Math professor explains how equations affect faith

By Kimberlee Hauss

The integration of faith and learning came alive as Dr. David Neuhouser, Union scholar in residence, claimed “mathematics can be a great help in Christian growth and understanding.”

Discovering Christian truths in certain fields of study, such as theology, is commonplace. Finding a correlation between mathematics and Christianity is not as obvious, but Neuhouser uncovered principles in mathematics that point to the Gospel.

“Math can be an important factor in anyone’s spiritual growth, at least I know it has been in mine,” Neuhouser said during his speech, titled “What Does Mathematics Have To Do With Christianity?”

The lecture was held Oct. 11 at Union University in Harvey Auditorium.

Neuhouser, professor emeritus of mathematics at Taylor University, has served as chair of their mathematics department, director of the honors program and director of the Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis & Friends.

Some of his accomplishments include compiling the anthologies “George MacDonald: Selections From His Greatest Works” and “A Novel Pulpit: Sermons from George MacDonald’s Fiction,” and authoring “Open to Reason.”

Neuhouser explained how beauty, reason, imagination, paradox and obedience are all found in mathematics, and each contributes to spiritual development.

He told the audience of more than 100 attendees he drew his conclusions from authorities such as MacDonald, Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll.

Although many students have probably never considered math beautiful, Hannah Maxwell, senior mathematics major, was encouraged by Neuhouser’s lecture.

“I’ve always understood there’s a beauty in math that the Lord created, but it was good to hear that expounded upon in specific ways,” Maxwell said. “Math is beautiful, and math does have an effect on our faith.”

While this line of thinking may come more naturally to math majors, Dr. Matt Lunsford, professor of mathematics, said Neuhouser did an “excellent job” of addressing a general audience.

He avoided using many equations, but focused on the bigger part of mathematics — such as creativity and reasoning — to illustrate how it affects his faith.

Even students who were not mathematics majors were able to understand and appreciate the Neuhouser’s lecture.

“It’s a really interesting conversation to try to combine something like mathematics and Christianity,” said Kimberly Bentley, senior economics major. “Clearly, God is sovereign over everything, so he’s sovereign over math, and it’s cool to hear someone who’s an expert talk about how good God is in math.”

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