Abraham's Dice

Edited by Karl W. Giberson

Published in print June 2016 | ISBN: 9780190277154
Published online May 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190277185 | DOI:
Abraham's Dice

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Does everything happen for a reason? Does “God’s will,” “karma,” or “fate” provide an overarching purpose to everything? Are disasters and tragedies random, meaningless events? Or is there something to our intuition that the world has a purpose? Abraham’s Dice explores this conversation with major scholars, including holders of chairs at Oxford and Cambridge universities and the University of Basel, several Gifford lecturers, and two Templeton Prize-winners. Bestselling author Jennifer Michael Hecht notes that the Judeo-Christian tradition has wrestled with questions of divine purpose for millennia. Although the Bible affirms that God blesses the righteous in an orderly way, the story of Job is a powerful counterexample to this scheme. The achingly beautiful but tragic story of Job pushes back against the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” Cosmologist John Barrow captures the dilemma with a simple question, “Is the world simple or complicated?” He notes that simple laws of physics—like gravity—produce complicated outcomes. An ordered collection of pencils standing upright falls into a disordered pile, though the gravitational force making them fall is simple and symmetric. Reality is a tangled mix of order and disorder, pattern and randomness. Nowhere is this problem more provocatively confronted than in Darwin’s theory of evolution, explored by Peter Harrison, Alister McGrath, and Michael Ruse. Ruse argues that Darwin’s theory is so devoid of purpose as to rule out the possibility that God has anything to do with the process, pushing back against the perennial intuition that humans were purposefully created.

Keywords: providence; randomness; chance; purpose; evolution; monotheism; divine action

Book.  376 pages. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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