THE ODDS OF WHAT?

Most find the chapters in the Book of Genesis that provide a record of Creation and Noah’s Flood somewhat disconcerting. These chapters cover lots of times with very few words. Moreover, they were written to people now long dead. So while these chapters may have answered the concerns of the Hebrews, they still leave us puzzled.

Why puzzled? We have SCIENCE!

Science is a good thing, but it has its limits. When God performs miracles, it is useless. We can only use science to study what God has created, not God.

What got me started on this? The recycling of the stubborn is one of ColorStorm’s many rejoinders to the atheistic sort. Here in a response to 17 thoughts on “What are the odds against a Life Permitting Universe” ColorStorm argues the absurdity of the Theory of Evolution.

In my mind ColorStorm is not wrong, but he is missing a great opportunity to pull the rug out from under the SCIENCE believers. Consider this quote from 17 thoughts on “What are the odds against a Life Permitting Universe”.

Then, life: what is it? This question defines the areas across the distribution that are considered significant. I simplified the models I presented by reducing it to life as we would recognise it: LU. But there is the consideration of other life (LO) out there in conceptual space that would ask the same questions if it came to be; that life is equally significant to the question.

That look like gibberish? Well, the author apparently has some skills as a statistician, but he admits to frustration by all the unknowns. We cannot even define life. Think about that. Yet in a later comment he leaps to this conclusion.

The entire argument is bogus, of course. When the argument was first posited, we knew very little about the universe. For example, we thought all of the visible stars were all that there were. About 100 years ago we discovered that there are more galaxies in the universe than stars in our galaxy. How does this affect the argument’s premise “It is not chance because the odds are so low.” Consider what happens to the odds of winning any horse race if you bet on one race, versus betting upon millions of races. The odds go from unlikely to almost certainty.

So even though we don’t have the capacity to define life and have never even visited the star closest to us, we know it is almost certain life would just randomly be? We know this for certain when we don’t even know how anything came to be?

Science is about modeling cause and effect. It begins by defining the boundaries of the system we propose to model. Then we try to gather data on that system and try to mathematically model the relationship between the causes and effects within that system. That can be much more easily said than done.

When we start applying science to what are still essentially metaphysical problems, at best we are just engaging in fanciful speculation. At that point we probably need to reconsider what we are trying to do with science.

Can the Bible be believed? The best answer is to read and decide for yourself.

22 thoughts on “THE ODDS OF WHAT?

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  1. I am the author of the post in question, and the first quote. I am not, however, not the author of the second quote — a comment left by a reader.

    This post suggests both have the same author. That is false.

    I also implore all readers to apply basic reading comprehension to assess whether Tom had accurately captured the meaning of the second quote.

    And when it comes to my post using graphs and the weird conversation that has started since about maths, I don’t use any maths in my post. The whole point is that we can’t derive any of the values required to make the teleological argument work.

    Like

    1. @AllAllt

      Thank you for visitiing, commenting, and the correction. I cited you incorrectly and for that I apologize.

      Here is where I got the second quote.
      https://allallt.wordpress.com/2018/09/12/what-are-the-odds-against-a-life-permitting-universe/#comment-15115

      Admittedly, I got a bit mixed up about the author of the second comment. It appears that someone else read your post and drew what seems to be an obvious conclusion, that we know it is almost certain that life just randomly had to be. If you do not agree with that conclusion, why didn’t you tell the author of that comment? If you did, please point to it. I am interested in reading it.

      If your refutation of the teleological does not suggest there is an mathematical certainty that life would be created by random processes, don’t you think that would be worth explaining? Again, I would be interested.

      You did not use math? I think you are trying to say we don’t have sufficient data derive mathematical formulas and make specific calculations. I most certainly did not mean to suggest you did.

      You did, however, use mathematical theory, and you did so with the intent of using mathematical theory to reach certain logical conclusions. Hopefully, we don’t need to nitpick over that.

      The math boils down to this. Is there a zero probability that life would exist in this universe (Who knows if there are other universes?) without direct action by God? If there is any probability that life could be created randomly, then in what seems to be an infinite universe, life would exist.

      So what is your opinion? What is the probability that life could be randomly created? Is it greater than zero? What conclusion should we draw from your post?

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      1. The point of the post is that we don’t have any of the data points to decide whether any ‘other’ (hypothetical) universe could give rise to life (as we would recognise it or otherwise).
        The whole point of the teleological argument (as Craig presents it) is that no other fundamental values of the universe could have given rise to life. My point is that no one seems to have the data to honestly make that claim.

        I do even attempt to decide the chances of life arising in this universe. (Although, according to Bayesian analysis and probability theory — based on the fact that life did already arise in the universe — the probability is 1. Whether God had a have in that remains a question, although a question it is phenomenal difficult to give support for a positive answer to.)

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        1. @Allallit

          Okay. I see why you took that tact. However, if the Teleological argument is going to work, it is silly to assign any probability that life arose on its own.

          I think the point of the argument is that life is not possible without a Creator. 1 in 10**123 may be dinky, but it is still a possibility. I also agree. We don’t have sufficient data to calculate the odds. Our intuition, if and when we see a design for anything is that the odds are zero, that the design happened without a designer. So why propose any number other than zero?

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          1. @Allallit

            Interesting question. If you want it, I guess I owe you an answer.

            The Design argument is not one of my favorite arguments. When does intuition become logic? Darned if I know.

            I have heard it the Design argument described this way. What if you were shipwrecked and landed on a small island. When you step on the beach, you discover some stones arranged to spell these words: “HELLO ALLALLT. WE HAVE BEEN EXPECTING YOU”. Would you assume an accidental arrangement? Isn’t an accident mathematically possible? Would you like to calculate the odds?

            Since Darwin proposed his theory, many talented souls have tried to prove life arose by accident and evolved to its present state. It has gotten to the point that many now just assume the theory is true. There is, supposedly, a preponderance of the evidence, but that’s not proof. It is just treating an unproven theory as axiomatic. That kind of logic makes it reasonable to believe that those stones were arranged by chance.

            How did God create life and everything else? I don’t know. Who does?

            The Bible does not go into detail. Evolution may even have a role. I concede there times I feel like an accident waiting to happen, but I have a difficult time seeing other people as mere accidents.

            I don’t think we have proven some of the scientific theories we like to think are true. I also think some Christians assume the Bible says more than it does. “I don’t know” may not uplift our egos, but it is better than claiming to know what we don’t.

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          2. Okay, well… Eulittoral morphology (shapes in beaches) doesn’t have any sort of selective pressure. It has a sorting pressure, differentiating between large and small based on tidal and wave strength — but nothing selective over generations. Even without progressive generations, it still holds information (you can make informed estimates about wave strength and recent storms).

            From a philosophical point of view, how am I reading this message? In the ‘God designed everything’ model of the universe, the part I identify as a message is no less ordered or placed with intent than every other rock on the beach.

            The analogy relies on a background ‘natural’ beach and a message that someone had ordered. I’m not convinced it’s fully explanatory, but that contrast is key in your analogy.

            It also depends how clearly written the message is. If it’s clear, that’s much more interesting than if it’s fuzzy and distorted. The less clear the message is, the more I could be superimposing the message.

            Science doesn’t ‘prove’ anything. ‘Proof’ is reserved for formalised logic with set axioms: deductions, maths, etc.

            I’m happy to discuss evolution, but not before we draw the other conversation to a close. My experience is that trying to run parallel conversations just becomes confused and eventually descends into just copying slogans.

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          3. @AllAllt

            Thanks for a thoughtful reply.

            When people say our DNA holds information, a sign of intelligence, they are forgetting the difference between a record and a message. A paw print in the mud is a record.

            A message requires design, but a design does not have to be a message. Hence we may have trouble discerning the intelligence behind a design, even one that contains a message, if we don’t also perceive a message. I suppose that is why the Bible says something about the heavens declaring the glory of God.

            As it is, we have trouble perceiving the Design. So we have scientists driven by curiosity, the need to know.

            Scientific proof? I suppose that is why it is called a method.

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          4. @AllAllt

            I think you are equating information with data. Is not data, however, just a type information, or information seen from the perspective of someone looking for patterns.

            Because we live in an orderly universe, we can perceive patterns from data. For example, we can create databases for paw prints or even finger prints.Thus we debate whether the beauty and order we find in nature indicates design and a designer.

            A design conveys another type of information. Generally, the purpose of a design is to impose order over and above what we have come to expect from the natural world. Yet there is some ambiguity which goes beyond our present discussion. Do birds design their nests?

            A message is information “designed” to communicate “something” from one party to another. What might that message be? Who might be the parties sending and receiving a message? Single celled creatures? Ants? Space aliens? God through divine revelation?

            Can all forms of information be treated as data? Yes. That can be a problem. When we perceive a design or a message as just data, we will not be as informed by that information as we could be. On the other hand, treating mere data as a design or a message can also mislead us.I expect you can think of times you thought you heard someone and you did not, or you did not hear someone because you lost their call in the background noise.

            Anyway, there people who make their living off this subject, and there is more to it than I know.

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  2. Ha! I love “the odds.” When something was extremely unlikely I used to say, “when hell freezes over.” Then we went and had a nasty ice storm. A bit funny, but I decided hell freezing over may not be all that unlikely l after all, so I stopped saying it.

    Colorstorm is great fun. I definitely enjoy reading him.

    This made me chuckle, “Consider what happens to the odds of winning any horse race if you bet on one race, versus betting upon millions of races. The odds go from unlikely to almost certainty.”

    Yep,that’s the mind of a true gambling addict! It’s always a sure bet, an “almost certainty.” Hate to tell those guys, but the house always wins.The casino will get rich long before you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @IB

      Yep,that’s the mind of a true gambling addict!

      When politicians in Virginia decided to set up a lottery, they used funding education as an excuse. Setting up a government-run program designed to tempt their parents to gamble is good for the education of children? What kind of sick jerk believes that? What kind of voters support the politicians who come up with sick ideas like that?

      It seems that the mind of a true gambling addict is just one that is susceptible to perverse rationalizations. Playing the odds then becomes just another excuse for doing what we want to do anyway.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. “The casino will get rich long before you do.”
      That’s the right answer to the question that was not asked. This is not about winning/losing in a bet, this is simply about likelyhood.

      Assume a lottery with a 1 in 10,000 chance to win.
      What are the odds of winning at least once, if you play one time?
      What are the odds of winning at least once, if you play 500 times?
      What are the odds of winning at least once, if you play 8000 times?

      That said, I do not think we know enough,yet, to meaningfully quantify any kind of Drake equation.

      Like

  3. Good stuff, but I’m not so sure I’m missing the boat. lol. After all, In my title of the post, the ‘recycling’ was mentioned, that is, the same age old arguments. The simple idea of graphs and charts used to support a view using math, when the basic premise is ignored ie, how does a man KNOW two plus two equals four? Philosophy will not do. Guesswork is unacceptable. Relying on Einstein is useless, since arithmetic was in play long before he wore diapers.

    This is why the believers arguments can never be refuted when history, math, and common sense are all called upon. As to evolution, there is no law, accident, or mind numbing excuse that could see the point of a pine tree doing battle with an oak for bragging rights. There are no ‘odds,’ in favour of what I like to call: cosmic serendipity.

    At the end of the day, God rules. After all, we have His word on it, and I know a good word when I see it. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @ColorStorm

      Well, the name of your post just gives credit where it it is due. When the Atheists recycle old arguments, that is as close as the get to doing science and providing proof with reproducible experiments.

      Is the Theory of Evolution true? I think what is true is that it is politically correct in government-run schools.

      Frankly, I get a bit of laugh out of the whole thing. Atheists are always demanding proof God exists, but they believe in the Theory of Evolution, and they have no idea of how to prove it. They think scientific proof is the same thing as “sophisticated” speculation.

      Genesis says God created everything. Does it give all the details? No. Thank God! Can you imagine that for a required reading assignment? We don’t know how God did/does lots of things. When we need to, we will.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, Tom, and with all the water deluge in NC, people may want to revisit 40 days and 40 nights or torrential downpour from above and beneath, which makes Flo. look like a water sprinkler, sad as it is for those affected.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. “how does a man KNOW two plus two equals four?”

      That answer is simple. You take a small set of axioms (formal logic is sound, you define what 1 and 0 are supposed to represent, you define addition) and see how far this will take you. After about two weeks of lectures you know enough about the genereal structure of natural numbers that you can start to give specific numbers names, i.e. “two” is defined as the sum of 1 and 1, “four” is defined as the successor of “three”, etc. and then you can prove within this system, that as long as you assume your basic axioms to be true and formal logic to be true, then indeed 2+2=4.

      Oh, and then you realize, that natural numbers are those things that you use when you count on your fingers and you have a sudden realization, of how useful that concept is.

      That’s the beauty of logic, you take a very small set of simple axioms and you can build a large house of conclusions on it. And we have found, that mathematics can be a very useful tool to describe certain aspects of what we consider our surroundings. Some people like to abuse it as a club without knowing how to actually work with it (“That assertion contains numbers, hence it must be true”), others wilfully opt to ignore the tool outright and ridicule it instead. Neither is a good choice, IMO.

      Coming back to your article, I do not know about a gorilla winning a spelling bee, but you have heard of Koko? The gorilla with a 2000 word vocabulary? While the intelligence of gorillas and apes is different than human intelligence (in some areas they even outperform us) they are decidedly not as dumb as you seem to make them out to be. Along your line of reasoning, do you think kiwis and chicken are distant cousins or not? After all, kiwis can not fly. Does that revoke their bird membership card?

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      1. @marmoewp

        Since I expect he will come at your comment from a somewhat different direction, I would like to see ColorStorm reply. Nevertheless, here is something you may find interesting. I wrote a post on this topic some years back, WHAT IS MATHEMATICAL PROOF? DOES 2 + 2 = 4? (=>https://citizentom.com/2008/06/22/what-is-mathematical-proof-does-2-2-4/). Something we tend to forget is that numbers are just symbols. Only in the abstract does 2 + 2 = 4. What we call logic is our effort to simply the real world enough so we can use models and make relatively accurate calculations.

        Our approximations of reality are just that and nothing more. In the end, we are still just mortal men.

        Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
        The Futility of Wisdom
        12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my [a]mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is [b]a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is [c]vanity and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

        16 I [d]said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my [e]mind has observed [f]a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my [g]mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

        The more we know the more we know the futility of life under the sun, of life without God.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The beauty of logic marm? Really?

        So the ‘simple axioms’ were discovered by the people who you say were ‘stone age cavemen………..’ and sooooooooo behind the times in learning and understanding.

        Sorry, but you miss the ‘simple’ point, and you bring ‘recycled stubbornness.’

        Arithmetic is not simply a convenient way, but a way that reveals absolute design, standards, and wisdom above the ages.

        As to apes, I never for one second said they were dumb as rocks so to speaks. They are apes, period, and they are good at what they do, but try teaching one how to tie his shoes, or sew a button, tan a hide, or appear on Jeopardy!

        And as far a math, try considering the seven days of creation, each having 24 hr periods. Numbers. It’s God’s idea, not yours, as you are simply borrowing on another mans genius. You could thank Him instead of not giving Him the courtesy of existing.

        And here’s a bonus as to logic. Try telling a kid that his swingset appeared without a maker, or your kitchen table was the result of a sandstorm which collected toothpicks and arranged a neatly varnished product.

        Logic? Oh yeah. Things made require a Maker. Period. Math proves that Creation is the only truth that adds up.

        Liked by 1 person

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