Mathematics and the Religulous Impulse

Via Jerry Coyne’s WEIT, starting with the title (« Giberson: Math works, ergo Jesus« ), I knew it would be fun. So I jumped directly to Giberson’s article before reading Coyne’s take. I’m starting to enjoy Giberson, he is as much funny as Jean Staune1 [fr]

It may be weird to read a parable from a physicist based on the ability to somehow filter sounds as long as [you] know exactly how those [sounds] are produced. I certainly don’t own a Ph.D. in physics but I could teach Dr Giberson how to filter sounds without the slightest knowledge abut how they are produced. (hopefully Massimo Pigliucci will never know about it, else he may come and spank me for interfering with a domain non covered by my academic credentials).

But that’s just the parable within the parable. The smock screen intended to hide the main paradox Giberson is serving us: Many of us don’t like math, have no idea what it means to say that « equations rule the world, » and are thus not awed by math.
I do have a very clear idea about what it means to say that « equations rule the world ». That means that you are still in parable mode. Equations describe the world.

But there is a moral to Giberson’s entangled parables:

And the quest does not lead all of us who are awed by such mysteries into religion. But those that understand the eternal mystery best impulsively lean over the railing into the abyss because they know in their bones that there is something out there. Whether they encounter something depends on factors that elude many of their less imaginative peers. This is a deeply religious impulse: one that goes beyond science, but not one without motivation.

Brains are for science, bones for religion.
And… Dr Giberson must have seen The Abyss recently.

1: a local (FR) JTF mignon.

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