chance & necessity | random & planned | chaos & order | freedom & determinism
The phrase ‘by chance’ refers to an event/result happening without compulsion or determination – we say the situation/result ‘did not have to be that way’.
The phrase ‘of necessity’ refers to an event/result happening according to compulsion or law – we say the situation/result ‘had to be that way’.
So. The universe or ‘the world’ or ‘things’ or ‘stuff’… Chance or necessity?
Interestingly, both answers can be used to argue for some form of theism.
Leaving the question of a rather large number of ‘multiverses’ to the side for the moment (it’s interesting to reflect on whether or not this actually affects the ‘chance’ issue – I’m not convinced it does); if we “did not have to” exist in the way that we do, and are merely the result of ‘luck’ or ‘chance’ or ‘accident’ (in terms of cosmological, material causes and phenomena), then this can quite easily be said to point to a Creator who, as it were, was not surprised by the draw to the ‘lottery’ that is this creation. An omniscient architect of the great ‘lottery’, who knows the mechanics of the machinery so well that the result is known before it plays out. The odds, we say, are simply too small for it not to have been a plan.
And also, if we “had to” exist in the way that we do, being the result of sheer unflinching physical necessity (i.e. ‘it was just a matter of time until we got here’), and attribute our existence to the brute, unchangeable laws of nature, then this too can be said to point to a Creator who, as it were, is the Legislator behind the “Laws of Nature”, who builds the desired result into the building blocks of Creation. Everything is predestined and determined, and (to quote atheist philosopher Daniel Dennett) “of course you have free will – you have no choice about that”.