Order vs. Chaos

Order vs. Chaos

Submitted by frlarry on

In chapter 2 of the Book of Genesis, God warns Adam and Eve: "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."

This claim is, of course, problematic on at least two points: (1) the first clause is contradicted by the second, and (2) Adam and Eve do become subject to the law of death, but they do not die on the day they eat of that fruit. They might have, instead, been stated thus:

"You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day you eat of that tree, you will be subject to the laws of vulnerability, decay and death."

Of course it is not stated that way because almost none of the readers would have comprehended it.  For thousands upon thousands of years, there were no serious investigations of the immutable laws of nature.  In particular, in Exodus, chapter 3, Moses discovers the burning bush which defies the second law of thermodynamics, known as the law of entropy.  It wasn't until the 19th century that a serious investigation of this law was undertaken, much less precisely characterized. 1 2

These chapters of Genesis were most likely originally received and transmitted orally from generation to generation.  There are many theories about when it was first received and how it was transmitted from generation to generation. 3

In physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics we continue to be surprised by the subtleties of God's creation.  This is particularly evident in our increasingly subtle and chaotic understanding of evolution.  One can see this in an article in the October 13, 2010 issue of "New Scientist"4 Well before this, we learned that DNA is far more complex than what is minimally required to define our traits. Many changes can occur within the body's DNA without changing our bodily properties. </p>

Even mathematics has its oddities.  Take, for example, Zermelo-Fraenkel Set Theory.  There is a hierarchy of infinities.  This can be described as a sequence of infinities - beginning with the number of integers, referred to as countable infinity.  That lowest infinity is given the name aleph nought.  The next level that we know of is 2 to the power aleph nought.  That number corresponds to the number of real numbers, which includes irrational numbers (like the square root of 2) and transcendental numbers (like pi).  One of the continuing mysteries in mathematics is whether there exists an infinity between these two (i.e. between aleph nought and aleph one).  The continuum hypothesis declares that there is no such infinity, yet this hypothesis remains unproven5 . Finally, there's Gödel's incompleteness theorems6 .

Physics also has its strange oddities.  The recent (in the last few decades) discoveries of dark matter and dark energy is one example.  Others can be found in the peculiar imbalance between matter and antimatter in the universe, the opposite of which is predicted by the big bang theory.  Another peculiarity is found in the number of theories of quantum mechanics.  Yet another is found in the theories about multiple universes.  The list goes on.

No matter how many things we discover about the universe, every generation discovers new mysteries.  One might conclude that the design of the universe (if it is designed) is infinitely complex.  That certainly fits with the Catholic notion of an infinite God.

I have no doubt there are many other peculiarities. or fascinating features, in the design of the universe that we have yet to discover.

Chaos is even more evident in our daily lives.  Who in their right minds could have predicted the strange ideas our civilization has concocted regarding genders, politics, sociality, economics, the value of human life and many other features of our civilization?

  • 1See the Wikipedia article on Entropy.
  • 2See, also, the Wikipedia article on Thermodynamics.  That article covers four laws, beginning with law zero, which focuses on the thermodynamics of systems in thermal equilibrium with each other.  Technically, then, entropy is still the second law.
  • 3 I subscribe to the Catholic notion that it was a scripture inspired by God, as were the other books of the Old and New Testaments.  Unlike us creatures, God exists independently of space and time (or as cosmologists would likely say, "independently of space-time").
  • 4"The Chaos Theory of Evolution" by Keith Bennett.
  • 5See Continuum Hypothesis.
  • 6See Gödel's incompleteness theorems.


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