Fun with Calvin and Hobbes

I am in between photo projects. I am actually in the beginning, exploratory stages of a new one. At times like these I tend to just have some existential fun. People who are acquainted with me know I am a fan of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. I love this particular one (below) becasue it reminds me of my son’s tantrums when doing his homework.

The great thing about Calvin and Hobbes is that they allude to a myriad of sophisticated ideas and philosophies. For example the comic above alludes to some extent to Kurt Godel’s  Incompleteness Theorem which states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an “effective procedure” (e.g., a computer program, but it could be any sort of algorithm) is capable of proving all truths about the relations of the natural numbers (arithmetic). For any such system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The second incompleteness theorem, an extension of the first, shows that such a system cannot demonstrate its own consistency (okay I got that last sentence from Wikipedia – complete with hyperlinks).

So, “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 Barrow


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