Deb Haarsma: Snowflakes, Symmetry, and the Glory of God

Deb Haarsma reflects on the redeeming qualities of snow, finding God’s glory in the symmetry, beauty of snowflakes and the random process that makes them.

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Thank you for this reflection!

I’m fascinated by the photo of the snowflake - beautiful to be sure! I also noticed that one thing it seems to lack (though with no loss of beauty whatsoever) is … mathematical perfection. While the overall symmetry is there, to be sure, I’m still struck how on close examination, one can see that each of its individual six branches are unique, not only from other snowflakes, but to each other as well. There is enough symmetry to register as beautiful in that regard, but not so much that it could be regarded as strictly or exactly symmetrical in a mathematically precise sense - even to casual inspection.

It seems to me that this too could be a lesson. We may casually think of our own bodies as being bilaterally symmetrical, as indeed they are. And yet … not really, as artists and photographers are well aware. But the so-called imperfections don’t make people any less beautiful. And in fact, I’m told that we would probably look just a bit off if perfect bilateral symmetry were computationally enforced (say by photoshopping) on a picture. Somehow I think our many ‘deviations’ must be baked into what can be considered right and beautiful.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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