Wednesday, March 29 | 4-4:50 p.m. | Bridges 268

Featuring Dr. Adam Goyt | Euclid’s Elements and their Impact on the Catholic Church 

The most famous math book in history, Euclid’s Elements, was a collection of many of the geometric ideas and results of the time. While most of the proofs and ideas in book were not original to Euclid, Euclid laid out a beautiful and powerful argument for the eternal and unchanging truths of mathematics. Fast forward a millennium, when the Jesuits, a powerful Catholic order, used the Elements as an analogy of their faith and used mathematics in their battle against the protestants for the soul of the christian church. Unfortunately, for the Jesuits, a dangerous theory called infinitesimals was taking hold in the community of mathematics, which threatened to destroy the order that the Jesuits and The Elements imposed.

In this talk, we’ll discuss the Elements and the mathematics that so inspired the Jesuits. We’ll discuss how the Jesuits used mathematics to save the Catholic church and establish order in a chaotic world of differing Christian viewpoints. Finally, we’ll see how the theory of infinitesimals upended the Jesuit beliefs, and how the Jesuits went to any length to stop it.