Devotional: Enduring Truth
“The entirety of your word is truth, each of your righteous judgments endures forever.”Psalm 119:60
When one is looking for evidence of God in the world, it becomes apparent that it is much easier to see Him in some areas than others. We see His handiwork in nature. We see His story in history. But can we also see evidence of God in an area such as math? Math is often considered a neutral subject — a means of calculating facts and nothing more.
Consider the equation 2 + 2 = 4. Where is God in that? To answer that question, we have to understand that 2 + 2 always equals 4. This fact was as much true yesterday as it is today and will be tomorrow. It is as much true in Europe as it is in North America and all over the globe. We could say that this fact is both omnipresent and eternal, words that are also used to describe our Creator.
Far from being neutral, math shows us that truth is both real and measurable, and just as we can depend on math to be the same yesterday, today, and always, so too can we depend on the God who wrote the rules of math. His truth endures yesterday, today, and always.
Dear Lord, we are thankful that you are a rational God who governs His universe by rules and logic that we can discover for ourselves. Thank you for giving us this way to learn about you and your Creation. Amen.
What is the Fibonacci sequence?
Fibonacci (also known as Leonardo of Pisa) was a famous mathematician who lived in Italy in the Middle Ages. He learned much about arithmetic from his travels to other cultures, and through his influence Europe made the switch from using the Roman numeral system to using the Hindu-Arabic numbers that we still use today. He also introduced Europe to what is now known as the Fibonacci sequence (which was first described in India), in which each number is the sum of the two numbers before it.
The Fibonacci sequence often appears in unexpected places. Can you find it anywhere in nature?
- Samples of nature (such as flowers, branches, pinecones, etc.)
- Create a list of Fibonacci numbers. Start with 0 and 1, then keeping adding the last two numbers to get the next number. Example: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, …
- Observe your nature samples. Do they contain Fibonacci’s number anywhere? For example, how many flower petals does it have? How many spirals? How many seeds? How many branches?
Where did you find examples of Fibonacci’s sequence?
How much of nature uses Fibonacci’s sequence? How much of nature does not use it?
Measuring the Distance of Stars
How do scientists measure the distance from Earth to the stars if we cannot go to the stars?
Modern satellites and computers have done wonders for how much we have been able to learn about the distant universe, but since the 1700s, scientists have theorized that the distance to stars could be measured using a visual phenomenon known as parallax, which is the way an object appears to move to a different position when viewed from two different locations.
Can you use parallax to determine how far away something is?
- Wide open space
Hold your arm out in front of your face with a thumbs up. Close one eye and line your thumb up with an object or person in the distance. Keep your thumbed there, but switch which eye is closed. Is the object or person still lined up with your thumb? Try it again moving your thumb closer to or farther away from your face. Do the results change? For another variation, try focusing an object other than your thumb at an even greater distance.
The object or person appears to move away from your thumb because of parallax. The closer your thumb is to you, the more it appears to move.
Thanks to more powerful telescopes that were developed in the 1800s, scientists were able to measure the parallax of distant stars compared to other stars, and from that they have been able to calculate how far the stars are from Earth.