General Revelation Through Mathematics

An Essay By Sarah Liz // 4/13/2017

General Revelation through Mathematics
Sarah E. Lash
03/02/2017

You may have sat in many a math class and wondered why. As a child, I would labor over long division, multiplication tables, and algebra, and shake my head at the apparent uselessness of it all. Mathematics seemed not only utterly impractical, but also entirely devoid of anything pertaining to the pursuit of Jesus Christ.

Think again. Remember Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

This verse refers to what we call general revelation in theology. A good way to think of it is the cosmological argument in apologetics. We look at the universe (cosmos), and deduce that there must be something more than ourselves—a Higher Power. In the same way, we look at the world around us, and know that there must be a God.

Note that general revelation, alone, sinply takes us to knowledge of a God. Special revelation leads us to the God, that is Jesus Christ, and salvation through Him. However, general revelation is very important; because, as we know, much of the world (past, present and future) will be judged, not by the law, but by the general revelation of the God of the universe.

All of that to say, we could then say mathematicians have a sort of special knowledge of God through His revelation of Himself in mathematics. This is to be distinguished from special revelation proper, but still a different type of revelation than a typical person may have. In the same way as a lawyer can read the letter of the law, and determine somewhat of the character and the person of the individual that wrote it, a mathematician can look at the laws of his trade, mathematics, and deduce some of the character and the person of the One who placed it into motion. Reading law gives a person an idea of the character and attributes of he who wrote that law.

The principles of mathematics are simple—nearly commonsense; and yet very, very complex. We speak of the problem of the one and the many in philosophy; this is a problem that also plagues math. There is such thing as three apples, three horses, and three cars. These are one and united in that they are all sets of three; yet they are very different things. In mathematics, we have number sets. For example, take the real number set and the integer set. They are unified in that they are numbers; they are distinct in that they are two very different sets of numbers.

You ask, what does this tell us about God? This particular concept is found in the Trinity. God is three distinct persons in one. He is united in Himself; and yet he is distinct. Again, the one and the many.

For another example of revelation of simply a Higher Power through mathematics, we can consider the concept of coherence of thought and rationality. In order for there to be a blanket standard for rational thought and logic (on which stands the whole of mathematics), there must be One that is the Great Logician. If there is not, then there is no standard by which we can judge the correctness, or lack thereof, of a balanced equation, a distribution, or a graph. One man could not be right or wrong; perhaps he simply perceives the natural world differently than another. Therefore, by the inherent ultimate truth in math, we can see the existence of a Higher Power.

Again, general revelation, through mathematics or otherwise, is not meant to bring us to a full knowledge of salvation in Jesus. That is done through the Scripture. Math adds nothing, and takes nothing away from Scripture. It simply gives a small glimpse of the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God”. (2 Cor. 4:6)

Comments

Great Rambling!

You made my mouth water to sit down and do some math! Having just been studying the one and the many, I was particularly struck by your application of it to math. I also love your point that the rationality and logic found in math must point to a single "Great Logician". It seems that the Source of mathematical truths is the same Absolute Authority over all matters of Faith and morals. I've always wanted to relate math to God, and now I see the connection! Having just been reading the Meno, I will also add that another connection between math and God is imperfectly reached by Socrates, who uses geometry to further his inquiry into the definition of virtue.

Regina | Thu, 05/04/2017

"Human life is nothing more than an entertainment staged by folly."-Erasmus

Great Rambling!

You made my mouth water to sit down and do some math! Having just been studying the one and the many, I was particularly struck by your application of it to math. I also love your point that the rationality and logic found in math must point to a single "Great Logician". It seems that the Source of mathematical truths is the same Absolute Authority over all matters of Faith and morals. I've always wanted to relate math to God, and now I see the connection! Having just been reading the Meno, I will also add that another connection between math and God is imperfectly reached by Socrates, who uses geometry to further his inquiry into the definition of virtue.

Regina | Thu, 05/04/2017

"Human life is nothing more than an entertainment staged by folly."-Erasmus

Thank you!

Yes, math and theology have a lot of connections! A great read, which is got me started on a lot of thinking along those lines, is "Redeeming Mathematics". I forget who it's by. But a very great book.

Sarah Liz | Thu, 05/11/2017

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." ~ Anonymous

Fascinating! P. S. I finally

Fascinating! P. S. I finally got the Love and Math book you mentioned in the last math essay, and I've only just started it so far - but it is just wonderful! Thanks for suggesting it. :)

Hannah D. | Thu, 05/11/2017

"Reason itself is a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all." - G. K. Chesterton

Great! That is one of my

Great! That is one of my favorite mathematical reads.

Sarah Liz | Fri, 05/12/2017

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." ~ Anonymous

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