Now-a-days all you need is a “smart” phone. I was in engineering at university in the in the early 70’s when calculators were just beginning. We all carried these clunky things on our hips that only did basic functions. We’re sitting solving problems and some one asked to add two single digit numbers. We all reached for our calculators

My son, and a granddaughter (his niece) both are completely anumeric. You can get them to understand adding, say, or multiplying, but as soon as you put in even one more thing, the whole thing flies out of their head. I recall working with Son to get addition to make sense using blocks. And it was working. He could put 3 blocks next to 5 blocks and count up to 8. yee-haw. But as soon as I pointed out how you could do subtraction EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, by starting with the big number and then taking away some blocks and counting the remainder, not only did he complain that I was ruining his ability to add by making it too complicated, but he also lost the ability to add.

Calvin might have a future as a philosophy major if he manages to get into college. Those guys can come up with some really concepts about metaphysics and logic, particularly over several pitchers of beer or partaking of the “Turkish water pipe”.

I was told something similar by a well-known physicist at my university. I was struggling with my general education requirement course “Introduction to Physics”, and he was in the room my tutor was supposed to meet me in. As tutor was (again) late, he talked to me a bit. Suddenly he asked me what I was majoring in (modern languages and literature). “Oh!” he replied, “I see…it’s a question of mindset. You’re trying to realise this stuff as if it were the symbolism in a poem or novel. You can’t do that. You just have to accept that 2+2 = 4 and that this equation will give that result every time. Take it on faith, if you will.”

Guess it’s up to me to suggest Calvin read Whitehead and Russell’s “Principia Mathematica”, wherein they prove from first principles of logic that 1+1 = 2. Apparently the proof occurs on page 379.

Even scientists have to have a certain amount of faith. They have to start somewhere and then go about proving or disproving the belief.

Prove to me that 2 + 2 = 4 Sure, everybody knows that, but prove it to me. You can show me by counting blocks as a poster above suggested. Well, that’s ONE instance of it working. You can do the same with pennies, cows and jugs of olive oil. That’s inductive reasoning which leads to the theory that 2 + 2 = 4. However, I want proof that it never equals something else.

However, on a practical scale (I’m an engineer, not a scientist), I’ll accept that 2 + 2 = 4 so I can get on building my skyscraper.

Calculators have caused people to forget how to do simple math in their heads. Some time back in the late 70s, I read a letter someone had written to a local paper. I don’t remember the exact figures, but it went something like this:

I went to the post office to buy 10 five cent stamps. The cashier added up 5 cents ten times on the calculator and said “that will be fifty cents”. I asked her “What if I had bought 100 stamps? Would you have added it up 100 times on that thing?” She answered “We have a calculator in the back that can multiply, but I didn’t think it was worth it for only ten stamps.”

And later in the letter…

I went to the store and saw two young women about twenty years old looking at something they were going to buy. Their conversation went like this:

Woman 1: How much does that cost?

Woman 2: They’re $1.50 each.

Woman 1: How much would it cost if we bought one for each of us?

Woman 2: I don’t know. I don’t have my calculator with me.

That was over 40 years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since.

Calvin’s not entirely wrong. If you accept Euclid’s fifth postulate, the parallels postulate, you get one kind of geometry, if you don’t, you get another kind. Both are valid. And Godel demonstrated that within any logical system there is a statement that can’t be proved.

I’ve probably read that strip a half a dozen times since it was first published. This is the first time I didn’t see it as funny, but a reality coming soon to a school near you.

Good points. I mean really, it seems to me that string theory is a scientific theoretical theology of physics and nature. We are sure we believe it is there and we think we know how it works. Maybe. Sometimes. (But I am neither physicist or priest, just a guy with google)

Calvin did come close to seeing math as having a practical purpose in a story arc from last year. Dad used coins to teach him about math but it caused Calvin to see math as a way of making money rather than actually understanding it and he ended up losing money to Susie.

hmmm. Calvin should make a “Mathism” church to worship the gods of multiplication, square roots, addition, division, subtraction, pi, and any of that math stuff.

In high school, my English teacher made the mistake of telling us all to write a sonnet as an assignment. I wrote my sonnet to math. He was not amused, but I got an A.

Mathematical logic seeks to avoid circular definitions and circular reasoning. The process has to start somewhere. Some math textbooks I had pointed that out.

For definitions, they stated words like “true”, “false”, “point”, “line”, “plane” would not be used, but not defined. For logic, the process begins with axioms and postulates. Axioms and postulates had no proof. They were accepted as true for the sake of getting the system going.

Different systems are built with different sets of postulates. I was taking a psychology class at a time when people were wondering if the Universe had positive curvature or negative curvature. Few believed it was “flat”, i.e., Euclidean. One student mentioned a news story about a scientist trying to find out if parallel lines intersect. Another student said “I feel sorry for a scientist who thinks parallel lines intersect.”

The geometry most of us are familiar with from middle school and high school is Euclidean Geometry. It is based on a set of postulated proposed by Euclid. There are other geometries built with different postulates. The positive curvature Universe and the negative curvature Universe are non-Euclidean. They use different postulated. The scientist was trying to find out if the positive curvature postulates was a better model of the Universe.

Have a few slide rules about, including a couple of ones with special scales for learning theory. I run across them ocasionally then put them right back where I found them. It would take me weeks to relearn them.

My dad asked me why I thought math was evil and hated it so much. I wrote this reply.Math is not evil. It is a practiced theory with no will or feeling, but it is also not straightforward. Or simple. I hate when people say math is easy because it’s just the right answer or not. Yet it is not that simple. There are different rules for every single different type of math. I mean even in geometry different shapes have different rules. If math is so straightforward it shouldn’t matter what I do with the numbers as long as they are all still there. No you have to add this before that put these over there. It’s too many dang little rules to ever remember. You count by sixty for time, ten for basic problems, money goes by fives, and I don’t know what for fractions. Have you taken pre-algerbra? One of the first things they taught was a Latin phrase reductdio ad absurdum or reduce to absurdity because there are problems that CANNOT be solved. Ooh math is so simple. It does have all the answers, you can’t just place numbers into a formula and get a neat little package out the other side. Math is contradictory unfathomable mass of rules that are discarded and tangled about with each new problem it proposes. The worst is if you can’t remember all rules you are considered stupid, incompetent, and insecure at any basic industry job.

I don’t want to wear a mask, can I just pretend that there is no virus, act like an a*hole and when requested to wear a mask even of by law just make a tantrum and pretend that there is no virus and other people should not wear it either because that would make me look bad and get away with whatever I want is the only thing that matters? can I also do whatever I want with other things just pretending that if I step over somebody else that person is wrong because he is getting in my way and I am the only one that matters?

numbers aren’t actual things that magically transmute from one into another, they are abstract representations of quantities, the same way the word “bird” written on a piece of paper isn’t actually one of those small feathery animals flitting around outside. The thing is, Calvin’s math issues are one thing that I was never able to identify with, even when I was 6 years old myself. I’m not really capable of comprehending how someone can’t understand the basics of…counting really.

Oh dear me! Math is a language. The ecology textbook would take two pages to explain some concept and then show the same thing with one or two simple equations. I took a neurophysiology class that required calculus, which I had not studied. It was beautiful how math concepts that looked impossible explained the real world. Diodes in particular struck me at the time because the math was so simple and the graphs looked so real-world impossible.

There are also “irrational” numbers in math. That doesn’t mean that they’re crazy. It means they can’t be generated by dividing one integer by another. For example, pi is irrational, and you can’t create it by a fraction of integers, like 22/7. Pi goes on forever, starting at 3.1415926535897932384626433832795… and never stops, and that string of numbers looks random but of course it isn’t. There are various ways to make a computer cough up a “piece” of pi, and that’s been done into the millions of digits or maybe trillions by now, but you never get to the end, like 3/4 or 7/8, which are rational, and thus polite enough to stop.

I appreciate all the deep, profound and funny comments above, but the strip really boils down to just one thing: Calvin doesn’t want to do his math homework.

## BE THIS GUY Premium Member 3 months ago

Keep this up, Calvin, and you’ll spend most of your childhood in arithmetic purgatory.

## codycab 3 months ago

The teacher is gonna get a kick out of the “Atheist” excuse.

## Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus Premium Member 3 months ago

For someone algorithms are a religion.

## eastern.woods.metal 3 months ago

Now-a-days all you need is a “smart” phone. I was in engineering at university in the in the early 70’s when calculators were just beginning. We all carried these clunky things on our hips that only did basic functions. We’re sitting solving problems and some one asked to add two single digit numbers. We all reached for our calculators

## Concretionist 3 months ago

My son, and a granddaughter (his niece) both are completely anumeric. You can get them to understand adding, say, or multiplying, but as soon as you put in

even onemore thing, the whole thing flies out of their head. I recall working with Son to get addition to make sense using blocks. And it was working. He could put 3 blocks next to 5 blocks and count up to 8. yee-haw. But as soon as I pointed out how you could do subtraction EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, by starting with the big number and then taking away some blocks and counting the remainder, not only did he complain that I was ruining his ability to add by making it too complicated, but healsolost the ability to add.## JudasPeckerwood 3 months ago

“Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.” — Some very smart guy on Fox

## enoch 3 months ago

Never underestimate the evangelical ability of the public schools to bring him to the faith.

## LiamG.P 3 months ago

The Arithmetism.

## TampaFanatic1 3 months ago

Calvin might have a future as a philosophy major if he manages to get into college. Those guys can come up with some really concepts about metaphysics and logic, particularly over several pitchers of beer or partaking of the “Turkish water pipe”.

## admiree2 3 months ago

It does explain the amount of intense and devout praying when the exams are being distributed.

## orinoco womble 3 months ago

I was told something similar by a well-known physicist at my university. I was struggling with my general education requirement course “Introduction to Physics”, and he was in the room my tutor was supposed to meet me in. As tutor was (again) late, he talked to me a bit. Suddenly he asked me what I was majoring in (modern languages and literature). “Oh!” he replied, “I see…it’s a question of mindset. You’re trying to

realisethis stuff as if it were the symbolism in a poem or novel. You can’t do that. You just have to accept that 2+2 = 4 and that this equation will give that result every time. Take it on faith, if you will.”## su43dipta 3 months ago

A Matheist!

## Mr_Cool 3 months ago

Me thinks Calvin might be on to something….Lol

## dave1960 3 months ago

So adding should be called

Ascensionand subtraction should be calledSacrifice?## Red33410 3 months ago

“They should excuse all of us math atheists from this.”

## in-dubio-pro-rainbow 3 months ago

Math can’t be a religion, Dude! Religions are originally made to give people hope – math just gives them the creeps!

## Mighty Phavahg Premium Member 3 months ago

Wait until he’s taught about imaginary and irrational numbers.

## corvallisclem 3 months ago

There are three types of people in the world. Those who can count and those who can’t.

## rmercer Premium Member 3 months ago

Guess it’s up to me to suggest Calvin read Whitehead and Russell’s “Principia Mathematica”, wherein they prove from first principles of logic that 1+1 = 2. Apparently the proof occurs on page 379.

## dflak 3 months ago

Even scientists have to have a certain amount of faith. They have to start somewhere and then go about proving or disproving the belief.

Prove to me that 2 + 2 = 4 Sure, everybody

knowsthat, but prove it to me. You can show me by counting blocks as a poster above suggested. Well, that’s ONE instance of it working. You can do the same with pennies, cows and jugs of olive oil. That’s inductive reasoning which leads to the theory that 2 + 2 = 4. However, I want proof that itneverequals something else.However, on a practical scale (I’m an engineer, not a scientist), I’ll accept that 2 + 2 = 4 so I can get on building my skyscraper.

## joegeethree 3 months ago

A current dispute in academia is whether Math was discovered or invented.

## Purple People Eater 3 months ago

Calculators have caused people to forget how to do simple math in their heads. Some time back in the late 70s, I read a letter someone had written to a local paper. I don’t remember the exact figures, but it went something like this:

I went to the post office to buy 10 five cent stamps. The cashier added up 5 cents ten times on the calculator and said “that will be fifty cents”. I asked her “What if I had bought 100 stamps? Would you have added it up 100 times on that thing?” She answered “We have a calculator in the back that can multiply, but I didn’t think it was worth it for only ten stamps.”

And later in the letter…

I went to the store and saw two young women about twenty years old looking at something they were going to buy. Their conversation went like this:

Woman 1:How much does that cost?Woman 2:They’re $1.50 each.Woman 1:How much would it cost if we bought one for each of us?Woman 2:I don’t know. I don’t have my calculator with me.That was over 40 years ago, and it’s only gotten worse since.

## BearsDown Premium Member 3 months ago

As a math atheist, you should stay away from car dealerships.

## boydjb47 3 months ago

No religion is school therefore no math. And I thought math had just been labeled racist.

## lonecat 3 months ago

Calvin’s not entirely wrong. If you accept Euclid’s fifth postulate, the parallels postulate, you get one kind of geometry, if you don’t, you get another kind. Both are valid. And Godel demonstrated that within any logical system there is a statement that can’t be proved.

## Perl10 Premium Member 3 months ago

I’ve probably read that strip a half a dozen times since it was first published. This is the first time I didn’t see it as funny, but a reality coming soon to a school near you.

## ranaghan 3 months ago

Send a copy of this to Bill Gates. He’s published a paper “proving” that math is racist.

## Alexander the Good Enough 3 months ago

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to change a light bulb?

A: That’s left as an exercise for the reader…

## Ol' me 3 months ago

This was prophetic.

## jagedlo 3 months ago

Maybe you should try math agnosticism first, Calvin…

## vaughnrl2003 Premium Member 3 months ago

Good points. I mean really, it seems to me that string theory is a scientific theoretical theology of physics and nature. We are sure we believe it is there and we think we know how it works. Maybe. Sometimes. (But I am neither physicist or priest, just a guy with google)

## Calvinist1966 3 months ago

Calvin did come close to seeing math as having a practical purpose in a story arc from last year. Dad used coins to teach him about math but it caused Calvin to see math as a way of making money rather than actually understanding it and he ended up losing money to Susie.

## Team comics 3 months ago

hmmm. Calvin should make a “Mathism” church to worship the gods of multiplication, square roots, addition, division, subtraction, pi, and any of that math stuff.

## uniquename 3 months ago

In high school, my English teacher made the mistake of telling us all to write a sonnet as an assignment. I wrote my sonnet to math. He was not amused, but I got an A.

## gantech 3 months ago

Then there was the insomniac agnostic dyslexic…he stayed up all night trying to figure out if there was a dog.

## Jogger2 3 months ago

Mathematical logic seeks to avoid circular definitions and circular reasoning. The process has to start somewhere. Some math textbooks I had pointed that out.

For definitions, they stated words like “true”, “false”, “point”, “line”, “plane” would not be used, but not defined. For logic, the process begins with axioms and postulates. Axioms and postulates had no proof. They were accepted as true for the sake of getting the system going.

Different systems are built with different sets of postulates. I was taking a psychology class at a time when people were wondering if the Universe had positive curvature or negative curvature. Few believed it was “flat”, i.e., Euclidean. One student mentioned a news story about a scientist trying to find out if parallel lines intersect. Another student said “I feel sorry for a scientist who thinks parallel lines intersect.”

The geometry most of us are familiar with from middle school and high school is Euclidean Geometry. It is based on a set of postulated proposed by Euclid. There are other geometries built with different postulates. The positive curvature Universe and the negative curvature Universe are non-Euclidean. They use different postulated. The scientist was trying to find out if the positive curvature postulates was a better model of the Universe.

## notjimothy 3 months ago

Have a few slide rules about, including a couple of ones with special scales for learning theory. I run across them ocasionally then put them right back where I found them. It would take me weeks to relearn them.

## well-i-never 3 months ago

212 by 9:00am. This one must have struck a chord.

## LiamG.P 3 months ago

Calvin, I know you’re still in the spiritual week.

## BiggerNate91 3 months ago

Calvin is never able to take things lying down.

## MEPace 3 months ago

Hardly a religion, you just have to start with the Peano axioms and then…

## WCraft Premium Member 3 months ago

And everyone who thinks like him can get a job drawing up the Illinois state budget every year.

## Troglodyte 3 months ago

Wonder if Calvin will ever read the book of Numbers (OT)?

## DanWolfie 3 months ago

I never thought of math as a religion OR a science…

## Publius10608218 3 months ago

My dad asked me why I thought math was evil and hated it so much. I wrote this reply.Math is not evil. It is a practiced theory with no will or feeling, but it is also not straightforward. Or simple. I hate when people say math is easy because it’s just the right answer or not. Yet it is not that simple. There are different rules for every single different type of math. I mean even in geometry different shapes have different rules. If math is so straightforward it shouldn’t matter what I do with the numbers as long as they are all still there. No you have to add this before that put these over there. It’s too many dang little rules to ever remember. You count by sixty for time, ten for basic problems, money goes by fives, and I don’t know what for fractions. Have you taken pre-algerbra? One of the first things they taught was a Latin phrase reductdio ad absurdum or reduce to absurdity because there are problems that CANNOT be solved. Ooh math is so simple. It does have all the answers, you can’t just place numbers into a formula and get a neat little package out the other side. Math is contradictory unfathomable mass of rules that are discarded and tangled about with each new problem it proposes. The worst is if you can’t remember all rules you are considered stupid, incompetent, and insecure at any basic industry job.

## kathleenhicks62 3 months ago

I left it to the fingers……

## petermerck 3 months ago

And don’t forget the alphabet. When is Calvin going to use that in real life?

## konjiki 3 months ago

That’s group theory for you…all them axioms are just statements of faith, I guess…

## redback 3 months ago

I don’t want to wear a mask, can I just pretend that there is no virus, act like an a*hole and when requested to wear a mask even of by law just make a tantrum and pretend that there is no virus and other people should not wear it either because that would make me look bad and get away with whatever I want is the only thing that matters? can I also do whatever I want with other things just pretending that if I step over somebody else that person is wrong because he is getting in my way and I am the only one that matters?

## hagarthehorrible 3 months ago

Ah.. hm. The six year old athiest DOES have the right to reframe from arithmetic.

## christelisbetty 3 months ago

Calvin, I could have used your testimony, back in the ’60s. I will not worship false idols.

## David_the_CAD 3 months ago

When you know the Truth, the Truth will set you free.

## yangeldf 3 months ago

numbers aren’t actual things that magically transmute from one into another, they are abstract representations of quantities, the same way the word “bird” written on a piece of paper isn’t actually one of those small feathery animals flitting around outside. The thing is, Calvin’s math issues are one thing that I was never able to identify with, even when I was 6 years old myself. I’m not really capable of comprehending how someone can’t understand the basics of…counting really.

## RobertRomero 3 months ago

It’s interesting to read the hosannas from the mathphobes out there.

## rob mccallum Premium Member 3 months ago

Calvin is right about math being a religion. You can use it to prove anything...13×7=28 https://binged.it/3uKMa8e

## dimndno 3 months ago

Math Atheist. I wish I would have thought of that when we got to Algebra!

## buflogal! 3 months ago

Oh dear me! Math is a language. The ecology textbook would take two pages to explain some concept and then show the same thing with one or two simple equations. I took a neurophysiology class that required calculus, which I had not studied. It was beautiful how math concepts that looked impossible explained the real world. Diodes in particular struck me at the time because the math was so simple and the graphs looked so real-world impossible.

## mistercatworks 3 months ago

Mathematics can generate entire “belief systems” which have no corollary in the real world. However, the ones that do are extremely useful.

## BernierJean-Pierre 3 months ago

When in grade school in the 1970’s we weren’t allowed to use calculators in class. We had to learn by heart the multiplication tables from 2 to 12.

## StevePappas 2 months ago

You take 2 fingers on one hand, and 2 fingers on another hand, and you get 4 fingers. There’s nothing faith based about that.

## Ray*C 2 months ago

There are also “irrational” numbers in math. That doesn’t mean that they’re crazy. It means they can’t be generated by dividing one integer by another. For example, pi is irrational, and you can’t create it by a fraction of integers, like 22/7. Pi goes on forever, starting at 3.1415926535897932384626433832795… and never stops, and that string of numbers looks random but of course it isn’t. There are various ways to make a computer cough up a “piece” of pi, and that’s been done into the millions of digits or maybe trillions by now, but you never get to the end, like 3/4 or 7/8, which are rational, and thus polite enough to stop.

## Ray Helvy Premium Member 2 months ago

ENGLISH CLASS, WATCH OUT!! He’s going after compound words next!!!

## PuppyPapa 2 months ago

He has a point. Much of science and math is essentially faith-based. No? Look up the definition of “axiom”.

## paullp Premium Member 2 months ago

I appreciate all the deep, profound and funny comments above, but the strip really boils down to just one thing: Calvin doesn’t want to do his math homework.

## Sailor46 USN 65-95 2 months ago

Math the only place you can buy 50 watermelons and no one wonders why. Rule of Math, if it seems easy then you are doing it wrong.

## Charlie Fogwhistle 2 months ago

Waiting for Calvin to arrive with the correct answer to a math problem is then waiting for Godot?

## BC in NC Premium Member 2 months ago

Math as a religion? Are euclidean me?

## blindavocado Premium Member 2 months ago

Now math is racist

## Will_Scarlet 2 months ago

You’re not a math atheist Calvin – you’re a math flat-earther.

## Godzilla The King of the Monsters about 1 month ago

Calvin makes it sound so REASONABLE!