RE: Probability or Predictability?

From: Alexanian, Moorad (
Date: Sat Dec 28 2002 - 18:25:50 EST

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    When dealing with purely physical phenomena, we can certainly attach
    probabilities to different outcomes provided we know all the possible
    outcomes and the corresponding probabilities associated with each
    outcome. One day we will be able to compute the probability of the
    outcome of any complex purely physical system. However, when it
    comes to humans, one is not sure since humans are not purely physical
    entities. There is a nonphysical aspect of humans that cannot be
    predicted since the possibility of one of us coming into being
    involves living organisms, which may go beyond the purely physical.
    So long as the living cannot be reduced to the purely physical, then
    the existence of any human being cannot be predicted in terms of
    purely physical theories. That is to say, one cannot reduce the
    history of all that exists to science. It is interesting that
    complex systems are in some sense discrete and so one may calculate a
    finite probability for their realization. There is !
    no way that one can have a system of continuum beings. Such a
    situation is outside the realm of probability theory. Moorad

            -----Original Message-----
            From: Dick Fischer []
            Sent: Tue 12/24/2002 10:51 PM
            Subject: Probability or Predictability?

            Peter Ruest wrote:

    > I think it will not be possible to compute the
    probability of formation
    >of any complex system. The best we can hope for
    >is the estimation of some very very rough upper bounds for such a

            I think probability is misunderstood. The probability of my
    father meeting
            my mother multiplied by the probabilities of my grandparents
    meeting, my
            great grandparents, my great, great grandparents, etc. for hundreds of
            generations is so low that the probability that I'm here is
    so negligible
            that either I'm not here or - it must be God!

            Where do we go wrong? It is because we specify a known
    result. Then we
            say the likelihood of such a result from random processes is impossibly
            low. Essentially, this is wrongheaded.

            It's like looking at Sagittarius the teapot and saying, "What is the
            likelihood that a handful of stars could arrange themselves
    into what looks
            just like a teapot? An intelligent designer must have arranged the
            stars." This ignores the billions of stars all over the sky that don't
            resemble anything, and a teapot is only one of thousands of
    possible objects.

            Another example. Place a teacup in a field, and throw a rock
            blindfolded. What is the probability it will land in the
    cup. Low. But
            throw the rock first, and then place the cup over the rock. Can't
            miss. That, basically, is what is going on. We know already where the
            rock will land, and then say, "Gee, how did it land there"? A low
            probability only exists if we specify where the rock will
    land before we
            throw the rock.

            Random variation produces things. Some things are useful. Some are
            complex. Random variation also produces things that are simple and
            useless. Natural selection sorts it out.

            If you looked at a continuum of results you could grade them out on the
            basis of usefulness and complexity, with useless, simple
    stuff at one end,
            and useful, complex stuff at the other. To be fair we should
    look at the
            entire continuum. But what IDers do instead is to look at
    only the tip end
            of the continuum, the useful, complex end, and say, random variation
            couldn't produce it.

            Go back to the rock and teacup example. What is the
    likelihood you could
            throw a rock into a teacup blindfolded. You might think that it is
            low. But what if you threw 10,000 rocks 10,000 times with
    10,000 teacups
            scattered all around? The probability certainly is low if the rock is
            specified, the throw is specified, and the teacup is specified
            beforehand. But that is predictability, not probability.

            Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
            Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

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