Friday, February 22, 2008

A mathematical genius, a horse, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Friday, February 22, 2008

Leafing through the references of the book I’m reading, it dawned on me that the three books I’ve read so far for this month are all stories of greatness – the lives of a mathematical genius, a race horse champion, and a supreme being. One was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the other one even won the award, but the last wouldn’t even qualify.

  • A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar (1998)
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (2001)
  • The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson (2006)

It is fairly ludicrous and highly irreverent to compare the life story of a Laureate to an animal to a god. But then, why not? So what do the protagonists of these books have in common? All three are lionized, adulated and worshipped. They have all won world acclaim, albeit, through different means: 1) by solving mathematical problems and laying out the theoretical underpinnings of game theory, whose applications extends from economic behavior to evolutionary biology, to sociology and political science, and to military strategy; 2) by running really fast, breaking world records and lifting the spirit of a whole nation during the Depression; and 3) by creating you and me and the whole universe through Unintelligent Design.

Pointing out what’s common among them gives rise to what sets them apart. What makes John Nash and Seabiscuit different from the Flying Spaghetti Monster is that the two triumphed over adversity while His Noodly Appendage was the one responsible for it. The horse prevailed over terrible handicaps and became a legend and a cultural icon; he exemplified nobility of sheer endurance. Nash struggled with paranoid schizophrenia for half of his life; he slid from eccentricity to madness and emerged from it to win the Nobel Prize.

Did He triumph over anything? Was He ever faced with adversity? While the ailing horse, the mathematical genius-turned-schizophrenic and the rest of us are trying to rise above our misfortunes, He triumphs over everything and everybody.

We are down here wriggling in the muck and He is up there watching.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last Wednesday night 9:20pm central time, I was watching the beautiful lunar eclipse with HIM oblivious of corrupt Philippine government officials activities. I asked HIM why he's not doing anything about such a mess and his answer is, "FREE WILL working as designed". Penumbra, corrupt government officials, global warming, free will - unintelligent design indeed. :)

Angeli said...

Was He drunk when you talked to Him? :)

Anonymous said...

HE was drunk as a skunk. :)

Anonymous said...

HE might be a DRUNK but HE has moments of brilliance. When I prayed for good grades HE told me to study hard. when I prayed for a promotion HE told me to work harder.

When I prayed to win the LOTTO HE said buy me a drink instead. :)

Angeli said...

Did you do as He told you? :)

Anonymous said...

No! No! And yes! We got drunk together. :)

Angeli said...

why do you need to buy Him a beer? as if He doesn't have enough from His volcano up there... :)

Pale Pilsen or SanMig Light? :)

 
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