# „Mathematics lays the foundation of all the exact sciences. It teaches the art of combining numbers, of calculating and measuring distances, how to solve problems, to weigh mountains, to fathom the depths of the ocean; but gives no directions how to ascertain the existence of a God.“

1881, A Defence of Atheism: A lecture delivered in Mercantile Hall, Boston on 10 April, 1861, p. 4

A Defence of Atheism

## Related quotes

### „In mathematics the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems.“

— Georg Cantor mathematician, inventor of set theory 1845 - 1918

Doctoral thesis (1867); variant translation: In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.

Original: (la) In re mathematica ars proponendi quaestionem pluris facienda est quam solvendi.

### „There is no problem in all mathematics that cannot be solved by direct counting. But with the present implements of mathematics many operations can be performed in a few minutes which without mathematical methods would take a lifetime.“

— Ernst Mach Austrian physicist and university educator 1838 - 1916

Source: 19th century, Popular Scientific Lectures [McCormack] (Chicago, 1898), p. 197; On mathematics and counting.

### „Wenzel and Richter, the latter… of most pronounced mathematical temperament, laid the foundations of stoichiometry, or "the art of measuring the chemical elements."“

— J. R. Partington British chemist 1886 - 1965

Introduction

Higher Mathematics for Chemical Students (1911)

### „The problem they had to solve was the same as any messianic movement: how to exist with an alien culture yet remain spiritually autonomous.“

— Peter Farb American academic and writer 1929 - 1980

Man's Rise to Civilization (1968)

Context: The Ghost Dance made its unfulfillable promises at a time when the Indians were ready to rebel. The teachings of the Native American Church spread at a time when the Indians were ready to admit defeat.... The problem they had to solve was the same as any messianic movement: how to exist with an alien culture yet remain spiritually autonomous. The solution had been to borrow freely from White culture while salvaging what is considered important in Indian religious thought.<!-- p. 269

### „You calculated how to be uncalculating, and are natural by art!“

— Thomas Hardy, book The Hand of Ethelberta

The Hand of Ethelberta (1876), ch. 20

### „The science, which teaches arts and handicrafts

Is merely science for the gaining of a living;

But the science which teaches deliverance from worldly existence,

Is not that the true science?“

— Nagarjuna Indian philosopher 150 - 250

Prajñadanda (The Staff of Wisdom) attributed to Nagarjuna

### „Maybe, it's not the distance that's the problem, but how you handle it.“

— David Levithan American author and editor 1972

Source: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

### „From the computer application point of view the primary problem [of Computer-Aided Design] is not how to solve problems, but how to state them.“

— Douglas T. Ross American computer scientist 1929 - 2007

Source: Computer-Aided Design: A Statement of Objectives (1960), p. iii; Abstract.

### „Let reason count the stars, weigh the mountains, fathom the depths — the employment becomes her, and the success is glorious. But when the question is, "How shall man be just with God?" reason must be silent, revelation must speak; and he who will not hear it assimilates himself to the first deist, Cain; he may not kill a brother, he certainly destroys himself.“

— Henry Melvill British academic 1798 - 1871

Source: Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), P. 488.

### „Buddha's teachings are scientific methods to solve the problems of all living beings permanently.“

— Kelsang Gyatso Tibetan writer and lama 1931

Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom (2011)

### „Cybernetics is the science or the art of manipulating defensible metaphors; showing how they may be constructed and what can be inferred as a result of their existence.“

— Gordon Pask British psychologist 1928 - 1996

Pask (1966) The Cybernetics of Human Performance and Learning. Cited in: George J. Klír (2001) Facets of Systems Science. p. 429.

### „How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!“

— John Muir Scottish-born American naturalist and author 1838 - 1914

Source: 1890s, The Mountains of California (1894), chapter 4: A Near View of the High Sierra

### „You will perceive that economy, scientifically speaking, is a very contracted science; it is in fact a sort of vague mathematics which calculates the causes and effects of man's industry, and shows how it may be best applied.“

— William Stanley Jevons English economist and logician 1835 - 1882

Letter to Henrietta Jevons (28 February 1858), published in Letters and Journal of W. Stanley Jevons (1886), edited by Harriet A. Jevons, his wife, p. 101.

Context: You will perceive that economy, scientifically speaking, is a very contracted science; it is in fact a sort of vague mathematics which calculates the causes and effects of man's industry, and shows how it may be best applied. There are a multitude of allied branches of knowledge connected with mans condition; the relation of these to political economy is analogous to the connexion of mechanics, astronomy, optics, sound, heat, and every other branch more or less of physical science, with pure mathematics.

### „Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world's problems?“

— Bill Watterson American comic artist 1958

Source: Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995: An Exhibition Catalogue

### „This is…how artists should be—we should be creators and also teach the public how to be creators, how to make art, so that we may all use that art together.“

— Augusto Boal Brazilian writer 1931 - 2009

Games for Actors and non-Actors (1992)

Context: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a dance piece where the dancers danced in the first act and in the second showed the audience how to dance? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a musical where in the first act the actors sang and in the second we all sang together?... This is... how artists should be—we should be creators and also teach the public how to be creators, how to make art, so that we may all use that art together.

### „If people don't think they have the power to solve their problems, they won't even think about how to solve them.“

— Saul D. Alinsky American community organizer and writer 1909 - 1972

Source: Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

### „What I cannot create, I do not understand.Know how to solve every problem that has been solved.“

— Richard Feynman American theoretical physicist 1918 - 1988

on his blackboard at the time of death in February 1988; from a photo in the Caltech archives http://archives.caltech.edu/pictures/1.10-29.jpg

### „Of course, when the effective causes are too obscure, but the final causes are more readily ascertained, the problem is commonly solved by the indirect method“

— Leonhard Euler Swiss mathematician 1707 - 1783

introduction to De Curvis Elasticis, Additamentum I to his Methodus Inveniendi Lineas Curvas Maximi Minimive Proprietate Gaudentes 1744; translated on pg10-11, "Leonhard Euler's Elastic Curves" https://www.dropbox.com/s/o09w82abgtftpfr/1933-oldfather.pdf, Oldfather et al 1933

Context: All the greatest mathematicians have long since recognized that the method presented in this book is not only extremely useful in analysis, but that it also contributes greatly to the solution of physical problems. For since the fabric of the universe is most perfect, and is the work of a most wise Creator, nothing whatsoever takes place in the universe in which some relation of maximum and minimum does not appear. Wherefore there is absolutely no doubt that every effect in the universe can be explained as satisfactorily from final causes, by the aid of the method of maxima and minima, as it can from the effective causes themselves. Now there exist on every hand such notable instances of this fact, that, in order to prove its truth, we have no need at all of a number of examples; nay rather one's task should be this, namely, in any field of Natural Science whatsoever to study that quantity which takes on a maximum or a minimum value, an occupation that seems to belong to philosophy rather than to mathematics. Since, therefore, two methods of studying effects in Nature lie open to us, one by means of effective causes, which is commonly called the direct method, the other by means of final causes, the mathematician uses each with equal success. Of course, when the effective causes are too obscure, but the final causes are more readily ascertained, the problem is commonly solved by the indirect method; on the contrary, however, the direct method is employed whenever it is possible to determine the effect from the effective causes. But one ought to make a special effort to see that both ways of approach to the solution of the problem be laid open; for thus not only is one solution greatly strengthened by the other, but, more than that, from the agreement between the two solutions we secure the very highest satisfaction.