I was not sure about that question, and I had to do a little research on the net. What I found is that the chaos theory states that complex and unpredictable events can and will occur in systems that are sensitive to their initial conditions. The chaos theory has a wide usage in the field of psychology as well, though I'm not sure quite how. I suspect that there is debate over whether or not it is absolutely chaotic and unpredictable, or that it is simply so hard to see what is coming that it is unpredictable -- which was basically your question. So on that I am not sure. I found one URL that you can check out and investigate further.. but chaos theory is bound to turn up in any search engine.
I did a little bit of Internet research and found these statements:
Chaos Theory states that small changes can result in large differences and that there is an underlying order in all that surrounds us.
1. Chaotic systems are deterministic. This means they have something determining their behavior.
2. Chaotic systems are very sensitive are very sensitive to the initial conditions. A very slight change in the starting point can lead to enormously different outcomes. This makes the system fairly unpredictable.
3. Chaotic systems appear to be disorderly, even random. But they are not. Beneath the random behavior is a sense of order and pattern. Truly random systems are not chaotic. The orderly systems predicted by classical physics are the exceptions. In this world of order, chaos rules!
Virtual Chaos is a Theory of Everything. A Theory of Everything is designed to explain how everything works with a single set of rules. These rules would have to apply to all known (and unknown) phenomena and work with all of them. We have tried to break Virtual Chaos using everything we could think of, testing it against Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Gyroscopes, Solar systems, Metaphysics, Religion and anything else we could think of. The result: It ended up uniting everything in a common framework.
Since their day, every important new advance in scientific discovery has confirmed the Marxian outlook although scientists, because of the political implications of an association with Marxism, seldom acknowledge dialectical materialism. Now, the advent of chaos theory provides fresh backing for the fundamental ideas of the founders of scientific socialism. Up to now chaos has been largely ignored by scientists, except as a nuisance or something to be avoided. A tap drips, sometimes regularly, sometimes not; the movement of a fluid is either turbulent or not; the heart beats regularly but sometimes goes into a fibrillation; the weather blows hot or cold. Wherever there is motion that appears to be chaotic—and it is all around us—there is generally little attempt to come to terms with it from a strictly scientific point of view.Chaos theory proposes that in complex systems, the unexpected and the unpredictable will happen. Take a few dramatic examples: John XXIII and Vatican II, the collapse of the Berlin wall and end of the Soviet empire, the Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, Jesus himself, Paul of Tarsus, our Declaration of Independence, and Abraham Lincoln. Before the event each of these was unthinkable, unpredictable, unforeseen. I prefer to believe that this is more than mathematical theory, but the freedom of the Holy Spirit. Smaller miracles of grace happen everywhere and are often unnoticed. You. me. others... Coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous.
METAPHYSICS FOR THE POSTMODERN Chaos theory grounds a postmodern science that is unpredictable, hence unknowable to the degree of precision demanded by modern science. Indeed; the essence and presence of a factor in a given degree cannot be used to predict, linearly, the behavior of a system; bird, atom, molecule, photon, person, species, or society. No longer may we use formal axiomatic theory in conjunction with binary logic with which to model reality, predict and thus control system dynamics. Indeed control itself becomes a casualty of postmodern science. There is an essay on the futility of instituting evermore controls as a society bifurcates into rich and poor; into have and have-nots. If the King affair in Los Angeles has taught us any thing (and it may not have), it teaches us that the use of police and an enlarged criminal justice system is not helpful to the problem of order. I offer an essay on Crime and Chaos to this point.
Anyway, Alex, from these quotes (which were themselves picked out "chaotically") it does seem your suspicions are correct. Words like predictable, deterministic, order, even chaos are used rather fuzzily. What I take from this is that the Chaos Theory, while based on some scientific obervations, is more an exercise in imagination. Of course, that can be highly valuable. Being is so mysterious we could hardly capture it in a single image or paradigm.
My own view is that God is not just the intial Creator of the universe, but sustains the whole show in every instance. The existence and activity of each galaxy, every person, indeed even the tiniest subatomic particle depends on his will. It would not be surprising if their activity appears to us as random and unpredictable. God is sovereign, not bound "laws" we formulate. At the same time he is not an arbitrary ruler. For that reason there is an overall order. The Chaos Theory websites which I read seemed (ironically) to be more impressed with order than chaos*.
Another suggestive part of this theory is the statement: "A very slight change in the starting point can lead to enormously different outcomes." We have always said this regarding the spiritual life. What seems to be such a small choice (as slight as the flap of a butterfly's wings) can have enormous consequences: it can lead to eternal union with God (heaven) or final separation from him (hell).
Seapadre (Fr. Phil Bloom)
P.S. *That seems natural enough because even tho we experience life as random, chaotic, unpredictable; we inevitably reach out for order & meaning. The Bible begins with God's Spirit brooding over the primordial chaos. (Gen 1:2)
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