Re: Small probabilities

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Thu Dec 01 2005 - 10:43:31 EST

    Thank you for the clarification. I apologize for misrepresenting what you were saying. I think I understand it now.

    It is certainly possible to hypothetically set up circumstances that would stretch beyond the bounds of credibility of "coincidence." And there is an abundance of amazing events that have actually happened that appear to be beyond "coincidence." I don't know of any single formula or technique that can differentiate clearly between "rigged" or "coincidence." There will always be a gray zone of "don't know." Enough to spawn many a conspiracy theory.

    In the case of a particular algorithm that gives one transcendental number from one passage and another when applied to a different passage, you and I come to different conclusions. I don't see it as even coming close to the gray zone while you see it as beyond coincidence. What would it take to convince me? I'm not sure, but some factors that would go a long way would be if the algorithm as well as the resultant transcendental numbers had some a priori significance, especially in the context of the passages.

    Could you also clarify how you feel that option 2 is viable? If the scenario is deliberately inserted by human authors, wouldn't the author of John 1:1 need to be aware of the algorithm and its result when applied to Gen. 1:1? Perhaps John was educated in mathematics, but we have no record of that. In other words, if you've ruled out option 1, the coincidence version, why don't you go directly to option 3, the divine intervention?


  What I said was that by itself, the fact that a seemingly arbitrary mathematical formula applied to the numerical values of the letters of Gen 1:1 gives a reasonable approximation to pi is nothing remarkable in itself, because of the vast choice of possible formulae that could be applied. However, just as in the Laura Buxton scenario, what made me sit up and take notice, was that precisely the same formula was applied to the letters of John 1:1 to give an equally good approximation to e, the other well-known transcendental number in mathematics. The description length the second time is much shorter, because you don't need to re-specify the formula.

  Does that now make it clear what my position is, and why I don't accept option (1)?
Received on Thu Dec 1 19:37:32 2005

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