Mathematics must fall into one of two categories.
A) Ephemeral existence, independent of any physical system, in which case it could exist without a "universe"; math is a platonic concept.
B) Or a direct dependence upon physical relationships, and hence all axioms must be derived from the existence and behavior of a "physical realm" such as our universe, which happens to be speckled with matter (physical entities).
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
In the former case, the chicken comes first. Mathematics could have preceded the universe and hence mathematics somehow encoded the concept of a physical universe. From concept/rules/math, a universe is born. Math, like a mother, dictates to the universe how to behave by differentiating between possible/not-possible, existant/non-existant, can do/can't do. Also, mathematics is a VERY STRICT mother; no rules are to ever be broken! Whatever quantum fluctuation happened to initiate a big-bang, ... mathematics was right there alongside from the beginning (like an IRS agent at a lottery drawing), dictating what happens now, what happens next, and controlling the outcome of the future. The universe is in effect derrived from a system of logic (mathematics).
In the latter case, the egg comes first. Mathematics could not have preceded the universe in existence, but is rather a byproduct of the universe (physical existence). We conscious beings observe the behavior of such a universe (interactions of matter), and we differentiate between logical/possible and illogical/impossible. From this we derive rules/axioms and use these apparently obvious "truths" to logically asses and analyze "reality"... We extend the ramifications of these axioms and carefully worded definitions to cover concepts not directly exposed in the waltz of the cosmos (prime numbers, complex analysis, vector calculus, Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, the numbers pi & e). The surprising and sometimes exciting aspect of math, is that no matter how deep one delves into "pure" mathematics and abstract concepts, there always seems to be a physical counterpart in the physical universe!.. like how imaginary numbers, the number e, or curved manifold geometry for example, are abstract concepts that manifest themselves in the theory of gravity and quantum physics (matter interactions).
What Harv was saying I think is that before one becomes "alive", that being exists at least as a concept or potentiality. Since the rules that govern the physical universe will pre-date and ultimately remain after an individual comes and goes, then it follows that the mathematically encoded concept of that individual will be here before and after that particular physical body is built and destroyed. This "equation(s)" has an existence independent of the physical body, and is therefore a metaphysical essence of a "soul".
All the rambling at the beginning of this post was just to give an idea of how mathematics can be viewed in a metaphysical light. What came first, math, or universe? It may never be proven... just like proving what came before God, or how he created himself, is impossible. It's all a matter of belief and faith I guess.