My email signature includes the quotation, "An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God." What a conversation stopper! Not only do I make the universal claim that God exists (and is personal enough to have thoughts), but the dread mathematical term "equation" is the second word. Surely in this postmodern era I would have enough sense to avoid such a faux pas.

In my defense, the last decade has actually brought a renewed interest in math. John Allen Paulos' book highlighting the "innumeracy" of most adults have been in print for quite a while now, and "holistic" methods of teaching secondary mathematics have aroused no end of controversy among parents and teachers, particularly in California. Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's notorious "Last Theorem" (after 300 years) is old news now. Just within the last year, director Ron Howard earned multiple Oscars for his portrayal of the mentally disturbed Nobel Prize-winner John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) and a playwright earned the Tony for Best Play by wrapping a story about family around a putative proof of a famous conjecture (Proof). Christian thought seems a little behind; the few examples include the dubious Bible Code and the more rigorous probabilistic design arguments of Bill Dembski.

Not that this should surprise anyone. Ever since Laplace told Napoleon (perhaps apocryphally), when asked where God was in his equations, "Sir, I had no need of that hypothesis," math has edged away from connections to the Almighty. More and more mathematicians (not to mention philosophers of math) at least pay lip service to one of two notions; either that math is a mere convenient formalism (approximately modernist), or that it is a plastic societal agreement (more or ...

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