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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.

(30 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:May 1st, 2006 09:05 am (UTC)
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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Date:May 1st, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
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Date:May 1st, 2006 09:14 am (UTC)

I am all for both mathematics and holiness, but this is the first time I've seen the two directly linked. :-D
Date:May 1st, 2006 09:24 am (UTC)
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.

Date:May 1st, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
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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Date:May 1st, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
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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Date:May 1st, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
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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Date:May 1st, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)
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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Date:May 1st, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
... 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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Date:May 1st, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC)
But according to my friend's uncle, maths contribute to the evil leftist agenda!

(no, not kidding)
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Date:May 1st, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC)
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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Date:May 1st, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
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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Date:May 2nd, 2006 09:26 am (UTC)
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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Date:May 3rd, 2006 08:05 am (UTC)
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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