Tuesday, 13 December 2005

parallel convergence

Today I found out that Spurgeon was a mathematical genius. Pyromaniac provided a helping of Spurgeon as usual, from which I will quote:

That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.

If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.

These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
I suppose that only my fellow mathematically minded Christians will thrill with me on reading his last paragraph, at the exact fitness of his analogy. You see, the favourite definition of parallel lines is this: two lines are parallel if and only if they meet at infinity.

The trouble with the mathematician is he then gets sidetracked in the analogy debating various ideas of real &/ imaginary infinities. Ok, so take off your mathematical hat before you do then. We'll have eternity for that ;-) "They do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring."


Jadon said...

Sidetracked? Quite true...

Perhaps a better analogy is to complex numbers. We see i and it confuses us without the constant (God). Yet it all works together because both are connected and doesn't escape God.

That's just off the top of my rather elementary math head, of course.

étrangère said...

I've never been confused by i any more than by negative numbers, (so? / but?) I don't quite get your analogy - sorry!

As for Spurgeon's analogy (well, with mathematical notes by me!), I suppose as with all analogies there are flaws in it esp if pushed too far, but for the time being I'm happy with parallel lines meeting at infinity. Whether real or not doesn't matter: I mean, "in eternity" is a strange concept for we temporarily time-bound creatures even if we do have eternity in our hearts; and "at infinity" seems similar to me: no wonder we debate real and potential infinities. Man facing the infinite can either take it seriously or try to ignore it by explaining and classifying it. Is it a case of 'He has put infinity into man's maths, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end'?

Eccl 3.10-11: "I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

petre said...

Your blog is so much more high brow than mine! ;+)

étrangère said...

Ha, I'm a fake: I love maths as a sort of protest against Warwick maths dept showing me up for the almost-failed mathematician that I am. Does that mean I'm a fake freak? Ach weel.

étrangère said...

PS more generally, I did once post about my fridge. But you know me: no clue in contempory music, culture, or anything - I still haven't watched more than one episode of Star Wars. You may have to write me off.