You Can’t Teach Math Without a Bible

There are times when you read something so brilliant that your whole brain experiences a revolution. We just had one of those times, and we’d like to share it with you. It happened while reading an amazing article at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

Their article is titled Without God, Math Doesn’t Make Sense, and it was written by Dr. Dana Sneed. Their bio page about her says: “Dr. Dana Sneed is a curriculum writer and editor for Answers in Genesis. She earned her PhD in education from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.” Here are some excerpts from her article, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Most people believe math to be a non-biased subject. There is no interpretation of evidence or analyzation of literary devices. It doesn’t matter what your worldview is: 2 + 2 = 4. But if we treat math merely as a tool, we miss an incredible opportunity to honor the Creator.

Ooooooooooooh! We wanna know more! Dana says:

If the universe were the result of chance, random processes [Yuk!], why would we expect there to be order and consistency? It is due to the unchanging nature of our eternal Creator that we can understand the predictable nature of our universe.

Ooooooooooooh! She’s right! After that heavenly revelation, Dana tells us:

Math is predictable because our God, who upholds the universe (Hebrews 1:3), is consistent — he does not change (Malachi 3:6). In fact, we see the foundation of math in Genesis 1, when God counted the days of creation and marked the beginning of time.

Ooooooooooooh! Dana continues:

The concept of infinity or even irrational numbers (that have decimal places that continue on into infinity) remind us that God is beyond measure (Psalm 147:5); infinity can only exist because God is infinite. Math, like operational science, depends on the uniformity of universal laws and the certainty of absolute truths, which depend on the God of truth (Isaiah 65:16).

Ooooooooooooh! Let’s read on, as Dana tells us how math should be taught:

The truth is that no curricula is without bias. [And all creationists am grammarians!] Before the material was assembled, the writer had a purpose in mind. No matter the subject, the writer approached the content with a worldview that influences his or her understanding of the topic. Without a correct view of the Creator God described in the Bible, the writer cannot adequately explain why math exists or why we can trust it is true. But when we start with the Bible, we can make sense of the most foundational concepts of mathematics.

Ooooooooooooh! All math classes should begin with the bible. Another excerpt:

If you are thinking about selecting a homeschool math curriculum [Who isn’t?], consider the opportunity you have to show your student how God’s Word is foundational to every aspect of life — or to learn (or even relearn) math yourself in light of the One who created it. Rather than reinforce the idea that math is merely a tool [Yuk!], inspire your child to celebrate our Creator by discovering how math reflects the nature and character of God.

Dana’s final paragraph tells you about some bible-oriented math texts that are available at Hambo’s book store. If you’re interested — and who isn’t? — click on over to Homeschool Math Curriculum and take a look. When you buy, tell ’em the Curmudgeon sent ya!

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

25 responses to “You Can’t Teach Math Without a Bible

  1. 2 + 2 = 5 for larger values of 2 or smaller values of 5.

  2. I thought that I would not be surprised by a creationist.

  3. Eddie Janssen

    “In fact, we see the foundation of math in Genesis 1, when God counted the days of creation and marked the beginning of time.”

    I agree, this is surprising. And amazing. And bewildering.

  4. Charley Horse X

    UH UH! “Alternative Math” tells us that 2 plus 2 equals 22.
    Worth a repeat….

  5. @Eddie Janssen
    As far as I know, there is no zero number in the Bible. Or negative, or irrational. Or any algebra, topology, logic, recursive functions, categories. Not even music theory, perspective …

  6. A (possibly apocryphal) quote from an actual mathematician is appropriate: Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là. (Attributed to Pierre-Simon Laplace).

  7. While there were great mathematicians before the 19th century, there has been so much begun with that century – group theory, foundations of calculus, nonEuclidean geometry, and on and on, that makes obsolete anything said about mathematics without knowledge of the last couple of centuries. I make a guess that this applies to the author.

  8. “Without a correct view of the Creator God described in the Bible, the writer cannot adequately explain why math exists or why we can trust it is true.”
    What about Pythagoras’ Theorem? True or not true? I can demonstrate both.

    @TomS: “I make a guess that this applies to the author.”
    Dana managed to present a version of Plato’s view on math that would have made the great Greek cringe.

  9. Dave Luckett

    TomS, my reaction as well. I can only describe this one’s thought processes as “alien”. John W Campbell would have approved.

    Mathematics she treats as an iteration, an implication, of an orderly Universe. But if the Universe were not orderly, then neither she nor any life-form could exist. Does its orderliness imply a God, a Creator, who made it that way? No. That has not been shown.

    But there’s some greater disconnect than that going on, and I find it difficult to articulate it. Mathematics is not only an implication of an orderly Universe. It can imply other forms of order, other Universes, including chaotic ones.

    I understand that there are not only irrational numbers, there are imaginary numbers. I understand that there are mathematical treatments of hypothetical dimensions that may not exist; that mathematics can be used to predict the hypothetical properties of abstractions that can’t exist in this Universe.

    So although it seems that the Universe must be orderly, or we would not exist, it does not follow that mathematics describes only that Universe.

    So her idea breaks down at both ends. Not only is there no necessity to posit an orderly God who created the orderly Universe, but mathematics does not necessarily imply either the Universe we have, or its order.

    But it has taken me the best part of an hour to get that far. It’s as weird a recursive tangle as I have ever been presented with. And I’m still not sure I have got to the heart of why it’s as wrong as it is. It’s not exactly a repeat of the old fine-tuning argument, for instance, although that’s part of it.

    Of course my own mathematical blind spot is no help at all.

  10. @FrankB
    “Without X one cannot explain Y” is not a sound argument for X. Even if one dismisses W, Z etc. as explanations for Y. If nothing else, maybe it is a mistake to need an explanation for Y. Why expect total knowledge?

  11. When it comes to irrational numbers, the Bible gives us a nice shortcut for pi.

  12. @hans435
    Excuse me for a pedantic reaction to your humor. My excuse being today’s date.
    It isn’t so much that the Bible shows a crude approximation to π, as that the author did not realize that geometry determines a fixed ratio of circumference to diameter.

  13. Or the author simply didn’t care. The Hebrews hardly were interested in math; that ratio is not the main topic of 1 Kings 7 and 2 Chro. 4 at all.
    For me the main use of these two Bible quotes is that they demonstrate the hypocrisy of literalists.

  14. @FrankB
    But they did care to specify numbers in exquisite detail all throughout the Bible. Just that interest and knowledge of math didn’t come up to – maybe a ten-year old today?

  15. I blogged about what the bible says about pi more than ten years ago — see Creationists And The Scriptural Value Of Pi.

  16. I have a private test about mathematics knowledge. Given a polynomial, say 2x^3+17, what is its differential?
    I wonder whether this writer about mathematics could answer without looking it up.
    If not, there is no reason to take seriously what they have to say about mathematics.

  17. Theodore J Lawry

    “infinity can only exist because God is infinite.” Where does infinity “exist” exactly, and how does it exist?

  18. @Theodore J Lawry
    Which infinity?
    The plus or minus limits of real line, the point completing the complex plane?
    The various cardinal infinities?
    The ordinal infinities?

  19. This is the same old argument along the lines of “Since there are physical laws there must be a law giver”. These guys have anthropomorphised matter and energy. Whether it is an electron, a baseball, or a planet; everything has a mind of its own and who knows what it would do if left to its own devices. In comes god to enforce the laws of physics the keep matter and energy from doing whatever it wants. God needs to spend every nanosecond of existence making sure every particle always obeys the law.

    Their idea of math is the same thing. Who knows what values of two would exist if god didn’t constantly make sure there it stayed in line. How would addition or multiplication work if god didn’t constantly ensure that it followed the rules?

  20. So therefore: (x-1)(x+1) =x2-1 = god
    I win!

    Take that ya doity math teachers!

  21. @TomS: “But they did care to specify numbers in exquisite detail ….”
    Which had nothing to do with interest in and understanding of math either. Your “but” is totally misplaced; there is no contradiction. Let me quote the German Walter Krämer:”ämer

    (my translation):
    Many numbers impress us with a long string of digits. In reality they are supremely inaccurate. When we read: “During WW-2 13 165 233 civilians died” (from the book Fighting with Figures by the British department of statistics), then in practice not one of those digist is exact. It’s impossible to demonstrate with any certainty how many millions, thousands or hundreds civilians died as the consequence of war deeds.
    Still we rather believe such numbers with many digits than round or rounded off numbers ….. We think (and rightly so) that a rounded off number is (almost) always wrong. It’s just that we draw the wrong conclusion that every not-rounded off number has to be precise.

    The authors of the Bible understood a few things about propaganda (not necessarily in the usual negative meaning of the word). The usage of those specified numbers confirms their lack of interest in math. They used them with an agenda, one that’s hardly hidden.

  22. @FrankB
    And the lengths of the diameter and circumference, which happen to agree with a crude approximation of π,
    what are we to make of them?
    Numbers in the Bible often have magical meaning. Like the ages of the descendants of Adam, numerology which has been lost to us. Yet have been cleaned up to agree with arithmetic, perhaps by an original author, or a later editor.

  23. “what are we to make of them?”
    No idea, I’m not a Biblical scholar. As a fierce non-believer I’m not particularly interested either. So I am to make nothing of them. Ask a Biblicar scholar, not me.

    “Yet have been cleaned up …..”
    No my problem either.

  24. @TomS – My comment about the “crude approximation to π” was not a criticism of the Bible nor the Bible writer, but it was to ridicule the author of “Without God, Math Doesn’t Make Sense”.

  25. docbill1351

    I seem to recall that mathematician, philosopher and all-round swell guy, Dr. Dr. Billy-D dabbled in “Bible codes.” Total Froot Loops. But, seriously, folks, have you ever really looked at your hand?