Friday, May 20, 2016

Frame vs. Poythress on the Notion of ‘Chance’

As a matter of thoughtless routine, Christian apologists the internet over love to accuse non-believers of believing in “a chance universe.” Typically the drive-by apologists who repeat this charge don’t elaborate on the matter or explain what exactly they mean. But it’s clear they think this is in itself a most damning infraction inherent to “atheism” (as though atheism were a “worldview”).

But what do apologists mean by “chance” in such contexts? Well, I’ve not found any definitions for this radioactive term in any of my bibles. We could infer from the context of apologists’ own statements, but this leaves the burden of divining the meaning of what apologists intend to say too much on the shoulders of those who are trying to understand them. Can’t apologists make their own terms clear? Can’t they explain why the charge of “believing in a universe of chance” is really so dreadful?

To put it mildly, apologists give mixed signals on the matter.

For example, according to John Frame’s A Van Til Glossary:
Chance: Events that occur without cause or reason.
And here’s Vern Poythress in God in Mathematics:
For Poythress, chance is not chaos, it is simply missing knowledge.
Wait, huh? And these guys are their own tag-team?

Oh, and how would I inform the proper meaning of ‘chance’? Been there, done that. See my blog entry The Concept of “Chance”: Right and Wrong Uses

by Dawson Bethrick


Ydemoc said...


Thanks for yet another blog entry. And "The Concept of 'Chance': Right and Wrong Uses" is definitely well worth another read through.


95BSharpshooter said...

They conflate "random" and "chance".

As usual, their rhetoric doesn't equate to anything resembling knowledge.