Zero and nothingness


Apparently the numeral zero (that is zero as a number like any other number) was invented in India over 1100 years ago. The Egyptians and Babylonians used a symbol or place holder to indicate which column (ie units, 10’s hundreds etc) a number was in but they did not consider zero to be a number itself.

The Indians may have come up with the idea because of the significance they put on nothingness. It was thought that through nullifying all ones desires you could enter a state of nothingness or Nirvana (literally “no-craving”). Actually I am not sure if that is exactly true as many people say that defining Nirvana as nothingness is wrong but, be that as it may, certainly a central concept in ancient Indian philosophy was the nullifying of desire.

The Christian view of desires is quite different. We were made to find joy and satisfaction in a relationship with God, but our desires have been corrupted and we seek after other things. These substitute gods, while offering temporary satisfaction, fail to deliver long term and end up taking more from us than they give. In Christ our desires are rebooted and we can once again have our them increasingly met in a loving relationship with God. Rather than having our desires nullified, they are fixed and fulfilled in Christ.

The Christian world view does have a place for zero though. Zero is not a something, it is the absence of something and each of us is born with a zero inside us were there should be a relationship with God. This zero, or “absence of something” acts as a place holder, saying we are more than matter and our lives have meaning.



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