A Mathematician Takes on John VS’s Sermon on Math

Link

My comment

I hear your warning of believing the math of preachers who dabble outside their disciplines. I’m tempted to apply this warning to you, who it sounds is dabbling in the discipline of preachers.

In watching your little video I was tempted to believe that math doesn’t exist. If you go to the top of a mountain you can’t find it. If you travel to the moon it isn’t there. Our robots out in space haven’t found it nor can our telescopes see it.

Yet billions of people spend billions of hours studying it. We allow math to determine how we build the bridges we trust with our lives, how we fashion the weapons to kill our enemies, how we engage in commerce that will fill some and starve others. People use math to know the world and control the world yet it is a complete abstraction, whose existence itself cannot really be proven, because of course we can’t even prove our own existence.

Math is clearly not found in nature. My guess is that mathematicians very much believe in math, and that nature reveals it, and is revealed by it. In that way they are not far from Rev. Van Sloten.

Theologians and mathematicians engage in conversations as old a human civilization about something they cannot lay their hands or eyes upon. The judgment that such a venture has been folly, like all human judgment belongs to its author.

Judgment itself, however, always begs for a verdict but within the courts of humanity none can find one that is final, universal or decisive. Math offers itself as such a court. Something that will transcend judgment and language.

It would be a shame, however, if no such court or judge existed for the matters of our lives far greater than the abstractions of mathematics. It’s no wonder humanity, who can’t keep itself from making judgments about what we cannot fully understand, has always imagined a judge who will judge with justice and finality.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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