In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.Dawkins hits upon an important point for consideration. If this universe is governed to some degree by randomness (and the sciences of physics and biology both suggest that it is), than there will be an element of undesirable outcomes, pain and suffering, seemingly without purpose. For Dawkins, and other skeptics, this cold reality points to an ultimately purposeless universe, which in turns bolsters their belief that we are alone: There is no wise, loving, intentional God ... there is no God at all.
– Richard Dawkins,
River out of Eden (HarperCollins, 1996), page 133.
My friend Tom, also an unbeliever, claims here that for him, true randomness (as opposed to a mere guise of randomness) is necessary or life is meaningless. Imagine that. A thoughtful atheist sees existence as meaningless apart from randomness. While I am anxious to see how his thoughts unfold along that line, he has been waiting for me to elucidate how randomness can be meaningful to one who believes in God. He asks me,
I need you to clarify your opinion and your thoughts on my statement about an omnipotent/omniscient God and randomness. This is a square peg and round hole (and not a trap, I really want to know). If God has built in randomness, he is not in control, nor omniscient, right? I suppose he can stop the simulation, monitor the progress, and with an infinite knowledge of the past, have an intuition about where it's going, but this is not all-knowing.So, randomness seems to fit well into an atheistic worldview, but doesn’t seem to work out in a theistic worldview. So say the skeptics, and many Christians would agree. The notions of a wise, all-powerful, and loving God just cannot be made to jibe with the concept of randomness.
On the other side of this conundrum sits Richard Colling, a Bible-believing Christian and author of Random Designer, who declares early in his book that
... randomness is the star of this story! It is the dynamo that commands living things to create order out of disorder in the midst of a sometimes erratic and chaotic world. But there is more to this picture than meets the casual eye, for while randomness is the driver, amazingly, the products possess miraculous elements of design. All of life on earth, including human beings, derives its origin, nurture, and sustenance from the seemingly implausible interplay between randomness and order.As we continue to explore randomness, we will revisit Dawkins’ assertion that randomness results in pointless pain for some, incredible luck for others, and that all of this suggests that there is no justice, no goodness, and no God. And we will develop an overarching story in which randomness may actually serve a vital purpose in the ultimate intentions of God.
Random Designer, (Browning Press, 2004), page 2.
But for now, reader, what about it? does randomness, by its very nature, imply atheism? Is an attempt to fit God into a random world (or to fit randomness into a divinely created cosmos) like a square peg in a round hole? Or could it be, as Colling suggests, that randomness is a necessary tool that, paradoxically, brings order to an entropic universe?