Recently I wrote about my impression of a predominance of religious worldviews and practices among the most celebrated mathematicians. I concluded by indicating that I wouldn't be surprised if religious worldviews were more conducive to great advances in maths and other disciplines, because of the way that faith and imagination are involved in discovery. Today I'd like to explore some slightly more specific ideas about how that might work. This is very tentative, largely because I'm clearly not one of those mathematical geniuses myself! But I wan
Thinking Faith blogs
As 2019 has come to a close, and a new decade is beginning, I have been thinking about a poem by Emily Dickinson - one of my favourites, for its enigmatic imagery and its expression of longing: 'I did not reach Thee'. Here is the first stanza (you can read the whole thing here):
I did not reach Thee
But my feet slip nearer every day
Three Rivers and a Hill to cross
One Desert and a Sea
I shall not count the journey one
When I am telling thee.
I've always felt sad at the passing of Christmas Day: at how quickly the world moves on to Boxing-Day sales, extinguished fairy lights, discarded fir trees and raucous New-Year revelries. Perhaps it's partly nostalgia, but I yearn for those past times when the twelve days of Christmas were celebrated in full. For me, Christmas is worth lingering on, because it's a sign of the world to come.
RealityBites is a ministry that is part of ThinkingFaithNetwork.
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My good friend Mark Yeadon and I reach out to students by telling stories and sharing the good news of Jesus. We are inspired by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). We follow Jesus by telling fascinating stories and asking provocative questions. We make ourselves vulnerable by serving hot drinks to students and homeless people outside the Library pub on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds.
One of my favourite pieces of Christmas music is ‘For unto us a Child is born’ from Georg Friderich Händel’s Messiah. I have loved it since I was a child, touched by its bouncing joy and the intricacy of its polyphonic choral writing, with lines appearing and disappearing like needles through the musical fabric, aligning with each other for a few ‘stitches in time’ before one vanishes to reappear a moment later in a different hue. As a music historian, I am enchanted by the majesty of Händel’s choral setting, but its glorious lyrics are what I love most.
[Portraits of (L-R) Euler, Gauss, Cantor, Ramanujan, Noether, Hilbert and Gödel from the public domain]
In teaching elementary probability and statistics to undergraduates, I've been reading about some of the great mathematicians who are commemorated in the names of functions and constants. This has led me to ponder the role of religious worldviews in mathematical genius, and it's on that topic that I'd like to share a few thoughts today. I hope that some readers here may have further knowledge and ideas to share.
One of the figures in the Bible who I'm most fond of is the prophet Daniel: mainly because, like me, he was a literature student.
Above is a photo of young people learning how to serve a very powerful and hypnotic god. Technology is a good gift from God but can easily become an idol! A bit of background to this.
The famous Russian revolutionary Trotsky (1879-1940) wrote that “Such is the power of science, that the average human-being will become an Aristotle, a Goethe, a Marx. And beyond this new peaks will rise.” Trotsky believed in the power of science and technology to create a perfect world. He was tragically misled.
Image: 'Jesus Washing Peter's Feet' by Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893). Image freely available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jesus_washing_Peter%27s_feet.jpg. Image slightly cropped.
‘Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”’ (Mark 9:35)