le_bebna_kamni: (Default)
[personal profile] le_bebna_kamni
Weehee! I'm in a good, happy mood right now, as I'm currently getting ready for a trip to Maine. I've never been to Maine before (I probably won't try the lobster, though). I'll be gone for a week, so you probably won't hear from me for a little longer than that (sighs of relief from Mike, who has to deal with my rants whenever I journal).

And now on to a little ranting business:

In my last rant, I criticized Dr. Schwartz, author of The G.O.D. Experiments for claiming that the "veritable mountains of data that seem to be consistent with the existence of randomness in the evolution of the universe" did not exist. While the premise on which he based his assumption is still false (pi is not a random number), there is evidence that some scientific data previously considered random are, in fact, not.

A fairly new branch of science, called chaos science, says that some kinds of seeming randomness can, in fact, be modeled mathematically. In chaos theory, "randomness" is not the same as "chaos". While randomness is best described by, for example, the flip of a coin -- complete chance -- chaos refers to things that can be described by a non-linear mathematical equations that do not have a recognizable repeating pattern. It is also extremely dependent on initial conditions -- a couple of decimal places off, and the result could be dramatically different. One of the best examples of this is weather, which is why weather forecasters can only predict a handful of events in advance (it's also where the "butterfly effect" comes from -- remember Jurassic Park? If a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan, a hurricane hits the Gulf of Mexico -- potentially an exaggeration, but the essence of chaos theory).

So if Dr. Schwartz is right, and many things scientists originally thought of as "random" are not, does this support the idea that a G.O.D. exists?

I'm not so sure if it does. It was once believed that if we knew enough math, we could predict the future. This, of course, assumed an orderly universe. But the implications of chaos theory seem to be that much of the world is not as orderly as we would like to think. Whereas most of our "natural laws" rely on linear, solvable equations, chaos theory says that most equations in the universe are not linear, and hence chaotic. What, then, does this say of a God who supposedly created an orderly universe?

Chaos theory is beautiful in that it gives us a way to mathematically model some of the strange quirks of nature. But it also says we can never have enough information to truly predict the universe, since most things in the universe are non-linear. Some might call this the "mysteriousness of God", but if that's the case, we have a really eccentric G.O.D. who doesn't like order all that much. I don't think that's a reason for atheists to throw in the towel just yet.

By the way, I highly recommend James Gleick's Chaos: The Making of a New Science
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