Something unknown to us is by definition random and unpredictable. Scientifically, whatever appears random and unpredictable is so because of our ignorance.
Randomness = Ignorance = Unpredictability
The ways of God often appear strange, inexplicable, and sometimes downright cruel. And the less we know about Him, the more is He seemingly random, unpredictable, and inconsistent with anything that would make sense to a mere mortal. How often have you heard the question posed: “If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?” Who is more likely to pose this question, a Christian, or someone arguing with one? I’m proposing that it is scientifically sound to conclude that it is more likely to be spoken by a someone who has no understanding of who God is, or by a religious Christian who has learned man’s ideas about God.¹
According to the accepted definition of randomness and unpredictability, the more we know about a phenomenon or a person, the better we can predict what we might expect to occur. Bible study is the quickest way to learn about God since it is all about Him, and inspired by Him. So if you have questions about Him, you must study what He says about Himself over two thousand years, speaking through 40 authors writing 66 books with perfect consistency. Many skeptics have set out to read the Bible in order to disprove it, and in the process have fallen in love with God.
“If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?”
Surely, after some research in the books of the bible, you will see that God is crazy about free choice for His created ones. In fact, even angels who inhabit His multi-dimensional realm – heaven – are seen to be able to make bad choices and cause their own demise. So you will easily discover in the very first book, Genesis, how man chose to know evil, and the consequences of suffering and even death that followed. Without that piece of information, we would assume that death and suffering are all God’s doing, and that He is responsible for our actions and choices.
Referring to the simple formula quoted above, we see that the more we learn about someone or something, the more predictable they become. As our ignorance diminishes, the apparent randomness diminishes, and meaning emerges.
I believe this is a universal truth. In relationships, when we focus inward, on our own needs and desires, we are refusing to know the other. When we refuse to know the other, their actions appear random and therefore inexcusable and unforgivable, unpredictable, and just plain annoying. The minute we focus on the other, the attempt to know leads to forgiveness.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He could easily have been very annoyed with His persecutors. Instead, He knew and understood them, and asked the Father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing.
Apparent randomness and unpredictability could be defined as the sum of our ignorance. Let me demonstrate this with the game of Blackjack. A book and movie came out a few years ago titled “Taking Down the House”. This was a true story about a group of MIT students who challenged the odds of the game by counting cards.
When the deck is newly shuffled, the chance of a card being a value of 10 is 4 in 13 – 10s and face cards all having a value of 10. As more cards are dealt, the probability of getting a 10-valued card changes. A sharp player can count 10-valued cards and using a simple formula determine how to modify the standard playing strategy (which is based on a random or freshly shuffled deck). Since the odds of winning are calculated on cards being dealt at random, knowing that the remaining deck is 10-rich or 10-poor and changing strategy accordingly gives a player a slight edge, turning the odds of winning over 50% of the time over to the player.
Without keeping track of the cards that have previously come out of the shoe (usually a stack of multiple decks that are shuffled periodically) or if the shoe has just been shuffled, one must consider the next card to be random, therefore having a 4 in 13 chance of being a value of ten. That is because we don’t know anything about the probability of the rank of the next card to be drawn. If we count the cards with a value of ten that are dealt, we progressively know more of the likelihood of 10s being dealt. The more cards are dealt without shuffling, the more we know about the odds of the next card being a value of 10, and we adjust our play accordingly.
Consider another example. We are watching a person standing in a store. We know he or she is considering stealing something. Without knowing anything about the person, all we know is that there are two possibilities: steal or not steal. If we knew some shoplifting statistics, such as the percentage of visitors in a mall who shoplift, we would only be able to apply that general statistic to the person we are observing. If we knew more about the person, such as age, sex, religious training, something about the parents and other sociological facts, we would be able to further improve our success at predicting the choice made.
In the “game” of life, as with Blackjack, we can just blunder along, knowing so little about its inner workings, so little about it’s designer, that the odds are always stacked against us. Or we can undertake this amazing journey of discovery, that will lead to a winning strategy. The Bible calls it being overcomers. The Bible is a guide book about the Great Designer, written by Himself for us to learn, implement and obtain ultimate victory: I highly recommend it!
_________________________________________________________ 1. Pharisees in the New Testament are a perfect example of “believers” not knowing God. According to Jesus, they had made up their own religion, and the bible (Old Testament) had not done for them what it was intended to do: to take man into relationship with the living God.