hard read, but very biblical and God-centered
Mathematicians, scientists, and analysts will find a smorgasboard of material to chew on and savor in Vern S. Poythress’s April 2014 release, Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events, published by Crossway. The book presents a biblical worldview of chance and probability, filled with detail and countless examples.
First off, Chance and the Sovereignty of God by Vern S. Poythress is not an easy read. It’s very academic, as it should be, since it deals with the math and science of probability and chance. As a non-mathematician, I found myself taking frequent brain breaks as I read! Quite honestly, I didn’t understand everything I read, tending to get a bit bogged down in some of the details and explanations. But this one thing is true: I came away from Chance and the Sovereignty of God with a renewed sense of awe for who God is and how creative He is.
In the book, Poythress deals with a variety of topics including happenstance, disasters and suffering, human choice, random events, chance, probability, predictions and outcomes, gambling, and astrology. Throughout Chance and the Sovereignty of God, Poythress affirms the greatness of God and our inability to completely understand God and His ways because they are higher than ours (Isaiah 55). Acknowledging God’s control over all, Poythress urges readers to praise God for His unsearchable ways. He says, “In every chance event, God provides for us an example of His greatness. We should respond with worship. We should praise Him for His power, his wisdom, His love, His faithfulness, and His creativity”
It seems clear that one of the author’s purposes in Chance and the Sovereignty of God is to help readers see God’s greatness as evidenced in His control over chance, probability and random events, and, as a result, to worship and praise God because of that new discovery. Though I had difficulty wading through some of the explanations because I’m not a mathematician, I definitely came away with a new appreciation for God’s greatness and a desire to worship Him for who He is.
I found the author’s tone to be inviting, honest, and academic. I appreciated the clear examples Poythress gave throughout the book, helping make abstract concepts more understandable. Additionally, I appreciated the book’s special features, including many figures and illustrations throughout the book that added to the clarity of the author’s main points. The appendices delve deeper into some of the topics, such as gambling, diseases, and statistics, giving readers even more to chew on. The general and scriptural indexes make the book an easy reference, helping readers to pinpoint specific topics and references quickly and easily.
Vern S. Poythress is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he has taught for over three decades. He has six earned degrees, including a PhD from Harvard University and a ThD from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the author of numerous books on a variety of topics, including biblical interpretation, language, and science.
*I received a copy of the book from Crossway for this review; however, the opinions expressed are my own.
Published 8 months ago by Laura Langley