“Butterfly Effect” • A butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing affects the weather in Corsica. • The flap of a butterfly's wings in New York City causes an earthquake in China. • A butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas. • A butterfly in Java waves its wings and, as a result, the weather in Chicago turns nasty.
MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz • Speaking to the American Association for the Advancement of Science • (1972)
Apparently we want to believe in this myth, that small, unknown actions occurring far away may end up having a great affect on our lives, and there’s nothing we can do about it - we are at the mercy of such random occurrences.
Randomism is the extreme opposite of fatalism – • everything is already set - nothing we do or say can alter the inevitable outcome.
The children of fatalism: • belief in astrological signs • biological and psychological • determinism
One consequence of fatalism is despair. What’s the use of thinking, planning, preparing, working hard or even praying? • The same consequence can be found at the other extreme, randomism.
“To a Mouse” • by 18th century Scottish poet • Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Little, sleek, cowering, timorous beast, • O, what a panic is in your breast! • You need not run away so hasty, • With bickering brattle! • I would be loath to run and chase you, • With murdering prattle!
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion, • Has broken nature’s social union, • And justifies that ill opinion, • Which makes you startle • At me, your poor, earth-born companion, • And fellow mortal!
I doubt not, sometimes, but you may thieve; • What then? Poor beast, you must live! • A meager kernel in a bundle, • So small a request; • I’ll get a blessing with the rest, • And never miss it!
Your wee bit house, too, in ruin! • Its silly ways the winds are strewin’! • And nothing, now, to build a new one, • Made of moss green! • And bleak December’s winds ensuin’, • Both swift and keen!
You saw the fields laid bare and waste, • And weary winter coming fast, • And cozy here, beneath the blast, • You thought to dwell - • Till crash! The plow cutter passed • Out through your cell.
That wee bit heap of leaves and stubble, • Has cost you many a weary nibble! • Now you’re turned out, for all your trouble, • From house or hole, • To bear the winter’s sleety dribble, • And hoarfrost cold!
But Mousie, you are not alone, • In proving foresight may be vain; • The best-laid schemes of mice and men • Go oft askew, • And leave us naught but grief and pain, • For promised joy!
Still you are blessed, compared with me; • The present only touches thee; • But ouch! I backward cast my eye, • On prospects drear! • And forward, though I cannot see, • I guess and fear!
“random” • First meant “at great • speed” then came to • mean "carelessly, and • haphazardly" • Now random is defined as being “without definite aim, direction, rule or method - haphazard, showing the result of accident rather than design - implies little or no guidance by a governing mind, eye, or objective. Being at the mercy of chance.”
Biblically informed Christian faith has no relationship with randomness, chaos, chance, happenstance, or coincidence. • True, anything can happen, and it probably will - - if it is directed by an all knowing, all wise, all loving God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28 • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13 • “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (KJV)
Jeremiah 29:11-13 • “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)
KJV vs NIV • "thoughts" not "plans" • "peace" not "prosper”
Joseph, like the mouse in Burns’ poem, was run over by the plow of his brothers’ jealousy, was nearly killed, and then sold as a slave.
When Joseph was finally able to confront his brothers, he said – • “You intended harm, but God intended good. God wins.”
As usual, the promise of Romans 8:28 has a limitation - not everyone can rightfully lay claim to it.