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August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
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Does God Ever Play Dice With the Universe? A Jewish Response.

Dice

Dice

One other aspect that may be noted is the in the world of nature a certain indeterminacy exists by quantum theory and one may ask what benefit this generates. A response that may be offered is that this opens the door to a more open universe, and hence one which cannot be fully grasped and in this sense filled with more possibilities. Humankind is not completely at sea here since probabilities matter, but the indeterminacy means more diversity and with it a more interesting place. This becomes a prelude to the most significant area where indeterminacy matters, namely, within the realm of human decision making. Further, this capacity of humankind without complete external determination to affect the universe appears unique and consistent with some kabalistic writing such as that of Rabbi Moshe Nachman (12 century Kabalist) who upon his interpretation of the Zohar, writes that only humankind (not even angels) are endowed with this capacity.

It is significant that Psalm 104:24 glorifying the diversity of creation is immediately preceded by the role of humankind in its decision making capacity (104:23: Man goeth forth with his work and doeth his labors until evening.” This follows the order created by God and revealed in such verses as “ He makes springs pour water into ravines, it flows as between the mountains.” (Ps 104:10).

It is, therefore, the decision making aspects where randomness is most significant and where God has granted us through the “nefesh ha chaim)” a creative role in shaping the future. In response to Albert Einstein’s comment about God playing dice in the universe we may answer, “ Yes, God does play dice with the universe , but only with humankind as a player in his image by granting opportunities in the holy enterprise called life. This provides new meaning to the phrase “as luck may have it,” imbuing it with religious significance.

About the Author: Howard Zik is the author of Jewish Ideas. Creator of the Blog: Encountering Holiness and Philosophy


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