“The light of reason is no less a gift of God than that of revelation… Divine faith itself, when it is kindled in the soul, is something more than an opinion."
Gottfried Leibniz is known for his work in differential and integral calculus. He invented the Leibniz wheel, a component of the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. Leibniz also helped refine the binary number system, the foundation of modern computers. Although his major scientific contributions were in physics and technology, some of Liebniz’s early thoughts later surfaced in many diverse fields, like biology, medicine, geology, psychology, and computer science. He also developed a library cataloguing system that many of Europe’s largest libraries later built upon.
In his studies, Leibniz always recognized God’s hand in everything. He stated, “It is God who is the ultimate reason things, and the Knowledge of God is no less the beginning of science than his essence and will are the beginning of things.”
Leibniz started studying theology and philosophy at age seven. Leibniz got his masters in philosophy in 1664. In 1672, Leibniz was mentored by a Dutch physicist and mathematician, with whom he began a self-study in both subjects. This eventually led to him inventing a calculating machine and discovery in differential and integral calculus. In his continued pursuit of mathematics, Leibniz also perfected the binary number system and proposed a branch of mathematics called topology.
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Leibniz often wrote about his faith. In one writing, Leibniz stated, “It follows from the supreme perfection of God, that in creating the universe has chosen the best possible plan, in which there is the greatest variety together with the greatest order; the best arranged ground, place, time; the most results produced in the most simple ways; the most of power, knowledge, happiness and goodness the creatures that the universe could permit. For since all the possibles in understanding of God laid claim to existence in proportion to their perfections, the actual world, as the resultant of all these claims, must be the most perfect possible. And without this it would not be possible to give a reason why things have turned out so rather than otherwise.”
Leibniz believed that reason and faith were compatible. In his book “Theodicy,” Leibniz wrote, “[T]he light of reason is no less a gift of God than that of revelation… [D]ivine faith itself, when it is kindled in the soul, is something more than an opinion, and depends not upon the occasions or the motives that have given it birth; it advances beyond the intellect, and takes possession of the will and of the heart, to make us act with zeal and joyfully as the law of God commands.”
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Engraving of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Leibniz's correspondence, papers and notes from 1669 to 1704, National Library of Poland.
Gottfried Leibniz Artist: Christoph Bernhard Francke, 1695