Re: The Odds of the Big Bang, Abiogenesis, and Evolution

Steve Clark (
Tue, 05 Jan 1999 14:53:17 -0600

At 06:09 PM 1/5/99 -0000, Matthew Bell wrote:
>Matthew Bell
>I participate on a Biblical Errancy email list. A recent thread, entitled,
>likely is it'? has argued from the perspective that in view of the many
>miraculous events which the Israelites of the Exodus witnessed their
>disbelieving and grumbling attitude is extremely unlikely providing a sound
>basis for disregarding them as cultural myths. The idea hit upon me that a
>way of showing the fallacious nature of such an argument is to present
>something which the errantist will regard as true and hold to, i.e. the big
>bang, abiogenesis and evolution and then present the statistics showing
how the
>occurrence of these having occurred is extremely unlikely.

This is a weak argument, Matthew. First, long-shot odds do not prove that
something did not happen. In my lab we take long-shot odds every day and
always win, because we make the event happen often enough to beat the odds.
Therefore, just knowing the statistical probability is not enough to make
your point. You also need to know how many chances there were and if there
was any selection for rare events.

Besides, if you want to try to reject something based on long-shot odds,
then what is the probability of the Red Sea parting just in time for the
Jews? Even a biblical literalist would say that the probability of this
event happening just at the right time was exceedingly low. But they still
believe it happened don't they?