6 thoughts on “Chance or design?

  1. Chance or design, that is the question.

    What seems to be lost on those who “prove” atheism by the supposed chance occurrence of all that we see, is that chance or design is not either/or. Design is the platform on which chance occurrences can happen. Otherwise, chance can only result in chaos. (A familiar word from our understanding of the story.)

    An example. A roll of a die is a chance occurrence, a fair die yielding equal probability of each of six outcomes. The chance occurrence of a seven is impossible–as dictated by the DESIGN of the die.

    Flip a coin. Just two possible outcomes, by chance, and a result of the DESIGN of the coin and its toss.

    Or consider this (somewhat embellished) scene from “our story.” One of the Pharisees who challenged Jesus to pay his temple tax goes back to the Sanhedrin from his encounter, and says, “You won’t believe the incredible luck of that itinerant preacher from Galilee. We told him to pay his delinquent tax, and what does he do? Has his buddy bait a hook and throw it in the lake. The fish he catches has the temple tax coin in its mouth! Is that a million-to-one chance or what?”

  2. Joe, you are right in that you say chance can be part of a design process. However, the die illustration you used is rather simplistic and stops short of addressing the application of such an illustration. Here’s what I mean: you said “A roll of a die is a chance occurrence, a fair die yielding equal probability of each of six outcomes. The chance occurrence of a seven is impossible‚Äďas dictated by the DESIGN of the die”. True. BUT, the only thing that this proves is that you can’t get a seven from one die!

    The illustration is better served by expressing it in game speak. For example, to get to the finish line in snakes & ladders I might need to roll a six. I have a one in 6 chance. Just because I can roll a five and can’t roll a seven is of absolutely no importance to me when I need to roll a 6.

    Here’s my point: the intelligent design model looks at what is required to “get to the finish line” and takes the “die” and “places a six”. The chance model takes a “die” and “rolls it” until it comes up with a “six”. How long that takes is pure chance. So the question ISN’T “chance or design” but “how long?”. How long would it take to come up with all the factors that are involved in designing the world as we know it (taking into account that all of the conditions needed must be timed correctly to coincide with each condition)?

    In my opinon, when I look at even the simplist cell and the conditions that need to exist to make it “happen” and then put those occurances down to the design by chance model is more unreasonable than understanding that if there is a design there nees to be a designer

  3. Same: I see your point, but my point was this: whether you use the “intelligent design” model and place a six, or whether you roll till you get a six (and repeat the process enough times to get a living cell!), you don’t roll a die at all unless the die is designed, a priori.

    Therefore, it does not matter whether the universe has provided enough “time” to yield life by chance occurrences. If chance occurrences only take place on a “platform” of “designed” entities that must exist for the chances to be possible in the first place (like the random occurrences of 1 thru 6 on a die) then the design of the random occurrences imply a designer just as surely as the design of the living cell implies one.

  4. Same: Whether chance occurrence can cause something so complex as a living cell is beyond my ken. (I am inclined to believe that it cannot, and I perceive this to be the penultimate weakness in the argument by some that evolution proves there’s no need for a Creator. Near as I know, no one has come close to explaining how a living cell arose from non-living things.) (The ultimate weakness of the inference of no-God from evolution is this: if indeed all life arose from one cell, which in turn arose from some happy accident involving non-living entities, where did the original entities come from?)

    But back to the question whether “chance” could result in a living cell. I think the answer hinges in part on what was there to work with before the living cell emerged.

    The answer also hinges in part on a deeper question of the nature of “chance.” Seems to me that “chance” is the name human beings give to processes that are either not understood in themselves, or processes we could understand if we had all the data, but can’t get all the data. Many times what we call chance occurrences really are determinate, if only we knew all the inputs. A simple example is this: if we knew precisely the impulse of the thumb and its position on the coin, we could calculate its trajectory and spin and know in advance whether heads or tails. (A coin flipping machine has actually been created which flipped heads every time!) This was the point of my fanciful story about the temple-tax coin. What we perceive as a chance occurrence (a million-to-one shot!), God always knows the outcome of, and for all we know directs the outcome of. Take the rare “random-chance” gene mutation posited as the essential step in evolution creating new species. If the atheist says that was a chance occurrence, and I say it was a directed miracle, on what basis could anyone say I was right or he was?

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