Those who assert that the mathematical sciences say nothing of the beautiful or the good are in error. For these sciences say and prove a great deal about them; if they do not expressly mention them, but prove attributes which are their results or definitions, it is not true that they tell us nothing about them. The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree.
― Aristotle, Metaphysics
There are many who seem to feel that math and science are somehow “soulless” and either can not recognize beauty or elegance, even worse as destroying beauty. I have never agreed with that sentiment, and obviously am in pretty good company. The beauty in our universe is in what is seen and seeing, as they say is believing. In reading the writings of great scientists it is generally impossible to miss their sense of awe in what they see.
As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some observations on the word ‘revelation.’ Revelation when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.
No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.
It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hand of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so, the commandments carrying no internal evidence of divinity with them. They contain some good moral precepts such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver or a legislator could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention. [NOTE: It is, however, necessary to except the declamation which says that God ‘visits the sins of the fathers upon the children’. This is contrary to every principle of moral justice.—Author.]
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
Epistemology can certainly be a slippery slope, answering the question of how we know what we know is difficult. Do we have to experience everything personally? Can we even trust my own personal experiences? It is true that this kind of exploration can lead some people down a rabbit hole wondering if anything is real. But if the world is real, which I think we can agree it is, that we can also agree what kind of evidence it takes to move from (as the dictionary definition states) opinion to belief. Each person has to decide for themselves, but repeatable public observation with some kind of proper controls for the kinds of reasoning errors that we humans are known to be prone to seems to fit the bill. Right — that is a description of the basis of the scientific method.