Is there such a thing as randomness?

It seems that there is not.

That which we call chance, random, coincidence, seems to not exist in this world, whether we believe the words of prophets or scientists. This much should be obvious to those of faith in gods. The term “In God’s plan” and the idea of a singular all powerful entity that exists outside of time that created the world makes it unlikely that events could occur that were not preordained by said entity. Polytheists tend to have a similar occurrences in their beliefs as is clear in the tale of Oedipus Rex. His fate was foretold from birth that he would slay his father and lay his mother and the very acts that both he and his family took to avoid this destiny were what brought it about.

Particularly interesting in Oedipus Rex were the words of his mother Jocasta.

“Why should a man whose life seems ruled by chance
live in fear—a man who never looks ahead,
who has no certain vision of his future?
It’s best to live haphazardly, as best one can.
Do not worry you will wed your mother.
It’s true that in their dreams a lot of men
have slept with their own mothers, but someone
who ignores all this bears life more easily.”

It is as though she is saying that life is like a river and we should go with the flow, such a peaceful and idyllic image. Lazily drifting and being carried by the current is all well and good when the river is flowing peacefully, but what about when one approaches rapids or a waterfall? Her position is quite ironic considering that she tried desperately to escape the fate of her family foretold by prophecy and she even takes her own life. She was never in control of the events of her life and she could not bear it. Fatalism may have been able to make her deny her responsibility in the outcome, but the outcome was still too harsh for her to bear. Perhaps her suicide was a desperate attempt to be in control of her death if her life was out of her hands, or perhaps that was fate as well.

In Soul Reaver 2, when Raziel and Kain meet at the Pillars of Nosgoth, Kain talks about how they are both passengers on the wheel of destiny and currently he is presented with a dilemma he likens to a coin. On one side he sacrifices himself to restore the pillars and save Nosgoth, his death would be the extinction of vampires and his will of restoring the rule of vampires to Nosgoth would be defeated. On the other side he refuses the sacrifice and the pillars are doomed to collapse. The game is rigged, even more so than it first appears. “But suppose you throw a coin enough times, suppose one day it lands on its edge” It is interesting that he likens the scenario to a coin toss given that he has control over it; he can choose whether or not he martyrs himself but one does not have control over which side a coin lands on. A coin toss is in the hands of chance or perhaps fate according to the opinion of the many. But I knew one girl that insisted that the outcome of a coin toss could not be labeled random.

Let us imagine a gambler who bets his daily wages on a coin toss in the casino each night.
He calls the winning side while the coin is in the air and if he is correct, he doubles his money but if he is wrong he loses it all. The force applied by the gambler determines how the coin will dance about the air and on which side it will find its rest. Theoretically, if the gambler could control his muscles precisely enough, he could exert the exact same force with every toss, and if the external conditions such as the presence of wind were also stable, then the gambler could get the same outcome with every toss.

Is such a level of precision possible for humans? Perhaps not but if it were, then the gambler’s bets would certainly not be gambles. Suppose through practice the gambler gained the ability to consistently throw the coin so it could land on its edge every time. An ignorant spectator seeing him in action would assume that the gambler was blessed by God, if not God himself.  The gambler would appear to be weaving the threads of fate themselves having evolved beyond the human limitation of being bound to chance.

But we must question whether gambler actually chose to become the master of coin flips himself or if that was already decided by fate. The gambler most likely chose to practice his technique so he could earn more money gambling. He wanted to earn more money for many reason ranging from satiating his most base and primal urges such as hunger from the more complex ones such as possibly the desire to open a casino of his own. These desires are found in the gambler’s heart, soul, or mind, whatever one wishes to denote it is not important.

The nature of the soul is a topic for debate but it is generally agreed upon that it has something to do with our conscious awareness. Our conscious awareness comes from our brain which is a physical thing made of molecules, atoms, and various subatomic particles just as every other object in the physical world. Every sensation our mind perceives derives from a reaction of our 100 billion neurons. They communicate via sending chemical signals to one another which is happening constantly all around the body. These chemical signals that fire beneath our conscious awareness are what provide us with our conscious awareness.

This is not just the case for physical sensations of the outside world; all our internal thoughts and processes are caused by waves of chemical reactions. It is impossible to distinguish the effects of any single of these reactions but every one of our mental processes is the result of their aggregation. It becomes easier to understand this effect when one contemplates how drugs such as alcohol effect the mind by fuddling with the processing thereby effecting the thoughts and influencing the soul. The general feeling of good is just a rush of dopamine and people can make themselves feel good by using drugs such as cocaine. Having more serotonin can counter depression which itself is a state of mind caused by chemical imbalances.

Whether it be pleasure, pain, the sight of a predator, the sight of a mate, every thought is constructed from a reaction to some form of stimulus run through our brains architecture which was shaped by previous stimuli, chemicals currently in the body, and data passed down through our genetics. Every cell is a simple machine that gives a specific output to a specific input and we are nothing more than an amalgamation of them. We are a complex biological machines, but machines nonetheless.

All molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles behave in probabilistic ways. Currently some of the smaller bits have processes that seem to be random and unpredictable thanks to quantum weirdness, but who is to say that this is truly random and not just an apparent randomness we perceive as random due to the limitations of our observational sciences. Quantum entanglement and the changing of states and properties of particles when measured is also quite possibly due to our current limitations, but let us suppose that we could observe all perfectly.

Suppose we could see all, had awareness of every particle and every force upon it and we discovered or invented the formulas for all these interactions. If we could just pause time and examine the forces acting upon each and every particle and calculate all of their movements from now into the future and we could reverse this process to deduce every movement they made since the beginning of time. The story of all history would be revealed from the moment of the Big Bang to the Heat Death, or Big Rip or Big Crunch, whatever the final hours of the universe will be. All that occurs is inevitable from the universe’s dawning if this is the case. Whether you imagine it all as a play written by God or the mad ravings of an unthinking singularity erupting, it does not matter. All has already been decided.


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