1/29/2009

Chance?

I’ve been doing a little reading on Quantum Mechanics lately (see here, here, and here for interesting articles).

There are many abstract concepts that do not have any reality behind them: randomness, chance, and luck, for example. These have no bearing in the real world because they are abstract concepts used to describe things we cannot understand yet. If we knew the causal relationships, we would not need a concept of chance or probability.

I have no reason to believe in chance or randomness in the concrete sense because I believe that all events have a cause. I may not be able to identify the cause yet, but I have no reason to believe in an uncased event.

Chance has no existence. It is not a thing, no-thing, nothing. It cannot cause anything since it has no existence in reality. It has no being, and hence no power. It’s similar to the idea of a negative number. We can never find a negative number of tangible things. This is one of the first rules I learned as an engineering student to test the outcome of a classroom problem. If I had a negative length for an answer, my answer to the problem was obviously wrong.

Scientists often use the concept to describe the unknown or immeasurable events and circumstances that cause an event. Statisticians also attempt to predict the future based on “chance” or probability. It has been useful to scientific research for this purpose. It is the best way we have to attempt to predict the future with imperfect knowledge.

Chance is not some force that can intervene in the world. We do great damage to the rational underpinnings of science when we say that anything, from the evolution of man to the cause of a quantum event, is “by chance.”Take a coin flip. The best mathematical predictor of the outcome we have is a “50-50 chance.” But we cannot rationally state that chance caused the coin to land on heads or tails in a particular incidence. If we knew all of the variables involved in the particular coin flip: the distribution of the weight over the coin’s volume, the force imparted to the coin by the finger, the exact location on the coin’s surface of the force, etc.; we would be able with 100% accuracy to predict the outcome of the flip. These variables are the true causes of the heads-or-tails outcome.

Using “chance” or “random events” or “spontaneous popping into existence out of nothing” as explanations for things that happen in the world is the ultimate kind of question begging. It lets us avoid looking for real causes.

(This argument is adapted from R. C. Sproul as expressed in his book Not a Chance. Of course, any mistakes are mine.)

6 comments:

steve martin said...

I never thought about 'chance' like that.

Such an understanding might go a long way to get an atheist to look at other options!

Thanks, J.K.!

J. K. Jones said...

Thanks, Steve.

Check out Sproul's book that I referenced. He is much more articulate.

steve martin said...

J,K.,

I dunno...I think you are pretty sharp!

Take care, my Friend! God bless!

- Steve

L P Cruz said...

JK,

I like to share what I head from Prof. M. Kaku on Hawking's theory of Singularity...(re: black hole etc - theory of the big and theory of the small)

He says singularity is a term we use to hide our ignorance.

This is true with randomness.

It is a term we use to hide our ignorance of the fact that we do not know what the process is taking.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

Good to hear from you LP.

Who was it that said that "chance is only our ignorance of real causes?"

L P Cruz said...

Did I say that? ;-)

LPC

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