Saturday, June 29, 2013

Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS - YouTube

The Idea Channel recently posted an interesting video regarding the question of the nature of mathematics: Is mathematics a feature of the universe that we discover or is it something that people made up and is defined by us.  I had thought that the majority of Mathematicians have conclude that mathematics is discovered, like Gravity, not invented. The video below agrees that the majority of mathematicians would support that.

Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation? | Idea Channel | PBS - YouTube

In the interest of  presenting multiple viewpoints, this discussion was brought up on the Debunking Christianity. Many atheists are committed to the proposition that mathematics has no transcendent existence beyond the human brain. I can see why. If they grant that mathematics is true whether or not there are people then what about morality?  Are some thing moral and immoral no matter the society, time, or place? I would say that this is the truth.It allows them to try to sidestep God. Getting back to math for a moment. was Calculus true before Newton and Leibniz? I would say for sure: yes! This got to be such a big deal on Debunking Christianity that John Loftus posted a full article on this that he says comes from a mathematician:

In the beginning, people like you had a rock. The idea of "one" was invented to describe the number of things you had. Then later, you found another rock, and the idea of "two" was invented to describe the situation for when you had one rock and added another rock to your pile. It was realized that the same applies not just to rocks, and numbers were given abstract meaning of their own. Arbitrary symbols, though not arbitrary like "A+A=B" (really, you embarrass yourself) for these numbers were eventually assigned.

A lot of time passed, and a lot of effort was involved in trying to understand how things work, but for a lot of it, like the different "eye combinations" on "dices" it just comes down to counting. If you're careful, you can count 36 ways that any distinct "eye combinations" on (two) "dices" can occur, and you can also count how many of them are a particular "eye combination," e.g. "snake eyes," which can occur in one way only. Baby probability theory hypothesized (propensitist approach) that 1 out of 36 possible outcomes, each equally likely, implies "snake eyes" has a 1/36 chance of happening, and when rolling two "dices" many, many times over, that's what we see (frequentist approach). Eventually the two approaches were connected, but not married.

That you think the dice are following some magical mathematical rules is sheer nonsense. The mathematical rules (counting and proportions, in this case) were invented painstakingly over millennia for people to better describe what they experience. The laws are descriptive, not proscriptive.

Mathematician Dr. James Lindsay Explains How Math Originated

I disagree with him. Mathematics is more than just symbols. Those symbols are definitely agreed upon by people, but not the mathematics theory or concepts themselves. 3 + 6 = bob is really no different than 3+6=9 because we could have been counting like 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, bob. However the underlying concepts is only being symbolized.

No comments:

Post a Comment