Tag Archives: teaching ESL

Monkey Mathematics

Image

(colored pencil, pen, & ink – entitled “Math Monkey” – by Leah Cim Reyeb (my name backwards))

It has been said that if you have an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, and unlimited time, they will reproduce all the works of William Shakespeare.  Not only that, they will produce every other work of literature in every language on Earth that has ever been written… and that ever will be written, for all time.  Not only that, but every version of Hamlet that has one misspelled word, two misspelled words, three misspelled words… and so on to infinity.

I was having an argument recently with a boy from Brazil who insisted there was no God and Creator.  He claims to be an agnostic, but argues like an atheist.  He was trying to “save” me from my erroneous belief that there is an underlying intelligence and purpose to all of creation.  His intentions were good, but he failed to convince me before sailing off back to Sao Paulo.  Alas, I am unrelentingly still convinced that I am not wrong, as he apparently believed all school teachers are by definition.  Yes, it is written that way in the teenager’s guide to life, the universe, and everything.  “Teachers are clueless and only teach you the wrong stuff” – page two hundred and three, in Chapter Twelve, Adults are Always Wrong.  And, of course, I’m blaming it on the monkeys.  It’s always those danged monkeys and their typewriters.

I tried to explain that the whole infinite-monkeys thing is based on flawed math.  After all, math was invented by enraged Greeks who danced around naked in caves worshiping circles, squares, and right triangles.  Pythagoras must’ve really hated school kids.  He gave them all this froo-frah to learn about whole numbers, integers, algebra, and geometry and stuff, and then threw in theorems and equations to give them something to mind-numbingly practice at their desks in Math classes until they were no different from infinite-monkey typists. 

If you take a pile of bricks up to the top of a mountain and then throw them off, even if you throw them an infinite number of times, how often will they actually land in the configuration of the Parthenon?  …And the Parthenon with one brick out of place, and then two bricks, and …wasn’t the gol-danged Parthenon carved out of marble, not bricks?  If you believe all of reality is based on random chance, then you obviously are figuring that out with infinite-monkey math.  I’m not saying the Theory of Evolution is wrong.  That is ordered and principled in ways that fit Occam’s Razor and is probably just as correct as the Theory of Gravity (which we don’t fully understand, either, yet we don’t go flying off into space with each rotation of the Earth).

“Wait a minute!” screams the head monkey.  “Are you saying you believe in Evolution, or in Creation?”   (I am constantly hearing nearly-infinite monkeys screaming that nowadays.)

Shoot, I think both things are true.  You can’t deny what science offers proof for, fact or theory.  Yet, God speaks to me and comforts me, even though he doesn’t actually answer prayers.  The evidence of God is in all that he created, including the process of evolution, the monkeys, the typewriters (well… man-made is made by God too if he created man with inventive capabilities, right?), and even the voices in my silly head that I interpret as God talking.  Am I guilty of Infinite-monkey math?  I try not to be.  But I also try not to argue with Brazilian teenage agnostics about the existence of God.  Oh, well… can’t win ‘em all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Monkey Mathematics

Image

 

(colored pencil, pen, & ink – entitled “Math Monkey” – by Leah Cim Reyeb (my name backwards))

It has been said that if you have an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, and unlimited time, they will reproduce all the works of William Shakespeare.  Not only that, they will produce every other work of literature in every language on Earth that has ever been written… and that ever will be written, for all time.  Not only that, but every version of Hamlet that has one misspelled word, two misspelled words, three misspelled words… and so on to infinity.

I was having an argument recently with a boy from Brazil who insisted there was no God and Creator.  He claims to be an agnostic, but argues like an atheist.  He was trying to “save” me from my erroneous belief that there is an underlying intelligence and purpose to all of creation.  His intentions were good, but he failed to convince me before sailing off back to Sao Paulo.  Alas, I am unrelentingly still convinced that I am not wrong, as he apparently believed all school teachers are by definition.  Yes, it is written that way in the teenager’s guide to life, the universe, and everything.  “Teachers are clueless and only teach you the wrong stuff” – page two hundred and three, in Chapter Twelve, Adults are Always Wrong.  And, of course, I’m blaming it on the monkeys.  It’s always those danged monkeys and their typewriters.

I tried to explain that the whole infinite-monkeys thing is based on flawed math.  After all, math was invented by enraged Greeks who danced around naked in caves worshiping circles, squares, and right triangles.  Pythagoras must’ve really hated school kids.  He gave them all this froo-frah to learn about whole numbers, integers, algebra, and geometry and stuff, and then threw in theorems and equations to give them something to mind-numbingly practice at their desks in Math classes until they were no different from infinite-monkey typists. 

If you take a pile of bricks up to the top of a mountain and then throw them off, even if you throw them an infinite number of times, how often will they actually land in the configuration of the Parthenon?  …And the Parthenon with one brick out of place, and then two bricks, and …wasn’t the gol-danged Parthenon carved out of marble, not bricks?  If you believe all of reality is based on random chance, then you obviously are figuring that out with infinite-monkey math.  I’m not saying the Theory of Evolution is wrong.  That is ordered and principled in ways that fit Occam’s Razor and is probably just as correct as the Theory of Gravity (which we don’t fully understand, either, yet we don’t go flying off into space with each rotation of the Earth).

“Wait a minute!” screams the head monkey.  “Are you saying you believe in Evolution, or in Creation?”   (I am constantly hearing nearly-infinite monkeys screaming that nowadays.)

Shoot, I think both things are true.  You can’t deny what science offers proof for, fact or theory.  Yet, God speaks to me and comforts me, even though he doesn’t actually answer prayers.  The evidence of God is in all that he created, including the process of evolution, the monkeys, the typewriters (well… man-made is made by God too if he created man with inventive capabilities, right?), and even the voices in my silly head that I interpret as God talking.  Am I guilty of Infinite-monkey math?  I try not to be.  But I also try not to argue with Brazilian teenage agnostics about the existence of God.  Oh, well… can’t win ‘em all.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized