Math, the Universe, and Scripture
Unlike many people I have met, I happen to love the subject of math; from my point of view, it is one of the most logical subjects one could study and, therefore, the simplest. At the same time, it is one of the most complicated subjects one might study because it is ‘black-and-white’ — logical and ‘simple.’ When working on math problems, the answer is either correct, or it is not; there is no ‘maybe.’ If you got the answer correct, you can move on; if not, more work is needed, and you might not even know why it was incorrect.
I know most of you reading this have, at some point in your life, asked, “Why do I need to study [fill-in-the-blank math subject]?” Maybe you have stated, as an adult, “I have never once used [random math subject] in my life as an adult.” Many people who have studied in their younger years, and many adults who haven’t cracked open a math textbook in several decades, wonder why they study math at all. There is a logical answer, but probably not the one you anticipated.
We study mathematics in our younger years not just to know how to add and subtract, but to learn how to think critically. Mathematics helps our brains, at a young age, prepare for the time when it starts developing and we are able to not only give an answer to math problems and other issues we face in life, but to also know why. It helps the brain to set those patterns of thinking so we can handle complicated situations, challenge what is set before us, and to question things instead of just merely accepting something to be true, and to figure out why it is true [or not]. As we do this, we start ‘putting two and two together’ and coming to logical conclusions, identifying things that are not logical, or the things that do not make sense. So, whether you realize it or not, you probably do use those math skills in daily life [but probably just not for math problems].
We also may not realize how thoroughly ingrained in our world and universe math is, either; it is everywhere in the world and universe around us. Open up a fruit and you will find the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence [Ex. bananas have three sections; apples have five], and flowers will have the number of petals matching those numbers [3, 5, 8, 13, or 21 petals]. The rows of seeds in sunflowers and pine cones are arranged in the Fibonacci ‘swirls’ patterns, and that swirl is seen in mollusk shells and many other objects in nature. And the ratio between the numbers [above 2] in the Fibonacci sequence is always approximately 1.6 — what is often called ‘The Golden Ratio.’ Rectangles with this ratio [width to length] are called ‘Golden Rectangles,’ and designers will tell you that any object with that ratio within its design will always look ‘just right.’
To see all this and the fact of mathematics, logic, reason, and purpose in the design of nature itself would cause any rational and honest observer to acknowledge the possibility of this all coming about by mere time and chance is essentially impossible. But this agrees with what the Bible tells us. Scripture tells us, from the very beginning, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). God also tells us, through Isaiah, “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other’” (Isa. 45:18).
The wise writer, personifying wisdom, noted this: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth” (Prov. 8:22, 23), and then revealed, “When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman” (Prov. 8:7-30). Indeed, immeasurable wisdom was with God when He created all things, and it is shown by the natural world around us — if we would observe it honestly.
To refuse to see the evidence of a supremely wise Creator is the height of arrogance and dishonesty, but that is nothing new, either. Paul wrote of such a rejection by the Gentiles of old, noting that even though “what may be known of God” had been “shown…to them,” and though “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,” they “did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:18-22). That sounds strangely like what many are doing even today, does it not? With all the technology we have at our disposal and the ability to examine the tiniest of living creatures and nonliving material on an atomic level, many deny the supreme wisdom behind it and continue to put forth ridiculous and laughable theories that purposefully omit God as Creator, and all so we can convince ourselves we won’t have to give an account to that same Creator when we depart this world and face eternity.
A study of mathematics will help prepare our minds to think critically, to challenge what might seem to be true, and to use reason and logic to come to necessary conclusion, but I know of no sane person who would do intensive calculations and come to an inescapable conclusion in some mathematical problem, and then reject the answer because it is not the conclusion they desired. That would be absurd and absolute nonsense. It is no less absurd and nonsensical, then, to make such observations and thorough studies of our natural world (1) with a predetermined conclusion in mind, or (2) determining to reject and/or suppress all evidence that does not lead to that predetermined conclusion.
In a world where ‘science’ is now used to prop up false and unprovable theories about our origin and any disagreements with the mainstream thinking is not just rejected outright, but also ridiculed, maybe the problem is not the ‘unthinking religious’ but the ‘unthinking scientists’ and the dishonest ones. We would do well to challenge what is purported to be ‘facts’ and be willing to investigate all evidence and allow the facts lead us wherever they may. Maybe we should use some of those critical thinking skills learned in math class and then open our Bibles and allow ourselves to be challenged further. ‘Science’ quite often rejects the supernatural simply because it cannot be proven by the ‘scientific method.’ Well, of course, it cannot! That is why it is called super [beyond; above] natural. To reject the supernatural simply because it cannot be explained by the natural would be like rejecting the color purple because you cannot smell it.
Dare to challenge the theories that are declared to be ‘facts’; look at all the evidence; use critical thinking, logic, and reason. Don’t reject certain arguments simply because they might lead to different or unpopular conclusions. Think!
This may sound crazy, but as Paul said, “I am not mad,…but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25). — Steven Harper