‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God: all things were made through him and without him was made nothing that was made’. Not by him but through him. Interesting. If you are with somebody you can’t be somebody. The Gospel says you can. But then how can things be both a particle and a wave and in two places at the same time? Quantum physics says they can. Word is an English translation of the Greek Logos which is a philosophical term that came down from Heraclitus. It meant the rationality of the universe. In other words, if we follow Galileo, the Word was mathematical. We find the same mathematical implication in another complex term the Bible uses to describe the underlying principle through which all things were created, Wisdom. Through Wisdom also were all things made and without her was nothing made, and she also is mathematical. ‘I was with him when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he marked out the foundations of the earth’. At the beginning of things there was mathematics and if mathematics is not divine it cannot be separated from the divine.
Galileo, most misunderstood of scientists, tells us that too. People think that Galileo began modern science because he abandoned the nebulous theories of Plato and Aristotle and began to find out how things actually work by doing practical experiments. Nothing could be further from the truth. Galileo was a fervent Italian Renaissance neo-Platonist and all his inspiration came from Plato (I’m horrified by Dawkins’ casual dismissal of Plato in An Appetite for Wonder page 290). You can see this if you read the Dialogo and even more the Discorsi where again and again Galileo refers to Plato with reverence. Galileo’s experiments are never intended to show you what is happening but, on the contrary, to lead you to understand what is happening but cannot be shown. You can’t see the inverse square law that decrees that but for air resistance a feather would fall at the same speed as a cannon ball.
Simplicio: So you have not made a hundred tests, or even one? And you so freely declare it to be certain.
Salviati: Without experiment, I am sure the effect will happen as I tell you, because it must happen that way; and I might add that you yourself know it cannot happen otherwise, no matter how you pretend not to know it.
Late Medieval science had been dominated by Aristotle’s attitude of ‘go out and take a look and see what’s happening. You will see that things happen because one thing pushes another into action’. No, says Galileo. It isn’t like that. They happen because they are moved by something you can’t see. That something is mathematics. The universe is a book, he famously wrote, and it is written in the language of mathematics. This is the message of Galileo. Underneath the visible there is the invisible and underneath the material there is the immaterial. Which is pretty much what St John is saying too. The world was created through mathematics which is both with God and is God.