The Instigator
chewster911
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points
The Contender
james14
Con (against)
Losing
9 Points

The probability argument falls flat when it comes to explaining the past

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
chewster911
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/11/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,956 times Debate No: 64783
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (114)
Votes (6)

 

chewster911

Pro

I am starting this debate because I've seen some famous fundamentalists and evangelical Christians mention this argument when trying to disprove abiogenesis. I would like to explain why this fails in a debate. Criterion for this debate is that my opponent has to have at least 10 debates finished.This is to prevent trolls and people unfamiliar with this site and topic to accept,although there are still some chances for that to happen (see what I did there?).

1st round - acceptance
2nd round - opening arguments
3rd round - rebuttals and cross-examination
4th round - counter-rebuttals and conclusion

Voting period 10 days
Time for arguments 48 hrs
10.000 characters

Good luck!
james14

Con

I thank Pro for letting me debate this. You can call me a fundamentalist Christian if you like, as I do believe the Bible and that macroevolution and abiogenesis are unscientific.

I am excited to view Pro's proofs and refute them.

Thanks again, and may the best man win!
Debate Round No. 1
chewster911

Pro

Thank you Con for accepting this debate. I have to point out that this debate will not be about evolution/abiogenesis directly,this will be only about the topic of this debate,that is, the probability argument and why does it fail at explaining the past. (I have to add that i am not used to writing the letter "i" as capital when on it's own,and i beg the voters not to take that into account)

For those of you who don't know about this argument,it is an argument employed by creationists in attempt to prove that the chances of life forming on it's own are so small that it couldn't have happened. First of all i have to quote this from a creationist website:

"One chemist has calculated the immense odds against amino acids ever combining to form the necessary proteins by undirected means. He estimated the probability to be more than 10 to the 67th to 1 (10^67:1) against even a small protein forming by time and chance, in an ideal mixture of chemicals, in an ideal atmosphere, and given up to 100 billion years (an age 10 to 20 times greater than the supposed age of the Earth). [129] Mathematicians generally agree that, statistically, any odds beyond 1 in 10 to the 50th (1:10^50) have a zero probability of ever happening ("and even that gives it the benefit of the doubt!")."

This argument is often used by iconic fundamentalist Christians like Ken Ham and Kent Hovind. Now i shall start tearing this argument apart with an analogy.

Imagine a dart board and you standing a distance away from it with an arrow in your hand. How many mathematical points are on the dart board? The answer: There is an infinite number of mathematical points. Let's say you choose one point on the dart board. What are the chances of the arrow hitting that exact point you thought of? Well since there are infinite number of mathematical points like that,so the chance of the arrow hitting that exact point is 1:infinity. So the actual chance of an arrow hitting that exact point is 0,right? Almost. Since there are infinite number of those mathematical points,we can say that the chance of an arrow hitting any mathematical point on the dartboard is 0. We throw an arrow and it hits a point. We know that it did because we see it hit the dartboard,so it must have hit some mathematical point. We know that a tip of an arrow is not a mathematical point,but it has an area,small,but not infinitesimal (we know this because every physical object has to have an area) Therefore the number of points it can hit is automatically finite,therefore the chance is greater than 0. If we pick an area now,we have a chance greater than 0 to hit it,we just need enough time and number of tries and we will eventually hit that area. [1]

We have concluded that anything is possible in our universe as soon as it is given enough time. (This was mentioned by my fellow atheists a few times in the comments as well)

Now for the claim of the website.

The time the universe "supposedly" existed is 13.8 billion years (13.8^9). And the chances that the chemist calculated was 10^67. I agree,that number is much,much larger than the time the universe existed,so the chances are 0, right? One big NO. Unless infinity has a part in this creative math,chances are NOT 0. 13.8 billion years are quite enough for life to originate,even though having supposedly a chance of 1 in 10^67. We can admit that randomness plays a role in the creation of life,but chances are certainly not 0,therefore making them possible.

This only is enough to make the probability argument collapse,however let's make things more extreme. I will play the same game.

Did a raindrop ever fall on your nose? My nose was a target multiple times,needless to say. Let's ask a question: What are the chances of a raindrop hitting your nose? Could the chances be possibly lower than 10^67? Assuming that you are moving across the surface of earth. We find the volume of an average raindrop to be around 0.05 cm^3. [2] Raindrops are spherical at the start,so we can calculate the cross section of the drop using the volume formula for a sphere. We calculate it to be around 0.16 cm^2. Person's nose is on average around 150 cm off the ground when standing. Now for the location where the raindrop falls (which will also be a location where your nose is). Let's assume that the Earth is a perfect sphere,which means it's surface area is smaller than it actually is. The radius of the Earth is around 6.371 km (simple google search).Converted to centimeters it's around 637.100.000 cm. So the volume of the sphere where your nose could be is (637.100.000)^3 (if we ignore the 150 cm of height where your nose could be) x 4/3 pi. Which results in around 100 octillion (10^29) cm^2 . And finally if we include the chance of where you could be on the earth? Since the average area of a cross section is around 2 cm^2. [3]

2cm^2 / 100 octillion = 2e-29 (0.00000000000000000000000000002)

Now the chance of your nose being at that practicular point on the sphere is about the same. Multiply 10^29 x 10^29 and we get 10^58 which is only a billion times smaller than than 10^67. And i also did not include the wind or anything that would disrupt the raindrop's trajectory,and i did not include the exact area of the Earth,but reduced it for a few times. I simplified it and we still got a huge number.

If my previous argument was enough to destroy it,this one made it disappear. All i used is basic geometry for this and a lot of help from Google's calculator.

My conclusion: If we have evidence that indicate that something happened in the past, then the possibility of that something is automatically greater than 0 (possible).

I now hand over the debate to Con. Can't wait for his arguments. Good luck!

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com... [1]

https://www.physicsforums.com... [2]

http://www.ams.ac.ir... [3]
james14

Con

Again, thanks for the debate. Good luck Pro. You're gonna need it!

Before starting, I would like to apologize if my fonts are distracting.
I used Terminal font for my quotes from Pro out of respect for the medical state of his argument. (Sorry, but that was funny!)

To answer the dartboard analogy:

Yes, given enough time, one could theoretically hit a certain point on a dartboard. However, Pro erred concerning the area of points on the tip of the dart. There are a an infinite number of points there as well. Remember that any fraction of infinity is infinity. Or, to make it easier, realize that between every two points are more points, and between those are still more points, and so on ad infinitum. To say one area has an infinite number of points is to immediately fit all areas of all sizes with an infinity of points. And even if Pro was right and the number of points was not infinite (which is not the case), then the probability of hitting that point could not be >1 as the limit of 1/x as x approaches infinity is 0 and mathematically
1/∞ is undefined. Instead of talking of mathematical points, it would be far easier to simply calculate the area of the dartboard, and then calculate the probability of the dart hitting a certain area of the dartboard as [target area/total area].

Of course, Pro's mistakes were irrevelevant for the purposes of this debate, but they mattered to me. Now I will explain why his analogy accomplishes precisely nothing.

You see, Pro explains that it is possible to hit a certain area on a dartboard given enough time and then extrapolates his findings to abiogenesis and concludes that it is also possible for that to occur as long as the probability of that happening is over zero. Well, first, let's look at the initial probability.

" . . . the probability [would be] more than 10 to the 67th to 1 (10^67:1) against even a small protein forming by time and chance, in an ideal mixture of chemicals, in an ideal atmosphere, and given up to 100 billion years . . ."

The difference between this and the dartboard example is that time is already factored into the probability. This chemist, by Pro's own admission, has concluded that the odds are 1:67 x 10^67 even assuming 100 billion years were allowed. So while the probability of scoring a bull's eye on a dartboard might be, say, 1:175, that probability is for a single throw. The probability for life coming about, on the other hand, is the darboard equivelant to the probability for making a bull's eye once during one's entire life. And as the scientist says (and Pro does not deny it) odds as low as stated are low enough to be considered statistically impossible. Why? Well, a mathematician would refuse to rule out the possibility of any even with a probability of any ammount greater than zero. However, practically speaking, 1:67x10^67 is such a small number that an event with such a probability should be considered impossibile for all intents and purposes. (Except possibly, as Pro noted, in cases where the event might be repeated. However, this is not the case here. The probability here is the probability of a small protein forming in a window of 100 billion years. The event only happens once.) To phrase this differently: if your theory of history would depend on such great odds then you had better forget it. See Occam's Razor. Believing in evolution against these odds would be similar to maintaining a belief that Christopher Columbus did actually get to China, but that someone just altered all the historical sources. It's theoretically possible, but not practical in the real world.

Pro's raindrop analogy is almost risable. Pro is carefully computing the odds that one raindrop will hit his nose. His odds are obviously flawed, as millions of raindrops fall every day. His calculations would only be practical if only raindrop existed and there was an equal chance of it falling anywhere on earth, from the Sahara desert to the Artic. Which is obviously not the case. Again, he cannot claim that I am proving his point in that the single raindrop hitting his nose would be impossible but that given time and other raindrops the event becomes possible, because as I already pointed out, the probability in question takes time into account while the raindrop analogy does not.

Pro said:
"My conclusion: If we have evidence that indicate that something happened in the past, then the possibility of that something is automatically greater than 0 (possible)."

Ahem. Probability is the chance something will happen in the future. We are taking the pre-life view on earth for the purposes of this discussion. We can't calculate the probability of an event that's already happened. It's over. However, we can calculate the possibility that a view of history is correct. Pro could be arguing here that life did arise from non-life, and that therefore the event of abiogenesis occuring was obviously possible. However, that argument falls flat also. Why? Because abiogenesis was not recorded historically, and there is no evidence for it. Abiogenesis is not the only theory that addresses life. (Just the only when evolutionists are happy with.) As there are other theories in play we should choose those that do not presuppose extremely or impossibly imporabable events. And the theory of abiogenesis should as a result be rejected as it requires us to assume something practically impossible happened, without evidence.

To close with one final example:
Suppose I stumble across a mountain carved with four heads. I calculate the odds of such amazing specimens of physiognomy arising from natural forces, and behold! They come out at 1 in 10^55. As I am switching off my calculator, a South Dakota native approaches with a guidebook detailing how certain men used technology to suspend themselves in a position where they could carve out the faces. I am not sure which theory to believe. Theory one is certainly more scientific, right?

Audience, if you believe you would be able to choose in this situation, please post in the comments section your answer.

Debate Round No. 2
chewster911

Pro

Thank you for the answer, Con. Now i shall proceed with a rebuttal.

Con admitted that given enough time, one could theoretically hit a certain point on a dartboard. Now that that is settled,let's see what Con presented.

"Pro erred concerning the area of points on the tip of the dart. There are a an infinite number of points there as well."

True,there are infinite number of points on the tip of the arrow (i prefer to call it arrow). But i was talking about the measurable area that hits the dartboard. That area is NOT a mathematical point,once again. If we were to look at it like Con did,the infinite number of points on the arrow will hit the infinite number of points on the fraction of the dartboard. In this case we have two infinites to deal with and we cannot make any proportion with just infinites. 1/infinity is undefined as infinity is not a number. But we know that if a number we are dividing with approaches infinity (in 1/x , x->infinity) then the product number is approaching 0. If the number is extremely small,we can start treating it as 0,but it is not the actual 0. So if you choose an AREA on the dartboard (that is the area of the tip of the arrow or bigger,say 2cm^2) Then chances are, of course bigger than 1/x , x->infinity,because x in this case does not go towards infinity,but is a finite number. I used the example with mathematical points to explain that the concept of infinity is meaningless to the argument,therefore proving that the chances of something happening are greater than 0. Of course that something had to happen within the constant laws of physics. In this case it's the past.

We have enough proof of amino-acids combining to form proteins (we depend on that),and we have been able to prove that it is possible and even project it and see what could have happened. Just like if we choose an area of the dart so small that we have 10^67 chance to hit, given the time of 100 billion years. Though this is only the chance of that happening, it does not mean that it has to happen in the exact 100 billion years. We can hit that small area that we have 1 in 10^67 chance in one try. It is possible. It is also possible that proteins necessary for life can form in 1 billion years and less. We are not breaking any laws here.

By this i proved that Con's claim that my analogy accomplishes nothing is false.

I do not understand this from Con,i beg him to explain this sentence to me:

"The probability for life coming about, on the other hand, is the dartboard equivelant to the probability for making a bull's eye once during one's entire life."

Moving on: Occam's razor doesn't always mean that a solution with fewest assumptions is true.
Con's Columbus analogy assumes that a law must be broke in order of something being achieved,that is, the law needs to be broke for that something to be achieved. It is possible and practical that someone altered the sources and did that unscathed. The example is with Hitler, sources tell that he shot himself in the bunker,but i read the news earlier this year on a popular website and in the newspaper that Hitler was alive,living in South America for 20-ish more years or so after the war. Though this is quite arbitrary,it is theoretically possible and "practical",since no one else saw Hitler's body besides a few dozen of his generals,before being thrown in a hole and lit on fire,so the allies wouldn't find/identify the body. And he was known for having an identical double. Now let the assumptions fly all over the place.

"Ahem. Probability is the chance something will happen in the future. We are taking the pre-life view on earth for the purposes of this discussion. We can't calculate the probability of an event that's already happened. It's over. However, we can calculate the possibility that a view of history is correct. Pro could be arguing here that life did arise from non-life, and that therefore the event of abiogenesis occuring was obviously possible. However, that argument falls flat also. Why? Because abiogenesis was not recorded historically, and there is no evidence for it."

So if probability is the chance something will happen in the future, then it means that probability is not meant for explaining the past. Well that is the point. Probability argument fails when it comes to explaining the past,it's meaningless!

The evidence for abiogenesis is not relevant to this debate. And also scientists propose multiple number of hypotheses and then test them. The ones that pass the test become theories. So far we have a lot of evidence that life came from non-life during a series of chemical reactions. Now how exactly it came,scientists are still not sure,but as science progresses, we will eventually have the answer. Since this is not relevant to the debate,i will not go into detail here.

For the raindrop analogy...Yes the chances of a raindrop to hit your nose is definite. But a chance raindrop that did hit your nose in the past,to actually hit your nose is 1 in 10^58 as i calculated. We are talking about that particular raindrop. See what is happening here?

For your closing example you are looking at the Rushmore mountain faces as an uninformed person and assume that they formed naturally. However it's not just the calculating you have to do,as you already know. You have to do a research,collect the evidence and then form a theory. This is what scientists did. The theory of abiogenesis from non-life is a valid theory. You falsely assume in your final example that scientists are uninformed about the topic under discussion and research.

That is all from me, can't wait to hear Con's rebuttal. Good luck!
james14

Con

I think Con did understand me when he said, "We can hit that small area that we have 1 in 10^67 chance in one try." I already explained that while an event can be possible mathematically (in that it has a probability) it can also be unlikely enough to be removed as a possibility. If your chances of EVER hitting a dartboard were that low, there would be no point in even trying. You would never hit it, period. So Con's analogy does accomplish nothing.

Occam's razor tells us that we should not add an assumption to our theory if it does not explain the evidence any bettter. As Isaac Newton said, "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances." (1) Now, that would mean we should not add a componant that would require something practically impossible to happen to our theory of history. Abiogenesis is not a sufficient explanation, as it is practically impossible.
Records aside, if our view of history requires something impossible to happen, it is probably wrong. For example, if my theory required Columbus to completely miss both North and South America (not an easy feat) and then sail to China with only half the supplies he actually needed, it would probably be wrong. Why? Well, the chances of Columbus doing that are practically impossible, especially given his mutinous crew.
Occam's razor tells us that the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions or the simplest explanation should be (in general) preferred. The Christian view that God created life requires fewer assumptions than the evolutionary view that life spontaneously generated, a view that was disproven centuries ago and would require something
impossible to happen. Believing in a Creator requires fewer leaps of the imagination than believing nature beat the (impossibly high) odds.
But evolutionists prefer abiogenesis simply because it avoids God.


Probability is not meaningless in the past. It is quite meaningful when we try to recreate a portion of the past that we are ensure of. We can conclude, based on probability, that some things definitely never happened (like abiogenesis). And, as I pointed out, if our view of history requires something impossible to happen, it is probably wrong.

The reason evolutionists believe in the abiogenesis hypothesis is because excluding God, it's their only hope of explaining our life-filled world. Unfortunately, abiogenesis is, practically, impossible, which means that abiogenesis should remain a hypothesis and a failed one at that.

Going back to the particular raindrop . . . IF the odds for a particular raindrop to hit your nose were that high, then that particular raindrop would not hit your nose. That would be impossible. It would be similar to picking one grain of sand off the beach and then coming back a year later and picking that same grain. So, how come a raindrop can hit my nose?
Well, it is my turn to destroy Pro's argument with a probability example. Suppose the odds of picking up a particular grain of sand are 1:30,000,000,000. It would seem impossible that I could pick a grain of sand, right? And yet, I am able to pick a particular grain of sand, despite the odds. Do you catch the fallacy here? If I reach down on the beach, the odds that I will pick A grain of sand are 1:1. The same with the raindrops. If you stand in the rain for 5 minutes, the odds that A raindrop will hit your nose are 1:1. If you were looking for a particular raindrop to hit you, and the odds were as high as Pro calculated (I personally do not think they are accurate) then THAT PARTICULAR raindrop would never hit you. Reason: it would be statistically impossible.
Nice try, Pro, but you accomplish nothing.

"You falsely assume in your final example that scientists are uninformed about the topic under discussion and research."

The probability of faces naturally forming on a mountain are about equal to the probability life came from non-life. After all, there are some pretty weird rock formations. Given enough time, couldn't wind and rain carve out a face (or 4) every now and then?
Believing life, and especially the library of encyclopedias of information that DNA contains, came from chance and chemicals is equivelant to looking at a message in the clouds that spells Terry ♥ Sally Gardener and concluding that wind and natural forces produced it. Really. When have you seen a working book created by chance? Information does not come from chaos. (2)

Thanks for debating, by the way. Good luck, and I hope you realize that God does exist and that you wil at least investigate Christianity.
(1) http://math.ucr.edu...
(2) "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist" by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek
Debate Round No. 3
chewster911

Pro

Since this is the last round,i would like to thank Con for participating in this debate. It was fun and interesting. It's also interesting to see Con has made false assumptions and mistakes AGAIN. Just to correct you,where you said "So Con's analogy does accomplish nothing" You probably meant Pro,just to clarify that.

Con did nothing to disprove my arguments,let's take a look.

First of all,Con used Newton's quote in attempt to bolster his claim. This was argument from authority fallacy. While Newton did a great job at explaining laws of motion and "discovering gravity" (for what he is famous,needless to say),he also believed in alchemy. Newton's quote doesn't prove/disprove anything. If Newton knew about evolution/abiogenesis theories and the evidence for them at that time (which did not exist at the time), i doubt that he would make the same quote.
Next i recap that we have experimented with amino-accids,proteins,RNA and DNA. A research has been done that i think Con and our audience should check out [1]

The Christian view requires fewer assumptions? Yes,but not in the world of science,not in the world of rationalism. It is extremely easy to believe that God created everything. Hmm that seems possible,since science can't explain many things. Well science has refuted many creationist claims that God is necessary. People believed that the world is flat,people believed that bird blood can cure leprosy,people believed that the Earth is the center of the universe,people believed that Earth was made 6000 years ago,...just to name a few. We have proven that Earth is older than 6000 years old using radiometric dating. And every type of RMD indicates,when a sample is examined, that the Earth is older than 6000 years. All the creationist beliefs are based on a single book.

"But evolutionists prefer abiogenesis simply because it avoids God."

Wrong! A typical straw man. Evolutionists/scientists prefer abiogenesis because there are thousands of evidence supporting it (most of those are about evolution as well),in contrary to creationism,which has,if not 0,then minuscule amount of evidence for reality,and those are just a few simple things we know today,and people knew then when using their brains. And many "abiogenesis believers" do believe in a God. These are known as deists. Although they don't believe in a God resembling anything like a Christian God.

We went away from the topic way more than i expected. Although i had to answer these arguments,if you can call them that.

I never said probability is meaningless about determining the chances about the past. I said that it's meaningless when explaining the impossibility of something in the past. And this is only for things that we have evidence for happened.

"We can conclude, based on probability, that some things definitely never happened (like abiogenesis). And, as I pointed out, if our view of history requires something impossible to happen, it is probably wrong."

Did you ignore my proofs in the last two rounds? Abiogenesis is NOT IMPOSSIBLE,i have proven this. I have also linked my source [1] for you to check out.

"The reason evolutionists believe in the abiogenesis hypothesis is because excluding God, it's their only hope of explaining our life-filled world. Unfortunately, abiogenesis is, practically, impossible, which means that abiogenesis should remain a hypothesis and a failed one at that."

*facepalm* Again, a straw man. And i am not going to repeat myself again for the second sentence.

I said,and i repeat,that a chance of a raindrop hitting your nose is definite. Let's take your version of the analogy. I want to pick a grain of sand. What is the chance that i will pick a grain of sand? The answer is: definite. But now as i am walking away,i ask myself: "What was the chance that i would have picked this particular grain of sand"? And the answer is 1:30.000.000 (taking your chance). The question "What is the chance that i WILL pick a particular grain of sand" is another story. You can't choose a particular grain of sand for the future,you can just describe it. Like: What is the chance that i will pick a cube-shaped grain of sand at random? Then 1:30.000.000 becomes applicable. If asking about the past: "What was the chance that i would have picked this particular grain of sand"? the answer is 1:30.000.000 again,but it already happened,we have proof that it happened,we are holding that grain of sand in our hands.

[Caps lock] THIS IS WHY THE PROBABILITY ARGUMENT FAILS WHEN TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE PAST. IT IS MEANINGLESS WHEN TRYING TO PROVE THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF SOMETHING HAPPENING IN THE PAST,OF WHICH WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE FOR.

Now Con's only counter-argument would be that the proofs for abiogenesis don't exist. But i would beg to differ. That is a discussion for another time.

"Information does not come from chaos."

This is a really vague claim open to equivocation. If you meant "Order does not come from chaos" or "Order does not come from disorder" I will disagree with you.

First answer: It depends on what we perceive as "order" and "chaos". We might be living in a chaotic state,but we perceive it as order.. This is a more philosophical question.

Second answer is about 2nd law of thermodynamics [2] (which you might have been referring to). This article contains some extra information about creationism too.

So to recap what we have concluded:

1. We have concluded that nothing in our physical world is impossible as long as it doesn't break any laws of physics.

2. We don't need probabilities to help us determine the chances of something happening in the past (impossibility), since it does nothing to disprove that something.

3. Once we've established the 2nd premise, we can conclude that abiogenesis is both mathematically and practically possible,since it doesn't break any laws of nature. (plus we have done multiple experiments to prove it)

Conclusion: Probability argument falls flat when used to disprove the possibility of abiogenesis.

I once again thank Con for participating in this debate. It was truly a pleasure.

Vote Pro!

Sources:

http://www.gtresearchnews.gatech.edu... [1]

http://www.talkorigins.org... [2]
james14

Con

Thanks, Pro.

Argument from authority? If I hadn't quoted Newton would Pro have believed me? Newton's statement is about theories in general, not about abiogenesis. My Newton quote said, basically, "There's no point in adding more componants to a theory than are necessary to explain phenomena and that are also true." Such as statement is obvioulsy coherent and stands apart from the origin of the quote as logical.

I'm sorry that you think my arguments ridiculous. My point is that since evolution's only chance of explaining life is that something with incredibly--make that impossibly--low odds happened, then Creationism's explanation of life makes more sense. That was the whole point of my faces-on-a-mountain argument. When we are presented with life, design, and a functioning universe instead of nothing, then the logical answer is God, just as the logical answer to a painting or sculpture is an artist.

Creationism does not require leprosy to be incurable, a geocentric universe, a very young Earth, or even for the Bible to be true. Christianity requires the Bible, but belief in a Creator does not.

Evolutionists do not prefer abiogenesis because of all the evidence. If there were evidence that abiogenesis could take place, then the probability of abiogenesis happening would be much higher. But all the evidence renders abiogenesis EXTREMELY improbable, as the probability testifies. Don't you see that probability is evidence? If there was a chance that abiogenesis could have happened, then that would warrant it a reasonable hypothesis. However, the evidence that does exist for abiogenesis is very scanty. Pro hasn't actually given any evidence, as the reader will note, so there is nothing for me to refute.

"I never said probability is meaningless about determining the chances about the past. I said that it's meaningless when explaining the impossibility of something in the past. And this is only for things that we have evidence for happened."

Yes, Pro, you are right. If we had historical evidence that something happened, then this argument would revolve around the historical evidence. The probability argument would become far less important if it were obvious that abiogenesis actually did happen. However, we have no historical evidence. No one was around to witness the origin of life. So that leaves us with scientific evidence. It is important to understand this. The probability of life coming about from chemicals is scientific. A scientist examined the possibility of life coming from chemicals, based off experimentation, and calculated a probability. All the evidence for evolution is scientific. In other words, we have no eyewitness records of evolution happening. So we must resort to experiments and (as Darwin did) observation of current events to explore the past. Experiments can tell us whether or not abiogenesis is feasible.

And experiments have told us no! Why? The probability argument is a result of those experiments. It is the result of
a chemist calculating the probability of life ever coming from chemicals, based on experiments. And that probability is impossibly low.

To give yet another example: Suppose there is a massive sore on my leg. I wonder if a spider caused it. So I conduct thousands of experiments to determine how big spider-caused sores can get. In the end, I conclude that the probability of a spider causing that sore is impossibly low. So I turn to another explanation.

Science, in the end, is a search for causes. Probability can be very helpful in determining which causes could feasibly have resulted in a certain effect. If A has a very low probability of evert resulting in R, then unless A is the only explanation for R we should turn to another cause.

Abiogenesis is the sole explanation that doesn't require a creator. This is fact. If life wasn't created, and it didn't always exist (and even atheists can't believe that) then it must have come from non-life. This is logic. As a result, evolutionists will do everything they can to scientifically claim that abiogenesis is possible. But abigenesis is statistically improbable. If Abiogenesis is our only theory, then we cannot abandon it. But creationists do not have to (unlike evolutionists) cling to the theory of abiogenesis, as they have a better theory that is not scientifically unfeasible.

The quote at the end of Pro's article clearly indicated this: "“We’re looking for a simple, robust chemistry that can explain the earliest origin of RNA or its ancestor,” Hud said." Why is Hud looking for this? Because it is necessary for his theory of evolution, his theory of abiogenesis. Hud is looking to somehow increase the odds of abiogenesis being possible.

To return to the wearied raindrop argument by analogy: "The question "What is the chance that i WILL pick a particular grain of sand" is another story. You can't choose a particular grain of sand for the future,you can just describe it. Like: What is the chance that i will pick a cube-shaped grain of sand at random?"

OK, that works. Although we are talking theoretically, so it doesn't matter how you know the grain of sand. Returning to abiogenesis, we know what the result looks like, so this problem does not apply.

"Then 1:30.000.000 becomes applicable. If asking about the past: "What was the chance that i would have picked this particular grain of sand"? the answer is 1:30.000.000 again,but it already happened,we have proof that it happened,we are holding that grain of sand in our hands."

Hmm. I am not sure what Pro is trying to prove here. At any rate, we are holding the grain of sand in our hands concerning abiogenesis. We know the outcome: life exists. However, as I have tried many times to explain, then the probability shifts from the probability that abiogenesis WILL happen to the probability that abiogenesis DID happen. In other words, was abiogenesis the cause of life? Looking at the odds, the answer is clearly NO.
However, if we had evidence that abiogenesis definitely DID happen, (Historical evidence, since scientific evidence leads us to impossible odds) then, and only then, would the odds cease to matter. So Pro's only counter-argument would be to provide irrefutable historical proof, and as he says, that is an argument for another time.

THIS IS WHY THE PROBABILITY ARGUMENT FAILS WHEN TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE PAST. IT IS MEANINGLESS WHEN TRYING TO PROVE THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF SOMETHING HAPPENING IN THE PAST,OF WHICH WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE FOR.

Pro is confusing evidence for life with evidence for abiogenesis. Whenever there are multiple theories in play (as I explained earlier at length) then the probability that one of them happened (or could happen) becomes very important indeed. If the probability is impossibly low for one, then we should reject it. I do not see what is so difficult to understand about this fact.

This is what I mean by "Information does not come from chaos.": We do not get working instructions from chance processes as a rule. As a result, the evolutionist claim that the room ful of encylcopedias of DNA information arose from chance is blatently ridiculous. (No offense.)

1. We have concluded that nothing in our physical world is impossible as long as it doesn't break any laws of physics.
Not so. Can you win the lottery every day for a year? One could argue that those would break the laws of physics. However, they would not, at least no more than abiogenesis would. Something can be possible scientifically, yet so improbable that it is practically impossible. For example: winning the lottery every day for a year would be impossible, practically speaking, and yet the probability of it happening would be greater than zero.

2. We don't need probabilities to help us determine the chances of something happening in the past (impossibility), since it does nothing to disprove that something.
I have tried so hard to get through to Pro, but I have been unable to get him to understand what I see as obvious. If we DON'T KNOW WHETHER SOMETHING HAPPENED IN THE PAST for sure (which is the case with abiogenesis), then probability can help us. We know life exists, but we do not know for sure whether abiogenesis or something else brought about life.
If we have result A and two theories for how A came about, X and Y, then probability becomes important in determining which theory is more likely. If the chances of X bringing about A are 1:10,000,000,000,000,000, and the chances of X bringing about B are 1:10, then, all other things being equal, we should choose B as the more reasonable theory as it is far more likely B is actually true. This is all I need to show to win the debate. Probability does not "fall flat" when explaining the past. When we have a result and two competing hypothesis, probability can be very helpful, as it is in this case.


3. Once we've established the 2nd premise, we can conclude that abiogenesis is both mathematically and practically possible,since it doesn't break any laws of nature. (plus we have done multiple experiments to prove it)
Neither of the premesis are established, and neither is the conclusion. Abiogenesis is not practically possible, as the odds are so low as to render abiogenesis practically impossible. I have stated this multiple times already in this debate, and it remains a fact. Experiments in this case are irrelevant, as Pro refuses to debate the "proof" for abiogenesis (quite rightly), except for the fact that experiments gave rise to the extremely low probability that gave rise to this whole debate.

My summary: probability can be helpful in finding the proper cause for an effect. While the life is unquestionable, abiogenesis (as a means of life coming about) is not an unquestionable fact. And as a result, we CAN use probability to investigate whether abiogenesis took place.

Pro: I am sorry if you didn't understand my arguments. Thanks for the debate.
Debate Round No. 4
114 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by chewster911 2 years ago
chewster911
Thanks Iven for the link! I had no idea about that website.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
UndeniableReality
james14,
That is okay. I did not think you meant to be offensive, but I wanted to point that out because it would be easy for someone to take your comment offensively and jump all over you for it. It was just a warning for future reference =)

Iven, thanks for providing the link. That site includes several other court cases on evolution.

I do want to say though that the 'court of law' is a weak judge of truth. The 'court of science' is much more strict.
Posted by IvenMartin 2 years ago
IvenMartin
There is your court case.
Posted by james14 2 years ago
james14
Sorry for Ha! Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I was just laughing think of the possibility of any of the hard-core atheists on this site believing in angels or whatever but not God. No disrespect or arrogance, just amusement.

What court case are you referring to?

I'm not upset! I'm not! I'm not!
Really, though, I'm not.

Thanks for saying it was close.
Posted by IvenMartin 2 years ago
IvenMartin
In case you don't understand Ockham's razor, postulating the existence of an intelligent being to explain the existence of the universe or life is a really big assumption. We are left to assume that the universe materialized through natural processes, and so did life.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
UndeniableReality
james14
Pagans. Wiccans. Some buddhists. Some dualists. Atheists who believe in psychic abilities. Atheists who believe in ghosts, faeries, leprachauns (yes these people exist, I have met them). There are a lot of atheists who believe in supernatural things. Do you need more examples? There are religions where they believe in supernatural entities and phenomena but no god. Those people are by definition atheists who believe in supernatural things.

No, I'm not thinking agnosticism. What does that have to do with something? And what's with your 'Ha!'? First, wait to make sure you've got someone before saying 'Ha!', because you risk looking foolish. Second, you're with the wrong company if you think arrogance will be appreciated here. Just food for though, I mean no disrespect.

That isn't why you lost the debate. People don't vote based on who's side was right or wrong. They vote based on who's side was better argued and articulated. People did not think you made your point sufficiently compared to Pro. They say you didn't back up your points well enough, even if you made some good points. In all fairness, it was a pretty close debate. You don't need to be so upset about it.

Yes, I have heard of the irreducible complexity argument. It never made it into the scientific literature, and it lost in court.
Posted by chewster911 2 years ago
chewster911
Ahh...my point is that if the two theories both have a low probability, then probability argument doesn't work. I repeat myself. 1:10^58 and 1:10^67 both have the same margin of 1 billion. Also, theory 1:10 has a high probability, while theory 1: 10 billion has a much lower probability. We do not have cases like this in the real world, where two equally valid theories have this kind of comparison (the first one yes), even if they have the same margin/difference.
Posted by IvenMartin 2 years ago
IvenMartin
I think the point is that you have not met your burden of proof that an overwhelming statistical evidence for probability is absolutely necessary to explain that which we have many strands of empirical evidence in support of.
Posted by james14 2 years ago
james14
I thought I did read it. Can you just give me a simple little answer? I'm trying to understand your POV.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by carriead20 2 years ago
carriead20
chewster911james14Tied
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made good points but failed at backing them up or revisiting to elaborate on them. "i" should be capitalized however so grammar goes to con.
Vote Placed by PeacefulChaos 2 years ago
PeacefulChaos
chewster911james14Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: In the comments
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 2 years ago
RoyLatham
chewster911james14Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: I think Pro didn't get the argument quite right, but Con was way off in claiming that method of calculating a low probability was right. The Con argument is that something that apparently did happen was too unlikely to have happened naturally, so magic must be believed. Pro's saying that he knows "i" should be capitalized, but won't do it anyway is not a good excuse, and loses the grammar point. The purpose of S&G is to avoid presenting distractions to the reader by obeying convention.
Vote Placed by Gabe1e 2 years ago
Gabe1e
chewster911james14Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: I believe Con won this, but it seems the others don't think so.
Vote Placed by Berend 2 years ago
Berend
chewster911james14Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: This was a very interesting debate, even though I already know the side. However, one thing that killed con was claiming something to not be scientific without actually backing and returning too that argument. A correct explanation on why macro evolution and the like are not scientific and in good detail would be better.
Vote Placed by BLAHthedebator 2 years ago
BLAHthedebator
chewster911james14Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's point is futile. Whatever can happen has a chance of more than 0 of that happening. Otherwise it wouldn't happen. Pro easily proves that, and it seems as though Con cannot accept that.