Is there randomness in nature?
Perform this simple experiment. Flip a coin. Will the result be heads or tails? Who knows? The result is entirely random, right?
No. You placed the coin on your thumb with the head or tail face showing. The flick of your thumb caused the coin to twirl at a set rate and fly through the air at a particular arc. The wind was just so and its bombardment with airborne particles just so that it landed on the ground on a particular edge. The velocity from the fall caused it to roll for a bit before winding down to reveal the face that will always provide these same exact results given all of the same physical conditions should you repeat this experiment forever.
So, here’s the deal. Either the universe is just an unfolding from the Big Bang (or the moment of creation) with some guises of randomness like our coin-flipping example, or randomness must be built into the system.
If randomness is not built into the system, then if a particular god knows and controls everything, then theists would have to admit their god and universe was predeterminist. For Christians, this is Calvinism. Calvinists ameliorate discomfort of living in a predetermined universe by simply presuming that they are part of the group that is saved. Now one can ask, “If everything is predetermined, what does it matter if I believe in God and follow him or not?” Well, basically, if you continue to serve God, you continue to assure yourself that you are part of the saved group.
But can’t God use randomness? Well, it depends on your theology. If God is omniscient and all powerful, no. If God knows everything, then there is no randomness. If God employs randomness, then he is not in control and is not all powerful.
For the atheist, these are much more mute points and academic. For all intents and purposes, we humans have evolved and interpret life as if it contained randomness. Consider any coin toss. We are not aware of the predetermined outcome set by the thumb flick and all the physical factors acting on the coin. We operate as if randomness existed even if it doesn’t. I don’t see how a theist can operate that way.
Now, I’d like to discuss the Calvinism debate through the lens of quantum physics, but I’d also like to discuss this question: Can evolution and meaning occur without randomness?
3 days ago