Karen and I were watching Numb3rs a few nights ago. We don’t do much television: most of it is incredibly mediocre, and inspires no thought whatsoever. For some reason, though, this show always gets my curiosity flowing, even though there isn’t much original to it after you get past the premise.
See, I’m the guy who had horrible grades in math. I begged for passing grades in high school, and successfully avoided it through college and grad school. If it weren’t for Quicken, I couldn’t balance my checkbook. I cringe at people who use mathematical formulae to express the human condition. It’s blasphemous and insulting to me, because I don’t think the human soul can be reduced to numerical values. For that matter, I barely believe that the actions we take can be. So, since we’re both thinkers, that led Karen and I to a debate: did we create numbers and math, or did God?
I think mathematics is our invention, an attempt to measure the things in the universe. When I have occasion to hear someone discussing math, though…especially higher math (who came up with the idea of mixing numbers and letters, anyway?)…I find it laughable that there are all these rules and laws which are “inviolable.” Sort of reminds me of the excuse for a legal system we’ve created.
I read Tillich’s definition of idolatry today, coincidentally, and I can’t help but think that we’ve idolized math, turned what we’ve created into something it isn’t and can’t be. That explains why so many in our culture are deprived of being well-read or artistically well-rounded, and are trapped in a confining linear thought process. As we’ve industrialized our culture, we’ve emphasized math and science, and all but ignored the humanities, the arts, literature, and faith. Life for our students is about the objective, and the subjective is minimalized.
And when I look around during my average day, I can’t help but to see the results.
What do you think?