Mike posted a comment on a previous post, in which the topic of the irrationality of the statement “2 = 1” came up. (That is, the irrationality of 2 = 1 as a general principle, not as something that could sometimes be true with certain qualifiers, like 2 pints = 1 quart.)
This reminded me of one of my favorite math “proofs” demonstrating the crucial and fundamental importance of assumptions in understanding and comprehension (a theme of mine which regular readers of the blog may recognize). It is from a story familiar to many, though the “proof” has been attributed to various great mathematical thinkers, such as G. H. Hardy or Bertrand Russell — I’m not sure who really originated it, but my money’s on Hardy. I will abstractify (wow, that was a fun word to write!–much more fun than “generalize”…) the tale with generic names and simplify it a bit:
Mathematician: “If you begin with a false assumption, you can prove the ‘truth’ of just about anything you so desire.”
Challenger: “Oh, really? Well, assume that 2 = 1 and use it to prove that you’re the Pope.”
Mathematician: “Well, OK… I am one. The Pope is one. Therefore, the Pope and I are two. And, thus, the Pope and I are one.”
You really do have to watch out for those assumptions! Jeremiah 17:9 will always come back to bite you if you’re not careful. There are few things, if any, so false that any man would find it impossible to convince himself of their truth given the time and the motivation.
And, as prophecy indicates, there is a time coming when lies will be preferred over truth (2 Thess 2:8-12, cf. Rom. 1:24-25).
Frankly, I’d say that time has already gotten a foot in the door