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Book Critique
The Biography of a Dangerous Idea


This is a critique of Charles Seife's book " Zero The Biography  of a Dangerous Idea " (Penguin 2000)

My objective is to show spiritual(restored) man plainly how fallen(natural) man's mind is corrupted, completely divorced from reality. I will not argue with Mr. Seife  about the history of "Zero", it seems that he has done his homework in this regard. His book is an attempt to justify the use of the two jokers; zero and infinity, in modern mathematics. A more appropriate name for his book should have been:

Chapter 0 is a summary of the natural man's irrational mindset at work, it exposes the core elements of the delusion(curse) that presently rules this chaotic world. His book is riddled with false premises and contradictions. Inconsistent elements from the chapters that follow will be exposed for the benefit of spiritual man. The page references are from the hard copy edition(2000).  

Chapter 0

The first chapter 'Null and Void'(should read Null is Void) clearly exposes the irrationality of natural man's mindset. It is a concise summary of the book. The first page is numbered '1', and the first chapter is numbered '0' on the same page. Natural man refers to this duality as 'the binary system'.

The practical implication of the irrational mindset is clearly outlined(p1) with the grounding of the "USS Yorktown" missile cruiser. Mr.Seife writes ' Yorktown was dead in the water'. The reason for this embarrassing maiden voyage was the incorporation of the pseudo number zero in the software that controls the engines. The writer refers to this incident  as (p2) 'the power of zero', instead of  "the destructive power of zero". This was clearly not a slip of the tongue.

In the following paragraph(p2) Mr.Seife refers to zero as 'the mysterious number'. This is true, see Mark 13:14 which reads " But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation(zero), spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not( in the place of one), {let him that readeth understand}, then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains. " In reality zero is not a number, it is non quantitative, a symbol that denotes the absence of number(quantity), it is a blatant contradiction to say that it  is a number.

In the last paragraph of chapter 0 Mr. Seife makes a profound statement:  ' zero shaped humanity's view of the universe-and of God '. This statement has a ring of truth to it, it reflects the fall of spiritual(rational) man. It should read; " Zero(0) is a symptom of humanity's distorted (delusional) view of the universe - and his 'God', the spirit of darkness that rules the present chaotic world system".

Chapter 1
I quote Mr.Seife (p6): ' In the very beginning of mathematics it seems that people could only distinguish between one and many. ' Is it possible that the cavemen saw all in one, and one in all, realizing that there is only one whole number: one and , that all is is part of one ? To speak of whole numbers is  a contradiction in terms.
I am reminded of my first math lesson at school, it was the one and only lesson that made sense  and, that is why I can still remember it so clearly to this day. It was presented as a picture of a cake cut in four equal  sections. The title was "One Cake" and then it showed each portion numbered  1/4, 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4.

At school I was taught that zero was a placeholder(p15),  and that it was a necessity for our numbering system, This was a blatant lie, there is no need for a placeholder in the numbering system. The act of calling the zero a place holder opened the door to make it a pseudo number.

This chapter insinuates (p20) that the so called whole numbers, are stand alone numbers, that they have no denominators. The only stand alone number is one. The so called 'whole' number 2, is 2/1, an improper(irrational) fraction, the part is larger than the whole.

Chapter 2

In the first part of  the chapter (p 25-39)Mr.Seife attempts to discredit Pythagoras because he refused to accept zero as a number. Pythagoras believed "all is number", and that the world is a harmonious whole that can be expressed in a rational way by means of numbers. He refused to accept the idea of irrational numbers. The Greeks rightly believed that all geometric problems can be solved with a straightedge and compass. Mr.Seife(p34)
 ' Could you use those tools to trisect an angle ? '  Indeed you could.

The second part of the chapter (p 40-48) Mr. Seife  turns to Zeno and his famous puzzle "The Achilles". By means of an illustration Mr.Seife attempts to show that Achilles can move closer to the tortoise, however, he cannot reach and pass the tortoise. In order to solve the puzzle Mr.Seife brings zero and infinite(calculus), to the rescue. The truth is that the puzzle can be resolved
without using zero and infinity. Here is Mr.Seife's mind boggling conclusion: (p 44) ' Not only does Achilles take an infinite number of steps to run a finite distance, but he takes only two seconds to do it. ' Surely this is pure fantasy.
The puzzle has an elementary solution, Mr.Seife and his compatriots have nullified the head start. They count by starting from zero, the head start, one foot, has become zero foot. Here is the false premise (p 41) '  Achilles speeds ahead and in a mere second he has caught up to where the tortoise was ' , should read " when Achilles starts the race he is already where the tortoise was. "
In the first second Achilles has moved 1 foot and the tortoise 1 1/2 feet, in the second second Achilles has moved 2 feet and the tortoise has also moved 2 feet. Achilles has caught up with the tortoise, and will pass him in the third second.  The details of the race is: 1 foot head start for the tortoise, Achilles moves at 1 foot second and, the tortoise at 1/2 foot a second.

Aristotle the great philosopher put things in the right perspective. I quote Mr.Seife(p 46 par 1)
 Aristotle simply declared that mathematics " do not need the infinite or use it " Though "potential" could exist in the minds of mathematicians - like the concept of dividing lines into infinite pieces - nobody could actually do it, so the infinite doesn't exist in reality. Achilles runs smoothly past the tortoise because the infinite points are simply a figment of Zeno's imagination, rather than a real-world construct. Aristotle just wished infinity away by stating that it is simply a construct of the human mind. End quote. Aristotle was correct, there is nothing to wish away.

In the third part of the chapter (p53-61) Mr.Seife mocks with the 'medieval monks' and attempts to show that the time line should start from zero. We know that the calendar is based on the Son of man's(Christ) being  born in the year one. The black hole mentality attempts to nullify one, and replace it with zero. This is tantamount to saying that the Son of man was born in the year zero, which can only mean that he was never born.

On page 56 para 3 we can see how confused Mr.Seife is when it comes to the calendar and counting. According to him a child born 1 Jan 4BC, turns 1 on the 1 Jan 3BC. This is not true, the child ends his first year and turns 2 on the 1 Jan 3BC, he will remain 2 until he comes to the end of his second year. Keep in mind we are counting in years starting from 1, the birthday of the child. Seife counts from zero. In addition to this  flaw, Mr. Seife  draws his time line  with 1 BC as  well  as 1 AD thus placing  a zero line in between 1 BC and 1 AD. Mr.Seife gets the wrong answer because of the zero and the two one's. This is how the actual calendar time line looks:

  | 4  | 3  | 2  | 1  | 2  | 3  | 4  | 5  |      

BC                        AD

The child turns 5 on the 1 Jan 2 AD

Chapter 3

This chapter is part of the history of the numbering system, and I am not in a position to question what Mr.Seife wrote. The Biblical view of zero is clearly stated in Mark 13:14.

Chapter 4

Likewise, not much I can say about this chapter. I see that the present co-ordinate system is named after Descartes, he is regarded as the father of modern philosophy. ' I think therefore I am '. Translated this means, ' because I doubt, I exist '.

I fail to see why the reference lines of a co-ordinate system cannot start with one, and then to use the four directional symbols,  thereby eliminating the negatives.  

I find this remark by Mr.Seife (p98) amusing: ' In 1625 Descartes was twenty-seven years old,  and Blaise Pascall, who would become Descartes opponent, was zero years old.' Does this mean Blaise was conceived but not born yet :-) Pascal used the two jokers, zero and infinity to prove that 'God' exists ?

Chapter 5      

In this chapter Newton is on the stage with his version of calculus. ' Newton's method of fluxions was very dubious. It relied upon an illegal mathematical operation, but it had on huge advantage. It worked.' (p111) George Berkeley pointed this out in " The Analyst ". Mr.Seife(p125)' Though mathematicians of the day sniped at Berkeley's logic, the good bishop was entirely right.'

According to Mr.Seife Leonard Euler was able to manipulate the calculus out of the dilemma. (p 126-130) This is not the case as I have already indicated, the Achilles puzzle is easily resolved without the calculus(zero and infinity).

Chapter 6

In this Chapter Mr.Seife continues his relentless endeavor to justify the validity of  zero and infinity, as he puts it: ' Zero and infinity are the two sides of the same coin'. This is the nature of  the duality. Mr. Seife continues by introducing the idea of the imaginary number i. What follows is beyond comprehension. With the help of Cantor they come to the following conclusion, (brace yourself this is the pinnacle of mysticism) : ' Even though there are rational numbers everywhere on the number line, they take up no space at all.'

Chapter 7

This Chapter is about ' Zero Absolutes ' . Enter the strange world of Special Relativity, and then Quantum mechanics followed by the dreaded black hole (p 180-189 ) Mr.Seife ' According to quantum mechanics and general relativity, the power of zero is infinite... But for the time being, it appears that nothing will come of nothing '.

Chapter 8

Enter string theory. Mr.Seife ' However, string theory has some problems for one thing, it requires 10 dimensions to work. (p196) Chapter eight ends with the big bang, the Hubble telescope, and the expanding universe.(p 200-209)

Mr.Seife 'Not only does zero hold the secret to our existence, it will also be responsible for the end of the universe'.(p209)('the universe' should read 'our universe') This is true for natural man.  

Chapter Infinity

About the end time.(p 211-215)

' In Pythagoras's day, before the age of zero, pure logic reigned supreme. The universe was predictable and orderly. It was built upon rational numbers and implied the existence of God. Zeno's troubling paradox was explained away by banishing infinity and zero from the realm of numbers '. Charles Seife

' The universe begins and ends with zero ' (p215)

" But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation(zero), spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not(where the one should be), [ let him that readeth understand, ] then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:  "
Mark 13:14

Appendix B

Mr. Seife reverts to the pseudo number zero to derive at an irrational golden ratio.

The faithful witness