Chaos--Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions--A View of Salvation

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Floridians all over the state anxiously check the NOAA site on the web to see where Ivan is heading. If they check with each update they see amazing swings in the five day forecast. Two days ago, Ivan was on a crash-course for Appalachicola Bay; yesterday early morning, he was coming straight up the penisula through the everglades; yesterday mid-morning he was following a Charley-like course; yesterday evening he was back in the gulf. This morning he is crashing into Tampa/St. Pete and heading north.

Why can't they seem to decide what he's doing? This, in large, is the central difficulty with any weather forecasting beyond the most immediate future. Weather, like a great many other natural phenomena is essentially a chaotic system. The truth of this was uncovered by the mathematical models of Edward Lorenz in the 1960s. His work gave rise to the dictum that "The flapping of a butterfly's wings over Peking will change the weather in Washington three days later."

What chaos theory tells us is that most natural situations are weakly deterministic. That is, they are not merely random occurrences, but that what happens today has roots that go back days, months, years, perhaps even to the very beginnings of time. And this is part of what I love about Chaos theory--because whether they recognize it or not, scientists who ascribe to it, ascribe to a reasonable proof of the existence of God.

Chaos theory, in some small part, reflects on the question of free will and determinism. I have not considered deeply enough what the ramifications of such a reflection are, but I find them both intriguing and worthy of consideration. God wishes that all will be saved, there is every possibility that some, perhaps many will be lost, but the driving dynamic of the system is the vector toward salvation. The "unknown" factor in the equation, the variable as it were that introduces the chaotic dynamic, is free will. God may know the outcome, but those of us on Earth see a violent lurching first toward and then away from Home and Heart. These erratic motions make no sense unless we understand them as the motions of free-will on a body already in motion sending it into currents and eddies that are not predictable to the human mind; however, God knows everything. Everything we say can't be known--the famous Heisenberg uncertainty (you cannot know both the velocity and the position of an electron or sub atomic particle)--even the outcome of the day's weather is known and has been known by God from the beginning.

Nothing is uncertain with Him and our hope lies in the fact that He is the dynamic system behind it all. It is His will that is the driving motivation behind all of our motions. Now, we can go with the flow or spin off in any of seven million directions (Strait is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to salvation, but that unto destruction is broad and wide and smooth). Nevertheless, at each stage, at each point along the way, the overriding dynamic comes back into play. And at any point we can choose to abandon our own willfulness and allow the dynamic of Love to carry us Home to Him who drives all things toward salvation.

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Only Mr. Riddle could tie them all together like this this.... Read More


You've been hitting a lot of homers this week. Good stuff.

My father once saw Edward Lorenz sitting quietly in a park, surrounded by a cloud of migrating monarch butterflies, during a break in a meteorological convention. He said it would have made for quite a picture.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 10, 2004 7:06 AM.

Praise and Prayer Requests--10 September 2004 was the previous entry in this blog.

Words of Wisdom from Fr. Tucker is the next entry in this blog.

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