Sunday, April 19, 2009

Math agnosticism

Here comes another rant inspired by a Calvin and Hobbes strip - this one ran on March 6, 1991.

I'm not a math atheist, but I am a math agnostic: math may or may not exist, but there's no way to know, and it doesn't affect my daily life.

Perhaps surprisingly, this attitude has only rarely impacted my engineering career thus far. When something comes up that I don't understand - which occurs often - I'm often willing to accept it as a deus ex machina solution that magically brings everything to a tidy conclusion. My father, a man both smart and wise, pointed out that this is indicated on process flowcharts by the symbol TAMO - "Then A Miracle Occurs." Sounds good to me!

Maybe that means that rather than adopting a systematic math theology, I, like so many others of my generation, identify as "spiritual, but not religious."

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