Foundational issues of Chaos and Randomness: "God or Devil, do we have a Choice?"

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Proceedings of Foundations of Sciences, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture (PHISPC), New Delhi, p.1–17 (2006)



This article is about two competing paradigms to explain the nature of our physical world. The prevalent paradigm is ?Randomness?, which is intrinsic in Quantum Mechanics (QM) and regarded as essential to our universe, an attribute that led to the famous remark by Einstein ? ?God does not play dice?. While Einstein?s comment is regarded by many physicists as indicating an inability of a highly respected scientist to cope with newer developments of physics, the emerging paradigm of ?Chaos? has given credence to Einstein?s skepticism. In order to illustrate the above claim, we develop a hypothetical game in which a visitor arriving on an island has to determine whether the laws of the island are governed by the Devil, who uses ?Randomness?, or by an Einsteinian God who uses strict ?Determinism? in the workings of the island. Using Chaos theory, we demonstrate that by any amount of finite measured observations, the observer cannot distinguish between God?s universe and Devil?s universe. It turns out that Chaos theory is emerging as a very useful tool to analyze natural phenomena and may even develop a more satisfying (and beneficial) alternative explanation than adhoc use of ?Randomness?, including possibly an alternative theory to deal with QM and related phenomena. We discuss another important theme in this paper ? ?Switching?. The creation of healthy and unhealthy (low-entropy) ferns is obtained through switching between simpler systems. We further discuss switching between deterministic/stochastic systems and by means of counter-intuitive phenomena like Parrando?s paradox and Maxwell?s demon, we demonstrate the role played by Switching in the creation of Entropy and Complexity. Switching between deterministic systems seems to successfully simulate the counter-intuitive effects created by Randomness.


Copyright of this article belongs to Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture (PHISPC).