Craig S invites pseudonymous contributions to a thread discussing the question, “Does God exist?”

I don’t think Blogger allows the posting of images in comments, so I’ll just have to make this contribution here. Looking through this splendid-looking book at lunchtime reminded me that the existence of God can in fact be proved mathematically, as follows:

therefore God exists.

QED.

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I’ve always thought that was the most convincing proof of God’s existance. In fact, the whole of the further maths A Level course should be put in the theological section of our college’s library.

Indeed, that formula is amazing. I literally gasped the first time I saw it.

Fittingly, there’s an apocryphal (and almost certainly false) story of Euler “proving” God’s existence using a nonsensical formula at the court of Catherine the Great. Thus, it seems only appropriate that this most beautiful identity, demonstrating that “through all [God’s] mighty works, surprising wisdom shines”, should bear Euler’s name (despite it, in all likelihood, being inaccurately attributed). Well, it does to me, anyway. 🙂

From the linked Wikipedia article:

Gauss is reported to have commented that if this formula was not immediately apparent to a student on being told it, the student would never be a first-class mathematician.Good thing I’m an accountant: The formula is completely meaningless to me. Assets = Liabilities + Stockholders’ Equity, however, is a thing of real beauty.

Ignorant question: What is e and what is i here? I assume they are some kind of finely tuned natural constant.

Hi Chris,

If you click the “QED” link this’ll take you to the Wikipedia entry for the Euler identity, which explains more about what’s going on.

“e” and “i” are mathematical constants rather than natural constants.

“e” is Euler’s number, the base for the natural logarithms, approximately equal to 2.718281828459045235360287471352 (give or take!).

“i” is the square root of minus 1.

The beauty of Euler’s identity is the way it brings together fundamental mathematical constants from what initially seem like wildly disparate areas of mathematics and periods of history.

1 is the basic number that all people everywhere know.

0 is a surprisingly late invention that people managed without for ages but which now seems completely obvious to us. Historically it stems (I think) from Hindu mathematicians, making its way to us via Islamic mathematicians of the middle ages.

pi is one of the great achievements of Greek mathematics, in particular geometry.

i stems from the Renaissance and caught on pretty slowly. It seems like a bit of a cheat – “Hey! Let’s just call the square root of minus one ‘i’, folks!” – and took a while to catch on, but has led to vast amounts of important (and physically relevant) mathematics.

And then “e” comes from logarithms, as developed in the 17th century. So this can be seen as the Enlightenment’s contribution to the formula.

So there we have constants stemming from basic arithmetic, geometry and logarithms, and also relevant to the concept of “limits”, with origins in mathematical traditions spanning two continents and three millennia, all coming together in a single, surprising, beautifully simple formula.

Actually, the Wikipedia entry says all that much more succinctly…

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Amazing, first thing in the morning today I followed the link from BHT to here, then I followed the QED link to the wiki to fully understand the significance of the equation…then I’m out for lunch today, I turn around and the guy behind me has it tattooed on his left forearm. I open the dialogue with him by saying “hey, I know that equation, it proves God exists.” He laughs and say’s “maybe”, and then he tells me I’m only the second person he’s ever met who knew what it meant.

Just seemed like one of those really cool “coincidences” that happen when you look for God.

e and Pi have a natural relationship. It proves that mathematics work, and nothing else folks. Save the room on your arm for a tatoo of your home address. Next time you are smoking whatever you are on, you might find that rather useful. I am saddened that you find a need to be so ruled and controlled. If I had the time, I would lead you down another path, but alas I’m afraid your destiny will lie in the hands of another more miniacle user. Good luck to you all.

Michael: thanks for your comment, but I think I ought to point out that this post was a

joke…A more useful way of writing this is as e-to-the-i-pi = -1.

This is because the function e-to-the-i-X describes a circle as X varies. So when X = 0, the value is 1, for example. When X = pi, you have travelled half way round and the value is -1. And by the time you’ve got to X = 2pi, you’ve rotated round to 1 again.

The slightly mindblowing part of this for non-mathematicians is the piece of paper you’re drawing the circle on. One axis of this is the number line you learnt at school. The other axis is composed of imaginary numbers, ie multiples of i where i is the square root of -1, ie the number which when multiplied by itself gives -1.

Anyway, once you’ve taken all that into account, what does the equation e-to-the-i-pi + 1 = 0 express? It tells us that once you’ve rotated half way round a circle (the pi bit), you are exactly opposite where you started (the -1 bit).

I hope this hopes with your proof of the existence of God.