This is my second post on Gödel. Why am I quoting Gödel? Militant atheists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett–not to mention bottom-feeders like John Loftus–act as if theological beliefs are beneath intellectual contempt. They don’t even merit serious consideration. The only appropriate response is ridicule. By affecting a tone of rational superiority, they attempt to bully the Christian or religious inquirer into silence. Yet Dennett, Dawkins et al. are intellectual midgets compared to Gödel.
Here Gödel is answering some questions from his mother. She didn’t operate at the same level he did, so he tries to keep things simple.
In general, I think his speculations are reasonable and fairly orthodox, although they need to be refined by revelation. We should look first and last to the word of God for guidance.
In your last letter you pose the weighty question whether I believe we shall see each other again [in the hereafter]. About that I can only say the following: if the world is rationally organized and has a sense, then that must be so. For what sense would it make to bring for a being (man) who has such a wide range of possibilities of individual development and of relations to others and then allow him to achieve not one in a thousand of those? That would be much as if someone laid the foundation for a house with the greatest trouble and expense and then let everything go to ruin again. But do we have reason to assume that the world is rationally organized? I think so. For the world is not at all chaotic and capricious, but rather, as science shows, the greatest regularity and order prevails in all things; [and] order is but a form of rationality.
Now one can of course ask: Why didn’t God create man so that he does everything right immediately from the beginning?…But then if one of those characteristics is that we do not do everything right immediately, but many times only on the basis of experience, it follows that if God had created in our place beings that had nothing to learn, we just wouldn’t be those beings. That is, we wouldn’t exist at all.
One must in particular imagine that the “learning” will in large part take place only in the next world, namely in this way, that we will recall our experiences in this world and only then really understand them, so that our experiences here are, so to speak, only the raw material for the learning. For what, for example, could a cancer victim learn here from his pains? It is entirely conceivable, however, that in the second world it will be clear to him through what mistakes of his (not in hygienic matters, but perhaps in quite other respects) that sickness was caused, and that he thereby learns to understand not only that connection with his illness, but at the same time other similar connections.
The contemporary study of philosophy also doesn’t help much for understanding such questions, since 90% of contemporary philosophers see their principal task to be that of beating religion out of men’s heads.
Kurt Gödel: Collected Works: Volume IV: Selected Correspondence, A-G (Oxford 2006), 429-431, 433, 435.