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Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on January 26, 2000
I found this book to be very enjoyable, the prose was fast paced and it was written for the layperson to easily digest. It begins by defining chance and then showing what some of the preeminent scientists of the last few centuries had to say about it. Mr. Sproul is not trying to give a lesson in the historicity of any particular theorem he is however, trying to show that great minds have divided over these issues at hand. The books downfall, if you can call it that, was to attack quantum mechanics (QM) using logic to show that it is not a complete theory. QM adherents especially those who are philosophically attached to quantum chaos (QC) (SOAPBOX: It is a dangerous position for any `non-biased' scientist is to be philosophically or ideologically attached to any theory) have presupposed themselves to a chance (deterministic) driven cosmos.
At first I felt that this book could have benefited by showing the other scientific theories that show an indeterministic universe, but that is not Mr. Sproul's arena. He is a theologian and makes no pretense about it, his arguments are clear and cogent let me show you a couple of quotes from the books should suffice the logistician in any of us.
"Anomalies represent present mysteries. They are unsolved problems. An easy solution to mystery is to give it another name: CHANCE. Voltaire saw CHANCE as a word-substitute for the unknown, again a cover-up for ignorance. The problem is one that confuses mystery and contradiction. All contradictions are mysterious. Not all mysteries are contradictions. To say that the cause of a known effect is unknown is to say that the cause remains a mystery. To say that the cause of a known effect is chance is to say that the cause is a contradiction. It is to say that the effect has no cause, which is a contradiction of terms." Pg. 28-29
"There is no greater erroneous assumption muddying the water of contemporary science then the assumption that chance has instrumental, causal power. Here contradiction runs wild under the seemingly harmless cloak of mystery". Pg. 31
"What is basically happening here is the tacit assertion that we can have effects without causes." Pg. 48
"I do not allow for uncaused effects because uncaused effects represent a contraction in terms. The idea of an "uncaused effect" is analytically false. It is a nonsense statement, akin to speaking of square circles and married bachelors. An "effect" is by definition something produced by an antecedent cause. If it has NO CAUSE, it is not an effect. If it is an EFFECT, then it has a cause." Pg. 49
DUH!
I feel that there has been some obfuscation by another reviewer about QM, specifically about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP) and it's relation to chance. HUP does not mitigate for chance or uncertainty the antipodal is in fact true. For those of you who do not understand the HUP it is very simple. At present it is not possible to know with unlimited accuracy both the position (x) and the momentum (p) of a particle. Why can't I know? Well in order locate a certain particle exactly, an observer must be able to bounce off it a photon of radiation; this act of location itself alters the position of the particle. To locate the position accurately, photons of short wavelengths would need to be used. These photons have a high momenta and would cause a large effect upon the particles position. It's kind of like a pool-ball effect, you bounce one photon off a particle it is going to budge it a little bit. So there is uncertainty associated with each measurement that you can never get rid of you experiments.
But please note and this is the important point that many seem to misunderstand. The HUP does not say, "everything is uncertain." Rather, it tells us very exactly where the limits of uncertainty lie when we make measurements of sub-atomic events. This is not chance; this is EFFECT. Whenever I make a measurement, I MUST disturb the system, I am the CAUSE. The uncertainty then of the effect that I have caused lies in our ability or rather our inability to measure a particle without disturbing it. The logic that says because we at this time cannot measure a particles x and p accurately while also predicting how the particle will react to our measurement stimulus must therefore show that because we don't know something (mystery) is it is therefore acting in a undeterministic (chance) fashion is farcical. Since when in the scientific world has a paucity of data about a known event been shown to PROVE that the event in question didn't have precedent verifiable cause? NEVER.
One last point, anybody interested in understanding how cause is the deterministic factor in science should learn about chaos mathematics, and also look into the superstring theories. Just search them out on the web and you will probably drop the deterministic philosophies that crept into the noble field of science.
Kudos Mr. Sproul, for a non-scientist you did an excellent job.
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on February 10, 2007
Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology by R. C Sproul is the author's response to Modern Science's Leap Of Faith. It is a well thought out philosophical and theological response to the idea that "chance" plays a part in physics and ultimately creation. The author, a well known and much published Reformed Theologian dissects modern science's desire to plug in the idea of chance in place of a creator. This is not a science book per se, but a critique of how science, by its choice of terminology, mostly centering on the word and idea of chance, abandons the scientific method and embraces its own man based faith system to explain the unexplainable. Dr. Sproul does a great job of showing how this type of science abandons reason and logic when it refuses to even consider or allow for an intelligent creator.

This is a great book and a gives the reader a good background on how philosophy and theology can shed light on the unknown. A good read and worthy of anyone interested in how a belief in a creator God does not mean one must abandon science or reason.
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on July 11, 2004
Cretio Ex Nihilo

This work is meant as groundwork in apologetics in which the main scope is proving absurdity of self creation. That something has always existed. Some reviewers have taken exception that any scientist claims that there was ever purely nothing. One calls any such statements as hyperbole ( deception in my mind). Anyway the argument by some is everything has a cause? R.C. Sproul argues this is a fallacy. Something cannot become without something already existing. One reviewer argues that sub atomical is the nothing something comes from. Anyway one can argue that the atomic level has already existed or some sub level. One can argue that the Big Bang caused the universe we know. R.C. Sproul argues that the Big Bang did not cause being. R.C. Sproul does not accept the Big Bang theory, but the major theme of this book is about the misconception of chance and the origin of the universe from nothing. Therefore he does present the Big Bang theory demands an antecedent (something to exist before hand).

Chance is neither an active or knowing being. Chance is a useful term about probability. R.C. Sproul states that many a scientist talk as if chance can cause something given enough time.

The book does not detail how a glob of material floated based on polarity or something colliding in time to cause certain reactions that eventually resulted in the Universe and existence that you and I know today. Neither do I believe many scientist describe the Big Bang theory this way. It is often explain as some magical theory for the cause of all existence (not just the universe). Many in the general public may have this misconception. R.C. Sproul shows the fallacy of such thinking.

R.C.. Sproul believes that God has always existed. He also argues that everything else is caused by God. If God did not exist nothing else would exist.
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on October 5, 2005
A friend of mine in the church who works for NASA gave this book to me one day as we discussed violations of scientific laws by means of naturalistic causes (not chances) of the origin of the universe. As soon as I said the words "law of causality" he got this huge smile and his face lit up and he ran to his bookshelf, handed me this book and simply said "You can have this." LoL. Thank you, Bill. =)

No offense to the people who gave the book a negative view and then spewed nonsense about the book AND science, but the arguments agaisnt it are pitiful. Sproul uses logic throughout the book. It is basically a book of logic and common sense. (See chapter called "The Policeman of Science".) He even puts logic to it's own test. Please get a copy for yourself and for your friends who are into learning science via common sense.

It is common sense that chance does not exist. Every single effect has an adequate cause . This is known as the law of causality. Causes have at LEAST one effect, maybe sometimes more than one, but at least one. Every effect has a cause, or is in line somewhere in a chain of causes and effects. A cause may also be an effect and visa versa, but not at the same time and in the same relationship. A cause is not a cause without an effect. An effect is not an effect without a cause. NEVER is the effect of a cause a "chance" effect. NEVER is the cause of an effect a "chance" cause. Chance doesn't exist. Chance is the word we give to causes and effects, but that does not mean we accept chance as a legitimate cause or effect.

Chance means there is no cause, that it just happened that way. Whatever that means. Chance is probability, not causal power. It is inactive. If given as cause, chance means nothing, because it doesn't act, it predicts. Therefore chance IS nothing. The probability of nothing is nothing. And nothing doesn't exist.

Example: I am typing letters into the text box here. The words here are not appearing by chance nor are they intellible by chance. My mind is cause of the finger movement, the finger movement is the cause of the keys being pressed, the keys being pressed is the cause of the text appearing where it is now. (I hope you already knew this but some people have a hard time with it... the negative reviewers.)

Sproul gives a hearty serving of exmaples of this even into probabilities of coin flips. Every outcome would be determined by variations of the flip: How much pressure is used. If it is caught, if it is allowed to fall. When it is caught, how far it falls. Gravity, wind, weight of the coin, etc. We call it chance because it has 2 different outcomes in an uncontrolled environment. But it isn't really chance because the outcome (effect) of the flip is determined by a number of causes. You see, probabilities only take into account all of the causal powers, but probability is never factored in as a probable cause - only active forces. Nobody flips the coin and says probability did it, we say something somewhere did it. Knowing the outcome, we can trace back to the flip why the effect was the effect it was by, you guessed it, calculating the various causes. You work your way backwards to reveal every cause. Probabilities need causes and effects. Probability will ALWAYS be zero without them.

Sproul's point is also well made about how absurd self-creation is. (Nevermind the laws of thermodynamics.) Using the law of non-contradiction, it is obvious to see that to create one's self, that self must both exist AND not exist at the same time. This is a contradiction. (Duh.)

He unravels Neils Bohr's "great truth" statement by examining it with the same law. "Bohr retreated into an epistemology of contradiction. Had he stopped at the level of paradox, a lot of linguistic confusion could have been avoided."

I could spoil it all for you but you can pay $3 and add it to your collection of keepers.
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on October 10, 2013
Clear and logical. Describes the unfounded presuppositions that led to major errors in many disciplines, all of which contributed to the current disintegration of Western society.
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on May 17, 2000
A reviewer below missed the point of the book. True, the scientists Sproul quotes never explicitly say "chance has power." But as he explains, their theories require that it does have power. Many interpretations of quantum mechanics are illogical, because they describe things they don't understand as "chance."

"Sproul, like some other Christians, is uncomfortable with scientific theories, such as the big bang theories, because they leave God out." This statement is untrue, Sproul never states or implies he is uncomfortable. In fact the big bang has quite the theological implications which is why skeptics tried (and still try) to find ways around it. Science has pointed to God for some time (The Creator and the Cosmos,Why the Universe Is the Way It Is), but that really isn't what this book is about.

It is about how illogical thinking has infected many theories and thoughts of various philosophers of science and scientists.

That's why this book isn't just for Christians because it is by a Christian theologian. This is a well-reasoned book on logical thinking and how such thinking can be misused and twisted. A great resource for anyone interested in more than just believing what others have told them is true.
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on April 19, 2014
This book is well written. It covers many philosophical thoughts that leads to what is "chance". Several chapters will require rereading because of it deep thougtful concepts. It worth your time reading.
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on May 6, 2015
RC is a genius
he can explain anything substantive so idiots like me can understand
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on April 30, 2015
R. C. is great philosopher and an even greater theologian.
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on November 9, 2004
Some of the reviewers have stated remarks like "Sproul doesn't know what he is talking about!" I beg to differ. If chance is our causation, how can we even make such an assertion? Wouldn't even such a statement assume that there is a correct path, given that his is incorrect? What would we compare error to to ensure that it is indeed incorrect if all is chance and randomness? This smacks of a logical contradiction with no end in sight! Dr. Sproul's works are excellent, cogent and verifiable. This book should be purchased and read.

In case you are wondering...the premise of this book is the refutation of chance as causation in and of itself. For anyone to consider random chance as a progenitor of life is a travesty...as this book so accurately dismantles. Chance as a creator simply does not pass the smell test and Dr. Sproul drives this point home with impeccable logic and evidence.

Assuming that chance is the ultimate causation of all that there is and randomness rules...how can we know anything for certainty? Doesn't this fly in the face of reality? Not only would/should we question everything...even the notion that chance exists as causation...would be questionable! Dr. Sproul takes on this mind-dizzying concept and shows that it is totally illogical in all of its ramifications.
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