Chaos or God in between Cause and Effect?
Written by Naim al-Gharib on 09.05.2013
(In the Name of Allah The Merciful The Compassionate) بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His Help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of our souls and from our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide, and he whom He misguides, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad (saaws) is His servant and Messenger.
Materialism is an atheistic philosophy that says that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. It has gained ground because many people think that it's supported by science. They think that physics has shown the material world to be a closed system of cause and effect, sealed off from the influence of any non-physical realities, if any there be. Since our minds and thoughts obviously do affect the physical world, it would follow that they are themselves merely physical phenomena. No room for a spiritual souls or God. For materialists we are just "machines made of meat in a Universe of Evolution."
Quantum mechanics, however, throws a monkey wrench into this simple mechanical view of things. No less a figure than Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed that materialism - at least with regard to the human mind - is not "logically consistent with present quantum mechanics." And on the basis of quantum mechanics, Sir Rudolf Peierls, another great 20th-century physicist, said, "the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being ... including knowledge, and consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing."
In physics, classical mechanics is one of the two major sub-fields of mechanics, which is concerned with the set of physical laws describing the motion of bodies under the action of a system of forces. The study of the motion of bodies is an ancient one, making classical mechanics one of the oldest and largest subjects in science, engineering and technology.
Classical mechanics deals with the laws of nature on macroscopic linear object.
Classical mechanics describes the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, as well as astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. Besides this, many specializations within the subject deal with gases, liquids, solids, and other specific sub-topics. Classical mechanics provides extremely accurate results as long as the domain of study is restricted to large objects and the speeds involved do not approach the speed of light.
When the objects being dealt with become sufficiently small or when the system becomes too complex, it becomes necessary to introduce the other major sub-field of mechanics, quantum mechanics, which tries to reconciles the macroscopic laws of physics with the atomic nature of matter and handles the wave-particle duality of atoms and molecules. In the case of high velocity objects approaching the speed of light, classical mechanics is enhanced by special relativity. General relativity unifies special relativity with Newton's law of universal gravitation, allowing physicists to handle gravitation at a deeper level.
According to the correspondence principle between classical and quantum mechanics, all objects obey the laws of quantum mechanics, and classical mechanics is just an approximation for large systems of objects (or a statistical quantum mechanics of a large collection of particles). The laws of classical mechanics thus follow from the laws of quantum mechanics as a statistical average at the limit of large systems or large quantum numbers.
However, chaotic systems do not have good quantum numbers, and quantum chaos studies the relationship between classical and quantum descriptions in these systems.
If classical mechanics truly governed the workings of an atom, electrons would really 'orbit' the nucleus. Since bodies in circular motion accelerate, they must emit radiation and collide with the nucleus in the process. This clearly contradicts the existence of stable atoms. However, in the natural world electrons normally remain in an uncertain, non-deterministic, "smeared", probabilistic wave-particle wave function orbital path around or even through the nucleus, defying classical mechanics and electromagnetism completely.
In theory if we understand every single factor in an event we should be able to predict with precision the result. But since dynamic systems contains too many variables for us to comprehend and because they defy classical mechanics we cannot predict the result.
The Chaos Theory states:
"Because we can never know all the initial conditions of a complex system in sufficient (i.e. perfect) detail, we cannot hope to predict the ultimate fate of a complex system. Even slight errors in measuring the state of a system will be amplified dramatically, rendering any prediction useless. Since it is impossible to measure the effects of all the butterflies (etc) in the World, accurate long-range weather prediction will always remain impossible."
The fact is that not only can we not know all the initial conditions of a complex system, but we cannot even know and understand all the current conditions of a complex system.
Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on.
Randomness means different things in various fields. Commonly, it means lack of pattern or predictability in events.
Randomness, as opposed to unpredictability, is an objective property. Determinists believe it is an objective fact that randomness does not in fact exist. Also, what appears random to one observer may not appear random to another.
According to several standard interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, microscopic phenomena are objectively random. That is, in an experiment that controls all causally relevant parameters, some aspects of the outcome still vary randomly. For example, if you place a single unstable atom in a controlled environment, you cannot predict how long it will take for the atom to decay, but only the probability of decay in a given time.
Thus, quantum mechanics does not, and it cannot, specify the outcome of individual experiments but only the probabilities.
Randomness, chaos and unpredictability is Gods Hand at work
According to Islam the unpredictable nature of nonlinear systems is partly due to the fact that it goes beyond our ability to comprehend those systems, but also due to the fact that God, the One who created the entire Universe and Who also set the laws of nature in motion, is constantly and directly changing and affecting things in nonlinear systems, on levels which we cannot directly sense, which is exactly what makes those systems so unpredictable.
We are, in other words, when observing nonlinear systems, indirectly observing the Hand of God in action.
When we cannot predict the weather, but only estimate it, it is not because //a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas// and we currently lack the ability to acquire enough data, as some state, but it is because Allah (swt) is directly controlling the minute details of nonlinear systems, such as the weather, and is deciding and changing things in very unpredictable ways on a daily basis.
Allah (swt) says: "And it is He Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy (rain). Till when they have carried a heavy-laden cloud, We drive it to a land that is dead, then We cause water to descend thereon. Then We produce every kind of fruit therewith. Similarly, We shall raise up the dead, so that you may remember or take heed." (7:57).
And He (swt) says: "And We send the winds fertilizing, then cause the water to descend from the sky, and We give it to you to drink, and it is not you who are the owners of its stores." (15:22).
And Allah (swt) says: "Do you not see that Allah drives clouds? Then He brings them together, then He makes them into a mass, and you see the rain emerge from within it. And He sends down from the sky, skies like mountains within which is hail, and He strikes with it whom He wills and averts it from whom He wills. The flash of its lightening almost takes away the eyesight." (24:43).
And He (swt) says: "And thunder glorifies and praises Him, and so do the angels because of His Awe. He sends the thunderbolts, and therewith He strikes whom He wills, yet they dispute about Allah. And He is Mighty in strength and Severe in punishment." (13:13).
These are all outcomes that are nonlinear and unpredictable, we cannot comprehend the complexity of such situations on the one hand because comprehending goes beyond our ability, but also on the other hand because God has a direct effect on the outcome which we cannot comprehend directly, we can only comprehend the results.
Miracles are not needed for intervention
Embracing the mystery of God in a complex universe does not mean we stop seeking out God. In fact, the very opposite is true. When we come to understand how puny we are, the search is no longer a prideful attempt to "take apart" God from a scientifically approach, but this search transforms into the very act of worshiping God.
The modern Christian Church fears chaos and complexity, often misquoting such verses as 1st Corinthians 14:33 "God is not the author of chaos/disorder/confusion" as a defense.
Miracles themselves are interruptions in the order of nature to bring His plans about.
This does not mean that He has to cancel out the laws of nature and perform miracles, nor that He cannot do so if He indeed wants to do that. Rather He can intervene in many different ways, ways which goes beyond our ability to comprehend.
All these matters belongs to the subject of Al-Ghaib (غيب). In Islamic context, Al-Ghaib is the unseen and unknown in reference to Allah and His forces that shape the world.
Allah (swt) says: "Say: None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib except Allah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected." (27:65).
And Allah (swt) says: "And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib, none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea, not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record." (6:59).
And He (swt) says: "Verily, Allah, with Him is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All‑Knower, All‑Aware." (31:34).
And He (swt) says: "(He Alone is) the All‑Knower of the Ghaib, and He reveals to none His Ghaib." (72:26).
Here are some further examples of how God Almighty controls nonlinear systems, even social systems, in ways which we cannot comprehend.
Allah (swt) says: "Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts it. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing." (17:30).
And Allah (swt) says: "And it is not for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined." (3:145).
And He (swt) says: "Then He causes his death and provides a grave for him." (80:21).
And He (swt) says: "And there were in the city nine family heads causing corruption in the land and not amending. They said, "Take a mutual oath by Allah that we will kill him (Prophet Salih) by night, he and his family. Then we will say to his executor, 'We did not witness the destruction of his family, and indeed, we are truthful.'" And they planned a plan, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not. Then look how was the outcome of their plan - that We destroyed them and their people, every one." (27:48-51).
And Allah (swt) says: "And never say of anything, "Indeed, I will do that tomorrow," Except by adding, "If Allah wills." And remember your Lord when you forget and say, "Perhaps my Lord will guide me to what is nearer than this to right conduct."" (18:24-25).
And Allah (swt) says: "If good befalls you, it distresses them, but if disaster strikes you, they say, "We took precaution", and they turn away well pleased. Say, "Never will we be struck by anything except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector." And upon Allah let the believers rely." (9:50-51).
And Allah (swt) says: "No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being - indeed that, for Allah , is easy." (57:22).
And He (swt) says: "That which befell you, on the day when the two armies met, was by permission of Allah, that He might make evident the true believers." (3:166).
So if you doubt the intervention of Allah (swt) in your daily life because you haven't seen a miracle, or because you cannot understand how He does it, and if you doubt how Allah (swt) will fulfill His promise when He says: "And whoever is pious towards Allah - He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a decreed extent." (65:2-3), then consider how Allah (swt) already is affecting every single moment of your life by affecting all those things which you cannot comprehend or even understand.