“Biblical Math” May Not Really Mean Biblical

I was recently reminded of the fact that many people use the term “biblical math” to mean something very different than I do when I use it. So I thought it might be beneficial to take a look at some different ways the term has been used.

Many use the term “biblical math” to refer to using math to unlock some sort of hidden code within the Bible. In fact, there have been numerous books written on this topic. Each one claims to have unraveled a mystery within the Bible’s pages.

If you’ve ever been intrigued by any sort of “biblical numerical code,” I’d encourage you to read the article linked to below by James Nickel. I found this article incredibly helpful in understanding why I felt such a caution and uneasiness in my spirit every time I read anything about these hidden codes. Mr. Nickel explains how these “hidden” codes really have Gnostic roots and are a distortion of the gospel of Christ and the Word of God.

http://www.biblicalchristianworldview.net/Mathematical-Circles/behindBibleCode.pdf

Although many people attempt to use these codes to defend the authority of the Bible or to proclaim some other truth, the whole idea of finding some sort of “hidden” revelation is not true and is actually very dangerous. God’s truth is available to all, not just those who can crack a special code. There’s a harmful elitism and mysticism in saying we need some sort of special knowledge to understand part of God’s message to us. God warns that He has hidden things from the wise and revealed them to babes (Luke 10:21). We’re to use the Bible to help us understand math, not use math to unlock the mysteries of the Bible. God has given us His Spirit, note a code, to help us understand His Word.

Other people use the term “biblical math” to refer to a curriculum that contains Bible verses and Christian morals. Yet although the student is being taught a biblical perspective on morality and learning biblical truth, he’s not necessarily being taught how to look at math itself from a biblical perspective.

I would define the term “biblical math” as an approach to math that leaves the student with an understanding of how math itself is viewed from a biblical worldview. The Bible gives us principles that impact the way we view and approach all aspects of life, including math. God is the creator and sustainer of all things and is a consistent, faithful God; hence, we can expect the universe to be consistent. Man is created in the image of God; hence, we’re able to observe the consistent way God governs all things and record that using math. Man is fallen; hence, we are prone to error and cannot place our faith in our own reason. God gave us the responsibility to work and “subdue” the earth; hence, God has given us math as a useful tool to help us with the tasks He has given us.

The above statements are just a few (and are simplified for the sake of space) of the ways the Bible’s principles should impact the way we approach math. When we take these and other principles and build our approach to math off of them, it completely transforms math from a meaningless exercise to something both meaningful and useful—and something that, above all, points us to the Creator (see Beyond Numbers).

I hope the above explorations of “biblical math” help clarify things a little for you. It’s amazing how differently a phrase can be applied, isn’t it? : )

Free Math Video & Information
Subscribe to our biblical math blog and get a free Transforming Math video.
We respect your privacy.

Balancing, Measuring, and Such

A few weeks ago, I visited a local historic home with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Something I saw there sparked a little research and has resulted in this post : ).

The chandelier hanging in the hall of the historic house was much too high to light easily using a ladder. But men had used the ingenuity God had given them to design a device whereby the chandelier’s candle COULD be easily lit—by just one person.

The chandelier was hung using a long chain, at one end of which was a cylinder that perfectly balanced out the weight of the chandelier. Since the weight balanced, the chandelier didn’t move unless a person pulled or pushed on the chain. By pulling or pushing on the chain, a single person could easily higher or lower the chandelier, light it, and return it to its former position.

As I looked at the chandelier, I realized this was math in action. Whether or not the original designers weighted the chandelier and the cylinder, I don’t know. But I do know that the weights equaled—and that math has been historically used to help design and use counterbalances for a variety of purposes.

[Photo taken at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly, Virginia.]

Merchants used to use a scale based on the counterbalance principle to weigh their products. On one side of the balance, they’d place the item to be weighed. They’d then add items of which the weight was known to the other side until the scale balanced. The whole process required quite a bit of math.

If you’re working on measurement with your child, consider having him or her build a scale! Easy instructions can be found at the website below. As you build it, thank God for creating us capable of designing devices—like balances—to help us.

http://www.campsite24.ca/balance_scale_eng.pdf