published Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Math Class

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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nucanuck said...

The woman obviously is on loan from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The course is Flexible Math and when combined with Advanced Double Speak 301,can land you a job with the Federal Reserve.

Clay,was the was on purpose? Are you trying to get us tussling over talking snakes and 6,000 year old dinosaurs?

December 11, 2010 at 12:45 a.m.
erobersonII said...

Oh, come on now. Science is always evolving, math is definite. Science has theories, math has finites. It's not even a fair comparison. Science always changes in the face of new evidence-the earth is the center of the universe-the solar system revolves around the earth- the earth is flat. Don't your have something better to do?

December 11, 2010 at 1:22 a.m.
SCOTTYM said...

If I have one(1) apple in my basket, and I add(+) one(1) more apple to my basket, I now have(=) two(2) apples in my basket.

There is no possible way that I can end up with three(3) apples in the basket, in this scenario.

I can accept this as a fact.

Math is easy.

It is absolutely correct, or it is wrong.

There is no room for interpretation.

2+2=4 every single time.


Science isn't the same.

There are no absolutes in science.

That's why those of us who understand what "science" is, start getting skeptical when folks start speaking in absolutes.(We're all gonna die!!!)

Science is all theory, with varying amounts of empirical data supporting a given theory.

One should be sure to understand the limits of the data before getting all riled up about the latest fad.

December 11, 2010 at 3:08 a.m.
EaTn said...

Maybe it's because we are taught scientific theories at an early age that we develop this mentality of a theory as being fact, and anyone who questions these theories are labelled as kooks or religious fanatics. This is just another example of how education has taught us and our kids on how to memorize information rather than how to think logically.

December 11, 2010 at 4:46 a.m.
woody said...

I never was all that good at math, so I really enjoyed the 'apple analogy'. And yet, the 'flat-eathers' haven't checked in, so nothing is set in stone.

As far as the science aspect of the 'toon' is concerned, I can still believe in the Bible, because no where in Genesis does it stipulate that a "day" (In the Beginning) was 24 hours.

Ho,Ho,Ho, Woody

December 11, 2010 at 7:36 a.m.
MTJohn said...

It's obviously not an English class. That should be "If math WERE taught like science." ;)

ScottyM is correct in noting that science is not absolute in the same way that math is absolute. However, conclusions are still developed objectively and logically, and consistent with the "scientific method".

That said, the debate between "evolution" and "creation science" is an exercise in trying to calculate the square root of a dangling participle. There is nothing logical, objective, scientific or, for that matter, spiritual, about applying the tenets of one discipline to critique conclusions derived by a different discipline. Consistently, the result is nonsense.

Science is a product of the creation and bounded by it. Science lacks the tools to challenge the idea that God is the Creator because science lacks to the capacity to test hypotheses that relate to events that preceded the event of creation. In that context, "evolution" is nothing more than a description of creation following the creative event. That said, evolution does a pretty good job of describing how the various pieces of the creation fit together.

On the flip side, the purpose of religion/philosophy is to seek an understanding humanity's relationship with the divine and, thereby, to seek to better understand how people ought to relate with one another. In that context, and thinking specifically as a Christian, I believe that the purpose of Scripture is to reveal to us God's saving grace as God has come to us in Christ. Scripture is not a primer in science and we detract from its purpose when we try to use it that way.

December 11, 2010 at 7:42 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Math is a science.

Just because some people understand 1+1 =2 but don't understand physics or chemistry, doesn't mean the laws of science are not true. It means their understanding is dim or not there yet. The greenhouse effect is one example of people not understanding the truth that arrived through using scientific methods. It is the same as 1+1 equaling 2, but many chose to think of it as 1+1=3. That makes them wrong. No matter what the big polluter influences say, the greenhouse effect is a proven phenomena.

December 11, 2010 at 7:49 a.m.
GreenKepi said...

Woody...check out the Hebrew...the word used for day meant a 24 hour time period...(now before you 'jump' on me)...I do believe in the 'Old Earth Theory'. :0)

December 11, 2010 at 7:56 a.m.
Sailorman said...

"calculate the square root of a dangling participle"

lolol almost lost my coffee!

December 11, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.
fairmon said...

Too deep, I prefer the "science" of politics and taxes. See TFP opinon regarding facing hard economic facts.

December 11, 2010 at 8:06 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I agree the timing on this is odd. Is it prompted by the LA state school board rejecting creationists' demands to teach "weaknesses" in evolution last week? Or the announcement of Ken Ham's Creation Theme Park in KY?

Well put, Scotty. Science is all theory (no "proof") except for simple mathematical laws like Boyle's Law or Avogandro's Law. Science never proves things-it just organizes and explains empirical evidence.

December 11, 2010 at 8:22 a.m.
hambone said...

Pie R round!

Cornbread R square!

December 11, 2010 at 8:24 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

What’s interesting to me is the inconsistent way that science is valued in our American culture. In some areas, it’s valued greatly, but in areas it’s not valued at all.

There is a lot of support for science when it comes to things like building cars, bridges, appliances, airplanes, space craft, skyscrapers, nuclear power, and nuclear weapons, but strong objections to science when it’s applied to industrial wastes, carbon dioxide emissions, water pollution, ground water poisons, renewable energy and global warming issues.

My grandfather claimed the variance reflects our flawed opportunistic human nature. We love to play, fight, and plunder, but hate to clean up anything that looks like a mess.

December 11, 2010 at 8:28 a.m.
woody said...

Way to go, Greenkepi!! I salute you for the early effort...

I don't 'do' Hebrew myself, but I will tuck this little fact away for another day, just in case.

Off to sing for fellow seniors, Woody

December 11, 2010 at 8:55 a.m.
wilco said...

Four out of three Fundamentalists have trouble with math.

December 11, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Albert Einstein said, "as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

December 11, 2010 at 11:22 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

And Bertrand Russell said "Mathematics is the discipline in which we do not know what we are talking about nor whether what we say is true"?

But hey, you don't get something from nothing; 1 + 1 = 2.

There are limits to breeding: mules are (usually) sterile. 1 = 1 = 2.

Mutations are harmful; 1 = 1 = 2. If it ain't broke, fixing it messes it up.

Atheistic evolution is the theory that it's OK to eat atheists. If evolution produced Hitler Stalin and Mao, it has to accept what it produced. If it produced "Jaws," it can't complain if it gets eaten. So according to atheistic evolution, it's OK for Christians to tax atheists to support Christian schools. If atheists say this is wrong, they're standing on Christian principle, not on atheism; they're conceding their own position.

Whether evolution or intelligent design (however limited), lots of gross stuff goes on, and not just inside abortuaries but in raw nature. For evidence of benevolent design, look at the cross of Jesus--nastiest thing that ever happened, since He is totally good, but triune Jehovah planned it and used it for His glory and our salvation. By way of analogy, C. S. Lewis was a good man, but he created the White Witch and her evil deeds in THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE: good inside a plan, good with the horrible death of the hero because of his resurrection. Or as the Bible says, a potter makes one vessel for a commode and another for a king to eat from.

December 11, 2010 at 1:25 p.m.
MTJohn said...

AndrewLohr - if you are going to criticize something, you should first understand it.

Evolution is nothing more than an attribute of creation - it changes over time. Nothing about the theory denies that possibility that creation is the handiwork of the Creator. It just describes the creation without consideration for how the creation came into being in the first place.

December 11, 2010 at 1:45 p.m.
Amos_Ives_Root said...

The Big Bang is not a theory. It is the best hypothesis we have using physical models as to HOW the universe could be created.

Notice: there is no discussion of WHY or WHO. These questions are not worth anything to a scientist, because if it mattered WHY or WHO when something happened, it wouldn't be science. WHY or WHO lead to nonsense questions on the order of "Why does a pendulum swing?" and "Who decided the is sky blue?"

And also to the illustrator of this Comic: if you have been exposed to Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory you would realize that your commentary on mathematics is IRRELEVANT and STUPID.

December 11, 2010 at 2:13 p.m.
Yano said...

In science, an idea is not called a theory because it is uncertain - it is called a theory because it can be tested using the scientific method. Evolution is a theory that has been tested literally millions of times.

You can test evolution in the following ways, among others:

Predict that when you compare older fossils to younger ones, the forms gradually change. Then dig up a bunch of fossils and compare them. (Dinosaurs.)

Predict that genetic expression of traits will differ in a population according to local environmental conditions. Then look at traits in populations in differing environments. (Bird beaks evolve according to available food. Fur color evolves according to the local environment, such as white fur in snowy areas.)

Predict that environmental changes over time will cause changes in populations, then watch a population change over time as the environment changes. (Weeds become immune to Roundup over time. Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.)

Examine DNA to determine which recombinations and mutations have led to changes in physical traits, and date these changes statistically, and compare this data to the fossil record.

Read any scientific journal and you cannot escape evolution - it is the structure on which all of the life sciences are based.

Creationism on the other hand is just a story. There is not a shred of evidence for it, and it cannot be tested using the scientific method (or rather it has failed every such test). People may say that creation science, or intelligent design, is a valid scientific theory, but that's just willful ignorance and denialism.

ID advocates hang their hopes on the supposed failings of evolution, but they consistently misunderstand or misrepresent them. For example, they say it's impossible for an eye to evolve. Well it did, at least 11 separate times, and the gradual process of that is well understood by real scientists. Or deniers may claim that "missing links" in the fossil record are a failure of the theory of evolution, when in fact new fossils are found all the time. Hilariously, whenever scientists discover something new about evolution, deniers will shout "aha, this revision proves the weakness of the theory!" when in fact new knowledge continuously strengthens the theory. Deniers also willfully believe all kinds of simpleminded misinformation they may read on the web or hear their preachers tell them, not unlike any other kind of conspiracy "theorist."

If there were a real theory to compete with evolution, one that was testable and not based on childish denials of basic scientific principles, then it too would be a "theory" worthy of review in the context of a science education. But no such theory exists today.

December 11, 2010 at 2:19 p.m.
Clara said...


1 man + 1 woman=2

1 man + 1 woman=3+- after unprotected sex!

December 11, 2010 at 2:43 p.m.
delmar said...

In my humble opinion, this subject (evolution vs. creationism) is another discussion that will always have two sides, along with pro-choice & right to life, liberal & conservative, dog or cat, less filling or tastes great...

December 11, 2010 at 3 p.m.
Salsa said...

This is government math. They use it to calculate your taxes.

December 11, 2010 at 3:32 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Good one, Clara . . . and that arrogant Wall Street guy, Larry Summers, had the nerve to suggest there was no future for women in the field of math and science.

December 11, 2010 at 4:02 p.m.
LibDem said...

Mr. Lohr is way over my little simple mind. I didn't know there is an Atheistic Evolution. How many evolutions are there? (I think my neighbor is the product of Episcopalian Evolution.) If I accept evolution, do I have to send Christian kids to Christian schools? (If they stick with the abstinence thing, won't they just go away?)

December 11, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Prove it.

December 11, 2010 at 7:35 p.m.
Clara said...

Thank you Yano!

December 11, 2010 at 7:51 p.m.
ITguy said...

1 + 1 = 10

December 11, 2010 at 8:23 p.m.
erobersonII said...

Actually, Clara, the math still works. 1+1/2dna(sperm)+1+1/2dna(egg)=3(after unprotected sex)

December 11, 2010 at 8:54 p.m.
yaffay said...

Those of you who believe the Genesis story is other than a creation myth must first decide which version to believe. In chapter 1, God makes animals before he makes man. In chapter 2, he makes man first and then he makes the animals. Whoops!

December 11, 2010 at 9:01 p.m.
una61 said...

The purpose of science is to provide secular explanations for the processes of Nature. Since many of the processes are non-linear, the math can, at times, be rather complicated, i.e., calculus.

All living things (plant, animal, and bacteria) are composed of cells containing nuclei with DNA, so that, materially, all life is related.

Essentially, what differentiates species and individuals from each other is the configuration of their DNA.

I find it amazing that in this modern age, people cannot accept the fact that species and individuals originate, live, and die as a natural process.

It's been going on for a few billion years and will continue for a few more billion years until our sun expands as a red giant and engulfs the earth.

Our human species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, arose about 120,000 years ago. It has been estimated that since then at least 100 billion humans have lived and died (kinda makes the After-Life a rather crowded place).

Human civilization is about 15,000 years old which is an infinitesimal time compared to Nature's time. In a hundred years, all plant, animal, and bacteria life that exists today will be dead forever and replaced.

What about life a 1000 years from now or 10,000 or 100,000 years from now? Will our increasing intelligence be able to circumvent evolution by modifying current life forms or creating new ones?

Most importantly, in a thousand years, who will win the 3010 UT - Alabama football game? Also, when Noah's Ark landed on Mt. Ararat in Turkey, how did all the kangaroos end up in Australia?

December 11, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
whatsnottaken said...

Thank God I came from a monkey. In order to stay employed, scientists come up with big words and hypothesis (educated guess) to confuse simpletons. And it works on mopes like Bennett.

December 11, 2010 at 9:27 p.m.
Francis said...

yeah..if you believe in the theory of "man-made global warming"...

there is no 100% proof that man evolved from something else.....there's evidence that animals have evolved.....evolution is the work of God...

i do know about devolution....

if anyone watched the obama/bill clinton news conference the other day..the one in which obama looks at his watch, slinks off to go to a christmas party and leaves bill clinton alone at the presidential podium to answer questions, then you witnessed the devolution of the american presidency......

from.."the buck stops here" to pass the buck to a former amazingly embarrassing.........

i don't care if you're a republican or democrat....that is truly pathetic.....bail me out bill, i suck.

December 11, 2010 at 10:42 p.m.
rolando said...

Woody, greenkepi -- ".check out the Hebrew...the word used for day meant a 24 hour time period".

It isn't quite that simple -- few things are. All of the ancients, except for the possible exception of the Chinese, divided the time between sunrise and sunset [one "day"] into a period of 12 hours.

So then as now, the hour was variable depending on the season, the declination of the observer, cloud cover, etc. [Today it is variable depending on where the observer and observed are and how fast they are traveling relative to each other.]

So with that, that 12-hour period [one day] could be any length depending on the Earth's spin rate, etc. And that doesn't touch on how a day could be measured when the Earth hadn't yet been formed...

So the question still stands valid: Who is to say how long the "six days" really lasted in terms of external "time"?

December 11, 2010 at 10:58 p.m.
sd said...

Wow, this conversation never gets old. Thanks a lot, Clay. I thought we were friends and stuff. :(

Although I have to admit the theme park Ike mentioned is worth reading about. I don't know how I missed that story before.

December 11, 2010 at 11:18 p.m.
soul said...

Over the past 30 years, coaching countless couples in the edge of divorce, separation or just plain strangling each other, I've often said: 1+1=3. A healthy YOU + a healthy ME = a Healthy US! Odd how that works! ;)

December 16, 2010 at 9:13 p.m.
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