Home » Intelligent Design » He said it: The importance of feeling confident where probability is concerned …

He said it: The importance of feeling confident where probability is concerned …

Personally, given the resources of geological time, I feel confident that
sooner or later that hypothetical chimpanzee sitting at a typewriter, will one day type Hamlet.

- D. V. Ager, The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p. 149.

Confidence in confidence alone is a heartwarming thing if nothing depends on it.

Hat tip: Stephen E. Jones.

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10 Responses to He said it: The importance of feeling confident where probability is concerned …

  1. Probability’s Nature and Nature’s Probablity (The Information Of Life) Dr. Donald Johnson – video
    http://www.ideaclubtcw.org/video/DEJohnson.html

  2. Mrs O’Leary:

    Quite a catch:

    Personally, given the resources of geological time, I feel confident that sooner or later that hypothetical chimpanzee sitting at a typewriter, will one day type Hamlet

    I took a look, Hamlet is 173,552 ASCII characters in an online full text. At 128 states per character, the configuration space for Hamlet-length text is:

    128^173,552 ~ 3.196 *10^365,710 cells.

    If the entire observed cosmos, 10^ 80 atoms, were swapped out for one of monkeys and typewriters, desks and chairs, paper and banana plantations to keep them going, in the thermodynamics lifespan of the cosmos — some 50 mn times the time since the usual date for the big bang, 13.7 BYA — and typing at any feasible rate, could not come near the 10^150 or so Planck time quantum states the cosmos’s atoms would go through over that span. [The Planck time state duration is about 10^20 faster than nuclear reactions, which in turn are far faster than chemical reactions much less mechanical acts like typing.]

    10^150 tries is so hopelessly small relative to the config space of Hamlet’s text, that such a random walk search boils down to zero.

    All that has happened is that Mr Ager proved that he has no conception of the issue of getting to functionally specific, complex information [FSCI] by chance.

    Just 1,000 bits of capacity, about 20 words of typical English text, is comfortably beyond the search capacity of the whole universe we observe.

    In short, Mr Ager and ilk are demonstrably not competent to comment on the issue of inference to design on observing FSCI.

    GEM of TKI

  3. On the topic of probability, and
    it’s solution with infinite universes:

    Here’s a question of a type that I occassionally would throw at Jerry, but haven’t seen him around (hope he’s well) so it’s open to the floor:

    1) So, back in stats class, we had been told that if there
    is an infinite number of coin flips, eventually
    any combination you might identify would be found,
    eg: 1 Million consecutive heads etc.

    2) Hypothetically:

    a) if we could digitally map the universe at
    a given instant, then it could eventually be represented
    as a string of 0′s and 1′s or coin flips (heads/tails)

    b) we create 1 of these maps for every “instant” (ie:
    a timeperiod short enough so that light can’t travel
    a very small distance, say 1/10,000 th of a nanometer? —
    lots of data, I’d admit]

    c) point is, we’d then have a digital history of universe
    from origin of universe to this instant, which is
    just a string of 0′s and 1′s

    3) so, with infinite universes, for each of the following
    cases, we might expect to find an
    infinitely large subset of those universes
    which were

    a) exactly the same as ours in every way
    b) exactly the same as ours in every way, with 1 “bit” changed
    c) exactly the same as ours in every way with 2 “bits” changed

    until say, all is the same except you and your neighbor live
    in one another’s house etc.

    And then some incredibly wierd scenarios wouldn’t want to
    get into.

    Now, there may be many combinations that the laws of physics
    would have never allowed to come to exist, but, short of that, once
    we got the first, we’d get lots of these.

    If even something like this
    would come about, would Occam’s razor see this
    as a valid solution?

    Thank you for your consideration

  4. ps: that also means that at that same instant, somewhere out there, infinite numbers of “me” posted
    exactly that same message at their
    UD website, [making ME feel more confident – how’s that for a tie-in to the current post? :)

  5. ES58:

    Q:And the observational evidence of an infinite multiverse is?

    A: Zip.

    So, this is metaphysical speculation[not science], and needs to be put on the level of these considerations.

    GEM of TKI

  6. es58, actually the multiverse conjecture of atheists renders the ability to do science, in the first place, void:

    The Absurdity Of The Multiverse & Materialism
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5318486/

    …BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Proof That God Exists – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

  7. also es58, the multiverse concedes the necessary premise of the ontological argument, thus defeats itself with its own logic:

    ,,,,The only other theory possible for the universe’s creation, other than a God-centered hypothesis, is some purposeless materialistic theory based on blind chance. Materialistic blind chance only escapes being completely crushed, by the overwhelming weight of the evidence for design from the extreme fine-tuning of the universe, by appealing to an infinity of other un-testable universes in which all other possibilities have been played out. Yet there is no hard physical evidence to support this blind chance conjecture. In fact, the ‘infinite multiverse’ conjecture suffers from some very serious flaws of logic. For instance exactly which laws of physics, arising from which material basis, are telling all the other natural laws in physics what, how and when, to do the many precise unchanging things they do in these other universes? Plus, if an infinite number of other possible universes must exist in order to explain the fine tuning of this one, then why is it not also infinitely possible for a infinitely powerful and transcendent Creator to exist? Using the materialist same line of reasoning for an infinity of multiverses to explain the extreme fine-tuning of this one we can surmise; If it is infinitely possible for God to exist then He, of 100% certainty, must exist no matter how small the probability is of His existence in one of these other infinity of universes, and since He certainly must exist, then all possibilities in all universes automatically become subject to Him since He is, by definition, All Powerful. To clearly illustrate the absurdity of what the materialists now consider their cutting edge science: The materialistic conjecture of an infinity of universes to explain the fine tuning of this one also insures the 100% probability of the existence of Pink Unicorns no matter how small the probability is of them existing. In fact a infinity of universes insures the existence of an infinity of Pink Unicorns an infinite number of times. Thus it is self-evident the materialists have painted themselves into a inescapable corner of logical absurdities in trying to find an escape from the Theistic implications we are finding for the fine-tuning of this universe.

    The preceding argument has actually been made into a formal philosophical proof:

    Ontological Argument For God From The Many Worlds Hypothesis – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784641

    God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4
    The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
    7. Therefore, God exists.

    Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=4

    I like the following concluding comment about the ontological argument from the Dr. Plantinga video:

    “God then is the Being that couldn’t possibly not exit.”

    Ontological Argument – Dr. Plantinga (3:50 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCXvVcWFrGQ

    Here are some more resources outlining the absurdity of the multiverse conjecture:

    Atheism In Crisis – The Absurdity Of The Multiverse – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4227733

    Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of our universe’s low entropy condition obtaining by chance alone are on the order of 1 in 10^10(123), an inconceivable number. If our universe were but one member of a multiverse of randomly ordered worlds, then it is vastly more probable that we should be observing a much smaller universe. For example, the odds of our solar system’s being formed instantly by the random collision of particles is about 1 in 10^10(60), a vast number, but inconceivably smaller than 1 in 10^10(123). (Penrose calls it “utter chicken feed” by comparison [The Road to Reality (Knopf, 2005), pp. 762-5]). Or again, if our universe is but one member of a multiverse, then we ought to be observing highly extraordinary events, like horses’ popping into and out of existence by random collisions, or perpetual motion machines, since these are vastly more probable than all of nature’s constants and quantities’ falling by chance into the virtually infinitesimal life-permitting range. Observable universes like those strange worlds are simply much more plenteous in the ensemble of universes than worlds like ours and, therefore, ought to be observed by us if the universe were but a random member of a multiverse of worlds. Since we do not have such observations, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On naturalism, at least, it is therefore highly probable that there is no multiverse. — Penrose puts it bluntly “these world ensemble hypothesis are worse than useless in explaining the anthropic fine-tuning of the universe”.
    http://elshamah.heavenforum.co.....es-t20.htm

    Michael Behe has a profound answer to the infinite multiverse argument in “Edge of Evolution”. If there are infinite universes, then we couldn’t trust our senses, because it would be just as likely that our universe might only consist of a human brain that pops into existence which has the neurons configured just right to only give the appearance of past memories. It would also be just as likely that we are floating brains in a lab, with some scientist feeding us fake experiences. Those scenarios would be just as likely as the one we appear to be in now (one universe with all of our experiences being “real”). Bottom line is, if there really are an infinite number of universes out there, then we can’t trust anything we perceive to be true, which means there is no point in seeking any truth whatsoever.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-362912

    “The multiverse idea rests on assumptions that would be laughed out of town if they came from a religious text.” Gregg Easterbrook

  8. Nothing that is material can be infinite. If it is material, I can count it. If I can count it, it’s not infinite. And an actual infinite cannot be created by adding endless universes or anything else. The fact that people still even say “infinite universes” mystifies me. That goes for coin tosses as well.

  9. Well, I checked, and this D. V. Ager seems to be a geologists or paleontologists (at least, he wroites of those things). So, maybe he is not familiar with combinatorics.

    However, he apparently seems perfectly confident to write about what he does not understand.

  10. ES58:

    The observed cosmos is generally accepted as having ~ 10^80 atoms. The Planck time is 5.39*10^-43s [time for light to travel the Planck length, itself composed from fundamental constants]. The thermodynamic lifespan of the cosmos is about 10^25s, or ~ 50 mn times the duration said to have elapsed since the big bang, usually dated at 13.7 BYA.

    With a bit of conservative rounding, the number of Planck time states of the cosmos across its duration is not in excess of 10^150. And, only a very small fraction of these would be available for forming terrestrial planets in habitable zones suitable for life sites or other conceivably similarly life friendly zones.

    Now 1,000 coin flips is capable of 1.07*10^301 configurations, i.e. greater than 10^150 by a factor of more than 10^150. So, any proposed case by which something that stores at least 1,000 bits of information [esp. digitally coded info or info reducible to that] as a specific part of its function is said to have originated by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity working with such blind chance, runs into a wall whereby the scope of possible search on the gamut of the observable cosmos is so vastly inferior to what needs to be searched, that the search rounds down to zero.

    next, the quasi-infinite multiverse runs into the problem that he observed cosmos — the only one actually observed BTW (so the multiverse idea is a metaphysical speculation not science) — rests on physics that is friendly to C-chemistry life but sits at a finely balanced, deeply isolated operating point, on dozens of factors. That is, locally minor shifts in parameters, even without touching laws, would suffice to make it radically unfriendly to life.

    So, a multiverse has to be set up in turn such that it would explore the local zone exceedingly thoroughly, and would have to have a sufficient range of laws and parameters to capture this very special sweet spot. In turn that means we have to explain the origin of an effective cosmos bakery that produces a life friendly sub cosmos, not the equivalent of burned hockey pucks or masses of half-baked unpalatable dough.

    Just saying that we are here and if we were not does not explain this, by a long shot.

    The best explanation for such is design.

    And, the radical contingency of our sub cosmos raises the implication that it is the product in the end of not only a designer, but one of a very special kind. For, contingency — in this case the mere fact that our sub cosmos credibly has a beginning — implies that there is at least one potentially blocking external causal factor, that is necessary to be present if the contingent is to result. No fuel, no go on your car.

    So, even through a multiverse, we are looking at a necessary being that has no dependency on an external cause. Such a being would be eternal [having no fuel to run out of], and would have to be enormously powerful and knowledgeable also purposeful to set up design and effect a sub cosmos as we live in.

    Such a being as Architect of our Cosmos should sound rather familiar.

    GEM of TKI

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