Math: The Language of God

By January 14, 2019 No Comments

When God said “Let there be light”, He spoke into existence the laws of physics governing the propagation of electromagnetic waves, which are described by four very famous equations known as Maxwell’s equations.  More than one hundred years ago, James Clerk Maxwell took four equations and used them to derive a wave equation for light.  Those four equations were not derived, but empirical, meaning they were written down based on what was observed in the laboratory.  When Maxwell derived the wave equation from these four others, he had God’s thoughts after Him.  When God speaks, He backs it up with physical laws and ordains order that is precise and repeatable.  His language is mathematics and the entire reason math works is because God consistently upholds all things by the word of his power, just like Hebrews 1:3 tells us.  Mathematics underpins everything in the universe.  Without math, there is no physics or chemistry or any science at all.  Because math is the language of God, just as anyone who studies Italy must speak and read Italian, anyone who studies science must be trained in mathematics.

I’ve heard people tell of their trips to Israel and how awesome it was to walk in the same footsteps Jesus walked two thousand years ago.  I feel the same way when I manipulate mathematical equations because I’m having God’s thoughts after Him.  I’m retracing the same ‘steps’ God took when He decreed order in the universe so long ago.  Math reflects the order and precision of God’s nature and codifies the laws of His decree.  Over millennia, confident in the repeatability and consistency of mathematical formulations, scientists thought everything could be explained but then, just like a novel with a surprising twist in the plot, we discovered quantum physics.  The physics of the very small is not at all like that for the large.  Electrons can tunnel through barriers, light is simultaneously a particle and wave, energy is quantized, not continuous, and so on.  The more we dig into physics the more we discover and math is always there to systematize things and settle matters for us, because until the math works, the theory is not correct.

Math is full of surprises such as imaginary numbers, limits of functions that converge to important numbers, Fibonacci’s sequence that occurs frequently in nature, and transcendental numbers that defy attempts to know their values perfectly.  Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and we’re all taught the value of 3.14 in school but pi is a number that never actually ends.  It has been tabulated to a half billion decimal places with no end in sight.  How can such a simple ratio be so mysterious?  If I take the term (1+1/n), raise it to the power of n, and then take the limit as n tends toward infinity, I get a remarkable result.  The limit of (1+1/n)^n is e, known as the Napierian logarithmic base and it has a value of about 2.718, though it never repeats or ends just like pi.  This transcendental number shows up in nature and is used in the mathematics of statistics and probability.  When you were graded on a curve in school, e was central to that calculation.

Please don’t fear math, because in a way it’s like hearing the voice of the shepherd.  Jesus said I am the shepherd and the sheep know my voice.  You won’t miss out on salvation if you skip math, but if you shun math, you’re missing out on hearing the Master’s voice.  Understanding math is the first step in gaining a backstage pass to creation.  If you understand the creator’s language, you can begin to read His script of creation and when math is applied to physics, chemistry and other sciences, you gain all kinds of insights other believers don’t get.  Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.  Mathematics reflects God’s immutability and sovereignty because math always works, never changes and it works the same way everywhere in the universe.  The very reason math works is because God is powerful enough to uphold the laws of physics everywhere throughout creation, and that speaks to His sovereignty.  If math were taught as a window into God’s nature, perhaps we’d all be a bit more inclined to try harder with the quadratic equation in high school.

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