The secularization of chance: Toward understanding the impact of the probability revolution on Christian belief in divine providence

Zygon 50 (3):604-620 (2015)
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This article gives a brief history of chance in the Christian tradition, from casting lots in the Hebrew Bible to the discovery of laws of chance in the modern period. I first discuss the deep-seated skepticism towards chance in Christian thought, as shown in the work of Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin. The article then describes the revolution in our understanding of chance—when contemporary concepts such as probability and risk emerged—that occurred a century after Calvin. The modern ability to quantify chance has transformed ideas about the universe and human nature, separating Christians today from their predecessors, but has received little attention by Christian historians and theologians.


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