Prophecy – it’s not all doom (or chaos)

Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, physics, economics, and philosophy studying the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.

the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable

an arbitrarily small perturbation of the current trajectory may lead to significantly different future behaviour


Although not a scientist I have started recently developing an interest for putting relatively eccentric looking scientific facts next to everyday, common sense induced knowledge to see if I can find a common ground.

Let me give you an example:

Predicting future has always been a subject of strong interest for people since ages. Although Nostradamus is in vogue in various circles I am specifically looking into the profecy as an activity met in religious environment; profecy being defined for the purpose of this article as an action of making predictions by religious people in the context of a more or less formal religious activity.

I am also attaching disparate fragments from the definition of the chaos theory extracted from Wikipedia.

Chaos theory

systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions

not predictable

small perturbation lead to significantly different future behaviour

Let us imagine that prophecy is a legitimate scientific activity (imagine I said :)) and let us see it in the context of a such “highly sensitive to initial conditions” system

First of all it seems that prophecy makes sense in an world of such systems: we don’t need predictions in stable, predictable, insensitive systems (if such systems exists)

Now I’ll try and overlay the two and see what’ s coming out of it.

Prophecy takes place in religious systems highly sensitive to initial conditions (the impact of the founding teachings of the Christian religion throughout its history)

The evolution of such religious systems was not and still isn’t predictable; prophecy can bring more sense in the planning process (the majority of Christians in the first century believed that the end of the world would hapen during their time)

Small perturbations in a religious system may lead to significantly different evolution of it therefore prophecy can play a certain role in preparing people for the outcomes (Catholic Church would have done it better should it predicted the success of Luther actions)

I’ll take a break here with the following:

Whitcomb in The Magician’s Companion observes,

One point to remember is that the probability of an event changes as soon as a prophecy (or divination) exists. . . . The accuracy or outcome of any prophecy is altered by the desires and attachments of the seer and those who hear the prophecy.

See here

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