This month, I’m excited to dig in a bit deeper into the subject considered by many to be the most difficult to create Christ-centered units: math. Join me for a deep dive into biblical integration in math along with practical examples you can begin implementing in your classroom today!

## The First Step

The first step for uncovering biblical truth in any subject is to examine the subject area with the posture of awe for Jesus. Think about it like this: what is it about how math and science work that just makes your mouth hang open with amazement and wonder?

The quantum physicist and atheist-turned-theist Paul Dira stated, *“God is a mathematician of very high order, and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.”* Dira saw over time how the mathematical principles by which the universe operated pointed to a beginning of creation initiated by an intelligent Creator.

What truths do the mathematical principles point to? This essential question frames how to think biblically about mathematics. Teachers who successfully plan units of curriculum where students think biblically about mathematics often begin with two steps:

- First, they consider the math relationships and properties evident in the procedures, axioms, or concepts contained in the content to be taught.
- Secondly, they consider worldview questions to which math provides answers.

Here are a few worldview questions that can be used to prompt biblical thinking in math:

- How is God glorified by applying this math concept or procedure?
- How does this math principle connect with the existence of objective truth?
- Why is this mathematical concept important?
- How is it that humans can discover and use mathematical truths inherent in the design of God’s created order?

## Upper-Level Biblical Integration in Math Examples

Let’s look at examples of essential questions math teachers developed specifically for the curriculum in their courses. You’ll see that these essential questions in the examples are geared toward specific curricular concepts, but they can be stated more generally and applied to other math topics as needed.

### Example 1: How is God glorified by the application of logarithms?

This essential question was created by a high school math teacher. Before generating the essential question for students to answer, the teacher thought about the history and use of logarithms.

Here’s how the teacher summarized the connection of logarithms to God:

*Notice, men discovered a way to communicate very large numbers in a more manageable way using logarithms. Logarithms make complicated calculations of very large or very small numbers easier and faster. Humans use logarithms to map out the cosmos, which allows others to explore and find out more about them. Logarithms are also used to measure the hardness of minerals and the intensities of sound. We use logarithms to learn more about the vastness of detail contained in the universe God created. *

The teacher then thought about a few truths from scripture that are revealed with the application of logarithms.

- The glory of God can be seen in creation as stated in Psalm 19:1-2 and Romans 1:20. The application of logarithms allows us to discover the magnificence of the Creator of the universe.
- As image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27), humans have intellect, emotions, and will.

### Example 2: How does the Product Rule for Derivatives relate to the idea of objective truth in the Bible?

A calculus teacher generated this essential question.

As with the earlier example, before coming up with an essential question for students to answer, the teacher thought about the nature of mathematics revealed by the product rule for derivatives. The product rule is used to solve real-world problems where multiple conditions are changing in different ways simultaneously. Trying to figure out the efficiency of factory production as the workforce productivity fluctuates throughout the day or calculating the amount of product consumed as the population changes by size and demographics over several years are two examples of when the product rule would be applied.

The teacher thought about how the mathematical principles in this curriculum unit pointed to the biblical idea of objective truth and summarized the connection this way:

*Mathematics operates by objective truth principles because math properties are consistent and trustworthy no matter where they are performed and regardless of people’s feelings or perspectives. Truth, as referred to in the Bible, comes from the creator God, who is everlasting, trustworthy, unchanging, and consistent.*

Once students practiced with numerous examples using the product rule for derivatives, they experienced that the product rule always works the same way and will never change regardless of personal feelings or beliefs. In other words, the teacher wanted the students to see that math is objective because the principles of mathematics remain the same, regardless of personal viewpoint or preference.

From there, students examined scripture to see that:

- Jesus is the source of truth (1 John 5:20, John 14:6, and 17:17).
- Truth is unchanging (Luke 21:33; Hebrews 13:8), eternal (1 Peter 1:25), trustworthy (Numbers 23:19), and universal (Ephesians 1:13).

Math principles are true for everyone—1+1=2 is true for everyone. Similarly, the biblical view of truth is that it is revealed by God, is knowable, unchanging, and the same for everybody.

It might seem like a waste of time to have advanced math students notice how math principles are objective and how they align with the objective truth of the Bible. Similarly, it might seem unnecessary to have these same students consider that math principles provide concrete evidence of the magnificence of God the Creator. However, applying a biblical frame of reference for calculus concepts may have the effect of deepening the understanding of the sovereignty of God or initiating wonder about the truth of the Bible for the nonbeliever.

How often do you see a sunset’s incredible array of colors or the birth of a baby only to gasp in awe at how big and amazing God is? Is it too simplistic to expect the same response as young learners develop a deeper understanding of math? Are you overcome with awe by only the first sunset you see or the first newborn you hold, or does it happen every time? Do students only need to think about how mathematics reveals truth and glorifies God once, or might they benefit from thinking about it several times? I vote for the latter, knowing how the Holy Spirit often has to repeat encouragement or reminders to me to get my attention.

## Lower-Level Biblical Integration in Math Examples

Although the worldview essential questions are the same for the elementary level, the above examples might be too abstract for teachers of elementary and basic mathematics. I’ll end this post with an example that can be used across many grade levels. This example has been used by teachers of primary elementary grades.

### Example 3: Why are numbers important?

That is the essential question used to prompt biblical thinking. Notice the absence of “Bible” words in the question. It still can prompt biblical thinking, especially if you have created a culture of biblical thinking in your math class.

As the teacher pondered the idea that there had to be some biblical connection from the everyday use of numbers, she thought about how numbers were used in the Bible. She explained her discoveries this way.

*Numbers are used in the Bible to tell about God’s creation and how things are done. For example, beginning with Genesis, numbers are used to tell the order by which things were created. In the Bible, we also see that numbers are used to tell about the size, amount, and shape of things. In essence, numbers are used to describe God’s creation and created things. Therefore, numbers are important, and they are important because God used numbers to describe his creation and the things that were to be made. *

Subsequently, the teacher planned several learning opportunities where students would read and discuss how numbers were used in selected scripture passages such as Genesis 1:5, 8, and 13, which tell how many days of creation and the order of creation. Genesis 7:2 provides instructions about how many of each type of animal needed to be included in the ark that Noah built. Exodus 25:10 gives directions for the size of the sacred box called the Ark of the Covenant.

The teacher’s plan was to guide the students to see that without numbers, we wouldn’t know about the size of things, the number of things, or the order of things. Without numbers, it would be really difficult to describe the universe, and the things in it. Thus, numbers are important.

These three examples are just a few that can be used to prompt and guide students’ biblical thinking about mathematics. These ideas are not mine but have been organized by teachers from the various schools participating in PAQ training for biblically integrated instruction offered by Transformed PD.

## The Process

**When trying to create a Christ-centered math unit, it is important to write down in two or three sentences a summary of the big ideas that can be discovered about God, creation, and humans related to math.** What characteristics about how math works are a result of who God is? How has math helped us to substantiate that creation happened on purpose? What is it about the way humans were created that allows us to apply math to solve life problems?

**Next, find scriptures that speak to these big ideas.** You won’t find scripture for equations or functions. However, think about bigger principles related to mathematical relationships, properties, and how math works. Mathematical properties are consistent, trustworthy, and comprise a language used to describe attributes of creation and how it operates.

**In order to be able to discover biblical truth in any subject area, we need to understand the subject area.** Often, that requires reading the work of other experts in the field who already see how biblical truth is evident in all things. Below are the resources I used to guide my thinking for this post. You might find them helpful, too.

**For more on biblical integration within specific subjects**, visit our blog posts: Biblical Integration in Science, Biblical Integration in Social Studies and Biblical Integration in Language Arts.

**For more on objective truth**, see podcasts and articles offered by J. Warner Wallace on his website Cold Case Christianity, and this article by Douglas Groothuis on the Gospel Coalition website.

**For more resources on mathematics and biblical worldview, see:**

MacCullough, Debbie (2023) “Mathematics Structure of the Subject” In *Transformational Teaching: Instructional Design for Christian Educators, *edited by Kenneth S. Coley, Deborah L. MacCullough, and Martha E. MacCullough, 301-316.* *Brentwood, TN: B&H Academic.

Miller, Georgia Stratton ( n.d.) Teaching Mathematics with a biblical worldview and a historical perspective.

Poythress, Vern S. 1974. *The Journal of Christian Reconstruction.* 128-140. Creation and Mathematics; or What Does God Have to do With the Numbers

Youngren, Scott. Nov. 2, 2020. “Metaphysics, the Matrix, and the Mind of God.” Blog post by The Think Institute.

Thank you to Dr. Marti MacCullough, and Dr. Debbie MacCullough for their review of this blog post.

### About Transformed PD

The mission of Transformed PD is to nurture the thinking and expertise of Christian school educators through relational teaching. We offer biblical professional development services and train educators on best practices for biblical integration in the classroom setting. Contact us to learn more about partnering with your school. Stay up to date with all that Transformed PD is doing and learn more about biblical integration in math and other subjects by subscribing to our monthly newsletter!

## 3 Responses

Thank you, Annie. As a former math teacher, I always struggled with how to make connections for math that weren’t the same thing every time. This would have given me a jumping point in integrating God’s truths in math.

Thank you, Kim, for the comment. We are trying now to offer more examples for teachers of various subjects.

Dr. Annie, your BWI training impacted my teaching at Asbury University. Jesus’ parable of the Talents is ideal for applying Time Value of Money concepts in Finance {certainly applicable for high-level math in secondary education}. Thank you for your truly transformational PD!