The annual Bethany College Scholarship Symposium returns to an in-person format on the morning of April 7. Today, we will feature some students who will present research or projects. For a complete schedule, click here.

BETHANY, W.Va. – Geoffrey Foster, a senior from Kalispell, Mont., enjoys looking for the connections between mathematics and religious studies.

Foster’s quest resulted in two project presentations scheduled during the 2022 Bethany College Scholarship Symposium.

The double major in mathematics and religious studies will present “Aspects of Religion and Mathematics” at 9:30 a.m. in Steinman Hall 105 and “Searching for Perfection” at 11:35 a.m. in Old Main 104.

While religion and science are often disassociated today, Foster will discuss the history of mathematics in a religious setting and the similarities between the two disciplines.

“I like how philosophic mathematics and religious studies both are,” Foster said. “I wanted to look at the philosophic reasoning why different religious groups looked at mathematics. The other reasoning is that I enjoy looking at different religious alters and noticing the geometry of it.”

Dr. Brooke Deal, professor of religious studies and co-chair of the Department of Humanities, and Dr. Holly Hillgardner, associate professor of religious studies in the Perry and Aleece Gresham Chair in the Humanities, are his advisers on “Aspects of Religion and Mathematics.”

Deal introduced him to the connections of Islam and mathematics.

“Searching for Perfection” is about his search for perfect numbers and discusses the number types associated with the search, such as abundant numbers and other perfect types. A perfect number is a number that the sum of all of the divisors other than itself equals the number.

“I found a lot of different properties that could be applied to perfect numbers, such as all even perfect numbers are Harmonic divisor numbers. Further, another point I found interesting is how all of our whole numbers can be classified as number types.

Dr. Prem Prasain, assistant professor of mathematics, is Foster’s adviser on “Searching for Perfection.”

Foster said he was surprised by how often the two projects intersected.

“These experiences made me realize no matter how far you try to drift from doing science or religion there are still a lot of connections to the two,” Foster said. “At one point, I talk about some of the same things in both projects.”


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.