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

Ed Brayton (
Tue, 05 Jan 1999 16:59:24 -0500

"Howard J. Van Till" wrote:

> Matthew,
> You asked: "If there were no creator would the odds change considerably?"
> Reply,
> 1. I'm not sure you got the point of my first reply. The traditional
> Christian answer to the question above is, If there were no Creator, there
> would be no Creation. Period.
> 2. This game of looking for numerical values of probabilities is, in my
> judgment, utterly without merit. What particular set of presuppositions
> would be allowed? What specfic capablities do creaturely systems (atoms,
> molecules, molecular ensembles, cells, etc.) actually have? How on earth
> would we come to know the numerical values of the relevant probabilities
> when we still have so much to learn about the capabilties and processes
> that may have contributed to such phenomena as abiogeness or biological
> evolution? As I see it, anyone who presents probability values for these
> phenomena is engaging, not in anything remotely resembling a scientific
> assessment of either abiogenesis or evolution, but in a rhetorical game. I
> want no part of it.

I agree with this assessment 100%. Creationists love to discuss probability,
but it is a purely rhetorical game with no merit whatsoever. A quick
demonstration will suffice. Suppose you were to go outside of your house and
pick up a rock laying in your house. Now calculate the odds that that rock was
in that specific square inch of earth by calculating the total number of
square inches on the earth; the odds are astronomical, of course. Now
calculate the odds that you picked it up at that precise second in relation to
the total number of seconds since the beginning of time; the odds are
astronomical. Add the two together and it is clearly impossible for you to
have picked up that rock from that spot at that time. If you want to make it a
really compelling argument, add in the odds against that particular piece of
rock as a percentage of the total amount of rock of that type in the earth. We
can quickly see how absurd this argument is.