« God writes straight with crooked lines »

God is a pattern of a fractal reality. This is the reason why« God writes straight with crooked lines » Forget the « God » part of this proverb if you’re not comfortable with it. The idea I want to present here is that we poor human beings struggle a lot with our brain in order to make sense out of reality. As an example, we are facing a phenomenon (the NASDAQ is up x points) and trying to identify a trend in this phenomenon (will it last long ?). Day one, reality goes this direction. The day after, the trend seems to be opposite. The reality lines are much crooked.

Reality is such a mess

You can sometimes modelize reality in order to identify some underlying more global trends. Long-term trends mix with shorter-term trends. Long-term economic cycles mix with shorter-term cycles. And the result is rather chaotic series of economic indicators. The mix of scales makes such a mess.

Is this mess chaotic ? Or is there a more complex order behind it ? Unfortunately, science does not always give definite answers to this question. And it is most often a question of faith ! What makes me comfortable with the idea that there must be an hidden order behind the chaos of reality is when I see some sort of fractal patterns in reality. And these patterns are quite common when dealing with complex systems (living systems, social networks, …). If these patterns are really fractal, it provides some interesting properties to reality. It first implies that just by looking at micro-patterns in reality, you will see the macro-patterns also : micro-patterns and macro-patterns are similar (this is the definition of fractality). Theologically, it is an attractive idea : one says that God does not sit on a cloud but resides everywhere in reality. If God is a pattern in a fractal reality, then it means that you are in relation with God in your everyday life (micro-level). You don’t need any spiritual elevator in order to reach a bigger scale God since He is the same (or at least similar enough to believe He is unique) at all scales.

Furthermore and somewhat paradoxically, if God is pattern in a fractal reality, it also means that you may never be able to predict the global long-term trend that He may have defined. Let’s admit the crooked lines above result from the mixing of several cosine curves applied one on top of the others in a fractal logic (see attached Excel file as an example : you can make the scale vary by modifying the yellow underlined numbers).

Underlying trends are revealed

But let’s suppose also that you don’t have the mathematic formulae allowing the calculation of this curve. Then the question is : what is the long-term trend that can be predicted ? If I identify a global trend (« Eureka ! We are sitting on a global nearly cosine curve ! » i.e. the dark purple curve on the above diagram), isn’t there a more global trend that will, on a longer-term predict future results opposite to the results predicted by the more local trend (« Maybe the global cosine curve I identifed is just a minor variation of a longer-term larger cosine curve… ») ? Most often, I think there must such more global trends that escape our ability to modelize reality. Therefore, it reminds me that we should always be humble in our struggle with reality trying to make sense out of it. « God’s Ways Are Higher Than Our Way » It has something to do with modelling epistemology too : a given model or theory should never claim to be an absolute truth. A model is just a way to rationally handle a given set of problems. But may your set of problems be extended, then you may have to deeply and humbly revise your model.

8 réflexions au sujet de « « God writes straight with crooked lines » »

  1. Tom Barnes

    Nice piece. But where did you get the quote, « God writes straight with crooked lines? » Thanks Tom

  2. Sig

    I got this quote in its French version (« Dieu écrit droit avec des lettres courbes ») from a catholic HR manager in the big corp that I am working for. I tried to find an English translation for it and did some googling on terms such as « God » « writes » and « straight » and found the English translation of this proverb. There are more details there : [it] is a paradoxical Portuguese proverb, first attributed to a sixteenth century Portuguese bishop, that has appeared over the centuries in the writings of many spiritual thinkers and writers.

    Wow, it now seems the power of blogging has put my post in Google front line for « God writes straight with crooked lines » ! ;-)

  3. Philippe Lestang

    As a matter of fact the quote in French, as I know it, is « Dieu écrit droit avec des LIGNES courbes ». The english text you proposed was therefore correct! :-)
    Where does it come from? No idea! Let’s ask Google??

  4. Yale L

    I enjoyed your article. For more on the Nature of God as God of Nature (AKA, TheOS as in « God and Nature’s Operating System/GNOS) », see part one of my three-part PowerPoint slide show lecture via either the .pps or .doc versions.

    Regards, YL

  5. Sig Auteur de l’article

    Thank you Yale for your presentation. I quickly read it and I must admit I don’t get your point ! Your presentation sounds too much like some esoterico-mystic freemasonry stuff to me. But anyway, you browse interesting topics here and I hope I will get some time in the future to have a look at it once again.

  6. jayd

    Paul Claudel uses it in the dedication of his book « Le soulier de satin » (The Satin Slipper) and puts it this way
    « God writes straight with crooked lines PORTUGUESE PROVERB.
    Even sins. »
    St. Augustine

  7. Tarot

    Nice piece and just a heads up really as the links to images don’t work (at least for me anyway).


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