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What Is Chance?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 30, 2021 12:01 am

What Is Chance?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 30, 2021 12:01 am

It's nonsensical to claim the universe was caused "by chance," as this turns chance into a magical force that has the power to create reality. Today, R.C. Sproul reveals what we're really saying when we assert that something happened by chance.

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We say that something is caused by chance were saying is we don't know what caused we don't know why it happened. We are expressing not a new form of magical causality, but we are expressing our ignorance. You notice when scientists talk about the new version of the earth. They referred to it is a cosmic accident that happened simply by chance, billions of years ago. The idea is if they push it far enough back in time. The folly of their thinking.

Might be a little easier to accept their formula goes like this. Space plus time plus chance equals the universe, but if you think about that logically. Space plus time plus chance equals nothing today. I'm Renewing Your Mind.

Dr. RC schoolhouse is logic to show that it's nonsensical to say that the universe was caused by chance. As we continue now with our discussion of cosmology and the relationship between theology and the one hand, and science. On the other which is given rise to so much debate and so much controversy. I think it's important for me at this point to make something clear that should be clear already and that is that I am not a physicist nor am I an astronomer. My field is the field of theology and apologetics, but I dare to speak on the subject for two reasons. First of all is, in spite of our living in a time of intense specialization in fields of academic discipline. One cannot study any particular area of investigation for very long without bumping up against other fields of inquiry because that's just the nature of the whole scope of knowledge and as a theologian, I'm profoundly interested in theories that are set forth about matters such as creation questions of the nature of the cosmos and of the origin of the cosmos. So my interest in physics and astronomy is pretty much limited to that place where these disciplines bump up against theology. The other concern however that gets me engaged in.

This is as incompetent as I feel myself to be to evaluate the inductive research and the data that is being explored and analyzed by the natural scientists.

I am interested in understanding the way in which these ideas are articulated.

That is my concern again has to do with the formal side of the scientific method. The side of deduction. One does not need to be a physicist, a biologist or a chemist to be able to examine the cogency of inferences that are drawn from various data that gets us. As I say into the formal realm the realm that involves the use of logic and language logic and language.

We are all involved in that enterprise are trying to speak in an orderly cogent manner about the things that we study notes important for us to understand something about logic. Logic, which is the formal side of the scientific method has no content logic gives us no information.

There is no data found within the confines of logic. All logic does is major.

The rational relationship between propositions more than 2000 years ago.

Aristotle, who did not invent logic but rather defined it and discovered it argued that logic itself is not a science but rather it is what he called the Organon which is the Greek word for tool or instrument all science. Let me say again. Aristotle said that logic is the Organon for all scientific inquiry what they mean by that. He said that logic is necessary for intelligible discourse. If I say to you, for example, that the piece of chalk I'm holding in my hand right now is not a piece of chalk if I save this piece of chalk is not a piece of chalk.

I have not spoken intelligibly. I have contradicted myself in the second premise. From what I asserted in the first premise and so now logic as the policeman on the beat on the corner.

He comes along with his big stick and he hammers me on the head and he said no, no, no, no, that doesn't compute the statements that you have made. Do not fit together in a rational manner. Now if we are students of logic and, consequently, students of language, we should be able to evaluate the statements that people make. Regardless of the scientific discipline from which they are speaking we are involved in analyzing these things now all of us are engaged in another aspect of science, which is what is called taxonomy. PAX ONOMY taxonomy. Now, if you recall, back when you were in junior high school when you had freshman biology you learned that term.

I promise you, you learned that there.

You may have forgotten that term. Since then, but the word taxonomy has to do with the science or the discipline of classification remember in biology you had to learn the different kingdoms in the different orders in the different phyla and genus and species and all that sort of thing we divide the world between animals and plants in vertebrates and invertebrates and mammals and reptiles and so what what is going on here in that classification system is this whole business of taxonomy in this enterprise began.

According to the Bible in the Garden of Eden.

The first scientific mission to which Adam and Eve were assigned was the business of taxonomy.

They were called to do what to name the animals I could've done a very simple way. There's a duckbilled platypus there's a giraffe there's an elephant.

There's a rhinoceros roast and so they put names or labels on individual kinds of animals.

Now this may sound like an extravagant overstatement, but I am convinced that in the final analysis, all of science is nothing more and nothing less. Ultimately, the taxonomy of various degrees of precision as we learn more and more and more about reality, we make closer and find her distinctions among various things we measure, we observe, we experiment in order to understand similarities and differences among things.

The doctor who is a capable diagnostician has to be able to know the difference between a common ordinary stomach ache and a life-threatening cancer. The two symptomatically may be similar at first glance, but he probes deeper and deeper into his examination not only to discern the similarities among various maladies, but also to discover the distinctions among the that's taxonomy, that's the science of learning with precision now what does that have to do with our discussion about creation well again, what logic and taxonomy do are a couple of things in the first place.

As I said, logic is no content, no data, it can't really prove anything, but it can falsify. That's the policeman on the corner.

If I draw inferences from my data which inferences are contradictory. The logical alarm bell goes off and the policeman stands up with his club and says your conclusion is false. Violations of logic falsify assertions and propositions now again were concerned about taxonomy. Is this in the process of taxonomy what were really involved with is the process of individuation, individuation.

Let's take a word like this. Share if I asked a simple question. What is a chair but would come to your mind. Well say well I think of a overstuffed chair I think of I came back chair.

I think of the captains chair. I think of an aluminum chair or I may think of the canvas back to all different kinds of chairs in the world and yet the word share separates all kinds of things from all kinds of other things we understand there's a difference between a chair and an elephant. Although you can sit on an elephant and you can sit on a chair so there's also some similarities between a chair and an elephant. How do we individuate a particular chair and recognize it as exactly a unique particular item will all of that involves looking at reality and in the first instance noticing similarities and we group things according to similarities. This is what taxonomy is all about. And then after we group them according to their similarities than what we do we separate them according to their differences. Now this kind of thing can get easily confused and muddled and our language becomes fuzzy and at times irrational now what I'd like to talk about today significantly is the language that is used in contemporary society of chance.

I mentioned that chance is not a thing and has no power, because it has no being.

And yet we find people using the term chance frequently, as if chance were indeed a thing, not just a thing but a powerful thing powerful enough to create the whole universe and so what I'm asking today is this what is the meaning of the word chains I said briefly in our last session, the chances of perfectly legitimate and useful word that we have in our vocabulary and in our language to describe mathematical possibilities and it's important to understand statistical possibilities in many many different areas of our lives we say what are the chances that such and such will come to pass. That's a meaningful question or will use the term chance for example in common speech to refer to certain events that take place without a particularly known because we speak of chance meetings or chance encounters last year came into the train station union station in Chicago.

One morning about 9 o'clock and as I was walking through the train station among mobs of people who were coming to and fro the convinced commuter trains, as it were, I suddenly recognized a man carrying a briefcase who I hadn't seen in about 15 years and I said how how are you the guy that design.

Mr. peanut we used to call him Mr. peanut man asked about how are you and is are saying we had a nice reunion and talked about this chance meeting and he went on to work and I went on to spend the day in Chicago and I was leaving for Los Angeles at night on the evening train and I came back to Chicago station around 5 o'clock and as I'm walking to the station or dispose. I bumped into the same guy he was coming home from work back to the suburbs of that was a chance meeting, not in the sentence that there was no cause to it. But in the sense that I did not go to the union station in Chicago with the intent of meeting Al younger and he did not come to Chicago's union station with the intent of meeting me and since neither one of us, intended to be at the same place at the same time. In this day in history we say that the meeting was a chance encounter because neither of us intended. But that is not the same thing as saying that our presence at the same place on that day was without a cause or without reason is simply what we experienced was the intersection of several causes and reasons working there way out. So we have to be careful to understand that there is a legitimate use of the term chance and unfortunately what happens in the logical arena is a subtle error takes place, which is a classic fallacy in logic which we call the fallacy of equivocation. Now equivocation takes place in an argument when the meaning of the term changes also subtly in the middle of the discussion. My favorite illustration of that quickly is the old syllogism that proves that cats have nine fails, I asked people to catch up nine tails and mostly no so I can prove to you that cats have nine tails missing let's see it now say okay to cats have eight tails and they'll say no, honestly, any cat have a tails is a no ice okay will my first premises has eight tails from a really great semester. Two boxes here in front of us in one box is empty.

The other box is a cat and it only more cattails are in the box with the cat. Then there are cattails in the empty box simple mathematics which the answer, only more cattails are in this box that in this box 1 cat here here one more right okay so one cat has one more tail. The right felt no cat has a tails and one cat has one more tail. The no cat than we prove it to a date that one cat has nine pants what's going on here.

You believe that I has a wonderful real estate for your Florida. What is happened in this specious form of argument is that the term no cat has changed its meaning in the middle of the discussion that that's what happens with the term chance I like to refer to some scholars from the scientific and philosophical community who have these things to say about the language of chance. First of all Paul Jenae makes this comment. The chance is a word void of sense invented by our ignorance.

Now I have to quibble here for moment with Jenae and that is because the word chance is not devoid of sense.

We've already seen that it has meaning. It is an appropriate word to refer to certain things like probability quotients, but what Paul Jenae is saying is that chance is void of sense if we mean by it. Something that exercises real power and he says that it is invented by our ignorance of Giacomo's wife says quote.

Let us stop talking of chance or luck, or at most speak of them as mere words that cover our ignorance. David Hume, the great Scottish philosopher made this comment chance is only our ignorance of real causes. All three of these men have said virtually the same thing and then use the same word to describe the misuse of chance. What word is it the word ignorance when we say that something is caused by chance were saying is we don't know what caused it. We don't know why it happened. We are expressing not a new form of magical causality, but we are expressing our ignorance and how does this happen and what is my complaint with respect to sloppy language that I hear coming out of certain circles.

In our society. When the Hubble spacecraft was launched a few years ago I was driving my car down the highway when I was astonished to hear a broadcaster quote a very famous physicist in America and astrophysicist and he was rhapsodic about his hopes for what the Hubble spacecraft achievement. He made this comment he said 15 to 18 billion years ago the universe exploded into being now is one interested in being interested in the science of ontology in philosophy and theology. I almost drove my car off the road and had an action is what did he say is a brilliant astrophysicist but he just went to sleep.

He said 15 to 18 billion years ago the universe exploded into being.

What did it explode from nonbeing that it not be before the explosion. If it didn't exist before the explosion, and what was it that exploded is a I'm saying not to be a physicist. You don't have to be an astronomer to see that that's a nonsense statement, the policeman from the corner comes over and says hold you just made a statement that is analytically false only give you some other examples of this sort of thing. Nobel prize-winning scientist made the comment that then this day and age, we can no longer believe in spontaneous generation. I was glad to hear that Iran the say that now science requires us to believe in gradual, spontaneous generation and again I did a double take as a gradual, spontaneous generation that is something cannot suddenly quickly spontaneously pop into being by itself. In order for that to happen. It takes time, while another Nobel laureate seconded the motion and made this comment.

One has only to wait time itself performs the miracle the impossible becomes possible.

The possible, probable, and the probable certain what begins as an impossibility becomes certain through miracle and the miracle is performed by the causal agent of time. What is time premises way. What are its dimensions with its ontological substrate time is not a thing. Time has no power.

Time has no being. But here again word magic because this man is telling us that spontaneous generation can happen given enough of nothing. I see it this way, space plus time plus chance, how many otherwise brilliant people I've heard use this formulation for creation space plus time plus chance equals the universe with this amounts to is nothing plus nothing, plus nothing equals everything the nadir of this discussion is reached when I received the letter from a scientist who had read my book, not a chance where he was complaining about my critique of nothing and told me in his letter that science has now been able to isolate and identify five distinct types of nothing and ask him what is it about type I of nothing that differs from type II in the taxonomy of nothingness.

What is it that nothing number two has that nothing number 1X. What's the answer. Nothing that once a we have five different definitions for nothingness. That's a legitimate state but to speak soberly of five kinds of nothing illustrates the failure of the deductive side of the scientific method to prevail.

We live in an age when reason and logic have been abandoned to. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland telling McQueen that she couldn't believe in impossible things, and the queen replied, I daresay you haven't had much practice. When I was your age and I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday, timely web and we are thankful for Dr. RC Sproul's careful examination of the myth of chance. The message we just heard is from Dr. Spruill series creation or chaos. RC looks at all sides of the conflict between self creation theories and the rational idea of a creator like for you to have the six part series so contact us today with the donation of any amount and will be glad to send it to its contained on a single DVD.

You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 but you can also go online to make a students of all ages are bombarded with this worldview in this video series provides a firm foundation for them in a helpful response.

Answer format well-suited for Sunday school or small group study. So again request creation or chaos by Dr. RC Sproul with your gift of any amount or web address again is Renewing Your and her phone number is 800-435-4343. This series is also one of many courses available at Lincoln interconnect when you sign up for a community subscription, you unlock a library of video courses for your family Bible study or church.

You can study together online from an ever-expanding library of interactive video courses that you can learn more when you go to connect.Lincoln will Dr. Spruill series exposes the folly of this secular worldview regarding the origin of the earth, and it points us to the ultimate truth of the matter self creation is a logical impossibility.

Self existence isn't and what Christianity asserts is that God is an eternal being who exists in and of himself. He is not an effect. He didn't have a beginning, nothing produced him. He is eternal. I hope you'll join us Friday for Renewing Your Mind and another message from the series creation or chaos

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