toward Diderot, and in a tone of perfect conviction announced this non-sequitur: “Sir, (a+b^n)/n=x, hence God exists—reply!” Diderot, to whom (says the story) all mathematics was gibberish, stood dumbstruck as peals of laughter erupted from the court. Embarrassed, he asked to leave Russia, a request that was graciously granted by the Empress. However amusing the anecdote may be, it is apocryphal, given that Diderot himself did research in mathematics.[63] The legend was apparently first told by Dieudonné Thiébault[64] with significant embellishment by Augustus De Morgan.[65][66]