Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jesus and John Nash

Sometimes I feel like John Nash (the scientist from the film “A Beautiful Mind”) when I am working on my research. No, I do not hallucinate or try to mathematically map out the patterns of pigeons. Like Dr. Nash did in the movie (and probably also in real life), I am looking for that one great original idea. It has to be something that is communicable and understandable by others. It needs to be different, but not so radical that it will be rejected off hand. In my field it must also have the ability to be investigated empirically.
I think one reason why John Nash and I share in this search is that new ideas are highly valued in the world of academia. We speak fondly of individuals (like Nash) whose revolutionary ideas sent entire disciplines of researchers hurdling in completely new directions. Of course it is quite common that in their time, the ideas themselves were rejected.
In Matthew 9:14-17, Jesus was questioned about his new paradigm for what it means to please God. Evidently, some people thought that Jesus’ followers were not fasting enough. Jesus used an analogy about wine storage in order to explain to them that the times, they were a changing. Pleasing God would subsequently be different than it was before. I think few would argue against the fact that the life and teachings of Jesus changed the world more than any great idea or life before or since. His words have continued to encourage the simple and baffle the learned for more than two millennia. 
This is good news to me, because I serve a creative God who is the source of great ideas. He is not afraid to shake things up a little.

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