Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
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31-03-2016, 08:26 AM (This post was last modified: 31-03-2016 08:39 AM by true scotsman.)
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(29-03-2016 12:39 PM)BlackEyedGhost Wrote:  There's a unique argument among Intelligent Design believers which goes something like this:

Life is almost non-existent in our universe with life on Earth being the exception, not the rule. There is an extraordinary number of criteria which must be met prior to life being possible and the odds of so many criteria being met at once is effectively 0%. Because the odds of a natural occurrence is so low, some driving force (God) seems necessary to explain how life came about.

There are multiple shortcomings to this argument. One of the most glaring, but less obvious problems, is that it acknowledges the non-existence of life besides our own from the start in order to calculate the probability of life existing. You can't use the non-existence of life as proof for the existence of life.

Another, more obvious shortcoming is that the "driving force" needn't be God or even living. According to quantum mechanics, reality is formed as it becomes pertinent to the rest of reality (as evidenced by quantum entanglement, quantum superposition, Schrodinger's cat thought experiment, etc.). This means that everything that could possibly be happening is currently happening, but from the perspective of any given thing, we're locked into one reality (multiverse theory). This provides a driving force which makes life an inevitability without the need for a creator or even the need for a birthless/deathless universe (which would imply an infinite timeline in which it's also an inevitability so long as the probability is non-zero).

Did I miss any shortcomings of the argument?

I think all of your objections are good ones but there is one that you missed. This argument for god and in fact every argument for god, is an attempt to prove metaphysical subjectivism. Since logic is only compatible with metaphysical objectivism, the argument attempts to use logic to undermine logic.
This is a textbook case of the stolen concept fallacy. The problem is that Christians and religious people in general have no clue about concepts and the hierarchical structure of knowledge in my experience so this is incommunicable to them.

The fact that they don't understand this flaw however does not make it go away. And the fact that they don't have a clue about these issues at all is a real indictment of their worldview, especially since many of them claim that Belief in God is the only way to account for knowledge.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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31-03-2016, 09:50 AM (This post was last modified: 31-03-2016 10:02 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 07:04 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 06:44 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Then explain the difference. Here. Now. You implied humans were "special".
You do not have sufficient evidence to claim they are special.
You also can't claim humans can "take it all in".
95 % of this universe remains "dark" (energy and matter).
There are also countless other species that can detect portions (light, sound,) that humans can't detect.
Our senses detect a very small range of what we know is real, and that knowledge has existed for an infinitesimally short period of time.

Is our ability to pursue truth, to contemplate where we came from, to try and trace our history, to have these sort of discussions, unique to us? Are we the only creature out of the billions of creatures we know have existed, that are capable of this?

On this planet, yes, for the time being. There are other sentient beings on this planet, which are no doubt still evolving, (dolphins, bonobos).
Although what you consider "truth" and anyone else is certainly not necessarily the same. Life has no doubt evolved elsewhere in the universe.
The fact that we happened to be the first doing these things here, is unique ONLY HERE, for now, and there is no reason to think we alone as sentient beings in the universe.

Again .... your point is what ?
For MOST of the age of the universe, this has NOT been true.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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31-03-2016, 09:53 AM
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 09:50 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 07:04 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Is our ability to pursue truth, to contemplate where we came from, to try and trace our history, to have these sort of discussions, unique to us? Are we the only creature out of the billions of creatures we know have existed, that are capable of this?

On this planet, yes, for the time being. There are other sentient beings on this planet, which are no doubt still evolving, (dolphins, bonobos).
Although what you consider "truth" and anyone else is certainly not necessarily the same. Life has no doubt evolved elsewhere in the universe.
The fact that we happened to be the first doing these things here, is unique ONLY HERE, for now, and there is no reason to think we alone as sentient being in the universe.

Again .... your point is what ?
For MOST of the age of the universe, this has NOT been true.

Some may disagree but I wanna add Elephants to the list...

and of course the mice, duh!

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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31-03-2016, 10:51 AM
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 07:04 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 06:44 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Then explain the difference. Here. Now. You implied humans were "special".
You do not have sufficient evidence to claim they are special.
You also can't claim humans can "take it all in".
95 % of this universe remains "dark" (energy and matter).
There are also countless other species that can detect portions (light, sound,) that humans can't detect.
Our senses detect a very small range of what we know is real, and that knowledge has existed for an infinitesimally short period of time.

Is our ability to pursue truth, to contemplate where we came from, to try and trace our history, to have these sort of discussions, unique to us? Are we the only creature out of the billions of creatures we know have existed, that are capable of this?

Tom, out of curiosity, how do you know that a dolphin doesn't ponder it's existence? How do you know that some other creatures on this planet at some time didn't "know" they existed? What evidence do you have to support this claim?

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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31-03-2016, 11:08 AM (This post was last modified: 31-03-2016 11:13 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 10:51 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  Tom, out of curiosity, how do you know that a dolphin doesn't ponder it's existence? How do you know that some other creatures on this planet at some time didn't "know" they existed? What evidence do you have to support this claim?

Probably because if they had the capacity to ponder a question of that scope, that they'd likely have the capacity for a variety of other things, perhaps set up homeowners associations, elect a dolphin president, etc....

What's your take on it? That we just don't know. Perhaps there's some dolphins out there that are theist?

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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31-03-2016, 11:54 AM
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 11:08 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 10:51 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  Tom, out of curiosity, how do you know that a dolphin doesn't ponder it's existence? How do you know that some other creatures on this planet at some time didn't "know" they existed? What evidence do you have to support this claim?

Probably because if they had the capacity to ponder a question of that scope, that they'd likely have the capacity for a variety of other things, perhaps set up homeowners associations, elect a dolphin president, etc....

Maybe set up a mega-under-water church and pass a collection plate, or some such extremely enlightened stuff. Dodgy

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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31-03-2016, 05:02 PM
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 11:08 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 10:51 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  Tom, out of curiosity, how do you know that a dolphin doesn't ponder it's existence? How do you know that some other creatures on this planet at some time didn't "know" they existed? What evidence do you have to support this claim?

Probably because if they had the capacity to ponder a question of that scope, that they'd likely have the capacity for a variety of other things, perhaps set up homeowners associations, elect a dolphin president, etc....

What's your take on it? That we just don't know. Perhaps there's some dolphins out there that are theist?

I really don't know. He fact that you think that any creature who can ponder it's own existance would do something exactly like a human would do is absurd. If a dolphin could ponder it's own existance or how frail life can be under the sea, I would not expect it to build a HOA. If you do, than I really don't think you have a clue on what you are talking about.

It would be nice to know, though. Perhaps a dolphin could explain to you why the supernatural is silly or maybe a squid would evangelize to you on their lord and savior Cthulhu since they have ancient stories that prove their beliefs.


Edit: also, if a dolphin was a theist of some sort, wouldn't that mean that you are as smart as a dolphin? Not sure that is something to be proud of.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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31-03-2016, 10:41 PM
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 11:08 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Probably because if they had the capacity to ponder a question of that scope, that they'd likely have the capacity for a variety of other things, perhaps set up homeowners associations, elect a dolphin president, etc....
On what grounds exactly do you make that particular assertion? I mean just putting aside dolphins for the moment there is at least one other hominid species perfectly capable of questions of that "scope".

Hell have a gander at this:




You have a conclusion and you are working backwards from it. Human beings are not special.

When valour preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights with.
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01-04-2016, 02:58 AM
RE: Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 11:08 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 10:51 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  Tom, out of curiosity, how do you know that a dolphin doesn't ponder it's existence? How do you know that some other creatures on this planet at some time didn't "know" they existed? What evidence do you have to support this claim?

Probably because if they had the capacity to ponder a question of that scope, that they'd likely have the capacity for a variety of other things, perhaps set up homeowners associations, elect a dolphin president, etc....

Completely unwarranted conclusion. Facepalm

Quote:What's your take on it? That we just don't know. Perhaps there's some dolphins out there that are theist?

We have good evidence that dolphins are self-aware and capable of creative problem solving. Both require introspection.




Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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01-04-2016, 07:29 AM
Shortcomings of the "probability of life" argument
(31-03-2016 05:02 PM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  
(31-03-2016 11:08 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Probably because if they had the capacity to ponder a question of that scope, that they'd likely have the capacity for a variety of other things, perhaps set up homeowners associations, elect a dolphin president, etc....

What's your take on it? That we just don't know. Perhaps there's some dolphins out there that are theist?

I really don't know. He fact that you think that any creature who can ponder it's own existance would do something exactly like a human would do is absurd. If a dolphin could ponder it's own existance or how frail life can be under the sea, I would not expect it to build a HOA. If you do, than I really don't think you have a clue on what you are talking about.

It would be nice to know, though. Perhaps a dolphin could explain to you why the supernatural is silly or maybe a squid would evangelize to you on their lord and savior Cthulhu since they have ancient stories that prove their beliefs.


Edit: also, if a dolphin was a theist of some sort, wouldn't that mean that you are as smart as a dolphin? Not sure that is something to be proud of.


That's interesting, I'm used to hearing atheists claims that infants are atheists, that other animals lack a belief in God. Now it seems that even absent of language they possibly could.

So I guess that means we'll no longer have to hear the common canard of how we're born atheists?

But to the point I was making. If another animal can contemplate a question with that degree of self-awareness of where he came from, a question that would require such a degree of contemplation, then he's probably right around the corner from getting a degree, or demanding equal rights, or a planet of the apes scenario.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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