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

Glenn R. Morton (
Tue, 05 Jan 1999 21:51:25 -0800

Hi Ed,

At 04:59 PM 1/5/99 -0500, Ed Brayton wrote:
>"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
>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.

To my regret I will make one contribution here before unsubscribing again.
Consider the exponent in the inverse square laws of electromagnetism and
gravity. One can calculate the odds or approximate the odds that this
value would be chosen at random in a truly randomly constructed universe.
The fact is that if the exponent is less than 2 or greater than 2 the earth
will either spiral into the sun or away from the sun. (I am too tired to
night to figure out which goes with which).

Now, there is a range of values surrounding 2 in which the numbers cause
such a slow spiral that over 4.5 billion years, the earth would not have
left the habitable zone around the sun. this is the range of values for the
exponent which could be chosen randomly and not destroy life. define the
habitable exponent range as

F = 1/r^(2 +epsilon1/- epsilon2)

There are two epsilons because the inner and outer boundary of the
continuously habitable zone of the earth's orbit is not equidistant in both
directions away from the present earth orbit. Even assuming that a randomly
created universe could choose an exponent between 1 and 3 (both of which
will cause rapid spiraling of electron or planetary orbits and which yield
a range (3-1=2) ) one can then calculate the probability in this fashion

(2+epsilon1)-(2-epsilon2)/ (3-1) = (epsilon1-epsilon2)/2

As long as the range for the denominator which you select is greater than
difference in the numerator, you have in some measure the probability of
randomly chosing a value which is compatible with life. Obviously the way
out of this argument is that 2 is chosen for the exponent by some logically
apriori set of physical laws. But if one choses that out, then I think it
is incumbent upon them to demonstrate such a theory.

So why shouldn't a randomly chosen universe have a gravitational force with
an exponent of 10?

Howard, my physics superior, can have the last word. I am going into hiding

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