Two Interesting Quotes

This statue of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz adorns the auditorium of the University of Göttingen.  (click for credit)

This statue of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz adorns the auditorium of the University of Göttingen. (click for credit)

I am in the midst of working on the final revisions for the third book in my new elementary science series, which is one of the many reasons I haven’t had any time to blog recently. Nevertheless, I had to take a break from the book to share two quotes of which I was recently made aware. When I finish a book, I send it to other scientists to review. This is called “peer review,” and it is an important part of the scientific process. It not only helps to find the errors that have crept into my work, it also gives me a chance to benefit from the insights of other scientists.

Well, my peer reviewers used some quotes as a part of their review, and I found two of them to be interesting enough to share with my readers here. The first comes from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He is one of the last natural philosophers I discuss in the third book of the series, and he is best known for pointing us to the conservation of mechanical energy. I discuss this in the book, but I also talk about his development of a binary system of logic, which led to the development of binary numbers. While we use binary numbers in computer systems today, one of Leibniz’s uses for binary numbers was to explain the Christian concept of creation out of nothing.

One of my peer reviewers pointed out something I didn’t know about Leibniz. He was fascinated with music and spent a great deal of time analyzing the mathematical nature of it. He said:1

Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.

As someone who plays the piano, sings, and just loves music, I find that quote to be very interesting.

The other quote is more directly related to the concepts that are found in the book. Since it was formed during the time period covered in the book, I discuss the Royal Society, which is the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. One of my peer reviewers gave me a quote about the Royal Society, which comes from Dr. Ian G. Barbour, a physicist and theologian:2

The charter of the Royal Society instructed its fellows to direct their studies “to the glory of God and the benefits of the human race.” Robert Boyle (1627-1691) said that science is a religious task, “the disclosure of the admirable workmanship which God displayed in the universe.” Newton believed the universe bespeaks an all-powerful Creator. Sprat, the historian of the Royal Society, considered science a valuable aid to religion.

Sadly, I suspect that the Royal Society no longer follows its original charter, nor the ideals of the scientific luminaries who founded it.


1. Daniel Timmons, Catherine Johnson, and Sonya McCook, Fundamentals of Algebraic Modeling: An Introduction to Mathematical Modeling with Algebra and Statistics, Brooks/Cole Cengate Learning 2010, p. 256
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2. Ian G. Barbour, Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues, Harper 1997, p. 19
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  1. Jenni H says:

    I love that quote about music and I’m very excited to hear that you are getting close(r) to finishing the 3rd book in your elementary series. We finished Science in the Beginning and are currently enjoying Science in the Ancient World as well. God’s blessings as you finish your work!

    1. jlwile says:

      Thank you, Jenni!

  2. Suzanne L says:

    Like Jenni, our family is on the second book in this series, and are hoping the third one will be available before July 2015… We met you in Cary, NC and have been sharing your wonderful approach to science in history with as many of our friends. It is so encouraging to know that scientists made mistakes, and that we can still learn more about God and his world and improve the lives of His children today.

    1. jlwile says:

      Thank you, Suzanne! Everything is on track for the third book to be available in late February 2015.

  3. GRJean says:

    As someone who also plays piano, sings, and loves music, I enjoyed this Leibniz quote. What,exactly, do you think he ws thinking of? There is so much that is mathematical in music besides just the beat or the rhythm—I’m thinking here of wavelengths and the different harmonics.

    And didn’t he also have something to do with calculus?

    1. jlwile says:

      Yes, GRean, Leibniz discovered calculus independent of Newton. However, Newton’s version was a bit more physically applicable, so Newton is generally given most (if not all) of the credit for calculus.

      I think that Leibniz meant more by “counting” than just following the beat. Based on what my reviewer said, Leibniz was fascinated by music specifically because of all its mathematical elements.