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The odds of Life versus Picking Every Game Right in March Madness

I saw this article about picking every game correctly in the March Madness bracket state the following:

Confident about your NCAA Tournament bracket? You might want to think again. The odds of predicting a perfect bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion (or more precisely: 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808). Best of luck with that.

That’s 1 in 263, or to convert that for what follows, 1 in 9.2 x 1018, or, if I’m doing the math right, I can probably just round it up slightly to 1 in 1019 or 1 in ten quintillion.

Now, I would like you to imagine that after the tournament was over, someone presented you with a perfect bracket, and insisted that they had filled it out before the tournament took place.  I don’t know if it would make a difference to you if they said that they had carefully selected the picks or if they had simply drawn them from out of a hat.  Personally, I would find it more plausible (but still not believe it, simply on their testimony) if they had carefully selected the picks, and they were experts in college basketball.  Others, however, apparently find blind chance more plausible, and these, we will call atheists.

I took note of this particular article because of the direction the comments on my last post took regarding abiogenesis.

It’s been awhile since I’ve played with this topic, so I went looking for some figures regarding the ‘odds of life forming.’  On a pro-evolutionist site, I found this discussion:

The calculation which supports the creationist argument begins with the probability of a 300-molecule-long protein forming by total random chance. This would be approximately 1 chance in 10390. This number is astoundingly huge. By comparison, the number of all the atoms in the observable universe is 1080. So, if a simple protein has that unlikely chance of forming, what hope does a complete bacterium have?

Ok.  So to recap:

  • Odds of generating a perfect NCAA bracket in advance:  1 in 1019
  • Probability of a 300 molecule long protein forming by random chance:  1 chance in 10390
  • Number of atoms in the observable universe:  1080

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The author then goes on to deny that it needs to be all this bad… failing to take into account of course that life involves more than one protein and a whole variety of other considerations… so that, for example, we would be living in a state of self-delusion if we ignored the fact that there are millions of kinds of proteins that need to be concocted, and Nature only has a few billion years to work its magic.   Does someone want to calculate that probability?  1 in 10390 times 10???????.  I’ll leave it for someone else to work out.

Of course, this article doesn’t think it is all quite that bad, because, the author says, “if [abiogenesis] relied entirely on random chance, then yes, it would be impossible for life to form in this way. However, this is not the case.”

At this point, the author waves his magic wand and invokes Natural Selection, insisting that “Abiogenesis was a long process with many small incremental steps, all governed by the non-random forces of Natural Selection and chemistry.”

Evidently, this author assumes his readers will be complete idiots who aren’t aware of the fact that this statement is nothing more than a bald assertion based on the assumption that life emerged merely from natural processes.  It may perhaps be more plausible to imagine the process working itself out with many (10????????) steps over many (10?????????) years, but there is no evidence for that whatsoever except for ‘naturalismdidit’ combined with the stomach-turning conclusion “Holy crap, the honest conclusion is that there is NO way this happened!”

The author then attempts a more manageable proposal:

the simplest theorized self-replicating peptide is only 32 amino acids long. The probability of it forming randomly, in sequential trials, is approximately 1 in 1040, which is much more likely than the 1 in 10390 claim creationists often cite.

So, let’s recap:

  • Odds of generating a perfect NCAA bracket in advance:  1 in 1019
  • Probability of a 300 molecule long protein forming by random chance:  1 chance in 10390
  • Probability of a theorized simplest self-replicating peptide forming randomly:  1 in 1040
  • Number of atoms in the observable universe:  1080

We ask:  how many self-replicating peptides are there?  How many of them are “only 32 amino acids” long?  Isn’t this still highly improbable?  Would we be highly skeptical about someone’s their claim they had generated a perfect bracket at  1 in 1019 odds but be prepared to believe it is likely, plausible, or probable, that just one ‘simplest theorized’ peptide actually happened, with 1 in 1040 odds?  There are only 1080 atoms in the whole observable universe.  And how many atoms in a single peptide?

The author is aware of the silliness:

Though, to be fair, 1040 is still a very large number. It would still take an incredibly large number of sequential trials before the peptide would form.

To soften the problem, he has a solution:

But remember that in the prebiotic oceans of the early Earth, there would be billions of trials taking place simultaneously as the oceans, rich in amino acids, were continuously churned by the tidal forces of the moon and the harsh weather conditions of the Earth. [emphasis his]

Continue to bear in mind that the author is assuming readers who are all positively stupid, and have no idea that there is no evidence whatsoever for any ‘prebiotic oceans’, unless by ‘evidence’ you mean, “well, we’re here, and we got here somehow, and we can’t believe we got here via naturalistic processes unless we invoke some highly advantageous starting conditions.”  A primordial soup is not, by any means, the only theory about the earth’s initial conditions, either.  People get to just posit conditions based on the theory they are entertaining, which of course lets the cat out of the bag:  we don’t really know what the earth was like in this time.

We will pass over his other ad hoc assertions… that there would be billions of trials taking place, that they would be taking place simultaneously, that there were lots of amino acids roaming around (and where did these amino acids come from?), that the waters were being ‘churned’ by tidal forces, that the weather conditions were harsh, and so on and so forth.

All this sounds about as close to the worst version of ‘blind faith’ as any atheist could charge someone for having; ironic, but not surprising, that we find it being espoused by an atheist.

Bottom line:  With probabilities so ridiculously improbable as this, it is no wonder that people who sit down to investigate the issues find strict materialism so implausible to be almost laughable on its face.  They may not become Christians, but nor do they remain atheists.

Interesting side note:

In the conversation that spurred me to take notice of the original basketball article, the gent trotted out the typical talking point that abiogenesis is entirely separate and distinct from evolution.  When I was looking for pro-evolutionary articles talking about probabilities of life, I didn’t expect to find one that illustrated one of my other contentions, that when the tire meets the road, that distinction fades away completely.  In this article, the author brushes aside the ‘creationist’ assumption that these were merely ‘random processes’ that first formed life, and reminds us (as if it is a known, empirical fact) that:

Abiogenesis was a long process with many small incremental steps, all governed by the non-random forces of Natural Selection and chemistry.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Natural Selection an evolutionary process?  So, is abiogenesis separate and distinct from evolution, or not?  Participants in this debate already know the answer:  it is separate and distinct when you are faced with the sad news that it is impossible for life to have emerged ‘by chance’, but when you want to improve your odds, it’s all one and the same, ‘governed by the the non-random forces of Natural Selection.”

You can believe these folks if you want, but you’ll never convince me that these people occupy the ‘high ground’ of ‘Reason.’  They seem to be the most steadfast advocates of ‘magic’ I come across.  But you should do your own research.  In the meantime, at the end of March Madness, I will show you my completed bracket.  Guess what… it will be the first perfect one in recorded history!

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15 Responses to The odds of Life versus Picking Every Game Right in March Madness

  1. Ooooh… probabilities. My favourite!

    I don’t know who Richard Peacock is, or what his qualifications are, but if you’re happy to assume that he represents the accepted scientific position on everything he says, them I’m happy to, too.

    So… we’re talking about the probability of life getting started. Your main contention seems to be that the existence of a self-replicating entity is so fantastically improbable that it is essentially impossible.

    There are three main problems with your “analysis”.

    1
    Your comparison to the NCAA basketball thing is flawed, because you fail to allow for conditional probabilities. Yes, looking at the odds of picking all the top players at the start, it looks impossible. But what if you could change your tips as the season went along, based on new information? Do you think that might increase your chances?

    A self-replicating peptide obviously requires a great many things to occur for its existence. But what do you think are the chances of the peptide forming from something that is 99% of the way there already? Or 98%? Or even 1%? A little higher, perhaps?

    2
    I knew this already, but the author quite rightfully points out that the overall probability of something occurring depends on both the probability of an individual trial being successful, and the number of trials conducted. You seem to have dismissed this with the Argument from Incredulity, which is lazy, but I guess is consistent, given the reasons why Creationists exist in the first place.

    The earth is 4.5bn years old. At some point it became suitable for life as we know it. And there were many, many, many hundreds of millions of years before that where the earth was comprised of largely the same matter as it is now, albeit in different forms, and that matter was constantly colliding and interacting.

    I know you don’t believe any of that, but if you want to argue against “our” probabilities, you should be doing it on our terms. That is, I’m not sure your opinion on our early planetary conditions means much, when you believe the earth is 10,000 years old.

    Of course, you can argue against the age of the earth as much as you like.

    3
    What the author failed to mention was the number of planets in the universe. It’s notoriously difficult to estimate, but when astronomers discuss the number of planets, it’s in the hundreds of billions… and that’s currently, and just in the Milky Way.

    4
    The most obvious criticism is that, just because something is unlikely, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The DNA combination that makes up me was extraordinarily unlikely, and yet here I sit. In fact, if you want to really bake your noodle, go back 100 years and calculate the probability of “you” existing. How many events led your great-great-great-great-grandfather to meet your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, and what were their probabilities? And then what happens when you raise that to the power of 5? Yet, as I said, here you sit.

    So there.

    P.S. Thanks, Tony… haven’t been called a gent in a while.

  2. And of course I am the only actuary in the world who can’t count.

    There are four main problems with your analysis.

  3. So many flaws, so little time. ;)

    “Your main contention seems to be that the existence of a self-replicating entity is so fantastically improbable that it is essentially impossible.”

    Not quite, depending on what you mean by ‘entity.’ Each of potentially millions of biological component is so fantastically improbable that–and here would be the main point–it is entirely reasonable to conclude that it is essentially impossible; certainly, it is entirely reasonable to demand the appropriate kind and level of evidence before taking it seriously. Conversely, it is wholly irrational to actually accept them as FACTS without them.

    This is basically about honesty and consistency; will one be honest with oneself and others, and actually apply one’s thinking consistently?

    In your case, if, after March Madness, I produce a perfect bracket and assure you that I composed it before the event, will you believe me? Apparently you will, if I assure you that as the season progressed I updated my picks… but we know that the truth is that you won’t even on that basis, because it makes little difference, and you know it.

    Secondarily (for the purpose of this post), there is nothing scientific at all about your view, unless of course you conflate ‘scientific’ with ‘philosophical naturalistic.’

    And that’s not reasonable.

  4. 1. “But what if you could change your tips as the season went along, based on new information? Do you think that might increase your chances?”

    LOL, YOU TELL ME!

    What upsets me here is that you explicitly say that, “fail to allow for conditional probabilities” when in fact, I explicitly did: “Personally, I would find it more plausible (but still not believe it, simply on their testimony) if they had carefully selected the picks, and they were experts in college basketball.”

    To ask me if I think such things “might increase your chances” when I explicitly indicated it would is, in a way, insulting. Do that too many times, and I’ll start thinking it is actually Stathei on the other line. ;)

    Anyway, I note that you conceded a view that invoked intelligent design as having more plausibility than an unguided selection of the picks.

    “A self-replicating peptide obviously requires a great many things to occur for its existence. But what do you think are the chances of the peptide forming from something that is 99% of the way there already? Or 98%? Or even 1%? A little higher, perhaps?”

    You have several seriously bad flaws in your response and this is one of them. Not to single you out–atheists the world over exhibit them. The flaw has two components.

    1. You forget that natural processes working in unguided fashion make each of these as improbable as anything else. To get to 1% is statistically improbable. To get to 99% is statistically improbable. And there are millions of these, all equally improbable.
    2. “What if” does not constitute a scientific fact. You can throw hypotheses out there, that’s fine, but that’s how you GET somewhere. That’s not the destination. You and the author and scientists the world over have no evidence at all that any of these “What if” scenarios ever existed–except that they are required or else your strict materialism shows its vulnerable, squishy underbelly.

    That this stuff gets passed off as ‘science’ is a travesty and a shame and a disgrace. That kids are being taught this as SCIENTIFIC FACT is borderline evil. Sometimes, I don’t know how some in the ‘scientific’ community can sleep at night.

  5. “2. You seem to have dismissed this with the Argument from Incredulity,”

    heh no, I dismissed it with the argument from “There isn’t a shred of evidence for it.”

    You may prefer to reason from an “argument from gullibility” but I personally believe that a healthy skepticism is good for the soul. ;)

    “I know you don’t believe any of that, but if you want to argue against “our” probabilities, you should be doing it on our terms.”

    I totally agree, and I totally am. Please remember this, btw, if we ever talk about creationism. But that doesn’t mean your ‘terms’ are facts. They are, at best, derived from assumptions and then fed back into the system as assumptions for other arguments. That’s not the kind of thing that puts a man on the moon. That’s the kind of thing that merely shores up a weak and defective worldview and tries to pass it off as ‘scientific fact.’

    You may ‘know’ all those things, but you don’t know it from empirical evidence. It is merely derived from the fact that there exists incredibly sophisticated biological machines that blow all of our own creations out of the water in comparison and the desire to explain this fact without invoking a designer. No more, no less.

    “Of course, you can argue against the age of the earth as much as you like.”

    Like I said, I am accepting your terms. I’m just not accepting your assumptions as scientific facts. Big difference.

    You may wish to ask yourself just how far back your philsophizing goes: perhaps even the age of 4.5 bya for the earth also stems from philosophical materialistic perspectives. I’ve looked at the evidence for that, solar formation, nucleosynthesis, the Big Bang, etc, and on the basis of empirical fact, it is pathetic and weak, all the way back. But that is another day’s debate.

  6. “3 What the author failed to mention was the number of planets in the universe.”

    He also failed to mention the number of Multiverses–virtually infinite. Why, with all those universes out there, we can be absolutely certain that there are SOME universes where someone does pick a perfect NCAA bracket. Why not THIS universe?

    http://bardandbook.com/in-search-of-schrodingers-cat-by-anthony-horvath/1199.html

    4. The most obvious criticism is that, just because something is unlikely, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The DNA combination that makes up me was extraordinarily unlikely, and yet here I sit.”

    “Naturalismdidiit.” lol I’m pretty sure I already pointed out that people make this argument:

    Continue to bear in mind that the author is assuming readers who are all positively stupid, and have no idea that there is no evidence whatsoever for any ‘prebiotic oceans’, unless by ‘evidence’ you mean, “well, we’re here, and we got here somehow, and we can’t believe we got here via naturalistic processes unless we invoke some highly advantageous starting conditions.”

    Once again, I’m offended that you say I don’t cover something that I explicitly do cover. Note my emphasis on EVIDENCE.

    “…. How many events led your great-great-great-great-grandfather to meet your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, and what were their probabilities?… Yet, as I said, here you sit.”

    Sure, but to play this game, we have to keep it in like terms. Pretend that we didn’t actually know where we came from or by what mechanism we ‘came to sit.’ It is fair to explore possibilities, providing, of course, that we are willing to consider all the possibilities. You, however, exclude possibilities from the start, taking them right off the table. Then, on top of that irrational act, you add audacity and deception, claiming that the possibilities you have left are SCIENTIFIC FACTS and then, to really compound the matter, and take what was perhaps a truly tragic situation and convert it into pure comedy, you INSIST that YOU ARE THE ONE taking the high road of REASON.

    At that point, it’s just funny. No one should take any of you seriously, if you ask me. If the stakes weren’t so high, I’d never lift a finger to respond to any of it.

    “P.S. Thanks, Tony… haven’t been called a gent in a while.”

    I figure everyone has their virtues, and although you do tend to lose your cool with EB, I think I am right in referring to you as one.

  7. I’m done. :)

  8. Without getting too deep into the “science” behind evolution, I find it hilarious that in grade school we are taught that spontaneous generation was completely disproven by Pasteur and yet in the theory of evolution life spontaneously arises, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, its still a random spontaneous occurrence. Then we are taught the most holy axiom: dna makes rna makes protein. (Not trying to get into the specifics here of transcription and translation) but here comes good ole evolution, specifically abiogenesis, stating that proteins came first, then somehow dna and rna developed. Also in grade school we are taught that a single celled organism reproduces to make other single celled organisms but our friend evolution says that somehow a single celled organism suddenly evolved to be a multicelled organism. The scientific and logical inconsistency goes on and on.

    Every other discipline like physics or calculus builds upon the basics to expand your knowledge but evolutionary theory tears down the OBSERVABLE basics in support of things never observed and still expects us to believe that both scenarios are not just equally plausible, although they are contradictory, but that they are both fact! Makes me wonder why I spent so much money getting a science degree when I learned more science in grade school than university lol

  9. Hi Candi,

    Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog!

    I also have noticed how disconnected evolution (and Big Bang cosmogony, for that matter) is from what I learned about ‘science’ while in High School. I have come to believe that this is intentional.

    If you stick to empirical, demonstrable science, you get something I learned about, called the “Law of biogenesis.” This observable FACT is in direct contradiction to the articles of faith accepted by atheists.

    I also learned that the scientific method had several important steps, beginning with observation, then moving to a hypothesis that you test via experimentation; then you repeat the process, as needed, until at some point you believe you can derive a theory. This method has many advantages, not the least of which is that compares what one thinks against the way things really are, and your results can be checked against others performing the same steps that you took.

    We all learn about the SM in high school, but that is the extent of most people’s science education. They don’t see the college level science text books that essentially re-define ‘science’ to basically mean ‘whatever scientists do.’

    The result is that all these yahoos are running around saying this or that is scientific, and the general population thinks back to high school, and thinks, “Oh, this must have been empirically verified if they’re calling it science!”; and they are persuaded. They don’t realize that much of what they hear described as ‘scientific’ is in accord with the newer, unbounded concept of ‘science,’ and not what they learned in HS.

    My personal belief is that this is intentional; if we only called ‘science’ that which emerged from out of the scientific method we learned in HS, there would be no basis for declaring “Evolution a fact!” One would never hear it at all. There would be a lot more Christians, and a lot fewer atheists.

  10. Hi Candi,

    Without getting too much into the “logic” behind your comment, that has to be one of the silliest arguments against anything, ever.

    “But… but… that’s not what they taught me in grade school :-(”

    Are you serious?

    Not only does it seem to indicate you just believe whatever you hear first (which is likely, given how most people become Christian), but it makes absolutely no allowance for the simplification of certain concepts for the benefit of the intended audience.

    Did you learn that mass was constant in grade school? Did you learn that if you run really fast all lunchtime you would actually get a teeny tiny longer lunch than your classmate who sat still the whole time? Did you learn that boys had cooties?

    Actually, now that I think about it, did you learn that people can’t rise from the dead?

    Who gives a crap what you learned in grade school.

  11. Phew! You really touched on a nerve there, Candi! You made him abandon all courtesy and politeness with a single, very gently written post! I’m impressed.

  12. Tony,

    Firstly, can we dispense with all the “that’s insulting” and “I’m offended”? I’m not sitting here trying to piss you off, or turn the conversation into an endless stream of deliberate misinterpretations and “he said she said”. I’ve made the assumption that you’re not doing that, and it would be helpful if you did the same.

    Now… to your post.

    It is entirely reasonable to conclude that it is essentially impossible

    Reason does not work. If it did, all chess matches would end in a draw.

    Please explain why I should accept the former, given the latter.

    1

    What upsets me here is that you explicitly say that, “fail to allow for conditional probabilities” when in fact, I explicitly did.

    No, you absolutely did not.

    A conditional probability is a probability based on knowledge of past events. It does not relate to the assessment of the probabilities for the individual events.

    That is, your question is around the tippers being “experts” in basketball, and whether it would increase their chances of picking each individual player relative to a novice (for the record, I think it would). This is a completely different question to asking what the probability of picking the full bracket would be, given you know they’ve picked half of the correct players already. That is what a conditional probability describes.

    To return to the problem at hand, your criticisms ignore the fact that, once one event occurs (i.e. two of the required molecules combine), the probability of obtaining the final protein becomes much smaller. And no, I don’t know how much smaller… but the more unlikely you insist the first event is, the greater the reduction in conditional probability.

    So no, I wasn’t being insulting. You simply misunderstood my criticism.

    2

    Please remember this, btw, if we ever talk about creationism.

    I almost always argue against creationism on your terms.

    3
    I don’t know much at all about multiverses. I don’t even know if it is a hypothesis or a generally accepted theory. But shall I take this as an acceptance of my point? You haven’t really addressed it. Or are you denying that there is a shitload of planets in the universe?

    4

    I’m pretty sure I already pointed out that people make this argument

    No, once again, you didn’t, because I am making a different point. You’re talking about the Anthropic Principle, I am talking about the probability of an event in the real world, given that real world exists. So, once again, your offence is baseless.

    The question is a simple one. Given your great-whatever grandparents are at the altar getting married, what is the probability that one day an entity with your exact genetic code will exist? Well, based on the probabilities, “it is entirely reasonable to conclude that it is essentially impossible”, and yet it happened.

    Practically impossible things happen every day.

    As with 3, I really don’t think you’ve address my point at all.

  13. You made him abandon all courtesy and politeness with a single, very gently written post! I’m impressed.

    Yes… apologies, Candi. My tone was uncalled for.

    I’m going to go ahead and blame being up since 4am with an 8 month old baby.

  14. Yea, what about apologies to me? ;)

    —————

    “I’m not sitting here trying to piss you off,”

    It takes a great deal to make me angry, and my ‘anger’ in this context was rhetorical in the sense that my blood temperature did not actually rise. However, there is one thing in the world that really does steam me, and that is when I write something and someone responds to it as if I never said it at all. My time is valuable. I assume it is for you, too. I don’t like to repeat myself, and I won’t.

    “Please explain why I should accept the former, given the latter.”

    I’ll answer that when you answer my question directly (from the other post):

    if reason worked, everyone who went first in chess would win. Now will you admit the point?

    It sounds like you are conceding my point, but if you’re not then obviously I have to press the point. Personally, I think it is self-evident that the fact that people manage to LOSE a game that is as close to pure reason and mathematics as we can get, shows that it is exceedingly difficult to be consistently, and correctly, reasonable. Even the winners can rarely brag that this was the case. That’s why (speaking as a former chess coach, here) some of us actually study past chess games.

    Ball is in your court.

    “No, you absolutely did not.”

    Yea, sorry, I don’t agree.

    “I almost always argue against creationism on your terms.”

    Good, glad to hear.

    “You haven’t really addressed it. Or are you denying that there is a shitload of planets in the universe?”

    Well, they say there are a lot. We’ve ‘discovered’ some, mainly by detecting gravitational perturbations. I can’t think of any that we’ve really put ‘eyes’ on. I know that Drake has put together an equation that suggests there are quite a bit. I was being generally dismissive, because I think it is very funny to hear alleged empiricists totally invoke ad hoc suppositions to patch up otherwise fallacious assertion, which yours is. Based on the present data, unguided, naturalistic, random abiogenesis is simply absurd on the evidence. I am completely justified and reasonable in making the inference that I do. The most you can do–if you were reasonable–is remain agnostic. Instead, you (or, to be fair, those on your side) see fit to ridicule us.

    The multiverse has great currency right now. It is one of the few options available for redeeming atheism, based on quantum mechanics and the singularity ‘before’ the Big Bang. It basically means that for every eventuality actually possible in the physical universe, there is a universe, ‘somewhere’ where that possibility was actualized. So, if someone wanted to evade the implication that their perspective was simply wrong on the facts, they could always evoke the multiverse, because there would be some universe where their perspective was (despite appearances) correct. Kind of like kicking off otherwise statistically impossible (but necessary to one’s worldview) events to distant, mostly undetected planets that we will never, ever, ever, visit to see if you’re ‘right.’

    If I made such an argument as a theist, I’d be laughed out of town. However, I’ll give you latitude to show how ‘impossibilities’ might be plausible if certain conditions were true, if you will give me the same latitude if ever we talk about creationism.

    “You’re talking about the Anthropic Principle,”

    No, I really wasn’t. Total disagreement again.

    “Practically impossible things happen every day.”

    These things really are not in the same category. I mean, I could shoot an arrow out into a field–it has to land somewhere–and then go out and draw a bulls-eye around it. I doubt very much you will be impressed. In very rough fashion, that is what you are doing with this analogy. You are drawing a circle around yourself and then tracing the genetic arrow back along its trajectory.

    If instead we drew the bulls-eye first and hit dead center, we would now be very impressed. If we hit dead center three times in a row, we would be amazed. If we hit dead center a thousand times in a row, I think it is safe to say we’d all conclude it was a almost certainly a sham and a fraud. Unless it was in a vacuum and perfectly controlled conditions, we wouldn’t even expect a machine to be able to pull off such a feat.

    Now, here is the main problem with your analogy: it assumes the very thing we seek to understand. You already know your parents and grandparents and already know about DNA and sexual reproduction, etc. Ie, you have your sufficient explanation. But for abiogenesis, it is entirely an area where we know NOTHING.

    So, to go back to the arrow example, it would be like coming to a field with 20 bulls-eyes drawn on it, each with an arrow dead center. Now, we don’t know how the arrow was placed there and we don’t know if the bulls-eyes were drawn in advance, or after. Now we start thinking of possibilities.

    Your basic position is, for some reason, that we must understand this by excluding the possibility that there was an archer. In that case, we can certainly consider this, but one of the ways we’ll do that is by calculating the chances that arrows can end up sticking out of the ground surrounded by a perfect bulls-eye. There is initial plausibility: chalk can be found in the earth and we can find sticks on the ground and birds have feathers that they drop… surely all the ingredients are there?

    But I’ll bet money that you will not entertain this hypothesis for very long. Yet, the odds for this is probably much better than abiogenesis.

    Another note:

    “To return to the problem at hand, your criticisms ignore the fact that, once one event occurs (i.e. two of the required molecules combine), the probability of obtaining the final protein becomes much smaller.”

    And you conveniently ignore the fact that it is just as plausible, once that one event occurs, for the next step to actually destroy the precursor. It’s all two steps forward with no steps back for your view, but if we limit ourselves to actual observations, what we actually see is a thousand steps back and .00000000001 steps forward.

    You basically admitted this when you asked Candi if she learned that men do not rise from the dead.

    Get some sleep. I know the feeling.

  15. I accused you of committing a logical fallacy and I meant to link to it, and forgot. Here it is:

    http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#future

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