If there is no God, how to explain mathematics?

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This topic contains 118 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  tom sarbeck 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #10419

    Unseen
    Participant

    If there’s something someone might say about reality that is almost trivially true3, it’s that it’s all so mathematical.

    Coincidence hardly seems an adequate explanation.

    Here’s one go: 1) anything that’s possible has to have some sort of form and has to follow some rules (physical and mathematical laws); 2) the universe happened out of a state of pure potentiality (anything might happen); 3) math describes the possible, and in a state of pure potentiality, anything that’s possible according to the rules CAN happen, and when it does will be bounded by and will be describable by mathematics.

    That’s a first stab or rough sketch.

    What are YOUR thoughts?

    • This topic was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #10424

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I’d say mathematics is a logical abstraction of reality, or of alternative realities.

    #10426

    tom sarbeck
    Participant

    Another stab.

    Reality is not all mathematical; it’s all physical.

    Without humankind, neither mathematics nor rules exist.

    Humankind uses mathematics and rules to approximate reality.

    Define pure potentiality, without mention of humankind’s rules.

    To say anything that’s possible according to the rules can happen places rules over reality.

    Without humankind, the mathematical would not exist. The physical would.

    #10428

    Unseen
    Participant

    Define pure potentiality, without mention of humankind’s rules. To say anything that’s possible according to the rules can happen places rules over reality. Without humankind, the mathematical would not exist. The physical would.

    Pure potentiality = Anything can happen. What would be there to place limits on what might happen? In that case, you’re positing a pre-existing system of some sort with a physics of some sort, are you not?

    #10431

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Newton invented calculus to answer a specific question about reality (I forget what). Imaginary numbers go way over my head… “i” representable as a 3rd dimension over a standard 2d graph, square roots of negative numbers (what?!), but still very useful in some very real applications.

    My amateur inclination is to believe that math in quantum physics isn’t worked out as well as it can be, because I’m betting the “randomness” in it may have underlying determinism (e.g. pilot waves, since usually-invisible waves are KNOWN to saturate supposedly empty space);  we just haven’t been able to reliably see and describe it, yet.

    #10432

    Davis
    Participant

    A string of questions to ask them back:

    Why does the existence of “reliable number jumbling” require a great singular being to have created it? If there was no patterns in nature but everything was a crazy blur of nonsense and chaos and confusion…would you still think a God created that universe? Well…the world IS a crazy blur of nonsense and chaos and confusion. Even if God created it, he allowed randomness to such a huge extent that so much things make no sense, humanity is a planet full of banana heads desperate to find some order in its inherent chaos. Why would God create an infinite set of numbers and yet put a limit on the speed of light and everything else for that matter? Why would God create a mathematics where precision is important and yet precision is impossible to find in some equations and measurements? If the all amazing god permeated numbers into the fabric of the universe…why do humans struggle so much with the basic times tables and why does any number above 1,000 appear in human cultures until they reach a certain level of sophistication and domestication?

    #10433

    Davis
    Participant

    There is no such thing as a math as though it is something that was created. Mathematics is only human construct to help understand, explain, forecast and manipulate their environment. The real question should be: “why did God create beings from whom a construct of numbers and number jumbling emerged”? Many human constructs emerge and yet few ask how they could exist without God. How could racism exist without God? How could random birth defects exist without God? How could abortion exist without God? How could dividing the atmosphere into various levels exist without God? How could complex derivatives and housing bubbles exist without God? It seems for most you can attribute many of those things to humans generating random constructs and cultures and norms and often bizzarre behaviour. And yet math…no…the construct of math needs Gods. Why?

    #10439

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, my first thought was non sequitur.

    In trying to divine your meaning i assume you are making an argument from design?

    #10440

    Matt
    Participant

    I disagree with the premise of the question…

    If there’s something someone might say about reality that is almost trivially true3, it’s that it’s all so mathematical.

    This is fundamentally backwards. A better thing to say would be that if there’s something someone might say about mathematics that is almost trivially true, it’s that it’s all so derived from reality.

    As an example, let’s start with something basic: one banana plus one banana equals two bananas. We can then notice that this holds true for all physical objects, and abstract it to a more general formula: one plus one equals two. The mathematics merely describe the reality in which they were formed. If one banana plus one banana equalled an apple (i.e. if reality were fundamentally different), our mathematics would also be different, to reflect this.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Matt. Reason: Add in a missed word
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Matt. Reason: Remove extra "be"
    #10444

    Unseen
    Participant

    Unseen, my first thought was non sequitur. In trying to divine your meaning i assume you are making an argument from design?

    I’m an atheist. I’m just musing on the mystery of math not arguing a proof for God’s existence. At least one cosmologist (Tegmark) holds that “the universe IS math.”

    #10445

    Unseen
    Participant

    I disagree with the premise of the question…

    If there’s something someone might say about reality that is almost trivially true3, it’s that it’s all so mathematical.

    This is fundamentally backwards. A better thing to say would be that if there’s something someone might say about mathematics that is almost trivially true, it’s that it’s all so derived from reality. As an example, let’s start with something basic: one banana plus one banana equals two bananas. We can then notice that this holds true for all physical objects, and abstract it to a more general formula: one plus one equals two. The mathematics merely describe the reality in which they were formed. If one banana plus one banana equalled an apple (i.e. if reality were fundamentally different), our mathematics would also be different, to reflect this.

    I’m sure some readers winced on your behalf when they read your post, in anticipation of you getting a serious clobbering. Math is not (or maths are for the folks from across the pond who use the word differently) not just a human way of describing nature. Math is out there, seemingly built into nature. What about…

    Pi?

    The Fibonacci series?

    Fractals?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Unseen.
    #10449

    Unseen
    Participant

    There is no such thing as a math as though it is something that was created. Mathematics is only human construct to help understand, explain, forecast and manipulate their environment. The real question should be: “why did God create beings from whom a construct of numbers and number jumbling emerged”? Many human constructs emerge and yet few ask how they could exist without God. How could racism exist without God? How could random birth defects exist without God? How could abortion exist without God? How could dividing the atmosphere into various levels exist without God? How could complex derivatives and housing bubbles exist without God? It seems for most you can attribute many of those things to humans generating random constructs and cultures and norms and often bizzarre behaviour. And yet math…no…the construct of math needs Gods. Why?

    I’m not really arguing for God but for the mystery of mathematics, which is seemingly built into the universe/reality. See also my response to Matt where I cite Pi, the Fibonacci series, and fractals as examples of math IN nature, and not just as a human attempt to describe or comprehend nature. Those aforementioned examples are OUT THERE and much of nature would be impossible, or quite different, without them.

    #10452

    tom sarbeck
    Participant

    Pure potentiality = Anything can happen. What would be there to place limits on what might happen?

    Without humankind the mathematical would not be there but the physical would be there.

    The rub is that without humankind, there would be no one to know what limits there are that can be taken away so that anything can happen.

    Two probable limits are 1) Nothing may be infinitely dense, and 2) Nothing may be infinitely hot.

    However, human mathematical cosmologists take those physical limits away so they can posit a singularity.

     

    #10453

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Mathematics can be treated like reality, which shows its roots as an abstraction of reality.

    #10454

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Two probable limits are 1) Nothing may be infinitely dense, and 2) Nothing may be infinitely hot.

    Infinite density or heat would be impossible to measure, anyway. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to posit that something is really, really dense and really really hot, and make the best educated, sub-infinite, mathematical guesses possible. I’ll bet time is infinite, otherwise it would need a start time, and how could you even begin to explain that?

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