Can we prove that god is alive? Well, in 1986, John Updike published a story (Roger’s Version) in which Dave, an evangelical graduate student, believes that he can do it. He wants to prove god’s existence with computer science.

Here my personal relation to this book: Actually, I had never planned to read it. I had even never even heard about it. However, this day in autumn I went home from work (university) and had spent the whole day thinking about the chaotic nature of the world. My research is on chaotic flow, the so-called turbulence, which we can see outside of the window in the chaotic gusts of the wind, for example.

Only a few hundred of meters from home, there lay this book on the ground, besides the path that I walked. It lay on the back and was tattered. The first word on the open page was “turbulent.” I was stuck. It was something on “turbulence of which the chaotic nature cannot be computed”.

Well, on the next day, I went to the library to get the book. I have to admit: Updike had quite a profound idea as backbone of his drama. No, I am not referring to the sexual desires, he is writing about (as always). (In this case the protagonist is Roger Lambert, a theology professor in his fifties, who becomes involved with his niece Verna.) No, instead I am talking about the student, Dale, who wants to analyze as much empirical data as he can get until he finds the hand of god. Finally, in the very moment, when the hand of god appears in the data – the computer crashes down. The student almost gets crazy and finally stops his attempts to prove the existence of god.

By the way, the theology professor also becomes obsessed with the thought that Dale is having an affair with the professor’s wife, Esther.

Actually, I think that Updike was on the track of the fiddler’s paradise and philosophy of science. From my perspective he treats the question: How can we know what we know by data-analysis? Maybe you have an answer…

Enjoy reading!

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