Cnr of Park Rd and MacMahon St, Hurstville Sundays at 9:30 am and 6:30 pm
Some people are good at geometry, and others are good at theology, but seventeenth-century Englishman John Wallis was good at both. Professor of Geometry at Oxford, and Secretary at the famous Westminster Assembly in London, he wrestled by day with the ultimate questions of life, and by night, with the square root of 53 digit numbers…. in his head! Idolized by the undergraduate Isaac Newton, and deeply respected by the French mathematical genius Pierre Fermat, Wallis gave the world the symbol for infinity, and helped to shape that famous answer to the most ultimate question, What is God?
“God is a Spirit, – infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, – in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” The statement is not a quote from the Bible, but drawn from Biblical texts, and formulated in a way that is clear, concise, and wonderfully uncontainable. Thousands of students have been taught Wallis’s definition of the divine in their Sunday lessons, only to find more of Wallis in their Monday lessons in Algebra and Calculus.
Pythagoras however was a different mathematician who lived by a different set-square. To him, ‘all was number’, and numbers that did not fit into his neat world, such as the square root of 2, were drowned, as one poor student discovered when he showed the master his homework. John Wallis however was not scared of wild numbers, for he lived his life in the hands of the God who is the very definition of infinity.
DM 21st May 2014