Resolving the Apparent Opposition between Chance and Necessity

If, instead of demanding an “either/or” solution to the process of creation, we accept that both “chance” and “necessity” represent essential aspects of the creative process, we find that suddenly the “inexplicable” starts to make sense.

We see on the one side the fantastic variety and uniqueness of forms that appear to occur purely by chance and do not seem to follow any fixed design as to the specifics of any of these forms; and on the other side, we can drill down and find exact mathematical precision and an “architecture” to the structure of the universe that clearly represents some organised and systematic approach to building up the creation.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the question as follows: “The principle of free variation of possibilities natural to an infinite Consciousness would be the explanation of the aspect of inconscient Chance of which we are aware in the workings of Nature,–inconscient only in appearance and so appearing because of the complete involution in Matter, because of the veil with which the secret consciousness has disguised its presence.”

He goes on to describe the opposite principle: “The principle of truths, real powers of the Infinite imperatively fulfilling themselves would be the explanation of the opposite aspect of a mechanical Necessity which we see in Nature,–mechanical in appearance only and so appearing because of the same veil of Inconscience.”

“All the unexplained processes of Nature would find their meaning and their place if this hypothesis proved to be tenable.” We would then have a universe that develops according to certain basic principles or “laws of Nature” if you will, but that on the surface allows for a virtually infinite variation of form and appearance. And in fact, that is essentially what we see when we look with unbiased eyes at the world around us.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 1, Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations and the Indeterminable

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