Mathematicians and Their Gods: Interactions Between Mathematics and Religious Beliefs

ISBN : 9780198703051

Snezana Lawrence; Mark McCartney
304 ページ
161 x 237 mm

To open a newspaper or turn on the television it would appear that science and religion are polar opposites - mutually exclusive bedfellows competing for hearts and minds. There is little indication of the rich interaction between religion and science throughout history, much of which continues today. From ancient to modern times, mathematicians have played a key role in this interaction. This is a book on the relationship between mathematics and religious beliefs. It aims to show that, throughout scientific history, mathematics has been used to make sense of the 'big' questions of life, and that religious beliefs sometimes drove mathematicians to mathematics to help them make sense of the world. Containing contributions from a wide array of scholars in the fields of philosophy, history of science and history of mathematics, this book shows that the intersection between mathematics and theism is rich in both culture and character. Chapters cover a fascinating range of topics including the Sect of the Pythagoreans, Newton's views on the apocalypse, Charles Dodgson's Anglican faith and Godel's proof of the existence of God.


1. Introduction
2. The Pythagoreans: Number and Numerology
3. Divine light
4. Kepler and his Trinitarian Cosmology
5. The Lull before the storm: combinatorics in the Renaissance
6. Mystical Arithmetic in the Renaissance: From Biblical Hermeneutics to a Philosophical Tool
7. Newton, God, and the mathematics of the Two Books
8. Maria Gaetana Agnesi, mathematician of God
9. Capital G for Geometry: Masonic lore and the history of geometry
10. Charles Dodgeson's Work for God
11. P. G. Tait, Balfour Stewart and The Unseen Universe
12. Faith and Flatland
13. Godel's "proof" for the existence of God


Snezana Lawrence is a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Education at Bath Spa University. She has been involved with a number of national and international initiatives to promote the use of the history of mathematics in mathematics education. Snezana is on the Advisory Board of the History and Pedagogy of Mathematics Group (an affiliate of the International Commission on Mathematics Instruction), and is Mathematics Programme Director of the Prince's Teaching Institute Schools' Programme. She in on the Editorial Boards of BSHM Bulletin (as Associate Editor from January 2013) and Mathematics Today. Her website mathsisgoodforyou.com has attracted more than 4 million visitors since its launch in 2005.; Mark McCartney is a Senior Lecturer in mathematics at the University of Ulster. His research and scholarly interests include nonlinear dynamics, mathematical modelling and the history of science. He is the editor (with Andrew Whitaker) of Physicists of Ireland (IOP, 2003) and (with Andrew Whitaker and Raymond Flood) of Kelvin - Life, Labours and Legacy (OUP, 2008) and James Clerk Maxwell - Perspectives on His Life and Work (OUP, 2014).