Chance, examined rationally, is a non-existent agency; a concept, not an actuality in nature, and therefore does not describe how the material reality which is man’s universe actually manifest as “events” or “outcomes”. It is a figment–a concept of man’s mind; a way he organizes his surroundings in order to subdue them in service to his own affirmation, promotion, propagation, and comfort (for individual man is the only rational Standard of Truth,and thus himself is that which must be affirmed by his own concepts). So it is useful, perhaps on an emotional level, in abstractly organizing our lives with respect to choices made on behalf of certain desired outcomes, but it cannot be rationally credited with having any real power–that is, causal power–over any event or series of events.
Now, I realize that many of us will think this obvious and simple logic. But when we consider how often our realities are expressed in, and our choices and beliefs guided by, ratios, the “cause and effect” paradigm, actuarial tables, various mathematical renderings of probabilities, gambits and gambles, we can see just how an innocent concept such as “chance”, meant to perhaps describe, not govern, is assumed and defined almost subconsciously as having some kind of control; of BEING some kind of existent force of nature; that chance is somehow a legitimate means of knowing or having some kind of real control over the outcome of an event, process, or idea.
The ironically titled Law of Probability is often employed as a means of ensuring success in a wide range of endeavors (which is also ironical), from business, to politics, to sports, economics, and financial investments. And this is not necessarily an illegitimate use of the “chance” concept; but it does, due in large part to its complicated mathematical formulation, conflate the conceptual, purely abstract form of chance—which is its only true and rational form—and the “natural”, “actual”, “causal” form–which is a false and entirely irrational form. Still, I want to emphasize that I am not denying the emotional efficacy of the Law of Probability (though it is not literally efficacious to specific outcomes, because it doesn’t really exist…but rather MAN is efficacious to the promotion of himself, and he uses his conceptual Laws to accomplish this). And I’m not even suggesting that the law is intended to provide a specific outcome…it does not. But it is very often employed with the assumption that its use will raise the probability that the employer of the law will succeed more than he will fail. Which of course makes the Law of Probability subject to itself (for what is the probability that the Law of Probability will result in an increase in success with respect to a given objective?). And this of course is a contradiction in terms which results in an endless circular relationship, going nowhere and thus resulting in no useful or knowable thing. Which begs the question: How can we rationally expect any actual efficacy of the Law of Probability?
At any rate, in the interest of stripping “chance” of any right to be called casual, and thus a legitimate means of defending any belief or position, be it religion or atheism or science or philosophy or politics or or morality, or personal ambition, or anything, I have written this essay.
First, it is important to understand that the notion of chance can only be developed by observing what has already happened. That is, we cannot come up with ratios or probabilities or any quantifiable units of “chance” or “probability” without having engaged in some study of how objects interact prior to the notion of the “chances” of those interactions occurring or not occurring at some future time, or in what particular manner. And thus, I must admit I find it ironic that the notion of chance is developed by observing events in real time, whereby the events–ALL needing to have already happened prior to the “Law of Probability” being created and employed–have in reality absolutely nothing to do with chance at all. Chance then (and its formal development into a mathematical formula) is entirely irrespective of itself. Yes, I find this irony infinitely amusing. In other words, you can only develop the Law of Probability from what you absolutely know is true, empirically so–from that which renders chance itself utterly irrelevant. The Law of Probability itself therefore has zero to do with probability. And somehow, this seems fatally disconnected, logically speaking. Imagine a law of gravity which has nothing to do with gravity. Or a law of thermodynamics which doesn’t recognize the concept of temperature. Or Einstein’s famous equation, E=MC2, which doesn’t acknowledge energy, or mass, or the speed of light. Puzzling, to say the least. What HAS occurred is mutually exclusive of what MIGHT occur. But that doesn’t stop people from lauding and frantically employing probability as a means of ensuring the advantage. Because once you inject the magic of the great “Sovereign”, Mathematics, somehow that which is purely conceptual, ethereal, and illusory becomes real and empirically causal. By the power of that great scientific deity, the Equation, pure conceptual abstractions are popped into existence from literally nothing at all.
And they call people who believe in God mystics.
If an event occurs, then it, in a manner of speaking, has a 100% chance of occurring. Though, this is really an impossible contradiction in terms—obviously 100% “chance” equals the actual manifestation of the event in reality, at which point chance is moot. This of course renders chance as it pertains to the event entirely irrelevant. Similarly, if an event does not occur, then it, in a manner of speaking, has 0% chance of occurring. But this too is a contradiction in terms. An event which does not occur does not actually exist—that is, an event which does NOT occur–that is, is NOT–is a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing as an absence of a thing. And thus the event is not an event; it is nothing…and so yes, NOTHING, by definition, has ZERO chance of occurring. There is no chance that something which does not exist will ever exist. For existence and non-existence—a thing and the absence of a thing—are mutually exclusive; categorically and infinitely incompatible. Which make chance in this case—the 0% chance of an event occurring—not simply irrelevant, but the very concept of chance itself is again moot—is mathematically zero—is absent—is a purely placeholder–when we attempt to apply it to things that are observed to NOT be (again, a contradiction in terms I know—you cannot observe that which is absent—but you understand what I mean). Chance is BLANK.
And so, if an event occurs, then chance is beside the point. And if the event does not occur then chance is similarly rendered beside the point. The very concept then of the Law of Probability has irrelevance and impotence as its singularity, for as soon as an event is observed to be, or it becomes apparent that the event will not be–that is, is NOT–the Law ceases to have any relevancy. Which means that it cannot be said to have ever had any in the first place. The event and the Law of Probability regarding its occurrence are utterly mutually exclusive things. The Law has no actual power; and I might argue that it cannot really be rationally shown, and certainly not proven, to even have any theoretical power, because chance and probability and the conceptual constructs which represent them, do not internally acknowledge the existence of chance and probability in the first place.
My point is that chance and real events are mutually exclusive. Events either are—100%–or they are not—0%. And this, again, is utterly exclusive of chance, which can only “rationally” be expressed as a percentage of 1-99. That is, chance is only ostensibly “rational” as a percentage of event probability between 1 and 99%. But events, once they manifest as happening or as NOT happening (the absence of happening, or zero mathematical existence), either ARE or are NOT. Period. Events do not partially occur or partially NOT occur. A 50% chance of happening does not magically become a 100% chance of happening once the event is seen to occur. And a 50% chance of not happening does not magically become a 100% chance of not happening once the event is NOT seen to occur. Once an event does or does not occur, chance becomes entirely irrelevant. It becomes functionally nothing. Chance and events have nothing really to do with one another, and so all laws of probability are fundamentally flawed, I would argue. Chance has no causal, actual, nor, I submit, even theoretical power. It is an abstraction without a home. Perhaps not entirely useless, but entirely irrelevant, as it can never actually be shown to possess any efficacy, because its development has nothing whatsoever to do with with what it pretends to “effect”, so to speak.
Another example which may or may not prove helpful. Suppose a gunsmith designs a rifle which only works 90% of the time. Would we say that the rifle “works”…that is, as its general description? As its foundational essence? A working rifle? No, we would not. It is a broken rifle. (For it is a contradiction in terms to declare that a rifle is designed not to work, the gunsmith can qualify it as “working”. If you design something not to work, it’s still not working, even if you intended it to function that way. Further, if it was intentionally designed NOT to do what a rifle is legitimately supposed to do–shoot–then one could rightly call the designer, and thus the design, fundamentally flawed at the level of the very roots of reason.) The fact that it shoots properly 90% of the time does not change the fact that its essence is one of rank dysfunction. For the 10% of the time it does not work, in those instances, it 100% does not work, and thus, negates the idea that it can be labeled, ever, a working rifle…for 90% does not constitute a whole; that is 90% working is NOT working, by definition; and because the 100% dysfunction of the gun when not working must be applied to its essential description. “A working gun” is an absolute concept; it cannot be parsed. If when it does not work it does not work at ALL, then it is not a working gun, no matter that 90% of the time it does work. Because the 100% not working (in the instances it fails) MUST be considered when describing the general nature of the gun. That is, again, it’s a gun which does not actually work. It does not actually do what the person in this example wants it to do, which is work, period. The outcomes of its usage consistently fail, even if only 10%. It consistently fails–and thus failure is a part of its endemic nature–because, again, when it fails, it utterly (that is, 100%) fails. What I am getting at is the inability of one to call “working” a rifle which is designed only to work 90% of the time. “Working” and “not working” are mutually exclusive concepts, and so when describing the overall nature of the rifle we must consider this fact, plus the fact that people who shoot rifles want the ones they buy to WORK. The very idea of a rifle purposely designed to NOT work is irrational on its face. But at any rate, one cannot consider a rifle “working” when 10% of the time it does not work; and further I’m attempting to highlight the irrationality of one seeking out and consistently employing such a gun when the goal is efficacious outcomes commensurate with a working rifle.
The Law of Probability is like a rifle that is designed to only work part of the time. That is, to NOT actually work–that is, not a “working” theory–because by its appeal to chance and probability, as opposed to certainty and inevitability, it is NOT going to be effective in gauging the outcome of an event by design, perhaps as much or even more so than it WILL be effective. It is a formula that is specifically designed to NOT do what the user actually wants it to do (guide them to the outcomes and objectives they desire) perhaps up to 99% of the time. It is not a LAW, its a Law of “Chance”, which means the very nature of it as a “law” is on its face an utter contradiction. And so I ask, is there really any means by which we can argue that chance and probability are ever the most rational way to organize our lives, let alone are actual and causal? You can’t call a theory a working theory if a certain percentage of the time it consistently (100%) does not work as an endemic function of its purposed nature.
Is it any wonder why so many people are made destitute by gambling addiction and why so many people prefer to cheat in order to beat whatever “system” with which they happen to be engaged?
Now, as far as application of the ideas in this essay go, it is important for both atheists and Christians, for instance, scientists and philosophers, mystics and empiricists and rationalists, to remember and understand that material reality IS. Those things that ARE simply ARE. There are no laws which govern their interaction; for how they interact is always rooted in the infinity of their existential IS, which is without beginning or end. And in this case, actual things, which are the roots of these interactions–these events which we hold up to various determinative laws, are not a function of any actual outside theoretical construct, like probability. Therefore, any idea, philosophy, principle, doctrine, creed, model, mechanism, or statement of faith, etc. should provide NO appeal to such a notion. Chance should have no place in legitimate science, philosophy, politics, economics, religion, or even one’s own ambitions, only reason. The infusion of chance into causal explanations of the universe or anything in it, including and especially man and his actions, automatically disqualifies these explanations from any sort of rational consistency…or consistency at all, for that matter.