Fractals and Faith

Some time ago I realized that if my belief in Christ was valid there was by definition nothing that was true that was not of God. What this meant to me was that no fact of science or human history should be able to invalidate my Christian faith if indeed that faith was based on truth. Specifically not just a supreme omni-being in the universe but the supreme omni-being described in the Bible. Simply put I had nothing to fear from unbiased examination of the facts.

Shortly thereafter as I was re-reading the Gospels nothing made sense! The message and power of even the beatitudes was lost on me. It seemed incoherent! It was a terrible and terrifying experience. Finally I cried out that even if it did not make sense, even if it was all a lie I just could not go back to a life without God, without salvation.

A Christian reader at this point may say that God was reminding me of the danger of relying on my own understanding and the non-believer may say this demonstrates my inability to face the truth of a Godless universe. Both would be correct (what is truth). It may be my weakness that I cannot face a Godless universe, but I cannot. I remember feeling that way about others before my own conversion, that it was too bad they needed the intellectual crutch of religion. To be clear here I still believe I have nothing to fear from the truth, but I do need to remember to wait on God for understanding which only He can give.

What does this have to do with Fractals? Bear with me and we’ll get there.

So here is a quandary, my need for God overrules the logical evaluation of my perception, so how can I trust that my belief is valid?

If I look at mankind in general it would seem this experience of a need for God is common and ageless. In fact there is a well known argument that man created god because he needs God.

Having already proven to myself my need, I just need to answer the question – did God create man or is it the other way around? To say this another way – is the concept of God a human construct or a natural truth? On the surface it seems to me the concept of God is too profound to have been contrived by men. There is enough similarity in the moral codes of all religions to indicate that something outside of the mind of any man is being exposed to the understanding of all men. This is how we get to fractals.

Fractals are a “mathematical construct” found in nature. If you want more information on fractals see as a start. What is important to this discussion is that they are used to describe natural processes that have the attribute of self-similarity or invariance to scale. This attribute of self-similarity is shared by clouds, snowflakes, weather, coastlines, mountains, water levels in rivers and traffic patterns on the internet. As stated this is a common characteristic of natural processes, but it is not so common in human constructs. In fact, creating systems that behave consistently regardless of scale is a very difficult engineering problem.

It is my opinion that the concept of God displays this same attribute of self-similarity or invariance to scale. The knowledge of God is beneficial to the individual, the community the nation and the earth for the same reasons it is argued we created him. This is true now, was true last year, last century and last millennium. Most of all the knowledge of God is understood by the simplest child and is more complex than the greatest minds can grasp. In short the concept of God does not exhibit the characteristics of a human construct. It is harder to believe that the God I know was created by man than it is to believe that He created man. In fact the idea of self-similarity or invariance to scale, helps me to grasp the idea of a loving personal God that knows each man and all men at once.

Romans 1:19 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” This was written before fractals were used to help us understand and characterize natural processes. I find the fact that fractals are used to characterize the self-similarity (something that has been attributed to the nature of God for centuries) of natural processes to be re-affirming of my faith and undermining of the idea that my God exists merely as a result of my need. The science of fractals and what is commonly called Chaos Theory I find supports my understanding of God as the creator and author of this universe on many levels. As we say in engineering, the solution scales.

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