Time and Chance

Amir Aczel notes in his book on chance and probability that people have for centuries refused to believe their world was arbitrary. [1]  They want to believe that something more than mere chance governs the events of their lives.

Most of us need to believe there is a reason for our existence, that there is a purpose for our lives, that this universe is not random.  This is just another way of saying people want their lives to have meaning.  Just how deeply this idea is embedded within the human soul is demonstrated by Nietzsche’s statement:  “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how” [2] and by Viktor E. Frankl who recounts his experience in Hitler’s death camps.  Frankl noted that people with a less hardy physical makeup often survived while those with a more robust physical makeup died.  His explanation for this phenomenon is those who could find meaning in the suffering of the death camps were the ones who survived and their physical makeup was of secondary importance.  He states:  “this striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man” [3]

This effort to find meaning in our lives is one reason why people believe in a God who controls events on our earth, in a God who is involved in our lives.  Bettelheim says we need a God who protects and controls because that gives us a sense of security which frees our curiosity which gives us the ability to explore. [4]  However, Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us:

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

Does God control all the events in the universe and in our world or does chance?  Is our belief in a God who is involved in our personal lives valid?  These are the issues we will explore in the coming blogs.



[1]   Amir D. Aczel, Chance (New York:  Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2004), p. viii.

[2]   As quoted in Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1984), p. 9.

[3]   Ibid., p. 104.

[4]   Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment (New York:  Vintage Books, 1977), pp. 49-50.

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