Re: Random from Professing evolution column

From: Don Winterstein (
Date: Sat Feb 08 2003 - 23:22:25 EST

  • Next message: "Re: RRR#2"


    Thanks for the comments. First of all, I need to tighten up my thoughts a
    bit. Retirement tends to make one a bit lax. First, I think PDF usually
    means "probability density function," not probability distribution
    function--although the different word doesn't affect the meaning here.

    And what I meant by saying that "God indeed may skew the distributions"
    really should have been more like the following: If God determines a
    particular outcome, for that event the PDF collapses to a single value. In
    other words, God's momentary input changes the system momentarily from a
    probabilistic one to a deterministic one. So one needn't think of God as
    surreptitiously skewing distributions, but one might and should, IMHO,
    expect God to make his input felt now and then, as he sees fit. I hope
    you'd be able to accept such a concept, which is really what I meant (after
    thinking it over), though not what I said.

    From my personal knowledge of God I get the impression that he is always actively and intimately monitoring and upholding things but only on occasion actively fiddling with the works. The entire Bible makes a similar witness.

    Also, thanks for the reference on the solar neutrino problem. But the fact that people may have solved this most basic problem does not let theorists off the hook in any way. Good science is still necessarily experiment-based, because the human mind has shown time and again that it cannot come up with good models without frequent, detailed and properly focused reference to the real world.



    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Iain Strachan" <>
    To: <>; "Don Winterstein"
    Cc: "asa" <>
    Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2003 5:27 PM
    Subject: Re: Random from Professing evolution column

    > 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
    > >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,
    > Iain.
    > Need a new email address that people can remember
    > Check out the new EudoraMail at

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Feb 08 2003 - 23:33:28 EST