Friday, October 10, 2008

God and chance. Are they compatible?

I had been reading from the theologian R.C. Sproul that "if chance exists in any size, shape or form, God cannot exist. The two are mutually exclusive. If chance existed, it would destroy God's sovereignty. If God is not sovereign, He is not God. If He is not God, He simply is not. If chance is, God is not. If God is, chance is not"

I was curious if this was necessarily true, or if it would be possible for a sentient First Cause to create chance as a subservient force.

I'm not sure if I understand the logic flow in the quoted statement. How would chance destroy God's sovereignty? Is causality necessary for God to exist? If so, what about free will?

I'm sort of stumped on this puzzle, and any help would be appreciated.


Dorkman said...

The explanation is in the statement (or philosophy, rather) that "Everything happens for a reason."

If God is "sovereign," and therefore in control of everything that happens at all time anywhere in the universe, then there is no such thing as "chance." Chance implies that something happens completely on its own and without causality.

For chance to truly be chance, then even God cannot know that something is going to happen. If God knows that it is going to happen, it isn't chance, it's part of an anticipated plan. God's sovereignty (the ability to know and control everything) destroys the possibility of chance (random, uncontrolled occurrences), and vice versa.

As to your question about free will -- well, that's the problem. You can't have both free will and an all-knowing God. If God knows that you are going to turn left at the intersection, then despite all the choices you believe you have, you must turn left -- otherwise God is wrong. Therefore your will is an illusion.

If you truly have free will, then you should be able to turn right at the intersection, but that means God's knowledge could be faulty.

If both cannot be true, then the obvious answer is: one of them isn't.

Drew Mazanec said...

Nice to see you here, Dorkman!

Doug Mazanec said...

Another take on the sovereignty of God might be that God exists outside of time, while man must live within it. So while we don't know the future, and perceive ourselves as shaping it (ie. choosing to turn left at the intersection), God knows the future, has 'seen the movie', and knows which way we turn. So then is our 'perceived' free will still free will? To us, perhaps, to God, no way.

Mike Jansen said...

The sovereignty of God and the free will of man. God says He's sovereign. He also says we are accountable for our choices. I believe God is good and He's not just playing a silly game with us.

Here's the answer: Trust God that He is sovereign. Live like you have a free will. That's what God tells us to do. Part of our problem is that we think we are able to comprehend all of God's workings through logic. And we can, but not in the manner most people attempt: Logic tells me that the God who created the heavens and the earth has a much, much vaster capacity than I do and I conclude there are some things I'm just not going to understand.

So I acknowledge Him as God, trusting in His sovereignty and exercising my free will in the knowledge of His sovereignty and my accountability.