God and chance

“God does not play dice”
– Albert Einstein


Einstein was wrong. God does play dice. What Einstein was referring to was his own rejection of a chaotic universe. Instead, I believe that God invented the game, but that He indeed does allow a certain amount of random chance within the constructs of the game He’s created.

Some argue that even God does not know the outcome of these ontological dice He rolls, until they settle. Such is a proposed solution for the problem of Free Will. Succinctly, how can people have freedom of choice within a deterministic creation?

The notion of predestination is impossible to avoid, as it relates to nearly everything in life. For instance, survivor’s guilt — that pang of disbelief in surviving a traumatic experience and being left to ponder why comrades weren’t spared.

Or another is country of origin. How is it that I find myself born to the greatest country of the world, into the One True Religion of the world, during the greatest moment in history? All three of those criterion constitute a very narrow window of opportunity for birth. What were my chances? Let’s take a look:

World population (on April 1, 2000) = 6 billion {1}
U.S. Population (on April 1, 2000) = 281,421,906 {2}
Percentage of Protestant Christian Americans (2001) = 36.6% {3}
========
1.7 people in 100 are born just like I am.

Those are fairly narrow odds. This leads me to conclude one of two things:

Postulate 1) My birth was preordained by the Architect of my faith.

In other words, these odds are slim enough to believe that an act of God intervened on my place in history.

Postulate 2) The criteria of my birth do not hold the significance that I believed.

In other words, what I believed separated me from all the other poor saps on the planet may not be all that. My Muslim counterpart in some (more than likely) un-democratic society in an Arab country (more than likely) wants nothing to do with Western democracy. He wants extremist governance like I want my decadent freedoms.

He also does not believe himself to be damned to an eternal pit of hell. He believes at least as strongly as I that his way is the true Way. In fact, he believes it so much that he and his fellow believers are willing to destroy themselves for their belief. Liars don’t die for their causes. Lunatics might, but who can judge lunacy?

And finally, as far as eras go, he and I both share this same time: now. My present is blessed with the modern conveniences that my American republic government affords me. His is presently cursed with war and turmoil, not necessarily borne out of his own religious background, but possibly from imperializing countries like my own.

So what are the odds? Which way of life is better? Is there actually a cultural superiority to one government, one religion over the other? Did God play dice with us like lab rats in an infinitely complex experiment? Or is all that complexity a finely tuned machine, with an immaculately ordered outcome, wherein one side truly is privileged?

What are the odds?

Footnotes:

  1. General population data taken from the U.S. Census Bureau []
  2. ibid []
  3. Religious population data taken from Adherents.com and About.com, Religious Affiliation []

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4 comments

  1. Hmm, yes indeed. I heard another recent analogy that I hope is untrue. Went like this: “God’s a kid with an ant farm.”

    However, I have to question my reasoning for hoping that isn’t the case. Is that arrogant of me to believe He wouldn’t derive pleasure for observing us like so many ants? Would it be arrogant of the ant to have that view of the kid?

    Paul certainly has the humble view of an ant in Romans.

  2. you know, i think it was hunter thompson or thomas pynchon that described the universe as a cosmic game of pool in which god was hitting balls and scattering them about into a chaos that he did not control.

    makes an interesting addition to the dice you are referencing…

  3. “My Muslim counterpart in some (more than likely) un-democratic society in an Arab country (more than likely) wants nothing to do with Western democracy. He wants extremist governance like I want my decadent freedoms.”

    Please study Islam a little more thoroughly. Muslims do not exclusively want extremist governance; some Muslims want to be ruled by a State that upholds their religious laws – but the same is just as true of Christians in the United States. Some Muslims want democracy. Some Muslims don’t even care about politics.

    But a great number of Muslims believe that every religion reveals part of God’s truth. Don’t you think, given that God has allowed some dice into the universe, that it’s possible that Islam is as much a part of the plan as Christianity?

    Best wishes,

    Chris Bateman.

  4. These are fair questions, Chris. My apologies for stereotyping. I must say that my thoughts on such things as this post and in my comment have changed since I first wrote them.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the discussion.

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