The Mythology of Chance.
I am taking a course on probability. Here is my view based on science.
Everything in the physical universe, all events, have a cause. Chance is not a cause. It is a description. Chance doe not exist, that is, it has no ontological existence, exerts no force, and thus causes nothing. It is a description of other things which do exist and are real. This is of course obvious to me and it is normal for scientists to think this way.
I saw a book by RC Sproul, a philosopher, and he writes on the subject of people claiming chance is real and is a scientific cause. He adds:
1. Chance is not an entity.
2. Nonentities have no power because they have no being. (I knew that already).
3. To say that something happens or is caused by chance is to suggest attributing instrumental power to nothing
4. Something caused by nothing is in efefct self-created.
5. The concept of self creation is irrational and violates the law of non-contradiction.
6. To persist in theories of self-creation one must reject logic and rationality.
He further says, “I grant that bold claims to self-creation are somewhat rare in scientific discussion.”
Interesting that he was thinking about this subject.
So, why do people say things (or anything) happens by chance? The problem, says Sproul, is with the word “by”. It is an equivocation assigning instrumental power to a non-existent entity, and thus is a verbal sleight of hand. A fiction.
Well, Sproul wrote a whole book about how philosophers screwed this up and mis-characterize chance. I don’t really care about all that.
My view is it is much more interesting to study randomness as a physical phenomenon. Brownian motion, random walks, quantum mechanics, chemical engineering, thermodynamics, electron tunneling in electronics, etc, are all described by probability, which is the study of chance and randomness . Chance does not cause any of these phenomena. It describes what is already caused by and within the physical universe.
Boltzmann was the fellow who related temperature, energy, and statistics (i.e., chance)
This arguably the most important relationship in science. It tells us, out of a collection of physical events, how may events are likely to be in a certain state or condition at a certain temperature. All of the events, states, and outcomes already exist and are caused. The statistics merely describe the possible relationships and chances. The chances are not causal.
This is important for understanding the relationship of theology and science, especially evolution. You will be told that because evolution happens by chance there is no room in the universe for God. And God is eliminated. SO SAYS SCIENCE!
But evolution does not happen by chance. It happens by physics. Chance describes the outcomes. God might be eliminated from consideration by other means, but God is NOT eliminated because of chance.
The people who say chance eliminates God are people who live in a world made of fairy wings and magical beings.