i have been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, (also available to read on-line here), over and over, for the last 25 years. in another 10 years, i may finally be smart enough to understand and perhaps even sneer at it. for now, i am still in awe of this book and find new things every time i pass through it.
the book is a number of things, and i really can't explain all of them, if this post interests you at all, you will probably like the book.
anyway, here's the quotation from the book, referring to the discovery by Lobachevski and Bolyai that non-euclidian geometries existed and were just as logical and mathematically valid.
It wasn't that the proof was alarming. It was its rational byproduct that soon overshadowed it and almost everything else in the field of mathematics. Mathematics, the cornerstone of certainty, was suddenly uncertain.
We now had two contradictory visions of unshakeable scientific truth. true for all men of all ages, regardless of their individual preferences.
This was the basis of the profound crisis that shattered the scientific complacency of the Gilded Age. How do we know which one of these geometries is right?
And of course, once that door was opened one could hardly expect the number of contradictory systems of unshakeable scientific truth to be limited to two. A German named Riemann appeared with another unshakeable system of geometry which throws overboard not only Euclid's postulate [ that through a point, there is is only one line parallel to a given line ], but also the first axiom, which states that only one straight line can pass through two points. Again there is no internal contradiction, only an inconsistency with both Lobachevskian and Euclidian deometries.
According to the Theory of Relativity, Riemann geometry best describes the world we live in.
-- excerpt from Chapter 22
i think we are in a period where theology is going through a similar shift. alternative theologies are being explored which are based on different assumptions than classical theology, that possibly explain our complex world better.
as tempting as it is to hold on to a conceptually simpler "Euclidian" theology, maybe we need to be brave enough to have a theology in which space is curved and parallel lines, somwhere in the heavens, do finally meet.