Divine Providence and Chance in the World

Keywords: God, divine providence, creation, chance, omnipotence


The aim of the paper is to defend two theses: first, that the existence of chance events is compatible with God’s existence, and second, that chance might be part of divine providence. In what follows, the conjunction of the two is called “the compatibility thesis”; as will be argued, the thesis is grounded in contemporary science and in the concept of an omnipotent God, the creator of the universe. The paper is organized as follows. Section two presents the historical background and doctrinal basis of the concept of divine providence. Section three discusses the argument from chance for the non-existence of God and its critique. Section four is concerned with possible models of God’s action in the world where chance events occur. Finally, section five elaborates on the idea of God and His perfection—omnipotence, omniscience, benevolence, and sovereign will.

Author Biography

Dariusz Łukasiewicz, Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, Poland

Dariusz Łukasiewicz, Prof. Dr Hab., Head of the Chair of Logic and Ontology, Institute of Philosophy, Kazimierz Wielki University


Bartholomew, David John. 1984. God of Chance. Tottenham/London: SCM Press Ltd.

Bartholomew, David John. 2008. God, Chance and Purpose. Can God have It Both Ways? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bultmann, Rudolph. 1984. New Testament and Mythology and Other Basic Writings. Edited and translated by Schubert Ogden. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2000. 2nd ed. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Washington, DC.

Collins, Robin. 2011. “Divine Action and Evolution.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology, edited by Thomas P. Flint and Michael C. Rea, 241–62. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conway Morris, Simon. 2003. Life’s Solution. Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Corman, Avaray. 1971. Oh God! New York: Bantam Books.

Darwin, Charles. 1954. The Origin of Species. Facsimile of the first edition, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Originally published 1859.

Dawkins, Richard. 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Dawkins, Richard. 1996. Climbing Mount Improbable. London: Penguin Books.

Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The God Delusion. Bantam Press: Houghton Mifflin.

Epictetus. 1983. Handbook. Translated by Nicholas White. Indianopolis, IL: Hackett.

Harper, Leland. 2013. “A Deistic Discussion of Murphy and Tracey’s Accounts of God’s Limited Activity in the Natural World.” Forum Philosophicum 18 (1): 93–107.

Harper, Leland. 2015. “Epistemic Deism Revisited.” Forum Philosophicum 20 (1): 51–63.

Haught, John. 2007. “Darwin, Design and Divine Providence.” In Debating Design. From Darwin to DNA, edited by William Dembski and Michael Ruse, 229–45. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hodgson, David. 2011. “Quantum Physics, Consciousness, and Free Will”. In The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, edited by Robert Kane, 57–83. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Holy Bible. The Revised Standard Version. Catholic Edition. 1991. Atlanta: Catholic Bible Press.

Flint, Thomas P. 1998. Divine Providence. The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Ghirardi, Giancarlo. 2016. “Collapse Theories.” In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (February 2016), edited by Edward N. Zalta. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-collapse/.

Gilson, Etienne. 1932. L’Esprit de la philosophie medieval. Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin.

Griffin, David Ray. 1981. “Creation out of Chaos and the Problem of Evil.” In Encountering Evil, edited by Stephen T. Davis, 101–19. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press.

Gutowski, Piotr. 2016. Stare i nowe. Esej o roli jednostkowych podmiotów, zmiany i wątpienia w religii. Poznań: W drodze.

Hartshorne, Charles. 1984. Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes. New York: State University of New York.

Hasker, William. 1999. The Emergent Self. Ithaca, NY–London: Cornell University Press.

Heller, Michał. 2011. Filozofia przypadku. Kosmiczna fuga z preludium i codą. Kraków: Copernicus Center Press.

Jaeger, Lydia. 2015. “Chance in the Created World: How to Avoid Common Misunderstandings about Divine Action.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (3): 151–65.

Judycki, Stanisław. 2010. Bóg i inne osoby. Poznań: W drodze

Kauffman, Stuart. 1995. At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Complexity. London: Viking.

Keller, James. 2007. Problems of Evil and the Power of God. Aldershot, England–Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Larmer, Robert. 2015. “Special Divine Acts: Three Pseudo-Problems and a Blind Alley.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (4): 61–81.

Łukasiewicz, Dariusz. 2014. Opatrzność Boża, wolność, przypadek. Studium z analitycznej filozofii religii. Poznań: W drodze.

Łukasiewicz, Dariusz. 2015. “Argument from Chance.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (1): 199–207.

Łukasiewicz, Dariusz. 2018. “Epistemic Deism and Probabilistic Theism.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (1): 129–40.

Łukasiewicz, Elżbieta. 2008. “Czy język to projekt doskonały? Zasada ekonomii w strukturze języka i założeniach programu minimalistycznego.” Filozofia Nauki 16 (16): 27–40.

Łukasiewicz, Elżbieta. 2018. Linguistic Evidentiality and Epistemic Justification of Beliefs. Bydgoszcz: Kazimierz Wielki University Press.

Maudlin, Tim. 2005. “Distilling Metaphysics from Quantum Physics.” In The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics, edited by Michael J. Loux and Dean W. Zimmerman, 461–87. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McCann, Hugh Joseph. 2012. Creation and the Sovereignty of God. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

McCann, Hugh Joseph. 2012a. “Divine Providence.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012), edited by Edward N. Zalta. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/providence-divine/.

Monod, Jacques. 1972. Chance and Necessity. London: Collins.

Monton, Bradley. 2014. “God Acts in the Quantum World.” Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 5:167–84.

Ormsby, Eric. 2011. “Islamic Philosophy.” In Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy, edited by Jay L. Garfield & William Edelglass, 432–46. Oxford–New York: Oxford University Press.

Plantinga, Alvin. 2011. Where the Conflict Really Lies. Science, Religion and Naturalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pollard, William Grosvenor. 1958. Chance and Providence. London: Faber and Faber.

Polkinghorne, John Charlton. 1984. The Quantum World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Rogers, Katherin A. 2007. “Anselmian Eternalism: The Presence of a Timeless God.” Faith and Philosophy 24, no. 1 (January): 3–27.

Rogers, Katherin A. 2008. Anselm on Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rogers, Katherin A., and William Hasker. 2011. “Anselm and the Classical Idea of God: A Debate.” In Philosophy of Religion: The Key Thinkers, edited by Jeffrey J. Jordan, 7–21. London: Continuum.

Rowe, William. 1990. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.” In The Problem of Evil, edited by Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Adams, 126–37. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schoffeniels, Ernest. 1976. Anti-chance: A Reply to Monod’s Chance and Necessity. Translated by Benjamin L. Reid. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Stępień, Tomasz. 2019. Porządek i miłość. Koncepcja opatrzności Bożej w myśli starożytnej. Warsaw: Teologia Polityczna.

Swinburne, Richard. 1998. Providence and the Problem of Evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tkaczyk, Marcin. 2015. Futura Contingentia. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL.

Wojtysiak, Jacek. 2012. Spór o istnienie Boga. Poznań: W drodze.

Xenophon. 1994. Memorabillia. Translated by Ammy L. Bonette. Ithaca, NY–London: Cornell University Press.

Ziemiński, Ireneusz. 2011. “Argumenty za istnieniem Boga.” In Przewodnik po metafizyce, edited by Sebastian Tomasz Kołodziejczyk, 549–90. Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM.