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October 6, 2023

I am not a linear equation

How to break free from reductionistic math applied to human nature

In case you don’t remember what a linear equation is, it’s basically ax + by = c. 

Linear equations are really helpful for doing algebra. 

They are really harmful and reductionistic in explaining human behavior. Their application to human behavior is what we often describe as (spiritual) bypassing.

Here’s some bad math I’ve noticed. I’m guessing you’ll find some of these very familiar.

Some linear equations we've been taught:

Fear of God = Wisdom

“Don’t give up” + Willpower = Success

Work hard + never give up = Success

Pray + Faith = Miracle (or the answer you wanted)

Prosperity Gospel: Trust God + anything = wealth

God’s test + your faith + your endurance = spiritual growth & God’s will

God’s rules + obedience = Godly life

Harm + forgiveness = all better!

“Let it go” + willpower = I'm over it

Purity culture: 

Purity + God’s spirit living in body as his temple - myself and my desires = I’m holy and acceptable to God

Biblical womanhood:

A quiet spirit + be submissive + self-sacrifice + endless household management = Proverbs 31 Woman

There are so many problems with this.

  • It reduces humans to linear equations. If we can just learn the rules for life from the Bible and teach them clearly to you, then you will be a godly human who we are proud of (we being God and your parents and your church). Humans are too amazing and complex to be able to be reduced to linear equations. We’ve agreed upon certain 
  • When the linear equations don’t work, when the space after the = is not the expected answer, the human is blamed for the equation not working. You must be a faulty, rebellious, lazy, fill-in-the-blank human if my godly equation didn’t work. Go back and do the steps of the equation again. You must not have done them properly, passionately, long enough, or with enough faith. Because God and his life equations never change. That’s what I stake my faith and worldview and stability on.

What if we start with the end of the equation and work backwards? Reverse-engineer it.

We start with the end result we want, then explore what generally is present when that end result happens? Not causal per say, but possibly correlated. 

  1. First we have to ask if we even like the end result that we’ve been told is supposed to be our goal. If we don’t, then find another goal.
  2. Once you’ve got the goal, start a scientific exploration, a Montessori exploration. Some of the ingredients that lead to the goal may change over the course of your life. Some may be the same for you as others, and some may not.

Some extras if you want to go deeper into the math, physics, and cosmology…

A little history on the creation and application of linear equations: 

”Sir William Rowan Hamilton, an Irish mathematician, invented linear equations in the year 1843. He induced relationships between various variables to find their values. To date, we use linear equations to solve numerous mathematical problems. The general representation of a linear equation is given by: ax + by = c. Here, the variables have degree one, which makes them linear.”

“Linear equations are used in many scenarios as:

 1. Geometry problems
 2. Age problems
 3. Speed, distance and time problems
 4. Money and finance problems
 5. Ratios and proportions problems
 6. Hourly, daily and monthly wage problems
 7. Pressure and force problems
 8. Area and perimeter problems”

Notice human behavior is nowhere on this list of acceptable applications for linear equations!!!!!

Read the full article here.

Fractals are closer to the earth and human life, but still insufficient to explain how life works and shows up. I found this article helpful. Here are some snippets:

“When you start with a Universe uniformly full of dark matter, the same gravitational physics is always at play. No matter how uniform you make it, there will always be tiny imperfections: an atom or molecule that isn’t perfectly distributed, a tiny attractive or repulsive force on a subatomic particle, quantum jitter, etc. As soon as your system isn’t perfectly uniform any longer — and perfect uniformity is unstable under the laws of gravity — the overdense regions are going to preferentially attract more matter than the surrounding regions, while the underdense regions are preferentially going to give their matter up to the surrounding regions.”