Re: Randomness

From: Walter Hicks (
Date: Mon May 27 2002 - 06:04:06 EDT

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    Hi Terry,

    Thanks, that does help to clarify. I basically believe the same way.
    However, one
    has to accept the fact that God allows us to have free will and to sin -- thus
    allowing a lot of evil to exist in the world.

    I feel even more strongly about so called randomness with respect to scientific
    phenomena. There really is no such thing as "random" in the sense of
    predictable by
    probability only. There are complex factors that come into play (such
    as in a coin
    toss); however, it would be quite predictable if we knew the initial
    Even the uncertainty in QM is something which most likely indicates
    that we do have
    a total grasp of what is going on in our present theories.

    Randomness and probability are simply was of expressing our own ignorance about
    what is going to happen.



    Terry M. Gray wrote:

    > Walter,
    > I don't think that Jonathan or Loren or anyone else citing Proverbs
    > 16:33 is suggesting this as a means of decision-making.
    > We're simply saying that even in random events like the casting of
    > lots (random in the sense that they follow the laws of statistics)
    > that God determines the outcome. Thus from God's point of view there
    > is no randomness.
    > This applies to dice-rolling, lot casting, the statistics of genetics
    > (my kids all had a 50:50 chance of being a boy or a girl, but God
    > determined which one they would be), which DNA bases are affected by
    > a mutagen, which organisms in a population dies in some catastrophic
    > event (where selection plays no role in survival), etc. We're saying
    > that God is in control even of these apparently random events. This
    > is why Jonathan finds this to be a great source of reassurance and
    > comfort...we believe that things that appear to be rooted in random
    > causes and not to make any sense are rooted in God's purposes and
    > plans.
    > Thus we must distinguish between randomness and purposelessness from
    > man's perspective and randomness and purposelessness from God's
    > perspective. From all appearances, the sorts of things that create
    > variation for natural selection to work on in evolution (mutations,
    > recombination, independent assortment, etc.) appear to operate
    > according to the laws of statistics, i.e. they are random. They are
    > also purposeless in the sense that the random event is not happening
    > in order to produce an end result. This is how things are described
    > from a scientific point of view.
    > This does not mean, howeve,r that they are random and purposeless
    > from God's perspective (and ours from a theological perspective). As
    > God determines the outcome of the casting of the lots, God determines
    > the outcome of mutations, recombinations, and other random physical,
    > chemical, and biological events. The result is that God's precise
    > purposes are accomplished in the evolution of life.
    > I know that my strong view of God's sovereignty described here does
    > not speak for everyone. It is highly compatible with my general
    > theological (Calvinistic) and philosophical orientation. I think the
    > 19th century Calvinists had a much easier time accepting Darwin's
    > theory because of this. Darwin struggled with the theodicy question
    > and could not come to view God as being in such control because of
    > that. Historic Calvinists (and others) have "dealt" with the theodicy
    > question to their satisfaction and so the existence of theodicy in
    > evolutionary considerations is just another already solved case.
    > These issues continue to be with us to this day. I think that one of
    > the motivations for Howard Van Till's exploration of process theology
    > (and the process theologians themselves) is this question of
    > theodicy. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" -- "God can't be
    > in control or it would be his fault," they say. So we end up with a
    > God who isn't in control, who merely persuades (rather than coerces
    > [not my words]), who can't stop bad things from happening to good
    > people, etc.
    > I prefer to just bite the bullet with respect to theodicy (as the
    > Bible seems to) and affirm that God is fully in control, that God is
    > good and just, that God's ways are not our ways, that we are not God
    > and cannot fully comprehend his ways, etc.
    > Hope this helps.
    > TG
    > >Jonathan Clarke wrote:
    > >>
    > >> Hi Walter
    > >>
    > >> You wrote in part:
    > >>
    > >> > I've seen that before (on an ASA website) and I think that
    >it is a bit
    > >> > scary. If I take you literally, I should just toss a coin for my
    > >> > decisions knowing that nothing is random and God is in charge of the
    > >> > outcome of the coin flip.
    > >> >
    > >> > No Thanks :)
    > >> >
    > >>
    > >> Why do you find this scary? I find it a great source of
    >reassurance and
    > >> comfort in the greatness and sovereignty of God.
    > >
    > >I just find it to be overly presumptuous to think that God would answer
    > >my prayers or questions by communicating via the toss of a coin. If you
    > >make your decisions that way, perhaps you could give some examples of
    > >how well it has worked for you.
    > >
    > >Walt
    > >
    > >===================================
    > >Walt Hicks <>
    > >
    > >In any consistent theory, there must
    > >exist true but not provable statements.
    > >(Godel's Theorem)
    > >
    > >You can only find the truth with logic
    > >If you have already found the truth
    > >without it. (G.K. Chesterton)
    > >===================================
    > --
    > _________________
    > Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    > Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    > Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
    > phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801

    Walt Hicks <>

    In any consistent theory, there must exist true but not provable statements. (Godel's Theorem)

    You can only find the truth with logic If you have already found the truth without it. (G.K. Chesterton) ===================================

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