Search Results for chance
The idea of chance has several meanings. For this entry I’ll be focusing on the belief that things just happen with no rhyme or reason—that is, that some events are impossible to predict and also have no overriding cause or meaning. While this definition combines several hair-splitting philosophical views,¹ it does seem to capture the general mood of what we mean by the idea of chance.
While some seem to see the idea of chance as the logical answer in view of certain observations, it’s not. It is nothing more than a human concept. And to attribute something to chance implies a basic assumption that can’t be proved—namely, that some events randomly occur with no overriding plan, purpose or meaning. This belief can arise when people are faced with large amounts of data too vast to discern an overriding plan and purpose (as with the various data encountered in daily life).
Some statisticians, of course, would reply that the belief in an overriding purpose cannot be proved either.
My point is that the one commonality among the belief in chance and the belief in a divine or cosmic plan is belief itself.
Many religious persons freely admit that they believe. They may claim that their beliefs are supported (but not proved by) experience combined with reason. But rarely will a sincerely religious person claim to know, and if they do, upon further questioning they’d probably admit that their supposed “knowledge” is really belief, or reason to believe.²
On the other hand, some superficial and, perhaps, a few duplicitous scientists claim that their hypotheses – proposed explanations tied into a particular approach – are “proved” by observation and reason. This isn’t really true science but many scientists and lay persons fall into this kind of believing without admitting it, or even knowing that they’re just fooling themselves (and usually others).³
Again, the bottom line in this discussion of chance is that both religious and scientific viewpoints appear to be premised on belief.
² Granted, there are always fanatics who claim to “know” and cannot (or don’t want to) momentarily step aside from their beliefs.
³ This being one definition of scientism.
- Christian physicist Ian Hutchinson criticizes scientism (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Scientism Investigation continued…4 (ubcgcu.org)
- Jerry Fodor’s Idiosyncratic Understanding of ‘Scientism’ (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- Alternative to Scientism…Point 2 (ubcgcu.org)
- What is Scientism? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- What is Left for Philosophy to Do? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- help, i sound like my mother!…the power of our subconscious beliefs (rhubarbandstars.com)
- Scientism Investigation continued…3 (ubcgcu.org)
- A Difference In Beliefs. (euphoricobsession.wordpress.com)
The Beatles were a British pop group founded in Liverpool in 1960. The original members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962 (originally Richard Starkey).
“Love Me Do” was their first UK hit. This was followed by a string of hits, creating the international phenomenon of Beatlemania in 1964.
Most of the Beatles’ repertoire was officially penned by Lennon and McCartney, although their respective influence on individual songs varied considerably.
The band stopped giving public performances in 1966, turning its energy to the studio–specifically to the rock and roll classic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Their producer at the time, George Martin, says he had a significant impact on the outcome of this record.
The group split, bitterly, around 1970. Their last studio album, Abbey Road, was recorded with separate sessions being held for each member of the band. This was unprecedented and, to fans, seemed to indicate growing tensions among band members. George Harrison once said that McCartney told him how to play his guitar, which the guitarist resented. And issues over the growing presence of Yoko Ono were splashed over the tabloids and rock media, as was Lennon and McCartney’s growing acrimony.
The Beatles were no doubt fantastic musicians. But was there more to their success? The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed a psychological classification system based on four main types. For Jung, the whole and healthy mind strove to integrate the four types of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. Could part of the Beatles’ unparalleled popularity be a result their collectively representing Jung’s four archetypal types? Following this idea, Lennon would be the thinking type, Paul McCartney the feeling type, George Harrison the intuition type and Ringo Starr the sensation type.
The Beatles’ contribution to music will be forever etched in the history of mankind. The so-called Fab Four combined Rock and Roll, simple blues and complex jazz, as well as ‘lounge lizard,’ orchestral and international music forms. Even begrudging or, perhaps, sarcastically tinged respect is implied, for instance, in “Afraid” from David Bowie’s record Heathen (2002):
I believe in Beatles
I believe my little soul has grown
And I’m still so afraid…
After the Beatles’ breakup, Lennon released several records while residing in New York with his wife Yoko Ono. He continued to enjoy commercial success with songs like “Imagine,” “Mind Games,” “Whatever Gets you Through the Night,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “So this is Christmas,” and “Just Like Starting Over.” But Lennon became more than a mere rock star; he became an icon representing worldwide harmony and peace.
McCartney released a critically acclaimed solo album (where he played all the instruments) and formed the highly successful band Wings, continuing to be a prominent musical force in the 1970′s.
Harrison released the commercially successful All Things Must Pass in 1970 (including “My Sweet Lord” and “Isn’t it a Pity”) followed by several other albums. “Isn’t it a Pity” epitomizes the sense of loss over Beatles’ breakup and laments the end of an era. Sadly, pity turned into acrimony, as witnessed in Harrison’s 1973 tune, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues.” Starr has been in films and recorded singles and albums. His 1974 cover of the Sherman Brothers’ “You’re Sixteen” hit number one in the charts.
In 1995 the single “Free as a Bird” was released. This song was written and hastily recorded by Lennon in 1977. After Lennon’s passing McCartney asked Ono if the remaining Beatles could collectively add to any of Lennon’s unreleased material. Ono gave permission for this single but it arguably isn’t a true Beatles song because Lennon, himself, didn’t agree to its release.
More recently, many Beatles songs have been remixed and re-released, with debatable results. Myself, I prefer the original analog mixes sent to CD (AAD), although others might prefer the digital remixes (ADD).
- The break-up of The Beatles: An event that called a halt to an epoch (woodstockremains.wordpress.com)
- Interview: Historian says there was no Brando link to naming of the Beatles (examiner.com)
- Ringo Starr To Finally Get That Museum Exhibit We’ve All Been Waiting For (beatcrave.com)
- 12 Questions Google Assumes You Have About The Beatles (wxrt.cbslocal.com)
- John Lennon (chasepage.net)
- 12 Questions Google Assumes You Have About The Beatles (wzlx.cbslocal.com)
- Songs by John Lennon and Yoko Ono go Downtown to new publisher (examiner.com)
- 12 Questions Google Assumes You Have About The Beatles (wcbsfm.cbslocal.com)
- Life of Beatle becomes subject of comic (bigpondnews.com)
- Former Beatles Frontman Dies At 72 (huffingtonpost.com)
Pavel Chekov is a Russian ensign in the original TV series Star Trek (1966-69), played by Walter Koenig. He was portrayed favorably in the midst of the 1960s Cold War between America and Russia. With the inclusion of an international crew, the series’ creator Gene Roddenberry hoped to eradicate this and many other forms of prejudice. While the original Star Trek may seem sexist from today’s standpoint, in many ways it was groundbreaking for late the 1960s.
Roddenberry also wanted Star Trek to appeal to teens, so thought a young, fresh face would do the series good.
Walter Koenig appears not just in the TV show, but in the first seven Star Trek films. In the eleventh Star Trek film, Anton Yelchin depicts Chekov as a likeable math whiz who’s a bit hard to understand because of his Russian accent.
Chances are Pavel Chekhov is named after the Russian doctor, dramatist and short-story writer, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904). The people behind Star Trek had a knack for recasting famous names and ideas into Sci-fi. This arguably helps the show resonate within viewers’ collective unconscious.
- ‘Star Trek’ convention gets new respect (sfgate.com)
- Nine Minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness to Debut in IMAX 3D on Dec. 14 (reellifewithjane.com)
- STAR TREK, The Motion Behind the Picture (mrmovietimes.com)
- How many characters can you identify in this massive original Star Trek poster? (io9.com)
- Bringing Star Trek Back to the Small Screen (sci-fi-stuff.com)
- Epic Tribute Art for The Original STAR TREK Series (geektyrant.com)
Divination (from Latin divinare “to foresee, to be supernaturally inspired”) is trying to tell the future, locating lost objects or revealing hidden personality traits through magical or spiritual means, usually with the aid of a special technique. Divination appears in most societies throughout human history. The practice is so widespread that it’s found among the very first literature cultures. S. G. F. Brandon suggests that divination takes two main forms, which he calls automatic and interrogation of divine intent.¹
Some religions frown on the practice, or have come to frown on it by claiming to progressively “perfect,” “complete” or “fulfill” its imperfect religious roots (Christianity being a prime example). But for the most part, divination has been condoned or encouraged by zealous leaders and layperson alike, eager to know what life has in store for them, and how they should best decide on certain issues.
Delphi was home to the famous Dephic oracle. In Tibet, state temples were devoted to divination. In ancient China the I Ching was developed. In Africa oracles and female mediums were consulted. In the ancient Near East animal entrails were examined, their form and condition apparently foretelling future events.
The ancient Romans were mostly concerned with determining the gods’ attitudes towards certain acts. Auspicia were favorable omens (usually the flight of birds) that only senior Roman magistrates could interpret. Prodigia, on the other hand, were evil omens interpreted by the Roman elite, the effects of which could be avoided by civic piety and priestly skill. Augurs involved observing animals, in general, to receive a sign that would help in deciding action in public and private affairs. The Romans, however, were not bound to accept a given augur. They could reject it if they wished, and act on their own accord.²
In the New Testament we have the indisputable example of the Three Wise Men following the star that lead them to bear gifts to Jesus Christ. Despite this, the Protestant Reformer John Calvin wrote the “Warning Against So-Called Judicial Astrology” in 1549. And Pope Sixtus V officially condemned all forms of divination in 1586.³
Several centuries prior, St. Francis of Assisi apparently opened the Bible at random every morning and read a verse, believing that God directed him to the passage that would set the right tone for his actions through the day.
In a similar vein, the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung believed a spiritus rector lead him to open books at the right page, turn on the radio at the precisely right moment, and so on, in order for meaningful coincidences (synchronicities) to take place.
¹ S. G. F. Brandon (ed.) Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, pp. 115, 243.
² Ibid. The entry on divination gives many more examples, as does Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divination
³Duby and Perrot (eds.) A History of Women, Vol 3, 2000, p. 455.
Determinism is the belief popularized by John Stuart Mill that choice and free will are unreal. In determinism, every event is the outcome of previous causes and nature is believed to be uniform. Moreover, the notion of chance is merely a concept incorrectly used by those unaware of all previous causes.
This differs from the idea of fatalism, where things unavoidably happen but not necessarily from previous causes. For instance, with fatalism a sovereign transcendent power or powers could arbitrarily decide what will happen to mere mortals. This is a widespread idea, not particular to recent religions. For example, the Homeric Fates were able to have power over the future.¹
The distinction between determinism and fatalism is further outlined at Wikipedia:
Fatalism is normally distinguished from “determinism”. Fatalism is the idea that everything is fated to happen, so that humans have no control over their future. Notice that fate has arbitrary power. Fate also need not follow any causal or otherwise deterministic laws. Types of Fatalism include Theological determinism and the idea of predestination, where there is a God who determines all that humans will do. This may be accomplished either by knowing their actions in advance, via some form of omniscience or by decreeing their actions in advance.²
This quotation raises some difficult philosophical questions. For instance, does God knowing in advance what we will do mean the same thing as God determining what we will do? Some say yes, and others no. On the yes side, we could say that God created everything in the first place, and having full knowledge (omniscience) not only knows but also is responsible for what we do. On the other side, the no side, we could say that God creates us with free will. Although God knows how we will choose, we are totally free to go any way we wish. This latter argument is usually held by Christian theologians while the former crops up among agnostics and atheists (atheists do not believe in God but may use the argument to try to lampoon the whole idea of God).
Related Posts » Predestination
- Free Will 101: Part One (psychologytoday.com)
- What is Fatalism? How Does it Differ from Determinism? (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
- God, free will and omniscience (mimswell.wordpress.com)
- Questioning Willusionism (3quarksdaily.com)
- William Lane Craig on Universal, Divine, Causal Determinism (arminiantheologyblog.wordpress.com)
- Brief Thoughts On Theological Determinism (christmyredeemer.wordpress.com)
- Questions About Dreams and Predestination (heroldsroses.wordpress.com)
- Sean McDowell reviews Lawrence Krauss’ new book “Free Will” (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- Realities of non-determinism. We are responsible as individuals, societies, and as a species. (newdiscussions.wordpress.com)
In Catholic theology one aspect of discernment is the use of reason and experience coupled with divine gifts to distinguish between true and false interior perception.
As Henri Martin P.S.S. puts it:
The charism of discernment is “a kind of supernatural instinct by which those who have it perceive intuitively the origin, either divine or not, of thoughts and inclinations submitted to them.” (J. de Guibert, Lecons, p. 306). It is to be distinguished from revelation of the secrets of hearts, properly so called, made directly by God. In such revelations, which is extremely rare, objective certitude is absolute. In the case of discernment the chances of error lie in the subjective interpretation and use of the supernatural light received. Lacking an infused charism, ordinarily “God will assist by special interior light a gift of discernment acquired by experience and prudence in the application of the traditional rules of discernment.”¹
On the need for seekers to be sincere, humble and rational in the discernment process, the scholar of mysticism, Evelyn Underhill, says:
Ecstasies, no less than visions and voices, must, they declare, be subjected to unsparing criticism before they are recognized as divine: whilst some are undoubtedly “of God,” others are no less clearly “of the devil.”²
Likewise, the Protestant William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience, suggests that some lower forms of mysticism may have “proceeded from the demon.”³ The Lutheran Rudolf Otto also talks about different types of mysticism. See, for instance, “An Outline of Rudolf Otto’s The Idea of the Holy,” Chapter XVI – The ‘Cruder’ Phases.
In Protestant and Catholic Churches discernment is described as a gift and developed ability where a person learns to differentiate among
- divine spiritual influences
- evil spiritual influences
- one’s truest self.
But a problem arises in that many religious people claim to discern. And often different religious and New Age enthusiasts discern differently on the very same issue, citing the “Holy Spirit,” “Allah,” “Angels” or “Objective Truth” as their source of authority.
Discernment often seems to mean taking an alarmist, knee-jerk view of issues that one doesn’t understand, projecting bad habits and transferring the unsavory contents of the unconscious onto scapegoats. This can happen on an individual level or through a kind of institutionally reinforced hypocrisy, as we’ve seen time and again in the history of religions, cults and spiritual movements.
Indeed, unconscious anger, resentment and unresolved psychological complexes may color discernment. And it seems that psychological pain, immaturity and the potential influence of fantasy or evil influences can all be intertwined.
Another related meaning of the term discernment is to discover what God wants an individual to do in life, to find one’s calling, as it were. This relates to the first meaning of discernment because we can’t do the right thing in life if we’re following imaginary voices, fantasy desires or the promptings of an evil power.
Thomas H. Green S. J. notes that, within Catholicism, this second form of discernment of finding one’s calling was once premised on sheer authority. A spiritual director would simply tell a religious what to do. Today, however, the relationship between discernment and spiritual directors has evolved. Emphasis is now given on “co-discernment” and, in the larger sense, communal discernment. Authority figures only provide general guidelines, as plainly evident in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ultimately it’s up to each individual to flesh out God’s will for his or her life.4
Father Edward Malatesta, S. J. definition of discernment combines the two previous aspects:
By the discernment of spirits is meant the process by which we examine, in the light of faith and in the connaturality of love, the nature of the spiritual states we experience in ourselves and in others. The purpose of such examination is to decide, as far as possible, which of the movements we experience lead us to the Lord and to a more perfect service of Him and our brothers, and which deflect us from this goal.5
Interestingly, some believe that a higher power or spiritual gift can override personal biases, enabling an imperfect person to make perfect discernments. This dynamic may, indeed, occur from time to time but for the most part it seems that the development of accurate discernment is a lifelong process.
And, quite possibly, we may continue to sharpen our powers of discernment in the afterlife.
¹ (ibidem). (Jacques Guillet, Gustave Bardy et. al. (trans.) Sister Innocentia Richards, Ph.D., Discernment of Spirits. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1970, p. 104.)
² Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, New York: New American Library, 1955, p. 361.
³ London: Penguin, 1985, p. 423.
4 Thomas H. Green S. J., Weeds Among the Wheat - Discernment: Where Prayer and Action Meet, Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1984, pp. 11-17).
5 Cited in Green, p. 41.
- ETs, UFOs and the Psychology of Belief (epages.wordpress.com)
- Six Principles of Discernment (adw.org)
- Word study: discernment (everydayredflags.wordpress.com)
- 9 Gifts of the Spirit – According to the Holy Bible – by Regina Tuttle (ipressupward.wordpress.com)
- Celibacy, Sex and Spirituality (epages.wordpress.com)
- Extrasensory perception (ESP) (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Since Jesus and Mary were perfect, why would they experience anguish and sadness? (rcspiritualdirection.com)
- Angels – The Angel of Discernment Gifts You With Clarity (angelladytm.wordpress.com)
- Finding the Higher Purpose of Your Business (epages.wordpress.com)
Fortuna is a Roman deity, equivalent to the Greek Tyche. The most notable difference between the Roman and Greek forms is that the Roman Fortuna is, at times, less universal than Tyche.
Like Tyche, Fortuna represents a general concept of chance and luck. Her temples were in specific cities like Rome, with an unrivaled site at Palestrina. But unlike Tyche (who had altars at Thebes and Athens), the Romans observed a “Fortune of the Day.”
The Romans also invoked Fortuna for victory in battle. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance Fortuna was very popular, often depicted with a wheel turning through cycles of good and bad luck, joy and sadness. She’s also depicted with a rudder, a globe or with wheels or wings.
- Fortuna’s chain reactions from a single action (rhythmiclayers.com)
- Restoring Fortuna to the lexicon of the rich (energybulletin.net)
- Grand Ages: Rome (gamespot.com)
- What is the difference between luck and a blessing? (kelhan1.wordpress.com)
Fate is the Ancient Greek, Roman, Arabian and contemporary idea that an impersonal power or a consortium of spiritual beings determines events.
Christian theology generally prefers the idea of Providence, a term which gives precedence to God’s free will as opposed to some unavoidable patterning of events.
Related Posts » Chance
Many people see faith and reason as two approaches to life existing at opposite ends of the cognitive spectrum. It could be argued, however, that faith and reason are not always separate and (consciously or unconsciously) work together.
An example of faith and reason unconsciously working together could be found in those who make a god out of reason. These folks still come from a faith position, but their faith is placed in reason instead of God or some divine power.
On this point or, at least, on a similar point, the philosopher David Hume offered a now famous critique of causality.
Hume’s metaphysics, in particular his critique of the belief in cause and effect, remains an important challenge to our conventional way of seeing. All we can be sure of, says Hume, is that certain events occur one after another in a given region and for a certain duration.
In billiards, for instance, the white ball appears to cause the motion of other balls when impacting them on the billiard table. But here’s the radical part. Hume says that all we can truly know is that, in the past, the first ball impacted and the other balls moved. We cannot prove that the first ball’s impact will always be followed by movement of the other balls. And for Hume, there is no rational way to demonstrate a causal connection.¹
In most world religions, faith is said to be primary to reason. In Catholic theology faith is described as a supernatural virtue whereas reason is said to be a natural power. For Catholics or, indeed, anyone, both faith and reason are concerned with truth and need not conflict.
However, it seems that many insecure individuals who have been brainwashed by a cultic or even by some silly religious or scientific teaching desperately cling to a kind of misplaced faith by believing in things that are not true or, perhaps, egregiously facile.
Similarly, we find not a few self-professed thinkers who are hooked on their own faulty logic, colored by unconscious personal biases.
In their best form, faith and reason are potentially harmonious. We can live life by testing our pet hypotheses and by keeping our beliefs and theories open to revision. For many, however, faith and reason are often imperfect and discordant.
Thinkers like the Hungarian-born Arthur Koestler (1905-83) believed that clunky linkages between our human cognitive faculties (such as faith and reason) result from conflicting evolutionary additions to the human brain, additions that happened by chance instead of through any kind of grand, intelligent design. But this approach is no more subject to empirical verification than one that accepts inconsistency and inner conflict as steps toward integration and its corollary, integrity.
- David Hume (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Are Faith and Reason Compatible? (str.typepad.com)
- Faith Vs. Reason? Or Faith in Reason… Reasonable Faith..? (ryanfaulk.wordpress.com)
- By Way of Introduction (thetwowings.wordpress.com)
- Do you or do you not support reason? (verbosestoic.wordpress.com)
- Leap of Faith or Failure of Reason? (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Vatican commission affirms scripture as ‘soul of theology’ (mumbailaity.wordpress.com)
- The Reason Obama’s Faith Is Questioned (theroot.com)
- William Lane Craig discusses faith and reason with university students (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
- Accomplished by Faith… (webmasteryates.wordpress.com)