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Thu, Jan 19 2017 - 04:03 AM

What Does God Teach Us About Chance?

The idea that there is something called chance is so firmly rooted in our culture that even Christians speak of it as real. Is the idea of chance taught in the Bible? Is there such a thing as “chance”? Let’s see.

What is “chance” as it is used today? Chance is often associated with “the roll of the dice,” or the turn of a slot machine. Statistically, when the results of a study are compared with a chance outcome, undirected events are compared with purposeful activities. As far as evolution goes, the definition of chance is clearly illustrated by Richard Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker. The sense is that the appearance of design by a purposeful Designer is simply the result of purposeless, unguided events – design is an illusion.

So if we want to define “chance”, perhaps the best definition we can find is that chance – where there are one or more unguided, purposeless events – produces some sort of result. Is the reality of this “chance” taught in the Bible? What does Scripture say about the events in human experience?

One of the first passages that comes to mind is Matthew 10:29-30. Let’s say that you are driving down the open highway. All of a sudden a sparrow darts in front of your car and you hear the sickening sound of him hitting your grill. Neither you nor, surely, the sparrow had purposefully designed this to be the outcome. Yet, does Matthew 10:29-30 leave this event a matter of blind chance? Do we know what God’s purpose was in allowing this to happen? Does our lack of understanding what God’s purpose might be here make it a chance event?

We hear about, and sometimes experience, events for which we can understand no purpose which God might have. Think of one or two of these. Though these are very perplexing in light of a ruling, wise and loving God, does our lack of understanding make them meaningless? Name some attributes (characteristics) of God which we don’t have, which would account for our inability to find meaning in these perplexing events.

Read Acts 17:26-28. Is it exactly accurate for men to take full credit for the rise and fall of nations and empires? Do nations rise and fall by chance? Here, things are less perplexing, for we are told God’s purpose in determining these events. What is His purpose? Can you think of some historical examples of where this purpose is easy to see?

Let’s make this even more personal. Read Psalm 139:16. Refer to our definition of chance again. Does this verse leave any room for chance in a person’s life?

Scripture, in fact, never speaks of chance. However, the word “chance” does appear a few times in the King James translation. Read 1 Samuel 6:9. Once you have read this verse you should now read the surrounding verses to see the context of this verse. Who is speaking the words of verse 9? Does this lead us to believe that the Philistines believed in chance? But did the unescorted Ark head toward Beth Shamesh or in another direction? So what did the Philistines have to conclude – was chance or purpose involved in the consequences of their contact with the Ark?

The word “chance” appears in a more difficult context in a few other passages. Read Ecclesiastes 9:11 and 2 Samuel 1:6. Without a little understanding of the Hebrew (and forgetting that the Bible elsewhere rules out “chance”), one might think that these verses are teaching that there is such a thing as chance. Though each of these verses use different words, in both of these verses the sense is not that of today’s meaning of chance. The Hebrew words do not even hint of a purposeless, unguided event. Rather, they suggest that the actual turn of events were not the events which were anticipated by the actors – not that the events were purposeless and/or meaningless chance.

The word “chance” is also found in the King James translation (and many others) in the New Testament. Compare the use of the word “chance” in Luke 10:31 ff, with the definition we looked at.

A second usage for the word “chance” is found in 1 Corinthians 15:37. What familiar English phrase appears to compare with this usage? The Greek here literally says “if it may be so,” which compares to the English phrase: “Oh, say, for example…” or, as the New King James translates it, “perhaps.” Does this usage teach chance as the modern world believes in the idea?

So we see that the idea of “chance,” to which evolutionists – including many theistic evolutionists – attribute much of the form of today’s life and world in general, is a figment of the imagination. Many ancient peoples as well as modern believed in “chance.” They believed, as many still do, that there are factors a Creator is not directly guiding. This is an essential element of paganism. Chance is not a helpful scientific concept either.

The Bible and the example of God’s people show us that there is no such thing as chance. No matter how small the event, God is personally involved in the entire thing in order to work out His purposes. Science, then, seeks to find the way in which He usually works in repeatable situations.


From Creation Moments


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rdrcofe - 1 year ago

( Are not two sparrows sold for an assar? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father; ) Mat. 10:29.

This is the literal translation of the verse. It does not necessarily imply that God The Father controls and initiates every minute or seemingly insignificant event in time and eternity. It can be read as meaning that The Father is present in every moment of every creatures existence and chance events cannot therefore separate us from the love of God. In other words there are possibly many things which just happen, not because God actually intended them to happen but because they just happened. God is Aware of everything which happens and may step in, in certain special circumstances, to initiate or prevent some events from happening. That does not mean however that God The Father is the actual CAUSE of EVERY event.

The sparrow that hits the radiator of your car is the unfortunate victim of circumstances. If your car were not travelling at that speed, on that highway, at that instant in time, or the sparrow chose another moment in time to fly in front of your car the collision would not occur and the sparrow would meet his eventual demise in some other way at some other time. By chance the sparrow and the car collided, resulting in the death of the sparrow. God was however AWARE of the circumstances and decided, for reasons known to himself alone, not to intervene. But death is inevitable anyway for both US and sparrows, given the way things are, and the saying of Jesus is aimed not at convincing us that God is responsible for causing EVERY event, but rather that every event is known to God and no matter how disastrous it may seem to US it can never separate us from Gods love and care for his creation, of which we are ALL a part of, even lowly sparrows.

The problem of having a predestinational view of events, with God controlling and initiating every single event down to the quantum level, removing ALL possibility of chance, is that God then becomes logically responsible for every event, however it occurs and by whatever means it may have happened. All human responsibility for SENSIBLE decision making would therefore be irrelevant, since God could then be presumed to be responsible for every event, and God presumably knows best when he makes anything happen. Why then bother to behave responsibly?

Responsible behaviour reduces the frequency of chance events. That is why aircraft maintenance, for instance, is required by law and carried out by responsible people and why God can hold us responsible for our actions, (quite apart from us suffering the consequences of our own foolishness, if we negligently disregard His Laws.

So I believe there is certainly room for the concept of chance in scripture, What I also believe however is that tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword cannot separate us from the love of Christ. In all these things, (which may or may not happen by chance), we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Regards Chris Medway.