August 16th, 2005

don giovanni

on what is secular and what is not

The word secular, according to wikipedia, derives from the latin word saeculum which is used to indicate the length of a lifetime. Secularity or worldliness is intended as an antonym of the divine nature, as conceived by St. Augustine of Hippo, which is eternal and outside of time.

Scientific truth is inherently secular, for what is scientifically true is also testible, and tests can only be conducted under the constraints of time, and are not necessarily inherently valid due to the possibility of error or unaccounted facts. Scientific truth is by nature incomplete and inside of time.

Mathematics would appear to be non-secular since mathematics, as a pure discipline, can express truths which can be reduced to tautological first principles. However, mathematics can also be considered to be incomplete, because the truth or validity of a given mathematical statement is not necessarily provable from within the system of mathematical expression. The concept of first principles also implies a starting point, which is a temporal quantity: "from this point forward..."

The question remains: is there a non-secular, non-divine truth? What linguistic tool is available?