[ExI] Fwd: Gödel and physical reality

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Wed Nov 3 17:22:00 UTC 2021

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Jason Resch <jasonresch at gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Nov 3, 2021 at 12:19 PM
Subject: Re: [ExI] Gödel and physical reality

On Wed, Nov 3, 2021 at 9:34 AM Giulio Prisco <giulio at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Nov 3, 2021 at 2:52 PM Jason Resch <jasonresch at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Hi Giulio,
> >
> > Thank you for raising so many profound questions!
> >
> > On Wed, Nov 3, 2021 at 5:10 AM Giulio Prisco via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> >>
> >> Gödel and physical reality. What are the implications of Gödel's
> >> theorem for fundamental science and metaphysics?
> >>
> >
> > I think there are deep connections between Gödel's theorem and the
> question of why anything exists. I write about some of the connections and
> implications in this article:
> >
> https://alwaysasking.com/why-does-anything-exist/#20th_Century_Mathematics
> Hi Jason, your website doesn't seem to be working (522: connection timed
> out).

Hi Giulio, it appears to be back up, for the time being at least. I
apologize for the outage.

> >
> > In summary, Gödel's result implies an independence of mathematical truth
> from any human theory of that truth, and I would argue, even makes
> mathematical truth independent of the physical universe.
> >
> But it can also be argued that it makes mathematical truth *strongly
> dependent* on the physical universe. I tend to think of mathematics as
> the physics of little things that can be counted - a construction
> motivated by physical experience and the need to stay alive long
> enough to reproduce.

There is a circularity for sure.

[image: circularity-math-matter-mind.png]

The question is: where does it begin?

This is roughly the picture I have arrived at:

[image: story-of-creation.green-text.png]

Necessity requires logical laws; logical laws imply incontrovertible truth;
such truth includes mathematical truth; mathematical truth defines numbers;
numbers possess number relations; number relations imply equations;
equations define computable relations; computable relations define all
computations; all computations include algorithmically generated observers;
and these observers experience apparent physical realities.

Here is a simple example of how logical necessity gives a shape to reality.
Consider the theory "Every rule has an exception". This is self-refuting
because then the rule that every rule has an exception would have an
exception, negating the rule. So then there must be some rules without
exceptions (what we might call laws). This is just an example, but similar
ideas from logic can be used to show certain truths would necessarily
exist, even with no universe and no things, as denying them would lead to a

So we arrive at a picture where "infinite truth", the embodiment of all
knowledge, serves as a container of all minds and all things. We could
liken it to an omniscient mind, being total, infinite, and
incomprehensible, eternal and uncreated, without a beginning or end,
self-existent. Furthermore, if this infinite truth produces observers and
experiences of physical universes as described above, hen this infinite
truth is also the reason and cause behind all things, the ground of being
to ourselves and the material universe.


> > Then, there are a number of constructive arguments that show how the
> existence of mathematical truth leads to the existence of entities who
> believe and consider themselves to be parts of physically existing worlds.
> In effect, all computational histories (of all programs) are a small part
> of what exists in the set of all mathematical truth. This was discovered in
> 1970 as part of the MRDP-Theorem which solved Hilbert's 10th problem. There
> exists a single Diophantine equation, whose solutions embody all possible
> programs (all computable sets). See:
> https://alwaysasking.com/why-does-anything-exist/#Universal_Equations
> >
> >>
> >> What does Gödel’s theorem say about physical reality?
> >
> >
> >
> > If you define physical reality as the observable universe, whose
> information content is large but finite (say 10^120 bits), then our
> universe lacks the computational and memory resources to even list all the
> properties of the number "3". In this sense, the number 3 is a larger, and
> more complex object than our physical universe, for there are an infinite
> number of true statements concerning the number 3, not all of which can be
> enumerated in our physical universe. The finiteness of our universe also
> means there are axiomatic systems which contain more axioms than there are
> atoms in our universe, so we could never conceive of them.
> >
> >>
> >> Does Gödel’s
> >> theorem imply that no finite mathematical model can capture physical
> >> reality?
> >
> >
> > Since our physical reality allows the construction of computers, and
> since the behavior of computers cannot be determined in general (you will
> always need ever-more expensive mathematical theories to prove things about
> the operations of certain computers), then in a very real sense, Gödel’s
> theorem (and particularly in conjunction with the unsolvability of
> Hilbert's 10th problem (undecidability)), it means certain physical
> problems are not decidable either.
> >
> > For example, consider if I have a computer searching for counterexamples
> to the Goldbach conjecture, after which it will turn on a light switch,
> because the computer is a physical system, I could ask the physical
> question of: "how long, if ever, will it take for the light to turn on?"
> And yet, it very well could be that we cannot determine the answer to this
> problem, without developing a new more powerful mathematical system that
> enables us to prove that there are no counterexamples to the Goldbach
> conjecture. So physics and our physical theories, because they are general
> enough to allow us to build computers, are subject to the limits of
> undecidability, and ultimately are limited by the power of our mathematical
> systems.
> >
> >>
> >> Does the nondeterminism found in quantum and chaos physics -
> >> it’s impossible to predict (prove) the future from the present and the
> >> laws of physics - have something to do with Gödel’s incompleteness?
> >> Many scientists e.g. Stanley Jaki, Freeman Dyson, and recently Stephen
> >> Hawking ("According to the positivist philosophy of science, a
> >> physical theory is a mathematical model. So if there are mathematical
> >> results that can not be proved, there are physical problems that can
> >> not be predicted…") have formulated this intuition. But I'm not aware
> >> of any proof (or very strong semi-rigorous argument) that causal
> >> openness in physical reality follows from Gödel's theorems (or the
> >> related results of Turing, Chaitin etc.). Can anyone give me
> >> links/ideas?
> >
> >
> > There are a number of recent results that suggest the uncertainty we
> observe in physics could be a direct manifestation/consequence of our
> existence within an infinite ensemble of all possible computational
> histories. I quote and cite some of these theories and theorists here:
> > https://alwaysasking.com/why-does-anything-exist/#Why_Quantum_Mechanics
> >
> I'll wait and see if your website comes back online!
> > If you have any questions about any of these ideas, I would be happy to
> follow up in more depth, but the links from there should provide a good
> starting point.
> >
> > Jason
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