Home > Math Lint Archive Detail

<< Prev 11/30/2008 Next >>

And More Feedback

I received several e-mail responses to G.H.'s plea regarding this website's review of books that use mathematics to debunk religion. Two responses are printed below.

J.S. (Whatcom County, WA) writes briefly: I shall not attempt to explain the irony I found in the first paragraph.

His discussion of Newton can be countered by many examples of mathematicians and/or scientists who were far more "faith challenged" than Isaac Newton. Bertrand Russell was a well known atheist.

However, name dropping on either side of this issue is pointless. What matters is that information of all sorts should be available for discussion. I thank you for all of it.

M.N. (Bellingham WA)offers a longer response: MathNexus has been a great source of all things mathematical. "Religion and mathematics" and yes even "NON-religion and mathematics!" are fascinating and insightful topics that help us think about our place in the universe and the relationship between mathematics, our mind, and our world.

G.H. asks "Have we forgotten our past?" I do hope we have not forgotten past struggles to fight censorship of opposing ideas. I would be appalled if someone were to ban discussion of how Pascal's moving religious conversions profoundly influenced his mathematical work, how Newton's deeply conflicted religious feelings influenced his life and works, how Gallelio paid for his challenge to sacred beliefs, or any other of the many religious and irreligious ideas that have helped shape mathematical thinking.

I would also be appalled if someone were to throw books into the trash or edit websites or practice any other form of censorship because they did not agree with the material. History is filled with dark stories and dire consequences for such actions (the burning of the library at Alexandria, Hilter's book burnings, the burning of the Iraq national library, and countless other atrocities). Yes, G.H., let us not forget our past, please!

To be powerful thinkers, we should try to understand many viewpoints, and we should welcome opportunities to be both informed and challenged. For this I am thankful that MathNexus continues to inform and challenge me on a weekly basis. Keep up the good work!

Ah...sweet dialogue!