The unassuming pinecone found on the woodland floor seeds a new generation of trees. But greater than function is form, as it gives testament to the very nature and existence of God.

Pinecones

The unassuming pinecone found on the woodland floor seeds a new generation of trees and any number of manmade products. But greater than function is form, as it gives testament to the very nature and existence of God, the Master Creator of the Universe.

If you look out into the universe at night and wonder at the majesty of creation … or stare in awe at the marriage of mechanical and artistic design in your own hand … or stand on a mountaintop and imagine what the world must have been like on that first day when darkness ruled and God spoke light into existence, you are not alone. 

Through the ages great minds have pondered the beginnings of the earth and its inhabitants. And like archeologists who study the fragments of a lost masterpiece, we are given clues if we observe and study what God has placed before us. 

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being,” wrote world-renowned scientist, mathematician, physicist and Christian Isaac Newton in Principia Mathematica, 1687.

Countless miracles of creation reveal the existence of our orderly and imaginative God. Seemingly simple objects that populate our everyday world by the thousands are so readily available that we can hold them in our hands and experience and study them over time. Yet scientists find it impossible to replicate their creation. 

The same story is told in the miracle of a blade of grass, a pinecone, a snowflake and the tiniest gnat. The world sings choruses of proof. Yes, God is real! 

In creation there is no random act of existence—no unplanned chaos; no mistaking a higher power, an intelligent designer, a sole God of the Universe for happenstance. The believer and doubter alike have proof if they but look.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” Romans 1:20 NIV.

It is God who created the elements, principles of design and all of the materials needed to manifest His works from nothingness. He didn’t just use concepts of good design; He invented them, and we are continually discovering them as science delves ever deeper. 

God taught us beauty by example. Everywhere we look, we see order, balance, color, texture, pattern, unity, harmony and repetition in many interpretations, each a masterpiece. Like a painter’s brushstroke or a writer’s voice, God’s work reveals His design signature in order.

“Where were you when I established the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
Job 38:4–7 HCSB
The unassuming pinecone found on the woodland floor seeds a new generation of trees. But greater than function is form, as it gives testament to the very nature and existence of God.

The Pinecone

Witness the pinecone. This seed-holding castaway of the pine tree seems a lowly creation to have been so thoughtfully engineered. Looked at closely it illustrates the mathematical precision found in every corner of the universe. It features a spiral pattern, just one small part of God’s greater scheme that in totality took Him only a week, and that scientific communities still find difficult to reproduce in all its variations. 

The spiral is seen over and over in nature. In the sunflower, coiled millipede, weather patterns, vine tendrils, nautilus shell, most mollusk shells, garden snail, whirlpool, Spirogyra green algae, strawberry, pineapple, human fingerprint, spiral galaxy, hurricane, DNA and yes, in the pinecone.

Seventeenth-century scientist Galileo said, “The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.”

Its spiraling petals, like the spiral pattern found in other plants, lets us hold in our hand an example of God’s brilliance.This pattern showcases a mathematical formula seen throughout creation, known as the Fibonacci sequence. It is named for Leonardo Fibonacci, a brilliant 12th-century Italian mathematician who discovered a recurring sequence, sometimes called nature’s numbering system. The sequence is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 and so forth, each number the sum of the previous two numbers beginning with 1. For example, 1+2=3 and 2+3=5. 

This sequence of numbers appears in the double set of spiraling scales that grows from the base of every pinecone. One spiral grows clockwise and the other grows counterclockwise. Study them and you’ll find the adjacent lines follow Fibonacci’s pattern. The overlapping scales provide architectural strength, helping to protect the living seed until conditions are right for germination.

The Fibonacci numbers have an interesting property. After the 13th in the series, if you divide the larger number by the smaller just prior to it, you always get the same number: 1.618. This number is known as the golden ratio or divine proportion. There is no other ratio that recurs in life on earth with such regularity. It shows up throughout creation in the placement of branches along stems of plants, the branching of veins in bodies and leaves, and even the structure of atoms. The proportions are so pleasing that the ratio has been used in architecture and art for centuries, and is still used today.

Adolf Zeising, a German psychologist with interests in math and science, wrote in 1854 of a universal law “in which is contained the ground-principle of all formative striving for beauty and completeness in the realms of both nature and art, and which permeates, as a paramount spiritual ideal, all structures, forms and proportions, whether cosmic or individual, organic or inorganic, acoustic or optical; which finds its fullest realization, however, in the human form.”

While the unaware observer may believe that the world is a random conglomeration of self-evolving organisms and masses of land and sea, in truth we have all the proof we need in an ordinary find. The pinecone: just one example of a purposeful creation brilliantly designed. And in this we can see a glimpse of God.