Chance Excerpt


Why do we humans exist surrounded by a spectacularly beautiful universe? There are only two realistic possibilities: We are either the result of the random interaction of the universe’s natural forces, or we are the handiwork of a creator. If we are accidents of nature, there is no transcendental significance to human existence. We are simply the life form that occupies the top of the food chain. We are not endowed by a creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are no unalienable rights. There is no higher moral law handed down to us from above. We are ruled by man-made laws which are little more than exercises in political expediency, and the only moral philosophy that makes sense is: Eat, drink, and be merry (or do whatever else makes you happy), for tomorrow you may die, and for you, existence will be over.

If we are the handiwork of a creator, there may be a great deal of significance to human existence. The values of our creator would constitute a higher law that supersedes whatever legal codes humans may enact. And where we spend eternity, if there is life after human existence, may depend on whether the values and loyalties we demonstrate during our earthly lives are consistent with those of our creator.

Accidents of nature or the handiwork of a creator, which is more likely? The available empirical evidence tells us that about 13.8 billion years ago, there was a moment of creation. A tiny amount of matter expanded (possibly exploded), filling the universe with what eventually became enough matter to form at least a trillion stars and probably several trillion planets, moons, and other celestial bodies. This expanded universe seems to have been carefully designed. It contained exactly the right forces and components needed to remain stable for billions of years. It also included what in time became the elements needed for life and at least one planet with an environment capable of sustaining life. The idea that all this might have happened through a random process stretches credulity and raises a fundamental question: Can you have a finely-tuned universe without an intelligent being doing the fine-tuning ?

If there is a creator, what can we say about her? First, we know she is extremely powerful. Any being capable of creating enough matter to form a trillion suns is powerful beyond what human minds can comprehend. Second, we can assume that creating a universe that would remain stable for 13.8 billion years and laying the groundwork for life required a major effort. But why did she go to all that trouble?

Through the medium of fiction, I have tried to show that there might be a logical answer to that question. The answer set forth in Chance may not be the answer. But that is beside the point. Chance sets forth one possible scenario in which a religious explanation for existence would make a great deal of sense. Of course, there may be other scenarios that do as well.

I wrote Chance from the Christian perspective. But I did not write it to convince readers to become Christians. My goal was to invite readers to resolve life’s most fundamental question —why do we exist—on the basis of whatever evidence seems persuasive to them. A second goal was to point out that many of the reasons offered to dismiss the existence of God in our secular society defy logic: God has never appeared to me; therefore, there can’t be a God. Bad things happen to good people; therefore, there can’t be a God. Church leaders have done evil things; therefore, there can’t be a God. Chance is a plea not to answer existence’s most basic question with a non-sequitur .

Over the past two millennia, Christian church leaders have missed many opportunities to grow the Christian church. One of their most recent failures is ignoring how the scientific evidence describing the beginning of the universe and the beginning of life point to a creator. In its early years, the Catholic Church strongly supported scientific research and inquiry. Church leaders believed the more we understood creation, the more we would understand the creator. As a result, many of our earliest scientific discoveries were made by monks and scientists supported by the Catholic Church. But when Galileo, Darwin, and others began to describe a material world that differed from what church leaders had imagined based on their interpretations of scripture, this movement slowed. And for some Protestant faiths, these different scientific explanations for existence became an intellectual call to arms to rebut what was viewed as heresy .

Approximately sixteen hundred years ago, St. Augustine warned Christians that mindlessly rejecting scientific evidence would make them look foolish to their contemporaries and undercut the faith. Many of today’s young, sophisticated thinkers are turning away from the church and its rejection of empirical evidence, proving once again that Augustine was one of the great intellects of the ages .

I hope you enjoy reading Chance. And I hope it leads you to think about, if not prayerfully consider, the meaning of your own existence.

Mike McCarey