Fractals and Faith - an essay

As a mathematics geek, I love patterns and patterns hidden within patterns.  The most recent art piece that I have created, North Wind, demonstrates several mathematical principles.  First, it is a basic fractal pattern (a pattern that reoccurs many times but in a progressively smaller size).  The overall pattern of a fractal can be a wide variety of shapes, but I chose in particular to do an Archimedean Spiral distributed over a Golden Rectangle.  I’m not going to go in depth on explaining these terms since there is plenty of information already available on the internet about them.  Bottom line, when you look at this piece you should see a free-flowing and yet very specifically structured pattern.  

So how does this tie into my Christian faith? 

 First of all let’s look at it without any religious or political agenda.  I see patterns, structure, design, and order in this particular piece.  These are the same attributes that scientist are looking for when they are searching the universe for alternative life forms.  It is considered basic “criteria” for evidence of an “intelligent creator.”  Why?  Because it indicates that something was not an accident.  Speaking as a person with a degree in mathematics education, it is statistically impossible for thousands of hexagons to randomly form such a specific and precise pattern, therefore, something intelligent has made the pattern.  This conclusion is arrived at by basic logic.  This “basic logic” doesn’t change just because the material the pattern is on changes.  In other words, it would not matter if I had made this artwork on paper, canvas, wood, metal, or a block of cheese… the same “basic logic” would still apply.  The pattern points to the existence of an artist, a “creator.” 

 Here is the challenge:  Did you know that this exact same spiral can be found in the shells of certain sea creatures such as the nautilus, or on plants such as broccoli, pine trees and sunflowers (just to name a few)?  Doesn’t the same basic logic still apply?  Nature is full of fractals, golden ratios, and designs based on very specific number patterns.  Snowflakes, galaxies, life cycles, DNA, and the laws of physics are all examples of very complex, detailed, mathematical patterns.  Following the same “basic logic,” these patterns are evidence of a creator with extreme intelligence.  Intelligence that goes beyond ours, which is why, in my opinion, it is blatantly ignored and downgraded to an accident or evolvement.  This is where religion, politics and social pressure enter in.  The very same social pressure that, not so long ago in human history, had people being arrested or killed if they believed that sun was at the center of the universe instead of the earth, or if they believed that the earth was round instead of flat.  I believe that that same negative social pressure is still keeping people from accepting basic logic today. 

  Back to the art piece – the complexity of the design also gives evidence to the level of intelligence of the creator.  I am not talking about the IQ of the individual artist.  What I am saying is that a monkey or an elephant (both very intelligent creatures) can create art, but have you ever seen one create a detailed fractal?  So, again, following “basic logic” free of social pressure, doesn’t the depth of detail in the world and universe around us point toward a level of intelligence that quite frankly is way beyond ours.  And rightfully so.  Shouldn’t the “creator” of the universe be more intelligent than we are? 

 My hope in writing this is to challenge you to decide for yourself if God is or is not real.  Set aside everything that you have been taught by educators, government, media, religious leaders, and society.  Let go of religious rituals and cultural traditions.  Does basic logic apply to what you see in nature?  Yes or no.  If no, why not?  If yes, then consider the ramifications of what that really means.

 You don’t have to believe in God to recognize that orderly structures and designs point toward an intelligent creator.  However, for me personally, as I have studied mathematics, physics, and nature from the perspective of an artist, the reality of God has become quite clear.  I see His creation as a beautifully complex living piece of artwork.  My tools are pencils, papers and computers.  His tools are DNA, atoms and the knowledge of all things. 

 Finally, I must state that since I have come to believe that God is real and that He created the universe, I now see how nature reveals a lot about God’s character and personality.  Why?  North Wind reflects attributes of my personality.  It shows how I love to be creative and yet I love to have structure and order.  Whereas, when I create an abstract piece of art that has no pattern in it, it usually demonstrates the emotions that I am feeling at the moment.  With both forms of art, I have a part of myself embedded within them.  Apply the same principle to God’s living artwork.  It is a reflection of Him, His intelligence and His personality.  The patterns in nature are God’s fingerprint, or signature, on His design. They demonstrate His love for order and detail.  In each sunrise or sunset there is a display of His enjoyment of a vast array of colors.   In a storm there is the reminder of His emotion toward immorality (sin).  In a rainbow there is the reminder of a promise that He made.  My favorite though, is the galaxies - I am amazed by His endless creativity.  I could go on and on, but the most important discovery that I made was when I remembered that I am part of what He created.  That means that He sees me as a piece of artwork.  Just as I created my fractal with intentional design, He did the same thing with me.  You too.  I feel pride in my work.  So does He.  I love my artwork.  So does He.  The ultimate challenge then, is to discover who He is, to discover who He designed us to be and then to live it.    

 “For You created my inmost being;  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be…  Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:13-16, 23-24 (NIV)

Leave a comment

Add comment