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What if all events—big and small, good and bad—are governed by more than just blind chance? What if they are governed by God?
In this theologically informed and philosophically nuanced introduction to the study of probability and chance, Vern Poythress argues that all events—including the seemingly random or accidental—fall under God’s watchful gaze as part of his eternal plan. Comprehensive in its scope, this book lays the theistic foundation for our scientific assumptions about the world while addressing personal questions about the meaning and significance of everyday events.
Introduction: Experiences with Unpredictable Events Part 1: The Sovereignty of God 1. The Bible as a Source for Knowledge 2. God’s Sovereignty 3. Unpredictable Events 4. Disasters and Suffering 5. Human Choice 6. Small Random Events 7. Reflecting on Creation and Providence 8. God’s Sovereignty and Modern Physics 9. What Is Chance? Part 2: God as the Foundation for Chance 10. Regularities and Unpredictabilities 11. Trinitarian Foundations for Chance 12. Responding to Chance 13. Chance in Evolutionary Naturalism 14. Chance and Idolatry Part 3: Probability 15. What is Probability? 16. Predictions and Outcomes 17. Theistic Foundations for Probability 18. Views of Probability 19. Subjectivity and Probability 20. Entanglement of Probabilities 21. Probabilistic Independence 22. Independence and Human Nature 23. Is God Probable? Part 4: Probability and Mathematics 24. Pictures of Probability 25. Mathematical Postulates for Probability 26. Theistic Foundations for Some Properties of Probability 27. Limitations in Human Thinking about Events and Probabilities 28. Conclusion Appendices Appendix A: Why Gambling Systems Fail Appendix B: The Real Problem with Gambling Appendix C: A Puzzle in Probability Appendix D: Interacting with Secular Philosophical Views of Probability Appendix E: Permutations and Combinations Appendix F: The Birthday Problem Appendix G: Diseases and Other Causes Appendix H: Proofs for Probability Appendix I: Statistics Appendix J: The Law of Large Numbers versus Gamblers
“Learned and astute, this book on chance and probability demonstrates an absolute reliance on the authority of God’s Word. This is the only way that nothing can be left to chance.” —Douglas Wilson, Senior Fellow of Theology, New St. Andrews College; Pastor, Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho
“The prolific Dr. Poythress has gifted us with a unique and uniquely needed work that is both mathematically adept and theologically deep. I know of no other work that so thoroughly addresses the modern sense of chance in a deeply Reformed and philosophically oriented way.” —Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary; author, Walking Through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness—A Philosopher’s Lament
“Is this the go-to book for a biblical theological perspective on chance, coincidence, randomness, risk, probability, prediction, and gambling? You bet it is! Dr. Poythress has hit another one out of the park. This book will transform the way you think about everything from quantum physics and weather forecasts to life insurance and card games.” —James N. Anderson, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
“Back when I was a researcher in Systems Engineering and Operations Research, probability was my daily breath, so I was delighted to see this work. Not only was this a fun read for me, but I find in Vern Poythress a firm grasp of the mathematical, philosophical, theological, and apologetic issues necessary to guide those who want to think clearly on this topic—a topic which, because of its technicality, many will be daunted by. And Poythress always has an eye for the helpful illustration!” —C. John Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
“Many think Calvinists simply reject the idea of chance, random events, and probability. But that is not entirely true. My friend Vern Poythress shows in this book that the God of the Bible—and of Calvin—is in fact the foundation, both of causation and of randomness in the world. Poythress is well-suited to develop this argument, with doctorates in both New Testament and mathematics, and as the author of important recent books on logic and science. I do not fully understand the mathematics of this book, but the theology is entirely biblical, and I can’t imagine a better place to start for readers interested in this subject matter.” —John M. Frame, Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary
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