God and Chance – slides
God and Chance – slides
“Evolution is a random, unguided process… and
Mr. Plantinga’s effort to leave room for divine
intervention is simply wishful thinking.”
A popular definition of randomness:
Not having a governing design, method,
or purpose; without order; without
There isn’t a consensus among experts! It’s
a family of related ideas. Two main
Absence of pattern
Is unpredictability due to the limits of
our understanding? Is the absence of
pattern due to our inability to perceive
it? Or is the randomness a deeper
property of the nature of things?
A complex ecosystem
What would it mean to say ‘no’?
With more knowledge we could predict
with more knowledge we could find
there is a hidden causal agent producing the
However, the question cannot be answered
Most likely, the situations I just described are
exactly what they appear to be – random.
Why this conclusion?
I’m a realist. Generally things are the way
they appear to be.
God isn’t trying to fool us – “The creator is
subtle but not malicious.”
The beauty of nature
Does randomness conflict with
TAC (Traditional Augustinian-Calvinist)
Yes, God causally determines everything
RFW (Randomness Free Will)
No, God created randomness (including free
will) and uses them to accomplish his
I proposed to bring forward my forces against Freewill. But I shall not produce them all for who could
do that within the limits of this small book, when
the whole of Scripture, in every letter and iota,
stands on my side? Nor is there any necessity for so
doing; seeing that Free-will already lies vanquished
Calvin and Luther’s principal insight is the
idea that we cannot save ourselves. They were
speaking against a particular abuse at their
The fields of probability and statistics trace
their origin to roughly 1640 – well after the
deaths of both Luther and Calvin.
We can affirm their fundamental insight
without affirming universal divine causal
Diffusion (air pressure)
– God can have it both ways – randomness &
– the subtlety of God’s control
God empowers and sustains nature rather
than controlling it; God gives each of his
creatures the capacity to be a causative agent
in and of itself.
Nevertheless, paradoxical as it may
seem, God accomplishes his purposes.
What’s the role of
randomness in evolution?
Each seed is the result of a random selection
from many possible genetic patterns.
Occasional mutations allow for creativity –
changes that are outside the scope of the
Some seeds succeed in passing on their genetic
material and some do not.
The cumulative effect of these changes is that
the gene pool is never static. My favorite
definition of evolution is any change in the
gene pool of a species.
Riding a bicycle down hill – I don’t need to
peddle. I just need to steer. Randomness is
analogous to gravity – it keeps the evolutionary
I doubt that we will find evidence of God’s
direct action along the way other than the big
picture of creation. (Perhaps in the origin of
life and the origin of human consciousness.)
Genesis 2:15 “The Lord God took the man and
put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and
take care of it.”
God intends for us to be stewards of creation.
To be good stewards we need to understand
how nature works. Evolution is a process we
Evolution provides raw materials that we can
use to exercise that stewardship - we can steer
Most numbers have no pattern – they cannot be
generated by any computer.
Dynamically stable systems that depend on
randomness for their stability.
God’s providence expressed in dramatically
different ways at different levels.
The incredible stewardship that God plans to
entrust to us.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and
knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths
beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God that God should
repay him? For from him and through him and
to him are all things. To him be the glory
Open future (God knows all that might be.)
Simple foreknowledge (Knowing the future
doesn’t determine it.)
Molinism (God knows future random events
and has organized the world taking all of them
I will freely admit that foreknowledge alone imposes no
necessity upon creatures, yet not all assent to this.
cannot offer a coherent interpretation of
cannot be rationally affirmed.
makes God the author of sin & denies
nullifies human agency.
makes reality into a farce.
William Lane Craig