The Theology of Basic Arithmetic

Published January 8, 2013 by Andrew Lindsey in apologetics, Christian worldview

Sometimes those who claim atheism/agnosticism claim that, in discussion with Christians, they want to start from a level playing field. But a level playing field is impossible, for the moment a person makes a declarative statement, his or her worldview comes into play.

This is well-illustrated by Mathematician and Theologian Vern Poythress, who writes:

It may surprise the reader to learn that not everyone agrees that “2+2=4.” If with Parmenides one thinks all is one, if with Vedantic Hinduism he thinks that all plurality is illusion, “2+2=4” is an illusory statement. On the most ultimate level of being, 1+1=1. What does this imply? Even the simplest arithmetical truths can be sustained only in a world-view which acknowledges an ultimate metaphysical plurality in the world: whether Trinitarian, polytheistic, or chance-produced plurality. [Vern Poythress, “A Biblical View of Mathematics,” Foundations of Christian Scholarship (Philadelphia: P&R, 1975), 86.]

Christopher Perrin notes:

For Poythress it is the Christian Trinity which preserves mathematical unity and plurality, thus sustaining the real unity and plurality in equations like “2+2=4.”[Christopher A. Perrin, An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents (Harrisburg, PA: Classical Academic Press, 2004), 38.]

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