Divine Providence: Fine-Grained, Coarse-Grained, or Something in Between?

Keywords: Divine Providence, problem of chance, probabilistic theism, theodicy of chance, gratuitous evil


Dariusz Łukasiewicz has investigated in depth the “Argument from Chance” which argues that the data revealing chance in the world are incompatible with Divine Providence. Łukasiewicz agrees that these data undermine the traditional model of Providence—a fine-grained model in which every single detail is controlled by God—but maintains that they are not incompatible with a coarse-grained model—in which God leaves to chance many aspects of history (including some horrendous evils). Furthermore, Łukasiewicz provides independent reasons to prefer this coarse-grained model. Even though I agree that a maximally fine-grained model is undermined by the scientific data, I argue that this is no sufficient reason to adopt a model as coarse-grained as Łukasiewicz’s. I propose a model of intermediate level of fine-grainedness which could avoid the drawbacks of both extremes, and seems to me to provide a more traditional approach to the problem of evil.

Author Biography

Jean-Baptiste Guillon, University of Navarra

Jean-Baptiste Guillon is Assistant Professor at the University of Navarra


Bartholomew, David J. 1984. God of Chance. London: SCM Press.

Bartholomew, David. J. 2008. God, Chance and Purpose: Can God Have It Both Ways? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511807701.

Collins, Robin. 2009. “The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe.” In The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 202–281. New York: Wiley.

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

Friederich, Simon. 2018. “Fine-Tuning.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018), edited by Edward N. Zalta. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/fine-tuning/.

Geach, Peter. 1977. Providence and Evil: The Stanton Lectures 1971–2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hawthorne, John, and Yoaav Isaacs. 2018. “Fine-Tuning Fine-Tuning.” In Knowledge, Belief, and God: New Insights in Religious Epistemology, edited by Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Dani Rabinowitz, 136–68. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hodgson, David. 2002. “Quantum Physics, Consciousness, and Free Will.” In The Oxford Handbook of Freewill, edited by Robert Kane. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kane, Robert. 1996. The significance of free will. New York: Oxford University Press.

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. https://doi.org/10.24204/ejpr.v7i1.138.

Łukasiewicz, Dariusz. 2017. “Probabilistic Theism and the Problem of Evil.” Analiza i Egzystencja 39: 5–17. https://doi.org/10.18276/aie.2017.39-01.

Łukasiewicz, Dariusz. 2018. “Epistemic Deism and Probabilistic Theism.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10 (1): 129–40. https://doi.org/10.24204/ejpr.v9i4.1872.

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

Monod, Jacques. 1970. Le hasard et la nécessité: essai sur la philosophie naturelle de la biologie moderne. Paris: Seuil.

Peels, Rik. 2016. “Can God Repent?” Edited by J. Kvanvig. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 7: 190–212.

Plantinga, Alvin. 2012. Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Popper, Karl, and John Eccles. 1977. The Self and Its Brain, An Argument for Interactionism. New York: Springer International.

Van Inwagen, Peter. 1988. “The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God.” In Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism, edited by Thomas V. Morris, 211–35. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Van Inwagen, Peter. 2006. The Problem of Evil. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Weatherford, Roy. 1982. Philosophical Foundations of Probability Theory. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.