As a student in highschool in 1970 I wanted to study archeology because I found mankind’s past fascinating. I read thick books on the history of Russia and China as well, for which reading I am still very grateful since some such knowledge still is very helpful in understanding the world. However, at that time there were tv broadcasts about Biafra and the death of innocent people and children. Since politics is determined so much by economics – at least, this is what I learned from those books on Russia and China – I decided to study econometrics instead. Now I have developed my analysis in DRGTPE that can help prevent new Biafra’s. There is little that I can do about this anymore. It are my fellow economists who have to study my analysis, and it are the public and the political powers that have to decide whether they want to adapt the Trias Politica of their nation with an Economic Supreme Court. Fortunately I forecasted the crisis and forecast more crises to come, so there is some likelihood that circumstances will allow rationality and kindness to prevail. With unemployment and poverty essentially solved, I have more moral freedom to pursue other interests. Archeology popped up again.
Sometimes a person can surprise himself. This happened this year with me on the subject of both mathematics and religion. The ordeal started with the earlier weblog entry Crucifiction, deliberately spelled in that manner since the crucifixion might be fiction. At first I thought that the subject had taken too much time already, but then it hit me: the subject lends itself magnificently as a contribution to the education of mathematics. My new book The simple mathematics of Jesus proves the point (and corrects that earlier weblog entry Crucifiction).
(1) In the didactics of mathematics there are the levels of understanding discovered by Pierre van Hiele and Dina Geldof. Line and circle are abstract mathematical notions but pupils will first develop a less abstract understanding such as walking straight or riding a merry-go-round. In the same way the divine can be understood as an abstract notion that people first learn at lower levels of abstraction. Indeed, mathematics can be applied to all kinds of subjects, space, numbers, physics, and it can be enlightening to apply it to the story of Jesus.
(2) Our civilisation developed with religion and mathematics in tandem or in tango. Early religion was linked up with astrology. This predecessor of astronomy still required mathematical talent. The zodiac is the early calendar required for agriculture and the seasons of sowing and reaping. The sun, moon and five known planets were worshipped as gods and goddesses. The early mathematics of the Old Testament was dogmatic and part of mathematical autism transferred into religious intolerance. Levels of misunderstanding contributed to religious wars. Only with Thales and Euclid there arose the liberty of posing axioms and the notion that a proof is required, and that only your own mind can force you to accept a proof. In the New Testament (Matthew 22:36-40) Jesus indeed reduces the Ten Commandments of Moses to the mathematically sufficient two demands to hallow God and love thy neighbour as yourself. Unfortunately both religion and mathematics still suffer from the ancient culture of dogmatism and haven’t amply adjusted to the discovered freedom yet. Also, that the Bible relies upon astrology was considered a strong point up to the middle ages since that was the best that the ‘science’ of the period had to offer. Since then astronomy has taken over and religion hasn’t been able to follow suit.
(3) Mathematics doesn’t only apply to the development of the calendar and astronomy. There is also the mathematics of information theory, text analysis, the study of patterns in story telling and theatre. Writing and reading were a problem in the past – at least more than in our times – and the astrologers relied on stories to relay their findings. To be remembered and retold, a story had to be good. The astrologers may have been masters in encoding information into stories that capture the imagination. Jesus is born in the sign of Capricorn. The goat becomes the scapegoat that carries the sin of the world, and that is slaughtered later as the lamb of god to redeem us from that sin. The agricultural season in the Middle East differs from that of Northern Europe. Sowing of barley and wheat takes place in November and December, or in the astrological sign or house (= Beth) of bread (= Lehiem). We also see the ass and ox that pull the plough. The harvest begins at Easter, and Jesus then is the human sacrifice required for a good crop. Analysis of such themes suggest that Jesus was not a historical figure but came into being as a theological concept, similar to how Sherlock Holmes has become the quintessential detective. People have to decide for themselves naturally but it is enlightening to consider the evidence.
Composing The simple mathematics of Jesus has been an adventure. Since 1970 I have been keeping notes in the margin and such insights coalesced now. 5000 years of history are not easy to handle. So I put the evidence in “panels” of about a page each, and the reader can evaluate the steps. The whole allows the reader to link up mathematics with history, philosophy and religion. Standard histories tell that Pythagoras and Plato went to Egypt to study, but we see only few discussions that Plato’s Academy was actually a Pythagorean School, and that centuries later the Pythagoreans and Platonic philosophers in Alexandria in Egypt had a great influence on the development of Christianity. It is enlightening for an understanding of our civilization to join up these bits. If you get to read the book: brace yourself, and enjoy !
The book also relates to the current economic crisis. Does neighbourly love have a future ? For this, my economic analysis applies again. In economics everything hangs together, and I can refer to my other earlier weblog entry on the high treason of the high priests …