Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) once observed that
“Whoever is moved by faith to assent to [the Christian religion], is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.” [Hume]
Evidently Humes cynical pronouncement did not apply to Euler, Cauchy, Cantor, and other profound thinkers who believed God had commissioned and equipped them to glorify Him in their pursuit of truth through mathematics And based on their extraordinary achievements the principles of their understanding do not appear to have been subverted too badly!
Leading mathematicians of the past commonly affirmed that God created and sovereignly rules the uni-verse and that He providentially sustains and nurtures His creatures. Despite Hume’s assertion, history teaches us that faith often informs rational inquiry and vice versa. In many cases Christian commitment stimulated intellectual activity; sometimes mathematical understanding led to spiritual insight. In this paper, ten of history’s most influential mathematicians express the role faith in God and religious conviction played in their work in their own words.
[Hume, David, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1966 (First Published 1748), p. 145.]
McIntyre, Dale L., "Ten Mathematicians Who Recognized God’s Hand in their Work" (2015). ACMS Conference Proceedings 2015. 14.
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