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In the language arts, the mathematics of rhyme and meter can be discussed and practiced, at first through recitation but eventually through imitation. Also, the discovery of the numerological meanings written into great literature can begin with the Bible and advance historically through the various periods studied. In nature studies, the mathematics of nature can unveil the mysterious occurrences of transcendental constants such as pi and the natural logarithm, the recurrence of biological geometry such as the spiral of Archimedes, and the myriad ways in which relation is communicated in the branches of a tree, the strands of an orb web, or the convergence of streams into a river.
- Koetsier&Bergmans(ed) Mathematics and the Divine[Elsevier ] - PDF Archive.
- Clinical Forensic Medicine, 3rd Edition;
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- Troy: Shield Of Thunder.
- The “mathematics of beauty” can be discerned in every subject..
Individual plants and animals can be introduced as the basis for understanding growth, and direct observation and measurement can be the basis for understanding numerical and visual representation of change through time. Individuals and populations can be used to illustrate the concepts of rate of change, large numbers, and eventually infinity. Measurement and the mathematical representation of natural systems can become the entry point for a discussion of estimation and precision, order and entropy, probability, and eventually chaos.
A love of mathematics naturally leads not only to the development of analytical and critical reasoning skills, but deep creativity. Most importantly, it fosters a sense of profound reverence for the cosmos and our place within it, and the infinite depth of intelligibility woven into creation. This love is a spontaneous response that arises when a child first discovers math in the world, and must be nourished so that the work of solving math problems does not become tedium.
Puzzles, codes, riddles, games, and the direct observation and experience of mathematics in our world are important ways to keep the intrigue and enchantment of mathematics alive while building necessary skills. Skip to main content. Contact Calendar. Mathematics The study of mathematics should instill in students an ever-increasing sense of wonder and awe at the profound way in which the world displays order, pattern and relation. Visual Arts. Language Arts. Nature Studies. The book restricts its attention mainly to Western culture, distinguishing three periods in the relationship between mathematics and the divine: the early pre-Greek period, the classical Greek period with its medieval and Renaissance heirs, and the modern era starting with the Scientific Revolution.
The pre-Greek period is discussed briefly in the introduction and in the first two chapters, which deal with China and India respectively. Except for a later chapter on the sacred geographies developed by medieval Islam, this is the only place that treats non-Western mathematics, and it concentrates on some fairly narrow topics Chinese magic square number mysticism, and the compatibility of Indian astronomy with Hindu sacred texts.
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Chapters on medieval mathematics take up some mathematical traditions and applications texts devoted to calculating calendar matters, ecclesiastical architecture, and mathematical topics stimulated by theological debates as well as ideas put forward by some well-known thinkers Ramon Lull and Nicolas of Cusa. A chapter on the algebraist Michael Stifel's Biblical numerology is followed by ones on the mystical ideas of two later Renaissance thinkers, the rechenmeister Johannes Faulhaber and the polymath Athanasius Kircher, who lived during the early years of the Scientific Revolution.
John Napier's ideas in a similar vein are mentioned but did not merit a special chapter. The last half of the book is allocated to thinkers from the modern period. Brouwer; and the scientists Pavel Florensky and Arthur Eddington. The book concludes with a chapter tracing the history of the golden ratio, pinpointing how it came to be considered a divine proportion.
The book covers many links between mathematics and religion, but it concentrates heavily on how mathematical ideas were employed for religious and metaphysical purposes: the number 6 was chosen by God for the days of creation since it is a perfect number Augustine ; numerological calculations predicted the end of the world on October 19, , at 8 a.
Stifel ; a Trinitarian view of God is bolstered apologetically by analogy with the three dimensions in a cube Wallis ; and so on.
As the editors note, ever since the time of the Pythagoreans and Plato mathematics has seemed specially poised to take on this exalted role, for it alone or in conjunction with logic studies abstract, unchanging objects and contains truths that are deemed absolutely certain, universal, and eternally valid, things typically associated with divine realities. Numbers and shapes were exceptionally privileged, having mystical powers and divine connections.
Moreover, mathematics could rationally account for musical harmony, celestial motion, optical phenomena, and mechanical behavior. Many found it quite natural to use mathematical ideas to explain God's nature and creative activity. This tendency was still the case in the early modern period, even strongly so; in fact, mathematization of physical phenomena was one of the key driving forces behind the rise of modern natural science. Religious concerns formed the broader motivation for natural philosophers such as Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and others, but mathematics in turn provided the language for reading the deep structure of the cosmos, for deciphering God's intentions.
In taking this position, many scientists incorporated mathematics into their religious foundation: mathematics becomes part of the eternal wisdom used by God to create and structure the world and so has a divine character. Greek notions thus became intertwined with Biblical ideas to form an unstable religious synthesis, one that would be dissolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the increasing secularization due to the rise of deism, agnosticism, and atheism.
There are still notable cases of Western scientists and mathematicians maintaining orthodox religious beliefs Euler is a prime example , but they become more the exception than the rule as Enlightenment views become dominant. Cantor's taking an avid interest in medieval Catholic theology because its ideas of infinity supported his maverick notion of transfinite numbers seems atypical, though case studies of other mathematicians may later change our picture of this time period. Readers who enjoy learning how mathematical ideas have shaped religious trends and doctrines will find much of interest in this book.
Those who want to learn how religious ideas have impacted the development of mathematical science over the centuries will also find relevant material. Chapter 13 by Edith Sylla is a fascinating piece of historical detective work, examining how medieval discussions later caricatured and ridiculed in the seventeenth century as being about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin actually contributed to clarifying the notions of infinity and continuity.
Chapter 18 by Volker Remmert is a good discussion of the role mathematics came to play in Galileo's thinking about nature and how this transformed the relationship between science and theology.
Mathematics and Divine
Chapter 24 by Cornelis de Pater on Newton paints a holistic picture of Newton's intellectual interests, showing how his physics astronomy, mechanics, optics , alchemy, and theology form consistent parts of a whole, all of them motivated by Newton's deep desire to fathom the ways of God and thus show His wisdom and grandeur. Mathematics provided the tool for understanding how God governs his handiwork, while alchemy looked for the active principles mediating God's interaction with his material creation.
This highlights only three of the chapters I found very interesting, but many others are worth reading. A few chapters that might have been good are marred by poor editing and awkward phraseology: the chapter on Cantor, for instance, could have gone through another draft. Omitting certain chapters would also have strengthened the book: a couple of them are only tangentially on topic, and one or two others seem to exemplify the sort of mysticism the book analyzes.
This unevenness is probably to be expected in a compilation of so many articles, but a stronger editing hand would have improved the book. All in all, however, Mathematics and the Divine makes a valuable contribution to opening up the history of this topic. It should provide welcome encouragement and assistance to others who would like to explore this arena further for themselves.
While he teaches a wide range of undergraduate mathematics courses on all levels, his Ph. He has also had a long standing interest in the relations, real and imagined, between religion, philosophy, and mathematics. Skip to main content.
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