Who knows about Alfred North Whitehead, these days, when the academic world seems to have moved from the days of the truly Renaissance man to the more mundane recognition of the philosophical specialist? Yet, Whitehead deserves to be better known and, more importantly, better appreciated as he was not only Russell’s Mathematics tutor at Cambridge but collaborated with the latter on the extraordinarily ambitious Principia Mathematica, published in the early 1910’s. This work alone expanded the previous logical systems of Aristotle and Leibniz and paved the way to the logic developed by Alan Turing in his post-war computing machines. Whitehead had a distinguished career at both Cambridge and London Universities but his many interests, as an academic polymath, took him to the other side of the Atlantic as he was invited, aged 63, to teach Philosophy at Harvard University. Paradoxically, his philosophical legacy does not lie in the field of physics or mathematics (Russell, himself, suffered from a nervous breakdown when he realised the few unavoidable inconsistencies of the Principia logic) but in the realm of Theology. Greatly influenced by the revolution introduced by Einstein’s theory of relativity, Whitehead came to support an interpretation of physical reality based on the idea that ‘change is constant , whether we measure it by minute or by millennia; we ourselves are a part it; we have been brought into existence in a certain quarter of the universe in consequence of its processes, and there is no reason to suppose that other types of existence, unimaginable to us, have not been produced elsewhere in the universe.’

Applying his scientific belief to the realm of theology, Whitehead conceived an ever-changing and constantly evolving universe, created by a God who, himself, is in a constant process of self-transformation while sharing the joys and tragedies of his creatures. Such an unfinished Creation has been criticized for implying the fundamental limitations of an imperfect deity. However, Whitehead defended his theory by arguing that God and mankind may, one day, come together when man’s moral and intellectual qualities lead him to his ultimate apotheosis. For Whitehead, ‘God is in the world, or nowhere, creating continually in us and around us. This creative process is everywhere … In so far as man partakes of this creative process does he partake of the divine, of God, and that participation is his immortality, reducing the question of whether his individuality survives death of the body to the estate of an irrelevancy. His true destiny as co-creator in the universe is his dignity and his grandeur.’