Nature is highly complex, and the only prediction you can make is that she is unpredictable.
The amazing unpredictability of nature is what Chaos Theory looks at. Why? Because
instead of being boring and translucent, nature is marvelous and mysterious.
And Chaos Theory has managed to somewhat capture the beauty of the unpredictable
and display it in the most awesome patterns. Nature, when looked upon with the right kind of eyes,
presents herself as one of the most fabulous works of art ever wrought. ~ Abarim Publications


Please know that I only have a very rudimentary understanding of Chaos Theory but even the little bit I grasp takes my breath away. It states that even though what appears to be the randomness and unpredictability of chaotic, nonlinear, and evolving complex systems (which are all of life), there are predictable principles. Four of them are: there’s order in underlying patterns, there’s self-similarity no matter the scale, fractals, and Mystery.

Chaos Theory reveals that there is order underlying chaos via patterns. Patterns may be globally alike but their individual elements are not the same. That’s self-similarity. It occurs all over nature. 

For just one example, all snowflakes look alike but no two are exactly identical. A snowflake is composed of water molecules. These molecules do not have a common nerve system, DNA, or a chief molecule that orchestrates them. Enter Mystery: How do these molecules know where to go in order to form a six-pointed star? And where do they get the audacity to form a different one every time? How does one molecule in one branch of the flake know which private design the other five branches of the flake are creating?

A fractal is a pattern that repeats in every part of itself. So no matter how zoomed in or zoomed out we are, it looks very similar to the whole image. Take one tree, for example: There’s the whole tree. Then there are the limbs extending from the tree. Next come the branches. Then the twigs. And the same progression occurs in the roots as well. Fractals surround us in so many different aspects of life. Just a few of these extraordinary ordinary patterns we see every day are in:

  • Broccoli
  • Clouds 
  • Crystals
  • Earthquakes
  • Leaves
  • Lightning bolts
  • Mountain goat horns
  • Mountain ranges
  • Ocean waves
  • Pineapples
  • Pine cones
  • Rings of Saturn
  • River networks
  • Shorelines
  • Snowflakes
  • Sunflower kernels
  • Succulents
  • Trees

Humanity is yet another example of chaos theory and fractals.Though unpredictable, there are underlying principles that apply to both individual and collective humans. Individually, for example, our brain cells, DNA, circulatory systems, and much more are all fractals. Collectively, we see patterns that apply from 9B humans living on earth through populations of regions, countries and cultures, provinces or states, communities, families and then we arrive at the individual again. We are self-similar in structure but simultaneously totally unique. 

Just one example of miracle and Mystery again: Individually, how do molecules know where to go in order to form an eyeball or a fingernail? How does a molecule in one part of the body understand the design that the rest of the body is creating and its role in that design? And collectively, how does this physical reality we’re in have the capacity and audacity to create both similarity and distinction at the same time in every one of us throughout all time and space?

Yes, all of it. What a Grand Design! And most of the time we hardly notice!


Photo by Barbara
Theo Wirth Park
Minneapolis, MN