Mike Flynn, when he is not busy writing great science fiction that will be read for many years to come, is a statistician by trade. His specialty being the contemplation of things like “randomness” and “chance” and other such things, he has been afforded an opportunity to think about the hoo hah that typically accompanies arguments between Christian fundamentalists and atheist fundamentalists as they ignore the Church and engage in sideshow arguments about evolution, “chance” and such like. As a result, he brings a perspective most people don’t have (such as seeing evolution as a prefigurement of the Eucharist) or, in this case, making the rather tongue-in-cheek Thomistic argument that randomness points to a Creator:
The sixth way is taken from the randomness to be found in things. Among things that exist we observe that some come to be by chance, as for example the striking of Earth-1 by a marsbody at precisely the right angle and speed to throw off a lunar divot. Or the end of a ball in a slot on the roulette wheel. Although the motion of the ball is governed by deterministic laws, the final cause – viz., which numbered slot it winds up in cannot be predicted. However, we note that in paradigmatic random situations, such as a casino, great care and planning must be taken to ensure the requisite randomness. Equipment must be fabricated and installed, rules enacted, systems established for accounting for the results, attracting players, and so on. Thus while much of what happens in a casino happens by chance, the casino itself cannot happen by chance. It is thus clear that a random universe does not arise by chance, but by careful planning. But careful planning requires a Planner. Etc.
(Sexta via sumitur ex fortuiti qui in rebus inveniuntur. Invenitur enim in rebus aliquid in esse veniunt a casu, ut pro exemplo quod planeta magnitudinis Martis percuciet terram-I justum ius celeritate et angulus ut planeta magnitudinis Lunae abruptus est. Etc.)
One of the things I love most about the Faith is that it really does give us full scope for genuinely creative thinking. Flynn exemplifies this. More people should read him.
For myself, I’ve never been able to see a problem with the notion that God works through what we call “randomness”. This just seems to me to be God wearing Fuzz Puss glasses and preferring not to be noticed. After all, one of the *major* ways that Israel sought God’s guidance was with the Urim and Thummim (essentially rolling the dice). Matthias was chosen to replace Judas by drawing lots. Ahab’s death was prophesied by an inspired prophet, but accomplished by an archer who shot “at random” according to inspired scripture. So what the big deal with God working through the normal shuffle of randomness in nature to create man? This is simply what we call “Providence”.