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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is there such a thing as chance?

A couple of months ago, I posted on "Origins 101." Julana, one of my faithful readers and commenters, commented as follows:

I think it's hard to argue for the existence of chance, in a purposeful universe, when you posit an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
It may be more difficult to argue against determinism.

I heard a friend use the terms "God's permissive will" and "God's active will" once. I understand the intuitive concept, but wonder how they could be logically worked out.

That's a most interesting, and important, idea, Julana. If there is an omnipotent, omniscient God, then how can there be any chance? As C. S. Lewis put it in The Silver Chair, "There are no accidents."

To begin my further consideration of this topic, I went to the Bible. I found just two references to chance:

Ecclesiastes 9:11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (ESV).

Our Lord, Himself, spoke of chance: Luke 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. (ESV)

This is in a story, namely that of the Good Samaritan. I think it would be dangerous to take it as a proof text for the existence of chance in the world, especially in inanimate objects, since it is about a choice made by a (possibly fictional -- perhaps Jesus made up the story to illustrate His point) human being, but it seems to me that it would be dangerous to ignore the use of that word completely, either. As to the verse in Ecclesiastes, I'm not sure that that can serve as a proof text for the existence of chance, in the sense of events that God doesn't control, either.

Here's a post that considers chance and creation seriously.

I hope to consider this matter further in the future. I'm not sure that I will come to any definitive conclusions. Note that this blog advertises itself as "musings . . ." on various topics.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your comment, Julana.

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