What scientists call "chaos theory" might seem to stand in unresolvable tension with the idea of God creating a world that works by dependable rules that can be discovered -- from the law of gravity to standard understandings of the periodic table of elements to notions about wind speed and lift on airplanes.
There may be much mystery about God and countless unanswered questions, but theologians mostly would contend that God is not chaotic, not without some rationality, some dependable attributes, including love.
To find an example of what I mean, let's look at some new research published by a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University.
This news release from the University of Wisconsin says that their research "provides the first hard proof for what scientists call the 'chaotic solar system,' a theory proposed in 1989 to account for small variations in the present conditions of the solar system. . .The discovery promises not only a better understanding of the mechanics of the solar system, but also a more precise measuring stick for geologic time. Moreover, it offers a better understanding of the link between orbital variations and climate change over geologic time scales."
These scientists, the press release says, looked at "alternating layers of limestone and shale laid down over millions of years in a shallow North American seaway at the time dinosaurs held sway on Earth."
And they were able to verify an "87 million-year-old signature of a 'resonance transition' between Mars and Earth. A resonance transition is the consequence of the 'butterfly effect' in chaos theory. It plays on the idea that small changes in the initial conditions of a nonlinear system can have large effects over time." A standard description of the butterfly effect is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan today may be a hurricane in South America some day.
There is beauty in this, and mystery, too. We have what scientist Brian Greene once described as an "elegant universe," and this newly reported work having to do with a connection between Mars and Earth seems to me to be more proof of Greene's idea. None of this proves there is a god, of course, but if you grant that God exists, you have to marvel at the amazing ways that things in the cosmos seem divinely connected.
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Kōloa, Hawaii -- While I'm here for a few days catching my breath after a terrifically busy winter, I won't be adding the usual second item to the blog each day. Things should return to normal on the blog March 15.