Patterns All Around

Question from Charles:
Why are there patterns (some mathematical), symmetry and fractals in nature?

Answer by SmartLX:
The patterns in nature result from the fact that all objects, biological or otherwise, obey certain physical laws with predictable consequences.

- If the number of a given group of organisms or biological features affects the number in the next level or generation, the iterative propagation can produce patterns like the Fibonacci sequence, and golden ratios will often follow. It’s an emergent phenomenon, rather than a design.
- Likewise, if a force acts on a substance on multiple scales, branching effects can be observed which visually approximate the infinitely dense features of fractal geometry.
- Both bilateral and radial symmetry evolved a long time ago in very primitive plants, animals and viruses. Its evolutionary benefit is obvious with regard to movement (anyone with one leg shortened by traction will tell you what a hindrance it can be) but there are plenty of other reasons for it to be favoured in natural selection, for instance accurate binocular vision.

So, the patterns we see are a natural consequence of the consistency of the universe in which we live. For a religious apologist, the next step from there is to argue that a god must be responsible for this consistency and for the natural laws that govern us. Even if there were a complete lack of other explanations, to conclude the necessity of a god would be an argument from ignorance, but fortunately there are other possibilities. One of these is the idea that the laws are as eternal and independent of the universe as the hypothetical god is supposed to be. As I’m fond of saying, any constraints you place on the universe in order to necessitate a god must immediately be broken in order to allow for a god, and there’s no justification for it.