I can imagine Johannes Kepler and his feverish mathematical scribbling, interpreting pure coincidence as the hand of God. He works out the mathematics of inscribing polyhedra in spheres and spheres in polyhedra. The five Platonic solids, the only perfect solids, match the orbits of the five planets. What mathematical perfection! I’m sure that as his pen swept across the paper, he could feel elation. He felt as if he were a prophet; God spoke through the numbers and now was guiding his hand. No, this was not what he felt, but what he must have known with 100% certainty. He must have interpreted the elation as a further sign that God was telling them he was on the right path.
How strange this sounds to the modern mind. God no longer is a cosmic geometer. He does not speak to us through numbers. We also know that there are more than five planets. The strange link between the five Platonic solids and the multitude of planets breaks down. Kepler, who must have been so sure that he was getting a glimpse of the Almighty, in reality, found nothing of spiritual significance.
Although his interpretation of events is now foreign, the feeling of the religious elation must be familiar to so many. This happiness, this wave of ecstasy, that you feel when you think you’re during the work of God, is nothing more than wishful thinking. I ask of even the most saintly, “What difference is there between your feeling and Kepler’s?”