Design, Chance, or Necessity?

by Dave DeSonier

When identifying the cause of things in everyday life—an object, an event, a signal from space—there are only three possibilities: 1) Necessity, 2) Chance, or 3) Design.

EVERYTHING is caused by necessity, by chance, or by design.

Necessity

To say that something is caused “by necessity” requires that “it can happen in one and only one way.” In other words, only one possible outcome exists, and it must always occur.

The following are all examples of “necessity:”

  • “Heads” come up while flipping a two-headed coin.
  • 2 + 2 = 4. 
  • Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Massive bodies exert a gravitational force according to a specific formula.

In our universe, these events cannot have alternative outcomes. It is impossible for any other outcome to occur.

Contingency

The opposite of necessity is contingency.  Contingent outcomes do not have to occur, because multiple outcomes are possible. For example, while using a normal, six-sided die, rolling a “3” is contingent, since five other rolls are possible.

Contingent events are always the result of either chance or design.

Chance

For something to be caused “by chance” requires the event or outcome to be:

  • Contingent:  There must be more than one possible outcome.
  • Plausible:  There must be a reasonable probability of the outcome occurring “at random” or “by accident.” If the probability is exceedingly small, i.e. beyond plausibility, then “chance” is not an acceptable explanation.

Design

In order to attribute something to design, the event or outcome must be…

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