For those masochistic enough to be still following this stupid thread, here are some general observations on probability and evolution. Bear in mind that the alleged extreme improbability of features evolving is one of the pillars of the Creationist Book of Talking Points, along with the others that PauloL has religiously and predictably exploited: the alleged circularity of evolutionary theory, the alleged lack of transitional fossils, the alleged inexplicability of the Cambrian Explosion, and now this.
Ask yourself: what is the likelihood of my being alive? The odds against you being alive are astronomical, without question; indeed they are probably incalculable, involving numbers so large they have never been named. You stand at the latest end of a process going back 3.8 billion years. How unlikely is it, that you are here? Very, very unlikely. Therefore, you should praise Jesus for being here, right?
This argument ignores that there are different senses
of probability, and these different senses must be taken into account holistically.
It also ignores the fact that the improbable
, even the wildly
improbable, does not mean impossible.
Wildly improbable events happen all the time.
If an event has a probability of one in a billion, then after a billion trials, the probability of the event happening converges to 1 — unity. However, the event may occur a lot earlier, even on the very first trial. Shit happens.
Imagine a lottery in which every person on earth is given a ticket. Let’s say that is seven billion people; I don’t know the exact number, but that is irrelevant. Let’s round off to seven billion.
On one ticket, and one ticket only, will be printed the letter “W”, indicating “winner.”
What are the odds that you will draw the “W” ticket?
One in seven billion. The odds against you winning are astronomical.
But what are the odds that someone
One hundred percent! Unity!
From this we see that the odds against you being alive are astronomical,
but — given that life exists — then the odds that someone
exists (seven billion someones, actually) are 100 percent.
You won the lottery! But then again, billions of people had
to win it, against all odds!
I’ll discuss how this applies to evolution in my next post. Keep in mind, though, the following: Even though there is a chancy (lottery-like) element to evolution, random mutation PLUS natural selection is NOT a chance process — not
a lottery! Or if it is a lottery, it’s a rigged
Yet we’ve just seen that even unrigged lotteries — total chance events
— guarantee winners!