What exactly are numbers and why does the universe seem so filled with them? In this chapter, apologist Dr. Melissa Cain Travis explores the relationship between the heavens and the mathematical beauty man has uncovered within them. From the earliest records of Western philosophy, we know that mankind has been captivated by the orderliness and intelligibility of the cosmos. Pythagoras, who is traditionally believed to be the coiner of the term philosophy, is also credited with the idea that the fundamental essence of both mind and matter is number. Plato was significantly influenced by Pythagorean ideas, yet he saw mathematical entities as abstract, eternal forms that served as the pattern used by the Craftsman of the material world. For Plato, to contemplate these forms was to perceive the divine. Jewish and early Christian theologians appropriated the Pythagorean-Platonic tradition in a way that harmonized with the doctrine of creation, arguing that the mathematical blueprints of the world reside in the mind of the Maker, and that mankind has the intellect to grasp these ideas because he is specially fashioned in the image of God. The major periods of scientific advancement that have occurred throughout the remainder of Western history have offered astounding support for the claim that the mathematical natural sciences reveal a three-part harmony between a divine mind, man’s intellect, and the material world.
Dr. Melissa Cain Travis serves as an assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University and a contributing writer for Christian Research Journal. She is the author of Science and the Mind of the Maker (Harvest House, 2018) and the Young Defenders storybook series (Apologia Press). She holds a PhD from Faulkner University and earned her MA in Science and Religion from Biola University, and a BS in general biology from Campbell University. Author Website: hcchristian.wordpress.com