Mathematics & God
Why So Many Equations Are Beautiful
* How Einstein and Others Can Use Their Minds To Make Discoveries: As author James Nickel recently told RSR, mathematicians turn away from the physical universe and yet make astounding discoveries that help to explain the world of matter and energy. Using their minds, rather than microscopes or telescopes, theoreticians make discoveries years, decades, and even centuries before their real-world counterparts make the same discoveries by observational science. Some examples:
- Max Planck, in the year 1900, by thinking about how to solve a math problem in physics, discovered the Planck constant, the foundation of the quantum mechanics revolution of the 1920s.
- Paul Dirac, by thinking, discovered the positron (the electron's antimatter counterpart) in 1928, prior to physicists noticing it in 1929 and confirming its existence its 1932.
- Peter Higgs in 1964 saw in his mind the existence of the subatomic Higgs boson almost a half century before scientists empirically found it using the nine-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider.
- James Clerk Maxwell, father of the science of electromagnetic radiation, discovered in 1859, not with a telescope but by thought, that Saturn's rings were not, as had been supposed, solid, nor a continuous fluid, but were made up of disconnected particles, a discovery confirmed 122 years later with NASA's Voyager 2 mission.
- Mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered a couple gravitationally stable Lagrange Points. He was born in Turin, Italy in 1736 and discovered two of these points with his mind, a few years after Leonhard Euler first discovered three, with his mind! Today we position exploratory satellites at these points where also two major but temporary (transient) dust clouds are held in place.
- Time Magazine's Albert Einstein: The Enduring Legacy says that today's "high precision instruments such as atomic clocks and lasers... have shown that he was absolutely on target with the equations he worked out with nothing more than a pencil." And describing Einstein's visit with his wife in 1931 to see the 100-inch reflecting telescope at California's Mount Wilson Observatory, Richard Lacayo writes for Time that, "When the astronomers there boasted that their telescope could probe the structure of the universe, Elsa quipped: 'My husband does that on the back of an old envelope.'"
* Einstein's Lab Where He Discovered Special Relativity: Many materialists claim, along with similar atheistic cliches, that you can only know that which your five senses tell you. But of course none of their five senses were able to tell them that, just as Einstein's five senses didn't reveal relativity to him. So we watch as today's materialists are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the non-physicality of information, with the reality of logic, with the existence of absolute morality and math, and even with the existence of truth itself.
* Einstein Confuses Lawrence Krauss: As an extraordinary example of today's atheists trying to distance themselves from the realm of ideas, theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss (emphasis on the theoretical), in his book A Universe from Nothing, attempts to refute the phenomenon described by Nickel, that mathematicians often use their minds, rather than scientific equipment, to make astounding discoveries of the physical universe. In support of his denial, he presents an anecdote about Albert Einstein which, even in Krauss' own telling, EXACTLY contradicts Krauss' own reason for telling the story. Einstein used telescopes, yes, to make an astronomical observation, yes, but NOT to form his theory, for his theory had already been written on paper. Discover magazine's Richard Panek explains:
In the late 17th century, Isaac Newton helped inaugurate a scientific revolution by taking Galileo's observations of the heavens' motions and expressing them mathematically. Then in the early 20th century, Albert Einstein helped inaugurate a second scientific revolution by reversing that process, taking his own calculations and looking for their physical expression in the heavens.
* Rather Touchy Atheists: Atheists are rather touchy on this subject. For example, when this RSR article was first posted, we provided Cherenkov radiation as an example of a pre-discovery as already described for years on Wikipedia. Yet shortly after we made that point (and the link), the Wikipedia article was edited (as happens, including for example when we posted about mammoths) to downplay the extraordinary significance of the prediction of this radiation made in the 1880s by Oliver Heaviside! But to take this further, this self-taught physicist also illustrated the main point of this article when he realized that complex numbers which include the imaginary square root of -1 were useful in describing electrical circuits! In the Krauss' example above, Einstein used his eyes to make an observation to confirm the theory he already established with his mind. For Einstein is not renowned for his eyesight but for his intellect.
* Comprehending the Gulf that Einstein said was Incomprehensible: Einstein wrote that it was "incomprehensible" that the non-physical realm of "ideas" could even exist in a physical world. It was incomprehensible to him that non-physical mathematics, which itself is not composed of matter or energy, could describe so beautifully the physical universe. After realizing that the physical laws do not address morality, Einstein then wondered even about the physical laws themselves and why it should be that mathematical ideas, which are non-physical, should correspond so well to the physical universe. In 1921 Einstein asked, "How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?"
* Einstein's Gulf: Even though Einstein was uncomfortable with this concept, fifteen years later he was still wrestling with the same unshakable observation. For in 1936 Einstein famously wrote that, "the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility." Then in 1944, remarking about atheist Bertrand Russell, he described the ability to get from matter to ideas as a "gulf–logically unbridgeable," which some scientists and linguists refer to as Einstein's Gulf. For while matter can be arranged to represent data, information itself is not material. Richard Walker, in his value-added re-airing of today's RSR program on Boston's WROL radio, mentioned the iconic article with a title that reiterates Einstein's point, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, by Nobel-prize winning physicist Eugene Wigner.)
The explanation for this phenomenon is one that Einstein (and Krauss) reject a priori. Mankind can understand the correspondence between pure ideas and physical phenomenon only by the realization that the universe was designed in the mind of God. So its workings can be discovered by the mind of men who are made in God's image. However, Einstein denied the existence of a personal God. Yet in more accurate science, as Kepler is paraphrased, we are thinking God's thoughts after Him.
* The Multiverse Yardstick: In the years since Einstein observed the gulf, things have gotten so bad for materialists that they have introduced a new measurement tool called the multiverse. The multiverse is a yardstick used to measure the strength of the fine tuning argument for God's existence. It's speedy acceptance is measuring the desperation of the materialist. So the one-word proof that the big bang theory has failed in its purpose to provide an explanation for the existence of the universe: multiverse! Finally, if you Google: fine tuning, RSR's page is on Google's second page of results, but if you Google: fine tuning of the universe, fine tuning of the solar system, or, fine tuning of the earth, Google ranks rsr.org/fine-tuning on its first page!
* Astounding and Unexpectedly Beautiful Equations: E = mc2. Exploring unexpected and even startling symmetry and patterns from the microscopic to the galactic scale, mathematicians often describe their work as an aesthetic pursuit of beauty, as Lacayo quotes Einstein that relativity was his "most beautiful discovery." Similarly, scientists enjoy the inverse square law, the beauty of Maxwell's equations, and of Boltzmann's formula for entropy, which is even engraved on his tombstone. And as math becomes increasingly purely theoretical, it seems to do an even better job at describing reality, as with the use of the square root of negative one, not only as in describing electrical circuits in the 1800s, but also today for describing quantum mechanics. Ludwig von Mises similarly writes in Human Action, that contemporary philosophers "are entirely wrong in their endeavors to reject any kind of a priori knowledge and to characterize logic, mathematics and [economics] as empirical and experimental disciplines. ... Moreover, it is not experience but thinking alone which teaches us that, and in what instances, it is necessary to investigate unrealizable hypothetical conditions in order to conceive what is going on in the real world" pp. 32, 65.) In the 1820s Carnot realized that even an idealized perfect heat engine could never operate at 100 percent efficiency (The Arrow of Time, Coveney & Highfield, p. 149). Like Einstein and Schrödinger, "Galileo is also known for his thought experiments", says Nova. "These are carried out entirely in the mind..." So ignoring their five senses, the mathematicians who turn away from the physical world to the non-material world of ideas, seeking pleasure from pure intellectual elegance, often end up being the ones who come closest to describing the physical nature of the cosmos. Atheists struggle with this phenomena because it suggests that the universe originated with the desire for beauty in the mind of a personal Creator.
* Mathematics Useless for Moral Truth: Conversely, while math helps man to understand physical reality, it is no use whatsoever regarding moral truth. Moral understanding never involves numbers. As American Right To Life put it in their Albert Einstein: In His Own Words article (extending upon a quote above):
In 1936 Einstein famously wrote, 'the most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible,' and in 1944, remarking about Bertrand Russell, he described the ability to get from matter to ideas as a 'gulf-logically unbridgeable,' which some scientists and linguists refer to as Einstein's Gulf, and in 1950, Einstein wrote that 'science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be,' necessarily excluding from its domain 'value judgments of all kinds.'
Neither math nor science are helpful in establishing moral truth. American Right To Life uses this vital concept in developing their strategy to re-criminalize child killing. The secular humanist utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mills is frequently paraphrased as calling for the greatest good for the greatest number. Sadly and ironically, the Southern Baptist Convention's chief ethicist Richard Land uses such situational ethics to defend support for funding the killing of some unborn children (for example), in an attempt to save other unborn children. Such utilitarian moral relativism contrasts with the simple biblical command to "obey God" (Acts 5:29), which never requires solving multiple simultaneous equations to determine right from wrong. God does not ask us to calculate arithmetically the number of possible future positive or negative results from our actions. Those actually following Christ would never submit to the criminal who says, "shoot this one in the head and we'll spare those," nor would they support funding the killing of some children to defund the killing of others. Instead of requiring advanced math skills, God refers to entire nations as "children," and gives men commands that even a child could understand. "Do not steal." "Do not bear false witness." "Do not kill the innocent." And don't "do evil that good may come of it." See more at AmericanRTL.org/exceptions#numbers.
* Did Richard Feynman See God? When accepting his Nobel prize in physics, Feynman said, "The fact that electrodynamics can be written in so many ways... was something I knew, but I have never understood. It always seems odd to me that the fundamental laws of physics, when discovered, can appear in so many different forms... An example of that is the Schrödinger equation and the Heisenberg formulation of quantum mechanics. I don't know why this is - it remains a mystery, but it was something I learned from experience. There is always another way to say the same thing that doesn't look at all like the way you said it before. I don't know what the reason for this is. I think it is somehow a representation of the simplicity of nature. A thing like the inverse square law is just right to be represented by the solution of Poisson's equation, which, therefore, is a very different way to say the same thing that doesn't look at all like the way you said it before. I don't know what it means..." Feynman might have been observing yet another manifestation of the one to many solution, that is, the plurality in the Godhead. Perhaps multiple persons of the triune God, each being transcendent, impressed themselves on physical reality. Thus, the biblical truth applies, pun intended, even in physics, that "a matter is established by two or three witnesses." In his book QED (referenced at rsr.org/three), Feynman asks how many fundamental actions are there to account for nearly all phenomena in the universe regarding light and electricity to which he answered: "There are Three!" This reminds us of later in his Nobel lecture where said, "This then is another, a third way, of describing quantum mechanics, which looks quite different than that of Schrödinger or Heisenberg, but which is equivalent to them." And a final observation from Feynman's Nobel prize lecture that reinforces the point of this RSR program, "Dirac obtained his equation for the description of the electron by an almost purely mathematical proposition."
Today’s Resource: Get the Spike Psarris DVD What You Aren't Being Told About Astronomy! Have you browsed through our Science Department in the KGOV Store? Check out especially Walt Brown’s In the Beginning. And you can now get on DVD, Blu-ray, or download, Bob Enyart's The Global Flood and the Hydroplate Theory. Update: Since we first listed this video, it has become RSR's best-selling science resource. As with all of our materials, you'll love it or your money back! So to order, just click above or call us at 1-800-8Enyart.
Online Math Tutorials for Kids (and adults :): To better understand some simple, and more complex, concepts in math, check out BetterExplained.com!
* Mathematics is One of the Languages of God: If you enjoyed RSR Goes To Math Class, you may want to listen to us interview James Nickel, author of Mathematics: Is God Silent? Nickel talks with Bob Enyart about Albert Einstein and how the personal creator God is the answer to the question that Einstein wrestled to answer. Bob and James also talk about Isaac Newton, Johann Kepler, and why science was stillborn in ancient Greece.
* RSR's 50 Years Later Wistar Conference Report: What happened when many of the world's leading mathematicians gathered to evaluate the mathematical feasibility of Darwinism? Check it out at rsr.org/wistar.
* Bob Enyart falls victim to spam entrapment: (Warning: As is typical and unfortunately at this RationalSkepticism.org site also, beware the filthy language of the evolutionary forums, where many participants have a hard time communicating without repeated reference to human waste and reproduction.) On June 6, 2014 Bob began reporting on his interacting with a dozen atheists at RationalSkepticism.org on a thread about their belief in the evolution of the eye. See the whole sordid affair at rsr.org/rational-skepticism! :)
* RSR Friend Andy McIntosh's Math Webinar: On Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 at 1 p.m. E.T. with many in the UK and the US, Bob Enyart will be watching Science, Mathematics and Beauty.
The power of mathematics is a very strong argument for the existence of the transcendent God. We will first consider the nature of abstract thought. We will then consider the nature of mathematics and its connection to reality. We will then examine the language of mathematics and show that the only consistent reality that is coherent and works in science is one which accepts the truth that meaning and purpose are realities which are transcendent to the physical Universe.
This talk will deal with a number of examples of the intriguing beauty and power of mathematics. Mathematics is more than a language and a tool of logic. When used to describe the physics of one system it is surprising how many other disciplines reflect the same principles so that the form of the equations can be similar. But we need to get underneath this and start with an even more fundamental concept concerning number itself. Dr. Jason Lisle has said,
"Numbers are concepts. Thus they are abstract in nature. They exist in the world of thought and are not material or physical. You cannot literally touch a number, or even see one, because they are not made of matter."
* On the Claim that Math is Not Science: Those who make the self-contradictory claim that nothing can be certain, like many others, have a hard time defending their assertion that math is not science. Two relevant definitions have not been resolved by the mathematics, philosophical, and scientific communities. What is the definition of mathematics? What is the definition of science? Experts claim that math is not science because math is not empircal. That is, it is not based on sensory observation. Then, whether this were valid or not, the very claim should lead its proponents to also conclude that it is unscientific to claim that science requires observation. Observation (empiricism) cannot validate the self-contradictory claim that science requires observation. (See RSR's rebuttal to Atheist Cliché #4.) If observation were a necessary aspect of the demarcation problem, of defining what science essentially is, then the many philosophers of science who argue that there is no hope in ever defining science (or even mathematics) would have a point. On the contrary, just as it requires knowledge of origins to accurately define what a species is and what a planet is, so too the only objective definition of science (and mathematics) depends on the unbiased view of Jesus Christ, the Great Mathematician Himself.