Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Does Jesus Do Math?

I have been thinking for some time about this question. Not in the manner, that I can picture HIM sitting down with a pen and paper and doing some math worksheets like the kids do, but does HE do math in HIS day? Not that I work a lot of math into my day on purpose, but there is a lot of it there just because it has to be. It has to be there to make things function, mostly my bank account, but also measuring something I sew, counting something I cook, calculating something at work. But for the sheer joy of math..... does Jesus take sheer joy in it? I don't know that I find sheer joy in math, but there is something amazing about its order. I like orderliness. I loved math in school. I loved the fact that it's right or it's wrong. There are not many gray areas. You either get it or you don't. Sometimes there are a few ways at solving the same problem, but the answer is always the same. I wish life were sometimes more like that, although maybe I'd be getting too many things wrong, rather than just them allowed to be gray, like in writing where it is an expression of a thought or idea. I have a fairly analytical/mathematical type brain for a female, but I more often think in words or pictures or ideas than numbers. It is easy to read and relate to emotion or formulate ideas in words, books or Scripture because I enjoy reading and finding the way around the words. I see math everywhere in creation. The way the planets were created to spin and gravitate and orbit, I'm quite sure has some amazingly long mathematical equation. And what of biology? The human body never ceases to amaze me, the intricate design and chemistry involved boggles my mind on a daily basis (well maybe once or twice a week). Just looking out into my garden, which may being to show signs of life any day now, must involve some kind of amazing creative analytical math. But all of it sort of just wraps itself in the amazement and beauty of science. HIS math would be like a sweep of a mighty hand and the numbers and equations would drape past the universe and fall into the patterns and worlds they create and hold in order. Order is a good thing (Yes Martha it is).

So this is where the question stems from: my husband, who does not like to read; he does enjoy words, but few and succinct ones. He always beats me at Scrabble, but it's more of a mathematical thing to him rearranging the tiles, rather than building words, he can see the combinations in a numerical sense. He posed a different question to me, not about Jesus doing math, but how does a person grow in faith when most of our cultural religion has been built around words and reading? Reading books about spiritual growth, reading the Bible, listening to sermons that are spoken, poetry which demands a certain type of individual to fully enjoy. Do you think that one can grow in their faith without these things? Can you do math with Jesus instead? Can the very act of doing math be a stepping stone of faith instead of the use of word and or written language. My first inkling of response has got to be yes because that is how HE hard-wired some, so why would HE make it more difficult for mathematicians to be spiritual beings or in tune with the Creator? Don't they in their amazing minds see things that we other ordinary folks maybe never do? They understand the complexity in a more real way and can be in awe at a deeper level. I have always believed that one of the greatest forms of worship is camping--- well being out in nature. Closer to what HE breathed life into. But can you grow just out of sheer worship? And amazement of the amazing mathematical miracles that are displayed in each small, extraordinary creation around us? Or do we NEED words to express ourselves and move beyond where we are now?

I suppose I could ask, can you get to know God more without a Bible? What about the illiterate? What about those in other countries who have no written Word? Are they doomed to failure? So those are my thoughts on doing math with Jesus. Because I like math, I think it could be a pleasant afternoon activity to do that with HIM. I can think of better things I would rather, like a walk through HIS garden. I think any afternoon with just a glimpse of Jesus would make me care not one tittle what we did. The Presence whether numerical or literary would overwhelm me.

What are your thoughts? At least I have accomplished one thing by sitting quietly in the semi-darkness typing and that is getting a sick boy to nap long before bedtime :)


The Dukes Family said...

Wow - deep! You've got me thinking ... not about math, but the thought behind it.

Sorry The Boy is sick. :) I almost typed the real name and had to backtrack. What does he have?

Sandra said...

The God of poets must also be the God of engineers! It is much easier to express a mysterious, sometimes abstract, entity with prose and metaphor. But the art of building well and exactly is as much an expression of God as ever a simile was, right?

To add to your questioning: does the overload of language and self-help "literature" weaken our faith? Does it do more to distract us from our true purpose than it does to enhance it? Is it really connecting us, in a building way, with God, or is it just honing our self-focus?

If I'm hanging out with trees and water and mountains and sky, my mental gaze is easily fixed outside of myself. And then the Math of God is evident: the geometry and order of creation is a breath taker every time!

Liz said...

I've asked the same question. Not about whether God does math-but about how the illiterate can know Him-or those who aren't hard-wired to "study" or read. I'm convinced we can know Him outside of that. Because the Knowing of Him that counts isn't in the head but in the spirit. I mean the pharisees knew the book-but didn't really walk with HIM. I still think the bible is an essential book-His Story over time-the history of His drawing and seeking His people. And he does speak to us when we expectantly read it. but it says "Be still and know that I am God". In stillness I know Him. You know that runner that there was a movie about who said He feels God's pleasure when He runs-I have felt His pleasure when I marvel about Him. When I'm looking at a tulip pushing its way up from the ground and I tell Him how amazing I think He is for creating it-He is so pleased with that and I feel such joy in it. all of that to me is worship-and knowing Him and walking with Him.

Knowing Him is Spirit to Spirit-yah, some of it is mystery-I "see Him" when I listen to certain music/quiet my heart/am out in creation/in the smile of a stranger-so many ways

Brother Lawrence-Practicing the Presence is a great book on the topic. Love you, Liz

Sandra said...

Liz (Linda,is that you? Or am I talking with someone else?),

I love that Eric Liddel quote about God's pleasure. That is IT! And Brother Lawrence is my hero. :)

It's a lovely idea that our breathing, hoping, acknowledging, serving is all an expression of worship, right? The thought that our nose wiping, floor scrubbing, bill paying, and client helping can be as much an act of worship as singing a sacred song is so brilliantly freeing.

"When I run, I feel his pleasure."
Thanks for the reminder!