>Just how the hell is mathematics a belief system?
The premise of mathematics is: assuming [some collection of axioms] plus [some rules of inference], what can be derived?
As Cyberax pointed out, with most axiomatic systems in use today, we need to take it on faith that the system is consistent. And if you treat mathematics as a game, that's the only point you would need to invoke an irrational belief. But it's nearly impossible to do mathematics this way, and definitely impossible to teach it this way.
The way that math -is- taught involves saying that some subset of the world is described by these axioms. For example, if you have a collection of blocks from which you can add or remove blocks, we assume that the blocks will obey Peano arithmetic. Then consistency follows from the assumption that the world itself is consistent. (This assumption underlies -all- of science, and it also needs to be taken on faith.)
In fact, you assume the block quantities will obey Peano arithmetic at such a low level, that you teach that addition and subtraction are actually defined in terms of these quantities. You'd never just give a child an axiomatic system and walk away.
The point is: when teaching mathematics, especially to children, you need to choose some part of reality which you claim is modeled by the math. This is where the teaching becomes subjective and ideological.
(At least, this is my understanding of Wol's post. Maybe he meant something completely different.)