The current issue of ICR's Acts and Facts included an article by Dr. Jason Lisle titled Evolutionary Math? While I agree with his intent showing that mathematics doesn't and can't follow the so-called rules of biologic evolution, his argument suggests that mathematical "truths" are absolute and eternal, and cannot be co-opted by mere human thought and reasoning. This idea that a divine truth can even be recognized outside of Scripture is very troubling. Many math teachers even go so far to say that math is the "language of God". Really?

Views: 1118

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Many mathematicians over the years have admitted that they do not understand why mathematics relates to the physical world. In the book I mentioned in my previous post (Mathematics: Is God Silent? by James Nickel), the author makes a very meaningful observation on page 193: "The reason that mathematics is such a beautiful and effective system is not because of man's efforts to autonomously create a logically foolproof foundation. Mathematics is beautiful and effective because the biblical God, the creator of the real world with its mathematical properties and the human mind with its mathematical capabilities, upholds and sustains it, along with everything else by the "word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3)."

Caleb,

I agree that mathematical patterns and order is another manifestation of a supernatural intellect. But just like natural laws are  imperfect human articulations of God's perfect creative speech, math, numbers, and formulas are human articulations of the order that is inherent in creation. But I don't believe they are part of that creation.

Again, I don't think it is possible for fallen, wicked humans to discern eternal or divine truths apart from God's word. The best we can do is discern evidence that points to God.

Terry,

I think this is possibly the best articulation of your view so far. Or, at least, this is the one that has been most helpful to me. I agree with your first paragraph, and I think it is actually somewhat neutral on the question of the ontological status of things like numbers (though I know you yourself have some views on that). 

But your second paragraph is also something that you have said a few times, and that part I'm not sure I agree with. I think the Bible itself teaches us that there are things we can learn about God apart from Scripture. But that point aside, you have said now that mathematics is our attempt to model a certain order that is inherent in creation. I would argue that the order you describe is an order inherent in all of reality, even in God's nature. And I see no problem with the idea that our mathematical intuitions were built into us by God so that we could know mathematical truths. 

Terrance Egolf said:

Caleb,

I agree that mathematical patterns and order is another manifestation of a supernatural intellect. But just like natural laws are  imperfect human articulations of God's perfect creative speech, math, numbers, and formulas are human articulations of the order that is inherent in creation. But I don't believe they are part of that creation.

Again, I don't think it is possible for fallen, wicked humans to discern eternal or divine truths apart from God's word. The best we can do is discern evidence that points to God.

Justin,

I'm not a four-point Calvinist  but I do believe that in addition to our created limitations, our intellect is fundamentally marred and incapable of discerning absolute truth unless it is revealed directly to us from God or through His inspired written word. And even then, we have difficulty understanding. This is the presupposition from which I conclude that numbers, math, and formulas are imperfect models of creation, and not actual divine/eternal attributes of creation.

As I have said before, I don't have the philosophical training to parse the nuances of what we are speaking of, so I tend to segregate everything into truth and what we find workable in understanding the world. Math falls into the latter category, in my imperfect manner of thinking.

I can agree with most of this, I think. I only mean to add that our imperfect understanding of mathematics is a pursuit of truths that are metaphysically necessary, whereas (for example) our attempts to model physical law are seeking after contingent truths. In both cases our knowledge may be very imperfect. So perhaps we agree after all.

Terrance Egolf said:

Justin,

I'm not a four-point Calvinist  but I do believe that in addition to our created limitations, our intellect is fundamentally marred and incapable of discerning absolute truth unless it is revealed directly to us from God or through His inspired written word. And even then, we have difficulty understanding. This is the presupposition from which I conclude that numbers, math, and formulas are imperfect models of creation, and not actual divine/eternal attributes of creation.

As I have said before, I don't have the philosophical training to parse the nuances of what we are speaking of, so I tend to segregate everything into truth and what we find workable in understanding the world. Math falls into the latter category, in my imperfect manner of thinking.

The various ways that fallible humans express mathematical concepts are not perfect, but the concepts or laws of mathematics are, as Jason Lisle said, internally consistent, invariant, applicable everywhere, absolute, and reflect God's thoughts.
I don't understand why you have a problem with these ideas?

Terrance Egolf said:

Caleb,

I agree that mathematical patterns and order is another manifestation of a supernatural intellect. But just like natural laws are  imperfect human articulations of God's perfect creative speech, math, numbers, and formulas are human articulations of the order that is inherent in creation. But I don't believe they are part of that creation.

Again, I don't think it is possible for fallen, wicked humans to discern eternal or divine truths apart from God's word. The best we can do is discern evidence that points to God.

Man didn't invent mathematical concepts, he only discovered the order that God created at the beginning!

Caleb, I suppose the question comes down to whether objectivity is possible. If you believe that we can objectively discover truth that God built into creation like mathematics then surely we can discover the rest of the truth and the Bible is no longer needed. In fact, if you believe that mathematics is objective truth then you may as well believe what the science community believes. After all, how could so many objective researchers be wrong?
 
Caleb Lewis said:

Man didn't invent mathematical concepts, he only discovered the order that God created at the beginning!

Objectivity is possible when it comes to certain things, like knowing that the sky is blue. However, the only reason I (or anyone else!) can know anything objectively is because the Bible is true!

If objectivity is possible then we don't need the Bible for truth. We could objectively find truth on our own. How does the Bible being true have anything to do with you being objective? Finally, how do you know you can be objective that the sky is blue? What is the justification for your objectivity?

I could never discover that Jesus died for me apart from the Bible, or someone preaching from the Bible.  But the Bible itself says that there are things about God that can be deduced from creation (Romans 1v18-20).  If that were not so, people would have an excuse for not knowing about God, but the Bible says that we are without excuse if we suppress that knowledge.

Saying that truth only comes from the Bible sounds like a Christian version of the view which I believe is common among Muslims, that all truth comes form the Koran.  This has stifled science, whereas creationists generally argue that a correct view of Christianity encourages science.

Regarding my earlier thought about mathematics as information, I'm not too sure how to develop that so I haven't got back to you before.  Trying to separate the communication from the subject of the communication - if I've understood Justin correctly - is just too abstract for me to follow.  I have some of the traits of a mathematician but there is a conceptual level that has always been beyond me.

Are you familiar with the concept of imaginary numbers, such as the square root of -1 (written i) ?  Mathematicians invented these so that all quadratic equations should have two solutions.  As far as doing maths is concerned, I'm not sure there's a difference between how you treat 1 and how you treat i, but clearly you can never have i objects in the sense that you can have 1 object.  So does i exist ?  My intuition is that it does exist in some non-material or informational sense.  We possibly need a word other than exist, because exist comes with connotations of material being.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

About CC

Connecting Christians who believe in Biblical Creation — discussing beliefs, sharing ideas, and recommending evolution-free resources. Please keep all posts relevant to the topics of this community.

Rules of Engagement
Zero Tolerance Policy
Statement of Faith
Creation Terms
FAQ

Homeschool Curriculum

Members

Creation Conversations 2018

What's new @ CC for 2018? 

Creation networking and much more in store for Creation Conversation Members. You'll not want to miss this new year!

© 2019   Created by Creation Conversations.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service