Referencing Jonathan Bartlett’s “Doing the impossible: A step-by-step guide,” mathematician and Darwinian Jeffrey Shallit huffs,

I suppose it’s not so remarkable that creationists can’t do mathematics. After all, almost by definition, they don’t understand evolution, so that alone should suggest some sort of cognitive deficit. What surprises me is that even creationists with math or related degrees often have problems with basic mathematics. …

First, Bartlett calls polynomials the “standard algebraic functions”. This is definitely nonstandard terminology, and not anything a mathematician would say. For mathematicians, an “algebraic function” is one that satisfies the analogue of an algebraic equation. For example, consider the function f(x) defined by f^2 + f + x = 0. The function (-1 + sqrt(1-4x))/2 satisfies this equation, and hence it would be called algebraic.

Second, Bartlett claims that “every calculus student learns a method for writing sine and cosine” in terms of polynomials, even though he also states this is “impossible”. How can one resolve this contradiction? Easy! He explains that “If, however, we allow ourselves an infinite number of polynomial terms, we can indeed write sine and cosine in terms of polynomial functions” …

If one allows “an infinite number of polynomial terms”, then the result is not a polynomial! How hard can this be to understand?

Jeffrey Shallit, “Why Can’t Creationists Do Mathematics?” atRecursivity/Freethought Blogs

We are told that Bartlett will answer shortly.

*See also:* Doing the impossible: A step-by-step guide Jonathan Bartlett: Often, in life as in calculus, when our implicit assumptions as to why something can’t be done are made explicit, they can be disproven

and

Walter Bradley Center Fellow discovers longstanding flaw in an aspect of elementary calculus. The flaw doesn’t lead directly to wrong answers but it does create confusion.

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