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Is God a Mathematician? Paperback – January 19, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is better described as a terrific essay about how mathematicians feel about the relation of their work with reality. Judged on this basis, it's up there with the great essays of science. It's book-length because the middle chapters are masterfully-told history vignettes that set the background for the meat of the essay.
Many of the key points are made by direct quotation from great mathematicians and the book spends more time on why people chose problems and how they felt about solutions, than on the pure mathematics. The results of this inquiry are unexpected and fascinating. I think the "God" of the title is not the one who created the universe, as you might expect, but the one in whose image humans were made.
When treating a topic like a history in mathematics, an author could take on a theme and pick among hundreds of personages to flesh out the theme. One has the feeling that Dr. Livio did just that. Fortunately, his book gets credit for being both interesting and informative, thus worth reading. He does a fine job spelling out some technical topics for the world of us amateur, non-doctoral people. Much of the book sets up more like an anthology. The bad part: harder for the reader to keep the chapter threads connected. The good part: if you do not like a particular personage's story, you can skip to the next. Something gets lost, of course, but it may have been partially lost anyway.
For theists looking for a deity's ownership of mathematics, the author's answer is not really there. For those without religious belief, the answer would not matter anyway. So, forget the title words and enjoy the book for its stories. You might also be able to figure out the "Plato" part in more detail than did this reviewer.
Even though I always knew that all the fundamental theories of the universe are based on mathematics, it somehow never occurred to me to ask: What is it that makes mathematics so powerful?
Livio explains why the question is even more important than the answer.
What makes this book quite unique is the fact that it is not so much a history of mathematics, as it is a history of ideas on mathematics.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, most interesting and beautifully written. Hightly recommended.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
If there is any doubt in your mind that art and science are intimately related, in fact, derived from the same thought processes and philosophies, OR you think there is some huge... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Southern Man
I wanted to give only four stars, because the ambivalence of his conclusion at the end of the book left me somewhat wanting, given my Platonic leanings and my faith in a Supreme... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Kenneth Bennett
Surprising revelations about the apparent of math in God's creation.Published 23 days ago by Gerald McKibben
While some of the history of philosophers in this novel was fascinating, at no time did Livio ever appear to really arrive at any conclusions or come across anything groundbreaking... Read morePublished 26 days ago by John Thomas Morgan
As I expected He left the question open. He is trying to make very difficult mathematics easy to read and comes close. This does not read as a novel. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dr. William Popejoy
I thought this would be a book about God and math; instead I found it to be a history of math. Very disappointed.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer