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Abraham's DiceChance and Providence in the Monotheistic Traditions$
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Karl W. Giberson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190277154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277154.001.0001

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Chance, Divine Action, and the Natural Order of Things

Chance, Divine Action, and the Natural Order of Things

(p.3) 1 Chance, Divine Action, and the Natural Order of Things
Abraham's Dice

Karl W. Giberson

Oxford University Press

The relationship between divine providence and the natural order has long been complex. Sacred texts record God working through nature to produce floods and rains, winds and snows, seedtime and harvest. The notion of divine laws was picked up as a metaphor for the workings of nature by thinkers like Kepler, Descartes, and Newton. But nature is not uniformly orderly. Evolution is driven by random mutations; quantum mechanics is based on the indeterminacy of elementary particles; and even our universe may be the result of a quantum fluctuation. Does the discovery of randomness—contingency, indeterminacy—in nature pose challenges to the notion of divine providence, even disprove it? How have the monotheistic religions traditionally viewed nature’s apparent randomness?

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

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