Initial Conditions: When Small Isn’t

October 13, 2012 | Victor Carreiro

[A photo of a fractal riverbed. Fractals are naturally occurring, self-similar patterns that are very complex and incalculably detailed. While they may appear to be random and chaotic at their initial formation, they exhibit an array of beautiful complexity when fully developed.]

In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul makes a profound and universal statement concerning the causal nature of human life:

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.1

Our day-to-day lives are not confined to our own private little bubbles, but are open, relational, and socially kinetic. Every life is interwoven within the great web of humanity where each small vibration is felt as it pulsates through the social weave. Words and actions do not stop six inches from the agent causing them, but are forever released into the open world—to guide, influence, build up, or damn.

Analogously, there is a certain type of behavior which Newtonian physics describes very …
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