We know god was responsible for everything. Every fruit, every raindrop, every person, every tick, every lawyer. Ok, lawyers are the devil's. but other than them, politicians, advertising people and telemarketing people, everything. And that was comforting.
There was no why, not even how, it was just 'Because' and that's it. What a simple life. So peaceful. And then the questions came. As the church used to say – Damn.
The questions ruined everything. Suddenly 'because' was not an acceptable answer. Suddenly there were more and more questions, evolving from the simple 'how' to the more deliberate 'really?' which was less of a question and more of a 'you must be kidding me' with a small question mark in the end…
And for a couple of centuries there was a big confusion. Yes, even bigger than the confusion we are USED to. If the rule of the sky does not make things run (and we don’t need to sacrifice a holy goat every evening to make sure the sun will rise again) what DOES make everything run?
That was the question that occupied the best minds. What was the set of rules that determines what happens in the universe? And the answer was….poppycock. wait, we are still not in the part of the math. We are just starting with the science age. Or at least what they called science.
One of my favorite comedy books is the "Toria Naturalis" by the one and only Pliny the elder, the first encyclopedia of natural history which contains scientific discoveries in the magnitude of the declaration that things fell because they had 'falling' attributes and things fly because they have 'flying' attributes. Brilliant . Much better then Pliny the junior, I am sure.
But let's skip the nonsense and a couple hundreds of years more. We finally got lab coats. We got scientific publications and peer review. We are a little bit smarter. And we found out, now that we have computers, and technology and ipads, that the world is ruled by the rules Pythagoras described over two thousand years ago…
Yes, math was the prime suspect for the world's behavior a long long time ago. Now, we just have more evidence to that effect.
Math is not a substitute for god. You can't pray for math to help your sick child. You can't make a sacrifice to algebra in order to have good crops this year. The only real connection is that most religious leaders I know are absolute zeros.
But suddenly, if we lost god as the rule, we had something that made much more sense, and that was…eh…sense. Yes, sense, the reason, real reason, not a story and moral limericks, suddenly you could explain things using a FIXED set of rules that applied for everything.
Now THAT was real enlightenment. Everything fell into place, everything was finally part of a cosmic system with a working internal logic and a pinpoint sharp, almost karmic, feeling of action and consequence. You could put it all in a formula. Well, most of it.
The next step was one of the most important, and for me personally one of the most exciting , as a way of thought, in the development of the connection between math and nature – the fractal world.
Putting it in a nutshell, fractals are the living representations of organic growth and structure, using a mathematical formula with a flexible set of variables. In laymen terms? Fractals is the way to explain things that were just too vague or amorphic for normal math. A coastline. The growth of a tree. The distribution of stars in a nebula. Evolution.
The reason I like fractals, other than the fact they create lovely psychedelic posters for the stoned, is that it shows a small improvement in our maturity. At least the scientific one.
The problem mankind always faced, and the problem I always had when facing mankind, was the fact people DO have the need to categorize things, put them in modular structured chewable formulas.
And as long as these formulas were as firm and inflexible as the clenched fingers of rheumatoid arthritis geriatric patient, the world was strangled by man's belief.
Fractals is a more fluid, more open-minded way of looking at things, and that in itself opened so many more doors of perception.
It didn’t answer all the questions. But it did give us a MUCH better tool to look for new answers.
And that is a very nice start.