31 July 2016

Maths and proof: A Beautiful Mind


I watched the movie with Russell Crowe named "A Beautiful Mind" (2001). It's a sad and true tale of a brilliant mathematician who taught in the US and chronicles his struggles with mental illness. He was a master decoder of code after WW2.

IMDB records the movie synopsis of the movie I saw tonight. "At Princeton University, John Nash struggles to make a worthwhile contribution to serve as his legacy to the world of mathematics. He finally makes a revolutionary breakthrough that will eventually earn him the Nobel Prize. After graduate school he turns to teaching, becoming romantically involved with his student Alicia. Meanwhile the government asks his help with breaking Soviet codes, which soon gets him involved in a terrifying conspiracy plot. Nash grows more and more paranoid until a discovery that turns his entire world upside down. Now it is only with Alicia's help that he will be able to recover his mental strength and regain his status as the great mathematician we know him as today."

One of my favourite scenes is when Alicia and Nash are considering marriage. Nash asks his steady girlfriend if she loves him.
He says, "I need some kind of proof; some kind of verifiable empirical data."
Her answer: "How big is the universe?"
He replies that it is infinite.
She asks, "How do you know?"
He: "All the data indicates it."
She: "But it hasn't been proven yet?"
He: "No."
She: "How do you know for sure?"
He: "I don't; I just believe it."
She: "It's the same with love, I guess."

I like that. Maybe you do also. You cannot prove love. You cannot prove God. You cannot disprove God either. Near the end of the movie, Nash is in Stockholm in 1994 receiving the Nobel Prize. In his speech he says, "I have always believed in numbers. The equations and logic that leads to reason. But after a lifetime of such pursuits, I ask, 'What truly is logic? Who decides reason?'" After a brief excursus and a zoom lens on his Alicia, he says, "I have made the most important discovery of my career. The most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logical reasons can be found."

Love. Faith, Mystery. How awesome is Hollywood now? Empiricism only can reach so far. Logic and reason are all based on something and all give way to something greater. I believe that's what I have found in my relationship with God through His Messiah, Yeshua. The mystery of life is not in raw empiricism but rather in the heavenly, the Divine, the Majesty of God. And that's why I blog. And hope that you read these blogs. And hope that you embrace the messages I write. For it's not in mathematical proofs of theorems and postulates that we find meaning. It's in the God who is above all that and who uses maths to help us see order and delight and sense, but who begs us to go higher, to lift our eyes above the whiteboard, and see the unsolved. He is the eternal solution. He is life. He is the uncaused cause.

Also stars Ed Harris, Christopher Plummer, Paul Bethany, Judd Hirsch, Adam Goldberg. Directed by Ron Howard. Charlotte Church even sings the theme song.

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