Barrow and Tipler
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29-07-2014, 04:11 PM
Barrow and Tipler
I watched the debate between Hitchens and Craig at Biola from a few years back. Craig quotes from Barrow and Tipler's book citing their claim that the odds are so in opposition to evolution of the human genome that it would have taken until long after the explosion of the sun (and end of all things as we know them) before it could possibly have occurred. The exact odds they claim are between 4^-180^110,000 and 4^-360^110,000 if memory serves. Hitchens doesn't answer to this specific claim. Anyone have any thoughts? Ever heard of these clowns? It seems as though these numbers are essentially just made up, and that any prerequisite calculations were ill informed, in vain and a waste of time. Anyone want to speak to that?

With regards to the debate, Craig, true to form (I assume), fails to bring anything to the table save his first 20 minute speech, and seemingly refuses to even process Hitchens' responses. Nonetheless, it's an interesting one given that it is presented primarily from a philosophical rather than a scientific standpoint, and thus provides a different perspective than Dillahunty and Bruggencate or Dawkins and Lennox. (That said, it's not like Craig understands logic, either.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8

http://www.amazon.com/Anthropic-Cosmolog...0192821474
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29-07-2014, 04:23 PM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
There's some kinda idea that goes "the odds that we're here are incredibly slim, therefore Jesus"...

I dunno. Adding Jesus doesn't make the odds more favourable as far as I can see.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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29-07-2014, 04:38 PM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
1. Evolution is far too complex a process to accurately calculate the odds of any specific outcome.

2. Even if you could accurately calculate such odds, it is cheating to specify the outcome. Given an evolutionary process, there is bound to be some outcome. The current spectrum of life is the outcome we happen to have, that's all. Similarly, the odds against any specific person winning the lottery are astronomically high, and yet, every few weeks or so, somebody wins. Improbable things happen all the time.

Usually, when someone argues against something on the basis of probability, they don't understand how probability actually works. For more on this sort of thing, I highly recommend the book How Not To Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Be-Wrong-M...1594205221
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29-07-2014, 06:41 PM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
Thanks much for the link, I look forward to reading more.

Yeah, on that note, in another post of mine in this forum, I talked about people who think that there are synchronistic events governed by the universe.

I have no way of knowing how to begin calculating the odds that I'll say something about a person that I then immediately get a text message from (or, insert situation here), but I'm very confident that the odds are in my favor that something like that would happen, when I think about the millions of individual experiences I have every day (literally, every word spoken or heard, every sight seen, etc). Same goes for evolution. Assuming the Big Bang Theory, everything was set in motion between 13 and 14 BILLION years ago. It took between 8 and 9 BILLION years for that clusterfuck to then produce our plant. And then it took another 4.5 to 4.6 BILLION years for us to pop up. If you think of all the individual events that transpired every day of the past 13 billion years, I'd say the odds are probably in our favor that we exist. And even if I'm wrong, I can say almost definitively that the odds are not the numbers given by Barrow and Tipler.
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30-07-2014, 07:32 AM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
I'm pretty sure what they're doing here, they're calculating the odds of a random soup of atoms coming together to create a DNA molecule. This is, of course, a dishonest technique that so many theists try. The evolution of the first DNA was a chemical process that is far different than a random, chance assembly of atoms. (the tornado in a junkyard mis-characterization)

I'm at work behind a damn firewall, so i can't create a link here, but look up "The origin of life" posted in cdk007's youtube channel. It gives a great rundown of how molecules began developing protein processing abilities which led to cells.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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30-07-2014, 07:58 AM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
These probabilistic arguments for theism are non-starters for other reasons as well. For one thing, they invariably assume that evolution is a completely random process, and it's not. There are random elements (mutations, etc.), but the process is strongly directed by natural selection, which is anything but random -- and that immensely improves the odds. Dawkins makes this point brilliantly in several of his books.

But here's the real crusher: the only alternative these people ever offer ("sudden creation" as in Genesis) is many orders of magnitude more improbable than anything proposed by evolution. From a scientific standpoint, however improbable abiogenesis followed by evolution might be, fully-formed adult animals suddenly popping into existence out of thin air is much more improbable. So the "improbable" argument hurts their case rather than helping it. And as soon as you invoke an omnipotent God who is capable of miracles, not only are we not doing science anymore, but probability becomes irrelevant. If "Goddidit", he could have "didit" any way he pleased, including evolution. So probability still does nothing for them. The whole argument is just silly. I've never had any luck getting any of this through their heads, though. They'll come back the next day with the exact same argument that I refuted today.
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30-07-2014, 08:58 AM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
(29-07-2014 04:38 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  1. Evolution is far too complex a process to accurately calculate the odds of any specific outcome.

2. Even if you could accurately calculate such odds, it is cheating to specify the outcome. Given an evolutionary process, there is bound to be some outcome. The current spectrum of life is the outcome we happen to have, that's all.
[SNIP]

Both excellent points.

Most people don't realise that probability and statistical models are based on a number of assumptions. One such assumption might be that of independence : if A happened with probability 1/1000 and B happened with probability 1/100, the probability of A and B happening is 1/100000. But quite often events aren't independent. What proportion of the population have blue eyes? What proportion of blondes have blue eyes? I'd guess the answers are not the same. I'm not familiar with Barrow and Tipler's calculations but I've seen similar calculations and everything is (almost always) assumed independent. Failure to consider any non-independence (or dependence as I like to call it) if it is present renders a model invalid.

This mistake was actually made when DNA profiling was starting to be used. Investigators (some, not all) would see two markers each with, say, a prevalence in the general population of 1 in 1000. They would multiply the two to get a combined figure of 1 in 1,000,000. But it could easily be that while the first marker had a prevalence of 1 in 1000 and the second also had the same prevalence in the general population, the second marker could have had a prevalence of 1 in 100 in the subgroup who had the first marker. Fortunately, this approach was swiftly rectified.

The other question about the probability model is: where do they get the probabilities from? The proponents of such models state that the probability of event A is 1 in 10 million (to be fair, they usually give a range of probabilities), event B has a probability of 1 in 5 million, event C has a probability of 1 in 7 million...etc etc. But it's never really clear where these figures come from. Of course, if I were an Australian, I could say they pulled them out their arse...oh wait...I am Australian!!!! And therefore...

I use your second point when I get the argument from believers that the universe is so finely tuned and if even the force of gravity were different, we wouldn't be here. To be honest, I sometimes play with them. I ask them to specify the range of values for Planck's constant that are compatible with human life as we know it. That's a great conversation stopper (another one: how many laws of thermodynamics are there and can you name them). But then I point out that, yeah, we might not be here but there might a bunch of 8-footed giraffes with 4 arms sitting around drinking beer and saying something like "Hey, man...this universe is finely tuned for us...and that's proof that GiraffoGod really does exist".
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01-08-2014, 09:01 AM
RE: Barrow and Tipler
(30-07-2014 07:58 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  The whole argument is just silly. I've never had any luck getting any of this through their heads, though. They'll come back the next day with the exact same argument that I refuted today.

Yeah, sometimes I wonder what the point even is. In terms of the Craig/Hitchens debate that I started with, Craig just kept getting up there and saying "We still haven't heard any good arguments that Atheism is true", even after being refuted on most points, including the most basic assumption that Atheism is something that can either be true or false. He even says at one point to Hitchens: "You seem to have redefined Atheism as a sort of 'ah-theism' or 'non-theism'"...

I know another, more famous example is Richard Dawkins and Wendy Wright, where she just repeats "show me the evidence" or "show me the missing links (in the fossil record)" regardless of how many times he shows her these things.

Huh
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