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Study maths and grow more holy Words fail me, so I'll just give you… - Sally's Journal
May 1st, 2006
10:12 am

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Study maths and grow more holy

Words fail me, so I'll just give you the link.

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From:ex_robhu
Date:May 1st, 2006 09:05 am (UTC)
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Crediiiiiiiit! :-)

from atheism:
And lo, the Lord Jesus Christ did tell the people "Do unto the right side of the equation as you would do unto the left" and it was good.
- Pythagoreans, 3:4:5
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:May 1st, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
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:)
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From:miss_next
Date:May 1st, 2006 09:14 am (UTC)
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*boggle*

I am all for both mathematics and holiness, but this is the first time I've seen the two directly linked. :-D
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From:ptc24
Date:May 1st, 2006 09:24 am (UTC)
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Oh, linking maths to various ideologies is noting new. At risk of Godwinating[1], in my history textbook there was an example from a Nazi-era maths text book where there were questions of the form: "An airplane takes off to bomb Warsaw, home of the Jews. Given [weight on loading, weight of bombs and fuel etc.], how heavy is it when it lands?"

[1] Heavy disclaimers apply.

From:nlj21
Date:May 1st, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
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Not too sure what they mean by "math skills inform your understanding of Scripture, and especially how scripture forms the foundation for algebra" - looking at their sample chapter it looks like the link they are drawing is "Hey! Look! The Bible contains numbers!", which, if you ask me, is missing the main point of the passages they look at! (I have never been in a Bible study where anyone has asked "And which verse displays the closure property of multiplication?"!)

But looking at the previous page of their introduction they do have a better point:

Study maths, because it will help you make decisions in your job, which is to be a responsibile steward of God's creation.

Which seems to me better than the prevailing view of:

Study maths, so you can get a good job, so you can buy nice stuff (or whatever non-God centred motivation people have for working)
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From:atreic
Date:May 1st, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
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Pah. Give me "study maths, because it is beautiful and fun and interesting and helps us understand the world better" any day ;-)
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From:ixwin
Date:May 1st, 2006 10:19 am (UTC)
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But arguably understanding God's creation better is becoming a better Christian.
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From:simont
Date:May 1st, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
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I'm unconvinced by that; it seems to me that understanding the world (whether or not it's God's creation) better is beneficial in general in a way not particularly correlated to faith. One could choose to define "being a better Christian" as "any life improvement relevant in any way to a Christian", so that it also included all kinds of doing-various-things-better which would be just as recognisable as life improvements to atheists or Muslims or Pastafarians, but I think it's a more useful phrase if its meaning is restricted to things which are in some way specifically related to how being a Christian differs from every other religion or life philosophy on the planet.

Many things would be beneficial to everyone and fall under the category of "being a better person". Some things are not for everybody and might fall under more specific categories such as "being a better Christian/Buddhist/Republican/liberal/etc". For any given person, a bunch of things picked from several of those categories fall under "things I would like to improve about myself", but I think it's a mistake to confuse the last category with one of the middle ones. (Or, come to think of it, with the first.)
From:nlj21
Date:May 1st, 2006 10:26 am (UTC)
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The problem with publishing a text-book with that motivation is that maths being "beautiful, fun and interesting" are all subjective judgements (ones I agree with, but subjective nonetheless). I think there is value in studying maths (and many other things) ever if you find them dull, hard and boring.
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From:gerald_duck
Date:May 1st, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC)
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The problem with the motivation being "be a responsibile steward of God's creation" is that that's subjective, too.
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From:mst3kgirl
Date:May 1st, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC)
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Maybe their view is:

Study maths, so you can get a good job, so you can leave extra large tithes in the basket each week at church....
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:May 1st, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
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I can't find the "closure property of multiplication" verse, but I'd be impressed to see how they reconcile I Kings 7:23 (question 8) with having a chapter (10) on trigonometry...

Actually, I suspect it will involve working in degrees, which is kinda intellectually dishonest when you're citing the bible as the truth behind mathematics.
From:nlj21
Date:May 1st, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
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I *think* Leviticus 25:8 is the answer they're looking for the closure property of multiplication: seven years is a sabbath, therefore seven years * seven years is a sabbath also.
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:May 1st, 2006 02:43 pm (UTC)
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Possibly... but, wouldn't that be closure on sabbaths?

Come to think of it, how does a closure property apply to an operator anyway? Isn't it only on sets? (And if you use multiplication to define a relation in Nk, and use that to define the possibly-closed set, won't you run into the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic?)

I mean, presumably they meant "which verse shows that integers (or sabbaths?) are closed under multiplication?" but that's not what they asked...
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From:pjc50
Date:May 1st, 2006 11:02 pm (UTC)
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Intellectually dishonest? I don't follow.

(Besides, the One True angle system for trigonometry is radians, they're only a huge hassle for geometry)
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:May 2nd, 2006 09:55 am (UTC)
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Because if you teach that the bible has answers for everything, and teach trig identities in degrees, and fail to teach geometry, you're leaving out p (and the fact that it contradicts I Kings 7:23) entirely.

Choosing facts which fit your case and ignoring those which do not is intellectually dishonest.
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From:pjc50
Date:May 2nd, 2006 11:38 pm (UTC)
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How do we know that observed-pi is actually at its current value? How do we know that it hasn't become deformed from 3 by the corrosive effects of sin within the universe?

I don't think non-positivists are intellectually dishonest, although it's usually fairly difficult to discuss philosophy with one...

(observed-pi: the ratio of the diameter of a physical object to its circumference. May differ from Euler equation Pi due to spatial distortion or a specific act of the divine will)
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:May 3rd, 2006 10:21 am (UTC)
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How do we know that observed-pi is actually at its current value?

Only by continuous testing, which would be pointless and dull, so ditching Naïve Skepticism would probably be a good start.

How do we know that it hasn't become deformed from 3 by the corrosive effects of sin within the universe?

How do we know that we, and our perceptions that there is a universe, weren't created five minutes ago by a Cartesian demon (or cartesiandaemon, for that matter)?

The problem is that such epistemological tracks lead very quickly to a conclusion that we cannot know anything and, hence, any other conclusions drawn are meaningless.

On the other hand, rejecting such nihilism would lead to a great excuse: "No, Father, I was only at that brothel to determine if the presence of sin changed the observed value of pi..."
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From:gerald_duck
Date:May 1st, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
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I wonder what they'd say if someone tried to bring Gödel's Theorem into Sunday school teaching on Biblical truth.

Frankly, at least in translation, Luke 12:52 reads more like unwitting tautology than an intentional illustration of commutativity.

And I bet they'll steer well clear of 1 Kings 7:23 when the value of π is discussed.

Still, I suppose there are worse things than Christianity to have sponsoring education…
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From:king_of_wrong
Date:May 1st, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Mmm... Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem... of course, that leads to a coy answer that the bible defines some "theorems" which can only be answered by God.

Still, it's better than trying to get them to tell you where in the bible the proof of the Riemann Hypothesis is.
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From:simont
Date:May 1st, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
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... study topology and grow more holey?

I read somewhere that among various kinds of scientist, the highest proportion of religious people was found among mathematicians, and the lowest among biologists.

This struck me as plausible at the time, on the grounds that biologists get particularly up-close-and-personal with the appalling trial-and-error design of the human body and on the other hand mathematicians are already used to thinking in terms of transcendent ultimate truths :-)
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From:ashfae
Date:May 1st, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
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But according to my friend's uncle, maths contribute to the evil leftist agenda!

(no, not kidding)
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From:atreic
Date:May 1st, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC)
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Of course it does. Maths teaches people to think carefully. Thinking carefully is just what those evil leftists want our children to do!
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From:pjc50
Date:May 1st, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
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The what? Does he have some claimed causality for that?
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From:pjc50
Date:May 1st, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Now is probably a good time to raise the philosophical question which seems to distinguish mathematicians from non-mathematicians, which is:
"Does the number 2 exist outside of a mind to think of it? That is, if there were no intelligent life in the universe, would it still exist?"

Also, http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Facility/4118/misc/plato-cult.html (with particular reference to the list of 40 wrong thoughts)
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From:robert_jones
Date:May 2nd, 2006 09:26 am (UTC)
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I'm curious as to how it distinguishes mathematicians from non-mathematicians. I would say (on the basis of once having written an MPhil essay on the subject) that non-mathematicians split between platonism (popular with scientists) and conceptualism (popular with sociologists) and mathematicians split bewteen platonism and formalism, with a heavy bias towards formalism.

(In case any passersby should be wondering, platonism would hold that 2 exists in abstract, conceptualism that 2 is a social construct and formalism that 2 arises from a set of arbitrary axioms chosen by the mathematician.)
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From:pjc50
Date:May 2nd, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
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Maybe my sample size is too small. The mathematicians presented with it, including me, went Platonist, while the non-mathematicians went for formalism (which has as an axiom the existence of a person who is a mathematician on at least one side)

Would it be possible to read your essay?
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From:robert_jones
Date:May 3rd, 2006 07:39 am (UTC)
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From:passage
Date:May 3rd, 2006 08:05 am (UTC)
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Surely anyone who has read any theology knows that studying some maths would make a world of difference to the quality of the work of most theologians.
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