Math doesn’t work apart from God. We saw that all of creation is designed to reveal his nature; none of it makes sense apart from him. His very nature as Trinity provides the foundation for all mathematics.

In the Trinity we are introduced to what the philosophers have called “the One and the Many.” God is One God: there is an essential one-ness that means that when we think of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we must think of each of them as God. Yet there is also plurality within the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each distinct persons to be known in their uniqueness, as well as in their unity within the single category of “God”. Without the perfect balance between these two aspects (the one and the many) in as displayed in God, mathematics would be incomprehensible.

This vital revelation of the Trinity is fundamental to even the simplest mathematical task. Imagine a pile of six apples on the desk: the challenge before our young student is to count the apples. Each of the apples is unique in size and shape and colour, reflecting the distinctiveness of the three persons of the Trinity. Yet there is a one-ness about them; for all their differences, they all fall into the category of “appleness”. They are not oranges. You can count apples because all apples, however different, are apples. If they weren’t all apples you could not do the simple mathematical procedure of adding them. Without the foundational principle of One-ness, how would you know what, of all the things on the desk (five apples, an eraser, a pen, three pieces of paper, a dead fly and a billion dust particles…), could be added together?

Yet if they were not distinct, they could not be added either. The number six has no meaning in a mystical eastern world where all is absorbed in the great amorphous Oneness. Vedantic Hinduism suggests that “Nature which presents the appearance of plurality... is a mere illusion” [Quoted in G.North: Foundations of Christian Scholarship, p.161]. There’s no such thing as six apples – just the Big Apple! But the true foundations of math are introduced right at the beginning of the Bible. Just as there is One God and yet distinct persons, so there could be six distinct days of creation, yet each of them could be handled as a single category since each could be considered as a “day”. Only so there could be a mathematical relationship (first, second, third…) between different yet related items.

And we wonder why math scores are dropping! Teaching without the philosophical foundation of the truth of the Trinity offers no basis for doing mathematics.

For more on curriculum from a biblical perspective, see “What do you Learn in School?”.