Truly one of the magnificent parts of creation of God is the paradox of randomness and order within the Creation. There is randomness within orderly systems, from the largest, that is the Universe (the Cosmos), right to the smallest, which are the atomic particles (the quarks, etc.). The paradox is that the reverse is also true: there are orders within randomness. The question is: how could orders exists within a random process? Isn’t that anything that is random – is described exactly as something that can’t be ordered or without any order? This is what I am trying to closely examine.
First, let us try to understand randomness. Anything that is unpredictable is called random. The unpredictability is due to the process that is random, or statistically speaking: a random process. Just like a coin toss, or roll of a dice. You can’t predict the exact outcome beforehand. There are many things in nature which is generated from random process. Just like how many leaves a tree will have, or how many branches it will grow, and how many flowers and fruits it will produce. Just look at the clouds: is there any visible patter to it? And how many drops of rains it will produce, and where and how the drops will fall on earth? All are random. But is there any “order” in that randomness that we could observe?
Sometimes our imagination will tell us that there are some patterns in the clouds, as much as there are some patterns in economic data, such as stock prices. Even coin tosses could develop some patterns that may induce the observer to say that the tosses are not random and the coin is biased (for example, the probability of 5 straight heads is quite probable). Many times we are fooled by randomness (as coined by Nassim Taleb), due to our inherent biasness, as well as we are easily tricked by our own imagination and perception. Things that are random be thought of as having orders. This is NOT the order that I meant. Because, orders, as truly it should meant, could not be random.
One important element of randomness is TIME. It is the ONLY factor that makes some things to be random. Some things are random because, only because, it’s outcome is not known beforehand. If the outcome is already known, it is no longer random, but we call it an observation, even though the process itself could be random. Time is the essence of randomness, without the element of time, nothing is random. In fact, time eliminates randomness.
God created time (and space), and hence He created randomness. Through time, He created randomness, which in turns, we understood it as uncertainties. For example, a farmer who depended on rainfalls would have to deal with such uncertainties, which could well make him better off or worse off (he needed the rain to fall). For that, we call the farmer to be facing the risks. Risk is the result of uncertainties, which is due to the dependency of on the random nature of events.
And in this regard, we could say that Einstein’s statement that “God is playing dice” with us is rather true.
Now let me go back to the issue of randomness within “order”. It is easy to understand, if we think that all random events are derived from a system, for example, a roll of dice. Yes, the outcome is random, but it would be limited to the number 1 to 6, and not 7. That is the “order”. In another word, only the outcome is random, but not the process itself: the process is orderly. Otherwise, it would be total chaos. And this is the beauty of God’s creation. (Ma tara fil khalqi ar-Rahmani min tafawut: There are no defects in the creation of ar-Rahman, Surah Al Mulk). Nothing in the Creation is out of the knowledge of Allah, every tree, every leaves, every drop of rain, every single movement of atomic particles, and so on. In fact, all of them are functioning by the WILL (Iradah) of Allah, as He says (Iza Arada syai an an yaqulalahu KUN FAYAKUUN: Whenever Allah will’s something, He just say to it: KUN, be, and it will BE, FAYAKUUN).
When we study scientifically all the random events of nature, or of human beings, yet, we had hard time to discern the order(s) that governs it. For example, we may say that a certain things may follow a certain process which generates a Normal curve (or even any converged Gaussian curve); and yet we observed far too many outliers (i.e. observations that are extremes). We behave (because we use predictions) as if those certain things are not NORMALLY possible to happen, such as last year’s flood in Kelantan (which occurs once almost every 40 to 50 years). And yet this NOT NORMAL thing happens all the time. By right, if we could understand and fathom the “order” of things, we could have at least predicted with some confidence, occurrence of some extreme events; but we couldn’t and failed at the attempts all the time. Why?
Because, yet, there is another element: randomness of the order itself. What I meant here is, even a certain order exists, and the “arrangement” of those orders could be random. Just take an example of two urns: one urn consists of 10 black balls and 5 white balls, and the other consists of 5 black balls and 10 white balls. You could well predict the results from each urn, but what if the urns could be switched randomly in between the process? In another word, the orders are further randomized.
This is how we could understand the Creation of Randomness and Order of Allah. There are layers of randomness and orders; layers upon layers. It is interchanged between orders, randomness within that order; the orders themselves are randomized yet within another system, and so on. And all are being layered through TIME. Just imagine that TIME is not a factor to consider: then, the whole orders, and randomness, and randomness of orders, etc., are no longer a mystery. But alas, we live in this world, through time, and therefore, we are fully at His Mercy.
And that’s why, the fifth Pillars of Faith: is the believe in Al Qadha’ wa Al Qadr (the fate). If we understand that, then there is no paradox at all between randomness and order. It is just Allah’s creation to test us so that we submit to Him: tawakkalna ‘ala Allah, la hawla wala quwwata illa billah.