Wednesday 7 April 2021

There is no such thing as luck, chance or randomness - and this fact should have profound consequences

One of the habits I strive to discard is to stop my lazy and ingrained habit of (not) explaining things as a result of luck, chance or randomness. 

Since I inhabit God's creation, there is no possibility of anything of this kind. If every specific event is not (cannot be) directly purposive, then surely it is part of some larger purpose. 

There are two possible purposes: Good or evil, divine or demonic. 

Some things happen because they are part of God's creative purposes, others as a consequence of evil choices by demonic beings or humans. It may be important to know which - yet even evil purposes will - in the course of time - always be turned to make opportunities for Good choices, for the chance to grow in a positive spiritual way. 

For example, the 2020 coup to install a totalitarian world government and fake-birdemic response is surely evil in motivation, and needs to be recognized as such; yet it has led to many opportunities for pursuing God's purposes. 

It has made discernment easier, has shocked some people to an awakening, it has led to some positive re-evaluations of life and priorities - other possibilities could be added. 

So it is both true that evil triumphed in 2020; and that God has turned that triumph to make many new Good possibilities.  

Yet it is typical that God's plans are the fastest, most powerful, and have the fewest adverse effects; and God's re-purposing of evil will be very much a second-best; less sure and slower, and with more and nastier down-sides to the right choices...

Nonetheless, God's creation will always be working to keep creating opportunities for Good, from time to time. 

But this eschewing of luck/ chance/ randomness has some tough consequences. For a start, it undercuts both pride and resentment; since our basic situation in life (body, mind, environment) has been 'designed' for our own personal best learning of that which we most need to learn. 

There is no space either for self-congratulation or for guilt at privilege; nor for self-pity and resentment at the bad hand dealt. 

That old phrase "There, but for the grace of God, go I", is revealed as wrong, and mischievous - because in a strict sense there is no greater fortune nor misfortune in these things. 

The only valid metric is spiritual and needs to focus on the understanding that this mortal life is primarily a time for learning. 

One who fails to learn has failed in life, has utterly wasted his life - whatever the comfort and pleasure of that life. And vice versa - a life that appears materially dire may be a glorious triumph at the spiritual level.   

However, this fact is for each to discover for himself - I cannot know what God intended for other people, nor can I know the sequence of choices that led to a person's present position; hence I cannot dictate the proper meaning of another's life. 

(Although, equally, I can and should make my own judgment about other's lives, and may need to advise others accordingly. That, too, is part of what we are meant to learn.) 

But I can and should learn what is intended for me; by discerning and choosing well, as my life brings me my needful opportunities - which it surely will. 


Alex said...

"The only valid metric is spiritual and needs to focus on the understanding that this mortal life is primarily a time for learning. "

Not to sound too negative, but this sentiment strikes me as an intellectual import from New Age teachings. If we look at the Bible and messages conveyed via apparitions and such, I do not get the impression that "meaning of life" = learning.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alex - I've written extensively about this on this blog:

The Bible is not explicit on this matter of what mortal life is for. Indeed, I have not found this question adequately answered by mainstream Christian theology (probably because of the monist, Platonically-influenced metaphysics into which Christianity was uncomfortably levered at an early stage; and the attempt to manufacture too much continuity between the Old Testament and the New) So I needed to answer this vital question for myself, using resources from Mormon theology, Steiner, Barfield, Arkle and personal philosophical work.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

How can there be no such thing as chance? Only if God directly controls everything and all is fated. If free will is real, if there are multiple agents who are truly free and who make their choices independently, those choices will interact in unpredictable and unintended ways, and coincidences will occur. I think belief in the reality of chance is an inescapable consequence of metaphysical pluralism.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I meant *in* God's creation. For this to be creation, entails no chance. Chance is the opposite of purpose (purpose is from beings). Interaction of purposes is not chance - but creation itself.

I envisage creation (albeit crudely) in terms of a continual process of overall-shaping and directing these interacting multiple agents purposes.

What there is (other than creation and evil) - is entropy. Entropy is the consequence of "multiple agents who are truly free and who make their choices independently, those choices will interact in unpredictable and unintended ways" - when these choices are not harmonized by love.

Thus, this world is all temporary and a halfway house of creation, where creation is continually being dismantled by entropy. In this mortal world, God's 'will' is top-down.

Heaven is the way of overcoming entropy, by harmonization of purposes with God's creation; and Jesus Christ was the making of Heaven. In Heaven, God's 'will' is built-in, permeating, everywhere (voluntarily).

Grossly simplified - but I think it's something like that.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I’m just thinking of concrete everyday examples of coincidences, such as unexpectedly running into an acquaintance while shopping. If I am free and my acquaintance is free, we may independently happen to choose to go to the same place at the same time — and I don’t see how this is an example of creation, or evil, or entropy.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I think the difficulty you have is that you assume a complete separation of consciousness as the basis - whereas originally consciousness was unified, pooled - and therefore everything was coordinated spontaneously. i.e. Even though Beings were separate, their consciousness was not.

Through history, human consciousness separated and now it seems to us as if we were entirely autonomous - and we feel it necessary to explain how any cooperation or coordination is possible. But it may be more accurate to assume that what keeps things working is the primal union of consciousness, which is all the time stopping the world from descending into chaos and flying apart.

So everything we do is invisibly being coordinated in countless ways: in a sense, there are countless synchronicities all the time; and if there were not - life would not continue.

Modern people might explain this in terms of 'telepathy' - but this is a communication between separate beings, assumed to have no link unless by specific telepathy; but consciousness is actually the ground or matrix that makes life possible in the first place.

So, Final Participation is more like a recognition of what was always true, rather than forging a new kind of cooperation.

Bruce B. said...

I know this is an Atheism 101 objection, but where do non-moral-choice “evils” like natural disasters fit in this?

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - My understanding is that earthquakes etc are the product of Beings that we would conventionally regard as non-alive and non-conscious - but which are actually alive, conscious and purposive; albeit in a different and 'lower' ways than plants or animals. e.g. Beings of the sun, the earth itself, and presumably other beings on or within the earth... In other words, God's creation is a living 'animistic' universe, as all humans spontaneously know to be true (young children, tribal people, presumably our ancestors).

I have often written about why we should assume this living/ conscious universe - one simple argument is that there is no coherent argument or evidence to divide the living and 'non-living' worlds; e.g. no adequate line can be drawn between biology and chemistry; there is no good (or even accepted) theory about the 'origins of life'.

Therefore, since they cannot be divided we must either assume that *every-thing* is alive (in various ways) or that *every-thing* is 'dead'/ non-alive - as assumed by mainstream modern public discourse.

There is a much longer discussion of this subject here: .

Geir said...

The meaning of life is learning (I have a hunger for learning which I had from before I remember and I am sad about all the things I did not engage in learning more about in my boyhood, youth, adulthood) - and subcreation, that is, the application of what you have learned.

The learning, and subcreations by oneself and others, should therefore produce gratitude, being thankful for all you are given and are able to experience, primarily to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and humility because you have been given so much for free.