8.23.2009

The Mathematics of Jesus

We little humans strive to understand our amazing world. We try to describe it, make sense of it. We look at this vast Creation, explain a tiny little minikin of it and hand out a Nobel prize.

For thousands of years, people have been defining the world. A point. A line. A triangle. A polygon. Slicing the world into simple shapes like wielders of a subtle knife, hoping to open up the magic of this world. But what about the rest of it? The mountains, the waves, the clouds - all chaotic forms - ruled by something other than Order? It wasn't until the 1970's when Benoit Mendelbrot cohesively described the mathematical principle of these supposed chaotic forms in Creation. What looks chaotic and random to us, and to mathematicians, is in. fact. highly. ordered. (And here I ask myself rhetorically, "Could this be a random act??")

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.
-B. Mandelbrot, in his introduction to The Fractal Geometry of Nature
.
Medelbrot coined the word "fractals" to describe this phenomenon. It wasn't until we had computers that mathematicians
could plot out these fractals. What happened? They created cyber mountain ranges, coastlines, clouds. The strange new planet scape on the Star Trek movie? Yup. Fractals. Let me try to explain the concept as best as I can using Mendelbrot's diagram. (And stay with me here. I've got a point to make.)

Take a triangle, left. On each leg, put another triangle, like this:

Keep doing it - add smaller triangles to the small legs, and even smaller triangles to the even smaller legs. If you took a close up of one leg, it would look like this:


Here's the entire triangle and what it would look like:
Cool, right? So what, you're saying.

OK. Next, let's measure the perimeter of the equilateral triangle we started with. If you were to measure the figure on the right, you would intuitively understand that this perimeter is bigger/longer, than that of the triangle on the left, right? (Ha! get it??)

Theoretically, you can add triangles infinitely, then the perimeter length would get longer and longer into infinity. And of course, the area would also get bigger and bigger into infinity.

Here is the paradox:
This figure, looking like a snowflake, or the arabesque of Islamic architecture:

is an enclosed form; a solid, complete polygon, and yet, it's area and dimension can increase into infinity! Here. Here's my point - and thanks for reading this far down - here I have found an excellent analogy for Jesus Christ. How can a man be the Son of God, be God? How can His eternal character fit into our aching, aging, dying, imperfect body? God says in His Word that all can look to Creation and know Him. How can a finite Man, be Eternal?

Bound and limited in a human body,
and infinite in nature.



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6 comments:

Grace said...

Jaw hanging open...what a marvelous thing to ponder.

gpieacake said...

that was deep.

Amy said...

I was actually thinking about this as Chris and I were watching a recent show (PBS perhaps) about fractals. Did you see it?

sarah said...

You know how to make an analogy unique! Very deep and very rich.

Anonymous said...

how did u learn abot fractls?

blackbelt said...

@Anonymous - first learned in Architecture school then fascinated by it and read some.