Today we are delighted to release the second issue of The Journal of The Math3ma Institute. It is now freely available at our website here, and hard copies will be made available for purchase through The Master’s University’s online bookstore in the coming weeks. The opening editorial gives a brief overview of what you can expect to find inside our latest issue.
Earlier this spring, The Center for Thinking Biblically at The Master’s University (TMU) released the second season of its collection of videos featuring TMU faculty members as they explore various topics — culture, politics, finance, education, me- dia, and much more — through the lens of Scripture. Aimed at a broad audience, these videos are freely available at www.thinkbiblically.org, where the Center’s premise is displayed clearly on the homepage:
"We all have a lens through which we view the world. However, to truly understand the world, we need clarity on how God views the world. That clarity comes through the pages of Scripture."
Scripture provides clarity in understanding all aspects of God’s world, including science, and the Center’s new series entitled “Thinking Biblically About Science” takes a deeper look into this. This six-part series features a discussion between immunologist Joseph Francis (Dean of the School of Science, Mathematics, Technology & Health at TMU), paleontologist Matthew McLain (Chair of the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences at TMU), and theologian Abner Chou (President of TMU). Their discussions address questions such as, “How do we understand sci- ence light of Scripture?” and “Can science be God glorifying?” The answer to the latter is a resounding “yes.” Indeed, as Abner Chou wonderfully summarizes at the end of the series’ second episode, “[science] is a powerful act of worship when done right…. It is the powerful tool to declare the handiwork of God.”
This heart of worship is evident in the three articles within this year’s issue of The Journal of The Math3ma Institute. In the opening article, Matthew McLain describes the recent and surprising discovery of strong evidence for the existence of feathers on a particular pterodactyl. Intriguingly, evidence for this traces back to the 1800s, and McLain takes the reader through this fascinating historical journey. Although such a discovery may be unexpected, McLain clearly sees God’s sovereignty over all aspects of His creation and concludes the article with an encouragement for readers: “Christians can rest assured knowing that a Biblical worldview will provide us with the right lens to interpret the discoveries and conclusions of science, regardless of how unexpected they might be.”
The second article is authored by physicist E. Miles Stoudenmire, a research scientist at the Flatiron Institute in New York City. Stoudenmire is well-known for his contributions to methods involving “tensor networks,” which, very roughly speaking, are a mathematical tool for organizing large amounts of high-dimensional complex data. Historically, tensor networks have been used in condensed matter physics, but Stoudenmire and others have more recently paved the way for their applications in a wide range of disciplines, including machine learning and quantum computing. In this article, he shows how tensor networks make yet another surprising connection with a corner of classical physics, and that connection begins by asking a few simple questions about rotations. We’re all familiar with the concept of rotating a shape and observing its symmetries. (For instance, rotating a square by 90 degrees does not change the square — it is said to exhibit rotational symmetry.) But what if one rotates other objects besides shapes? What could that even mean? What would those symmetries look like? And what does one gain by asking such simple questions? The answer, it turns out, is a lot. And in this, we see the delight of mathematical inquiry and curiosity which leads to yet another new and unexpected discovery, whose details are woven throughout Stoudenmire’s article.
This issue’s third and final article is authored by Joseph Francis, who asks the question, “What was the role of the immune system before the fall in Genesis 3?” If there were no harmful bacteria or viruses at the time, it’s natural to wonder what purpose the immune system might have served. Francis goes on to show that certain phenomena that occur in the human immune response today may give clues to its role in the past. He guides the reader through some of these phenomena and proposes a possible model for the immune system’s function prior to the fall. The delight of discovery is evident on each page and finds a climax in Francis’ closing remarks: the immune system points to “a grand, loving Creator who, with forethought and forbearance, cares for His human creation. This should draw us to worship and live lives of gratitude before our Creator King.”
Indeed, our prayer is that each of these articles on paleontology, mathematics, and immunology would draw readers to worship our Creator and Lord and to live lives of gratitude to Him.