Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, February 15, 2021

Integral Hermeneutics ala Kurt Godel's Incompleteness Theorems

Integral Hermeneutics ala
Kurt Godel's Incompleteness Theorems

The Post-Structuralism of the
Hermeneutics of Belief or Suspicion

by R.E. Slater


If I understand Godel's Incompleteness Logic correctly then it says that for any truth system to be used, or believed to be true, it's same system cannot be used on itself to prove its own system of beliefs and truths. All systems are self-reinforcing. Both large and small.

But this is the corollary meaning to Godel's fuller Incompleteness Logic which states that no truth system can be proven complete. That all truth systems are incomplete in-and-of themselves alone as single-ordered or multi-ordered systems.
"The first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an effective procedure (i.e., an algorithm) is capable of proving all truths about the arithmetic of natural numbers. For any such consistent formal system, there will always be statements about natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The second incompleteness theorem, an extension of the first, shows that the system cannot demonstrate its own consistency." - Wikipedia
And again,
In hindsight, the basic idea at the heart of the incompleteness theorem is rather simple. Gödel essentially constructed a formula that claims that it is unprovable in a given formal system. If it were provable, it would be false. Thus there will always be at least one true but unprovable statement. That is, for any computably enumerable set of axioms for arithmetic (that is, a set that can in principle be printed out by an idealized computer with unlimited resources), there is a formula that is true of arithmetic, but which is not provable in that system. To make this precise, however, Gödel needed to produce a method to encode (as natural numbers) statements, proofs, and the concept of provability; he did this using a process known as Gödel numbering. Wikipedia
And semi-humorously - should we not learn to laugh at ourselves for being over strict in our personal assessments and valuations of other competing ideas and works (I think of Einstein and his cosmological constant that has been fussed and fumed about over the years), we might describe all instances of unknowing, or inability to prove themselves, as subsets of "fuzzy logic" deemed helpful in explaining the unexplainable:
"Fuzzy logic is based on the observation that people make decisions based on imprecise and non-numerical information. Fuzzy models or sets are mathematical means of representing vagueness and imprecise information (hence the term fuzzy). These models have the capability of recognising, representing, manipulating, interpreting, and utilising data and information that are vague and lack certainty." - Wikipedia

We might also think of incompleteness systems as asymmetrical to their intended design for symmetry. Similar to the bow tie which accompanies a tuxedo, bow ties are not meant to be perfectly straight but a bit off, a bit imperfect. Thus I had mentioned Einstein's Cosmological Lamba Constant. He purposely introduced it to account for the universe's vacuum energy densities and gravitation push-pulls on itself. The universe isn't perfectly in equilibrium throughout it's vastness. It's off a little bit here-and-there. It holds some asymmetry within it. To account for its imbalance Einstein pushed a variable into his relativity formula to help "balance" out its messiness so that it might become "perfect". In doing so he believed what he was doing was correct but stated later even he made certain assumptions, and held expectations, which do not conform to perceived truth. Science is still trying to work this out having now understood it was in Einstein's assumptions that he erred.

The Challenge of Pursuit & Discovery

And so, when I set out to write an updated contemporary and postmodern theology I began wondering many years ago about the helpfulness of the Protestant Reformed system of biblical hermeneutics using it's universally approved literal, grammatical, historical, and contextual applications to the biblical text.

Of course, this must also include any informed Protestant Reformed religious interpretations on the biblical text using only religiously approved externally confirming sources. To step out of one's religious system to approach a "truth-based system" would be anathema to the one who did it. Historical examples abound: Conipericus, Galileo, Einstein, Quantum Physics, Darwin, or even church figures such as Rob Bell, Emergent Christians, Progressive Christians, and such like. One places one's reputation on the line should it cross over to "the dark side" of unapproved speech, thinking, or act.

At the last, I finally decided that any kind of truth system such as the one I grew up under and was trained in must be stepped outside of if I were to consider other forms of information helpful to my writing project of post-structure Christian theologies. For the one I was living in had become its own self-contained system which was sealed from within-and-without, much like any unassailable fortress becomes its own self-insulating system protecting from criticism, contradiction, expandability, rejection, or improvability.

Consequences of Staying with Corruptible Older Systems

Thus and thus I could not use it's self-confirming system any longer if I were to discover an Integral hermeneutical system for all occasions of religious expression or moral/aesthetic novelty. It had become an insular system used to breed it's own religious vernaculars and biblically accepted cultures and I knew then that it would not be useful for any future study.

Which, in hindsight, I'm glad I did when viewing our my old line evangelical faith has now become overrun with unholy values of society and personages in its pursuit of discrimination against human beings differing from its beliefs. Or usages of denial, blame, slandering, and acceptance of duplicitous character such as is being seen in the pulpit and congressional leaders. Or its pursuit of the undemocratic ideals of personal liberties, freedoms, equalities and justice for all rather than for some.

But worse for me is it's lately incursion into Q-anony conspiracy theories which racks right up there with fragile theological systems uninterested in all other biblical or helpful "secular" systems (a word I abhor) unless it speaks of the harsher form of neo-Calvinisms with its judgments, wrathful God, and religious legalisms which all must submit to in order to be worthy of God's love. I find such speech and actions wholly untrue, unhelpful, worthy of condemnation of their God and beliefs, and intentionally divisional to a democratic society attempting to unify in difference around common cores of humane living and humanitarian cause.

Apologies for becoming sidetracked. However, these are the issues to any system which asserts itself over all other systems as being true and worthy of being followed. They can become corrupted in time and unuseful to the original cause of declaring in witness and testimony for a God of love who sacrificed Himself in atoning for the sins and evil of mankind - where secular or religious. Redemption is for all, as is God's unending streams of embracing love. Neither should the two be used as condemnation upon society or nature. These would be blasphemous offenses.

A Conclusion of Sorts

I then tried to discover a broader integrating system more open to criticism and reflection. Though there are many critical theories out there beyond an assortment of protestant Christian hermeneutics I decided in the end on two principles only, of which I now wish to add a third...

Principle 1

To construct allow Christian belief and action around a God of Love. God is always loving in all ways unimaginable to ourselves. By constructing a God who withholds His love is untrue and unethical. People should never live in fear of God who brings healing and beauty into the world by preaching a wrathful God of terror and fear of Hell. God is not this and cannot be this. It is only in our imaginations this kind of awful God lives. Sin is its own Hell but is isn't God who makes it or takes one there. God is a God of Love.

What does this mean? That we should structure our beliefs, lives, ministries, relationships, all around a God of Love. It's that simple. It's the most radical theology we could espouse. Take as illustration the two diagrams below then replace their centers with the Love of God. Then think about it. Every part of one's theology and beliefs about God would radically change. No biblical genocides. No murder and killing. No religious fiats for harm or theft of land. It all goes away.

We only see religious leaders and people doing unloving acts to one another. And why? Because the God they had envisioned acted like the other gods around them. And of course, is molded in the form of sinful man himself. I may now read the bible as a set of narratives of failed apprehensions of the God who loves. Rather than blaming God for sin and evil I may now understand that even religious man has a difficult time imagining a thoroughgoing God of Love.

Principle 2

As God's Love is in the center of Theology even so Jesus must be in that same center. There is no first or second here. Both are one and the same. Jesus pictures God's love to mankind in life, ministry, and death. What can be said of the one can be said of the other. If I, as a Christian, am to proclaim God's love than I, as a Christian, must learn to live as Jesus did in servitude to the benefit and welfare of those around me.

The acronym, WWJD, is just as true today as it was when it was first produced in the 1970s. "What Would Jesus Do?" It declares to the Christian and to the Christian Church that it is to act like the God of Love in people's lives. Which also includes in society's life. No more bad mouthing those who are sexually different, genderly-abled, or culturally oriented than ourselves. We are not the basis for judgment. All are loved by God. Only that which harms and does not heal or love is to be judged as fallen and corrupt. Let not the church join in with such harmful causes of unloving policies, discriminating acts, or foolish companies of angry mobs. Be done with these and place Jesus first in all that we do.

Principle 3

"If a truth theorem is complete, it's closed.
If a truth theorem is incomplete, then it's open."

I asserted in Integral Hermeneutics ala Kurt Godel's Incompleteness Theorems that there can never be a final hermeneutic to help interpret God or His Word fully (sic, the bible, nature, event, experience, or enlightened insight). Nor can there be a final hermeneutic for one's life. There are many systems out there. Some closed, some open. Some are preferred over others such as we are using now with Process Philosophy and Process Theology. They seem to address both the divine and the creational in expressive, uplifting terms of hope. These systems can inform us how God operates in the world and how we must live in symmetry with the world. Such helpful systems can help break other systematic modes of self-imposed, or religiously-imposed, constrictions we chain or bind ourselves and others to.

And like Godel's Incompleteness Theorems, no one system is ever enough in the infinite, open-ended streams of life. Or, processes of life. Some come and go while others stay and expand. But they can never be complete because the (cosmopanpsychic) process of evolving life is ever evolving towards a process future of becoming. All events and experiences are incomplete and it is best to learn how to flow with them while learning to unlearn our set boundaries in order to relearn and expand them if we are to be testimonies to the God of grace and mercy.

As such, all of life is a never-ending process and there will never be a time on this earth, or in the life to come, where process isn't bubbling forth newness, novelty, creativity, or redemption. It is who God is. It is how God's creation works. It is what God's Love means when enacted through the process creational system expressed from His ontic being and essence.

In conclusion, let me propose a new axiom:
"If a truth theorem in complete, it's closed. If a truth theorem is incomplete, then it's open." - re slater
Any formal dogmatic systems of religion, regardless of that religion, be it Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian, must always be rightly expanding and growing from all previous instances of itself. Thus, it would be wise to affirm that all religionists should be careful of what they plant in this world - be it good or be it bad.

As seems all too familiar with too many historical examples of good religion gone bad in this world. (I think of American evangelical faiths moving towards neofacism having lost its center in God's Love and Jesus' examples of service of ministry through grace and mercy, forgiveness and hope.

From this we can see that the former statement re closed dogmas have sealed themselves off from outside criticism becoming insular within itself alone shunning all other voices. Whereas the latter statement has attracted more open religions to examine themselves in healthy ways of reflection, revision, and enlightenment, much like the many disciplines of science attempting by their own assertions, explorations, and continual revisions of its set theorems, objectives, and momentary conclusions.

Open systems live in tension with themselves and are the better for it. Closed systems do not and are the worse for it. Learn to live in tension. And in the tension exploit your inner creativity towards goodness, love, and peace.


R.E. Slater
February 15, 2021

I wrote a helpful parallel article some months back
which may be pertinent to the discussion here:

* * * * * * * * *

Hermeneutics of faith, the counterpart to hermeneutics of suspicion, is a manner in which a text may be read. It was the traditional or predominant way of reading the Bible for at least the first fifteen hundred years of Christian history. Both interpretive approaches combined are necessary for a complete knowledge of an object.

Hans-Georg Gadamer, in his 1960 magnum opus Truth and Method (Wahrheit und Methode), offers perhaps the most systematic survey of hermeneutics in the 20th century, its title referring to his dialogue between claims of "truth" on the one hand and processes of "method" on the other—in brief, the hermeneutics of faith versus the hermeneutics of suspicion. Gadamer suggests that, ultimately, in our reading we must decide between one or the other. [re slater - or to both equally in tension...]

According to Ruthellen Josselson, "(Paul) Ricœur distinguishes between two forms of hermeneutics: a hermeneutics of faith, which aims to restore meaning to a text, and a hermeneutics of suspicion, which attempts to decode meanings that are disguised." Rita Felski posits that Ricœur's hermeneutics of faith did not become fashionable because it appeared dismissive of the work of critique that defined an ascendant post-structuralism.

In his early essay "The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem" and especially his Wahrheit und Methode (Truth and Method), conservative German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer asserts that one is always deciding between a hermeneutics of faith (truth) or a hermeneutics of suspicion (method) when engaged in the act of reading.

* * * * * * * * *

Gödel's incompleteness theorems - 

* * * * * * * * *

  • Allegorical interpretation of the Bible
  • Anagoge
  • Asian-American biblical hermeneutics
  • Christian apologetics
  • Biblical accommodation
  • Biblical law in Christianity
  • Biblical literalism
  • Biblical studies
  • Brevitas et facilitas
  • Formulary controversy concerning Jansenius' Augustinus in the 17th century
  • Jewish commentaries on the Bible
  • Literary criticism
  • Literary theory
  • Narrative criticism
  • Patternism
  • Postmodern Christianity
  • Principles of interpretation
  • Quranic hermeneutics
  • Summary of Christian eschatological differences
  • Syncretism
  • Trajectory Hermeneutics

* * * * * * * * *

1 Etymology
1.1 Folk etymology
2 In religious traditions
2.1 Mesopotamian hermeneutics
2.2 Islamic hermeneutics
2.3 Talmudic hermeneutics
2.4 Vedic hermeneutics
2.5 Buddhist hermeneutics
2.6 Biblical hermeneutics
2.6.1 Literal
2.6.2 Moral
2.6.3 Allegorical
2.6.4 Anagogical
3 Philosophical hermeneutics
3.1 Ancient and medieval hermeneutics
3.2 Modern hermeneutics
3.2.1 Dilthey (1833–1911)
3.2.2 Heidegger (1889–1976)
3.2.3 Gadamer (1900–2002)
3.2.4 New hermeneutic
3.2.5 Marxist hermeneutics
3.2.6 Objective hermeneutics
3.2.7 Other recent developments
4 Applications
4.1 Archaeology
4.2 Architecture
4.3 Environment
4.4 International relations
4.5 Law
4.6 Phenomenology
4.7 Political philosophy
4.8 Psychoanalysis
4.9 Psychology
4.10 Religion and theology
4.11 Safety science
4.12 Sociology
5 Criticism

* * * * * * * * *

Set Symbols

set is a collection of things, usually numbers. We can list each element (or "member") of a set inside curly brackets like this:

Set Notation

Common Symbols Used in Set Theory

Symbols save time and space when writing. Here are the most common set symbols

In the examples C = {1, 2, 3, 4} and D = {3, 4, 5}

SymbolMeaning                    Example
{ }Set: a collection of elements{1, 2, 3, 4}
 BUnion: in A or B (or both) D = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}
 BIntersection: in both A and B D = {3, 4}
 BSubset: every element of A is in B.{3, 4, 5}  D
 BProper Subset: every element of A is in B,
but B has more elements.
{3, 5}  D
 BNot a Subset: A is not a subset of B{1, 6} ⊄ C
 BSuperset: A has same elements as B, or more{1, 2, 3} ⊇ {1, 2, 3}
 BProper Superset: A has B's elements and more{1, 2, 3, 4} ⊃ {1, 2, 3}
 BNot a Superset: A is not a superset of B{1, 2, 6}  {1, 9}
AcComplement: elements not in ADc = {1, 2, 6, 7}
When set universal = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7}
A − BDifference: in A but not in B{1, 2, 3, 4} − {3, 4} = {1, 2}
a  AElement of: a is in A {1, 2, 3, 4}
b  ANot element of: b is not in A {1, 2, 3, 4}
Empty set = {}{1, 2}  {3, 4} = Ø
set universalUniversal Set: set of all possible values
(in the area of interest)
P(A)Power Set: all subsets of AP({1, 2}) = { {}, {1}, {2}, {1, 2} }
A = BEquality: both sets have the same members{3, 4, 5} = {5, 3, 4}
A×BCartesian Product
(set of ordered pairs from A and B)
{1, 2} × {3, 4}
= {(1, 3), (1, 4), (2, 3), (2, 4)}
|A|Cardinality: the number of elements of set A|{3, 4}| = 2
|Such thatn | n > 0 } = {1, 2, 3,...}
:Such thatn : n > 0 } = {1, 2, 3,...}
For Allx>1, x2>x
There Exists x | x2>x
Thereforea=b  b=a
Natural NumbersNatural Numbers{1, 2, 3,...} or {0, 1, 2, 3,...}
IntegersIntegers{..., −3, −2, −1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...}
Rational NumbersRational Numbers 
Algebraic NumbersAlgebraic Numbers 
Real NumbersReal Numbers 
Imaginary NumbersImaginary Numbers3i
Complex NumbersComplex Numbers2 + 5i