Monday, July 7, 2008

The likelihood of the improbable

I can explain how I deal with people's objections regarding the apparent improbabilities of abiogenesis and mutations from simple to complex life forms.

1. Suppose I take a walk and find a green Dentyne wrapper in a specific place on the sidewalk. Now ask, 20 years before, If I were to ask somebody, what is the chance that 20 years from now, there will be a green Dentyne wrapper on this specific place on the sidewalk, on this specific date and time, and somebody named JS will walk by and see it? The answer is, exceedingly low; yet it happenned, because of out of all of the millions of improbable things to occur, some of them will definitely happen.

2. The human mind is wired to be able to grasp magnitudes within a certain range, that occur within our experience. I few inches, a few miles, a few years, a few hundred items, etc. We cannot conceive of things that are exceedingly small or big. Can you picture 93,000,000 miles? A thousand light-years distance? 10 million years? An Angstrom of distance? Most certainly not. Yet they exist and we accept their existence. Similarly we cannot grasp extremely small non-zero improbabilities, over vasts amounts of time and space, and what they mean, except in mathematical models. Our intuition doesn't help here. So one might say that both naturalists and diests believe in things we can't quite grasp. I go with naturalistic because that's "where the money is"-- the approach has led to great progress and achievements.

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