Mathematics as Complement to the Artistic and Theological Expressions of Our World


  • Brian Greaves


At a conference on matters theological and artistic, it might seem an anomaly to have a mathematician here, whose express purpose is to engage you in considering the complementarity of mathematics to theological and artistic expressions in the overall descriptors about our world. Let me begin with apologetics about where mathematics fits into the scheme of explanatory ideas, and perhaps an appropriate start might be with the very theological events the Church has us reflecting on at this time of the year - the Incarnation. Theology and our arts put before us important aspects of the Nativity scene, and just recently we have seen in our churches the final act played out by the Wise Men being moved across the sanctuary gradually until they eventually reached the stable last week. Just as the magi complement our Nativity scene, and the magi were the mathematicians of that day, I would like to draw your attention to the parallel between their mathematical complementarity to the Nativity accounts, and the role of the mathematicians in complementing our theological and artistic depictions of our reality.