Monday, February 14th 2022, 7:30-9pm
If a ‘religion’ is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel taught us that mathematics is not only a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one.
~John D. Barrow, The Artful Universe (1995)
What do I know? What do you know? What does any of us really know?
Some, the French philosopher René Descartes most famously, have answered those questions: Not much. We really only know what we can prove. Others, however, like the Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid, have said that we know a great deal more than we can prove, albeit imperfectly and fallibly.
Where does math and science fall in this discussion? Is mathematics the gold standard of solid, unimpeachable knowledge? Are scientific findings more reliable than, say, our moral intuitions or our aesthetic judgements? And what about religion? Must religious belief be provable before it can be rational?
If you are a graduate student, post-doc, or faculty in Oxford, you are cordially invited to join us to grapple with these questions and more over a pint or two on Monday, February 14th at the Head of the River.
Here is the link to some of the readings we will be discussing.