Order from chaos

Are their any examples that order can come from chaos? I know the Big Bang wasn’t an explosion but this girl’s dad at my school believes the Big bang was an explosion and says order can’t come from an explosion. I want to show that, if possible, order can in fact come from chaos (explosion, etc.) and then tell him that the Big bang wasn’t an explosion.

Look up strange attractors. They show even in a chaotic system you can have order.

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Okay … how about this… a giant blob of hydrogen in the middle of deep space.

Pretty choatic, right? No form. No complexity …just hydrogen atoms throwing electrons around… totally dull.

But by the self-organizing principle of gravity, the hydrogen can begin to aggregate … becoming more and more dense , and becoming hotter and hotter, until, suddenly, it bursts into a fierce crucible of fusion!!! … converting hydrogen into helium … and eventually we have oxygen, carbon and several new and complex elements that never ever existed before (in that part of space that is).

And depending on the star, even if it explodes in a fiery death, it makes even more new elements.

And if some other sun has a lifespan of more than 5 billion years, the planets that may have formed in orbit around it, have more than enough time to soak in the energy from the sun and start to organize new things around this constant source of energy.

This particular “challenge” is one of the lamest in the arsenal of Young Earth Creationism… at least, it is until I discover one that would be even more lame.

Yes. Order appears in chaotic events on a constant basis. Physics and statistics majors get lots of exposure to such concepts.

I’m in a silly mood, I guess, because the first idea which came to mind was throwing a bucket of frozen hots dogs (thawed just enough to separate them) high into the air and letting them land randomly within the conditions of the following experiment:

If I remember correctly, this is just a fun version of the Monte Carlo solution to the Buffon’s Needle problem. I guess I enjoy these kinds of phenomena because they remind us that our world is packed full of “chaos producing randomness filled with order.”

Of course, radioisotope decay is classic textbook illustration randomness leading to reliably predictable order. Pick any one atom of a radioisotope, and there is no way to predict when it will decay—but if one has a lot of such atoms within a given sample, the half-life of the radioisotope can give us an extremely accurate prediction of how long it will taken one half of the atoms to decay.

The relationship between chaos, randomness, and order has always fascinated me.

(I won’t delve into it here but Monte Carlo Simulation algorithms can and are used by software writers to find orderly patterns by using randomness/chaos quite routinely.)

Theoretical physics and mathematics deal with systems, be they chaotic or otherwise. My comment is slightly off-topic but if we reflect on the quote from St Basil, (he considered a number of theories in vogue at that time} we could gain some wisdom:

Do not let us undertake to follow them for fear of falling into like frivolities; let them refute each other, and, without disquieting ourselves about essence, let us say with Moses “God created the heavens and the earth.” Let us glorify the supreme Artificer for all that was wisely and skillfully made; by the beauty of visible things let us raise ourselves to Him who is above all beauty; by the grandeur of bodies, sensible and limited in their nature, let us conceive of the infinite Being whose immensity and omnipotence surpass all the efforts of the imagination. Because, although we ignore the nature of created things, the objects which on all sides attract our notice are so marvellous, that the most penetrating mind cannot attain to the knowledge of the least of the phenomena of the world, either to give a suitable explanation of it or to render due praise to the Creator, to Whom belong all glory, all honour and all power world without end. Amen.”

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Find a picture of a snowflake. That hexagonal ordering came from a chaotic mass of water molecules.


I think we need to be careful how we describe states of matter - solids may form as crystals from liquids, but the liquid is not chaotic as opposed to a solid as ordered.

The arrangement of atoms in liquid water and ice crystals would be described as chaotic and ordered, respectively, by the vast majority of laypeople. With ice, you get these wonderfully ordered hexagonal arrangements that just isn’t seen in liquid water.

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It depends on how we describe the term “chaotic”. One approach is to begin with all systems that we do not understand are chaotic, and ones we do understand are non-chaotic. If our understanding is not absolute, we may decide these are chaotic - in which case a swinging pendulum is chaotic, the stock market is chaotic, and so on. But all of these examples are part of a larger planetary system - the topic of this thread, as I read it, is to discuss order from chaos, and that would mean (if the phrase is correct) that we begin with a totally chaotic system (the example given is the big bang) and we move to the present universe/galaxy etc. as examples of resulting order from that chaos.

That is one reason why some of us refer to mathematical treatments (stochastic, fractal) as meaningful discussions. The three states of matter (gaseous, liquid, solid)) have been studied and described with sufficient precision to warrant a description as “ordered”. However in specific cases, a treatment that uses maths associated with chaotic systems (or stochastic treatments) would be used to further our understanding.

… But of course it’s far from chaotic - due to the designed order built into water by our Creator, it forms lovely, “mathematical” patterns when it freezes.
Chaos doesn’t do mathematics.

If matter itself is capable of producing order from disorder, then why do you object to evolution and abiogenesis?

I don’t believe matter itself is capable of producing order from disorder. Only an input of intelligence can do that.

Really? That’s not what you said before . . .

“But of course it’s far from chaotic - due to the designed order built into water by our Creator, it forms lovely, “mathematical” patterns when it freezes.”

You seem to be claiming that order emerges from chaos in nature because matter was designed to behave in that way. Is that not the case?

If not, then how do you explain the emergence of order in an ice crystal from the chaos of the liquid state?


@Dredge, so you don’t believe a large cloud of hydrogen can organize itself into a burning ball of fusion?

I too was startled by @Dredge’s statement:

We observe matter producing order from disorder all the time!

Several examples have already been posted. My personal favorite is a simple viable seed. We can all agree that a seed is nothing but matter. And we can plant the seed of an oak in the ground, and if given enough years, it can build an enormous oak tree. How does it do that? It collects the disorderly photons emitted by disorderly fusion reactions in the sun and uses that solar energy to collect disorderly, scattered nutrients in the soil along with scattered disorderly, bouncing-about-randomly CO2 molecules in the air to construct lots of orderly cellulose and lignin and all sorts of complex biochemicals: an orderly tree.

Yes, contrary to Dredge’s claim, a seed produces a well-ordered oak tree from disorder!

And that seed does its building of order from disorder without any interventions from an intelligent agent.

Of course, because I’m a Christ-follower who believes that God created everything, including the physics and chemistry which makes possible chemical reactions, electron valence-bonds, mitosis, and every natural process which makes seed germination and growth possible, I do believe that an omniscient and omnipotent Divine Intelligence made it all possible. Of course, that is a philosophical and theological position, not a scientific conclusion I can reach by means of the scientific method.

Yes, I believe God is an intelligent designer who created a universe where matter and energy regularly produce order from disorder. Praise God!


I’m really surprised that Dredge made such a statement just below my post explaining how throwing randomly into the air a set of frozen hot dogs always provides an amazingly accurate determination of the value of Pi.

Anybody who has taken a university physics course or even a statistics course learns how chaos certainly does do mathematics!

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