Mathematics and the Divine

A Historical Study

Edited by

  • Teun Koetsier, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Luc Bergmans, University of Paris IV Sorbonne, Paris, France

Mathematics and the Divine seem to correspond to diametrically opposed tendencies of the human mind. Does the mathematician not seek what is precisely defined, and do the objects intended by the mystic and the theologian not lie beyond definition? Is mathematics not Man's search for a measure, and isn’t the Divine that which is immeasurable ?The present book shows that the domains of mathematics and the Divine, which may seem so radically separated, have throughout history and across cultures, proved to be intimately related. Religious activities such as the building of temples, the telling of ritual stories or the drawing of enigmatic figures all display distinct mathematical features. Major philosophical systems dealing with the Absolute and theological speculations focussing on our knowledge of the Ultimate have been based on or inspired by mathematics. A series of chapters by an international team of experts highlighting key figures, schools and trains of thought is presented here. Chinese number mysticism, the views of Pythagoras and Plato and their followers, Nicholas of Cusa's theological geometry, Spinozism and intuitionism as a philosophy of mathematics are treated side by side among many other themes in an attempt at creating a global view on the relation of mathematics and Man’s quest for the Absolute in the course of history.
View full description


Scholarly public working in history, philosophy, theology or mathematics and a more generally oriented, academic but less specialized public.


Book information

  • Published: December 2004
  • Imprint: ELSEVIER
  • ISBN: 978-0-444-50328-2


"...Mathematics and the Divine makes a valuable contribution to opening up the history of this topic. It should provide welcome encouragement and assistance to others who would like to explore this arena further for themselves." -in THE MATHEMATICAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA

Table of Contents

Introduction1. Ho Peng-Yoke, Chinese Number Mysticism2. Kim Plofker, Derivation and Revelation: the Legitimacy of Mathematical Models in Indian Cosmology3. Reviel Netz, The Pythagoreans4. Ian Mueller, Mathematics and the Divine in Plato5. Jean-François Mattei, Nicomachus of Gerasa and the Divine Arithmetical Ladder6. Dominic J. O'Meara, Geometry and the Divine in Proclus7. Marie-Pierre Terrien, Religious Architecture and Mathematics during Late Antiquity8. David A. King, The Sacred Geography of Islam9. Faith Wallis, 'Number Mystique' in early medieval computus texts10. Maurice-Ruben Hayoun, Is the Divine Universe Divisible11. Charles Lohr, Mathematics and the Divine: Ramon Lull12. Hugue Garcia, Christian Gnosis13. Edith Dudley Sylla, Swester Katrei and Gregory of Rimini: Angels, God and Mathematics in the Fourteenth Century14. Jean-Michel Counet, Mathematics and the Divine in Nicholas of Cusa15. Teun Koetsier and Karin Reich, Michael Stifel and his Numerology16. Ivo Schneider, Between Rosicrucians and Kabbala - the Mathematics of the Biblical Numbers of Johannes Faulhaber17. Eberhard Knobloch, Mathematics and the Divine: Athanasius Kircher18. Volker R. Remmert, Galileo, God and Mathematics19. André Charrak, The Mathematical Model of Creation According to Kepler20. Jean-Marie Nicolle, The Mathematical Analogy in the Proof of God's Existence by Descartes21. Donald Adamson, Pascal's Views on Mathematics and the Divine22. Ger Harmsen, Spinoza and the Geometrical Method of Proof23. Philip Beeley and Siegmund Probst, John Wallis (1616-1703): Mathematician and Divine24. Kees de Pater, Newton and the Ocean of Truth25. Herbert Breger, Leibniz: Mathematics and the Divine26. Wolfgang Breidert, Berkeley's Defence of the Infinite God in Contrast to the Infinite in Mathematics27. Ruediger Thiele, Leonhard Euler and the Divine28. Ruediger Thiele, Georg Cantor and the Divine29. Luc Bergmans, Gerrit Mannoury and his Fellow Significians on Mathematics and Mysticism30. Teun Koetsier, Arthur Schopenhauer and L. E. J. Brouwer: A Comparison31. Sergei S. Demidov and Charles E. Ford, On the Road to a Unified View: Priest Pavel Florensky - Theologian, Philosopher and Scientist32. François De Gandt, Husserl and Impossible Numbers: a Sceptical Experience33. Bruno Pinchard, Symbol and Space According to René Guénon34. Teun Koetsier, Eddington: Science and the Unseen World35. Albert van der Schoot, The Divined Proportion