God, Math, and Order

When discussing mathematics from a Christian perspective, one statement that always seem to bubble to the top of the conversation is that mathematics reveals God as a God of order.

This is true.

This is also way underselling the connection between God and math.

First, we need to realize that when we say things like “Our God is a God of order,” or “Our God is a God of love,” or ” Our God is just,” that the concepts of order, love, and justice are not qualities that God displays; qualities that exist outside of Him. When we say “God is just” we mean something very different than when we say “that judge is just.” When we say “that judge is just,” we mean they exhibit the qualities of justice. When we say “God is just,” we mean God defines justice. There is no concept of justice apart from an understanding of the nature of God. The same can be said of love. We recognize love in a person because we recognize a quality of God in that person.

It is my belief that we should take this same perspective when we claim that “Our God is a God of order.” By this claim we shouldn’t merely mean that God acts in an orderly fashion. We should mean God defines what an orderly fashion is. Order is not a quality God decided to portray, rather order flows from His nature.

If this can become our perspective, then when we speak of mathematics portraying God as a God of order, that description will carry so much more meaning. Instead of just correlating our mathematical results with some quality that God displays, we can realize those results are better understood as a manifestation of God’s nature. In a way we are communing with Him in our work as mathematicians, gaining deeper insight into His character.

So how do we define justice from the nature of God? How do we define love from the nature of God?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:7-10

and

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:21-26

In other words:

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing
For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

Lyrics from “Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle

If stating that “God is love” and “God is just” can reveal such deeply profound and intimate parts of our faith, why not experience that same kind of revelation from seeing God as a God of order through mathematics? Why not see mathematics as worship?

That’s how I see it.

I hope you can too.

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4 thoughts on “God, Math, and Order

  1. Christopher Pailes January 19, 2012 / 7:24 PM

    Well said. It seems that many have erred by believing that certain attributes of observed creation somehow exist outside of or apart from God.

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