Children of Chaos

Cat_in_the_box2…The Tyranosaur doesn’t obey any set patterns… The essence of chaos.  It [chaos] deals with predictability in complex systems. The shorthand is the ‘Butterfly Effect’. The butterfly flaps it’s wings in Beijing and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine… I’m going too fast, I did a flyby…  ..Tiny variations [that] never repeat and vastly effect the outcome… [that’s] unpredictability… See, here I am by myself, talking to myself.  That’s chaos theory…  – Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Jurassic Park.

We are all children of Chaos. Unpredictability. Dr. Malcolm said “Life finds a way.” Fifty six years ago a man named Edward Lorenz created a weather-model on his computer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That’s when the fun started. Complex mathematics are used to model all kinds of things. Climate is one of them, weather is another. This is why the Global Warming, er, um Climate Change, er, um Climate Disruption alarmists are just that; alarmists.  Weather and Climate can neither be modeled nor predicted with any accuracy. It’s too complex. And besides, most of the alarmists can’t tell the difference between weather and climate.

Constant Change is here to stay. Long before Lorenz’s extremely complicated models of weather came something else. Werner Heisenberg (No, not Walter White, though he named himself after the scientist) came up with the uncertainty principle. You might call it ‘unpredictability’, but it’s not really the same thing.  But it cast some long shadows on Quantum Mechanics and velocity versus location.  To give the ‘Butterfly Effect’ shorthand of uncertainty, it’s possible to know how fast a subatomic particle is traveling, or you can find it’s position, but you can’t do both. In fact, physicists have shown that just the act of observing particles changes their behavior.

So Chaos Theory is the science of ‘Surprises’, it deals with the macro physical world and the Uncertainty Principle describes is the science of particles and waves (well OK, particle physics is probably too much for this blog…) that pretty much says the very concepts of exact position and exact velocity together, in fact, have no meaning in nature.  Try explaining that to the cop who has just given you a speeding ticket; “Officer, you may have thought I was going 85 MPH, but I wasn’t really there, and this formula PROVES it…”

So what the Fuck does all this have to do with substance abuse and the twelve steps? Well the debate rages about a ‘Higher Power’ a power greater than myself. The very first step of the book of Alcoholics Anonymous (or any other ‘Anonymous’ group) states:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or fill in the blank) – that our lives had become unmanageable

So if I’m powerless, I’m pretty screwed. But, and it’s a big but, the second step takes some of the sting out of it:

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

My college ‘career’ took me down a number of paths.  I have stated in a previous post about Blind Faith I started out as a scientist. A Biologist, a Mathematician and an Engineer. There seems to be some thought that there is a dispute between Science and Spirituality, a rift if you like.  And perhaps that’s true, but I’ve never found it so. As a matter of fact, the more I’ve learned about the universe, the more I am certain there is what some call ‘intelligent design’ or ‘creation’.

All the crap I talked about in the first four paragraphs of this post convinces me that all this shit you see all around you didn’t just happen. It’s far too complex. Look out beyond this planet to the infinite reaches of just our Galaxy, let alone the Universe and you have to be in awe. Look down at a micro view of cells, DNA, Photosynthesis, and consciousness, and you’ll know something’s up. It didn’t just happen. Then go further into some of the more recent stuff like particle physics where there is some kind of magic that goes on at the atomic and sub-atomic level, you’ll need no further convincing that something is in charge that’s a power of some sort that’s WAY greater than we mere mortals.

That’s my purpose for bringing up Chaos. We are ALL children of chaos. My father who was an atheist would argue that if there is an all powerful god, a force, why would he let people suffer? My rebuttal? It is not GOD who let’s people suffer, it’s other people who do that. Total and random Chaos. The things we as humans do to both ourselves and one another is what wreaks havoc with the Garden of Eden.

We kill, maim, beat, abuse and torture one another. Totally random chaos. We are children of chaos. People not only abuse animals, but like animals, we abuse one another. We verbally, emotionally and physically misuse one another with cruelty or violence, regularly and repeatedly. Why? I would chalk it up to Chaos. We are children of Chaos. Parents, siblings, teachers, ministers, priests, police, politicians, kings, queens, proletariat and bourgeoisie. Man, woman and child, we are chaotic, self centered, self-seeking and proud. Sinners if you like, one and all, what I call (really from the Greek translation of ‘Sinners’, see my post on ‘My Part in It’) Missing the Mark. We failed to hit the target.

But there is a better way. We owe it to our fellow humans to become better human beings. And yet I’m conflicted about it. Do I have to give up everything to do that? Must I become a martyr or a doormat and loose all of myself? No, and it comes down to spirituality, connecting with that power ‘greater than myself’ and trying to do my best. Stop being a liar a cheat and a thief. Stop being an asshole and self-seeking, egomaniacal, megalomaniacs. Just stop the Chaos!

Well, it ain’t easy being human. In my head I have an accelerator and no brakes. Self will run riot as our book of Alcoholics Anonymous states. We are children of Chaos. And there’s only one way to stop being a child of Chaos. Learn to become a human being. Try to not let those animal instincts of fear, insecurity and anger get the best of us. Become aware. Don’t let those chemicals get us by the throat. It’s quite a paradox. Like Schrödinger’s cat, can we be Dead and Alive at the same time?

Schrödinger’s cat paradox is another trip into my days as a mathematician and a physicist, this time involving a scientist’s idea of how those invisible sub-atomic ‘things’ are both waves and particles at the same time. Its an amusing ‘Thought Experiment’, an imaginary concept, and quite clever, but mostly only for nuclear physicists, who love to ponder this crap. Here’s how it goes.

My cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity (i.e., a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. Schrödinger’s interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, my cat is at the same time alive and dead. When I look in the box, I see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. The quandary of being human. Am I human or inhuman. Do my animal instincts take over and in the interest of self preservation, I take the alpha male position and dominate everything around me or do I become kind and benevolent. Or can I be both, can I be like Schrödinger’s cat? I’m not going to subject any of my cats to this experiment. I kinda like them all, vicious, nasty killers though they be. And besides, this is one of those ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ paradoxes. It’s all in how you frame it or rationalize it to yourself.

Let’s just say there is good and evil in the lives of human beings. We make a choice every day to do good or to do evil, and we battle with those two voices in our heads. What is real and what is not. Am I my thoughts or am I an observer? How do I get to that point where I’m peaceful, serene, am not obsessive, depressed or anxious?

Well, in my case, I work on a single purpose. I try not to drink. It’s an obsession with me, alcohol. There are those who believe it’s a choice, to drink or not to drink. They’ve told me I just love the sensation of being in an altered state. To them I say yes, the altered state I’m looking for is anesthesia. Freedom from all the emotional pain and turmoil that is the committee in my head. And so Yes, they are right. I am obsessed with not feeling anything. I like it. But am I going to give in to that obsession? No.

And how do I stop that obsession? I go outside myself to whatever or whoever really knows how this Chaos works. I HAVE to go outside myself. I can’t do it alone. And I have lots of friends who are with me. And I have faith that this ‘Higher Power’, my spiritual alter ego, the God Piece, as I understand it, will fill that great big hole in my middle that is Chaos…