Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Dear Colleagues,


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Ask them, Have you ever seen a circle?  They respond that they haveYou mean youve seen a set of points of no dimension, equidistant from a given point, on a plane of infinitesimal thinness? Well, no, not when it is put that way, theyve never seen one of those. 

So youve never seen a circle?

Um, no, I guess not.

In fact, you could never see a circle, because circles are not material objects.

I guess not.

But you know things about circles.

How can I know things about circles, if Ive never see one?

  Good question. But you do: You know that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is a number called pi.

  Yes, 3.14.

Well, actually the number is the limit of any of infinite series.  But would you say that pi exists, and that people discovered what it was, or that pi didnt exist until someone invented it, and that, if there were not human beings, there would be no such thing as pi?  Be careful: pi shows up in equations dealing with electrical current, number theory, the probabilities of coin tosses, you name it.  Was pi discovered, or was it only invented?

At this point they are trapped. They will say what any mathematician without a philosophical ax to grind will say. They will say what Archimedes said when he discovered the law of displacement of fluid.  They say that pi was discovered.

Then pi exists?


But pi is not material.


Then at least one immaterial object exists, namely pi.


How can an immaterial object evolve?

The fool says in his heart, There is no God." (Psa. 14:1a)

In the beginning God (Gen. 1:1a) (See Job 38:4-11; Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-18) 

1 Adapted from Pi in the Sky, Anthony Esolen, Touchstone Magazine, July/August, 2004, page 28

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