Author Topic: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted  (Read 13469 times)

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Online One Above All

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First of all, my name is Blaziken. You may call me Blaziken; Z; Blaz; Lucifer; Fallen Angel; Bringer of Light or Lightbringer

Now as we all know, some theists make the argument that life is just too unlikely for it to just have happened. In this short post I will refute it.

Instructions:
Grab a 52 card deck;
Grab another deck;
Grab 18 more decks;
Shuffle them all together.


Now the odds that you will get an ace of spades belonging to the first deck while drawing just a single card are 1/1040. Seems impossible, right?
However, if you keep drawing a card, putting it back and shuffling the deck, eventually you WILL get the ace of spades, even if it takes you an infinite amount of time

My point is: The mere fact that you say "the odds of _____" means it CAN happen on its own, no matter how unlikely it seems. Given an infinite amount of time (or a few million years), that thing WILL happen eventually
As an example I created a program for the TI-83+ which generates a random number between 1 and 1000 and if the number is 257[1] you win. It will keep generating numbers until hitting 257, no matter how long it takes. It also records how many tries it took and registers that number
At first I got it after about 1200 tries. I kept trying until I got it in only 25. Then I got it in over 3300 tries. Then I got it in two tries
So once again, no matter how unlikely something seems, the fact that you even say that the odds of it happening exist, means it CAN happen
 1. Blaziken's pokédex number, although that has nothing to do with it  &)
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline Anfauglir

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So once again, no matter how unlikely something seems, the fact that you even say that the odds of it happening exist, means it CAN happen

Quite right.  Odds of winning the lottery are 14 million to one.  But it happens every week!

The example I like to use is this:

There are billions of women in the world, billions of men.  Over his lifetime, your father produced billions of sperm.  The odds of your father meeting your mother, and of the one particular sperm actually fertilising your mothers egg, are trillions to one.  But you exist.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Dominic

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The odds of self aware consciousness arising in any randomly selected universe is (let's say for argument sake) 1 in a trillion.

Now how many universes do we know of ?  Just one.  Not millions of universes till we get the right one.   Not lots of picks from the deck.   No, just one universe.  Just one pick from 20 billion decks of cards.


Rebuttal 1:
"So what!" say the skeptics.  "What's so special about this universe anyway ?  What's so special about life, about consciousness, about order ?" 

Answer: If this universe is not special then a combine harvester coming together by chance is not special.


Rebuttal 2:
Tautology.  Only in a universe where intelligent consciousness arises can we even discuss these questions.

Answer:  But it is the only universe that we know of.  The combine harvester (an analogy for life and intelligent consciousness) has come together by chance in the only universe that we know of.


Rebuttal 3:
There may be many universes.  Infinite in fact.  All with different conditions.

Answer:  Unscientific.  Untestable.  Unobservable.  As much a matter of faith as any religion.



Online One Above All

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One universe, true. Also true is that there are more planets than we can count (at this moment). Each of those planets has a one in a trillion chance of having life in it and let's face it, there are trillions of galaxies, each with billions of planets. Life HAS happened by chance once (as far as we can be sure, although I believe there is life besides here on Earth) and it WILL happen again (if it hasn't already)
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Odin

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Blaz,

I like better the analogy of the number of deals in a deck of 52 cards.  There are something like 8.065......x 10^67 deals in a deck of 52 cards, when all 52 are dealt.

Based on the definition of a miracle, each shuffled deal is a miracle.

It would take this to deal all the possible deals.

1 trillion worlds, each with 1 trillion people, each person owning 1 trillion computers, each computer dealing 1 trillion mutually exclusive deals per second, starting at the big bang 13 billion years ago.  And all that would have to exist in 197 parallel universes for all the deals to have been dealt.

So, low probability is not an issue.  It happens every day, millions of times on Earth, when bridge hands are dealt.

Odin, King of the Gods

Offline Anfauglir

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The odds of self aware consciousness arising in any randomly selected universe is (let's say for argument sake) 1 in a trillion.

Now how many universes do we know of ?  Just one.  Not millions of universes till we get the right one.   Not lots of picks from the deck.   No, just one universe.  Just one pick from 20 billion decks of cards.

And Dominic, as I said, there is only one of YOU.  One pick from billions of sperm and parent combinations. 
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Mooby

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The probability of something that has already happened is always 100%, because there is a 0% chance of history changing.
"I'm doing science and I'm still alive."--J.C.

Online One Above All

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The probability of something that has already happened is always 100%, because there is a 0% chance of history changing.

We don't know if time travel is possible or if there's free will yet so you can't know that
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Online mrbiscoop

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Offline Anfauglir

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The probability of something that has already happened is always 100%, because there is a 0% chance of history changing.

Exactly.  Just like the universe being here!
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline sammylama

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2010, 05:44:55 PM »
The probability of something that has already happened is always 100%, because there is a 0% chance of history changing.

Yes!  Whenever something "weird" happens and someone asks me, "What are the odds of that happening?" I say, "Oh, about 100 percent."  Why?  Because it did happen.  (And yes, I'm aware that percentage points are different than "odds," but the point is the same.)
You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe.
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Offline Positiveaob

Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2010, 06:31:46 PM »

The odds of self aware consciousness arising in any randomly selected universe is (let's say for argument sake) 1 in a trillion.

Now how many universes do we know of ?  Just one.  Not millions of universes till we get the right one.   Not lots of picks from the deck.   No, just one universe.  Just one pick from 20 billion decks of cards.

No.  There are are trillions (more likely trillions of trillions) of stars with many many times more planets.  The odds of just the right setting happening for the building blocks of life to come together in just the right environment and given the process of natural selection and genetic drift, to arrive at what we have now...probably much less.  There are probably many trillions of places and times in the universe where this almost took place.  those of us who were on the time and planet with just the right circumstances are of course going to feel like luck couldn't have explained it.  Just like those who win the lottery feel like more than coincidence is involved, ignoring all the millions of losing tickets.

Dominic you've been on this site for some time now.  Do you honestly believe those "rebuttals" you listed are what non-believers think? 
« Last Edit: May 24, 2010, 06:41:35 PM by Positiveaob »
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Offline MadBunny

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2010, 12:20:53 AM »
I would say that the odds INCREASE because in certain systems things do not react randomly.  Someone once used the analogy of chemistry and pointed out that it works because there are rules to it.  If it was just a matter of tossing ingredients into a box and shaking it till a kitten popped out then that would be a different story.'

True, a surprising number of events happened that allowed for us to evolve as we did, but it pays to remember that had we NOT evolved, then it's just as possible something else would have.  In a few million years we'll probably be gone and something else will be in our place.  Sentient Cuttlefish maybe? Who knows, they'll probably have the same argument about probability, only tailored to them.
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Offline Gordon Freeman

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2010, 01:37:51 AM »
I don't like statistics used in the way to count probability to something. It's just guessing. Counting percentages for something to happen? Well, what's the percentage that a celestial rock will collide with Earth? But what's the percentage that it will not collide with earth? During what period? Blah, blah, blah...

I watched a documentary about infinity. According to those scientists (I can't name them now) there is a probability that there is the same me somewhere who is exactly like me, or it's me who can fly, it's me who is poor or successful... If we count a probability taking an infinity into account (who can say that there is no infinity or that there is?) there is a probability for many things. There is even a probability for god or gods.

Statistics and probability arguments fail many times. I see creationists use them to support their claims. That's why I pay a little attention to statistics arguments for or against something.

But I generally agree with Baziken.
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Offline kcrady

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2010, 02:39:25 AM »
The odds of self aware consciousness arising in any randomly selected universe is (let's say for argument sake) 1 in a trillion.

Two things here:

1) No one, least of all scientists, is proposing that a self-aware consciousness arose by a feat of random chance, like a monkey banging on a piano just happening to play a perfect Mozart concerto.

2) If the odds of ordinary self aware consciousness arising in a randomly selected universe is 1 in a trillion, what are the odds of an omniscient, omnipotent, infinitely complex self-aware consciousness just happening somewhere? 

1. Richard Dawkins has a wonderful analogy for the evolutionary process: "Climbing Mt. Improbable."  Imagine you're standing at the base of an enormous, sheer cliff.  No matter how hard you try, you can't leap up there, and there are no handholds.  So you decide that only a God, or maybe a superhero could ever hope to reach the summit of Mt. Improbable.  In like manner, the idea of a self aware intelligence, or even a fully-developed eukaryotic cell just falling together by random chance is such a high improbability cliff that it cannot be scaled. 

But if, instead of trying to leap to the top in one go, you walk around the back, you'll find that behind the cliff there's a long, gentle slope you can walk up easily.  Thus, without any divine magic or super powers, or even any mountain-climbing skills, you can walk right up to the top of Mt. Improbable.  In like manner, through a long process of evolution by natural selection, small, slightly-improbable steps (mutations) that "work" (at the job of perpetuating themselves) are able to survive, reproduce, and repeat the process with the next step until the Mt. Improbable of self aware intelligence is reached.  It doesn't even take a full-blown modern cell to start, just a kludge of chemicals inside a lipid bubble (like what you see if you try to mix oil with water) in an environment where the chemicals can start an autocatalytic reaction.  As soon as you've got something surviving and reproducing, the non-random ratchet of natural selection kicks in, and evolution is off to the races.

2. Any god or goddess is far more complex--and thus more improbable--than the first protocell, the Boeing 747 made by a tornado sweeping through a junkyard, or the most amazing human being who ever lived.  So, before you start hunting the speck of improbability in our world view, better get the plank of improbability out of yours first.

Now how many universes do we know of ?  Just one.  Not millions of universes till we get the right one.  Not lots of picks from the deck.   No, just one universe.  Just one pick from 20 billion decks of cards.

But we don't know there's just one Cosmos, either.  One of the multiverse cosmologies could be right.  Furthermore, virtually all of this Cosmos is barren of life.  Earth is statistical noise.  But let's take your one in a trillion odds.  There's about 100 billion to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way.  Let's take the lower number.  There's about 100 billion galaxies of comparable size (some smaller, some larger) within the extent of the Cosmos that we can see.  There could be more over the Cosmic horizon.[1]  There is some evidence that objects that we can see are being gravitationally pulled toward objects we can't see.  The unseen objects would be within the Cosmic horizon of the objects they're attracting, but not ours, since we are further away.  This is called "Dark Flow." 

So, I think we would have a solid basis for thinking that the Cosmos is bigger than what we can see, but let's take the conservative figure of 100 billion galaxies.  100 billion galaxies x 100 billion stars in each = 10,000 billion, or 10 trillion chances for life.  Given your proposed one in a trillion probability, this means the "ace" of life is going to come up about ten times.  And this doesn't count multiple tries per star, when it probably should.  Each star has multiple planets and moons, and a Cosmic age of about 14 billion years.  Life on Earth started about 3.8 billion years ago, not too long after the meteors stopped falling and the surface solidified.  Such a quick start could imply the odds aren't nearly as bad as 1 in a trillion.  Since there are solar systems far older than ours, life in those systems would have had even longer to "get lucky" and start evolving. 

Furthermore, we've discovered fairly recently that life can survive in surprisingly harsh environments.  Bacteria and little critters called water bears can even survive in the vacuum of space.  So, life may not even require an Earth-like world to get started, which could give it many more chances.  At any rate, even with your exaggerated probability number, we would expect at least ten planets with self aware intelligent life emerging randomly.  And guess what: we are one!
   
Rebuttal 1:
"So what!" say the skeptics.  "What's so special about this universe anyway ?  What's so special about life, about consciousness, about order ?" 

Answer: If this universe is not special then a combine harvester coming together by chance is not special.

The Boeing 747 (or Combine) Argument bites you harder than it bites us, since you have to explain how an infinitely complex superduperbeing "just happened to exist."  All we need is some chain molecules in a bubble of fat.

Rebuttal 2:
Tautology.  Only in a universe where intelligent consciousness arises can we even discuss these questions.

Answer:  But it is the only universe that we know of.  The combine harvester (an analogy for life and intelligent consciousness) has come together by chance in the only universe that we know of.

Combine harvesters don't reproduce, and they don't have ancestors.  That means evolution by natural selection doesn't apply to them as it does to living beings.

Quote
If watches could but tiny watchlings breed,
Their offspring on minutest clocksprings feed,
And win their loves by telling truest time,
Of watchmakers then, we would have no need.

--Blake Stacey

Rebuttal 3:
There may be many universes.  Infinite in fact.  All with different conditions.

Answer:  Unscientific.  Untestable.  Unobservable.  As much a matter of faith as any religion.

If stated as a certainty without any evidence, yes.  But then, as I've already shown, this Cosmos is big enough.  You have to move the goalposts by an order of magnitude before we're even down to a probability of 1 in 1 for life to emerge randomly.  And again: no matter how much you move the goalposts, they move further for you, because you're asserting that an infinitely complex form of self aware life "just happens to exist."

We, at least, have a theory (evolution by natural selection) supported by literal mountains of evidence, that shows us how to climb to the top of Mt. Improbable.  You have no explanation at all for the emergence of self aware life, except to posit an infinite amount of it somewhere else.  You can't plug a hole in understanding with an infinitely larger hole.
 1. As the Cosmos expands, the relative recession velocity of the furthest objects can exceed the speed of light, so that light from there could never reach us, and vice versa.
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Offline MadBunny

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2010, 10:41:37 PM »

I watched a documentary about infinity. According to those scientists (I can't name them now) there is a probability that there is the same me somewhere who is exactly like me, or it's me who can fly, it's me who is poor or successful... If we count a probability taking an infinity into account (who can say that there is no infinity or that there is?) there is a probability for many things. There is even a probability for god or gods.

The usual example of improbably statistics is the million monkeys hitting typewriters example.  Given a million monkeys and the statistical odds of them hitting the right letters in the exact right combination to type the complete works of William Shakespear seem utterly impossible. [1]



If you were to increase the number from a million to 'infinite' then suddenly not only is it possible, but you could say that it is inconceivable that it WOULDN'T happen.  An infinite amount of monkeys would not only produce Shakespear, but also every other work of litterature ever made, that ever will be made.  This, of course makes the whole intellectual excercise useless.  If we use the infinite example then there will have developed exact duplicates of us somewhere at sometime that read the same stuff on a screen.  We know this because it's possible.  Since it's possible then that means that in the infinite array of possibility that means it will have happened.

It is only the IMPOSSIBLE that can't happen in an infinite array of options.  Is it 'possible' that a human civilization (exactly like ours), along with cars, tvs, and boats developed on the surface of a sun?  No, for a number of obvious reasons.  It may be possible for something else to develop, but not 'us'.



This begs two obvious questions, first, *is* there an infinity of variety?  For example are we in a multiverse with each universe that sits next to another, like bubbles of foam?  Does our universe 'restart' every so often?  Are there other dimensions that exist in parallel with us?  These sorts of things can give rise to the possibility of an infinite, obviously we don't know yet though.

The second question, that of the diety.  Firstly, it helps to define what 'god' is.  To our cavemen ancestors, we're gods.  We control the elements, we fly through the air and live a really long time.  Once we define that elusive 'god' then we can determine whether or not it falls within the realm of possible or impossible.  In the infinite, there is probably a YOU with super powers of some sort, but that doesn't make him a god, or does it?
 1. If you take a small sampling then mostly you just get keyboard destruction, and a lot of monkey pee.
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Offline Gordon Freeman

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2010, 03:28:08 PM »
^^ I have no other option but to agree with you. I don't have a final thought regarding infinity (it's not crucial for my understanding of the world). Like you pointed out, infinity raises many questions and most of them don't have a solid answer. I don't spend time answering tough questions like those regarding infinity, for instance. I don't say that we shouldn't pursue them, I just say that I don't pursue them. There are, let's say, intellectually more superior people than me who do that, and since some of tough questions are not significant for my understanding, I don't break my head with them.
Similar is with statistics. Statistics can support many claims regardless of truth. So, let's talk about real thing. That's my opinion about statistics.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2010, 03:53:46 PM »
This is such a good thread! I have to remember the part about a magical superperson's existence being even more improbable than a regular ordinary person's existence....especially if such a being supposedly needs nothing to create it!

That is the same as saying that god is created out of nothing. Like, huh? Evolution says that you have to start with something to get something else. It is the creationists who say you can get something (god) from nothing.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2010, 05:27:07 PM »
I think the whole issue of probability is a red herring. It's not 'what are the odds that you'll pull the Ace of Spades', it's 'what are the odds you'll pull the Ace of Mirrored Kaleidoscopes'.

There's no reason I can think of that life should even be a possibility if you only consider a strict materialist causality. It's not in the cards at all. Only because we can sit here and reverse engineer the actuality of living consciousness being realized can we imagine that such a thing is the result of groupings of inert matter.

I don't care how long a string of pearls you have, or how varied the pearls are on them, the only way that some arrangement of them would suddenly begin to make copies of itself or begin to want, with all it's 'heart', to survive is if that potential was an inherent property of the pearls themselves, and string of pearls, and piles of strings of pearls.

I think that's exactly the case. Atoms aren't pearls. They aren't necessarily sentient either but they carry sentience. How can you deny it? We are sentient and we are made of nothing but atoms. Atoms electronically carry information, energy, visible light, chemical substance, molecular order - from the inside. I don't think this is a theistic perspective, since the idea of a God deciding to create these laws of life and consciousness doesn't explain anything at all, and just moves the first cause to pre-theism.

So, random? Sure. Random arrangements of matter - but random appearances of phenomenon which fundamentally redefine the cosmos? Hm. I'm skeptical.

"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
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Offline shnozzola

Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2010, 07:41:44 PM »
I disagree, Immed.  I think the positive and negative charges that pretty much rule everything from anions and cations in plant roots and soil, to male and female animals,  to protons and electrons, very easily explain the matter of the universe and how life can develop.  I love Kcrady’s  “kludge of chemicals inside a lipid bubble” and I think it’s right on.  Time is the thing that people don’t give credit to.

 I personally think the universe is teeming with life, from amoeba’s being snuffed out right now by a star going nova, to vastly intelligent tree like things, to talking sand, to wars on other worlds that totally annihilate life on  those worlds.  You name it – it’s going on.  With the size and time involved, it is one big experiment that is totally going bonkers. (on it’s own – which is actually far more cool than a god doing it)

Lets see – out of 9 planets (you go Pluto)and a sun, we have 10% of the solar system planets with life, and maybe mars and venus both have had life before.  Not bad odds, from the little we really know.  I vote for teeming – but hey, I could be wrong.  All the universe and life may only exist based on carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and a temperature that we can survive at on this one little planet.
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Offline Immediacracy

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2010, 08:55:05 PM »
I personally think the universe is teeming with life, from amoeba’s being snuffed out right now by a star going nova, to vastly intelligent tree like things, to talking sand, to wars on other worlds that totally annihilate life on  those worlds.  You name it – it’s going on. 
I agree completely. I just don't think that life could ever had developed had the potential for life not been built in to the universe. Otherwise, how many pearls would you need to string before they start remembering the order they're in and reproducing.

The fact that life is a relatively ordinary phenomenon in the universe doesn't explain how mathematics could possibly make it inevitable. The likelihood of an amoeba existing seems just as likely as Cthulhu and the Elder Gods autopoesisizing out of a bag of sand, given enough time.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
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Offline RaymondKHessel

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2010, 08:57:08 PM »
The likelihood of an amoeba existing seems just as likely as Cthulhu and the Elder Gods autopoesisizing out of a bag of sand, given enough time.

Um... It does? 

Why?
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Offline Immediacracy

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2010, 09:07:08 PM »
The likelihood of an amoeba existing seems just as likely as Cthulhu and the Elder Gods autopoesisizing out of a bag of sand, given enough time.

Um... It does? 

Why?

If through the course of blind duration, the forces of randomness alone cause protons to turn into atoms, atoms to molecules, and molecules to living, self-replicating cells, then why not sand to polysandharides to Evil Godcells?

What mathematical principle makes amoebas more likely than Cthulhu to come out of inanimate, inorganic matter?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2010, 09:11:59 PM »
Quote
If through the course of blind duration, the forces of randomness alone cause protons to turn into atoms, atoms to molecules, and molecules to living, self-replicating cells, then why not sand to polysandharides to Evil Godcells?

Who has ever claimed this, other than creationists?
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Offline RaymondKHessel

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2010, 09:20:33 PM »
If through the course of blind duration, the forces of randomness alone cause protons to turn into atoms, atoms to molecules, and molecules to living, self-replicating cells, then why not sand to polysandharides to Evil Godcells?

I was under the impression that it was because science as we know it doesn't work that way, and because H.P. Lovecraft was a fiction writer that just made s**t up.

I'm not trying to be snide or whatever, and I mean no disrespect... But I guess I'm not seeing the validity of the comparison.

I'm also not familiar with "forces of randomness". What are those?

What mathematical principle makes amoebas more likely than Cthulhu to come out of inanimate, inorganic matter?

I don't know. I suck at math. I'm more a History/Language Arts kinda guy. But in my limited understanding of biology, amoebas are simpler in their make up than specific and fictional tentacle-faced demon god things.

Is this a philosophical or metaphorical question? Maybe that's why I'm not really getting it? :shrug

I got the impression that you're actually speaking literally... Like, why do trees grow fruit and not monkey wrenches... But... Phew. I don't know man. I don't think I can follow you down that bunny trail if that's the case. Unless you think the point is important enough that you're willing to hold my hand through it? I mean, I'm game, if you think it's worth your time... Though I'd humbly suggest that things would move faster if the answers didn't take the form of questions, because that sort of thing tends to confuse me even more when I'm not really clear on the original premise.



« Last Edit: May 27, 2010, 09:54:55 PM by RaymondKHessel »
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Offline William

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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2010, 10:13:02 PM »
So once again, no matter how unlikely something seems, the fact that you even say that the odds of it happening exist, means it CAN happen

Although this is true in statistics, it is not necessary to explain how life evolved - and is too easily hijacked by creationists to their advantage (dealing with gullible audiences) by pointing to multiple examples of "irreducible complexity".
  
Molecular "life" emerged and evolved through conditional probabilities - which are far lower than conventional probabilities of complexity (final product) happening by random chance.  

Each incremental step has only a minimal probability hurdle to overcome.  It did not need one highly improbable event to get a lot of molecules just right by accident or chance.  It took simple highly probable (even spontaneous) molecular polymerization processes to carry on routinely as they do until one auto-catalytic polymer dominated the others in acquisition of shared raw materials, and then simply went on improving one little easy step at a time for billions of years.

Coming at the problem from the angle of conditional probabilities negates the entire "improbability of life argument" pushed by creationists.  There is no need to fight them on their chosen ground.  ;)
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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2010, 11:54:02 PM »
Rebuttal 3:
There may be many universes.  Infinite in fact.  All with different conditions.

Answer:  Unscientific.  Untestable.  Unobservable.  As much a matter of faith as any religion.

Not exactly: It doesn't take faith to say "there may be".  Religions invariably claim "there is".
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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #27 on: May 28, 2010, 01:36:14 AM »
So, random? Sure. Random arrangements of matter - but random appearances of phenomenon which fundamentally redefine the cosmos? Hm. I'm skeptical.

"Redefine the cosmos"? I don't even know what you mean by this but:

If it can happen, given an infinite (or really big) amount of time, it WILL happen
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Re: "The odds of life are too low for it to just have happened" refuted
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2010, 03:01:56 AM »
I think the whole issue of probability is a red herring. It's not 'what are the odds that you'll pull the Ace of Spades', it's 'what are the odds you'll pull the Ace of Mirrored Kaleidoscopes'.

There's no reason I can think of that life should even be a possibility if you only consider a strict materialist causality. It's not in the cards at all.

What else do you suggest?  What evidence (apart from your assertion that it's necessary for life) do you have for its existence? 

Life self-evidently exists.  We've drawn the Ace of Mirrored Kaleidoscopes from the deck and placed it face up on the table in front of us.  How can you say the AoMK was not "in the cards?"  There is a great deal of evidence that life and consciousness are matter/energy phenomena, and no credible evidence (that I know of) that "spirit" or "pixie dust" or some other non-energy energy or non-material stuff is either necessary or present.  To test the claim that your consciousness is a neuro-chemical phenomenon, you can simply sit down with a bottle of Scotch--a perfectly mundane chemical fluid--and start drinking.  I am quite confident that sooner rather than later your consciousness will be rather profoundly affected.  How is this possible if consciousness is something other than matter/energy?

Only because we can sit here and reverse engineer the actuality of living consciousness being realized can we imagine that such a thing is the result of groupings of inert matter.

I don't get this.  "Only because we can sit here and reverse engineer the actuality of an automobile engine being realized can we imagine that such a thing is the result of groupings of inert parts."  Do you think there must be some metaphysical essence of engine-ness in order to make it possible for a collection of chunks of metal, rubber, and plastic to turn gasoline into kinetic energy?

I don't care how long a string of pearls you have, or how varied the pearls are on them, the only way that some arrangement of them would suddenly begin to make copies of itself or begin to want, with all it's 'heart', to survive is if that potential was an inherent property of the pearls themselves, and string of pearls, and piles of strings of pearls.

I'm not really sure what you're getting at here.  Sure, sub-atomic particles have certain properties that give them the potential to be organized into an incredibly complex entity called "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart."  Are you saying that such a thing is only possible if every particle has some "inherent property of Mozart-ness" within it?

I think that's exactly the case. Atoms aren't pearls. They aren't necessarily sentient either but they carry sentience. How can you deny it? We are sentient and we are made of nothing but atoms. Atoms electronically carry information, energy, visible light, chemical substance, molecular order - from the inside. I don't think this is a theistic perspective, since the idea of a God deciding to create these laws of life and consciousness doesn't explain anything at all, and just moves the first cause to pre-theism.

(emphasis added)

I'm not sure of the precise boundaries of your disagreement with "materialism" here.  Are you suggesting something like this?  The link goes to a proposed model I wrote in another thread arguing for a "consciousness all the way down/all the way up" way of looking at Universe that could lead to a concept of "God" without supernaturalism.

So, random? Sure. Random arrangements of matter - but random appearances of phenomenon which fundamentally redefine the cosmos? Hm. I'm skeptical.

The "random" element in evolution is vastly overstated in the popular "understanding" of the theory.  Mutations and copying errors in the genes are random, but which organisms survive and reproduce is not.  Natural selection is not any more random than artificial selection (human breeding, e.g. breeding original wolf-type "dog" stock into Chihuahuas and St. Bernards.).  The difference is that in natural selection it is the integration of all environmental conditions (climate, predators, prey, competitors for the same food, etc.) that determines which organisms are most likely to succeed at survival and reproduction, rather than a human breeder.  Analogy: If you pour ping pong balls over an open, empty egg carton, ping pong balls will eventually nest in the pits in the carton.  Even though the motion of the ping pong balls is basically random, the result is a non-random array of 12 ping pong balls arranged 6 x 2.  It's the shape of the egg carton that provides a non-random arrangement of ping pong balls within it.  Likewise, it's the conditions of a given environment that create niches for some creatures, and drive others to extinction.
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