"The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order...":
Insights from the Science of Chaos

By Jena Khadem-Khodadad

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #128
Louhelen Bahá'í­ School: Davison, MI
October 9–12, 2014
(see list of papers from #128)

Next presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #137
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, CA
May 26–30, 2016
(see list of papers from #137)


    These prophetic words of Bahá'u'lláh, launch and illumine this session. This statement attributes the prevailing world disequilibrium, turbulence, and disorder to the destabilizing impact of the emerging new world order- introduced by the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Moreover, the statement: "Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead" [GWB] confers assurance that, in time, a new order will replace the present day order.

    Turbulence, disequilibrium, and apparent disorder, are all features associated with the process of Chaos; the science of Chaos portends the emergence of order out of apparent disorder. Our times display the characteristics of a true Chaotic process.

    The term "chaos" - in common usage - is applied to systems that are disorderly. However, the science, of "Chaos", tells us that there is a process which appears disorderly on the surface; albeit, it camouflages an emerging order. Therefore, it is important to be cognizant of two types of "chaos": 1. A process which is disorderly with no emerging order and 2. A process which appears disorderly but results in the emergence of order. For this presentation, "Chaos" is used with capital C as in "2", above. Such a process can give rise to a higher level order. The process of Chaos may be distinguished by its mathematical feature of fractals. [Fractal: a mathematical feature of chaos. Fractal is derived from the word "fractional"; it signifies any image or process that displays the attribute of self-similarity at all scales. Simply put, fractal is repetition of a pattern or property at all levels of magnification and enlargement. Thus the same pattern or feature is repeated at each level.]

    The Science of Chaos

    The science of Chaos, along with relativity and quantum mechanics was one of the major theories of science in the twentieth century. The process of Chaos was predicted early by James Clerk Maxwell, Noble laureate physicist. His essay contains the essential ideas of the modern Chaos theory, "sensitive dependence on initial conditions;" that is a very small change (in non-linear systems) under appropriate condition can have a very large outcome. This concept is described, poetically as "the butterfly effect" of the science of chaos.

    The implications of Chaos are sweeping. Chaos is entailed in the workings of the twin processes of disintegration and integration explained in the Bahá'í­ sacred scriptures. The science of Chaos sheds insights on the tempo and tenor of our times. Insights imparted by the science of Chaos on the course of human history and the attainment of a global civilization are of particular interest. Furthermore, the "butterfly effect" of Chaos holds implications for a significant enhancement in the growth and advancement of the Bahá'í­ Faith. These points will be introduced in this presentation.

    (There are numerous publications on the science of Chaos. See Prigogine, Ilya (Nobel Laureate), and Isabelle Stengers, Order out of Chaos, Bantam Books, 1984. For a comprehensive introductory book on Chaos see Gleick, James. Chaos - Making a New Science, Penguin Books, 1987).


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