This is a starter for math teachers who want to improve their thinking on biblical integration. The goal is not to be exhaustive, but to get the ball rolling.
So, when thinking about integrating math, where should we start? In a couple of different posts, I will try to help you work through three approaches to integration that I mentioned previously. to get the process started.
The Worldview Question Approach
How does math speak to these four questions–origin, meaning, morality, and destiny?
Origin: Math illustrates the need for a creator. While mathematicians and scientists are often characterized as secular, the nature of math as a tool for measurement points to an outside cause of the the existing universe. The concept of zero (0) is a measurement of nothing or no quantity. If zero (0) things existed before the universe, then the universe could not come into existence. Something cannot come from nothing. Math helps us grasp our origin because it shows us that we were put here. When we count all the complex elements of creation, we see that our Creator must be wise. When we measure the height and depth, we see that He must be strong and big.
Meaning: Math helps us understand and accomplish the mission of life. John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God. Using math to measure the world shows us certain realities about the God who made the world. For example, when we show that a tornado picked up a car and moved it 100 yards, we are able to better understand the power of the tornado. Measuring elements of God’s world helps us understand Him too. In Genesis 1:28, mankind is told to rule over the whole earth, subdue it, and multiply to fill it. Clearly multiplying is a math term. We cannot know what God means here if we don’t grasp the mathematical concept. The idea of a “whole” is also a math concept. In Matthew 28:18-20, the disciples are told to make disciples of all nations. We cannot know what “all” means without math. All this to say, math can help clarify our meaning.
Morality: Breaking the laws of math leads to bad outcomes–incorrect and unhelpful answers. Similarly, breaking God’s moral laws leads to pain. Just as God gave the laws of nature, He also gave us laws of morality. Math illustrates what it looks like to break the rules. Math also gives us moral clarity about our place in life. Psalm 90:12 is a prayer asking God to help us number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom. In Matthew 21:12-13, Jesus recognizes dishonest money practices. He does this through an understanding of math concepts like interest. We can see injustice and measure brokenness in many situations through the use of math.
Destiny: Finally, math is helpful in thinking about our destiny. Eternal life is an application of the concept of infinity. The Bible also explains that we reap what we sow. In Mark 10:28-31, Jesus figuratively says that those who sacrifice for Him will receive a hundred times more. Math helps us understand the worth of following Jesus.
More to come on the Perspectives and Stewardship approaches soon!