Delicate beauty, intelligently created

By Elizabeth Prata

I'm still in summer-ocean-seashell mode. I'd written about Gifts from the Sea a week ago, here is another short meditation on the natural world and the Creator.

I lived for two years on a sailboat, sailing from Maine to the Bahamas and back, twice. That was fun. To keep occupied, I broadened and deepened my interest in the natural world and focused that interest on shells and the animals that lived in them. I learned how to spot the animals' habitat based on how the shell was designed. Intertidal mollusks vs. rock clinging mollusks or digging mollusks.

The one thing that attracts people to shells, though, is their beauty. And how they are designed. Did you know that a univalve (one-hole mollusk) is born with a tiny apex attached to itself? As it goes through life it grows the shell around itself. But it grows the shell in a pattern that has a defined ratio, and this ratio is consistent throughout the mollusk world, and also the natural world. Ferns grow at the same ratio.

EPrata photo
The Italian mathematician Leonardo da Pisa, or AKA Fibonacci, discovered this. He also introduced the decimal system to Europe, replacing the Roman Numerals in the 1200s (thank goodness!) Mollusk shells grow in a logarithmic spiral manner, always. Since the mollusks don’t have a brain that tells them to grow this way, and since the logarithmic consistency is carried over to other natural elements such as the pine cone and the sunflower and a snowflake, proponents of Intelligent Design use Fibonacci as a basis for the argument that the world that has been externally designed by a Master Intelligence.

We know that 'intelligence' not as an intelligence, but as a Person: God.

In any case, shells are exquisite, and a joy to discover as you walk the beach.

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” 21God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23)

Fractals definition: Geometrical entities characterized by basic patterns that are repeated at ever decreasing sizes. They are relevant to any system involving self-similarity repeated on diminished scales (such as a fern's structure) as in the study of chaos.

Nautilus Photo from National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions Really cool photos!!


  1. The beauty of God's orderly creation puts me in awe. Were it not for our fallen nature, surely all of us would just praise God all day long. Such design would make God's nature evident even to the very young.


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