Monday, October 17, 2011

Leonhard Euler

Euler was the son of a pastor of a Reformed Church in Basel.  His mother was a pastor's daughter. Their family was friends with Johann Bernoulli, who was Europe's greatest mathematician.  Euler begain college at the age of 13.  He started studying theology, Greek and Hebrew as required for becoming a Reformed Pastor, then Bernoulli convinced him to pursue mathematics.  He wrote a disseration on the propagation of sound in 1726.  He got second place to a famous naval architect for the best way to place the masts on a ship in a Paris Academy Prize Problem competition.  Later won the prize 12 times.

Euler was a devote Christian who believed the Bible to be inspired.  I would like to find his book Rettung in english to see how he defended the divine inspiration of Scripture.

There is a famous anecdote inspired by Euler's arguments with secular philosophers over religion, which is set during Euler's second stint at the St. Petersburg academy. This may have been embleshed by the translators according some.  Here is the story:

"The French philosopher Denis Didero was visiting Russia on Catherine the Great's invitation. However, the Empress was alarmed that the philosopher's arguments for atheism were influencing members of her court, and so Euler was asked to confront the Frenchman.

Diderot was later informed that a learned mathematician had produced a proof of the existence of God He  agreed to view the proof as it was presented in court.

Euler appeared, advanced toward Diderot, and in a tone of perfect conviction announced,

"Sir, \frac{a+b^n}{n}=x, hence God exists—reply!".

Diderot, to whom (says the story) all mathematics was gibberish, stood dumbstruck as peals of laughter erupted from the court. Embarrassed, he asked to leave Russia, a request that was graciously granted by the Empress."

Taking this thought to the modern day, we could use the same idea and state with full Biblical conviction that:

Sir, \frac{a+b^n}{n}=x, hence God exists, because God created mathematics, gave man the ability to understand and use mathematics, and because everything gives God glory.

From Colossions 1:16-17:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Mathematics is both a visible and an invisible thing!
Ref. 1, 2

1 comment:

Heather Bailey said...

That is really cool and true because God did create everything so he must have created math that means that math brings him glory. I think Euller was a very smart and godly man.