It may sound like the beginning of a joke — A logician, physicist, mathematician, theologian and a philosopher sit down to discuss a sentence….
According to a new book from Javier Leach entitled Mathematics and Religion: Our Languages of Sign and Symbol, the outcome of the discussion is the discovery of a variety of languages used in capturing reality whether it be from a mathematical, scientific or theological viewpoint. While a theologian says that the meaning of the sentence may not be found in formal analysis or empirical verification, the mathematician finds that they could find a myriad of meanings that would make a logician’s formula made up of letters and numbers true.
Leach has been director of the chair of science, technology and religion since its creation in 2003 at the Comillas University in Madrid, Spain. He approaches the topic of mathematics and religion as a Jesuit priest and a teacher of logic and mathematics at the School of computer Science at the Complutense University of Madrid, which is one of the main public universities in Spain.
The book provides a basic history of mathematics, a discussion of logic and then brings together a discussion of metaphysics, religion, science and math. While mathematics is often ignored in general religion and science discussions, the thought process behind the language and symbols of math can be illustrative of the tension of many forms of knowledge.
One of the key discussions of the book centers on the idea that there is not always agreement in mathematics and there is a plurality of systems. Mathematics show us that there are certainties, including a kind of logic that makes our languages possible. It also shows, according to Leach, that there is incompleteness and openness.
For Leach, personally, there is no separation of mathematics from theology, but there is no separation of theology from mathematics. He says that mathematics and the empirical sciences are independent of religious beliefs, but theological reflections cannot do without empirical science and mathematics.
“In general, science makes no claims over the symbolic kind of language used in metaphysics or religion,” concludes Leach. “The symbols of religion in turn, cannot be reduced to quantitative signs. This is a healthy distinction between science and religion.” THIS WORKS FOR ME!