RE: It's the Bible or evolution

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Tue Sep 27 2005 - 16:59:44 EDT

This is the old dispute between the frequentists and those who view probability theory as logic. The latter includes the likes of Laplace, Harold Jeffreys, Cox, Shannon, etc. No one can do an infinite-number-of-throws experiment of a dice so that notion is not valid. One can throw dice in such a way that it always comes up a prescribed number. Classical mechanics does not forbid that and so it can be done with appropriate initial conditions and dynamics. Scientific inference is based on data plus prior information that gives predication of probabilities associated with different hypotheses. It is true that assumed conditions can give rise to definite sampling distributions but nature does not work in the dark but is governed by initial conditions and dynamical laws. Studying nature by throws of the dice, read random behavior, reflect our ignorance and not the workings of nature.

 

Moorad

________________________________

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu on behalf of Freeman, Louise Margaret
Sent: Tue 9/27/2005 4:09 PM
To: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: RE: It's the Bible or evolution

I'll be the first to admit that I know little of quantum mechanics, but I
don't see that that is especially relevant to dice-throwing. If a student
throws 4 dice and I tell her that the probabity of getting 4 6's is
.0007716, how does that indicate my degree of ignorance?

Of course, I am entirely ignorant of how any one roll will turn out, unless
I care to calculate force on the dice, speed of rotation, distance to the
floor and many other variables too numerous for me or any one else to count
(if I could, I'd be in Vegas making my fortune at the craps tables.)

But when I have my class do this 800 times, and we look at the frequency
distribution of the means of each roll, we get a normally distributed bell
curve with a mean of almost exactly 3.5 and a standard deviation of 0.86.
Almost exactly what central limit theorem and the laws of probability
predict. The theory also predicts that the more we thrown, the closer to
these calculated means and standard deviations we would get. The perectly
fitting curve will only appear with an infinite number of throws.

I don't think God is banished from my classroom during this exercise. On
the contrary, I believe he provided this law of probability that helps me
predict what will happen. If the dice throws are not genuinely random, they
do a pretty good job of faking it.

> I am not sure if any process in nature is truly random. If you have a
> deterministic system, then there is nothing random except one's
> ignorance of the details. For instance, when the weatherman says there
> is a 30% chance of rain, he is indicating his degree of ignorance
> rather
> than any random mechanisms in nature. It is only when one brings in
> indeterminism, as in quantum mechanics, one can truly talk about
> probabilities even when one has maximal knowledge of the system in
> question. However, in such cases one must have the dynamics that gives
> rise to not only the possible outcomes but also their corresponding
> probabilities. Deterministic chaos still corresponds to our ignorance
> in
> how to calculate exact results from systems that are truly
> deterministic.
>
> Moorad
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
> Behalf Of Freeman, Louise Margaret
> Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:17 PM
> To: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: It's the Bible or evolution
>
> I think it's the terms "random" and "by chance" are the ones that
> create
> the most problems. The terms "designed" and "guided" clearly imply
> oversight by a higher intelligence, while "purposeless" and "unguided"
> imply
>
> its absence. But "random" and "chance"... even Christians acknowledge
> that
> there are occasions when outcome is governed by the laws of probablity:
> the
> mass dice-throwing exercise I do in my statistics classes to
> demonstrate
>
> central limit theorem (without which none of the stat tests I use would
> work!), the weekly lottery drawings, even pulling numbers out of a hat
> for a
>
> church bingo game. If recognition of the role of chance in those
> instances
> does not necessarily exclude God from that aspect of creation, why
> should
> "random" events in evolutionary theory?
>
> Falk spoke of this as a type of freedom woven into God's creation,
> analogous
>
> to the free will humans have, even if God is all-knowing, all-powerful
> and
> sovereign over their lives.The hard part is, conceptualizing the God
> can
>
> govern random events as well as non-random events.
>
> __
> Louise M. Freeman, PhD
> Psychology Dept
> Mary Baldwin College
> Staunton, VA 24401
> 540-887-7326
> FAX 540-887-7121
>
> > ID perspective:
> > In common usage among scientists and laity, evolution refers
> to
> > the
> > development of species through random, purposeless, unguided events
> > rather
> > than by any type of divine action. As such, evolution is inherently
> > antithetical to any orthodox view of creation.
>
> > TE perspective:
> > The "common usage" is wrong and evolution can and should be
> > divorced
> > from the "random, purposeless, unguided.." metaphysical
> interpretation.
> > Then it can be possible to harmonize with various views of creation.
>
>
Received on Tue Sep 27 17:01:18 2005

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