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Extra-curricular activities at Case


Bible study at university and a time of personal challenge
Donald Knuth Scientist
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I'm not a… a real… involved with the groovy set, I guess, throughout all my… all my student time.  And I… I remember then Jill and I started getting to know each other really well, and we would go to… to church together on Sundays. She was a Methodist… I, we studied… we went to Bible Study classes at her church on… on Sunday School. I… I had never gone to Sunday School, because I went to a… to a Lutheran School as a child. We had something about Bible during the week, so why should I… so why should I do something… why should I do anything more on Sunday? I've had plenty of… plenty of religion during the week. But… but she had gone to public school and… and she… her tradition was to go to… to study the Bible on Sunday mornings, and so I went with her to… to church, and I learned something about that… about that. In college, our teachers were… I was introduced to lots of atheists, and people from lots of different religious experiences and this was… this was something totally different… totally foreign to my previous experience, and I… so I… I went through a… a time of personal challenge, where I was trying to say, well, what do I really… what do I really believe? Up to that time I had just… I had just listened to what my teachers said and passed the exams, and did what was expected of me, but… but I internalized something about what… what, you know, is there a God, and if so, you know, how do you solve various paradoxes associated with God? And I went through that kind of experience during the… during the freshman and sophomore years mostly in… in college, before I became somewhat comfortable with… with my, with, you know, internalizing what I had been taught as a child. And I'm sure that if I'd come from another… another background, I would have turned out differently, but, and I… and I personally believe now that… that God is alive in many ways, but I do believe, you know, I… I do believe that God is… is somehow, mysteriously, involved with… with our universe, and… and that underlies a lot of what I do, and I also know that I’ll never be able to prove it. I'm thankful that I could never prove it, because if it was proved, I think then I would lose interest in the whole subject; there would be no mystery, and no… and no interest in it. So I… so I, as they say, the… the growing up in a… in a religious way took place during this time, when I'm… when I’m meeting my future wife.

Born in 1938, American computing pioneer Donald Knuth is known for his greatly influential multi-volume work, 'The Art of Computer Programming', his novel 'Surreal Numbers', his invention of TeX and METAFONT electronic publishing tools and his quirky sense of humor.

Listeners: Dikran Karagueuzian

Trained as a journalist, Dikran Karagueuzian is the director of CSLI Publications, publisher of seven books by Donald Knuth. He has known Knuth since the late seventies when Knuth was developing TeX and Metafont, the typesetting and type designing computer programs, respectively.

Tags: God, Jill Knuth

Duration: 3 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008