Re: Random from Professing evolution column

From: Iain Strachan (
Date: Tue Feb 08 2000 - 17:27:27 EST

  • Next message: Bill Crouse: "RRR#2"

    On Sat, 8 Feb 2003 00:32:07
     Don Winterstein wrote:
    >Actually, your later comment, ".if God is sovereign over the outcome of casting lots, as various passages attest, then this sort of randomness does not exclude God," says precisely, in different words, that God indeed may skew the distributions. So I guess in this respect we're in agreement. It's just that I would say you lose randomness as soon as there is any deliberate skewing. Is this just semantics? I don't think so.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "lose randomness" here. A variable sampled from a skewed probability distribution is still called a random variable. There is a sense in which the Gaussian distribution is considered the most "random", in that for a given value of the variance (second moment of the distribution), then the Gaussian distribution has the greatest entropy. The third moment of the distribution is called the "skewness", and distributions with a non-zero skewness will be more predictable than a Gaussian, though still "random".

    The idea of God somehow skewing the distribution in order to make the desired evolutionary outcome more likely is an interesting one, but not one that appeals much to me. It sounds like cheating. Skewing the distribution is a bit like using a biased coin or a loaded die or a stacked deck, without our being told that this has gone on. This seems to me to imply a God that is as dishonest as the one who creates a young universe with the appearance of age, where supernovae that are 170,000 light years away depict events that never happened.

    I think in the case of casting of lots, etc, it is a different issue. Here people were trusting in God to make the right outcome in _one_ specific observation; one sample of a random variable. The fact that the correct answer comes up in that case may be reasonably attributed to a miracle. But with a skewed distribution it has to happen over and over again, with no-one to witness it, trust in God to make things happen etc. And in this scenario, the idea of God fiddling the distribution is one I find I'm unable to accept.

    >failed miserably. I'm talking about the discrepancy between predicted and
    >observed neutrino flux from the sun. This is now an old problem, but I
    >haven't heard that they've solved it yet.

    In fact this has been now solved, and is discussed at some length on Talk Origins at:

    In the article, a reference is made to an AiG article which also concedes that recent measurements have effectively solved this problem, which can no therefore no longer be cited as evidence of a young sun.

    Best wishes,

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