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The Mystery of Math

Bob Corker served as a United States Senator from 2007 to 2016, after which he chose not to run for re-election. While in office he served as the prestigious Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Bob recently called our office raving about Richard’s book, Reflections on the Existence of God. He said, “This is one of the best books on God and spiritual reality I have ever read. It is very well-written, clear and understandable.”

Reflections on the Existence of God is made up of 57 short, easy-to-read essays and covers a wide range of topics from evil to evolution. Richard presents in this blog, one of his favorite essays from the book.

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As I have been performing the research on this book, I have no­ticed the profound sense of order in our universe as discovered by science. What is so amazing is that the laws of nature have specific mathematical numbers attached to them.

In her wonderful book Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey makes this observation:

“Science offers mathematical formulas to express the cause-and-effect relationships in nature, but that only intensifies the dilemma. For if the universe evolved by blind, material forces acting randomly, why should it fit so neatly into mathematical formulas we invent in our minds? In short, why does math work? In a famous essay titled ‘The Unreasonable Effective­ness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,’ Eugene Wigner says the fact that math works so well in describing the world ‘is something bordering on the mysterious.’ Indeed, ‘there is no rational explanation for it.

No explanation within scientific materialism, that is. But within the Christian worldview, there is a perfectly rational explanation – namely, that a reasonable God created the world to operate as an orderly progression of events. This was the conviction that inspired the early modern scientists, says math historian Morris Kline: ‘The early mathematicians were sure of the existence of mathematical laws underlying natural phenomena and persisted in the search for them because they were convinced a priori that God had incorporated them in the construction of the universe.’”

Dr. Francis Collins is considered to be one of the greatest scientists of our time. When Collins was a student, he said that Wigner, a Nobel laureate in physics, caught his eye because of the fact that mathematics depicts matter and energy in a very simple and natural way. He then asks:

“But why should this be? Why should mathematics be so un­reasonably effective in describing nature?”

This was such a mystery that the physical world could be de­scribed so well mathematically.

It is quite apparent that all of the laws of the universe that have been discovered by science seem to be written in the lan­guage of mathematics. It is all so orderly. The world of science finds this to be strange and mysterious. Physicist Steven Weinberg writes:

“All my experience as a physicist leads me to believe that there is order in the universe…As we have been going to higher and higher energies and as we have studied structures that are smaller and smaller, we have found that the laws, the physical principles that describe what we learn become simpler and simpler…The rules we have discovered become increasingly coherent and universal…There is a simplicity, a beauty, that we are finding in the rules that govern matter that mirrors something that is built into the logical structure of the universe at a very deep level.”

The role of mathematics, which is seamlessly woven into the laws of nature, seems to have been done by deliberate design. It does not seem to be possible that this is a result of blind forces. The popular English physicist Paul Davies, who is a religious agnostic, is deeply impressed by this. He says:

“It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alter­ations in the numbers, has been rather carefully thought out. The seemingly miraculous concurrence of numerical values that nature has assigned to her fundamental constants must remain the most compelling evidence for an element of cos­mic design.”

Alexander Tsiaras, an adjunct professor at the Yale Department of Medicine, did a twenty-minute TED Talk presentation with a video on the fetal stages from conception to birth. The video compresses nine months of growth and development into a nine-minute film, and it can be watched on YouTube or on the TED Talk site at the following link:

www.ted.com/talks alexander_tsiaras_conception_to_birth_visualized

Tsiaras was very much aware of all the intricacies required to direct this type of project. He says:

“The complexity of the mathematical models of how these things are done is beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with marvel: How do these instruction sets not make mistakes as they build what is us? It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.”

How is it that the laws of physics and chemistry are articulated in very precise mathematical formulas and equations? Why are nature’s laws mathematical? Why is there such mathematical order and not chaos if there is no God? For so many they just throw up their hands and say “It is a mystery.”

I, on the other hand, would say that mathematics and the laws of mathematics suggest a divine law giver who arranged the universe to be governed by mathematical laws. As Albert Einstein simply put it: “The mathematical precision of the uni­verse reveals the mathematical mind of God.”

In the first century A.D., the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans:

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible quali­ties—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

More and more people in the world of science are finding Paul’s words to be true.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.

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