Had some words with my friend Bruce yesterday--OK, lots of words. In fact, the Spirit moved me, so I was blasting words all over the place like that guy from the X Men, only with a gag instead of a visor. All the way toward the end of much conversatin'--and yes, Bruce held his end respectably in the face of my torrent--we came to a summation.
The idea is already on the pages here, so it's important, and needing some flesh, but it's also very simple. We all know we can't prove a negative. Any third grade philosopher know this as an unshakable verity, right? So who will step up to prove that? No one, that's who--we can't do it, and mind you, I don't hearsee that term coming from myself often. I'll beat my kids senseless if I hear them using it. (Hi kids! Molto amore!). Hell the notion is generational. My totally outstanding 95 year old Granddad banned the word from his brood's vocabulary, and he started his family during the Great Depression. But we can't, and we know we can't.
We can't even prove that we can't prove that we can't prove a negative. We can add layers to our investigation to Eternity, and never can we prove a negative. And yet we know that we know that we know (&c.) that we can't do it. What the Heellll!!? This is why: Reason breaks down at a point between proving and knowing right here for us to examine like a fascinating diamond, cut in some diabolically ingenious fashion to as to hide its facets from us like a tesseract or something. There's math that explains this pretty succinctly. Look up Kurt Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, (here's a good start http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel/). Godel, whose name I'll be disrespecting til I figure out how to add an umlaut on this thing, wrote a bunch of High Math, way beyond my capacity, that shows us in terms even I can grok, that any closed system can never possibly contain all the tools necessary to fully describe itself. With me so far?
This shows us another Eternal Verity: Truth transcends Proof; and further--our ability to know does the same. Now, Bruce is a philosopher, and kind of a Christian, so this sort of shit doesn't bother him like it may the Scientific Determinists that may read this. What we are gazing upon, through the lens of our little diamond, is an example of our ability to "jump out of the system", and view it from outside, in some manner as indescribable as how we can know there's no proving a negative. (Apologies to Doug Hofstadter for abusing an idea I came across in Godel, Escher, Bach. I'm about to depart from his comfort zone, I think. He did, give him mucho credit, respectably describe the idea within the closed system of those pages). This is an ability we share with God. This, I think, is why some tidbit of western scripture says, "Ye are gods," (Psalm 82, for you skeptics; read it all and get some context before attempting to argue, please).
This whole line of thought is closely associated with the Ontological Argument as proof of God, if not fully dependent upon it, (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/). For the uninitiated, this is a supremely brilliant bit of philosophical tomfoolery that attemtps to prove the existence of God by reason alone, in an orderly procession of thought utterly divorced from empirical evidence. If anyone would care to take it on, I'd love--no LOVE--to see a genuine debunking. It's very slippery indeed, and feels for all the world like a stage magician pulling infinite decks of cards from his sleeves. But it's irrefutable, in my stupid little mind. It jumps the system.
I'll readdress the crap we've mulled over here, but this is good. Put simply--arithmetically, one might say--We can't prove a negative>We know this>Truth is superior to proof>We are therefore superior to the closed system of All-There-Is>Only god is thus>We are gods. (Yes, I took a leap there at step 6. I only have so much attention span. Roll wit' it for now, OK? It's in the Ontological Argument if you feel like getting ahead of me). This is arithmetical, yes, and handily sums up my points from yesterday, Bruce and friends. But, as you've seen by now I guess, that doesn't mean one can't do a bit of Algebra, Trig, or (Meta)Physics with it.