From the April 1972 magazine.

The Square Root of Minus One

A mathematician's formula for finding God

WHAT INSPIRED WORDING we find in the Steps--"God as we understood Him." "As we understood Him" puts in a nutshell the AA way of life. Still, this gentle expression can be an apparently insurmountable obstacle in the path of a recovering alcoholic. "How can I understand God? I don't even believe in Him!" We fellow AAs can provide answers, but they may not satisfy.

Some years back, there was a mathematician in my sponsor's home group. This man was trying hard to overcome a deeply ingrained atheism that seemed to be associated with his mathematical training. For him, God was only make-believe. The mathematician couldn't believe He existed. Then an idea struck him. In mathematics, negative numbers don't have square roots. The square root of minus one doesn't exist! And yet an entire branch of mathematics deals with these nonexistent numbers. They are called imaginary numbers. Couldn't God be an imaginary number?

-- E. S.

Corona del Mar, California

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