Good Math, Bad Math

By way of Pharyngula, I saw something that I simply had to repeat here.

Every august, James Kennedy – a thoroughly repulsive ultra-fundy preacher from Coral Ridge Ministries – runs a conference called “Reclaiming America for Christ”. At this years conference, he featured a speech by Paul Jehle about “Evaluating your Philosophy of Education”.

Jehle is… umm… how do we say this politely?….

Ah, screw it. Jehle is a fucking frothing at the mouth nutjob lunatic asshole.

His basic argument – the argument that he *expects people to take seriously* – is that *everything* is either christian or non-christian. And if it’s non-christian, then christians shouldn’t look at it, listen to it, or study it. And you can’t *ever* make anything that started out non-christian christian.

How far does he go with this? Pretty damned far. Right into the domain of this here blog. In his talk, he uses the following story as an example:

>I was taking calculus. I was a mathematics major and I was at a Christian
>college that was called Christian, but was not Christian….
>
>I asked a question to my calculus professor: “What makes this course distinctly
>Christian?” He stopped. He said no one has ever asked that question before…
>
>He said, “Okay, I’m a Christian; you’re a Christian.”
>
>I said, “That’s not what I asked! What makes this calculus course distinctly
>Christian? What makes this different from the local secular university? Are we
>using the same text? Yes. Are you teaching it the same way? Yes. Then why is
>this called a Christian college and that one a non-Christian college?”

Yeah. Seriously. **Math is Bad**, because it’s *not explicitly christian*. I mean, it uses *zero*, which was invented by a *hindu*, and brought to europe by *muslims*. Algebra was invented by muslims! The word “algorithm” comes from the name of a *muslim* mathematician!

Uh-oh… I just realized that the alleged “Doctor” Jehle has a very serious problem. The way that we geeks heard his talk to write about it is because it was *digitized* – using a thoroughly non-christian technology – and posted on the *internet*, which is built using those non-christian *algorithms*. And to quite Jehle himself:

>But the issue is you cannot combine something by its nature which is pagan and
>built on humanistic principles and make it Christian by a magic wand.

So the internet, and computers, and digital recording, and the data compression that makes streaming audio work – they’re *non-christian*. And you cannot combine something non-Christian with something Christian.

Comments

  1. #1 Torbjörn Larsson
    August 8, 2006

    The real shocker was the link to religious math classes ( http://www.trnty.edu/faculty/robbert/SRobbertWebFolder/ChristianityMath/Calculus.html ).

    For example:
    “Transformation under Christ

    Eph. 2:1-7, Eph. 4:22-24

    Differentiation is an operator on functions that takes one functions and transforms it into another form. The new form is related to the old form–the derivative tells interesting information about how the original function behaves graphically–but it is a completely new function. When someone accepts Jesus as Lord of their life and gives themselves wholly to God as one of His creatures, a similar transformation occurs.”

    Or:
    “Once a person has been called to be a Christian, we are redeemed by Christ but not released from following the law of God. We are justified once but continue with the process of sanctification for the remainder of our lives. This sanctification process is like the limit process of the secant lines approaching the tangent line.”

    They even mix numerology into their religion in order to confuse their understanding of math!

    There are similar ideas over on The American Scientific Affiliation apologetics organisation web. For example “Students should not only be taught “the facts” which modern textbooks present. They should also know that there are different presumptions as to what constitutes a “fact,” as well as different interpretations and uses of them.” ( http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Mathematics/PSCF6-87geertsema.html ).

  2. #2 Hypatia
    August 8, 2006

    The library [of Alexandria] was subsequently destroyed by Julius Caesar, by Christian fanatics, and finally, by the Moslem caliph, Omar; Caesar burned the library as a military maneuver while fighting the Egyptians; the Christians destroyed the library because they were afraid it glorified paganism; caliph Omar is famous for his profound arrogance when he said that the contents of the library should be destroyed because if the manuscripts agreed with the teachings of Mohammed, they were redundant and need not be preserved and if they disagreed with the teachings of Mohammed, they were pernicious and should be destroyed.

    We’ve got a new Omar here.

  3. #3 Hypatia
    August 8, 2006

    Sorry, the above is from Stewart, Michael. “People, Places & Things: Library of Alexandria”, Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. http://messagenet.com/myths/ppt/Library_of_Alexandria_1.html

  4. #4 Thomas Winwood
    August 8, 2006

    At this point some smartaleck in the back row points out that Jehle’s name – horror of horrors – is German in origin! Germanic tribes are well-connected with their particular brand of paganism which still today survives in some words – Yule! Easter! Jehle’s name is not inherently Christian! Heaven forfend!

  5. #5 Mark Wan
    August 8, 2006

    If I were the teacher, I would have told him that you need to learn more mathematics to know that the law of excluded does not necessarily hold true for every statement. Therefore something is either Christian or non-Christian is not necessary implies true…

  6. #6 Nick
    August 8, 2006

    It’s only a matter of time before they collapse into paradox and ask “how Christian is Christianity?”

  7. #7 Zeno
    August 8, 2006

    Yeah, my jaw dropped and bounced off the floor when I hear Jehle babbling about what makes calculus Christian. As I noted in my original post, he never did tell us. Jehle’s talk is available at the Coral Ridge website for people who can stomach more of it. He’s freaking bonkers.

  8. #8 John McKay
    August 8, 2006

    I guess this means you’ll have to rename the site.

    Bad Math, Worse Math?
    Evil Math, Bad Math?

  9. #9 John McKay
    August 8, 2006

    What does this do to the number of the Beast? It makes sense that the Beast would use arabic numerals, but shouldn’t Christians represent it DCLXVI?

  10. #10 Blake Stacey
    August 8, 2006

    Funnily enough, I saw that “religious math classes” link on another site a few months ago — the Maths page of Crank Dot Net. Apt.

    Crank Dot Net is a really amusing site, by the way. Read at your own risk.

  11. #11 Ilari Sani
    August 9, 2006

    Why stop with math? I propose Christians take out of Christianity all that isn’t completely original, but derived from earlier religions.

    This leaves… virtually nothing. Except the midnight mass, which apparently is an uniquely Christian invention.

  12. #12 J Daley
    August 9, 2006

    Jehle’s right, you know. He’s also (brilliantly, if you ask me) just managed to demonstrate why Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with rationality. Good job.

  13. #13 cardoso
    August 9, 2006

    Amazing. I say: Let´s all agree with him, and help him shutdown from all godless science.

    I would LOVE to see those fundies reverting to stone age.

  14. #14 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 9, 2006

    That big ass Cadilac he drove into the mega church both built by engineers (no math there) surely must by un-Christian too.

  15. #15 qetzal
    August 9, 2006

    Jehle gave his talk in Aramaic, instead of that heathen English, right?

  16. #16 Simple Country Physicist
    August 9, 2006

    Is flipping fries at McDonalds unChristian? Must not be because that’s about all he’ll reduce Christians to for employment.

  17. #17 frank
    August 9, 2006

    When I saw that on Pharyngula yesterday, I had to double check my (non-christian, I’m sure) calendar to verify it wasn’t April 1. When I clicked on the link to the religious math class, I was convinced I was at a parody site like The Onion. Sadly, it was just another WTF moment because I came across something new from the fundies.

  18. #18 Carl Christensen
    August 9, 2006

    Why is it always the peculiar, perverted form of American Christians/Christianity? And usually nutjobs in the southern USA at that? I don’t know of any sort that needs their own “labelled brand” of things, i.e. the horrible “Christian rock” etc.

  19. #19 Bob O'H
    August 9, 2006

    And you can’t ever make anything that started out non-christian christian.

    The Bible?

  20. #20 Ben
    August 9, 2006

    Air. There was air before there was Christianity, so Christians shouldn’t breath the air. Sounds just as rational (whoops a math word) as the rest of his argument to me.

    Ben

  21. #21 penty
    August 9, 2006

    “the bible” , nice job Bob O`H.

  22. #22 Phil Crissman
    August 9, 2006

    As a Christian, and a Computer Science major, I think I can state that Jehle’s opinion on this matter is not an orthodox Christian view of math.

    In fact, anyone who’s read history (or even just Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle) will recall that both Newton and Leibniz, fathers of the Calculus, were sincere and devout Christians who saw no contradiction between their religious views and their mathematical studies.

    But back to Jehle’s main idea: that every topic is inherently “Christian” or “non-Christian”, and that the latter must be absolutely boycotted — that’s absurd, and I don’t know a single Christian writer, theologian, or even personal acquaintance who would agree with it.

  23. #23 Darryl Petrak
    August 9, 2006

    WRONG! Math is a basic property of God’s creation. It is most assuredly Christian. Zero (and our other digits) is a symbol created and used by man to represent part of the math that God made part of His universe. Regrettably, Islamic terrorists do not have a corner on illogical, unreasonable, contrary to their book, fanatacism. (They just are currently the most barbaric.)

    Darryl, New Mexico, USA

  24. #24 James
    August 9, 2006
  25. #25 Torbjörn Larsson
    August 9, 2006

    Phil:

    “both Newton and Leibniz, fathers of the Calculus, were sincere and devout Christians”

    You are joking, right?

    Newton is known as an heretic.

    “In the 1690s Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible. Henry More’s belief in the infinity of the universe and rejection of Cartesian dualism may have influenced Newton’s religious ideas. A manuscript he sent to John Locke in which he disputed the existence of the Trinity was never published. Later works — The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728) and Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733) — were published after his death.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton )

    Leibniz is known as a deist.

    “Whereas Spinoza’s system focused on a pantheistic determinism, Leibniz’ required action from a God who is perfect. Following from this, he viewed perfection and the pre-established harmony as the highest ends of man. He espoused a philosophy which came to be known as deism, in which God creates the world and its contents as perfect, and as a result, it is not required as necessary that God intercede in the world at all–in fact, to ascribe such an action to God would be to make his actions seem superfluous.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Leibniz )

    “Math is a basic property of God’s creation.”
    So is hinduism, buddism, … Game over, try again.

  26. #26 Jono
    August 9, 2006

    I was glad to see Phil finally point out the devout nature of these important mathematicians. In fact Newton wrote the Pricipia Mathematica, one of the founding works of calculus, as a proof of the existence of god. Newton believed that by understanding the mathematical rules of the universe we could touch the mind of god. Christ, some people. Myself, I don’t believe in calculus any more than I believe in Jesus. Approximation is not truth!

  27. #27 John Silma
    August 9, 2006

    Since he was at a Christian school, he likely expected the Math class to also reinforce his religious beliefs. So for example as they go through their studies the professor might add now and then how certain mathematicians were influenced by Christianity, and how they followed God to diligently pursue the areas of math they focused on. By learning about mathematicians of the past Christian students can have a framework or yardsticks to guide their studies. From a Christian perspective, everything should relate to God, otherwise whats the point?

  28. #28 petronius
    August 9, 2006

    Let’s not paint all Christians with the same brush here! It was the Catholic Church that preserved, protected and taught mathematics and other learned pursuits throughout the Dark Ages, and you would be hard pressed to find any Catholic mathematicians or scientists today who would agree with Jehle’s assertions.

  29. #29 Jason McCandless
    August 9, 2006

    “Then why is this called a Christian college and that one a non-Christian college?”

    Answer: It’s full of you fundementalist nutjobs.

  30. #30 Phil Crissman
    August 9, 2006

    Torbjörn Larsson asked:

    Phil:

    “both Newton and Leibniz, fathers of the Calculus, were sincere and devout Christians”

    You are joking, right?

    Not joking, maybe just not clear… 😉

    Perhaps I should have said “sincere and devout according to their own personal views.”

    Newton’s rejection of the trinity would have been seen as heresy, but he didn’t reject the Bible; rather, his rejection of the trinity was based on his personal interpretation of the Bible.

    I’m not an expert on Leibniz’ views; my understanding was that he would probably have defended his “deism” as being “Christian”, but I may be wrong. In any case, he didn’t see math as being incompatible with religious views.

    Just my $0.02…

  31. #31 goddogtired
    August 9, 2006

    Xians welcome the application of technology that happened to have been delivered to this world by heathens, like steel and gunpowder. Once made holy by this acceptance, of course, the technology should be condemned as evil only when applied against Xians.

    I do not wish to make madness a crime, but such people as this are the very exceptions that prove that rule.

  32. #32 Zeno
    August 9, 2006

    Myself, I don’t believe in calculus any more than I believe in Jesus. Approximation is not truth!

    Jono, you’re not required to believe in calculus, but if you think calculus is approximation, then you don’t know what calculus is.

  33. #33 NeverBeBackThisWay
    August 9, 2006

    Funny…by his arguments I would think that maybe “air” is neither explicitly Christian or non-Christian.

    Maybe he should just stop using that non-specifically Christian air and his problems would go away 🙂

  34. #34 I cohen
    August 9, 2006

    Does that meen that when Noah let the animals in by onezees and twozees he is considered a Non Christian?

  35. #35 Torbjörn Larsson
    August 9, 2006

    Phil:

    “Perhaps I should have said “sincere and devout according to their own personal views.”

    Fair enough.

  36. #36 Andrew Fletcher
    August 9, 2006

    [RAF3 answer–posted 8/9/06]:
    I have two comments. One is that Paul Jehle was speaking on the subject of “Evaluating Your Philosophy of Education.” His question to the professor was a PHILOSOPHICAL one. Because he did not receive a proper answer he was left
    unsatisfied, but that does not mean that he therefore concluded that the discipline of calculus, about which he was wondering, was indeed “unChristian.” Perhaps he remains
    agnostic with respect to that issue. I did not see any proof in what you presented about Jehle that he indeed is positing that calculus or any other subdiscipline of mathematics is
    “unChristian.” I think you have failed to understand what Jehle was trying to communicate. He was SEARCHING for an answer when he asked his professor. You are mocking and ridiculing someone who doesn’t have to stand before your bar of judgment. He must stand before his Maker, as you, too, one day will have to do. The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day mocked Him, too, crying, ‘Crucify him. Crucify him.’ They hated the Son of God, as the Bible says, “without a cause.” Jesus Christ is the innocent “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It was for people like you and me that Christ (the Divine Son of God) took on human form and ultimately went to the cross and suffered to make atonement for our sins. Your attitude toward one who names the name of
    Christ, however misguided he or she may be, is not the way Christ handles error in His sheep. He seeks and saves that which is lost. He is meek and gentle and lowly of spirit,
    and will not crush a ‘bruised reed’ or ‘quench a moldering wick’ (where there is even an iota of faith). Your profane mockery is just that, empty, abusive, and ungodly, revealing
    your own ignorance even while you are trying to aggrandize yourself.

    My second point is that mathematics is part of God’s creation. He created the world and all that is in it, including the mathematical relationships and principles by which it is governed. He has allowed certain enlightened persons (we call them mathematicians) to discover some of these mathematical equations, algoritha, formuli, etc. It reveals the greatness of our Creator that He has condescended to share with His creatures things that
    improve their understanding of and ability to use His universe for their own benefit and edification. Ultimately God’s purpose in all of this is to Glorify His own holy Name. It is unfortunate that Jehle’s Christian professor at the Christian college he attended did not know these things and therefore was unable to articulate them to his inquiring student. Perhaps he had spent too much time wrapped up in all those formulae, equations, algorithms and the like, and not enough time contemplating the majesty and purposes of
    the God he professed to adore. I suggest that you, too, should open your eyes to the wonder of this universe. Its every part speaks to the incredible Mind which has conceived
    it and which continues to providentially govern it (by means of mathematically discernable principles)for His own glory.

  37. #37 John Brady
    August 9, 2006

    Downright frightening.

    Since I think math is the tool to understand the world
    and as an engineer I use this tool to help the world make better products – basically, meeting people’s needs by
    using less material , energy etc.

    The ‘religious nut’ is
    frightening.

    I also think that this sort of logic will be a big
    setback to science in the US.
    And the general science knowledge in the US has ‘some room for improvement’ Even a competant 19 century knowledge of math and science would be an improvement!

    God save us from fools such as that man!

  38. #38 RSN Rau
    August 9, 2006

    If math is bad & unchrtstian the christendom will have to renounce all progess due to science & technology. If history
    is to be believed all modern thought, including christian is
    due to two great civilzations Hindu & Chinese. It must be noted Hindusim does not claim exclusivity unlike Christianity,Islam & other great religions, but includes them as well. Just as all the great rivers join the mighty ocean so do all religions of this universe finally join ME. There is no single text or individual[unlike Jesus/Bible or Mohamed/Koran]to which Hinduism can be traced, but is the work of many sages of yore who transmitted great ideas mouth to mouth via trusted diciples.Knowledge is like a lighted lamp spreadig light in darkness all round & its own brightness is not diminished by lighting other lamps.Such
    is the universal nature of Hinduism. Do not condemn it to
    be a big Zero because a hindu gave it to the world!!

  39. #39 Torbjörn Larsson
    August 9, 2006

    Andrew:
    “His question to the professor was a PHILOSOPHICAL one.”
    No. You are making the same faulty assumption as he did.

    He asked “What makes this calculus course distinctly Christian?” Since math is a tool, secular by definition, there can be no difference in the course *as long as it is about calculus*.

    “My second point is that mathematics is part of God’s creation.”
    So is hinduism, buddism, et cetera. You are making the fallacy of begging the question.

  40. #40 ekzept
    August 9, 2006

    … they’re non-christian. And you cannot combine something non-Christian with something Christian.

    do we have the beginnings of an abstract algebra here?

    N + C = N

    C + C = C

    N + N = N

    C * c = C

    N * N = N

    N * C = 0

    N * C = C * N

    N * (N + C) = N * N = N

    C * (N + C) = C * N = 0 !problem!

    N * (N + C) = N * N = N

    N * (C + C) = N * C = 0

    N * (N + N) = N * N = N

    C * (C + C) = C * C = C

    C * (N + N) = C * N = 0

  41. #41 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    I have a great concern for anyone who is blogging about these comments and is so extreme in their views as to harshly criticize either view point. That type of narrow mindedness is what keeps people ignorant. I am a devoted Christian/mathematician/physicist and they all work perfectly together. Although I am not overly critical of many world religions, I will tell you that Christianity is the only one that stands up to mathematical proof (not approximation or fantasy). Math was designed by God, used by God, and professes God. Physics is another area that is profoundly God in it’s complexity and precision and for anyone open minded enough to take a look truely using scientific method (those who consider themselves logical and/or scientific take a hard look) will see God. God spoke through the Bible saying that “..all of creation point to me (paraphrased)”.
    For those wishing to criticize Christianity based on the early Catholic church and all of the coruption of non-Christians pretending to be Christian to gain power, please do some real research and save everyones time.
    Ps. Check out the book “Case for Christ”, “Case for the Creator”, etc. and get back to me. They give a simple easy to understand introduction to the concept.

  42. #42 Zeno
    August 10, 2006

    Check out the book “Case for Christ”, “Case for the Creator”, etc. and get back to me. They give a simple easy to understand introduction to the concept.

    Joe, I’ve seen The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator and I must say that I was not impressed. Strobel is preaching to those wanting to be persuaded. His arguments are based on sifted evidence. In one place in The Case for Christ he makes a big deal out of some writings of Papias, but neglects to mention that Eusebius (the “Father of Church History”) says that Papias “seems to have been a man of very small intelligence, to judge from his books.” That doesn’t raise one’s confidence in the overall stregth of Strobel’s case.

    I have more at Getting on God’s case.

  43. #43 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    Zeno,
    Nice to see that you are reading and doing research. If you continue the truth will be known. Please, humor me and give me the recognician of basing my information on more than one introductory book. If you would like to dig deeper, research “Nachmonades and Mamonades”. These are two early Hebrew scientists/theologians who discovered higher dimensions without even knowing what they had done. This should be a good start. Then, just for giggles, take a look at the geneology from Adam to Noah and try to discover the prophecy that it depicts, and likewise the various orders of the tribes of Judah. Next, take a look at the transfiguration of Jesus and how He can walk through walls and how that relates to current theories of physics. What I am doing here is simply to give starting points for study and how profoundly accurate they are. Please, I ask you not to denounce the Bible because of a few granola bars (you know the fruits, nuts, and flakes). I have been studying these accuracies and (please, believe me when I say this) trying to find inaccuracies for many years now. I wish that I could say that I just believed like a child would believe, but I can’t. I had to then, and am still proving these “fact” to myself because of who I am. I know the tendancies of man through study and experience, and no, I do not want to be made a fool of and be proven wrong. That is why I study so hard.
    God Bless

  44. #44 Davis
    August 10, 2006

    I will tell you that Christianity is the only one that stands up to mathematical proof (not approximation or fantasy). Math was designed by God, used by God, and professes God.

    Hmm, somehow the course on math professing God wasn’t part of my graduate school’s curriculum. Or do I get the mathematical proof of God after I pass my thesis defense? (I guess I’ll find out in 12 hours.)

  45. #45 l0b0
    August 10, 2006

    Just realized something – Paper (at least in its original form, papyrus) was invented by non-christians. Why doesn’t someone tell these guys they’ll have to write their bibles on oblates, or stone tablets, then maybe we’ll see them slightly less often…

  46. #46 Sean T. Perry
    August 10, 2006

    This blog ,along with many commenting on it, missed what it seems Jehle is going after. He isn’t attacking calculus(directly), but the “Christian” universities that would dare teach anything without Jesus in it. He might be labouring under the misconception that a Christian university is like a trades school or some technical institute, only focussing on making you a better Christian. Christain universities are just universities that are designated places for Christians to learn together, but having looked up and read more of Jehle’s rant I can safely say explaining it to him is probably not an option. Him being a closed-minded, bigot who was never able to grow from the stage where Jesus did flashy miracles and find the message. It is a shame.
    Interesting sidebar, Dr. Jehle is apparently a principal at some Christian school. Wonder what is on the curriculum?

  47. #47 Andy
    August 10, 2006

    People tend to hear only things that support their own ideas and ignore contradictory beliefs.

  48. #48 troniq
    August 10, 2006

    OK so some people are “way out there”. They don’t speak for all Christians.

    Christian = a PERSON who follows the teachings of Christ.

    Nothing other than a _person_ can be “Christian”.

    That’s what most people believe that I know, who profess to be Christians.

    The idea of “Christian media” or “Christian books” describes “having to do with” the religion or theology, but other than that it’s a misnomer. Only _people_ can follow Christ.

    So don’t let all this blogger hype-frenzy-FUD freak you out.

  49. #49 sean
    August 10, 2006

    Most people who say they are Christian are not!
    1 Jesus believed that your body is your temple so
    that makes the church heirecy.
    2 jesus believed that you help the people in the most need
    he gave his life to help the poor, disabled and elderly so if you dont help to educate the poor and help them so they arnt poor any more your not christian.
    i know critisizing will cause argument and possible anger
    so im sorry.
    i just have my own view that religions shouldn’t be thought of as this is how it is, but instead a series of stories and philosophies which is what i believe jesus
    originally intended in the first place

    Christanity is a life style created by jesus to help
    those in need. besides jesus was a Jew.
    for those who don’t know the council that crusifide jesus was held in an illegal meeting ware not all the members were present. so the crusifixion was illegal even by jewish standards. thats why the romans initially refused to crusify him. they sadly gave in under pressure however. so jesus died for the sins of criminals. criminals who were in power at the time.
    considering this thats why it just irritats me that the Passion was called anti-simetic when it clearly showed that not all councile members were present in an illegal night time meeting.
    small fact from art history. God was never considered to have a form of any kind in christianity untill a painter made the first portrait of God as a man
    in i think my teacher said the 1500’s i will need to look it up again. I personally won’t choose a religion it will only bring trouble from people think the opposite of you
    so i will only agree with the initially intended philosophies of religions which i think everyone agrees with no matter what Name you lable yourself with be it Christian, Muslim, African American, Native American.
    if your an American your an American. If you a Person your a Person so just treat each other as such and if you don’t agree ;P

  50. #50 Steven
    August 10, 2006

    This may come to a shocking surprise to the preacher, but he had better start striping his clothes off, and taking his applances out of his house and more or less getting rid of his house to. Half of everything is foreign made, by you guessed it all other belivefs other than christian. Do you think the dork may have thought of that when buying or using anything material in todays life as we know it. If you see this guy naked in the street someday, run dont walk too the closest bar and a drink, you’ll need one from laughing so hard.

  51. #51 Mo Fobbs
    August 10, 2006

    If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses – Lenny Bruce

  52. #52 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    Andrew Fletcher:

    I don’t buy that argument. If you listen to the talk, Jehle is very clearly saying that he went to a college that called itself christian, but wasn’t really; and as an example of that, there was nothing christian about his calculus class; it was exactly the same as a calculus class at a secular school. He’s arguing that his college was *not* really christian because classes like calculus didn’t have any christian content.

  53. #53 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    Joe:

    Every purportedly mathematical argument that I’ve ever seen for the existence of God has been pure, utter gibberish. And telling me to go out and spend *my* money to buy a book in order to see *your* argument is pure idiocy.

    You think you can make the argument mathematically? Fine. Show me the argument. Don’t tell me to go out and buy a book in order to see it.

  54. #54 taco40
    August 10, 2006

    One of my high school students asked me why I teach math. I told him that math is reliable and absolute. In a world that changes every day, in a world where the people you thought you could count on may prove to be unreliable, you can “count” on math to remain the same. It has wonderful order, it relates so intricately into the scientific domain (which is in constant change due to so much newly observed “facts” that may not be the complete picture in 50 years) which is so marvelously fascinating, but changing all the time at the whim of some self-proclaimed intellectuals’ interpretation of the data. That’s about as close as I can get to saying that I teach it because it is so much filled with symbols of my faith.

    How is math Christian? Something that I am not allowed to tell my students in the classroom, but many of my students may say there is that God is a God of order and reliability. He put all the pieces together for us to ponder, connect, analyze, and interpret.

    The Book of the Bible – Numbers – doesn’t seem non-Christian to me unless you eliminate the Old Testament as God’s Word. I doubt the above mentioned well-meaninged anti-education speaker would discount the Old Testament, but probably doesn’t realize that the whole 39 books point to Christ.

    The book of Revelation has so many symbolic numbers pertaining to the 4 corners of the Earth, the 3 members of the Trinity, the 12 apostles and tribes of Israel, the completeness of 7 and 12, and the incomplete number of the anti-Christ (that triple-digit number that many think is the number of the head demon).

    How often doesn’t Christ mentioning counting the cost of following him? I’m sure one could find numerous references to math in the Bible.

    Wow, I’ve gone on far too long with so many more references to think of.

    Hopefully, Mr. Jehle will find the links between the Fibonacci sequence and the created world. See http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibnat.html for some interesting parallels between creation and math. Non-Christian Coincidence?

    Thank you Mr. Jehle for bringing up the topic. I feel pretty good about math – again.

  55. #55 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    Mark, (and any other critic of mathematical/historical proof)
    I really do not have the time to spend blogging to help someone who doesn’t want to do the research to learn all sides of an argument. I will give a little more information for thought.
    1. The Old Testament(Torah) was education and prophecy of the New Testament.
    2. There are over 150 very specific and 150 not quite as specific prophecies about the acts of Jesus. (Please, do not insult me with retoric about the authenticity of early documents and cultural practices, because they are a matter of history and hard evidencs. If you deny these then you have simply chosen not to believe anything that does not support your arguement).
    3. Next take the probabilities that any one of these could have happened to a particular person. ie. A leader(king) has professed his leadership by riding into a particular town riding on the back of a young donkey on a particular day(holiday). Example: 1 of 1000 leaders have done this (not likely, use your own numbers that you are comfortable with).
    4. Then do this for all 300 prophecies and calculate the probabilities.
    5. Finally, compare the number to Planks’ constnt which is a scientific number of impossibility of chance.

    There are other methods, but this one is simple for anyone who isn’t fond of much research.

    For a more theoretical/scientific approach and if you are familiar with some of the more contemporary theories of physics (they are amazing in their scope and impact). Then compare some of the actions of God and/or Jesus with these multidimensional ideas. I simply do not have time to give an education on these. They will require some effort on your part.

    For the Mystics out there. Imagine a collection of books written over thousands of years by cultures that have no knowledge about the practices of cultures thousands of years later and perfectly forshadow these evfents. I have countless examples of these. One example, should you make the effort is Isaiah 53. The description is of abuse that was not even invented for millenia.

    If anyone is interested (do not want to complain), let me know at gijodi2jb@netscape.net

  56. #56 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    Joe:

    Spare me.

    As I’ve pointed out numerous times on this blog, *there is no scientific number for the impossibility of chance*. That’s bullshit.

    The “prophecies” are all things that are incredibly open to interpretation – they only appear amazing because we’ve had people for 2000 years trying to find “miraculous” fulfillment of prophecies.

    Try looking at the “Jews for Judaism” website for your wonderful Isaiah prophecy. If you actually read the text, you find that (a) it doesn’t describe anything in great specificity – there is *nothing* in the actual text that describes “abuse that was not invented for millenia:”; (b) the book of Isaiah doesn’t predate Jesus by “millenia”; and (c) much of the argument about Jesus fulfilling it is based on sloppy translations of the hebrew.

  57. #57 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    Mark,
    This is getting trite.
    Plancks constant IS used by theoretical scientists to determine whether or not an experiment should be run and the validity of that experiment to have affirmative results by chance. The number is 6.626×10-34 just in case you were interested in the information.

    One prophecy being fullfilled could be fabricated or misconstrewed, however when over 300 are fullfilled by the same person pointing to a specific person, then it gains some credability. Apparently it wasn’t worth the effort for you to play around with the math AT ALL!

    Thirdly; you have my apologies for my overexuberance in the time that Isaiah was written. The time was between 800 and 400 BC. I was excited.

    Finally, I am familiar with “Jews for Judaism” site. The Hebrew scolars that I am relying on, who date around the Christian era (100 BC to 300 AD to be more specific) have some differences of oppinion. Only one example which will typify my point is: The individual on the “Jews for Judaism” site show Isaiah 53:5 as53:5 “But he was wounded from (NOTE: not for) our transgressions, he was crushed from (AGAIN: not for) our iniquities.” There is NO indication of this in the original text. nasa’ is used here in the perfect tense and means to bear, lift up, endure with the primitive root being Qal. Chashab is used next to mean esteem, value, requard and is also used in the perfect tense with roots of Qal and Niphal. I simply do not see any negatives here. But maybe I and the scholars of the day still have something to learn.

    Do the math.
    Check the math!

  58. #58 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    You can’t mathematically critique and argument whose basic error isn’t mathematical. There’s no way to do the math if the necessary elements of the math are gibberish. These “prophecies” are not specific; they’re a mishmash of mistranslations, retrofitted events, hearsay, and nonsense. To pretend that you can prove anything from them mathematically is the height of nonsense.

    For more about the prophecy bullshit and what’s wrong with it, see my post at http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/06/fundie_probability_even_worse.php

    For the stupidity of “If it’s less likely than 10-34 that means it’s impossible”, see
    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/06/dishonest_dembskithe_universal_1.php. (As an aside, you guys need to get together and decide what the hell your “impossibility” limit is; I’ve seen arguments ranging from 10^23 to 10^160. Why is it that you can’t even agree on something as simple as that?)

  59. #59 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    Thanks for the links,
    I think everyone should take a look at the first and the second, unfortunatly would not come up. You call it gibberish but you haven’t addressed any one of the more specific “Christian” translational errors. Good try though.

  60. #60 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    Punctuation and links don’t mix well. Delete the period at the end of the sentence with the link, and it’ll work.

    I’m not going to address the translation errors. I try to make a point to sticking to what I know. I’m not an expert on biblical hebrew. I do know enough about it to know just how appallingly bad some of the translations are; and given that, I’m not particularly inclined to trust christian authorities when they’re pontificating about the correct way to translate hebrew. (The most canonical translation error is the whole almah/betulah error; there are dozens of subtler ones. Hebrew word forms do not have a one-to-one correspondence with english word forms; hebrew words have many more “voices/senses” than english words; the conjugation of a verb in hebrew can have significantly different meanings based on voice – for example, taking the english verb “to write”, hebrew has voice conjugations for “to write”, “to be written”, “to cause to be written”, “to dictate for someone else to write”, “to be dictated for someone else to write”, “to write to another person”, “to be written to another person”, “to cause to be written to another person”, and several others.)

  61. #61 Chris
    August 10, 2006

    From just the quote, it is not clear that he’s saying Math is bad because its unchristian. It can be taken many ways (as seen from some of the posts) but to me it would appear he has a point – he’s taking a secular course from a Christian college. Questioning why a Christian college should have secular courses does not make him a lunatic or nut job. Courses at a Christian college very well could be classified as Christian or unchristian – the only implication of unchristian being bad has been through comments here. I do not believe he said he should throw away math, and anything not immediately derived from Christianity as most of the comments would suggest. But I don’t have any context as I do not have any clue who James Kennedy is, nor have I read where the quote in this blog came from.

    I think he has a good point really, because physists etc with degrees from ‘Christian’ schools are automatically looked down upon in forums like this – even though they may have a very similar education in secular subject matter. It is more a shame since they are not going to Christian colleges to get less of an education, but to get more than what is offered at secular colleges.

  62. #62 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    Chris:

    I’ll accept that he’s not saying that math is evil; that’s a bit of deliberate hyperbole. But on the underlying point, that he believes that there’s something wrong with math taught simply *as math*, there I disagree with you.

    If you look at the quote *in context* – consider what he’s arguing, the point of the talk where he tells this story – he’s saying that the college he went to, which claimed to be a christian college – was *not* really christian. This story he tells *as evidence* that the school was not really christian. His calculus class was *a bad* math class, an *inappropriate* math class for a christian college, because it taught *calculus*, without any theology mixed in.

    If classes at a christian college are only appropriate if they teach every subject in the context of theology, then people with degrees from those schools *deserve* to be looked down on. A normal 3-credit college calculus class barely has time to cover basic calculus. If they need to spend part of every class inventing and discussing some bizzare connection between the actual math topic and christian theology, then they simply are not going to have the time to adequately cover the math. And when it comes to exam time, if the exams have to include the theology, then they won’t even have time to adequately *test* the students on the math.

  63. #63 Kenia
    August 10, 2006

    In Christian belief, God created the world. He created all of nature and all its laws…mathematics is found everywhere in nature if you look closely and begin to analyze it…therefore, if you study mathematics you are studying nature, which is the work of God. Now isn’t that Christian??
    So what if the number 0 was discovered by a Hindu and algebra by Muslims…if anything, their discoveries (Note that I say discoveries, NOT inventions, because mathematics was always there, it just needed to be discovered) reinforced our Christianity, because it allowed us to closer study the creations of God. Why would God have gone through all the trouble of creating the complex laws of nature (mathematics, physics, biology, etc.) if he didn’t want us to discover them and rejoice in them?
    Of course, this is all simply my personal opinion. 🙂

  64. #64 Torbjörn Larsson
    August 10, 2006

    Joe, sean, taco40;
    You are all begging the question. Why is the natural world or parts of it examples of a gods work? You aren’t answering that.

    Specifically on science as a method, it is secular since it is a tool. Anyone can use it, even religious people.

    But while science as a method is secular, and science started out with no apriori assumptions, it has picked up some aposteriori knowledge. The design argument you use is seen as vacuous since it is useless – see the discussion on ID at talkorigin. And cosmological and teleological arguments on origins are seen as vacuous since we have ideas of cosmologies that do without – you must first show that these natural ideas doesn’t work to have a point.

    Joe:
    “I am a devoted Christian/mathematician/physicist”
    The incoherent math and physics you show doesn’t seem to support this.

    For example when you claim “Plancks constant IS used by theoretical scientists to determine whether or not an experiment should be run and the validity of that experiment to have affirmative results by chance”.

    This isn’t any principle I recognise being mentioned ever. Theoretical physicist may propose experiments, but it’s the experimentalists who design, run and help analyse the experiment. Experiments runs against firm limits. For example, physicists mention 5 sigma to verify a new phenomena and 3 sigma to verify a new theory.

    It wasn’t until I read Mark’s comment, that I realised what you might be discussing. To quote Wikipedia: “The idea that events with fantastically small, but positive probabilities, are effectively negligible[3]was discussed by the French mathematician Émile Borel primarily in the context of cosmology and statistical mechanics.[4] However, there is no widely accepted scientific basis for claiming that certain positive values are universal cutoff points for effective negligibility of events. Borel, in particular, was careful to point out that negligibility was relative to a model of probability for a specific physical system.[5]” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_probability_bound )

    Since Dembski is the only one mentioning (but failing to use meaningfully) a universal probability bound, it seems likely you are a creationist. And since it seems very unlikely that you are a professional “mathematician/physicist” both on the credit here and on the unusual combination, I have to ask:

    Are you lying for Jesus?

  65. #65 YirmeYaHH
    August 10, 2006

    IF you want “THE TRUTH”, THEN:

    http://www.Bayith-YHVH.org

    For EN-“samples”:

    a. ‘Christ’ comes from THE ‘HINDU’ ‘Krishna’ — pronounced as ‘Krista’!

    Even ‘Messiah’ does NOT = “Mâshîyach”!

    b. ‘Jesus’ was NOT implemented until 1881!

    The “HEBREW”-speaking “Mother” and “Father”
    named their “SON”:

    “YâHH-HôVSHêä’!”! — “YâHH IS (My) Saviour!”!

    Do YOU want more?!

    Can YOU take it!?

    For EN-“sample”: ‘Romans’ 1:18 about ‘those’ who
    SUPPRESS “THE TRUTH” IN NON-“RIGHT”-EOUS-
    NESS!!!

  66. #66 Blake Stacey
    August 10, 2006

    Do YOU want more?!

    Can YOU take it!?

    In three words: Porn star numerology!!

  67. #67 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    Sorry I was gone for a while; had things to do.
    Torbjorn,
    Let me answer a few of your concerns about me. I am not a physicist by trade, I am an applied organic chemist and enjoy physics as a serious hobby because of some of the friendships that I keep with physicists. I need to try to keep up. They DO happen to use probabilities as parameters in formulating theory. It is also a wonderful way of assessing real-world human events considering that humans are not nearly as precise as science/God. As far as me being a creationist? Yes, sort of. I am more of a gap theorist. The union of science and creation is astounding. String and membrane theory are amazing. I must confess that I am not proficient with the math yet I am working on it.
    I do recomend that if you want to question my sincerity (lying for Jesus?) contemplate the amount of space and time that it would take to fully explain the depth of the Hebrew language and culture, the impact of theoretical quantum physics, and the calculated statistics of Jewish/Christian history to someone who uses “bullshit” as part of their primary vocabulary.
    Doesn’t seem feesable, does it?
    See ya.

  68. #68 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 10, 2006

    Joe:

    It’s a convenient copout to say that since I called something “bullshit”, it’s obvious that there’s no point in talking to me.

    But the fact remains that you continually demonstrate that you have *no* grasp of the math that you’re talking about. And if you don’t understand math – then there is no way that you understand theoretical quantum physics. (That’s even assuming that anyone *really* understands quantum physics; there’s a great quote that’s attributed to Feynman which says something like “Anyone who isn’t baffled by quantum mechanics doesn’t understand it”.

    And I don’t particularly need to have *Jewish* culture and history explained to me. As a practicing religious Jew, I’m quite aware of my own history and culture – not to mention familiar with how it’s misrepresented by christians.

  69. #69 Joe
    August 10, 2006

    Mark,
    Let me first apologize to you. It is unlike me to attack anyone elses abilities. I did catch me off guard for someone to say that I was “lying for Jesus”. Actually I very rarely blog. We will have to agree to dis-agree about our beliefs. I have been trying to give very simple examples of my points because of the broad audience that participates. I admire your history, culture, and heritage more than you know. The flavor and depth of the Hebrew language is staggering. It lends evidence to the idea that human culture is deteriorating because no other language (in my opinion) can compare, not even the Greek which also has it’s intricacies.

    Now for the rest of the discussion; I do know what I know about your culture, language, probabilities, statistics, scripture (Torah and NT), and quantum physics. There are many in this world that understand MUCH more than me. For me to even think that I fully understand the thing that frustrated Einstein on his death bead because he could not encapsulate it, is silly. The concepts, the math(partially), and the implications, I DO have a grasp on.

    My apologies if I have offended anyone in this group. I do not want to be one of the Christians that founded this discussion.

    God Bless

  70. #70 Torbjörn Larsson
    August 11, 2006

    Joe:
    I give you merits for backing down from the implied claim of being a professional “mathematician/physicist”.

    “I am more of a gap theorist.”
    Perhaps. But you use concepts that are specific of the form of creationism that is ID. ID is so far scientifically vacuous, and so has all of its concepts been. (And it is making antiscientific religious claims.) So in a discussion about math and science you need to be careful. UPB has not been shown to be useful within science but is on the contrary thought to be against the usual procedure of letting theory and experiments set specific limits on effective negligibility.

    “String and membrane theory”
    Here you go again. That is “string theory” or “brane theory” or “M theory” or “string/M theory” or possibly “brane/M theory”. Strings are now known to be wrapped branes, but the name has stuck.

    “if you want to question my sincerity”
    No. I questioned your veracity. But at this time you have mooted my point.

    See ya later, I’m sure.

  71. #71 David Cantrell
    August 11, 2006

    I noticed that a couple of posters muttered specifically about American “christianity”. A good friend of mine who’s just graduated from God-bothering school thinks that American christianity is in fact an entirely different religion from Christianity. This Jehle idiot, when compared to – say, Isaac Barrow, priest, teacher of Newton, and first Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge – seems to make his point really rather elegantly.

  72. #72 Robert O'Brien
    August 13, 2006

    You are joking, right?

    Newton is known as an heretic.

    Leibniz is known as a deist.

    Torbjörn:

    I already dealt with the canard that Newton and Leibniz were not Christians on my blog, so I won’t reinvent the wheel here.

  73. #73 Robert O'Brien
    August 13, 2006

    …there’s a great quote that’s attributed to Feynman which says something like “Anyone who isn’t baffled by quantum mechanics doesn’t understand it”.

    Not to be a pedant, but I thought that was Bohr.

  74. #74 Robert O'Brien
    August 13, 2006

    In three words: Porn star numerology!!

    ROFL

  75. #75 Blake Stacey
    August 13, 2006

    @Robert O’Brien:

    While I do not know for certain what Bohr did or did not say, the remark about nobody understanding quantum mechanics is definitely Feynman. It occurs in The Character of Physical Law, among other places.

  76. #76 Robert O'Brien
    August 13, 2006

    From Griffiths Intro to Quantum Mechanics:

    Niels Bohr said, “If you are not confused by quantum physics then you haven’t really understood it”; Richard Feynman remarked, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

    I have not made recourse to the primary sources to check Griffiths’ attributions, but as this is the 2nd edition of his text I should think his colleagues would have corrected him if he misattributed these quotations.

  77. #77 Viv
    August 18, 2006
  78. #78 Norm Breyfogle
    September 7, 2006

    Cutting-edge cosmology–metacosmology–has become more an art than a science. Science is now the dusty old schoolmarm in the back of the classroom correcting, from time to time, some relatively irrelevant technicality of the metacosmologist’s grammar or math. Cosmology was once considered a branch of hard science, but the new metacosmology now properly, decisively, and proudly resides in the enlightened man’s creative studio and other wider arenas of battle, where life is lived like a spray of quantum foam.
    The choice has always been the same: reductionism vs. infinite complexity. Reductionism is the essence of critical and logical thinking divorced from intuitive Dionysianism. Focussing on the simplest theory to fit the facts has proven to be very useful, but frustration arising from the lack of a grand unification of all science–not to mention the frustration of the reductionist who has forgotten how to have creative, conceptual fun–has pushed the common cosmologist away from the merely provable and deep into the intoxicating soup of high speculation. The modern metacosmologist is thus partying in the lab, drunk on the elixir of fractal infinity oozing from the strands of tangled superstring cables. He’s a poet and storyteller, a visionary.
    There is an infinity of universes. For example: within each quantum particle could very well exist ever smaller forces, ever smaller particles beyond our reach, ever smaller Cosmos, complete unto themselves, while beyond our telescopes there may be ever greater structures, ever greater macro universes. And there are other examples. Multiple universe theory–ironically the simplest explanation for a multitude of inexplicable coincidences in our universe–allows for an infinity of cosmological variations on all conceivable themes, and string theory illustrates the possibility of vast, new, higher dimensions within or between any of those infinitudes of alternate possibilities.
    Thus it appears that everything one can imagine is occurring an infinite number of times at all times, eternally inaccessible to us in its entirety due to the incomprehensibly immense scalar differences involved. To God there is no zero and no biggest number.
    Infinity exists.
    When enlightened to this awesome truth, the cosmologist–and any typical human being, for that matter–is finally laid bare by his own ignorance, stripped naked before the source of all that is, humbled prostrate before the glowing ora of his crown chakra wherein God flows anamnestically, hypostatizing the universe into the image of the ultimate metacosmologist: Brahma, the perceiver.
    Thou art that.

  79. #79 Tatiana Covington
    October 1, 2006

    Completely fucked in the head.

  80. #80 Classifiedinfo
    October 18, 2006

    Ok, I am a chiristian, but that guy…WHAT IS HE ON?! His talk sounds more like an excuse to quite math and hide from the world then anything I’ve ever heard. I believe in taking the world head-on and making a stand. This includes study of what others believe, cuz if you ain’t with em, you best know how to argue them. lol. I don’t find much in the Bible that says christians are to hide away in closets, Paul certainly did not! And I hope that not many christians take that guy seriously…personally I’m going to have a nightmare tonight about him. lol!

  81. #81 Norm Breyfogle
    October 20, 2006

    lol

    Pearls before swine.

    Kidding!

    I’m an artist and writer, and I’ve read a lot of philosophy, cutting-edge physics, and cosmology.

    Check out my website: normbreyfogle.com

  82. #82 Torbjörn Larsson
    October 20, 2006

    Norm:
    If you read a lot of physics and cosmology, you should know that what you call metacosmology is cosmology and that scientists define terms. Metacosmology should be the science about cosmology – you make it out to be a fabulation of your mind.

    “life is lived like a spray of quantum foam”
    Doesn’t mean anything, even taken poetically. Organisms guided by evolution, which has selection and thus isn’t like a stochastically distributed spray or quantum foam (which is a conjecture, BTW). Living life has its deterministic elements too.

    Poetically it would be something like “life, transient and elusive like the vacuum fluctuations of space”.

    “reductionism vs. infinite complexity”
    Philosophically this is about reductionism vs emergentism. But a modern view is that emergence happens in reductionistic systems (effective theories).

    “intuitive Dionysianism”
    What has neopaganism to teach science? Except what is a good beer!

    “within each quantum particle could very well exist ever smaller forces”
    A particle is a singularity in classic theory, and a quantization of a field in QFT. The field (or more generally in GR curved spacetime) gives the force. So there can’t be forces within forces as you suggest, at least not without trashing all of known physics. Say again, had you read any physics?

    “To God there is no zero and no biggest number.”
    Gods are outside science,

    “Brahma, the perceiver.”
    but there is plenty of evidence that any creation/source god is a deciever. (Ie we have cosmologies that looks like they work fine without gods – thus they are decieving us if they exist in such worlds.)

    I truly pity you if your imagination and awe for nature is confined by the straitjacket of religion.

  83. #83 Norm Breyfogle
    November 8, 2006

    Torbjörn, “meta” merely means “beyond.” Thus, my essay’s title means “Beyond Cosmology.” In other words, I was being poetic, symbolic, and metaphorical by using scientific catch phrases as springboards for an artistic statement.

    And your assumption that by “God” I meant some sort of superstitiously assumed, all-powerful grandfather in the sky (rather than existence itself) only illustrates the limitation of your own philosophical understanding and straightjacketed semantics.

    I love and fully appreciate science, but spirituality (not superstition, but an attitude of openmindedness and love) transcends science).

  84. #84 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 9, 2006

    Norm:

    I appreciate spirituality, but you and your god make claims on science or nature that isn’t supported by observations. You see it as semantics, I see it as a distortion of science on a blog that discusses science. A philosophical discussion may be fine though, if the terms are rooted by meaningful definitions.

  85. #85 Norm Breyfogle
    November 9, 2006

    I do realize that my essay is a bit out of place here,and I apologize if that offended you or anyone else.

    My essay makes no scientific claims; it’s meant to be an aesthetic appeal to recognize the infinity of the unknown which surrounds us, and the proper humility that such recognition should, could, or might engender.

  86. #86 Norm Breyfogle
    November 9, 2006

    Oh, and btw, I am not a christian.

  87. #87 Norm Breyfogle
    November 9, 2006

    And for the record, I agree with Mark that ” …Jehle is a fucking frothing at the mouth nutjob lunatic asshole.”

    My essay “Metacosmology” is actually part of a short story of mine titled “The Metacosmologist” which anyone can find and read on my website (along with a # of other short stories I’ve written).

  88. #88 Norm Breyfogle
    November 9, 2006

    Oops; sorry for the double post. Webmaster, please delete one of them, if you will.

  89. #89 Jonathan Vos Post
    November 10, 2006

    “Richard Feynman, who was the most dazzling physicist, said anyone who thinks he understands quantum mechanics, doesn’t understand quantum mechanics.”

    COPENHAGEN Play Notes
    Excerpts from Making Plays: Interviews with Contemporary British Dramatists and Directors
    Introduced, Interviewed and Edited by Duncan Wu, 2000
    Michael Frayn

    The other part of this thread has meandered into two subjects that I have named and discussed at length elsewhere: “Theomathematics” and “Theophysics.”

  90. #90 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 11, 2006

    Norm:

    I am sorry if you construed me as offended. I was discussing the science. Personally, I have an awe for nature and how well science works, but I don’t see any support from such a simple observation for pantheism/theism or morality.

    It seems Jonathan has some things to say here, if you are interested in seeing more of such discussions.

  91. #91 Norm Beryfogle
    November 11, 2006

    Torbjörn:

    I’m happy you weren’t offended.I didn’t construe you as such, but I did want make certain that you weren’t.

    I don’t consider myself a panthiest per sec, although considered as metaphor, pantheism is as meaningful as any religion can be IF SEEN AS METAPHOR.

    As I indicated in my above posts, my essay isn’t hard science. It may have some scientific elements, but I think it’s clear where the science ends and where the metaphor begins. And, in contradistinction to your implication, my essay doesn’t mention morality at all.

    I assume you’re familiar with the likes of Fred Alan Wolf, Fritjof Capra, Gary Zukav, Paul Davies, David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake, or a host of other scientists, physicists, and theorists who skirt the outermost edges of theory and often speculate about what lies beyond the strictly experimentally provable? My essay is meant to be seen along those lines (hence the use of the prefix “meta”). Sorry again if it’s considered too out of place on this thread.

  92. #92 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 11, 2006

    Well, maybe I over-interpreted “humbled prostrate” or rather “proper humility” as moral prescriptions instead of emotional descriptions.

  93. #93 Norm Breyfogle
    November 11, 2006

    Yes, I can see your point. I suppose almost any human sphere possesses at least a small attendant moral dimension, but in my essay I certainly wasn’t trying to focus on that aspect in any particular or big way.

    Thanks for your intellgent feedback; it’s much appreciated!

  94. #94 Norm Breyfogle
    November 13, 2006

    Torbjörn:

    The reason I posted my essay here is because this thread is fundamentally about the relationship of religion to math, and, by implicaton, to science: whether there is, can, or should be such a relationship. As Jehle and other fundamentalists illustrate, a literal interpretation of religious literature doesn’t gibe well with the strict rationality of the sciences, which is why most folks, including some religious scientists, keep their religion and their science completely separate. Personally, I’ve never liked that divided mind effect, so I wanted to indicate that if interpreted metaphorically instead of literally, poetic, imaginative, or spiritual expressions can complement reason rather than contradict it.

    I wish I could edit my posts on this thread after posting them, because – in addition to my misspellings – I regret my phrase, “… the limitation of your own philosophical understanding …” Please forgive that offense from this completely fucked in the head artist (thanks for the laugh, Tatiana), even if you didn’t feel offended.

  95. #95 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 18, 2006

    Norm:
    Sorry for late answer, life imposed.

    No offense taken, the heat of the argument and all that, I was offensive in turn so I likewise hope you forgive those offenses.

  96. #96 Norm Breyfogle
    November 20, 2006

    No worries; it’s all good.

    I’m not a scientist. I don’t really enjoy doing math, although I understand and respect it’s power just as I understand and respect all forms of reason and logic. I’m an artist and I like the big pictures; I like reading layman’s interpretations of the most inclusive theorizing. I’m in love with scale of all kinds, and I practically WORSHIP infinity.

    Looking down toward the infinitesimal we see proportionally faster and faster moving objects/energy until we reach the present limits of our ability to penetrate matter/energy. Since we’re unable to build an INFINITLY powerful particle accelerator we can’t be sure whether or not there are even SMALLER bits of energy, maybe even an infinite amount of such ever tinier energy scales. In fact, each more powerful accelerator discovers even smaller bits of energy.

    Any singularity may only be our desciption of our own perceptual and tool-making limits.

    Similarly, when we look out to the macroscopic universe of stars and galaxies we see it as if it were frozen in time, since the vast distances dwarf even the top speed in the universe: that of light. And again our telescopes are limited in size and energy, and therefore they also impose limits on how far we can see.

    And now string theory proposes many more dimensions than our typical three or four.

    Physicists dislike – or can’t do much science with – infinity, and therefore they tend to assume , for practical purposes, that the universe in finite based on our limited perceptions and tools, but that’s really just an unproven assumption. This was the gist of my essay from a scientific perspective.

    Mystical awe may not be scientific, but it is very human, and in it we can find the bridge between the incompatible realms of religion and science. It’s all about using metaphor creatively while not contradicting reason.

  97. #97 Norm Breyfogle
    December 4, 2006

    Christ in my Heart

    Christ is in my heart.
    But I don’t know if he was born
    or if he really did perform
    all that christians claim he did.
    Is my faith thus a lark?

    Christ is in my heart.
    But surely faith’s not mere relief,
    or controvertible belief
    based on historicity!
    No, faith is more like art.

    Christ is in my heart.
    But does truth lie in ancient fact
    or in example we enact?
    This holy passion metaphor
    like true love won’t depart!

    Christ is in my heart.
    But isn’t he in all who love,
    in all who turn their gaze above
    to see the universal good
    that lies beyond all doubts?

    Christ is in my heart.

    Maybe I am a christian, after all? You tell me.

  98. #98 Romeon
    December 18, 2006

    There is nothing so special in the so called name in term of ” Christian “. ALL RELIGIONs ARE MAN-MADE !

    All human has been born in such a way that they hunger for God in their heart. that is the natural spiritual need. Generally, all human are some-how too cleaver or too stupid ! Average people are too easy to fool by so call faith in the ” God ” that they trust.

    Nobody ever know whether who are right or wrong until the last breath on earth, so, not like plant or animal, it called man to have such big or little faith. Because nobody ever see God ! People can just trust God in their own heart, and in our heart, there is really God is.

    But, the true facts found from the whole discoveries of mankind knowledge : God is really existing and God is our creator. we were born by God thro’ our own parent.

    We have to take God in our life naturally, not religiously.
    I against all the stupid terms of ” Religion “, that include ” Christianity “.

    Christianity is never a religion. It is merely natural way that Jesus shown an example that lead us to know God.

    Please correct me if you think you have any better suggestions.

    Praise The Lord !

  99. #99 Norm Breyfogle
    December 27, 2006

    As long as you’re not anthropomorphising “God” and don’t insist on a historically literal interpretation of the Bible (or any other fables that we can’t verify as objective fact), I *think* I may agree with you, Romeon.

  100. #100 Kris
    February 16, 2007

    Hey guys…I was just googling ‘Paul Jehle’ and came across this site. I attended this Jehle’s school back in the 80’s…there, I gave out an embarassing fact. If you search the web, it wouldn’t be hard for you to find out that so many of his students that are forced by their parents to attend his school have ended up scratching their heads still 20 years down the road wondering… WTF? The scary thing is… he exports his views out of his school to not only other states, but countries. He travels all over the world hellping up others to start schools with the exact same philosophy. Keep an eye out…you are talking about some dangerous indoctrination here with very young minds.

  101. #101 Norm Breyfogle
    February 16, 2007

    The world’s in danger of tuning into an “Idiocracy” (rent and watch the film; hilarious and chilling at the same time).

  102. #102 Ken
    May 21, 2007

    Wow! so much fuss over a man’s pondering how a Calculus class which he is taking at a christian school is any different than one taught at a secular school! It seems like a pretty good question to me. Math is math. How could math be any different taught in a christian school? How would math be any different taught from a distinctly Christian perspective?? What’s this talk given by Jehle about, anyway?

    Let me start by responding to the summary of jehle’s talk given here by Mark C. First of all, the talk is titled, “Evaluating Your Philosophy of Education.” His audience is a Christian audience concerned about the state of modern day education. Jehle actually espouses the fact that there is a Christian world view and a non-Christian world view. The two are incompatable….this shouldn’t come as a surprise or be offensive to anyone. Then he goes on to say that by attaching the label Christian to something does not make it Christian,so if you don’t want to be misled to believe something is based in Christianity, you have to be careful, and not just subscribe to something because it labels itself Christian. Now, this is a piece of advice from a Christian to a Christian audience, and a Christian’s chief concern in life is being Christian, subscribing to Christian ideals, and this warning serves as a friendly reminder to be on guard. don’t be led astray. If you are a Christian, you will appreciate this. If you are not a Christian, you could care less, because none of this concerns you. Please note though, that we talk of Christian ideals, a way of life, or understanding (or world view). This is the kind of thing one might refer to as christian. There is no such thing, for instance, as a Christan chair, or Christian math. Therefor, using a chair or using math have no relevance to the discussion, and if you read on, you will see that “Christian math” wasn’t a concern nor a topic, not even a concept in this talk given by Jehle.

    When Jehle tells us about the conversation he had between him and his prof., he noted that the calculus class was not and even the “Christian College” he was attending was not a Christian College. He is saying that to us now, several years after the conversation occurred. It’s clear why he makes that assessment as you listen to the audio file, and I’ll reiterate here for you shortly.

    Certainly, we all know that things are not Christian or non-Christian in the strictest sense of the word, whereby “Christian” is a title referring to those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and having done so, start becoming more like Christ. It is this result, the Christ-like characteristics of the true convert that the title, Christian refers to. Therefor the title of Christian is descriptive of the nature of the title bearer. The word therefor is used to describe those things associated with christians, for example, christian morals. It is also used to describe an activity, indicating that it is intended for Christians or that the standards of behavior expected at the event will be what people generally recognize as Christian standards(i.e. a christian dance), or it can describe subject matter as with a christian forum. It is also used in conjunction with a methodology as is the case with the term christian education. It’s this last item that is the subject of the talk given by Jehle.

    Jehle has learned that the Bible defines a distinct methodology for education, This Biblical methodology, Jehle observes, must be a component to christian education. In other words the christian method of education is the method which the Bible spells out to use. Anyone knowing the relationship of the Bible to Christianity would have to agree. Therefore, we should recognize here, that education which ignores how the Biblical methodology for education, cannot rightly be called christian education. The instruction could include Christian doctrine, but if the education, or method of instructing does not follow the Biblical method, it’s not “christian education”. To sum up, Christian education is a method of education prescribed in the Bible. Education that does not follow this method therefor, is not Christian education… pretty simple logic.

    Now a school is in the business of education. It is only logical then that a Christian school is in the business of Christian education. The professor of Jehle’s calculus class had no clue what made his class,taught at a christian school, and thereby assumedly being a christian calculus class, any different from one taught in a secular school. It’s safe to say that the professor was unaware that there was a Biblical methodology for teaching, and adhering to that methodology was an important component to christian education. And,as the audio file quotes what the Bible says about instructing, I’m sure we can all agree that the professor was not accidentally adhering to the methodology. Therefor, it wasn’t a christian calculus class. In fact, Jehle’s remark that the school really wasn’t a christian school tells us that, according to his observation, the school did not follow the Biblical method of teaching.

    A major point of Jehle’s talk here, is that many “Christian” educators have missed the boat, either not aware of the Biblical methodology, or not recognizing the importance of following Biblical instructions … perhaps, distracted by the goal of the instruction (i.e. teaching christian doctrine). It is Jehle’s goal to make us recognize this, impress on us that to successfully teach our children, we need to follow the Biblical methodology for education. He then refers to the passages of the Bible spelling out this methodology, to make us aware of what that method is.

    Jehle’s talk has nothing to do with some kind of abstract notion that math is not christian. What would that statement in and of itself mean? Apparently it means something to many of you, as it seems to have provoked quite a fuss. One can start to make sense of the concept if the idea of the instruction of math were included. This is much truer for me, having heard Jehle’s talk. Before that I would have found it nearly as puzzling, as just the term, “christian math”. I’m willing to bet Jehle was equally as puzzled at the concept when he asked the question of his professor about the difference between his calculus class and one taught at a secular school.

    So,I guess, my question to you would be, how do the religious conviction of early day mathemeticians,relate to the fact that christian ewducation has a Biblical basis?

    Also, Jehle observes that the Biblical methodology was not followed in a calculus course that he took at a school claiming to be in the business of christian education. Why would this preclude him to having many things that several of you point out to be inventions of non-christians, be off limits to him based on his convictions?

    Many of the responses to his talk that I’ve read here has indeed substantiated his observation of the failure of modern schools in the task of educating. It’s the product of those schools that are demonstrating here, that they have no clue to what Jehle was communicating to us in his talk.

    Now what was it, Mark? Jehle is a …frothing….lunatic nutjob?? Is that because you thought he said math is bad because it’s not explicitly Christian? I’m sure he has no idea what explicitly christian math could be. He certainly wouldn’t call it that, and also, he was a math major….he likes math. He doesn’t think it’s bad at all.

  103. #103 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 21, 2007

    It is also used in conjunction with a methodology as is the case with the term christian education. It’s this last item that is the subject of the talk given by Jehle.

    In my first comment (#1) I gave two example where Jehle willfully perverts easily defineable math to unrecognizable sophistry. It isn’t only bad science, it is also bad theology and, most important here, bad education.

    This, based on Jehle’s easily recognizable inability to acknowledge an independent secular domain or other religions, is what makes Jehle probably best described as “a fucking frothing at the mouth nutjob lunatic asshole”.

    Jehle doesn’t like math – he kills it.

  104. #104 Norm Breyfogle
    June 26, 2007

    Because of the democratic principle of the separation of church and state, religion isn’t taught in public schools; only verifiable objective knowledge is.

    Morality also isn’t taught in public schools, except in an objective and scholarly manner in higher education philosophy and ethics classes. Again, because of the democratic principle of the separation of church and state, such classes aren’t taught with a religious bias.

    There is no “christian methodology” for teaching objective truth and the scientific method per sec. Objective truth and the scientific method are fudamentally amoral and nonreligious. To assert that there could be a christian methodology for teaching about objective facts or the scientific method is to confuse and/or conflate two entirely different cognitive spheres. Religion isn’t about objective facts except in a non-objective, round-about, metaphysical, poetic, or pataphysical manner, but objective factuality itself – and the scientific method – is entirely graspable on the purely rational and objective level without pataphysical, poetic, or metaphysical interpretations.

    Jehle clearly has a difficulty with this basic distinction, and like so any others of his ilk, he spreads his confusion in a public, embarassing meme-mesh to the culture at large, contagious to anyone lacking the necessary philosophical antibodies.

  105. #105 Weird
    July 31, 2007

    I just stumbled upon this through netscape. and i must say… wow. i am just continually shocked by how outrageously insane fundamentalist Christians are. they truly live in some alternate reality.

  106. #106 Gordon R. Vaughan
    August 23, 2007

    Hi Mark, I just found this too (indirectly via your co.), and don’t have time to read ALL those comments, so I apologize if someone’s already made these comments.

    I think Jehle’s point was that if God created the universe, then everything should reflect his character. This is a basic premise of Romans 1.

    Of course, if you don’t believe in Christ this may not make much sense, but it certainly doesn’t imply that non-Christians don’t contribute mathematical discoveries, etc.

    Mathematics (at least most of it) is very orderly, precise, reliable, consistent, pure (regarding verifiable truths, etc.), and really quite beautiful. That’s something both Christians and non-Christians can appreciate.

  107. #107 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 24, 2007

    Gordon:

    if God created the universe, then everything should reflect his character.

    If you read the post, it is such premises that it rejects as necessary for math. In other words, math doesn’t owe anything to independent agents, imagined or not.

  108. #108 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    August 24, 2007

    Gordon:

    Even if God created the universe, he *didn’t* create mathematics. Mathematics is completely abstract – and couldn’t be any different than it is. An all-powerful deity couldn’t make the set of the reals be the same size as the set of natural numbers. That’s not a *created* property of the universe – that’s just a fact of logic, and it doesn’t matter what the universe looks like – it will remain a fact in every possible universe, every impossible universe, or no universe at all.

  109. #109 Norm Breyfogle
    October 2, 2007

    Mrk CC: Math would exist even if there was nothing at all, no universes, anywhere? Math would exist even if there was absolute nothingness?

  110. #110 Jonathan Vos Post
    October 2, 2007

    #110 (Norm Breyfogle): one prominent MIT professor claims in a neo-Pythagorean way that we don’t just live in a universe whose physics is described by Math, but that we live in a Mathematical object as such. And that this in turn forces us to believe in the Multiverse. Which is metaphysically related to Spinoza’s thesis that the universe, matter, energy, humans — all exist within the “mind of God.”

    Shut up and calculate, by Max Tegmark (MIT)
    This is the “director’s cut” version of the September 15 2007 New Scientist cover story. For references, see the “full strength” version at arXiv:0704.0646

  111. #111 Coin
    October 2, 2007

    As I would look at it, MarkCC’s statement is correct specifically for the reason that math doesn’t “exist”. This is a source of strength for math– its truth is not dependent on whether or not the things it describes exist. Math is just as true in our universe as it would be under a scenario where there were no universe at all.

    The mathematical theorems proven about, say, the SU(2) group, aren’t true because there’s actually such a thing as an SU(2) group which just happens to have the properties described by those theorems; the theorems are true because they’re consequences of the axioms and definitions on which SU(2) is based. Those theorems would logically follow from those axioms and definitions even if there existed no physical objects which happened to conform to them; and even in our universe, where (as far as we can tell) there exist physical phenomena which conform to the definition of the SU(2) group, SU(2) itself doesn’t “exist”. It’s abstract.

    (I am unsure whether or not this way of looking at math is compatible with the Tegmarkian “EVERYTHING exists!” perspective. I think it is, though.)

  112. #112 Norm Breyfogle
    October 2, 2007

    For purpses of semantic clarity (i.e., for language to synch up with logic and knowledge and math on a fundamental level), it seems that math must be said to “exist” … as an abstraction. To “exist” is to “be.” The essence of information is energy; therefore, the essence of abstraction can’t be more fundamentally existential than energy or information. So, if there was no energy (and therefore no information) anywhere in any sense whatsoever, abstractions themselves couldn’t exist in any sense anywhere whatsoever.

    I’m willing to accept the semantics equating math with the “mind of God” (poetics) or with “energy” or “information” (positivist philosophy). In those senses it could be said that “God” is the “creator” of math (or at least that “God”/existence and math are one and the same or that they always imply each other), but whether or not one accepts such colorful metaphors, it seems semantically necessary to say that math only “is” (“exists”) at all because there is something rather than nothing … i.e., if we are to maintain an isotropy between language and abstract logic.

    JVP expressed this much better than I did in his above post; I’m just trying to state it in a way that’s a bit more accessible to a layman.

  113. #113 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 3, 2007

    Math is just as true in our universe as it would be under a scenario where there were no universe at all.

    The same idea can be connected to the physical notion of one uniquely constrained physics.

    But there is nothing surprising in claiming that formal consequences of a formal theory exists, whether they are realized or not. I would say that if there is freedom in physics, both our math and science could be different in order to model what we see.

  114. #114 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 3, 2007

    The essence of information is energy

    That is not what physics say. Information is a property of a system, which you can choose to measure changes in by some definition you choose. Different kinds of entropy are other properties of a system, which you can measure absolutely by some definitions.

    There is an analogy between Shannon information and Gibbs energy, but they are different concepts. One way to see this is to change the temperature of a book. The information in the text as measured by Shannon is constant, but the entropy of a closed system goes up with the temperature. (By reason of always positive heat capacity.) This contradicts your claim.

    There is a connection between information and energy though, by way of a connection between information and entropy. While calculations that produce information by logically reversible operations doesn’t engender a thermodynamic cost (increase in entropy or even use of energy AFAIU), logically irreversible operations such as erasing memory or merging threads does.

  115. #115 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 3, 2007

    Oops “Gibbs energy” – Gibbs entropy; Gibbs free energy is something else.

  116. #116 Norm Breyfogle
    October 3, 2007

    I wrote that the essence of information is energy, but I could have written just as fundamentally that the essence of energy is information. More lucidly, I meant to *equate* energy and information (just as Max Tegmark did in the link JVP provided above), and I did this for fundamental philosophical reasons based on my wholistic attitude toward the nature of perception, measurement, semantics, and logic.

    To claim that information and energy are fundamentaly different in principle is to imply that something can exist without ever being able to prove that it exists; it is to claim that in principle, objective reality can never be fully understood.

    Now, this is a rational philosophical position, just as is that of wholism. But the point is that it’s a *philosophical* position, not a scientific or the only strictly logical or mathematical one. In actuality, there is NO scientific position on wholism vs. dichotomy (or pluralism, by extention). The choice between the philosophical positions of wholism or dichotomy (or pluralism, by extension) is a matter of choice, not proof.

    My point is that Mark CC or anyone else stating that math isn’t identical with “God” (or “existence”) is not a scientific or even a mathematical statement; it’s a *philosophica*l one, and as such it’s reducible to a semantic of philosophical choice.

  117. #117 Norm Breyfogle
    October 3, 2007

    Typos in my last paragraph, now corrected:

    “…it’s a *philosophical* one, and as such it’s reducible to a semantic or philosophical choice.”

  118. #118 Norm Breyfogle
    October 3, 2007

    Torbjörn wrote: “That is not what physics say.”

    When “God” is brought into the discussion, we’re no longer in the realm of physics alone; we’re then in the realm of philosophical semantics.

  119. #119 Norm Breyfogle
    October 3, 2007

    Torbjörn, this gets back to our other discussions re solipsism. Which of the following is more existentially fundamental than the other: information, energy, existence, “God,” consciousness? Can we agree that any choices made re this question are *semantic* choices, ultimately unprovable on the grounds of fundamentally unresoveable philosophical principles/logical conundrums?

    If not, I’d like for you to exhaustively prove to me that energy is more fundamental than information or vice-versa, that reality exists apart from any and all consciousness, that the objective and the subjective don’t define each other via the positive contrasts of meaning itself.

    If you can do that, you’re able to finally and fully resolve all the biggest questions of existence. =)

  120. #120 Coin
    October 4, 2007

    For purpses of semantic clarity (i.e., for language to synch up with logic and knowledge and math on a fundamental level), it seems that math must be said to “exist” … as an abstraction.

    Why is semantic clarity a requirement?

    I mean, clearly we want to pick our words so as to maximize semantic clarity. If what we’re doing here is arguing over what the word “exist” does or should mean, then semantic clarity is important.

    But if we’re talking about what “exists” in the sense that toasters and volcanoes exist, then I don’t see any reason to expect that what is real is going to line up with what is convenient for purposes of semantic clarity in the English language.

    The essence of information is energy

    Hm. This sounds more like some kind of philosophical standpoint

  121. #121 Coin
    October 4, 2007

    Coin wrote:

    Hm. This sounds more like some kind of philosophical standpoint

    “…than anything meaningful or useful”. Ugh. I did not mean to hit submit then. 🙁

    Torbjörn wrote:

    But there is nothing surprising in claiming that formal consequences of a formal theory exists, whether they are realized or not. I would say that if there is freedom in physics, both our math and science could be different in order to model what we see.

    Right, of course. In that case however I for one would look at things not so much that “math is different”, but simply that the areas of math we would choose to explore would be different. A universe with very different rules from ours would, if it contained observers, probably produce mathematicians who develop a very different mathematics. But the mathematics we use in “our” universe would still be just as valid, if anyone over there happened to arbitrarily define and explore “human” mathematics as a formal system; it’s just that nobody would have specific motivation to study it. Human mathematics would still be correct, just totally irrelevant.

    I mean, I dunno. You’re right that there’s nothing particularly surprising about anything I’m saying here– for all I know my comment above, and this one here, may well be just as much pure-semantics as the stuff Norm is saying…

  122. #122 Jonathan Vos Post
    October 4, 2007

    “… if we’re talking about what ‘exists’ in the sense that toasters and volcanoes exist…” then is a given Mathematical theory more like a volcano (discovered) or like a toaster (invented)?

  123. #123 Norm Breyfogle
    October 4, 2007

    JVP’s question goes to the heart of the importance of the meaning of the word “exists,” emphasizing why I consider semantics to be important, especially in this case.

    Seems obvsious to me that both human-invented objects and non-human invented objects “exist.” And why should abstractions be exempt from this? Aren’t all abstractions actually electrochemical signatures/patterns in our brains? In fact, aren’t *all* our perceptions such, including our perceptions of those very same electrochemical patterns? But then is there nothing existing accept that what’s in our consciousnesses? As you can see, the parsing of existence, just like that of “God,” is not logically resolveable.

    When we communicate using words, the precise meaning of the words is obviously important. If we use the words “God,” “abstractions,” “exist,” etc., we should clarify what we mean by those words in order to avoid confusion.

    Which was all I was trying to do.

  124. #124 Norm Breyfogle
    October 4, 2007

    Another typo: My “non-human invented objects” should have read “non-human-invented objects.” Amazing what difference a single hyphen can make! lol

  125. #125 Xanthir, FCD
    October 4, 2007

    In fact, aren’t *all* our perceptions such, including our perceptions of those very same electrochemical patterns? But then is there nothing existing accept that what’s in our consciousnesses? As you can see, the parsing of existence, just like that of “God,” is not logically resolveable.

    Sure there is, you just have inconsistent axioms. ^_^

    More seriously, the question of whether abstractions exist as electrochemical patterns begs the question of the abstraction’s ‘existence’ in the first place. They are perhaps instantiated in our brains, but the question of their actual existence is much more deeply ontological. And probably incoherent, imo.

    In response to Torbjorn, I have to echo Coin. If our universe’s physics was substantially different (but still presumably hospitable to some form of intelligent life), the math that is actually use would be different, but ‘our’ math is still possible. There are uncountable many different models of math (I might mean that in the strict sense!), of which only a small number correspond to anything like reality. The others aren’t invalid, just not useful, and so we don’t work with them. For an actual historical example, there were (and still are, on the forefront of the theory) many possible mathematical models for how quantum mechanics works. We develop them until we find one that works, then generally discard the rest. QM could potentially have used one of the other ones, it just happens to not. In an alternate universe we would develop a different branch of math.

  126. #126 Norm Breyfogle
    October 5, 2007

    I’ve got nothing to object to there; you nailed it, Xanthir.

  127. #127 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 5, 2007

    Norm:

    To claim that information and energy are fundamentaly different in principle is to imply that something can exist without ever being able to prove that it exists; it is to claim that in principle, objective reality can never be fully understood.

    I’m not sure how you deduce that.

    That energy and information are different (but perhaps not fundamentally so, due to the connections I discussed) doesn’t bear on our ability to find and describe empirical facts. Nor has it to do with philosophy, these are facts of science.

    My point is that Mark CC or anyone else stating that math isn’t identical with “God” (or “existence”) is not a scientific or even a mathematical statement;

    It is the scientific statement which follows from introducing philosophical concepts of gods.

    Can we agree that any choices made re this question are *semantic* choices,

    Not in the context of science, where they have operational meaning. It is first if you go solipsist, a decidedly irrational philosophy, that you can claim that nothing means anything to you.

    energy is more fundamental than information or vice-versa,

    Energy is a fundamental concept in physics, following from (necessary) symmetries. But let me put it this way, what do you think scientists mean when they talk about “a fundamental theory”?

  128. #128 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 5, 2007

    Coin:

    In that case however I for one would look at things not so much that “math is different”, but simply that the areas of math we would choose to explore would be different.

    Agreed. The formal systems we would use would be different, and the other systems not realized. As soon as we invent an axiom system or equivalent, the consequences would be there to discover of course.

  129. #129 Norm Breyofgle
    October 5, 2007

    Torbjörn:

    The post from Mark CC (#109) which I responded to contained more than scientific assertions; it contained philosophical ones, using a non-scientific term that has multiple possible meanings (“God”). And Mark’s post also indicated/implied other philosophical – not scientific – concepts.

    When Mark claimed that math would “be a fact” even if there were “no universe at all,” he was asserting an unprovable philosophical opinion, not a scientific fact. Why? Because, once again, if there was absolute nothingness (no universes at all in any sense anywhere), how could abstract concepts of any kind still be said to exist as “facts”? What does “fact” mean when there’s absolute nothingness? The word itself obviously wouldn’t exist; would the concept? Is information (that which comprises concepts) absolutely different from energy, so that it can “exist” without any energy at all? Can a mind exist if there is no energy to sustain it and its abstractions? If you answer “yes” you’re asserting fundamental dichotomy or plurality; if you answer “no” you’re asserting fundamental wholism. Which answer you give is a matter of personal choice … or, to use a term more appropriate to this blog, it’s a matter of which “axiom of choice” you prefer.

    I prefer my semantics express wholism. Typically, this is more philosophical, less scientific; scientists tend to prefer semantics which express dichotomies or pluralities. But neither preference is correct or incorrect as long as such doesn’t lead to experimental error; otherwise, the choice of words is merely a semantic, poetic, religious, or metaphorical one.

    Why should anyone be surprised that any assertion including “God” is not a scientific one? lol

  130. #130 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    October 5, 2007

    Norm:

    I don’t want to defend Mark’s specific claim on math nature, which I don’t share.

    What I can defend is that mathematics is independent of gods. Any consequences of a formal system follows from the system, independent of how the agents that defines the system come to be. And that is an empirical description, not a philosophical.

  131. #131 Norm Breyfogle
    October 5, 2007

    Torbjörn:

    Agreed, given your definitional use of the words “god,” “gods,” and “God”,” as seen in your posts.

    The question of the fundamental relationship of information/mind/abstractions to energy/matter remains an interesting one. Functionally, the scientific approach to this relationship is empirically workable but hasn’t provided a TOE or a GUT. Mirroring that, conceptually, the philosophical approach remains semantically unresolvable as well.

  132. #132 Norm Breyfogle
    October 5, 2007

    Edit:

    “Mirroring that, conceptually, the philosophical approach remains semantically unresolvable as well.

    reads better as

    “Mirroring that, the philosophical approach also remains unresolvable.”

  133. #133 Jonathan Vos Post
    October 6, 2007

    Off the top of my head, here’s a first cut at classifying, enumerating, and unifying some of the arguments made in this thread.

    Let G = “God exists.”
    Let M = “Math works (is consistent, etc.).”
    Let P = “The physical universe exists.”

    Not sure how to draw the symbol on HTML, so let’s use the word “proves” instead the symbol from Proof Theory.

    We have 6 metaphysical stances related to these 6 statements, for each of which I make a brief comment:

    P proves M (and Applied Math is more “real” than nonphysical abstract Math).

    P proves G (Deist and Creationist argument that the beauty and harmony of the cosmos prove the glory of the creator).

    G proves P (Spinoza’s theory that the universe exists “in the mind of God”).

    G proves M (God is the ultimate mathematician, Blak’s etching of God as Geometer).

    M proves G (specious Mathematical “proofs” of the existence of God).

    M proves P (Tegmark’s theory that we live inside a mathematical object).

    Pairs of these can give isomorphisms related to Medieval and Galileo’s claim that the Book of Nature and the Bible are two different views of the same thing.

    We can also provide 6 Unifications of Theomathematics and Theophysics:

    P proves M proves G
    P proves G proves M
    G proves P proves M
    G proves M proves P
    M proves G proves P
    M proves P proves G

    which can, if a loop is valid (such as
    M proves P proves G proves M), collapse God, Math, and Physics to equivalence.

    Many open questions remain. For eample: does “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” by Eugene Wigner suggest that M proves P or P proves M?

    I don’t think there is any new content here; just an original notational way to classify a large body of writings from disparate authors.

  134. #134 Norm Breyfogle
    October 6, 2007

    Interesting, JVP. However, you haven’t specified the definition of “God” you’re using, nor do you include a symbol for consciousness.

    A mystical approach I prefer is to equate the meaning of all words which supposedly refer to absolute, irreducable truths. Thus, to my preference, existence, energy, consciousness, “God,” information, and the essence of logic and math are all really referring to the same transcendent absolute, while words or phrases like “physical universe,” “individual consciousness,” “applicable math and science,” etc., each refer to merely one of many (or even infinite) limited-case scenarios, manifestations, instances of, or alternate versions of the absolute.

    This approach is what I meant by requiring “language to synch up with logic and knowledge and math on a fundamental level” for the purpose of semantic clarity.

  135. #135 Norm Breyfogle
    October 6, 2007

    JVP,

    This from you just now sunk into my head: …”which can, if a loop is valid (such as M proves P proves G proves M), collapse God, Math, and Physics to equivalence.”

    Which is, of course exactly what I was doing in my most recent above post, though I included more referents than you did (I would argue that unqualified consciousness, energy, information, and some others also rate as appropriate referents in such an equation).

    The biggest sticking point in such an equivalence is undoubtedly the referent “God,” due to all it’s multiple possible meanings and myriad, passionate connotations.

  136. #136 Jonathan Vos Post
    October 8, 2007

    Of course, some of the arguments that I classify have intrinsic historical importance, or literary merit.

    For example:

    “The famous beginning of Psalm 19 announces that the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky declares his handiwork.”

    When I classify that as “P proves G” something has clearly been lost in translation.

    Books
    Desert Storm
    Understanding the capricious God of the Psalms.
    by James Wood October 1, 2007
    The New Yorker

    “What is God like? Is he merciful, just, loving, vengeful, jealous? Is he a bodiless force, a cool watchmaker, or a hot interventionist, a doer with big opinions, a busy chap up in Heaven? Does he, for instance, approve of charity and disapprove of adultery? Or are these attributes instead like glass baubles that we throw against the statue of his invisibility, inevitably shattering into mere words? The medieval Jewish thinker Maimonides thought that it was futile to belittle God by giving him human attributes; to do so was to commit what later philosophers would call a category mistake. We cannot describe his essence; better to worship in reverent silence. ‘Silence is praise to thee,’ Maimonides wrote, quoting from the second verse of Psalm 65….” [truncated]

    Needless to say, many of the “complaints, fears, hopes…prayers, songs, incantations…soliloquies” are mutually inconsistent, and much writing on these subjects is internally contradictory.

    Still, I see no harm in attempting to bring order into chaos by the sorting of arguments into predicate calculus and proof theory by beginning, not with “Let there be light” but with:
    Let G = “God exists.”
    Let M = “Math works (is consistent, etc.).”
    Let P = “The physical universe exists.”

    I neglected to mention the obvious points that the negations may also be meaningful.

    NOT G = “God does not exist” is the basic statement defining Atheism.

    Agnosticism, on the other hand, is an epistemological position, about what a human consciousness can or cannot know.

    Hence there is some wisdom in Norm B’s point about the desire to add into the propositions some notations for “consciousness, energy, information, and some others…”

    Some of the Bad Math exposed in this great blog of MarkCC and the readers deal with errors in the Mathematics of energy (Physics) and Information (Information Theory and Communication Theory). As to mathematical models of consciousness, in the context of religious belief, there is much controversy, as we see in books such as:

    A response to atheists, materialists.
    Neuroscientist’s a soul man, says it’s more than matter
    The Spiritual Brain
    A Neuroscientist’s Case
    for the Existence of the Soul
    By Mario Beauregard
    and Denyse O’Leary
    HarperOne. 368 pp. $25.95
    Reviewed by Bryan Appleyard

    “Neuroscience is a combat zone. It is here, in the human brain, that the final conflict between materialism and, to invent a word, soulism is being fought. For materialists, the outcome is not in doubt. Our minds, our selves, our awareness are merely the outcome of the electrical activity of the few pounds of hyperconnected matter between our ears. All claims to the contrary are wishful thinking or superstitious remnants….” [truncated]

  137. #137 Norm Breyfogle
    October 8, 2007

    I will add, however, that it isn’t really that one absolute “proves” another so much as that one is as equivalently fundamental as another. There’s no real proof involved, only an intuitive recognition of the equivalency of their fundamental natures.

  138. #138 John M.
    December 2, 2008

    It amuses me that many of you are so offended by Christianity. Have you ever questioned yourself about why it is so important to you to waste your time ranting about it? You atheists are bugging out because you live in constant guilt. Idiots.

    If you don’t believe in it, then don’t believe in it. That’s your choice.

    Atheists spread their brand of garbage, so why shouldn’t Christians be allowed to teach their beliefs? Or don’t you believe in tolerance…

  139. #139 Mark C. Chu-Carroll
    December 2, 2008

    John M:

    First of all, I’m not an atheist. I’m a religious Jew.

    Second of all, why am I so offended by christianity? I’m not. I’m offended by certain Christians – the ones who try to wiggle their religion into the schools that my children attend; the ones who push for laws that infringe on my right to worship or not worship as I choose; and the ones who turn off their brains because they’re terrified of anything that might, just might, not reinforce their beliefs.

    To me, the fundamental question involved in this post is: Why does a class on calculus need to include religious indoctrination?

    And the answer is: because to the kind of christian that is exemplified by Paul Jehle is positively offended by the thought that anyone might ever so much as think about anything other than christianity. It doesn’t matter that Jesus, if he was actually the saviour that Christianity claims he was, wasn’t a mathematician, or that his teachers were moral teachings; it doesn’t matter that math is
    useful for people trying live proper christian lives; it doesn’t matter that adding religious indoctrination hampers the teaching of math, because it requires stretching both the math and the theology in stupid ways. To people like Jehle, if you aren’t spending absolutely every waking moment thinking about Jesus, you’re evil.

  140. #140 William Wallace
    January 5, 2009

    Yeah. Seriously. Math is Bad, because it’s not explicitly christian. I mean, it uses zero, which was invented by a hindu, and brought to europe by muslims. Algebra was invented by muslims! The word “algorithm” comes from the name of a muslim mathematician!

    I actually heard this speech, and I can say that you are distorting it. In no way does Paul Jehle say math is bad, or that Christians should not study math, from my recollection.

    If you quote mine, you shouldn’t complain when creationists do it.

    Did you listen to the program, or are you letting your own hatred fill your imagination with ideas that were not ever conveyed.

  141. #141 William Wallace
    January 6, 2009

    Okay, I found the audio. To see what a misrepresentation Myers, Chu-Carroll, et al. have made, listen to Evaluating Your Philosophy of Education (Part 1) and Evaluating Your Philosophy of Education (Part 2).

    The quote mining done by Chu-Carroll above can be heard in context at 6:34 of part 1. Jehle is not saying “Math is Bad, because it’s not explicitly Christian” as Chu-Carroll defames in this blog entry. (Can we get a retraction?)

    Paul Jehle is concerned about education, preserving liberty, and argues against humanism, which he defines as the deification of humans.

    He is not against mathematics or teaching math, and was indeed a math major in college. He is now a preacher, principal of a Christian school.

    At 9:05 of part 1 he explains that his Christian college had problems in not understanding and promoting Christian beliefs.

    Indeed, he portrays the bible department of this Christian college as having left the faith. By Chu-Carroll’s logic, does this mean that Dr. Jehle believes that “the bible is bad”? It would if you were a lying quote mining whore for the NCSE.

    Can we get a retraction? Or are you just an opportunistic propagandist?

  142. #142 mst3kzz
    May 28, 2009

    Jehle must believe one of two things:

    (1) Math should be taught from some kind of Christian context at a Christian college

    OR

    (2) Math should not be taught at all at a Christian college because it is not, in fact, of or relating to the teachings of Christ

    I have no problem with students who chose a Christian college having the option of learning Calculus in some kind of religious context, but I fear proofs would eventually devolve into: “Because that’s the way God created it. QED.”

    The Calvin and Hobbes comic is great. Of course, you don’t have to take Math on faith- just take a real analysis course and you’ll learn enough about proofs to be dangerous.

  143. #143 Owen
    October 9, 2009

    Christ built things out of wood. He used math to do this, therefore you must know and understand math to know and understand Christ. He knew about pi= 3.14 and triangle calculations. This was one of the reasons some of the people wanted him dead. Look up the history of math and you will see that many of the great men of math were killed because their math challenged the power of the religious fanatics of the day and proved the fanatics wrong.
    The problem now is that math has become a religion. It has gone so far into the metaphysical abstract insantity that some people want to teach abstract math to children in grade one when students in grade 12 cant do it because it is too abstract.
    I made a math system to help solve this problem called
    DotMath for kids. The charts are all made with standard formulas that are used around the world. I still get people who claim my material is strange and they would like to see me dead. I get my share of hate mail because my system challenges the high preasts of math. DotMath for kids explains What a number is, What a numeral is, and how to tell them apart. It explains math so well a child can understand math better than some adults who claim to be experts.
    The web site has examples. There is too much data to put on the site so I have it on a DVD. If you want a DVD with the lesson plans for the Dotmath for kids, you can get it from the web site for a small donation.

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