Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chaos Theory and God's Sovereignty

One of the most interesting subjects I ever encountered is Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory studies dynamic systems that are highly chaotic in behavior which makes these systems very hard to predict. The reason of these systems' chaotic behavoir is their sensitivity to initial conditions, which is more popularly known as the "butterfly effect." Very cool, eh? Actually, Chaos Theory is a complicated area of study of physics, mathematics, and philosophy and I really do not know the whole picture of it and I definitely don't understand the math of Chaos Theory. But in my simple basic understanding of the Chaos Theory, I can see the truths and the beauty of it.

Let me explain this in my simple understanding.

Let us say that there are two types of systems or behavior: simple and complicated. Simple systems are such that can easily be solved or predicted by the use of linear equations. Examples are simple physics problem regarding Galileo's cannonballs or some billiard balls. These are easily predicted by the use of some basic equations. Second, the complex systems. These systems are very chaotic in behavior that it seems to be random, thus it's difficult or impossible to make predictions. The most perfect example of this is weather (actually Chaos Theory was initially designed to understand weather). Other chaotic behavior is found in the human behavior, air moving under a wing, economics, etc. The reason of this is these systems are sensitive to initial factors. The "butterfly effect" comes to play ("a butterfly flaps its wings in China, causing a hurricane in the US."). A small variable can cause big dominoe effects that ultimately affect the output behavior in a big way. Let us compare the simple and complex system. In the simple system's cannonball, if a cannonball is fired, and then a second cannonball is fired after it - with the same weight, same speed, same startng place, same angle - basic mathematical linear equation can predict that the second cannonball would fall at the place where the first cannon ball fell. Now in the complex system's weather, have a weather system start with a particular temperature, particular wind speed, particular humidity, and then start another weather system with the same temperature, same wind speed, and same humidity, the second weather system would have a different result than the first; the first weather system may result in a typhoon, the second may result in a sunny day. Why is this? It is because these systems are very sensitive to small variables, thus there could be a teeny-weeny difference ("a butterfly flapping its wings") between the two systems that made the big difference in the outputs. That is a simplified explanation for us laymen. (Note: the illustrations are basic Michael Crichton illustrations :>)

Chaos Theory tries to define these small variations (small "butterflies") and find hidden regularities in these complex random systems. Thus, there could be actually small patterns that would help predict the bigger picture.

And, also, back to the "simple systems." Yes, these type of problems are easily solved. But these simple systems can also commit chaotic behavior in the long run. Let's use billiard balls as examples (another Crichton illustration). Newtonian Laws can predict their behavior in a pool table. Know the mass of the ball, the angle, the force to hit it, and all that factors, and you can predict where it will end up... in theory. But then, in the long run, tiny variables like imperfections in the surface of the ball or minor indentions of the table , all these small variables accumulating in the long run, would cause the ball the behave away from the basic Newtonian calculations.

Thus, in a comprehensive summary that I always say to describe Chaos Theory: "Chaos Theory says, 'Complex systems, though as if acting randomly, have an underlying order in it. And simple systems, though can easily be predicted in theory, can produce complex behavior.'"

As we apply this in our daily life, we realize that society, the world, the universe is consisted of many complex systems interacting - complex systems that are prone to behave or actually behaving in chaos. Tiny variables can affect the overall picture. The reality that we live in have many potential bombs that can go off. Murphy's Law will always apply. An infinity of things can go wrong. Everything, in an overall picture, is actually behaving in a complex manner, everything is dynamic, always changing, every behavior is hard to predict and understand. Creation and life are so very complex, very very complex, that it is impossible for us mere humans to completely understand it all. Spider's weaving their webs, the systems of organs and chemicals working together in a living thing, planets revolving around suns, the mind's qualities, the flow of history, economics, the sensitivity of the ecosystem, the unpredictably of an individual's psyche... indeed, everything in our reality our behaving in a complex manner. Countless complex systems that consist a bigger Complex System. How can this overall Complex System, which does not only consists of small "butterfly effect" variables but consists of countless complex systems, actually function if just one tiny variable may actually bring in the end of the cosmos?

With the complete complexity of life and creation which is impossible for us humans to completely understand and predict and with millions of small things that easily affect these systems, it can be easily proven that there is a Creator. There is a God.  Life and creation are just too much complicated to exist on their own.  There must be a Powerful Someone whom designed these complex creations and keep them from falling apart.

Let's choose one topic that we can apply Chaos Theory principles and prove the argument: Creation. Now so-called "great logical" scientists say that there is no God and that everything just happened. I find this very outrageous. How can these complex systems around us "just happened"? Isn't it more logical to think that A Great Power designed such complex systems? Life and creation is just too complex to "just happen." Let's continue with the argument. Let us say, hypothetically, there are many many factors that are needed to interact with each other, in specific appropriate times, in specific appropriate external or environmental conditions, to Create. Now, these "know-it-all" scientists claim that the existence of everything - time, matter, life, etc. - are nothing but accumulation of chance events; that these many many factors just suddenly interacted, in the appropriate times, and in the appropriate external or environmental condition, on their own by chance... by accidental accumulation and simultaneous happening of chance events. What are the odds that all of this happened by accident, by simultaneous and accumulated chance events? The odds on this argument that everything existed by chance is like a tornado htting a car in Sydney, disassembling it, and then reassembling the parts back together in the Australian Outback. An impossibilty. Logic fails this argument. It is more believable that a Creator made everything - time, matter, life, etc. - to exist and the factors that they call "simultaneous and accumuated chance events" are made possible by the Creator; that there is a Creator that guided and willed for these "many many factors to interact with each other, in specific appropriate times, and specific appropriate external or environmental conditions" to create Creation.

So, indeed, with the complexity of life and creation, claiming that there is no God that created them is very illogical and stupid. Definitely, there is a God that created and designed these complex systems.

Now we determined that there is a God, the second thing to determine is what kind of God is he, by the use of Chaos Theory basic principles. If we claim that there is a God that created everything, definitely it is already given that He is a powerful God that can create something from nothing. But we can appreciate more how powerful He really is by the complexity of Creation. Countless complex systems are interacting in Creation (the Complex System). For every complex system to work, that is very sensitive to small factors, and for the overall Complex System to be in constant existence, this God must be a hands-on God. Nothing happens by accident in His Complex System. Everything would definitely happen by His will. If we claim that God just Created and left Creation on its own, these complex systems would easily go into complete chaos, and everything will go into complete destruction. Thus, we can conclude that not only did God created the Complex System, but in such a System in which millions of things can go wrong in its own, He is always in control and everything happens by His will.

God is a Sovereign God. By Life and Creation, He proved this. It is plain arrogance and stupidity if we limit what God can do. He is always in control and can do anything He wills. We can never ever understand the complete complexity of Life and Creation. But by undestanding in small ways, by using such scientific/mathematical/philosophical methods like Chaos Theory that can understand complex systems of Life and Creation in its small limited ways, we become more in awe of the complexity and beauty of the Complex System, and ultimately realize how big, how powerful, how creative, how great God is.


Anonymous said...

You article starts off well in the beginning until it reaches the part where God had to take part. The God excuse is not a justified reason for anything complicated or unexplainable.

Selena Fogg said...

I enjoyed this article and I thought that it was well written. It made perfect sense to me.