is mathematics a religion?
Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates
is mathematics a religion?
Bertrand Russell wrote:
If a ‘religion’ is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel has taught us that, not only is mathematics a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one.
J.D. Barrow in his book Between Inner Space and Outer Space, Oxford University Press, 1999, p 88 cites the above Russell's words.
Lee Smolin writes in his book The Life of Cosmos: “Certainly, if one needs to believe that beyond the appearances of the world there lies a permanent and transcendent reality, there is no better choice than mathematics. No other conception of reality has led to so much success, in practical mastery of the world. And it is the only religion, so far as I know, that no one has ever killed for.”
I have been attacked by mathematicians and accused of doing a religious witnessing on their boards. Aren't they themselves committing
the very same sin if mathematics is a religion?
Or is mathematics rather a sociological phenomenon which is born whenever two or more people interact with or relate to each other.
Two people may have an opinion or viewpoint independently of each other. That is not a sociological phenomena.So if two people watch a TV program and independently think that the program was "accurate, convincing and clearly presented" but say nothing to the other person, then there is no sociological phenomena. If they do tell each other what they think, and both of them agree, then a "norm" has been created.Norms are a powerful and universal sociological phenomenon.
Mathematics deals with an absolute truth. So it is surprising to find that so many people resort to norms and seek acceptance of others
so that mathematics becomes like a politics or a sociological phenomenon. It is very hard to find a place for those seeking the truth.
If a ‘religion’ is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel has taught us that, not only is mathematics a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one.
J.D. Barrow in his book Between Inner Space and Outer Space, Oxford University Press, 1999, p 88 cites the above Russell's words.
Lee Smolin writes in his book The Life of Cosmos: “Certainly, if one needs to believe that beyond the appearances of the world there lies a permanent and transcendent reality, there is no better choice than mathematics. No other conception of reality has led to so much success, in practical mastery of the world. And it is the only religion, so far as I know, that no one has ever killed for.”
I have been attacked by mathematicians and accused of doing a religious witnessing on their boards. Aren't they themselves committing
the very same sin if mathematics is a religion?
Or is mathematics rather a sociological phenomenon which is born whenever two or more people interact with or relate to each other.
Two people may have an opinion or viewpoint independently of each other. That is not a sociological phenomena.So if two people watch a TV program and independently think that the program was "accurate, convincing and clearly presented" but say nothing to the other person, then there is no sociological phenomena. If they do tell each other what they think, and both of them agree, then a "norm" has been created.Norms are a powerful and universal sociological phenomenon.
Mathematics deals with an absolute truth. So it is surprising to find that so many people resort to norms and seek acceptance of others
so that mathematics becomes like a politics or a sociological phenomenon. It is very hard to find a place for those seeking the truth.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Tentatively approving this. If it gets crackpotty I won't hesitate to lock it, though.
The discussion is about whether the human pursuit of mathematics can qualify as a "religion". If the OP engages in "religious witnessing" on these boards as has apparently happened elsewhere, that will also earn a threadlock.
The discussion is about whether the human pursuit of mathematics can qualify as a "religion". If the OP engages in "religious witnessing" on these boards as has apparently happened elsewhere, that will also earn a threadlock.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:Bertrand Russell wrote:
If a ‘religion’ is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel has taught us that, not only is mathematics a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one.
That would make literally everything a religion. Which would make the word useless.
If you use terms in a way only you defines, you are the one communicating badly
 Forest Goose
 Posts: 377
 Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 9:27 am UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:Bertrand Russell wrote:
If a ‘religion’ is defined to be a system of ideas that contains unprovable statements, then Gödel has taught us that, not only is mathematics a religion, it is the only religion that can prove itself to be one.
That is not great context  personally, it sounds more like a gibe at religion than a statement about mathematics, but without more context, I see no way to tell. All that aside, that's a hideous definition if it begin posited with any degree of sincerity, I don't think it captures anything actually religious; that most religion, when taken as strict logical assertion, cannot be proven is not a feature of it, nor a salient point of it  or, at least, I don't think the point is uncontentious.
Lee Smolin writes in his book The Life of Cosmos: “Certainly, if one needs to believe that beyond the appearances of the world there lies a permanent and transcendent reality, there is no better choice than mathematics. No other conception of reality has led to so much success, in practical mastery of the world. And it is the only religion, so far as I know, that no one has ever killed for.”
I highly doubt that is meant in any kind of earnest. Perhaps if one claimed, "Mathematics is the language of God" or "Clarifies the mind to see God" or some such, then you might, at least, sound kind of cogent  but I don't see anything religious, by itself, in mathematics. This is almost (I stress that word) like someone finding a bible, reading it, and concluding that the rules of grammar used in it are a religion  Like I said, not an exact analogy, but also not far off.
I have been attacked by mathematicians and accused of doing a religious witnessing on their boards. Aren't they themselves committing
the very same sin if mathematics is a religion?
I am quite the kook  really, I am, trust me  and, yet, even I find "have been attacked by mathematicians" to be way too far out to accept as reasonable, that just sounds paranoid. Are you sure you didn't, perhaps, start "witnessing" on a mathematics board, then someone said, "Hey, this is a math forum, discuss math!", then you got all ish? And even if you were right, wouldn't that still be like going to another religions area of discussion and loudly talking about your stuff? I mean, true or false, it still sounds like you're the jerk that did the attacking here, even if accidentally and obliviously.
protip: don't make the axe you have to grind plain in your opening screed, you need the save that to maximally disappoint all involved after several pages of debate.
Or is mathematics rather a sociological phenomenon which is born whenever two or more people interact with or relate to each other.
Two people may have an opinion or viewpoint independently of each other. That is not a sociological phenomena.So if two people watch a TV program and independently think that the program was "accurate, convincing and clearly presented" but say nothing to the other person, then there is no sociological phenomena. If they do tell each other what they think, and both of them agree, then a "norm" has been created.Norms are a powerful and universal sociological phenomenon.
I don't fully understand what you are saying, I have a few ideas, but rather than put words in your mouth for me to argue against, please clarify.
Mathematics deals with an absolute truth. So it is surprising to find that so many people resort to norms and seek acceptance of others
so that mathematics becomes like a politics or a sociological phenomenon. It is very hard to find a place for those seeking the truth.
...So are you upset because mathematicians are also humans that have, and expect, social norms? Like, for example, you wouldn't "witness" in a math forum?
Sorry to start this off on a bitchy note, I'm willing to have a serious debate  but, posts like these kind of irk me a little  for various reasons I've listed in other threads and will not mumble on about here:)
*Please ignore grammar mistakes, I am sleep deprived at the moment, I'll clean this up later if I catch any horrible ones
Forest Goose: A rare, but wily, form of goose; best known for dropping on unsuspecting hikers, from trees, to steal sweets.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
It strikes me that two mathematicians who have never met, who learned from entirely unrelated sources, may explain to one another precisely how they got to a conclusion and then agree upon its validity. Indeed, this (or what is analogously this) happens all the time when people make independent discoveries of the same theorems, which certainly happened plenty in the ancient world and keeps happening in more recent history. This suggests that the principles of mathematics are somehow evident in nature or in humans, since otherwise, one would expect contradictions between cultures and time. Note that, by today's standards, even people like Euclid, living over two thousand years ago, produced valid results, even if his arguments are not as formal as those of today.
Independent discovery doesn't seem to happen with religions. Or, rather, when it does happens, the two parties do not agree upon the validity of the others' belief. This suggests that religion, as opposed to mathematics, does not have some invariant roots in nature. Rather, where mathematics seeks to explain new results from what is firmly known, religion explains the unknown, without much reference to the known. What is unknown, of course, changes from culture to culture and over time (likely, any religious person from a thousand years past would be horrified by the modern practice of their religion. At least for some religions). Thus, one should conclude that mathematics is not a religion because it builds off of observable truths about the world (i.e. "The area of a shape does not change when you slide it around" or "The only way to divide 7 things into equal piles is one pile of seven, or seven piles of one"), where religion builds upon foundations which are not readily repeatable (i.e. "The skygod's wife is not pleased with him.")
Independent discovery doesn't seem to happen with religions. Or, rather, when it does happens, the two parties do not agree upon the validity of the others' belief. This suggests that religion, as opposed to mathematics, does not have some invariant roots in nature. Rather, where mathematics seeks to explain new results from what is firmly known, religion explains the unknown, without much reference to the known. What is unknown, of course, changes from culture to culture and over time (likely, any religious person from a thousand years past would be horrified by the modern practice of their religion. At least for some religions). Thus, one should conclude that mathematics is not a religion because it builds off of observable truths about the world (i.e. "The area of a shape does not change when you slide it around" or "The only way to divide 7 things into equal piles is one pile of seven, or seven piles of one"), where religion builds upon foundations which are not readily repeatable (i.e. "The skygod's wife is not pleased with him.")
Last edited by Moole on Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:45 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Mathematical hangover (n.): The feeling one gets in the morning when they realize that that short, elementary proof of the Riemann hypothesis that they came up with at midnight the night before is, in fact, nonsense.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Is "religious witnessing" a specific thing, or is it more just a matter of "I am witnessing you do math, and I feel math is a religion, and thus I am witnessing religion i.e. I am engaged in religious witnessing"?
There are inevitably those out there whose relationship with mathematics is essentially religious in nature, and perhaps an argument could be made that those who proclaim a love of (areas of) mathematics they can't themselves do or understand are treating it as a religion versus something they've given an appropriate amount of critical thought towards and formed an opinion that way.
Of course it all comes down to what you define a 'religion' to be, and getting a definition that everyone agrees on or that is 'useful' is tricky, as it's easy to come up with definitions that sound good at first but turn out to capture pretty much everything (including things that most people would not consider to be religion), or on apply to certain specific religions and exclude some things that would commonly be viewed as religion.
Also, you contrast math being a religion with math being a sociological phenomenon... it seems to me that describing religion as a sociological phenomenon would not be an unreasonable thing to do, so there may not be much difference between those descriptions.
There are inevitably those out there whose relationship with mathematics is essentially religious in nature, and perhaps an argument could be made that those who proclaim a love of (areas of) mathematics they can't themselves do or understand are treating it as a religion versus something they've given an appropriate amount of critical thought towards and formed an opinion that way.
Of course it all comes down to what you define a 'religion' to be, and getting a definition that everyone agrees on or that is 'useful' is tricky, as it's easy to come up with definitions that sound good at first but turn out to capture pretty much everything (including things that most people would not consider to be religion), or on apply to certain specific religions and exclude some things that would commonly be viewed as religion.
Also, you contrast math being a religion with math being a sociological phenomenon... it seems to me that describing religion as a sociological phenomenon would not be an unreasonable thing to do, so there may not be much difference between those descriptions.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
As I understand it, "religious witnessing" usually means proselytizing. As in, the OP went to some math forums and started presching at them, and then got pissy when they said it wasn't the place for that.
But I'm comfortable dodging that entire issue with Forest Goose's point: even if something is a religion, it's super rude to go into a forum for that religion in order to start "witnessing" about your own, different religion.
Whether or not mathematics is a "religion" according to some twisted definition of the words, mathematics is most assuredly not the Christian religion (or whatever the OP is), and so no witnessing of nonmathematical religions will be tolerated in this subforum.
But I'm comfortable dodging that entire issue with Forest Goose's point: even if something is a religion, it's super rude to go into a forum for that religion in order to start "witnessing" about your own, different religion.
Whether or not mathematics is a "religion" according to some twisted definition of the words, mathematics is most assuredly not the Christian religion (or whatever the OP is), and so no witnessing of nonmathematical religions will be tolerated in this subforum.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
gmalivuk wrote:As I understand it, "religious witnessing" usually means proselytizing. As in, the OP went to some math forums and started presching at them, and then got pissy when they said it wasn't the place for that.
But I'm comfortable dodging that entire issue with Forest Goose's point: even if something is a religion, it's super rude to go into a forum for that religion in order to start "witnessing" about your own, different religion.
Whether or not mathematics is a "religion" according to some twisted definition of the words, mathematics is most assuredly not the Christian religion (or whatever the OP is), and so no witnessing of nonmathematical religions will be tolerated in this subforum.
Yes, you are right, I went to a forum where there are many mathematicians gathered, although the forum itself is not a math
forum. And there is even a subforum for religious witnessing, so it is not completely forbidden everywhere there. The forum is Straight Dope Message Board. Perhaps I was only on a wrong part of the forum, but I was there because of an interesting thread.
I began to read more about what Russell said, because it seems that he said exactly the same thing as I was thinking about
mathematics: the unprovable statements make it a religion. Of course there are many statements which are provable,
and if only these are taken into account, mathematics is not a religion. What I wonder is, if it was Gödel who proved
that there are unprovable statements, why did not Gödel say that these make mathematics a religion.
Why do we need people like Russell and Lee Smolin to say so?
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Russell didn't say mathematics is a religion. He said that if a religion can mean any system that includes unprovable statements, then mathematics is a religion.
I don't know the rest of the context of that quote, but if someone normally as reasonable as Russell went on to say religion is in fact defined this way, I will be quite disappointed.
Smolin implies a slightly narrower definition, where "religion" is defined as a belief that there is a permanent and transcendent reality beyond the appearances of the world.
The thing you may have missed, though, is that both of them further imply that mathematics, if it's a religion, is surely the best possible religion, as it is the only one that can prove itself to be one, and it is the only one that no one has ever killed for, and it is the only one that has led to anything like its level of practical mastery of the world.
I don't know the rest of the context of that quote, but if someone normally as reasonable as Russell went on to say religion is in fact defined this way, I will be quite disappointed.
Smolin implies a slightly narrower definition, where "religion" is defined as a belief that there is a permanent and transcendent reality beyond the appearances of the world.
The thing you may have missed, though, is that both of them further imply that mathematics, if it's a religion, is surely the best possible religion, as it is the only one that can prove itself to be one, and it is the only one that no one has ever killed for, and it is the only one that has led to anything like its level of practical mastery of the world.
 chridd
 Has a vermicelli title
 Posts: 839
 Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:07 am UTC
 Location: ...Earth, I guess?
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Wikiquote says that quote is misattributed (Permanent link to the version I'm looking at)
In one of the sources mentioned (it's right before "INVENTIONISM") it seems to be a onesentence aside; there doesn't appear to be any other mention of religion near that sentence, and it doesn't appear to me like it was fully meant to be taken seriously (although I haven't read the whole thing).
In one of the sources mentioned (it's right before "INVENTIONISM") it seems to be a onesentence aside; there doesn't appear to be any other mention of religion near that sentence, and it doesn't appear to me like it was fully meant to be taken seriously (although I haven't read the whole thing).
~ chri d. d. /tʃɹɪ.di.di/ (Phonotactics, schmphonotactics) · she · Forum game scores
mittfh wrote:I wish this post was very quotable...
Re: is mathematics a religion?
chridd wrote:Wikiquote says that quote is misattributed
Wikiquote says that the quote should be attributed to John D. Barrow. And then there are pages where the quote is
attributed to Russell. I mentioned both of them at the opening post. The quote may belong to John D. Barrow, I am not sure,
I have no other information except what I found on the internet.
 chridd
 Has a vermicelli title
 Posts: 839
 Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:07 am UTC
 Location: ...Earth, I guess?
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Oops, I missed the other quotes my first time reading.
My answer to the original question ("is mathematics a religion?"):
It may be contextdependent. "Religion" is sort of a fuzzy term, and there are a number of characteristics common to things commonly regarded as religions (e.g., religions tend to be theistic, tend to involve worship or prayer, tend to be organized, tend to include untestable aspects). Which of those characteristics is important probably isn't going to be the same each time the word is used.
So there may very well be contexts in which in makes sense to consider mathematics a religion—for instance, in the context suggested by Smolin where one is looking for a religion because they want to believe in a transcendent reality. In the context of a rule against some or all religious discussion, however, I doubt that the relevant aspects of religion apply to mathematics (though I'm not a moderator on the Straight Dope Message Board, so I can't say for sure what they mean); some important differences:
• For (almost?) everything commonly called a religion, the question "Is this religion true?" is disputed—not everyone believes in a god, not everyone believes that the Pope is infallible, not everyone believes that Christ was resurrected, etc., and there are plenty of reasonable people with each belief. I haven't seen anyone seriously dispute whether mathematics is, in general, true. (Whether it's boring or beautiful, maybe, but not whether it's true.) Thus, statements about religion* are much more likely to be something that many people disagree with, and much more likely to start an argument; many math answers will be undisputed truths.
• When there is a dispute about religion*, people are more likely to just try to show that their belief is absolutely correct (regardless of evidence or the other side's arguments), which can lead to long, heated, unproductive arguments; I think in math, people are more likely to recognize and admit when a problem is unsolved or when something depends on an axiom that isn't widely accepted, therefore not resulting in such arguments.
• There are widelyaccepted criteria for considering something proven in mathematics; not so in religion*. (There may be accepted criteria within a particular religion*, but as I said before, all religions* are disputed.)
* things commonly referred to as religions
My answer to the original question ("is mathematics a religion?"):
It may be contextdependent. "Religion" is sort of a fuzzy term, and there are a number of characteristics common to things commonly regarded as religions (e.g., religions tend to be theistic, tend to involve worship or prayer, tend to be organized, tend to include untestable aspects). Which of those characteristics is important probably isn't going to be the same each time the word is used.
So there may very well be contexts in which in makes sense to consider mathematics a religion—for instance, in the context suggested by Smolin where one is looking for a religion because they want to believe in a transcendent reality. In the context of a rule against some or all religious discussion, however, I doubt that the relevant aspects of religion apply to mathematics (though I'm not a moderator on the Straight Dope Message Board, so I can't say for sure what they mean); some important differences:
• For (almost?) everything commonly called a religion, the question "Is this religion true?" is disputed—not everyone believes in a god, not everyone believes that the Pope is infallible, not everyone believes that Christ was resurrected, etc., and there are plenty of reasonable people with each belief. I haven't seen anyone seriously dispute whether mathematics is, in general, true. (Whether it's boring or beautiful, maybe, but not whether it's true.) Thus, statements about religion* are much more likely to be something that many people disagree with, and much more likely to start an argument; many math answers will be undisputed truths.
• When there is a dispute about religion*, people are more likely to just try to show that their belief is absolutely correct (regardless of evidence or the other side's arguments), which can lead to long, heated, unproductive arguments; I think in math, people are more likely to recognize and admit when a problem is unsolved or when something depends on an axiom that isn't widely accepted, therefore not resulting in such arguments.
• There are widelyaccepted criteria for considering something proven in mathematics; not so in religion*. (There may be accepted criteria within a particular religion*, but as I said before, all religions* are disputed.)
* things commonly referred to as religions
~ chri d. d. /tʃɹɪ.di.di/ (Phonotactics, schmphonotactics) · she · Forum game scores
mittfh wrote:I wish this post was very quotable...
 Forest Goose
 Posts: 377
 Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 9:27 am UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:chridd wrote:Wikiquote says that quote is misattributed
Wikiquote says that the quote should be attributed to John D. Barrow. And then there are pages where the quote is
attributed to Russell. I mentioned both of them at the opening post. The quote may belong to John D. Barrow, I am not sure,
I have no other information except what I found on the internet.
I'm really failing to see what quotes have to do with anything, you're not presenting a general argument and showing that smart people supported that view by quoting them, you are not quoting arguments, and you are not presenting points of any kind. In short, it doesn't matter if Russel and Smolin said these things first upon rising and last before sleeping every single day of their lives/life, they're just assertions sans content, or even perfectly clear meaning.
On the subject of message boards, now, a few good rules of thumbs (one definite kook to an apparent one):
1.) All places have a culture, if they tell you what you're saying doesn't belong, then it probably doesn't  find somewhere it does, go there and discuss it. This isn't a matter of wrong, or right, in a debate; it's a matter of proper forum  one does not go to the Harry Potter forums and discuss how their brand of witchcraft is real, even if the spells really do work.
2.) The appropriate response is, certainly, not to go to a different forum and post about the other forum was wrong  nor to try and start a discussion there to get ammunition for your "disagreeing".
3.) A point presented as quotes from someone you wouldn't think would say them, then treated as if they were in total seriousness and definitive, yet sans content, makes your point about as standable as someone disputing global warming or arguing for creationism  again, it's not about right, or wrong, just a tactic that a lot of people don't seem overly found of. If you have a point, then you should have an argument.

@chridd
I agree with the gist of what you are saying, but just to through my 2 cents in, I do not believe that inability to prove, or to agree, is a salient aspect of religions (though, it is a common one). I think it has much more to do with the "religious experience" (best to just leave that undefined for the moment...). Mathematics does not seem to have that aspect, by itself, nor to inspire it in most people who undertake it. To use a silly analogy: romantic love involves lots of physical interaction, intensity, drama, emotion, and over the top displays, so to does professional wrestling  and, while observing that wrestlers are paid and on tv, would be enough to demonstrate that love and wrestling diverge, that certainly would not be capturing the essential aspects of what make "love" love.
I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, nor to say that you are saying provability issues are essential to the notion of religion; just mentioning it because I do think it is something worth mentioning in these kinds of discussion (, which, oddly, I've been in a few of them). I am, certainly, in no way, shape, or form disagreeing or being disparaging towards you, or any thing you said. Sorry for the little aside, I have clarity issues sometimes with what I say.
Actually, I'm going to stretch my love and wrestling analogy a bit more on the general topic, as it is, oddly, apt. In the same vein that wrestling is not love despite that some very much do love it, that mathematics has been part of religion (, or cults of various kinds), does not make mathematics a religion, nor religious. One can, if they are inclined, incorporate various perspectives of mathematics, and philosophical attitudes about it, and inspired by it, into religious experience, but, still, this does not make it any of those things  no more so than prayer being used by a religious movement make the language rules used to construct those prayers religious, or the social development of that language religious. Religion is not hereditary, it does not confer upon the things used to induce its experience the status of being religious in nature. Religion, if anything, exists in the experience of it, and not in the objects, rituals, and modes that manufacture that experience in its adherents. (This my own view, perhaps wrong).
Forest Goose: A rare, but wily, form of goose; best known for dropping on unsuspecting hikers, from trees, to steal sweets.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
chridd wrote:Oops, I missed the other quotes my first time reading.
My answer to the original question ("is mathematics a religion?"):
It may be contextdependent. "Religion" is sort of a fuzzy term, and there are a number of characteristics common to things commonly regarded as religions (e.g., religions tend to be theistic, tend to involve worship or prayer, tend to be organized, tend to include untestable aspects). Which of those characteristics is important probably isn't going to be the same each time the word is used.
So there may very well be contexts in which in makes sense to consider mathematics a religion—for instance, in the context suggested by Smolin where one is looking for a religion because they want to believe in a transcendent reality. In the context of a rule against some or all religious discussion, however, I doubt that the relevant aspects of religion apply to mathematics (though I'm not a moderator on the Straight Dope Message Board, so I can't say for sure what they mean); some important differences:
• For (almost?) everything commonly called a religion, the question "Is this religion true?" is disputed—not everyone believes in a god, not everyone believes that the Pope is infallible, not everyone believes that Christ was resurrected, etc., and there are plenty of reasonable people with each belief. I haven't seen anyone seriously dispute whether mathematics is, in general, true. (Whether it's boring or beautiful, maybe, but not whether it's true.) Thus, statements about religion* are much more likely to be something that many people disagree with, and much more likely to start an argument; many math answers will be undisputed truths.
• When there is a dispute about religion*, people are more likely to just try to show that their belief is absolutely correct (regardless of evidence or the other side's arguments), which can lead to long, heated, unproductive arguments; I think in math, people are more likely to recognize and admit when a problem is unsolved or when something depends on an axiom that isn't widely accepted, therefore not resulting in such arguments.
• There are widelyaccepted criteria for considering something proven in mathematics; not so in religion*. (There may be accepted criteria within a particular religion*, but as I said before, all religions* are disputed.)
* things commonly referred to as religions
Yes, it is true that there is no deity in mathematics. Mathematics is not theistic. Because there exists multiplication in mathematics,
it would be impossible for there to be only one deity. Multiplication means that everything can be multiplied, so why not a deity too?
It would automatically lead maths to be some kind of polytheism. Maths does not work without multiplication. It would be hard
to imagine a system with only addition or multiplication only by 1, everything could exist only as one, multiplied only by 1, this system would be an opposite of pluralism, a doctrine according to which many rather than one (monism) or two (dualism) basic substances make up reality.
Yes, many math answers are undisputed truths or absolute truths. But there are also unprovable statements according to Gödel,
and it is these which can make maths a religion. Just because something is mathematics, does not automatically make it true.
Mathematics depends on proofs to make a statement true.
What I was accused of on the other forum was that I based my maths proofs on my opinion, and others could not agree with me.
So it is possible that the truth in maths can lead to a dispute and a long and heated unproductive arguments. I began to think that
I saw a sociological phenomenon in their behavior. They told each others what they thought about my ideas, and acted according
to a norm. To me it did not look anymore a search for truth, which should be the main objective in maths. The truth which
should be absolute, not based on opinion. Of course, the simple answer is that they did not think I was telling the truth,
or they did not trust in what I was telling, noone accused me of lying though. Lies disguised as truths whether it is maths or not should be detected.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
There must be true unprovable statements if math is consistent, but that doesn't mean people place their faith in any particular such statement. This is vastly different from literally every other religion, all of which do posit (and generally require followers to believe in) the truth of some particular set of unprovable statements.
However, it's kind of a moot point, since as you can see from everyone else's posts in this thread, defining religion as a system that includes unprovable statements is not something anyone but you is apparently willing to do.
However, it's kind of a moot point, since as you can see from everyone else's posts in this thread, defining religion as a system that includes unprovable statements is not something anyone but you is apparently willing to do.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
gmalivuk wrote:There must be true unprovable statements if math is consistent, but that doesn't mean people place their faith in any particular such statement. This is vastly different from literally every other religion, all of which do posit (and generally require followers to believe in) the truth of some particular set of unprovable statements.
However, it's kind of a moot point, since as you can see from everyone else's posts in this thread, defining religion as a system that includes unprovable statements is not something anyone but you is apparently willing to do.
How do we know that the unprovable statements are truly unprovable?
Unprovable statements must be proved to be unprovable. How math manages to prove the unprovable?
Is this statement outside maths? Can math prove its own consistency? Because, according to Gödel, math cannot
be both complete and consistent at the same time.
Maybe noone wants to agree with me because math is not a religion. What if we all agree that math is not a religion, is it a sociological phenomena? Or perhaps we proved that math is not a religion so it is true that math is not a religion.
The proof is based on the fact that only me is defining religion as a system that includes unprovable statements.
In that case, there would still be people like John D. Barrow and Lee Smolin who would think otherwise. Of course, since we don't
really know what these two people really meant when they wrote that maths is a religion, we can't be sure if they were serious.
Perhaps they also might agree that maths is not a religion.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:How do we know that the unprovable statements are truly unprovable?
Unprovable statements must be proved to be unprovable. How math manages to prove the unprovable?
Is this statement outside maths? Can math prove its own consistency? Because, according to Gödel, math cannot
be both complete and consistent at the same time.
Godel's argument is to construct a mathematical sentence that, paraphrased, says "This sentence has no proof.". (I say "paraphrased" because the actual sentence he constructs is not technically selfreferential; this is why the construction is significant. If you want more information, you can read up on "Godel's First Incompleteness Theorem".) So then there are two cases. If the sentence is true, then it has no proof, and hence it is a true sentence with no proof. In this case your theory is incomplete: it cannot prove every true statement. On the other hand, if the sentence is false, then it has a proof, and hence it is a false statement with a proof. In this case your theory is inconsistent, because you've proved a false statement.
So in the case that your theory is consistent, then Godel's mathematical sentence is true but unprovable. We didn't prove the unprovable statement. We proved that the statement was unprovable. It's an important distinction. Anyway, this is how we know that this unprovable statement is truly unprovable.
(∫p^{2})(∫q^{2}) ≥ (∫pq)^{2}
Thanks, skeptical scientist, for knowing symbols and giving them to me.
Thanks, skeptical scientist, for knowing symbols and giving them to me.

 Posts: 638
 Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:23 pm UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555, You clearly have something to say. Why don't you come out and say it so that we can discuss whatever it is you want to discuss. Is there a proof you've produced but was shot down at some other forum?
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Tyndmyr wrote:Роберт wrote:Sure, but at least they hit the intended target that time.
Well, if you shoot enough people, you're bound to get the right one eventually.
Thats the best description of the USA ever.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:Maybe noone wants to agree with me because math is not a religion. What if we all agree that math is not a religion, is it a sociological phenomena? Or perhaps we proved that math is not a religion so it is true that math is not a religion.
The proof is based on the fact that only me is defining religion as a system that includes unprovable statements.
In that case, there would still be people like John D. Barrow and Lee Smolin who would think otherwise. Of course, since we don't
really know what these two people really meant when they wrote that maths is a religion, we can't be sure if they were serious.
Perhaps they also might agree that maths is not a religion.
I would posit that no one who understands what the words mean would seriously argue that mathematics in itself is a religion. Just like no one would argue that the sun is a religion.
Sure, people are perfectly capable of making religions out of worshipping these things, but that doesn't make the things themselves religions. In both cases, making a religion would require the addition of faith in (unprovable) statements outside of the thing itself. Statements like, "The Sun is pushed across the sky by a giant beetle," and, "All that the universe is, at its most fundamental level, is pure mathematics."
As I said before, math doesn't requre you to believe unprovable statements, it just implies that such statements exist within any consistent, sufficiently powerful logical system.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Not to derail the discussion, but I wanted to comment on another aspect of the first post. It closed with a line about mathematics dealing with "absolute truth" which is a common misconception. At a certain point, it should become clear that no truth in mathematics is absolute  everything we "know", follows from a set of rules or axioms (or elephants apparently). If those rules change, then what we previously "knew" may also change. Even those rules are not absolute, though changing them might lead to a mathematical system that is uninteresting or a poor model for reality.
In that sense, mathematics is the opposite of my idea of a religion  in religion, we seek the underlying truths that shape our world, inferring them from what we observe and experience. In math, we start with those underlying truths as given.
In that sense, mathematics is the opposite of my idea of a religion  in religion, we seek the underlying truths that shape our world, inferring them from what we observe and experience. In math, we start with those underlying truths as given.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
curtis95112 wrote:55555, You clearly have something to say. Why don't you come out and say it so that we can discuss whatever it is you want to discuss. Is there a proof you've produced but was shot down at some other forum?
Yes, you right. I got a proof that was shot down at an other forum.
People want a proof from me, it is understandable if I make a revolutionary claim.
I have a formula, an equation, and then there is a solution to this formula. People want to hear the solution.
The problem is, I know they will deny the solution when it is given to them. I know that they will
deny it because they have denied everything I said so far.
How do I solve my problem? I don't tell the people the solution of the formula, instead I tell them only the formula.
If the people trust in the formula, if they accept it as true, if they accept that the proof of the formula is true,
they must also accept the solution to the formula. They just cannot only accept the solution but not the formula,
they must accept them both as true. Also it would lead to impossibility, if to them were given first the solution
and if they accepted it but denied the formula given to them later.
Either they accept the formula or they don't accept it as true, only then they are ready for the solution.

 Posts: 126
 Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 6:02 pm UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Gwydion wrote:Not to derail the discussion, but I wanted to comment on another aspect of the first post. It closed with a line about mathematics dealing with "absolute truth" which is a common misconception. At a certain point, it should become clear that no truth in mathematics is absolute  everything we "know", follows from a set of rules or axioms (or elephants apparently). If those rules change, then what we previously "knew" may also change. Even those rules are not absolute, though changing them might lead to a mathematical system that is uninteresting or a poor model for reality.
Well, as you say yourself, mathematics does deal with truths of the format "if you accept X and Y, then logically you must accept Z". I fail to see how these kind of truths are any less "absolute" than simply saying "Z is true".
Especially since people "accept X and Y" naturally as part of their thinking process. You can't have any meaningful discussion about anything, if you don't start (at least subconsciously) with a set of axioms which serve as common ground.
For example, the statement "59 is prime" is an absolute truth, as long as we define "59" and "prime" in the usual way. Yes, technically such a statement only follows from the axioms used to build the natural numbers, but these axioms are already embedded in the meaning of the words "59" and "prime".
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Your uses of the words "mathematics", "religion", "proof", "formula", and "solution" in this thread suggest that you misunderstand what mathematicians mean by some or all of those terms.55555 wrote:Yes, you right. I got a proof that was shot down at an other forum.
People want a proof from me, it is understandable if I make a revolutionary claim.
I have a formula, an equation, and then there is a solution to this formula. People want to hear the solution.
The problem is, I know they will deny the solution when it is given to them. I know that they will
deny it because they have denied everything I said so far.
How do I solve my problem? I don't tell the people the solution of the formula, instead I tell them only the formula.
If the people trust in the formula, if they accept it as true, if they accept that the proof of the formula is true,
they must also accept the solution to the formula. They just cannot only accept the solution but not the formula,
they must accept them both as true. Also it would lead to impossibility, if to them were given first the solution
and if they accepted it but denied the formula given to them later.
Either they accept the formula or they don't accept it as true, only then they are ready for the solution.
If you have a "formula" that you think "proves" something that other mathematicians refuse to accept, I suspect that you're either abusing mathematical notation to try to prove something not mathematical at all (such as the existence of God), or your proof isn't logically sound and valid and they're objecting on mathematical grounds the same way they would to any other bad proof.
Or, most likely, a bit of both.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
gmalivuk wrote:If you have a "formula" that you think "proves" something that other mathematicians refuse to accept, I suspect that you're either abusing mathematical notation to try to prove something not mathematical at all (such as the existence of God), or your proof isn't logically sound and valid and they're objecting on mathematical grounds the same way they would to any other bad proof.
I try to avoid something that is not mathematical at all.
My proof is based on the principle of minimum, in Physics there are several similar principles, for example principles of least action and minimum energy etc, perhaps I could also talk about a principle of parsimony, known also as Occams's razor. This system is an opposite of pluralism, a doctrine according to which many rather than one (monism) or two (dualism) basic substances make up reality.
The task is to calculate the sum of two numbers Y and Z under a certain constraint: there is no multiplication (execpt for multiplication by 1), so that these two numbers can exist only in a singular form. The only allowed statement under this constraint is Z + Y, there are no equations containing statements like Y+Y , 2Y, 2Y+Z, Z+Z, 2Z, xY, xZ etc...
The question is: what is Z + Y equal to ?
To make my equation a little easier, I am going to tell that Y=1, the reason is that there is only one 1.
The question arises now, what is Z?
If there is the principle of parsimony, there is also the opposite principle, the principle of abundance.
Z can be seen arising from the opposite principle, it represents the largest possible amount of things existing, the largest
number. Perhaps this concept is not anymore logically sound or not valid mathematically, I wonder if I need also myself trust in what I am saying. I can only think that there is only one Z, just like there is only one 1.
The statement Z+1 represents the sum of these two opposing principles: abundance and minimum, the largest and smallest possible
amounts of things existing.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
The thing to be warned about, with mathematics, is that there is a definitive line between what is mathematics and what is not. If you take mathematical principles only and assert a result that is more science or philosophy, then your argument is not mathematical and should not claim mathematical rigor. For instance:
This is not mathematics. Multiplication has nothing to do with deities. Multiplication is not even some fundamental truth of mathematics  we could take it to have various domains (i.e. the naturals, the rationals, the reals, the complex numbers). We might even still call more unusual examples "multiplication", like in modular arithmetic or the padic numbers. The problem is that these all have welldefined domains (which do not include deities). Worse, they are not all the same operation; the term "multiplication" is used more as a metaphor than anything else  we can link the operations, noting that they, along with the associated addition, form what's called a field  but these contexts are still unique, even though they have extremely deep connections. Fundamentally, the term multiplication means nothing outside of the context of a few commonly studied domains. Your argument is akin to:
If we define a "deity" to be the number 3, then, since a deity can be multiplied by any integer, there are infinitely many deities.
I haven't the faintest idea what you're trying to say. You say this is addition, but it is not, because if it were, I could add Y+Y and I would get another number (and how can I be so sure multiplication doesn't exist, because Y+Y = 1Y+1Y= (1+1)Y is awfully suggestive). Further, given no constraints on what Z or Y is  they're just letters, and I see no reason why Y would be one. There is "only one" pi and "only one" Euler's number. Why cannot Y be one of those? And what would tell us that Z is the largest thing? And what does it mean to be "abundant" or "minimal"? And why can you "tell" us that Y=1? No one has any more authority to assert things than others in math  and if calculating the sum Z+Y were possible, no hint would be necessary. Why are Z and Y arising from opposite principles? What do you mean by "amount of things existing"?
This is the same as your previous argument: the principle of parsimony and the principle of abundance mean nothing in a mathematical context. If you wish to argue about them, you can, and you can employ logic to do so things do follow from each other outside of mathematics. But it does not serve to talk about their bearing on addition, because addition means something clear and has nothing to do with these philosophical ideas.
55555 wrote:Yes, it is true that there is no deity in mathematics. Mathematics is not theistic. Because there exists multiplication in mathematics,
it would be impossible for there to be only one deity. Multiplication means that everything can be multiplied, so why not a deity too?
It would automatically lead maths to be some kind of polytheism. Maths does not work without multiplication. It would be hard
to imagine a system with only addition or multiplication only by 1, everything could exist only as one, multiplied only by 1, this system would be an opposite of pluralism, a doctrine according to which many rather than one (monism) or two (dualism) basic substances make up reality.
This is not mathematics. Multiplication has nothing to do with deities. Multiplication is not even some fundamental truth of mathematics  we could take it to have various domains (i.e. the naturals, the rationals, the reals, the complex numbers). We might even still call more unusual examples "multiplication", like in modular arithmetic or the padic numbers. The problem is that these all have welldefined domains (which do not include deities). Worse, they are not all the same operation; the term "multiplication" is used more as a metaphor than anything else  we can link the operations, noting that they, along with the associated addition, form what's called a field  but these contexts are still unique, even though they have extremely deep connections. Fundamentally, the term multiplication means nothing outside of the context of a few commonly studied domains. Your argument is akin to:
If we define a "deity" to be the number 3, then, since a deity can be multiplied by any integer, there are infinitely many deities.
55555 wrote:I try to avoid something that is not mathematical at all.
My proof is based on the principle of minimum, in Physics there are several similar principles, for example principles of least action or minimum energy etc, perhaps I could also talk about a principle of parsimony, known also as Occams's razor. This system is an opposite of pluralism, a doctrine according to which many rather than one (monism) or two (dualism) basic substances make up reality.
The task is to calculate the sum of two numbers Y and Z under a certain constraint: there is no multiplication (execpt for multiplication by 1), so that these two numbers can exist only in a singular form. The only allowed equation under this constraint is Z + Y, there are no equations containing statements like Y+Y , 2Y, 2Y+Z, Z+Z, 2Z, xY, xZ etc...
The question is: what is Z + Y equal to ?
To make my equation a little easier, I am going to tell that Y=1, the reason is that there is only one 1.
The question arises now, what is Z?
If there is the principle of parsimony, there is also the opposite principle, the principle of abundance.
Z can be seen arising from the opposite principle, it represents the largest possible amount of things existing, the largest
number. Perhaps this concept is not anymore logically sound or not valid mathematically, I wonder if I need also myself trust in what I am saying. I can only think that there is only one Z, just like there is only one 1.
The equation Z+1 represents the sum of these two opposing principles: abundance and minimum, the largest and smallest possible
amounts of things existing.
I haven't the faintest idea what you're trying to say. You say this is addition, but it is not, because if it were, I could add Y+Y and I would get another number (and how can I be so sure multiplication doesn't exist, because Y+Y = 1Y+1Y= (1+1)Y is awfully suggestive). Further, given no constraints on what Z or Y is  they're just letters, and I see no reason why Y would be one. There is "only one" pi and "only one" Euler's number. Why cannot Y be one of those? And what would tell us that Z is the largest thing? And what does it mean to be "abundant" or "minimal"? And why can you "tell" us that Y=1? No one has any more authority to assert things than others in math  and if calculating the sum Z+Y were possible, no hint would be necessary. Why are Z and Y arising from opposite principles? What do you mean by "amount of things existing"?
This is the same as your previous argument: the principle of parsimony and the principle of abundance mean nothing in a mathematical context. If you wish to argue about them, you can, and you can employ logic to do so things do follow from each other outside of mathematics. But it does not serve to talk about their bearing on addition, because addition means something clear and has nothing to do with these philosophical ideas.
Mathematical hangover (n.): The feeling one gets in the morning when they realize that that short, elementary proof of the Riemann hypothesis that they came up with at midnight the night before is, in fact, nonsense.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Moole wrote: I see no reason why Y would be one. There is "only one" pi and "only one" Euler's number. Why cannot Y be one of those?
Yes, and why there can't be only one 2 and only one 3 etc.......?
But can there be only one 0 ?
Or can there be only zero 0 ?
Moole wrote:
And what would tell us that Z is the largest thing? And what does it mean to be "abundant" or "minimal"? And why can you "tell" us that Y=1? No one has any more authority to assert things than others in math  and if calculating the sum Z+Y were possible, no hint would be necessary. Why are Z and Y arising from opposite principles? What do you mean by "amount of things existing"?
I need to define something. How otherwise anyone could understand what I am saying?
Can you say what is Z + Y equal to if you don't know what are Z and Y? I am saying they represent the largest and least amounts.
I tell that Y=1 because I think that 1 apple is less than 2 apples. Under my constraint, 1 is the least amount of apples. I don't
halve them. By things existing I mean physical objects, apples for example, I count physical objects , I don't count numbers. For me numbers
represent something in physical reality.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Parsimony is not a mathematical principle, nor is Occam's razor. Least action is derivable as a result in physics, it is not taken as a fundamental principle.55555 wrote:If there is the principle of parsimony, there is also the opposite principle, the principle of abundance.
But even if parsimony were some kind of principle, that in no way implies its opposite should also be.
Nothing whatsoever in these sentences is mathematical, so I can well see why you were not received kindly in other mathematics discussion forums.Z can be seen arising from the opposite principle, it represents the largest possible amount of things existing, the largest
number. Perhaps this concept is not anymore logically sound or not valid mathematically, I wonder if I need also myself trust in what I am saying. I can only think that there is only one Z, just like there is only one 1.
You need a lot of structure before you can even begin to talk about "smallest" and "largest" things, and how you choose to build that structure will determine whether there are no such things (the real numbers have no smallest or largest element, for example), exactly one of each (the reals in the interval [0,1] have exactly one smallest and one largest number), one of one and none of the other (such as the intervals [0,1) and (0,1] in the reals), or infinitely many of each (the annulus in C with 1 ≤ z ≤ 2, where "size" is modulus).
So, before you can claim that there is exactly one least and exactly one greatest "thing", you need a lot more details that you're just not giving us. (And some of the details you are giving us seem selfcontradictory, like if you can have addition, then why can't you have multiplication just by defining multiplication as repeated addition?)
 Forest Goose
 Posts: 377
 Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 9:27 am UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
@55555
None of what you have here is mathematical, you are writing math symbols (and a few math terms) in the same way fiction writers use symbolism, then you are organizing things grammatically around philosophical sounding terms. However, what you are saying does not seem to have a point, nor an intent  there is no thing you are demonstrating  and it also lacks content  as in, the terms you are using do not carry any content, they are just arranged grammatically, like "Green ideas sleep furiously", just less common terms (so that its contentlessness is obfuscated). I'm not trying to be a jerk, I've seen/read a lot of posts like yours; it sounds like you have some hazy idea/subjective experience that you want to capture in terms that will make it real and legitimized.
While I do understand, it also doesn't work; believe me, I really do sympathize. The best remedy, and possibly the only, is this: learn more, read more written by people who do know what they are talking about. If you do this, you will learn how to separate out your ideas, how to support them, and how to think clearly about them. Trust me, I have tendency towards esoteric ideas, and, at one point, was prone to treating these subjects like they were some sort of "magical symbols" that if properly arranged would justify my odd ideas  but, then, I studied and studied and studied, and pushed myself to work on legitimate problems. From doing so, I see the world very differently, and while I still have unusual ideas, I am now able to structure them coherently and go more so deeply into them by having the proper tools at my disposal.
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense  the remedy is not to post twenty more volumes of the same, it is not to argue over the esoterics of the minutiae of your words, nor is it to get frustrated and consider us all the foolish doubters; no, the remedy is to learn more, think better, and discover how to put your ideas into the proper framework that they deserve.
None of what you have here is mathematical, you are writing math symbols (and a few math terms) in the same way fiction writers use symbolism, then you are organizing things grammatically around philosophical sounding terms. However, what you are saying does not seem to have a point, nor an intent  there is no thing you are demonstrating  and it also lacks content  as in, the terms you are using do not carry any content, they are just arranged grammatically, like "Green ideas sleep furiously", just less common terms (so that its contentlessness is obfuscated). I'm not trying to be a jerk, I've seen/read a lot of posts like yours; it sounds like you have some hazy idea/subjective experience that you want to capture in terms that will make it real and legitimized.
While I do understand, it also doesn't work; believe me, I really do sympathize. The best remedy, and possibly the only, is this: learn more, read more written by people who do know what they are talking about. If you do this, you will learn how to separate out your ideas, how to support them, and how to think clearly about them. Trust me, I have tendency towards esoteric ideas, and, at one point, was prone to treating these subjects like they were some sort of "magical symbols" that if properly arranged would justify my odd ideas  but, then, I studied and studied and studied, and pushed myself to work on legitimate problems. From doing so, I see the world very differently, and while I still have unusual ideas, I am now able to structure them coherently and go more so deeply into them by having the proper tools at my disposal.
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense  the remedy is not to post twenty more volumes of the same, it is not to argue over the esoterics of the minutiae of your words, nor is it to get frustrated and consider us all the foolish doubters; no, the remedy is to learn more, think better, and discover how to put your ideas into the proper framework that they deserve.
Forest Goose: A rare, but wily, form of goose; best known for dropping on unsuspecting hikers, from trees, to steal sweets.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Forest Goose wrote:@55555
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense
Tell me how many zeros are out there? Do they exist? Do they describe anything existing?
Or how many numbers, did you count them all. That would be ,without a shred of doubt, nonsense, wouldn't it?
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:Forest Goose wrote:@55555
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense
Tell me how many zeros are out there? Do they exist? Do they describe anything existing?
Or how many numbers, did you count them all. That would be ,without a shred of doubt, nonsense, wouldn't it?
Yes. I don't know how that is related to his point though.
 Forest Goose
 Posts: 377
 Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 9:27 am UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555 wrote:Forest Goose wrote:@55555
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense
Tell me how many zeros are out there? Do they exist? Do they describe anything existing?
Or how many numbers, did you count them all. That would be ,without a shred of doubt, nonsense, wouldn't it?
Allow me to use an analogy, do with it what you will:
If you come up with a new "style" of singing while you shower and go to a karaoke bar, try it out, and get told it is bad  then it might be bad. If later, you go to another karaoke bar, try it again, and are told it is bad  it most surely is. Finally, if you are told by someone else that they used to sing weird styles that no one liked, so they got voice lessons and learned how to do it right, you should take their advice at this point.
You, however, have chosen to respond by loudly singing, off key, back at them some more. But, to what end? Look at some of my posts, despite what else might be said of me, I certainly do know mathematics. Given that, I am qualified to say what I am saying  thus, what reason not to take me up on it? If you wish to drift forum to forum posting vague allusions in symbols, getting banned and banned again, then feel free, but it doesn't sound fun, certainly not enlightening  on the other hand, if you want people to take you seriously and learn how to express your ideas in a way they deserve, then take my advice. Your method is not working, mine not only will, but it already has for me. Your call:)
Forest Goose: A rare, but wily, form of goose; best known for dropping on unsuspecting hikers, from trees, to steal sweets.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
gmalivuk wrote:The thing you may have missed, though, is that both of them further imply that mathematics, if it's a religion, is surely the best possible religion, as it is the only one that can prove itself to be one, and it is the only one that no one has ever killed for, and it is the only one that has led to anything like its level of practical mastery of the world.
Well, there is the story of that guy who was killed for proving that sqrt(2) is irrational.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Yeah, I meant that Smolin was suggesting math was a superior religion because no one had ever killed for it, not that he was necessarily correct in that claim.

 Posts: 126
 Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 6:02 pm UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Forest Goose wrote:@55555
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense
I won't be so quick to judge.
It is clear that 55555 is trying to pass some kind of message across. But it is also equally clear that he is utterly failing to do so. And my guess is that whatever the message is, mathematics (at least at the level 55555 understands it, given that he equates "mathematics" with ordinary numbers) is not the proper language to encode it.
Whether his point will have merit or not, once it is presented clearly  I have no idea. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt.

 Posts: 126
 Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 6:02 pm UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Derek wrote:gmalivuk wrote:The thing you may have missed, though, is that both of them further imply that mathematics, if it's a religion, is surely the best possible religion, as it is the only one that can prove itself to be one, and it is the only one that no one has ever killed for, and it is the only one that has led to anything like its level of practical mastery of the world.
Well, there is the story of that guy who was killed for proving that sqrt(2) is irrational.
Ofcourse, nobody who is guided by mathematical truths would have any problem with the assertion that sqrt(2) is irrational.
I suppose you can say the same thing about ordinary religions (e.g. "true believers don't kill"). The difference is, the texts of ordinary religions are full with contradictory statements and are open to interpertation. The Bible, for example, contains statements of extreme intolerance right next to "thou shall not kill". It tells us to love thy neighbor but also speaks of burning witches. So while it may seem "obvious" to many people that a true believer will not resort to violence, you cannot prove it by logic alone.
In the mathematics there is no room for such ambiguity.
 Forest Goose
 Posts: 377
 Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 9:27 am UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
PsiSquared wrote:Forest Goose wrote:@55555
So, take this to heart: what you are presenting us here is, without a shred of doubt, nonsense
I won't be so quick to judge.
It is clear that 55555 is trying to pass some kind of message across. But it is also equally clear that he is utterly failing to do so. And my guess is that whatever the message is, mathematics (at least at the level 55555 understands it, given that he equates "mathematics" with ordinary numbers) is not the proper language to encode it.
Whether his point will have merit or not, once it is presented clearly  I have no idea. But let us give him the benefit of the doubt.
You do realize that, at several points, I have suggested learning more so that the idea supposed to be expressed is, indeed, being expressed. Just because someone has the intent to express something does not mean that their presentation is not nonsense. By analogy, if I knoww almost nothing about how to program, then I may intend to program a full fledged 3d open world mmorpg, but typing in random C++ terms still generates nonsense, no matter how great the idea.
In short, there is no "giving the benefit of the doubt" to what is written, what is written expresses nothing as is  it is not up to the audience to decode what is presented because the presenter lacked the means to do it properly  it is on the op to effectively communicate, not me to goad meaning out of them. If you don't know mathematics: don't use it to communicate your ideas, or learn how to use it, then do so.
In the very short: please don't tell me when I can call things nonsense and when to "not be quick to judge"  especially when you were "quick to judge" that I mean whatever the supposed idea is is nonsense, rather than the presentation.
Forest Goose: A rare, but wily, form of goose; best known for dropping on unsuspecting hikers, from trees, to steal sweets.
Re: is mathematics a religion?
Forest Goose wrote:Allow me to use an analogy, do with it what you will:
If you come up with a new "style" of singing while you shower and go to a karaoke bar, try it out, and get told it is bad  then it might be bad. If later, you go to another karaoke bar, try it again, and are told it is bad  it most surely is. Finally, if you are told by someone else that they used to sing weird styles that no one liked, so they got voice lessons and learned how to do it right, you should take their advice at this point.
You, however, have chosen to respond by loudly singing, off key, back at them some more. But, to what end? Look at some of my posts, despite what else might be said of me, I certainly do know mathematics. Given that, I am qualified to say what I am saying  thus, what reason not to take me up on it? If you wish to drift forum to forum posting vague allusions in symbols, getting banned and banned again, then feel free, but it doesn't sound fun, certainly not enlightening  on the other hand, if you want people to take you seriously and learn how to express your ideas in a way they deserve, then take my advice. Your method is not working, mine not only will, but it already has for me. Your call:)
You did not answer my question: what is the sum Z + Y equal to?
Is Z + Y = X ?
Lets see if you need voice lessons or maybe you already learned how to do it right. I drifted from forum to forum so I am qualified to
say what I am talking now. I know that the people who sing at those places say that infinity is the largest possible
amount because if you add 1 to infinity it does not increase: ∞ = ∞ + 1, therefore the answer to the question is
Z + Y = ∞, X=∞, and this is possible only if the largest amount Z is equal to infinity.
Now that I learned to sing after taking voice lessons because noone liked me because it did not sound fun and I wanted people to take me seriously:
Z+1=∞ only if Z = ∞ and many formulas follow:
∞  1 = Z
Z + 0.1 = ∞
Z+Y=Z+2Y=Z+2=∞
Z+Z = 2Z = ∞
Z = 10^z
Z=Z+1
Z+Y=X
Z+XY=W
CZ+XY=W+1
CZ + XY 1 = W + 2
etc etc.........
Also it is possible to learn that the above formulas work if Y is larger than 1, so perhaps there is no least amount, Y = ∞. Lets see and sing:
Z + Y = Z + ∞ = ∞ + ∞ = ∞
This seems to be rather a good song, there are no largest anything, there is no least anything, there is no big there is no small, no hot no cold, no right no wrong, no slow no fast, no abundance no poverty, no left no right, all that we got is infinity because that is all that there is. We got nothing because there is nothing but at least we can sing.
We managed to do away with the universe, but what the heck, perhaps noone notices it, lets hope that they still like us, lets hope that they like our voice because noone sings offkey, it is enough if we get their respect. Perhaps some day, one of us will figure out how the universe pops out of nothing, out of the emptiness where we ended up. And lets hope he does not sing offkey so that he does not need to be beaten back to form. And it will be fun to have a place where we can sing again.
 jestingrabbit
 Factoids are just Datas that haven't grown up yet
 Posts: 5967
 Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:50 pm UTC
 Location: Sydney
Re: is mathematics a religion?
PsiSquared wrote:Derek wrote:gmalivuk wrote:The thing you may have missed, though, is that both of them further imply that mathematics, if it's a religion, is surely the best possible religion, as it is the only one that can prove itself to be one, and it is the only one that no one has ever killed for, and it is the only one that has led to anything like its level of practical mastery of the world.
Well, there is the story of that guy who was killed for proving that sqrt(2) is irrational.
Ofcourse, nobody who is guided by mathematical truths would have any problem with the assertion that sqrt(2) is irrational.
Ah! The rarely seen no true mathematician defense. I'd say mathematicians are as prone to irrational fads and cultures as any other group. In pythagoras' time it was irrationality, in Cantors time, his ideas were initially considered absurd, but now they're fundamental. There's no guarantees that we're at some perfect moment of enlightenment, and I would suggest its almost certainly the case that we're not.
ameretrifle wrote:Magic space feudalism is therefore a viable idea.
 gmalivuk
 GNU Terry Pratchett
 Posts: 26725
 Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
 Location: Here and There
 Contact:
Re: is mathematics a religion?
55555, the problem with saying Z equals infinity is that there are multiple infinities in standard set theory, some larger than others, but none of them largest of all.
 Lopsidation
 Posts: 183
 Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:29 pm UTC
Re: is mathematics a religion?
I have a friend who believes that God created mathematics. That is, if God had chosen differently, the Fundamental Theorem Of Algebra might have been false, or maybe we'd be working in a system completely different from real numbers and integers. In that way, for my friend, mathematics has a religious aspect.
I'm not sure if I believe this. I can't imagine a universe where there are finitely many prime numbers. Maybe that's my fault for not being imaginative enough.
This answers the question in the OP, but it looks like the thread has gotten quite sidetracked since then.
I'm not sure if I believe this. I can't imagine a universe where there are finitely many prime numbers. Maybe that's my fault for not being imaginative enough.
This answers the question in the OP, but it looks like the thread has gotten quite sidetracked since then.
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests