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Where Mathematics Fits in Gods World by James Nickel, B.A., B.Th., B.Miss., M.A. Copyright 2008

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Presentation on theme: "Where Mathematics Fits in Gods World by James Nickel, B.A., B.Th., B.Miss., M.A. Copyright 2008"— Presentation transcript:

1 Where Mathematics Fits in Gods World by James Nickel, B.A., B.Th., B.Miss., M.A. Copyright 2008

2 Questions 1.How do we define mathematics? 2.What can the Scriptural grid teach us about mathematics? 3.How can we cultivate a distinctively Biblical Christian view of mathematics? Copyright 2008

3 Question #1 How do we define mathematics? Copyright 2008

4 Listen to the Experts Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1984), What exactly is mathematics? Many have tried but nobody has really succeeded in defining mathematics; it is always something else. Copyright 2008

5 Listen to the Experts Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Mathematics is the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. Copyright 2008

6 Listen to the Experts Morris Kline (1908-1992), Mathematics is a body of knowledge. But it contains no truths. Copyright 2008

7 Listen to the Experts David Hilbert (1862-1943), Mathematics is a meaningless, formal game. Copyright 2008

8 Listen to the Experts College professor at a prominent Christian college (in the 1980s), Integration is not possible in mathematics... In mathematics Gods revelation is silent. There is nothing to integrate... the mathematician is not seeking for truth... as far as mathematics goes there aint nuthin there. Copyright 2008

9 What mathematics is not Mathematics is not just an assumedly neutral body of knowledge containing no truth content. Mathematics is not just a mind game. Mathematics is not just about abstract properties of number and space. Mathematics is not just about logic. Copyright 2008

10 Assertion Mathematics can be defined. Where do we begin? We begin with the Scriptural revelation of God. Copyright 2008

11 What Revelation Says Psalm 36:9, In Thy light, we see light. Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge …. Psalm 111:10, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …. Copyright 2008

12 What Revelation Says Colossians 2:3, 8, … Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Copyright 2008

13 What Revelation Says II Corinthians 10:4-5, For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. Copyright 2008

14 What Revelation Says Romans 12:1-2, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Copyright 2008

15 Presuppositions The Biblical Christian presupposes that we can know truly on the basis of the Bible, Gods verbal and written revelation. This knowledge is not exhaustive (e.g., the Bible does not reveal knowledge about quadratic equations), but it is knowledge that brings a true perspective to all aspects of the human endeavor, eternal and temporal. Copyright 2008

16 Wisdom and Knowledge All aspects of wisdom and knowledge, not just the spiritual parts and including such analytical knowledge like quadratic equations, find integrative meaning, purpose, and perspective in terms of the full and complete revelation of God in Christ. Copyright 2008

17 Fearing God True knowledge can only be acquired by a reverenced submission to the Living God. Copyright 2008

18 Implications If the Biblical Christian knows on the basis of the Bibles revelation of God in Christ, then it is imperative that the Biblical Christian know how to read, write, and cipher. Copyright 2008

19 Implications The Biblical Christian must know how to read in order to understand in truth Gods revelation of Himself in Scripture and in creation. The Biblical Christian must know how to write in order to communicate Gods truth to others. The Biblical Christian must know how to count in order to understand and develop the created order. Copyright 2008

20 Some Etymology Mathematics: from the Greek (mathetes) meaning learner or disciple. It is the root of the Old English mathein, to be aware, and the Old German munthen, to awaken. Mathematics, seen from the Biblical perspective, should awaken us to wonder. Copyright 2008

21 Quotes based upon Revelation Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til (1895- 1987), As Christians we must not allow that even such a thing as enumeration or counting can be accounted for except upon the supposition of the truth of what we are told in Scripture about the triune God as the Creator and Redeemer of the world. Copyright 2008

22 Quotes based upon Revelation Christian theologian Vern Poythress, … in exploring mathematics one is exploring the nature of Gods rule over the universe, i.e., one is exploring the nature of God Himself. Copyright 2008

23 Quotes based upon Revelation Christian scientist Johannes Kepler (1571- 1630), The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics. Copyright 2008

24 Definition Mathematics is a mental discipline that makes use of the abstract formulation of ideas suggested by the patterned structure of Gods creation. It is the artful use of the God-given reasoning processes to make connections (find unity in diversity) and then to infer and deduce new facts about creation; i.e., to discover the wisdom of God in Christ hidden in creation (see Proverbs 25:2). Copyright 2008

25 Definition Mathematics is a series of significant assertions about the nature of creation and its conclusions impact almost all the arts and sciences (either in the context of aesthetical beauty or dominion mandate applications). Copyright 2008

26 What Mathematics Involves Method. Map. Mastery. Memory. Manner. Copyright 2008

27 Method Induction: the search for pattern (e.g., Kepler). –From the particular to the general. –Acknowledges intuitional capabilities. Deduction: the development of logic (e.g., Newton). –From the general to the particular. –Acknowledges rational capabilities. Copyright 2008

28 Map Unity in Diversity. A given body of interconnected knowledge. Connections between the mind and the physical creation. Connections within the structure of mathematics. Copyright 2008

29 Mastery Unique style and language. You must learn to manipulate symbols and equations (order and operations). Similar to art appreciation–an equation or theorem, if seen in the right perspective, can be beautiful. Copyright 2008

30 Mastery There are many realms of mathematics which include the theory of number, the practice of arithmetic, and the description of the patterned order of creation. Since mathematics reflects the patterns of Gods created order, then the language of that pattern is mathematics. Just like any other language, we must understand the grammar of mathematics if we want to effectively obey Gods command to take dominion over what He has made. Copyright 2008

31 Memory Training in the ability to see mathematics in the mind. Rote memory is always linked to understanding. Copyright 2008

32 Manner Fire in the equations (developed by worshipping the God of creation). Mathematics is logic on fire (passion). Mathematics is to be studied with the windows of the mind open to the wonderful world of Gods making. Copyright 2008

33 Question #2 What can the Scriptural grid teach us about mathematics? Copyright 2008

34 The Scriptural Grid Creation and the cultural mandate. The fall and the cultural mandate. Redemption and the cultural mandate. Copyright 2008

35 Creation and the Word Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. John 1:1-3, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Copyright 2008

36 Creation and the Word Colossians 1:15-17, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Copyright 2008

37 Creation and the Word Gods speech is the source and the sustenance of every aspect of the physical creation, visible and invisible. Sound waves and the entire electromagnetic spectrum (light, x-rays, etc.) are all oscillatory (periodic) and can be described using trigonometric functions. Copyright 2008

38 The Goal of Creation Dependent man and independent God in fellowship. All of grace–He blessed man before he required any obedience from him. Copyright 2008

39 Fixed Order Interconnectedness, purpose, and full of patterned order. Jeremiah 31:35-36, Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the LORD of hosts is his name: If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, … Copyright 2008

40 Creation is a Symbol Creation points to the Creator. What is made reveals the nature of the One who made it. Copyright 2008

41 Mans Task Genesis 2:15, 19-20, The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it …Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field … Copyright 2008

42 Mans Task Cultivate the garden (Genesis 2:15): foundation of culture. Adam commanded to name the animals, or to identify characteristics that map the animal. Copyright 2008

43 Mans Task Mathematics is all about naming the creation–number is a tool of dominion. Creation is filled with patterns and order reflecting the language fabric of Gods sustaining word of power; sometimes it takes diligent prospecting to discover them (Proverbs 25:2). Copyright 2008

44 The fall and the cultural mandate Genesis 3 records the historic, space-time fall of man. Man and God out of fellowship ( ). Man and man out of fellowship ( ). Man and creation out of fellowship: dominion becomes destructive (but not totally so due to Gods providential purposes). Copyright 2008

45 Mathematical Modeling Copyright 2008

46 Consequences of the Fall Copyright 2008 Boxes 2 & 3 (abstract) absolutized.

47 Misplaced Pride of Ownership Copyright 2008 Blurs the distinction between the mathematics excavated (patterns of creation) and the tools (mind of man) used for its excavation. Misplaced pride results in statements like, Mathematics is solely the invention of the human mind.

48 Abstraction Absolutized Games in the abstract; e.g. pure mathematics. Pedagogy: a tendency to forget about boxes 1 & 4–mathematics becomes just a bunch of chicken scratches on the blackboard. Copyright 2008

49 Counter Perspective Johannes Kepler, The astronomers, as priests of God to the book of nature, ought to keep in their minds not the glory of their own intellect, but the glory of God above everything else. Our minds are gifts from God to be used to further His glory and honor, not our own. Copyright 2008

50 Redemption and the cultural mandate Returns man to the safety of dependence. Independent man is out of control. Both mathematics and mathematicians must be subject to the Lordship of God in Christ. Copyright 2008

51 Question #3 How can we cultivate a distinctively Biblical Christian view of mathematics? Copyright 2008

52 Biblical Christian View Christ is the point marker–He is the mediator of both redemption and creation. God is the Lord of truth: mathematics, although mans perception of it changes through history, points to ultimate truth–the wisdom of God in Christ. God is the Lord of beauty: symmetry in mathematics. God is the Lord of goodness – God in Christ is the author of all connections wonderful and delightful. Copyright 2008

53 Worship Johannes Kepler encountered the Living God as he explored the mathematics of Gods creation; after he developed the elliptical law of the motion of the planets around the Sun, he fell to his knees and exclaimed, My God! I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee! Copyright 2008

54 Why Cultivate? Appreciate the power and wonder of mathematics. Advocate (communicate) this wonder in the Holy Spirit (mathematics will not be boring). Adorn: Humbly give God the best of your thoughts and words. Copyright 2008

55 Where Does this Cultivation Occur? Everywhere! Copyright 2008

56 Couch (Home) Parents must be trained to understand the implications of the Biblical Christian worldview for mathematics. Copyright 2008

57 Church Must recognize that God is the Lord of all truth, not just spiritual truth. If not, God is the Lord of nothing. Cornelius Van Til, Unless we press the crown rights of the Lord Jesus Christ in every realm, we shall not retain these rights in any realm. Copyright 2008

58 Classroom Where boys become men–How are you teaching? By the book? Which book? The Book of Gods works! Ive always done it this way. Explore, record, reflect, and research (the best teacher is always a student)–develop your teaching and your fire for mathematics by worship. Copyright 2008

59 Culture God in Christ commands His followers to disciple nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Copyright 2008

60 Discipleship = Mentoring Mentor relationship. Takes time and investment. Lead the mentoree to greater heights than you have obtained. Copyright 2008

61 The Task If we can show students that their math work is part of gaining a working knowledge of the way God has ordered His creation, then we have overcome a major motivational obstacle that sometimes is phrased as a question: Why do we have to learn math? We learn math in order to catch a glimpse of Gods creational speech. Copyright 2008

62 The Task As we learn mathematics, we are one step away from discerning the patterned order of creation. As we learn this patterned order, then we are one step away from the encountering the Living God. Copyright 2008

63 The Task and the Goal The goal of teaching mathematics is to instill in the student this response of praise to God. Not praise to themselves because of their ability to do math, but praise to the Living God who has granted them the gift of logical reasoning whereby they can worshipfully discern the faithfulness of God revealed in the created order. Copyright 2008

64 Result Cultural renaissance (in a full-orbed Biblical Christian sense); salt and light indeed! Copyright 2008

65 Where Mathematics Fits in Gods World 1.We can define mathematics Biblically. 2.The Scriptures reveal a grid (creation, fall, redemption) that informs us about the place and purpose of mathematics in Gods world. 3.We must, therefore, cultivate a distinctively Biblical Christian view of mathematics. Copyright 2008

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