The Rabbi’s theory of probability

Chief Rabbi Sacks

Chief Rabbi Sacks

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of  the Commonwealth, and he writes an occasional column in the Saturday edition of The Times. His contribution is frequently thoughtful, incisive and wise and today’s Credo is no exception. Rabbi Sacks delivers a thought provoking assessment of the law of probability around faith- prompted by the recent atheist bus adverts claiming “There’s probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy your life.” He writes, “The more science we learn, the more we understand how little we understand. The improbabilities keep multiplying, as does our cause for wonder.” Sacks then takes us on a brief trip through history from Abraham to Barack Obama to illustrate that reality has always triumphed over negative probability- who would have thoguht that “a small persecuted sect known as the Christians would one day become the largest movement of any kind in the world?”

Rabbi Sacks tells us that the man who invented probability theory, Blaise Pascall, gave up maths and science at the age of 30 to devote the rest of his life to the exploration of religious faith. Rabbi Sacks concludes his piece; “All the great human achievements…came through people who ignored the probable and had faith in the possible. So the bus advertisement would be imporved by a small amendment….”Improbably, there is a God.”

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