Posts Tagged chance

No such thing as random

Think of a number between one and ten.  Got it?  Odds are good you picked 5.  Also good you picked 7.  Most of us already have a favorite number picked, just waiting for someone to ask for it.  One of the big misconceptions about computers is that they can create random numbers.  They don’t.  They aren’t physically able to.  When we ask a computer for a random number, what it does is takes the date/time of the request, runs it through a complex mathematical algorithm, and returns the result.  If the time is set when the program is compiled, the request for a random number will give the same number every time it is run.

When we roll a 6 sided die, we would not have any chance of knowing the outcome of the roll with our un-enhanced, physical senses.  For the sake of any dice game, we call this random.  But, if we adjust the weight of the die so that it will more often come up with a six, it may still appear random to others, but we know it will not be.

Now then, if you could know the exact makeup of every surface of the die (not just the six obvious sides of the die, but the positioning of each atom), and also the makeup of the surface it will be landing on, as well as the rotation of the die, minor air currents, air temperature, lighting, various other substances on the die (sweat, skin, etc), and a number of other variables I’m not thinking of right now, you would be able to predict, with 100% accuracy, the result of the roll.

In the film “Jurassic Park”, they described this (rather badly) as chaos theory.  For them, in a nutshell, you can’t know all of the variables involved to predict any outcome.  As a limited human being, I agree with this sentiment.  There are people who are better at subconsciously taking account of these variables, but none of us is able to handle the sheer amount of data involved in predicting the outcome of even a simple flip of a coin.

This is where God comes in.  I do believe He is able to know all of the variables, and where needed, can make slight adjustments.  Nothing usually as blatant as knocking down a potential home run ball or goal kick, but in the setting of one particular atom reacting with others around it.  This is many orders of magnitude beyond what we can manage right now.  Even with computers, we have a hard time predicting the weather on any given day, but God knows where the rain needs to fall, down to the last drop.

This does not preclude choice on our part.  Think of it as knowing that God has the whole world in His hand, even accounting for all of the variables we introduce.  For God, random does not exist.


, ,

Leave a comment