Possibilities – theoretical and practical
|September 29, 2008||Posted by Dave S. under Intelligent Design|
In a private forum I recently stated: “It is possible for Darwinian processes to generate life of any order of complexity.”
In response I was asked: Where is the demonstration that “It’s possible for Darwinian processes to generate life of any order of complexity”?
I composed the following in reply:
In order to understand this we have be clear of a distinction between theoretically possible and practically possible. I’ll illustrate the meanings in clear context as follows.
Theoretically possible: I buy one ticket in each of the next ten Texas state lotteries. In each lottery I have a one in ten million fair chance of winning. It’s theoretically possible I could win all ten.
Practically possible: It’s not practically possible within my lifetime to win the Texas state lottery ten times in a row buying one ticket in each lottery.
The laws of physics inform us of what is theoretically possible. We are informed of what is practically possible by a study of those laws called “statistical mechanics” which combines physical mechanics with probability theory. It’s theoretically possible for a stochastic process to produce a living organism. There is a finite chance an adult human with a lifetime of memories could materialize out of nothing in a single quantum fluctuation of a huge number of particles. In an infinite universe it isn’t just possible that will happen, it’s inevitable. Everything mechanically possible has 100% probability of happening in an infinite universe. Bill Dembski understands this very well as do many others. Mike Behe, in Edge of Evolution (pp. 224, Brain In A Vat) pokes fun at theoretical possibilities by describing Boltzman Brains which is essentially a brain full of false memories popping into existence in a quantum fluctuation. Bill seriously demonstrates this understanding in the definition and construction of the unversal probability bound (UPB).
To XXXXXX’s essential question: Where is the demonstration that “It’s possible for Darwinian processes to generate life of any order of complexity”?
A demonstration would show a practical possibility. If the science of intelligent design is correct such a demonstration is not practically possible. But it’s still theoretically possible and the science of intelligent design acknowledges the theoretic possibility. ID refutes, or attempts to refute, the practical possibility. The science of ID is all about distinguishing the practically possible from the theoretically possible and it appropriately boils down to math & physics operating in a bounded universe. Intelligent agency, as demonstrated by human intelligent agency, has the unique capacity of turning the theoretically possible into the practically possible. For instance, it’s theoretically possible but not practically possible for stochastic physical processes to produce a laptop computer. Intelligent agency makes it practically possible and thus there are hundreds of millions of laptop computers. We believe that the origin of life is a similar situation – absent intelligent agency it’s not practically possible.