Chance Does Not Cause Anything

When we make statements that something is ’caused by chance’ or similar, it seems modern man confuses the cause with the description of the effect.

Many a high school math class has spent a period in the lunchroom throwing a pair of dice and counting how many times each number comes up. The result is described as a random distribution, and whether or not a seven is thrown is often described as a result of chance. However, chance per se does not cause the dice to arrive at their result. The numbers are caused by how the dice are held in the hand, the force with which they are released, the angle to the table, the air reistance, and the friction against the surface they hit. If all these variables could be precisely controlled, the same number would arise every time.

When we speak of the numbers thrown by a pair of dice, or any other such event, we are not speaking of the cause, but of the effect. The number seven will arise more often than any other single number, but the number distribution will generally follow a standard deviation pattern of a bell curve. The chance of any individual number arising is said to be by chance. But as we have pointed out, the numbers arise due to the way the person throws the dice. The throwing of the dice requires an agent, driven by a mind, and how the agent throws the dice.

Chance, therefore, is a description of an effect, and is not a causal force. Chance has no power, cannot make decisions to act, nor decide how to act to produce the effect. We can speak of things happening by accident, but we realize that there was an agent, or at least some sort of active force, that caused the event.

But what of inanimate objects? Could it not be that, for example, a pipe wears through and results in sudden burse of hot water scalding a duck? Yes, but this still has a cause, namely the agents decision on how thick to make the pipe, how often to maintain the plumbing, and the duck’s decision to walk near the pipe. Chance is not a causal force in such cases.

Nothing is caused by chance. Effects with random distributions are produced by agents who act with a purpose. Thus nothing in cosmology or biology is the result of pure chance.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Chance Does Not Cause Anything

  1. bbrown1 says:

    More the opposite. “Chance” is just another name, or an aspect of entropy, the second (God-given) law of thermodynamics. All things, without a greater force or intelligence, tend to disorder, randomness, and ever lower states of energy.

    All exceptions to this law point to something beyond nature that creates order (and beauty). This is nowhere more evident than in the creation of new life. So the empiricist’s or Darwinist’s attribution of order in the universe to “chance”, is not only without sense in many ways, but is more an argument for a Creator or a theistic God.

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