Mathematics

This article originally appeared on Septermber 1, 2015 in Comment,a publication of CARDUS: www.cardus.ca.

For better or ill, my academic meanderings have brought me to a career where I spend the majority of my time building mathematical models to aid health-care managers in solving complex scheduling and capacityplanning problems. In other words, I try to convince health-care managers, on the strength of my word, to adopt often counterintuitive policies based on complex mathematical models they cannot hope to understand—and that doing so will provide better care for those who need it. Think of it as bringing Walmart's supply-chain sophistication to the world of health care. But what makes my work most difficult is not solving equations, or even explaining them. Rather, those I seek to convince are largely driven by a utilitarian ethic that uses mathematics to justify ends that, in my mind, contradict the proper goals of medicine.

“I met a young man who had recently graduated from high school, where a mathematics teacher had labeled him a ‘bigot’ for thinking it was important to get the right answer.” (Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth)

"In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Howard Eves (1911-2004), professor of mathematics at University of Maine, wrote a series of books entitled "In Mathematical Circles." He used the division of a circle into 360 degrees to write 360 short essays exposing the variegated beauties, history, people, humor, and applications of mathematics." James Nickel follows "the same structure with the goal of unveiling the vistas and power of mathematics as seen through Biblical Christian eyes."
Whoever trusts in nothing but the material not only doesn’t trust in the universal witness of the church, but also doesn’t trust in calculus, upon which modern technology is based, and on which mathematicians and physicists the world around take for granted.

It is rare for someone to pose a mathematical question that elicits a variety of answers, but Philip J. Davis has done just that, commenting wryly, "There are probably more answers to this question that there are people who have though deeply about it."