The Origin of Chance

After many many attempts (don’t ask how many, it was a very large number), God finally made the perfect universe. Everything worked great; the stars shone, the sun was brilliant, plants and animals, birds and fish were everywhere, and humans were happily living in the Garden. There was no sin, no death, no misery, and no surprises. God looked at His creation and saw that it was perfect.

But Archangel Michael was bored. So were all the other angels. Now that God had (finally) gotten everything right, including those pesky laws of physics with their infernal constants (see On Constants, Dec 10, 2015 ), there wasn’t much for anyone to do. Satan kept himself busy by trying to tempt some human (for some reason he always tried the women first. That Satan). But he had no success. They always smiled and turned down his offers. Apparently none of them were very curious about the Tree of Knowledge, nor of disobeying the Master of Creation.

As the years and millennia rolled on, not much happened. The snake kept running around like all the other reptiles, and the humans kept loving each other, smiling and praising God. They also sang a lot, and played with each other. One day, Michael was hanging out on Earth, watching a small group of humans who seemed to be amusing themselves quite a bit. They had invented a new game. They would take different-sized sticks and throw them around, and depending on how and where they landed, they did something or other, which often made them laugh.

Michael saw that the humans apparently had no idea where the sticks would land. At first he found that strange until be remembered that humans were not very smart, and probably were not able to predict how the sticks would fall based on the precise configuration in which they were held, the wind speed and direction, and the force and direction of the throw.

None of this was a problem for Michael, of course, but then he was an angel. He envied the humans their excited anticipation and cries of joy or disappointment at the results of the game, and wondered if he would be happier if he were more stupid. But then he had the germ of an idea.

“Satan,” Michael called out, after returning to heaven “I want you to hear something. I have had an idea”. Satan came over and said he couldn’t wait to hear Michael’s latest idea.

“Maybe we should ask the boss to try out one more universe, different from this one.”

“Different how? This one is perfect”

“Yeah, but it’s so boring.” And then Michael told Satan about the game he had seen.

“Yes, I have seen that also. They call it a game of chance.”

“A game of what?”

‘Chance. That means they aren’t smart enough to calculate future events based on causation.” Michael nodded. “But what if the boss made a universe where chance was really  real, I mean, even for us?”

Satan thought about it. “You mean, no laws of physics? How else could you do away with determinism?” Michael didn’t know, but suggested they take the idea upstairs.

As it turned out, God (omniscient as He is) had been thinking along the same lines. Not that He was bored like His angels, but for other reasons that are beyond the comprehension of either the readers or the writer of this tale. Satan made the case for a world where random chance played a big role. In fact, where truly stochastic random chance was at the heart of the behavior of matter. Which nobody at all (“except the Lord God, Master of the Universe, of course,” Michael hastily interjected) could possibly predict.

God liked the idea, and began to think. I don’t how long it took God to think of the answer, because God is not that connected to time, so it’s really hard to say. But at some point he called his angels together and said:

“OK, I am going to try again. Let’s see how it goes.”

And that’s how quantum mechanics was born.

As soon as the new universe was built, God looked it at with satisfaction. “Not perfect this time, but good”. Satan saw the two people in the Garden, and got ready for his latest temptation attempt. “Will this one be different, Lord?’ he asked the boss. After all God could see the future as well as the present.

God smiled. “Oh yes, it will be. And I promise you one thing. It won’t be boring”.


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5 Responses to The Origin of Chance

  1. Reblogged this on Richard's Watch and commented:
    This amusing approach to Creation made me chuckle, and will bring some light relief for any readers musing over Is Free Will An Illusion? and attached discussions at Rationalising The Universe…

  2. I’ve sometimes wondered if this is why there is something as opposed to nothing… and if that’s merely reflected in QM. What’s the probability of nothing?

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