**From:** Alexanian, Moorad (*alexanian@uncw.edu*)

**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 [mailto:dickfischer@genesisproclaimed.org]

Sent: Tue 12/24/2002 10:51 PM

To: asa@calvin.edu

Cc:

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
*

* >probability.
*

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

www.genesisproclaimed.org

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