Darwin's Dice (boardgame)
The presumed idea that the principle by which humans originated is based on “chance” or dice, is so commonplace that a number of board games exist catering to this belief, such as Darwin’s Dice (Ѻ), above, or Darwin’s Chance (Ѻ), not to mention Curtis Johnson’s 2014 book Darwin’s Dice: the Idea of Chance in the Thought of Darwin.
In terminology, chance, from the Latin cadare, “to fall”, a term used in dice, in the sense of “that which falls out” (Ѻ), aka “hazard” (hazard) in French or Arabic, meaning dice, as opposed to anti-chance, refers to a thing that happens, in the general sense of the term, unpredictably, without discernible or observable cause. [1]
Determined dice
In 1973, Ernest Schoffeniels, in his Anti-Chance, gave the following description of deterministic dice: [17]

“Chance is derived from cheance, designating the way in which the dice falls, whilst hazard is an Arabic word signifying dice. Thus, concepts of chance and hazard are associated with the notion of a game where calculation and competence have no part. In principle, it is possible to determine by calculation the position of the dice if one knows the “force” applied, the importance of friction due to the air, etc., parameters difficult to determine or to control in practice.

This is why one can suppose a priori that the probability of obtaining a given face is 1/6. In order to verify this probabilistic theory, it is evidently necessary to throw the dice a considerable number of times. This example permits the identification of two important aspects of the geometry of chance: the significant number of identifiable factors difficult to control in practice (force and height of the throw, density of the air, position of the dice, asymmetry in the structure of the dice, etc.) as opposed to the restricted number of possibilities (faces of the dice). It is certain that all the parameters being known, the position of the dice is automatically determined. If therefore in practice the game of dice remains a game of chance, the parameters determining the position of the dice fluctuate about a mean value due principally to the inability of the player to reproduce the same movement twice in succession. The probabilistic nature of the phenomenon is only too apparent: it is the result of our ignorance wittingly or otherwise of the precise causes involved in its evolution.”


Epicurus | Lucretius
Greek philosopher Epicurus is oft-cited as introducing the chance-based model of the workings of the universe. The following synopsis, by Patrick Walsh (1997), in his commentary on Cicero’s discussions of Metrodorus and Hermarchus, gives an overview of the origin of the Epicurean chance model: [16]

“It is said that Metrodorus would have followed his friend Epicurus as head of the Garden had he not died first; Hermarchus succeeded instead. They joined with Epicurus in attacking Pythagoras for equating all things with number, Plato for his notion of the demiurge initiating motion in the universe, and Empedocles for positing that love and strife combine and separate the four elements. All these views of purposive creation are at odds with the Epicurean doctrine of the fusion and separation of atoms by chance.”

Lucretius, the pupil of Epicurus, described things as follows:

“For surely the atoms did not hold council, assigning order to each, flexing their keen minds with questions of place and motion and who goes where. But shuffled and jumbled in many ways, in the course of endless time they are buffeted, driven along, chancing upon all motions, combinations. At last they fall into such an arrangement as would create this universe.”
Lucretius (55BC), On the Nature of Things, on a non “created” universe


In 55BC, Roman philosopher Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods or On Destiny, in his famous "scattered letters argument", argued, in ridicule of Epicurus, that nature, operating by chance alone, could not make the world: [15]

“Is it not a wonder that anyone can bring himself to believe that a number of solid and separate particles by their chance collisions and moved only by the force of their own weight could bring into being so marvelous and beautiful a world.”
— Balbus (Cicero) (45BC), On the Nature of the Gods (pg. 161) [15]

Moreover: [13]

“If one believes such a thing possible, I cannot conceive why one would not believe as well that by haphazardly throwing a vast quantity of the twenty-one letters onto the ground, the result could be Ennius’ Annals, such that they could then be read. I doubt if chance could by itself complete even a single line.”

Cicero, here, seems to outlining the general view that the two options to choose from are: "chance" or "gods".

In 79AD, Pliny the elder stated the following about chance as god belief ideology:

“Throughout the whole world, in all places and at all times, Fortuna alone is invoked, alone commended, alone accused and subject to reproaches, to her is credited all that is received and we are subject to chance that ‘chance’ herself takes the place of god.”

In 1903, William Thomson, in his infamous Christian apologeticist speeches (see: Thomson on religion), in reference to Cicero, began to use the phrase "fortuitous concourse of atoms" as a synonym for chance; for example:

Cicero denied that they could have come into existence by a fortuitous concourse of atoms. Was there anything so absurd as to believe that a number of atoms by falling together of their own accord could make a crystal, a sprig of moss, a microbe, a living animal?”

Others who advocate chance-based nature include: Ilya Prigogine and Richard Dawkins (Ѻ),

Non-chance | Based
See main: Anti-chance
Those who adhere to a non-chance based operation of nature models seem to be generally captured in the "Goethe-Spinoza school" of thought:

“Nothing in nature is by chance. Something appears to be chance only because of our lack of knowledge.”
Benedict Spinoza (c.1675); Publication (Ѻ); cited (Ѻ) by Heinz-Otto Pietgen in Baustein des Chaos (1992)

“There is no such thing as chance; and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.”
Friedrich Schiller (c.1795), Ranker.com (Ѻ)

The view of “chance”, in Goethe’s writings, according to Bernhard Kuhn (2013), is captured, in part, throughout his Poetry and Truth, in what he refers to as the “daemonic” (see: Goethe’s daimonic), a type of force like chance, but not chance: (Ѻ)

“I perceived something in nature (whether living or lifeless, animate or inanimate) that manifested itself only in contradictions and therefore could not be expressed in any concept, much less any word. It was not divine, for it seemed irrational; not human, for it had no intelligence; not diabolical, for it was beneficent; and not angelic, for it often betrayed malice. It was like chance, for it laced continuity, and like providence, for it suggested context. Everything that limits us seemed penetrable by it, and it appeared to dispose at will over the elements necessary to our existence, to contract time and expand space. It seemed only to accept the impossible and scornfully to reject the possible.”

Other Goethe adherents, who also are anti-chance thinkers, include:

Matter and energy have an original property, assuredly not by chance, which organizes the universe in space and time.”
Lawrence Henderson (1913), The Fitness of the Environment [7]

“Problems of evolution are in large measure problems of probabilities, statistical problems. Incidentally, this reflection disposes of the rather foolish objection sometimes raised against the theory of evolution, that it ascribes the course of events in an evolving system to chance. When we describe a phenomenon as being governed by chance, we do not, of course, mean that there are no definite causes (determining factors) at work; we merely state in these terms that the causes are complex and not known to us in detail.”
Alfred Lotka (1925), Elements of Physical Biology (pg. 25)

Chance, in short, to the above thinkers, is a synonym for ignorance. A more recent anti-chance theorist is: Adrian Bejan.

Middle grounders
Some, e.g. Charles Darwin, vacillating in the middle, have expressed mixed views on the role of chance. Others, Sergius Morgulis (1952), as shown below, build arguments on anti-chance theorists, Margulis, e.g. cites Harold Blum, who in turn built his theory, in part, on the views of anti-chance theorist Lawrence Henderson, as quoted previous: [4]

“Thermodynamically directed chemical evolution could conceivably proceed indefinitely without changing from a non-living [non-living state] to a living state. Only when organic matter had achieve a high degree of organization, and had acquired diverse propensities though concatenation of such substances—with ‘chance’ as the only arbiter—did primordial life emerge as a new dimension in nature: matter perpetuating its own organization.”

Morgulis' thermodynamic arguments, here, are based on Blum, who bases his ideas on Henderson, who denies chance; Morgulis, however, is ignorant of this.

Life by Chance (demonstration)
An anti-evolution cartoon (Ѻ) depicting an atheist scientist and his “life = chance” computer program, which randomly scuffles letters, aiming to disprove intelligent design — a semi-parody of Cicero's 45BC "scattered letters argument" against Lucretius and his chance-based atomic theory origin of the world (see: typing monkeys) — according to which the program produces a “living thing” from chance.
Darwin | Chance variation
In 1859, English naturalist Charles Darwin published his evolution theory according to which, as modern truncated opinion sees things, natural selection acting upon chance variation in offspring determined the course of animate form change over time.

The term “chance variation”, supposedly, first began to be used by Darwin, in his transmutation theory, in 1840. In his 1844 Essay, the term “chance” gets two mentions. [5]

In the first edition (1859) of his On the Origin of Species, Darwin uses the term “chance”, in various ways, 43+ times. In one case he speaks of land isolation “decreasing the chance of the appearance of favourable variations” and also of great and open areas as making a “better chance of varourable variations” (pg. 105). In a latter instance (pg. 111), he states:

“Mere chance, as we may call it, might cause one variety to differ in some character from its parents, and the offspring of this variety again to differ from its parent in the very same character and in a greater degree; but this alone would never account for so habitual and large an amount of difference as that between varieties of the same species and species of the same genus.”

The first focused discussion on the term "chance" occurs in the opening of chapter five (pg. 131) titled "Laws of Variation" wherein he opens to the following:

“I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations —so common and multiform in organic beings under domestication, and in a lesser degree in those in a state of nature—had been due to chance. This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation.”

In a 22 May 1860 letter to Asa Gray, Darwin commented further on his ambivalence with the term notion of chance:

“I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me.”

Though Darwin here expressly states that the model of "variations" as being by the result of "chance" as a wholly incorrect expression, one resulting from or ignorance, the colloquial seed was planted, and into the century to following Darwin's theory began to be conceptualized as one where natural selection acts on variations resulting from "random chance" or more commonly "blind random chance" a motto that gets repeated ad nauseum up to the present —atheism advocates: Richard Dawkins (1986) and Alexander Rosenberg (2011) being two examples. [9] Dawkins, in fact, has created so much hoopla about evolution being governed by “chance” that writers Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker entitled the first chapter of their Answering the New Atheism as “Dawkin’s god, Chance”. [10]
A Muslim ridiculing the “chance” based atheist explanation of evolution and the formation of complex things, such as helicopters.

In 1914, French mathematician Emile Borel, in his book Chance, introduced the typing monkeys explanation of the statistical view of the second law.

In the 1970s, Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine began to add thermodynamics arguments into Darwin's chance-based theory of evolution. In 1995, in a prebanquet speech of an international conference on thermodynamics in Nancy, France, Prigogine asserted that the tree-shaped structures that abound in nature—including river basins and deltas, the air passages in our lungs, and lightening bolts—aléatoires [random] or the “result of throwing the dice”, in other words there is nothing underlying their similar design—it’s just a cosmic coincidence. [3]

Romanian-born American mechanical engineering thermodynamicist Adrian Bejan, who was in Prigogine's audience, reacted to this "nature is but the result of chance purview" in objection and went on to develop his constructal theory of flow channels, in which branching structures are not governed in their formation by "chance" but of geometrical flow laws. To quote from Bejan's 2012 book on his constructal theory: [3]

“Designs we see in nature are not the result of chance.”

Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev, likewise, reacted against Progigine and his notion that blind random chance is behind nature, by developing his hierarchical thermodynamics theory, the following being a representative quote: [4]

“The opinion that evolution is ‘governed’ by chance is not quite correct: the joint action of random events in a thermodynamic system should always satisfy the requirements of thermodynamics. The fan of thermodynamics always has a fixed direction.”


In 1896, the phenomenon of radioactivity was discovered by the French scientist Henri Becquerel, while working on phosphorescent materials that glow in the dark after exposure to light, which was found to be non-causal. In the century to follow, some began to use the “unpredictable” aspect of radioactive clicking of the meter to develop chance based philosophies of human nature.

In circa 1935, Italian engineer and theoretical physicist Ettore Majorana—who in 1929, completed his MS in physics with a dissertation on “The Quantum Theory of Radioactive Nuclei” at the Institute of Physics, University of Rome La Sapienza, under Italian theoretical physicist Enrico Fermi—published his “The Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences”, derives a radioactive law based theory of sociology, the following being a representative: [2]

Quantum mechanics has taught us to see in the exponential law of radioactive transformations an elemental law which cannot be reduced to a simple causal mechanism. Naturally also the statistical laws recognized by classical mechanics and relative to complex systems keep their validity according to quantum mechanics. This modified on the other hand the rules for the determination of internal configurations and does so in two different ways depending on the nature of the physical systems, thus given rise respectively to the statistical theories of Bose-Einstein, and of Fermi. However, the introduction in physics of a new type of statistical law, or simply a probabilistic one, which was hidden under the supposed determinism of ordinary statistical laws, obliges us to revise the bases of the analogy which we have previously established with the statistical laws in social sciences.”

In 1949, American isotope physicist Paul Aebersold, radioactivity, citing Becquerel, but throughout remained rather deterministic in respect to his evolution philosophy: [8]

“The more we study living things, the more we study all of nature, including the atom itself, the more we can see that everything is not just a matter of chance. Figure out the chance that some protein molecule, or some hormone, or vitamin or enzyme, for example, was gotten together by the mere chance meeting of all its component atoms out of a chaos of atoms. Such molecules are so complex that even over the period of billions of years since the earth was formed, it is still extremely unlikely that any such molecules would be formed by pure chance. It is even more inconceivable to believe that that chance can account for all the hundreds of thousands of types of molecules that occur in nature, for all the exceedingly dynamic and complicated processes which these molecules take part, and much less for all the marvels of biology.”

Although, to note, in his section on half-life, he commented:

“One cannot predict when any particular unstable atom will disintegrate or ‘die’, just as the case for mice or men.”


Another variant of the chance model, according to Sudanese-born American philosopher Monydit Malieth, is the pieces of medal randomly forming a clock analogy: [11]

“A philosopher once said: if you randomly throw pieces of metal together, they will never build a clock on their own.”

Malieth, however, goes onto state that his refutation of this claim by saying that: “as hard as it is to believe, a clock can build itself by accident if given infinite time and perpetual energy for motion”.

Chance dice (new)
A DreamsTime.com (Ѻ) pic of relationship chance dice, entitled “Lucky in Love People Chance Game Dice”, a play on the “lucky in love” motto; the opposite of which is determinism, the idea that neither chance nor dice, but fate or destiny determines relationship outcomes.

The following are related quotes:

“The idea—of life forming by random chance—is still very much alive at the popular level. For many college students who speculate about these things, ‘chance’ is still the hero. They think if you let amino acids randomly interact over millions of years life is somehow going to emerge.”
Lee Strobel (c.2003), dialogue (Ѻ) with Stephen Meyer

“The implications were fairly horrifying when it came to man’s place in this Darwinian world. Higher purpose was gone. And what of the soul? Only men had souls, it was said, but if humans shared a legacy with apes and sharks and slugs, did that leave room for a soul? For an afterlife? The logic of Darwin suggests that human existence is nothing more than a happy accident brought about by blind chance.”
— Edward Humes (2007), Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul

See also
Random chance
Typing monkeys

1. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (2000).
2. (a) Majorana, Ettore. (c.1935). “The Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences” (“Il valore delle leggi statistiche nella fisica e nelle scienze sociali”), in: Sciencia (1942), 36:55-58 (published posthumously by his friend Italian physicist Giovanni Gentile Jr.); English translation in: "Ettore Majorana: the Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences", Quantitative Finance, 5:133-40 (2005); English translation by Rosario Mantegna in: Bassani G.F (ed) (2006) Ettore Majorana Scientific Papers (pgs. 250-26). Springer.
(b) Majorana, Ettore. (c.1935). “The Value of Statistical Laws in Physics and Social Sciences (htm)” (online reprint, with biography by Carlos Pérez); Spanish version in: C. ALLONES (2004): “El valor de las leyes estadísticas en la Física y en las Ciencias Sociales”, Empiria, núm. 7: 183-209 Madrid.
3. Bejan, Adrian and Zane, J. Peder. (2012). Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization (pgs. 1-3). Doubleday.
4. Gladyshev, Georgi, P. (1997). Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings (pg. 36). Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers.
5. Wilkins, John S. (2009). “Myth 5: Darwin Thought Evolution Relied on Accidents and Chance”, ScienceBlogs, Feb 20.
6. Darwin, Charles. (1860). “Letter to Asa Gray”, May 22.
7. (a) Henderson, Lawrence. (1913). The Fitness of the Environment (quote, pg. 308; matter and energy, 25+ pgs). MacMillan Company.
(b) Parascandola, John. (1992). “L. J. Henderson and the Mutual Dependence of Variables: From Physical Chemistry to Pareto”, in: Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspective (editors: Clark Elliott and Margaret Rossiter) (quote, pg. 174). Lehigh University Press.
8. Aebersold, Paul C. (1949). “Atomic Energy Benefits: Radioisotopes”, address before the teachers in service course on atomic energy, Apr 7, New York City, in: Atoms at Work – Part I: Power From the Atom (by Dubridge), Part II: Atomic Energy Benefits: Radioisotopes (by Aebersold) (chance, pg. 23). Murray & Gee, 1950.
9. (a) Dawkins, Richard. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (chance, 37+ pgs). Norton.
(b) Rosenberg, Alex. (2011). The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions (chance, 23+ pgs). W.W. Norton & Co.
10. Hahn, Scott and Wiker, Benjamin. (2008). Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkin’s Case Against God (§1: Dawkin’s god, Chance, pgs. 10-22). Emmaus Road Publishing.
11. Malieth, Monydit (aka Tonnerre). (2013). The Future Affects the Past: What Destination is Time Rushing To? (pgs. 89-90). Red Lead Books.
12. Strobel, Lee. (2004). The Case for a Creator: a Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence that Points Toward God (pgs. 283-84). Zondervan, 2009.
13. (a) Pullman, Bernard. (1995). The Atom in the History of Human Thought (translator: Axel Reisinger) (pg. 70). Oxford University Press, 2001.
(b) Stenger, Victor J. (2013). God and the Atom: from Democritus to the Higgs Boson: the Story of a Triumphant Idea (pg. 45). Prometheus Books.
14. Oparin, Alexander. (1936). The Origin of Life (introduction and translation: Serguis Morgulis) (pg. xxii). Dover, 1965.
15. (a) Cicero. (45BC). On the Nature of the Gods (translator: Horace McGregor) (chance, pg. 166). Penguin, 1972.
(b) Hecht, Jennifer M. (2003). Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas (§:Cicero, pgs. 131-46; chance, pg. 140). HarperOne.
16. Cicero. (45BC). The Nature of the Gods (Introduction, translation, and notes: Patrick Walsh) (pgs. 27-28; On Nature, pg. 163; chance, pg. 167). Oxford University Press, 1998.
17. Schoffeniels, Ernest. (1973). Anti-Chance: a Reply to Monod’s Chance and Necessity (L’Anti-Hasard) (Amz) (translator: B.L. Reid) (dice, pg. 7). Pergamon, 1976.

Further reading
● Belo, Catarina. (2007). Chance and Determinism: in Avicenna and Averroes. Brill.

External links
Chance – Wikipedia.

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