There was a time when the "Western world/Europe" was scared of the number zero
...they thought it was from the "devil" when it was first introduced...Today in 2006 the Western world is trying to define Zero Point Gravity
....People change....not God.
I think I best stick to the science section of this forum....
Proof of this? Even if this is true, they were wrong, but at least they were wrong for religious reasons. To them, as it traditionally has been for the Church, change is not something to take lightly. But now everything has to be "new and improved" - new soap, new cars, new houses, new rosary, new Mass. We are to adapt ourselves to God, not God to us.
There was a book written in 2000 by Charles Seife called Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea,
published by Penguin. Here
is the link to it on Amazon.
Amazon's review of the book asks in part:
"Why did the Church reject the use of zero? How did mystics of all stripes get bent out of shape over it? Is it true that science as we know it depends on this mysterious round digit?"
A spotlight review by a reader said:
"It may well be the most potent force in the universe. The Greeks were scared to death of it. Aristotle wouldn't permit it (and the Catholic Church's vice-grip on Aristotelianism held Western science and mathematics back for centuries). But this force does not discriminate; it delights in tripping up secular science as well."
A more recent reader review writes:
"The story goes on to cover the philosophical struggles between various western factions as the Greeks really did not like the concept of nothing and how that translated eventually to the Catholic church's freezing of culture in the dark ages."
Here, though, is a defense of the Church and Aristotle in a scathing review of the book from - of all people - a practicing WICCAN!
"Most of this book is about the history of the number zero and how it wound up in European number systems, which originally lacked it. The writer shows how zero gradually appeared in numeral systems in Asia and the Middle East, then began to crop up in European numbers when Mediterranean merchants in the Middle Ages found it to be useful. He shows how the important advancements of science and calculus in Europe in the 1600's depended on it so much. All true and fair enough.
But it's galling how the book works in the impact of Greek philosophy, which it lays out quite wrong. A theme repeated throughout the book is that medieval Europe was stuck in its anti-intellectual Dark Ages, blocked from the Scientific Revolution, and refusing to accept the zero in mathematics because its intellectual foundation was grounded too much in the thought of Aristotle. This is just plain wrong!
Medieval Europe was stuck in its unproductive doldrums precisely because it had forgotten about and virtually ignored the teachings of Aristotle. Aristotle was the one who had emphasized empirical observation and classification of facts-- the idea that would be at the basis of the scientific method. It was the thought of Plato and some of his colleagues, not Aristotle, that had been dominating Europe in the Middle Ages.
When Aristotle was finally re-introduced into Europe in the late Middle Ages from Middle Eastern scholars-- that's what sparked the changes in ideas that allowed the Renaissance and Age of Reason to take hold in the first place.
And Aristotle was not in any way the whole basis for Europe's lack of a zero in its numbers. There's a lot of citing of Aristotle's "Nature abhors a vacuum" comment here, but this had little to do with Europe consciously rejecting the zero, because there was no conscious rejection to begin with.
The Europeans were just using the Roman numeral system, which had no zero, because that was the custom of the day and people were used to it. Most number systems worldwide didn't have a zero because the various cultures figured they didn't need it-- there was no European "math legislature" that rejected a proposal to add a zero, it's just that nobody thought to add it in.
When the Mediterranean merchants began using the Arabic numerals with the zero, they just found it to be more useful than the Roman numerals, and for that practical reason people switched over. Simple as that.
Maybe Aristotle's "Nature abhors a vacuum" comment is right, since physicists seem to finding all kinds of wild particles and constituents filling up what's been called the vacuum. (The later part of this book explores these areas a little, and doesn't do a good job of it-- it's out of date and disorganized.) I don't know, I'm not an expert in this, but there's probably no easy explanation and the book's tendency to paint Aristotle as a misleading scholar becomes downright irritating. Maybe I'm just being a picky classics student here, but it's frustrating to read the history of Aristotle in Europe be told so incorrectly. Aristotle's ideas if anything were the most essential ingredient for Europe's ability to wake up out of the Middle Ages and experience an intellectual flowering."
Interesting, is it not?