Religious views of Carl Friedrich Gauss, the Great Mathematician

Carl Friedrich Gauss

Gauss believed in God. Potential evidence that Gauss believed in God comes from his response after solving a problem that had previously defeated him: "Finally, two days ago, I succeeded—not on account of my hard efforts, but by the grace of the Lord."

One of his biographers, described Gauss's religious views as follows:

  • For him science was the means of exposing the immortal nucleus of the human soul. In the days of his full strength, it furnished him recreation and, by the prospects which it opened up to him, gave consolation. Toward the end of his life, it brought him confidence.
  • Gauss's God was not a cold and distant figment of metaphysics, nor a distorted caricature of embittered theology.
  • Gauss believed that a life worthily spent here on earth is the best, the only, preparation for heaven.
  • Religion is not a question of literature, but of life. God's revelation is continuous, not contained in tablets of stone or sacred parchment.
    Gauss believed the unshakeable idea of personal continuance after death, the firm belief in a last regulator of things, in an eternal, just, omniscient, omnipotent God, formed the basis of his religious life, which harmonized completely with his scientific research.
  • Gauss's religious consciousness was based on an insatiable thirst for truth and a deep feeling of justice extending to intellectual as well as material goods.
  • He conceived spiritual life in the whole universe as a great system of law penetrated by eternal truth, and from this source he gained the firm confidence that death does not end all.
  • Gauss declared he firmly believed in the afterlife, and saw spirituality as something essentially important for human beings.[40] He was quoted stating: "The world would be nonsense, the whole creation an absurdity without immortality,"
  • Gauss strongly upheld religious tolerance, believing "that one is not justified in disturbing another's religious belief, in which they find consolation for earthly sorrows in time of trouble."
  • When his son Eugene announced that he wanted to become a Christian missionary, Gauss approved of this, saying that regardless of the problems within religious organizations, missionary work was "a highly honorable" task.
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