15. The Butterfly Effect
On pages 85-87 of The Mind of God, chaos theory is briefly discussed. It appears in the center of the chapter titled Synchronicity and the Nature of Reality. This is not by accident. There are several concepts that I wanted to introduce here, including complex systems, fractals, "strange attractors," and the "seagull effect," later known as the butterfly effect. These concepts help to expand some of the deeper implications in the book. For example, it is believed that dreams may be fractal, or self similar in their content. Arthur Young's process theory, an organizational pattern that appears to apply to all of creation, also has been shown to be fractal.
The butterfly effect was first discovered by Edward Lorenz in the 1960s while he was using computer programs to model weather behavior. He found that one tiny change in atmospheric data (like the beating of a butterfly's wings), was sufficient to produce significant weather changes. He demonstrated that complex systems can be extremely sensitive to very small changes in input data. The implications to us are vividly portrayed in a film titled The Butterfly Effect, which was released in January, 2004. The film shows how events and different decisions we make in our lives can have widespread effects on other people over time.
The Mind of God purports that synchronistic events may represent a form of "orchestrated causality" by unseen intelligence in a complex system to bring about certain purposes.