71 posts / 0 new

## Subscription Note:

Email notifications will be sent out daily by default unless specified otherwise on your account which you can edit by going to your userpage here and clicking on the subscriptions tab.

Science has made enormous strides toward understanding the history of life on this planet, but the theists and intelligent designers continue to claim that biology's inability to explain abiogenesis right now is proof of intelligent design. So is the accidental start of life in a primeval chemical soup around hydrothermal vents is harder to believe than a supernatural tinkerer? How likely is it that a super-intelligent, all-powerful being would spontaneously pop into being?

I wonder what would happen if you did that scrabble experiment continuously in thousands of locations for for several hundred million years.

Algebe - I wonder what would happen if you did that scrabble experiment continuously in thousands of locations for for several hundred million years.

You picked up on something that is often not addressed in these hand wavy probability arguments. They never include the number of trials (or as you put it, the locations in which trials are happening).

MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\$','\$']]}});

I wonder what would happen if you did that scrabble experiment continuously in thousands of locations for for several hundred million years.

I'd like to return to what you wrote again, because I think you really hit the nail on the head here. I'm going to run with it a bit.

When an apologist tells you that the chance of life occurring naturally/randomly/whatever is 1 chance in 1060 or some other tiny chance, what they are really saying is:
$$10^{-60} = Pr(A) = 1 - Pr(\neg A)\tag{1}$$Where Pr(A) is the probability of life forming, and Pr(¬A) is the probability of life not forming.However (as you pointed out) equation 1 above is not adequate, as that is for 1 region of space, in 1 time period (for the sake of argument, or to make it more concrete lets say that is 1 cubic centimetre in 1 year). So:
$$10^{-60} = 1 - Pr(\neg A)^{R*t}\tag{2.0}$$Where R is the number of regions, and t is the number of years. We can plug in a value for t of say 10 billion years, giving us:$$10^{-60} = 1 - Pr(\neg A)^{R*10^{10}}\tag{2.1}$$Now we need to work on R. We need to know what percentage of the universe is it possible for life to develop in. To make it concrete lets say 1%:
$$10^{-60} = 1 - Pr(\neg A)^{\frac{V}{100}*10^{10}}\tag{3}$$Where V is the volume of the universe in cubic centimetres. Clean that up a little:$$10^{-60} = 1 - Pr(\neg A)^{V*10^{8}}\tag{3.1}$$Now some people might disagree with the estimates I've plugged in but we are about to see that this doesn't even matter; change any of them and we will still reach the same conclusion below!
All that is left to estimate is:

• Pr(¬A): the probability life won't form in one cubic centimetre of space in 1 year. They claim they know this; I'm highly skeptical; but for the sake of this argument I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and pretend they do know it.
• V: the volume of the universe in cubic centimetres.

While they may claim to know Pr(¬A), no one knows the value of V. While there is a lower bound (the volume of the observable universe) of about 1086 cubic centimetres, there is no known upper bound. Therefore it is impossible estimate the value of V since any estimate of V could be off by hundreds of orders of magnitude (or more!).

With no way to estimate V, there is no way to tell if Pr(A) is close to 0% or 100%. Therefore: when they told us the probability of life forming naturally is 10-60 (or any other value!); they are just making shit up; or more likely they are copying some value from someone else who just made it up.

@Nyarlathotep
Nice reasoning! Even if we narrow the arena down from the universe to just this one planet, there's still an awful lot of hydrothermal vents and other environments where complex molecules can play scrabble and frolic in the chemical soup.

"they are just making shit up; or more likely they are copying some value from someone else who just made it up"

Exactly right. And when they get out of their depth on probability, the apologists will desperately clutch at their other straw: the second law of thermodynamics.

Algebe,

Anyone who claims that they can do a good ball park calculation of probability for the origin of life, given how little we know about the subject, is blowing smoke out their ears! I've seen a number of these probability calculations by creationists. They 1) Ignore the role of evolution (the simplest cells have done a lot of evolving); 2) Ignore alternate pathways (all possible pathways that produce a given goal must be considered, and all different but workable goals must be considered); 3) Ignore the fact that a large number of interactions in nature are not random since they are constrained by natural law. Since nobody has a good handle on any of these three categories (which also interact with one another in unpredictable ways), and since being off in any one category can totally trash the calculation, there is just no way to do an accurate calculation! Whenever you see these calculations it's a pretty good sign that pseudo-scientists are at work.

Greensnake:

All we can say about the probability of life arising is that it is better than zero, since we are here.

But the most annoying trait of creationists in my opinion is their assumption that if science can't explain the origin of life right now, the only possible answer is creation by god. They have no inkling of the complexity of the processes involved, the subtlety of the traces left behind, or the time required to discover, interpret, and peer review new findings. Holy-book authors can just make stuff up out of their heads. Scientists have to work to a far higher standard.

Algebe:

Actually, we can say a tad more about that probability. That life appears right after the period of huge meteorite bombardment, when it would have been exterminated had it started, is a strong argument that the odds against it aren't as long as one might think. By that same reasoning, the jump from single-celled life to multi-cellular organization took about 3 billion years, suggesting that it was a very difficult bit of evolution.
Evolution going from the age of Trilobites to Homo Sapiens was a lot easier than getting to complex, multi-cellular life to start with.

Like yourself, I find the gross ignorance that creationists bring to the table--and in particular their incessant use of that error "argument from ignorance"--to be highly annoying. Pointing out the basics, over and over, can get a little tiresome!

hmmm. I think people's definition of God is quite limiting and atheists have a holier-than-thou trait that is infinitely more annoying than the limited brain of most "creationists". Life on Earth did not advance linearly but in spurts. Darwin is good for micro evoloution, but no one has explained macro evolution yet.

@DealWithIt
"Darwin is good for micro evoloution, but no one has explained macro evolution yet."

Why don't you enlighten us by explaining the difference? What's the cut-off line? Can lions and tigers have a common ancestor? What about horses and camels, people and chimpanzees, birds and reptiles? What's the mechanism that confines evolution at the micro level and prevents macro-level change? And please give us an unlimited definition of god.

I'll accept the "holier-than-thou" epithet when I see swarms of atheists going door to door trying to inveigle people into cults with shonky science.

@Algebe
"Can lions and tigers have a common ancestor? What about horses and camels, people and chimpanzees, birds and reptiles?"

Of course. With the exception of people. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tiny-genetic-differences-betw...

And science has yet to understand "junk DNA" which comprises 98% of DNA, but perhaps they are starting to learn. http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/06/junk-dna-not-so-useless-after-all/

"What's the mechanism that confines evolution at the micro level and prevents macro-level change?" Phylum.
There is no "mechanism". What is, is.

Question: Why do apes exist at all and why haven't they evolved into humans?

The unlimited definition of God is that the "unending-neverending". To understand that we would have to be God. I believe there are beings in this universe with higher intelligence than homo-sapiens . They have complete command of every science of the physical universe and THEY don't even know the inner workings of the creator. I'm sure you will disagree.

Small example. Humans make use of electricity, but do we know what it really is? We can define electricity so it works within our parameters and derive conclusions, but can you agree there may exist a paradigm shift which incorporates and simplifies Quantum Mechanics? Rocket engines seem quite primitive for interstellar space travel, and much too time consuming, while wormholes seem like a Victorian era fantasy.

But that's just me. And I am not inveigled into an atheistic cult, nor do I knock on doors. Least of all, I am not smug, I am humbled by the immensity and intricacy of creation from a protozoa to the universe.

@Dealwithit:
"Question: Why do apes exist at all and why haven't they evolved into humans?"
Some of them have. Look in a mirror. Why should other types of apes go extinct just because we stood up and lost our fur?

"I believe there are beings in this universe with higher intelligence than homo-sapiens."
That is a real possibility. However, the jury is still out on whether high intelligence is a survival trait. It's certainly been costly to us and the environment.

"They have complete command of every science of the physical universe and THEY don't even know the inner workings of the creator."
How do you know what these putative aliens know or don't know about your imaginary creator or anything else? Have you met them?

"Phylum"
Why not class, order....? What's special about phylum?

"I am humbled by the immensity and intricacy of creation from a protozoa to the universe."
And I am humbled by the immensity and complexity of the cosmos and life and amazed to learn that I am made of star dust and related to every living thing that has ever existed. That's why I hate to see it all trivialized by fairy stories.

DealWithIt:

Why shouldn't apes exist? You appear to hold the mistaken idea that evolution is a narrow ladder where each step is an evolution of the rung below. It's more like a bush. Apes and humanoids separated from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago, and both have gone merrily off in their respective directions creating more bushy branches. We can pick this up next year since I will be traveling.

DealWithIt:

You need to hit some real textbooks instead of all that creationist literature! Macroevolution has been a fact of life for over a 100 years. It is one of the best confirmed ideas of science! Darwin's main explanation, natural selection, is still the main engine driving biological evolution. It is true that evolution does not always advance smoothly as originally though, but the refinement due to punctuated equilibrium now offers a good explanation for that.

Title of article: "Scientists Prove Again that Life is the Result of Intelligent Design"
You should have stopped reading at "Scientists Prove"; scientists don't prove stuff. But ignoring that:From the article: "Although all of the scientists mentioned believe that life came from non-life..."
There is no such distinction in chemistry and physics. The water molecules in a insect are identical to the water molecules at the bottom of the ocean, or to the water molecules on Jupiter.From the article: "Scientists cannot prove that this is how life arose on Earth"
See part one above. For what it is worth, scientists can't prove the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.
From the article: "a bacterium is of a level of functional complexity on the order of an F-15 fighter bomber (actually that is understated)"
I seriously doubt anyone can calculate the functional complexity of either. I'll even go out on a limb here and say: I don't think someone can calculate the functional complexity of the process of calculating the functional complexity of either.
From the article: "Despite its popularity it is also a purely speculative theory supported by no plausible evidence."
Think about that bolded phrase for a moment. What the fuck is "plausible evidence"?My advice: don't read trash!

Wow. I think I may be a little out of my league on this one!

Well imagine you were told that in a class your friend is taking: there are two students who have the same birthday. If someone asked you to figure out what is the probability of that happening; you might not be familiar with how to do it, but I think you'd realize right away it depends on how many students are in the class. You might also realize it depends on how many classes your friend has (if he has 50 classes, the probability is going to go way up).

The same goes for these apologists probabilities about life forming "naturally". The answer depends on how many different locations life could form. No one knows this number; therefore when they give you an answer they are just making shit up.

Life did come from nonlife here on earth. Either gods did it or it happened through some other mechanism... but on earth there was at some point not life and there is life now.

MCD:

The fact is that evolution traces back to simple prokaryotic life forms. A reasonable extension, given that there is no clear boundary that defines life, is that this pattern extends to non-life as well. I think that a real god would not dally around for billions of years before getting to his prime creation.

If you can't bewilder them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit, or vice versa situation dependent.

This has been the way of fictional posturing since man conjured up supernatural deception to control the masses. If you know the average man's intelligence will catch you at the con, seek an elusive approach, preferably cloaked in the sciences where most men do not venture, and make your claims from there.

"Nine out of ten experts agree..."

You really do not even need to view a single equation-driven deception to know it's a con.

@pork222
1) IT was put forward to defend the god theory. To accept IT you have to make a Leap Of Faith that has no evidence to support it. The IT believers NEVER prove the connection between something they claimed to have been designed and a designer. They just state that something appears to be orderly and therefor something intelligent designed it.
2) The IT crowd in this article is justifying after the fact. Forcing facts not in evidence to fit their argument. It doesn't meet muster and is completely dishonest.

Pork222,

The whole thing boils down to an argument from ignorance. They can't see an answer right now, and one has not yet materialized, so in their minds they imagine all kinds of horrendous odds against it. However, there is no rigorous way to do such calculations at the present time! In my reply to Algebe I went into that a bit. If science has proven anything, it's that human imagination is not a good yardstick for what can happen. If we didn't know that such things happen all the time, could we ever imagine a fertilized cell working its way into a human being? It's totally mind-boggling! And, then there's this business about the whole universe, all those far-flung galaxies of inconceivable size, once being crammed into a space that might have been as small as an atom! Try imagining even the great Newton buying into that deal! Human feelings without rigor count for little, and rigor is the one thing that is painfully missing in that piece.

After assuring us that abiogenesis is obviously impossible, a thought that doesn't seem to bother those scientists who have bet their futures by working in the field, scientists who do real research and know vastly more about the subject, creationists and IDers give us their alternative--God! Never mind that the "God" hypothesis (if we may use so dignified a word) violates just about every major principle of nature! No hypothesis ever produced by an abiogeneticist was every that wrong.

What crystal ball are these creationists using when they (in effect) tell us that no breakthrough will occur in the next 1000 years? A lot of amazing progress has been made in the field. Who can honestly say what will occur even in the next 30 years? Creationists are just guessing. Their imagination is biased for religious reasons, and their probability arguments are a joke. Of course, if you don't have the expertise they may LOOK impressive.

Abiogeneticists always get faulted for not knowing how life originated on Earth. But, that's an historical problem with most of the pieces still missing! Historical accidents, such as the asteroid that took out the dinosaurs, are guaranteed to throw unexpected monkey wrenches into any attempt to piece together the origin of life. If you don't recover enough pieces to the puzzle, you can never get an answer. However, I fully expect abiogenesis to eventually uncover some plausible pathways that could have done the job. That's about the best we can expect unless we get lucky.

As Nyarlathotep pointed out, you didn't have to go beyond the title to smell a rat--if you have a background in the sciences. Maybe we can be of some help.

Just like good old rock and roll these assholes will steal ideas and claim them for their own. Theists had nothing to do with discovering facts about evolution and now are trying to adopt that information as their own. Christian rock and roll sucks and so does their science.

@Chimp3
"Christian rock and roll sucks"

But nothing is worse than Christian C&W. I've got this lyric stuck in my head from "Put your hand in the hand" (Elvis, Lorretta Lynn, Joan Baez, etc.)
My momma taught me how to pray
Before I reached the age of seven
When I'm down on my knees
That's when I'm closest to heaven

What kind of lyricist uses feminine rhymes? Seven and heaven! Pathetic.

We had a born-again music teacher at high school who inflicted all this C&W cowboy hymn crap on us until the police took him away.

Chimp

Agreed! How does christian rock manage to be so uniformly terrible? It's just the worst. My family is always trying to get me to listen to this absolutely contrived garbage. That topic alone deserves it's own ongoing thread.

Christian rock. How does it manage to be so terrible? Simple! It 's not their music. All the best rock and roll is affiliated with Satan.

Simply, one need NOT belief/certainty/faith such that one observes probabilities/likelihoods. (...thusly, one's atheistic/theistic nature is rather irrelevant)

(1) Our universe is likely simulatory/information-bound; quantum bits flip on the horizon of quantized interactions.

(2) Mankind has but forged non-trivial simulations of our cosmos Such sequences enhance as compute resources enlargen.

Therein, our cosmos is likely CREATABLE.

ProgrammingGodJordan:

It's YOU again speaking in riddles! When will you learn to communicate? I recommend a good course on writing comprehension. Intelligence is not measured by how poorly you can be understood.

What in the hell are you talking about?

Has Deepak Chopra joined the forum?

## Pages

Donating = Loving

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.