Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

Archive for the category “History”

The Elements of Geometry

Some time ago, I wrote about Alexandria, the most important city in history, briefly discussing the lives of just 17 of the men and women that made it so. Prime to that list, both in sequence and in importance, was Euclid of Alexandria, a personal hero of mine who I consider to be one of the most inspirational and influential people in all of human history. We know next to nothing about Euclid’s life– we do not know where or when he was born, where or when he died, and extremely little about the time between those events. We know that he lived in Alexandria at roughly the same time as Ptolemy I, circa 300 BCE, and we know that he wrote prolifically about mathematics. Yet, even with so very little information as this, I would strongly argue that Euclid contributed far more to the world than did much more well-known figures like the great historian, Herodotus; or the conquering emperor, Julius Caesar; or even the revolutionary preacher, Jesus of Nazareth. What could Euclid have possibly done that outshines these other, great men? Euclid of Alexandria wrote the Elements.

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Alexandria: The Most Important City in History

In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great’s incredible military campaign advanced on Egypt. As his armies moved in, the people there regarded Alexander as a savior, hailing him as the Son of the Most High God, and declaring him Master of the Universe. The young conqueror quickly fell in love with the country, and in the following year, he founded a new capital city: Alexandria-by-Egypt. From its very inception, Alexandria was created to be one of the most important cities in the world. Its ports became a prominent trade destination, in the Mediterranean, and its culture flourished and prospered from a mix of disparate peoples, religions, and philosophies, even at its onset. The Lighthouse of Alexandria was an incredible and beautiful building, standing over 400 feet tall, regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But, without a doubt, the most incredible and amazingly important feature of Alexandria was the Museum.

The Museum of Alexandria became, almost immediately, the center of knowledge in the ancient world. It was not a museum, in the modern sense, but rather more like a modern research university. Students went there to learn all they could about the sciences of the day, while the teachers and academics received state salaries to simply do research and increase the knowledge of Mankind. The Museum boasted an incredible library, one which would quickly become the largest collection of books in the Ancient World. A tradition was developed, in the city, whereby foreign visitors would allow any books which they brought with them to be copied, so that the Library’s stocks would continue to increase. Vast amounts of knowledge were developed and stored in Alexandria.

The Museum was destined to make Alexandria-by-Egypt the most important city in the history of the world. An inordinately large amount of our modern knowledge of mathematics and science is owed directly to men educated or employed by this institution. What follows are brief descriptions of just 16 such scholars.

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On the Resurrection

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about Why I Am Not a Christian.  My entry is one in a long line of similar declarations with that same title made by many people, from complete amateurs to inordinately famous philosophers. However, whereas most of these other declarations list whole litanies of reasoning behind their dismissal of the Christian faith, I mentioned only a single point of concern. I am not a Christian because I do not believe that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.

In my article, I gave a quick overview of some of the reasons that I do not believe this claim. I pointed out that, contrary to stories often passed among Christian circles, there are almost no references to Jesus by non-Christians within 100 years of his death. I discussed reasons for doubting the claim that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the event. I talked about discrepancies between the Gospel accounts, with one another as well as with contemporary historical records. Of course, even some people who know about and understand these things still believe in the Resurrection. Some, particularly Christian apologists, even assert that Jesus’ Resurrection is the most reasonable account, given all the facts.

Given the recent Easter holiday, this tends to be the time of year where those Christian apologists lay out their arguments for the Resurrection in full force. In particular, I read an article which fairly typifies many of the usual claims made by apologists on the subject. It was written by a friend of mine named Ray Ciervo, who holds a Masters degree in Apologetics from the Southern Evangelical Seminary, and who operates a ministry called No Pat Answers. The purpose of the ministry, as declared on its website, is to help prepare Christians to defend their faith without resorting to “pat answers,” which he defines as, “trite, glib, shot[s] from the hip, that [are] not very well thought out.” The article in question was posted to the No Pat Answers blog a few days ago, with the title How Can We Be Sure of the Resurrection? Unfortunately, I do not find many of the claims made by the article to be overly defensible, nor the arguments to be very convincing.

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