Faith & Science Exchange at Trinity (FASET) Illustrated Talk

DOES GOD PLAY DICE? Are they loaded?

Paul H. Carr, Ph.D. (
Air Force Research Laboratory Emeritus, Hanscom AFB, MA

3:00 P.M., Sunday, March 9, 2003 Trinity Episcopal Church, 81 Elm St, Concord, MA, 978-369-3715

Albert Einstein once said, "I am convinced the Old One (God) does not play dice." He and Houston Smith reflect the old metaphor: chaos and randomness are bad. Scientists have recently discovered that many phenomena, from the fluctuations of the stock market to variations in our weather, have the same underlying order (1, 2). Natural beauty from plants to snowflakes is described by fractal geometry. Tree branching from trunks to twigs has the same fractal scaling as our lungs, from trachea to bronchi. Each generation is a fraction smaller than the one before. Algorithms for drawing fractals have both randomness (symbolized by dice) and global determinism (which loads the dice.) Fractal statistics is like picking a card from a stacked deck, rather than one that is shuffled to be truly random. Darwin's theory of evolution is similar to fractal analysis: the randomness of mutations and global natural selection. I will show how chaos theorist Joseph Ford's new metaphor is replacing the old:

"God plays dice with the universe, but they're loaded dice,"

The polarity of randomness (or freedom) and law, characterizes the self-creating natural world as well as national governments. Polarity is in consonance with Taoism and contemporary theologians such as Paul Tillich, A. N. Whitehead, Gordon Kaufman, and Teilhard de Chardin. Global laws and randomness can be used to understand our religious tradition. Global laws are analogous to traditional liturgy, such as the Lord's Supper, which never changes. Randomness is an element in the "whisper of God's grace."


From 1967 to 1995, Paul H. Carr, Ph.D., (physics, Brandeis Univ.) led the Component Technology Branch, AF Research Laboratory, Hanscom AFB. His 80 research papers and 10 patents include contributions to microwave ultrasonics, surface acoustic waves (SAW), and superconductivity. He is a Life Fellow of the IEEE and a life member of the American Physical Society. His biography is listed in Marquis' Who's Who in America.

   Paul H. Carr studied religion at Harvard (Paul Tillich), Boston University School of Theology, Andover Newton, and Boston College. He taught the philosophy course "Science and Religion: Cosmos to Consciousness" at the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 1998 to 2000. The John Templeton Foundation awarded him the following grants: (1997) Science and Religion Course Grant, (1999) Session at the International Paul Tillich Society Meeting, and (1999) Course Development Grant.

  1. Gleick, James, 1987, Chaos: Making a New Science, New York, NY, Penguin Books
  2. Peters, Edgar E., 1994, Fractal Market Analysis: Applying Chaos Theory to Investment & Economics. Wiley