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Tuesday, July 12th 2016


The Golden Ratio and the Perception of Beauty


This blog entry is coming to you from our little hide-out south of Smalltown, USA. It's been a good two days so far. Originally, we thought of driving further, but at this time that doesn't make much sense. I get to do two of my favorite things every day: riding horses and swimming. Today I got to ride on Whiskey again, my favorite, as some readers may remember. June has very little energy, and we'll get into that some later time. Right now there are so many folks hurting and in urgent need of prayer, so we'll wait our turn. Does that make sense?  

Before getting back to phi and the golden ratio, just a word in general in the context of Christian apologetics. There's a line of argumentation that we all would do well to avoid. I've seen it used by Christians in conversation with people of other religions, and I've just now experienced it myself. The argument runs this way:

Person A: My religion/world view is X.

Person B: If your religion is X, then you also believe Y, and Y is absurd. 

Person A: But I don't believe Y

Person B: But you must believe Y if you're X, and so, either you don't know your own religion, or you hold to an absurd belief. 

Person A: But I really don't believe in and it doesn't fit with what else I actually believe. 

Person B: Too bad. I know that you are obligated to believe Y, and you're a fool for believing such nonsense. 

Person A (slaps himself on forehead): Okay, I see. You're right. How could I not accept the obvious nonsense that you say is a necessary a part of my worldview/religion? Thank you for showing me my duty to believe something absurd so that you can take pot shots at me.

Maybe Person A is inconsistent; maybe Person B is uninformed. Either way, it doesn't make much sense to criticize a person for a belief that he or she doesn't hold. This dialogue would be funny if it  came from Abbot and Costello. But in the real world, it's not exactly the best approach.

Typical examples from Christians:

Jews are obligated to believe the Old Testament and are required to expect the re-institution of temple sacrifices. 

Hindus and Buddhists must be pantheists if they only understood their religion completely.

From a non-Christian to me:

As an evangelical Christian, I must accept a young earth theory of origins, which I don't. But it doesn't matter that I say I don't; if I were consistent with my belief in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible (as defined in a bizarre way that I hadn't I heard of in a long time, if ever), I would believe in the young earth, and, thus, I'm an idiot for believing it. 

This foolishness has to stop. 


And now back to our contemplation on the golden ratio and phi. The general belief is that the golden ratio in some inexplicable way catalyzes our appreciation of beauty. Certain experiments have supposedly shown that this idea cannot be documented with evidence. I suspect that this matter is similar to a court case where each side brings in their expert witnesses to support their case. We're talking about a very narrow window. 1 : 1 1/2 is too little; 1 : 1 2/3 is too much. So personally, I would be surprised if eventually there were some clear and objective proof for the aesthetic appeal of phi in art, but it's not something that I can be or want to be dogmatic about. The one thing I do want to caution us about is that, as I have insisted all along, there is a lot of beauty in phi, but its appeal, if any, is not due to some supernatural numerological  power . 

The table below the video contains a picture of a "Cherokee maiden" that I took ...

[Queue up Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, or Asleep at the Wheel!]

... a couple of years ago. Each one of these pictures has a different ratio of its sides; one of them is in the golden ratio. Is there one that strikes you as more beautiful than others? I sure hope so because some of them are pretty badly distorted. Which one do you like best? I shall disclose which one is in the golden ratio at some future time. In the meantime, have fun with it, assuming that you find this kind of thing amusing or interesting. 

1 2 3
4 5 6

We're almost done with this series. Next time or so, I'll bolster the section on the Fibonacci numbers in nature. 

12 Comment(s).

Posted by Pat:


This comment has been moderated by the blog owner

Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 22:16

Posted by Chifley:


This comment has been moderated by the blog owner

Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 20:19

Posted by Anonymous:

Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 19:03

Posted by Joy Manda:

I like #3
Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 18:43

Posted by Terry Arthur:

I like picture number 3 the best.
Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 17:29

Posted by Meghan:

Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 9:01

Posted by Frank M. Beam:

Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 8:51

Posted by Ricardo Martinez:

I like number 4. It doesn't seem as distorted to me.
Thursday, July 14th 2016 @ 0:47

Posted by David Chizum:

Long-time reader, first time commenter. I'm really torn, but 4 gets the edge.
Wednesday, July 13th 2016 @ 23:27

Posted by Kirby Tipple:

#3 for me Doc
Wednesday, July 13th 2016 @ 22:51

Posted by Anonymous:

Wednesday, July 13th 2016 @ 22:35

Posted by Kim:

Wednesday, July 13th 2016 @ 22:31