I got an email from Fr. John Rickert today, and with his permission I’ll share part of it here.
A sin of commission occurs when we do something we should not do. A system is consistent (or maybe I should say “sound”) if the results of proofs really are true. Gödel’s 2nd Incompleteness Theorem says that it is undecidable whether Peano Arithmetic commits any “sins of commission.”
A sin of omission occurs when we fail to do something that we should do. A system is complete if every true statement actually has a proof (in finitely many steps). Gödel’s 1st Incompleteness Theorem says that Peano Arithmetic does commit some “sins of omission”: There are truths that cannot be proved.
Finally, a conscience is perplexed if it does not know whether to do or refrain from a proposed action; the conscience is de facto in a state of invincible ignorance. Undecidability is invincible ignorance.
Of course a formal system isn’t under any moral obligations, and certainly not under obligation to do what it cannot do. These are just analogies. But they are interesting analogies. Sins of commission and omission, things done and things left undone, are more verbally parallel than completeness and soundness.
Here’s another post based on an email exchange with Fr. Rickert exactly one year ago: Unexpected square wave.