I used to think those are random events but someone over at physics.stackexchange.com insists that randomness means something else so I am at a loss here. Can someone help me out?
What do you call an event that happens without a cause?
I would say a spontaneous event.
It seems that the concept without cause is not a true criterion. Assuming we are not talking about supernatural events, there are physical, biological, social, political things that happened that contributed to the ultimate event.
The real sense behind the phrase is no known cause or no understood cause. I would therefore propose inexplicable
not capable of explanation; unexplainable
Well, there is always the word causeless: so you could simply say a causeless event. A rough synonym is fortuitous.
You could potentially say a random event or chance event.
The commentators on the physics forum are correct: as a scientific term, that isn't the technical meaning of random. But unless you're intending to use it as a technical term, so what? -- there are plenty of words that have a different everyday meaning to their technical meaning.
How about unprecipitated or unprompted?
Random neither implies nor precludes a cause in itself. Causeless is an option: TFD: "having no justifying cause or reason"
A non-deterministic event. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indeterminism.
Non-causal or acausal are also used in filter & systems theory.
An "act of God" is often used to denote an event that is out of anyone's control, and therefore "just happens". As a non-believer, I must confess a certain pleasure in describing "an event that happens without a cause" as an "act of God."
For a more literary word choice, you could also consider deus ex machina to explain things without apparent, erm, explanation.
Latin for "God from the machine", it's a plot cliche first lamented by Horace way back in the day. As the translation implies, it used to literally mean having a god (usually Zeus) descend down at the climax of a play or story to conveniently intervene and solve whatever problems were being presented.
Today the term is usually used to describe media where an event happens seemingly out of the blue. For example, the Naval officer passing by at the end of William Golding's The Lord of The Flies who rescues the boys, or the various machinations of Douglas Adams's Infinite Improbability Drive.
In any case, an event with no obvious cause, especially one which thwarts expectations or otherwise introduces chaos, is by definition a deus ex machina, since any explanation you ascribe to it is as good as the next.
Depending on context also consider self-generated
self-generated adjective 1. happening or arising without apparent external cause; "spontaneous laughter"; "spontaneous combustion"; "a spontaneous abortion" [syn: spontaneous] [ant: induced] 2. originating from the self
Another apt word is unengendered from
etymology engender (v.) Look up engender at Dictionary.com early 14c., "beget, procreate," from Old French engendrer (12c.) "engender, beget, bear; cause, bring about," from Latin ingenerare "to implant, engender, produce," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + generare "beget, create" (see generation). Meaning "cause, produce" is mid-14c. Related: Engendered; engendering.
Other alternatives along similar etymological lines are
giving the sense of having no beginning or cause (self-existent).
en·gen·der verb \in-ˈjen-dər, en-\ : to be the source or cause of (something)
a spontaneous event is an event that happens spontaneously like a spring not with out a cause necessarily
The word I have most seen in this context is, quite simply, uncaused.
Idiopathic seems like the right choice.
an event without cause, should be the first event of history. it's called God, according to Assisi AFAIK.
To speak to a wider audience without rejection (on religious grounds), you may call this a "god-event" ala the so-called 'god-particle'
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