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13 Cards - Evolutionary Probability and Fine Tuning
Here's the fallacy of Item 1.
When one is dealt a bridge hand of thirteen cards, the probability of being dealt that particular hand is less than one in 635 billion. Yet, it would be absurd for someone to be dealt a hand, examine it carefully, and exclaim, “wow, the odds against getting these exact cards are 635 billion to 1. I couldn’t possibly have been dealt this hand by chance. There must have been supernatural intervention.”
That is the fallacy of this idea. The assumption that the universe and world as it exists was a predetermined outcome. This is not the case. It is what it is because that’s the thirteen cards that were dealt. 635 billion to 1 against getting those exact cards, but 1 to 1 odds that 13 cards would be dealt and you would get something.
It's easy to imagine an ammonia-breathing intelligent being somewhere right now saying, “wow, what are the odds that this planet has just the right amount of ammonia in the atmosphere, we are just the right distance from our sun to maintain an average temperature of 180ş F, the three moons provide just the right amount of tidal action, . . . My, what a finely tuned planet this is.”
Life on this planet seems able to adapt to a variety of atmospheres, contrary to the contention of the blogger. Under the ocean is a greatly different atmosphere than on dry land. Plants use carbon dioxide, animals use oxygen. Archaeons even live in sulfuric acid! Other environments they can be found in include boiling water, super-salty pools, sulfur-spewing volcanic vents, and deep in Antarctic ice. It seems obvious that life adapts to what's available and isn't all that picky.
The same extends to the universe. If the nuclear forces were different, then the laws of physics would be different, atoms (or their equivalent) would form differently, but something somewhere might be posing the exact same argument that their nuclear forces (which are different from what we happen to experience) were just the exact type needed to . . .
Like getting any particular set of 13 cards, the odds are incredibly small that you would get that particular formation, yet the odds are good that you would have gotten something, in which case you would be looking at it and saying what are odds.
Many Intelligent Design ideas suffer this same fallacy. They look at a biological function and say “wow, what are the odds of that happening. The odds are too small to have happened by chance. It must have had supernatural intervention.” This shows a lack of understanding of the basics of evolution (or is intentionally misleading) in that it falsely assumes that the biological function had a predetermined outcome. It was not. It is simply the 13 cards that were dealt. Nature then adapts and fits itself to the 13 cards that were dealt. After exiting a room and realizing that you walked through the doorway and not two feet to left and into the wall, you don't say, "Gee, what were the odds that a doorway was just right there were I was walking?" No, you adapted your actions to your environment. Had the door been on the left, you would still have walked through the door, just a little differently. Nature is the same. Change the conditions, i.e. move the door or deal a different 13 cards, and nature will still exists, it'll just be different.
Evolution does not have goals or predetermined outcomes. Increased complexity is not a goal. Sometimes evolution simplifies. Survival is not even a goal, it’s merely a consequence of the process. If intelligence is produced, wonderful. If not, so be it. It just happened that our 13 cards included an intelligence capable of pondering these ideas.
I think Douglas Adams, author of "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" summed it up the best:
A puddle wakes up one morning and thinks: "This is a very interesting world I find myself in. It fits me very neatly. In fact it fits me so neatly... I mean really precise isn't it?... It must have been made to have me in it."
With thanks to John Allen Paulos, “Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences” for the concept of the bridge analogy.
Closely related to Fine tuning is the anthropic principle. The term "anthropic principle" was first proposed in 1973 by theoretical physicist Brandon Carter during the symposium "Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data" in Kraków celebrating Copernicus’ 500th birthday, as if to proclaim that humanity does hold a special place in the universe after all. [wikipedia]
Life that exists in extreme conditions
2005-11-26 jason wrote:
true other items could result from other conditions but if the strong or weak
nuclear forces were diferent then hydrogen and helium might be all we had. Neat
2006-06-01 Theistic Evolutionist wrote
2006-06-04 John H. Morrison, Atheistic Evolutionist, wrote
2006-10-02 Denis wrote
2006-12-15 Jason, Young Earth Creationist, wrote
With life being an assumed outcome in all situations, the article would stand up well, however we have yet to find evidence of life anywhere in the universe. To be sure we only have access to a limited part of it, but we can't even find actual proof of sustainable life currently on Mars. If life is so adaptable, wouldn't it make sense that life would be there also?