Why do I have to study math and how does this relate to a pursuit of truth?
by David Mendez
You know, growing up I would always ask the dreaded question that every math teacher would cringe and even made them question their vocation. I remember getting frustrated with certain mathematical problems and I would always ask, “Why do I need to learn this anyways?” “It’s not like I am going to use this in the real world!” Ah, I remember it as though it was yesterday. In fact, I think it was yesterday!
Seriously, my elementary (junior high and high school too) would just look at me and realize that it was easier to dismiss my question with a sigh and or argument from authority and respond, “because I said so!” Little did I know that these seemingly complex mathematical problems were pondered and solved by generations upon generations of people before me. As a matter of fact, I could say that a problem as simple as two plus two equals four had a legacy of thought behind it, no matter how simple it was. Here I was not realizing what I had on my hands: I was working on a conceptual problem that either blessed or plagued thinkers way before me. In fact, it has been classified so important that every generation feels it is important enough to pass it down to the next generation.
Here I am, in the 21st century and as an adult, I now realize that if I do not understand simple mathematical processes I will not understand concepts such as budgeting, percentage points, and interest rates on that credit card that I can never seem to pay. Without giving these math problems too much importance (I still hold resentment against them), I know that without them I would be “lost in translation,” as it may, in many of areas of society. In fact, society cannot function without these “rules” of math. If you think I am making a big deal about math, I think it really is a big deal. This “big deal” could also be applied to other disciplines such logic, language, grammar, and even spelling.
Let me bring the aforementioned illustration to the topic of Bible study and Christian thought. When engaging in the proper study of God and his word, every Christian should be asking the following questions. Well, before we go there and since we do not want to put Christianity on the hot seat as to whether all of us practice a good thought life, I am going to use my fictional character named Joe to take this role. To make it even easier, I am going to give Joe the script of questions he should be asking as a thoughtful Christian. Ok Joe, fire away.
1. Why do I need to read and get to know my Bible?
2. Why do I need to know if the resurrection happened or not?
3. Why do I need to know if God exists? (in the sense that I can articulate why)
4. Why do I need to know what truth is?
5. Why do I need to study theology?
6. Why do I need to study apologetics?
7. Why do I need to study epistemology? Episte-what?
8. Logic! Are you kidding me?! I am not Spock and my spouse knows I am not logical sometimes.
9. Metaphysics – ok, this is getting weird and somewhat uncomfortable, what is metaphysics?
10. Can we just do devotions at this point; I am mentally exhausted.
Ok, Joe, we will let you off the hook. You did a good job and you hung in there for the series of questions.
You see, just like those math questions I asked many moons ago, people should be asking these questions in their Christian life. However, unlike math, many Christians have never engaged in anything deeper than a casual bible study. More importantly, many, many people do not know the rich history behind these deeper fields of study…
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