Life as a Random Variable March 8, 2010Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs.
Tags: Christian thought, god, life, providence, random variable, Satan, statistics, theodicy, theology
Please note that the following blog entry is the product of some of my thoughts from the past day or so and I realize that the ideas presented here may have several holes in them that can’t be covered in just over 400 words.
Life is a series of variables. Some are random occurrences that take place like the roll of a dice and some are dependent upon our actions, which are in turn dependent upon a whole litany of datum from our lives, whether it is education, experience, temperament or others of untold number. Though it may be realistic for us to correctly predict the outcome of individual events or some series of events within a band of error, the quantity of variables becomes so great that it is impossible for us to map out the entirety our lives with any degree of certainty.
I say this because I find myself greatly bothered by the common idea in Christian circles that all things happen according to a plan set forward by an all-powerful God. Once we place the Zoroastrian-influenced concept of a devil in its appropriate mythological place, things become even hairier. The absence of cosmic warfare places the responsibility for evil at our feet and at the divine feet of God. Thus, we must sincerely ask the questions that bother us so without resorting to the pat answers pervading the Christian religion, particularly when it deals with events beyond our control. We look at the random misery around us – from small children dying of cancer to earthquakes decimating some of the poorest regions on earth – and we must ask the simple question, why? If God is truly good and in power of all things upon the earth, why do such events take place?
Maybe there is no plan. Maybe things just happen beyond our control, events which are beyond our ability to stop, and the important thing is how we respond to them. When the die is cast and the random variables of life turn up in a way beyond explanation within the classic paradigm of Christian thought, perhaps we would be better off acknowledging that some things are even outside the realm of God’s providence. This then absolves God of responsibility for evil and instead places the “blame” upon the random statistical fluctuations of an imperfect universe.
Stuff happens and that’s really all there is to it. All we can do is get up, dust ourselves off and move forward, keeping in mind that there is no force in this world more powerful than love. We embrace God and come to the realization that maybe some things are even outside the sphere of divine power. And that, in turn, is okay and perhaps even a bit comforting as we confront the mysteries of life.