Standing in perhaps one of the most aesthetically pleasing churches in the city and observing a small service being conducted, one would be hard pressed to pronounce this as being part of the former Soviet Union Ã¢â‚¬" its congregation extremely devoted to their belief in a higher power and in the mentality that exercising small rites of passage as the keys to eternal life.
In Moldova, within only the past 15 years making a clean break with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, declaring itself a republic and establishing the population of 4.7 million as a country wedged in between the Ukraine and Romania in eastern Europe, life is far from being considered good.
However, a keen, outside observer may be able to understand what motivates this predominantly Orthodox Christian sect, what allows people who run one star hostels like Viktor and Svetlana and what lights the fire from within for the thousands that begrudgingly roam the capital of Chisinau in what appears to be endless days of an endless calendar.
It seems that in Moldova, members of the Christian faith, among other things, believe in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the presence of saints for every aspect of guidance through life, hope is not rooted in superficial, earthly matters such as financial stability or lavish and luxurious lifestyles. For the majority of the population, grandmothers so frail they are now unable to stand up straight, businessmen just finishing work and adolescents issuing their friends to Ã¢â‚¬Å“wait outside for a secondÃ¢â‚¬Â, true comfort as they deem can only be found inside the four walls of a holy sanctum.
Enter a centuries-old theorem, introduced by a trailblazer in the field of mathematics and specifically probability and statistics. It stated something akin to this thought: Given that there are four possibilities to the original problem, a rational human being will choose the one most beneficial and statistically sound to them at the time.
The given, in this case an admittedly raw precursor to a very real mathematical proof, is this: If one believes in God then that person has a 50 per cent chance of achieving the afterlife. If one does not believe in God, then conclusively that person has no chance of life after death. The argument is as follows: If a person believes in the notion, then they really have nothing to Ã¢â‚¬Å“loseÃ¢â‚¬Â. First, and arguably more importantly, the person will have led a life in which they can feel that they have harboured no ill will towards another human being (or at least determinedly tried), and in their mindÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eye did right in the eyes of their maker. However in the end, their life, their soul, their very being will end when their last rites are read and they are laid to rest.
Second, if a Ã¢â‚¬Å“believerÃ¢â‚¬Â believes in the afterlife, and there is in fact an afterlife, they will have both led a good life on Earth and according to the theorem, be granted lifelong existence with the saints and their maker Ã¢â‚¬" the 50/50 scenario complete.
However if a random person who doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe in anything, according to the mathematical model, then regardless of whether or not there really is an afterlife, that person has no chance of life after death.
The assumption behind this whole hypothesis being of course is that if you believe in God, you will be rewarded. If you do not, you unfortunately will not. This is where religion and mathematics become entangled. However forgetting for a moment the arguments that God or maker of absolute power in this universe could really be naive enough to subscribe to grade 10 statistics, in the end does it really matter?
In the case of, dare one say, a hopeless Moldovan population, but a faithful one, perhaps even just the emphasis of thought on the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœreward in heavenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is infinitesimally better than the constant and chronic worrying about whether their next loaf of bread can indeed be afforded. And maybe greater Moldova has recognized too the tenets of Christianity of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlove thy neighbour, do unto one Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ and blessed are the meekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ as equally important as a worthless theorem, then again that would make them calculated mathematicians Ã¢â‚¬" and wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that the intended logic?