Peter Zöller-Greer: A Rational approach to Theism
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS - March 13, 2017) -- I've recently had the privilege of "meeting" Dr. Peter Zöller-Greer through email correspondence. As I was working on an idea concerning what I called Icon Numbers  -- a mathematical means to discuss God's sovereignty and man's freewill -- I asked myself if anyone was doing similar work. To help answer the question I turned to a couple of my former professors: Dr. Norman Geisler (Veritas Evangelical Seminary) and Dr. John Warwick Montgomery (formerly at Trinity Seminary, now at Concordia).
I didn't find anything directly related to the mathematical question in the larger works of Geisler, though his book Chosen But Free offers tantalizing arguments from a theological and logical angle. And in other books by Dr. Geisler he references William Dembski, a fine mathematician who is well aware of Zöller-Greer's work, but, again, nothing directly connecting theology to math.
I then turned to John Warwick Montgomery. And in a book honoring his legacy -- Tough-Minded Christianity, edited by William Dembski and Thomas Schirrmacher, I found Peter Zöller-Greer's chapter entitled Logic, Quantum Physics, Relativism, and Infinity. In his brilliant summary of rational theism, Zöller-Greer provided the mental spark that gave some credence to my concept of Icon Numbers. And more so, I was smitten with Zöller-Greer's thought process.
After reading the chapter, I looked for more work by Zöller-Greer. Sadly, much of it is in German. And though part of my family heritage is German, I don't speak or read the language. So I decided to reach out to the good Doctor via email. And to my surprise, the professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the State University of Applied Science in Frankfurt am Main, Germany replied.
His reply, in part, read, "Thank you so much for your email! I've read your article and it is very interesting! I guess we have similar thoughts on this... Theoretically one can use the DNA-Code and represent its ATGC-Codes numerically and construct a (large) number that could represent your 'IN.'"
He then proceeded to introduce me to some of his ideas.
"Your 'murmurings' as you call them correspond with what I called the 'Path' of a human being in my article you've read. I have used this in a more mathematically way in an older article I wrote about the problem of time . On Page 9 you see the definition of a unique 'Path' PF for every being in the universe. This PF is a compound of all space-time-coordinates and the structure of its matter from life to death. One of the theorems I did postulate (at the end of page 9 where it says 'the path of two individuals never intersect') is exactly what you wrote in your article concerning this issue."
To compare Professor Greer's work to my thought is like comparing the Mona Lisa to a stick figure. But I'm humbled that my ideas are not just gibberish.
In an article like this I have no intention of providing a summary of Zöller-Greer's work. He's more capable than me to do so through his papers, books, and videos. However, my objective is to further promote his work by bringing it to the attention of individuals interested in the intersection between mathematics, logic, and theology. More than anyone I'm aware, he is doing incredible research in the field.
In addition to his written work, I found YouTube videos with similar topics. In a two-part video, Zöller-Greer discusses the concepts of Quantum Physics and Causality . Luckily for the English-speaking world they are in English and well worth an examination.
And to add more festive to the fun, Professor Zöller-Greer just happens to be a former pop musician. In a later correspondence, Peter and I began to discuss music (we both had stints in the music industry in the 1980's). Peter wrote, "By the way: I saw you are also a musician. Me, too. I made a living in the 1980s as a pop-composer and released hundreds of songs, some of them became hits here in Europe."
Imagine that: a cutting edge mathematical-theologian is a pop composer. Gotta love it!
Peter then gave some insight into his transition into mathematics, writing about the time he left the musical world to pursue science, saying, "I followed a call to the Frankfurt University of Applied Science and so I paused writing music for almost 25 years. But recently I released a music-production, a music-video-DVD with new songs I wrote. Some of the video clips I did with my students at the Frankfurt University. The DVD consists of 10 songs, 3 of them have to do with God ('Paradise Lost,' 'The Game of Life,' and 'Take My Hand'). Almost all songs in full length can also be found here: www.zoeller-greer.de."
And in our most recent correspondence, Peter writes, "I did a new pop-production (though I never intended) with a very old schoolmate and friend from Mannheim. He is a good singer and guitar player. We did several music productions together in the 1980's. He is now very sick with severe cancer (liver, bladder etc.), but between his chemotherapies we made a song together. It is a remake of an old song by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich, called 'Tonight-Today;' this almost 45 year old song. You can find the song here: https://youtu.be/r_lVGRXPysU."
It's rare to find an astute scientist who happens to be a marvelous musician (true, there's Brian May, Einstein, and others), but Peter Zöller-Greer is just that, a harmonious equation of scientist and artist. And when you add to the equation the fact that he is a Christian, the intrigue of his life becomes much more fascinating.
In a day an age where faith and reason are at times at odds with one another, Peter Zöller-Greer is a refreshing voice in turbulent times. So do yourself a favor, investigate his work, allowing it to ruminate and refresh, finding a rational and artistic approach to belief in God.
2) For a summary, click here: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/what-would-the-universe-look-like-if-the-past-was-infinite/ and here: https://www.frankfurt-university.de/fachbereiche/fb2/kontakt/professor-innen/peter-zoeller-greer.html
Photo captions: 1) Peter in the studio. 2) Tough-Minded Christianity. 3) Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. 4) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, and minister. He's a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA), Veritas Evangelical Seminary (MA), and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon.
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