Abraham's Dice: Chance and Providence in the Monotheistic Traditions

ISBN : 9780190277154

Karl W. Giberson
374 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jun 2016
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Most of us believe everything happens for a reason. Whether it is "God's will," "karma", or "fate," we want to believe that an overarching purpose undergirds everything, and that nothing in the world, especially a disaster or tragedy, is a random, meaningless event. Abraham's Dice explores the interplay between chance and randomness, as well as between providence and divine action in the monotheistic religious traditions, looking at how their interaction has been conceptualized as our understanding of the workings of nature has changed. This lively historical conversation has generated intense and engaging theological debates, and provocative responses from science: what of the history of our universe, where chance and law have played out in complex ways? Or the evolution of life, where random mutations have challenged attempts to find purpose within evolution and convinced many that human beings are a "glorious accident." The enduring belief that everything happens for a reason is examined through a conversation with major scholars, among them holders of prestigious chairs at Oxford and Cambridge universities and the University of Basel, as well as several Gifford lecturers, and two Templeton prize winners. Now, as never before, confident scientific assertions that the world embodies a profound contingency are challenging theological claims that God acts providentially in the world. The random and meandering path of evolution is widely used as an argument that God did not create life. Organized historically, Abraham's Dice provides a wide-ranging scientific, theological, and biblical foundation to address the question of divine action in a world shot through with contingency.


The Challenge of Chance
Chance, Divine Action, and the Natural Order of Things - Karl Giberson
Ancient Hebraic Voices of Chance and Choice over Fate and Justice - Jennifer Michael Hecht
Chance, Uncertainty and Unknowability in the Universe and Beyond - John Barrow
Random Numbers and God's Nature - James Bradley
The Natural Science of Greek Philosophy and the Social Science of Judaism Become the Super-Providence of Paul - Sarah Ruden
Theological Conversations
Chance and Providence in the Islamic Tradition - Mustafa Ruzgar
Chance and Providence in Early Christianity - Richard Miller
Thomas Aquinas on Natural Contingency and Providence - Ignacio Silva
Chance, Sovereignty, and Providence in the Calvinist Tradition - Byung Soo Han
Jonathan Edwards and Occasionalism - Oliver Crisp
The Complications of Science
Divine Providence in the Clockwork Universe - John Hedley Brooke
Chance and Providence in the Thought of William Paley - Alister McGrath
Evolution, Providence, and The Problem Of Chance - Peter Harrison
Throwing Dice? Thoughts of God in a Quantum World - Shaun Hensen
Darwinian Evolution and a Providential God: The Human Problem - Michael Ruse
Closing Reflection
Abraham's Dice in the Flow of Life: The experience of the Tragic and Its Theological Interpretation - Reinhold Bernhardt

About the author: 

Karl Giberson is Professor of Writing, Science & Religion in the Cornerstone General Education Program at Stonehill College.

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