<quote from Real Faith & Reason, vol 2>
Math as a Way of Knowing
Another possible avenue is exploring mathematical universes, which, simply put, explain that the structure of mathematics may change depending in which universe you reside. ~ Elizabeth Howell, Parallel Universes: Theories & Evidence
In my new book “Our Mathematical Universe”, I argue that it means that our universe isn’t just described by math, but that it is math in the sense that we’re all parts of a giant mathematical object, which in turn is part of a multiverse so huge that it makes the other multiverses debated in recent years seem puny in comparison. ~ Max Tegmark, Is the Universe Made of Math?
We can know things using math if we don’t assume anything or tell any stories. Once we add made-up stuff to our math, we have made-up stuff as the result of our math. The two quotes above are examples of math that plugs in assumptions and other made-up stuff. Suppose we have a formula. Suppose we can’t get all the factors the formula need. We want to calculate using the formula. Suppose we make up some numbers and plug them into the formula so we can calculate. That’s a good way to fool ourselves.
Math can make nonsense seem intelligent. Using math, we can “prove” that everything can come from nothing. We can “prove” this by just making a few assumptions. Of course, with a single assumption, we can prove anything to ourselves.
With math, as with logic, we need true premises. We need true factors. We need to have a way to prove that our formulas and mathematical methods can yield truth. Unfortunately, the language of math uses deceptive definitions of both proof and truth. Mathematicians speak of truth and proof, but they don’t mean that their truth or proof has anything to do with reality.
“The normal notion of pure math is that mathematicians have some kind of direct pipeline to God’s thoughts, to absolute truth,” Dr. Chaitin wrote in “The Limits of Mathematics.” While scientific knowledge is tentative and subject to constant revision, mathematics is usually seen as eternal. But Dr. Chaitin called on his colleagues to abandon mathematical Platonism and adopt a “quasi-empirical” approach that treats mathematics as just another messy experimental science. ~ George Johnson, Useful Invention Or Absolute Truth: What Is Math?
Math and logic come from God. God communicates through them. He uses them. In a sense, they are parts of the language of God. However, we can misuse math. If you search the Internet for a phrase such as “what can math prove,” you’ll find all sorts of misused and irrational math.
What follows is an example from Quora on a question: “Can mathematics prove the existence of God or intelligent design?” I’m including the quote to show how silly mathematical thinking can become.
Base Case (or assumption):
- God exists
- The universe is so big and complex, it must have a creator (god). In other words, everything must have a creator (as the universe contains everything).
- The creator must be a more complex entity than its creation. In other words, God must be more complex than the universe we live in. For example, we humans create robots and we know our body is much more complex than that of robots.
If, because the universe is so complex, it needs a creator, and its creator (God) is more complex than its creation (the universe), then God must have its creator, let’s name it “God1”. Similarly, God1 must also have its creator (say God2) and so on…. up to God∞ (read as God-infinity). We know that infinity (∞) is not a real number, so God∞ can’t exist and hence one or more of our assumption(s) were wrong.
The mathematician implies the only way we know God exists is by knowing the universe is big and complex. However, that isn’t how we know the creator God exists. God proves His existence by revealing His reality to every person. That’s why every person knows He exists.
And the mathematician also said this:
the universe contains everything
In His “logic,” the mathematician includes God in his term “everything.” He’s claiming the Creator God is limited to the universe He created. What makes him think so?
At the very least it’s a word game in which the word “universe” is given a special meaning. If the universe includes God, as the mathematician implies, then is the mathematician claiming God is part of the created world? What makes him think so? Where’s the proof?
The mathematician also implies another god created God. What makes him think that? He needs to give us absolute proof. He has none.
What makes him think everything complex needs a creator? Where’s the proof for that? He can’t prove his premise.
He implies God is the same thing as infinity. What makes him think so?
The statement implies nothing is infinite because infinity can’t be assigned to a finite number. Why does he believe this? Can he prove it?
The mathematician has dragged us down into the weeds and muddied the water to create confusion. However, we can see clearly. We can reason clearly. We just return to knowing Jesus Christ. We know the triune God through Jesus. The truth brings sanity.
We’ve looked at just one example of someone misusing math. You can find more deceptive and more irrational examples than this one. I thought this one was confusing enough for this book.
Whenever someone bases logic on assumptions they lack truth. When they don’t base logic on truth they think irrationally. Their foundation crumbles. And yet, they’re dogmatic. The more irrational they are, the more dogmatic they are. That’s part of why the world is so crazy.
God does use math. He understands it. God comprehends math completely. The best mathematicians have vague ideas about math. Some of those ideas are right, and some of those ideas are wrong. And yet, God speaks to us through math at times to reveal reality to us.
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