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# There Is Probably An Afterlife

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OpponentDestroyer
 Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point Started: 2/1/2015 Category: Philosophy Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period Viewed: 1,047 times Debate No: 69258
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15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
That calculation assumes that all events in the universe are random variables that lie on uniform distributions. Most things do not lie on uniform distributions. For example, the probability of a sperm reaching the egg is not the same for each sperm. Obviously, some are more likely than others. That alone significantly changes the calculation. Was the probability of you existing before you were born very small? Maybe. I haven't seen a calculation of that probability that's remotely meaningful, so who knows? Maybe not. And it depends on when you calculate it from. From the beginning of the universe? From when your parents met? The probability grows exponentially as you get closer to the event.

The real point is that this computation isn't the probability of you existing. This number is more closely related to the number of possible unique humans given certain biological parameters. What it's attempting to approximate is probability of your birth being predicted thousands of generations ago if all events being considered are random with equal probability.
Posted by OpponentDestroyer 2 years ago
First, I actually agree that the entire framing of that guy's calculation was mistaken, for reasons you mentioned. I don't agree with the conclusion he makes based off of (as you again pointed out) an already imperfect calculation. I probably shouldn't have used it as an example, because it didn't really fit what I was trying to say, I realize.

"It's true that you specifically could potentially (if the universe is nondeterministic) have been born as someone else (different sperm or egg), but someone would have been born. The probability that you were born though, now, is 1."

Of course, but so what? I am saying that *objectively*, if we suppose there is an objective, physical world, and that, above and before the universe, "you" would have just as much chance at being anything other than a conscious creature as you would being who you are now, the odds that you would get to the *point* where the probability that you were born is 1, are astronomically low. Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding something. It seems to me, even if the odds are something like billions in 10^2,685,000, that it still very low on a universal scale.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
I think there's a misunderstanding about the probabilities. What they calculated was, roughly, incorrectly, and in a very oversimplified way (so I don't take it as meaningful at all - also with some grade 8 math you can catch an error at the end), the probability of the exact sperm and egg fusing. There have been billions of humans and there are billions of star systems. There are some very large numbers you would need to multiply back into that probability. This reasoning is akin to saying that the probability of that particular raindrop falling on me is almost zero, so it's impossible for me to get wet when it rains. And then your reasoning would be something like saying, therefore I am not a physical being and I invented water.

It's true that you specifically could potentially (if the universe is nondeterministic) have been born as someone else (different sperm or egg), but someone would have been born. The probability that you were born though, now, is 1.

I suspect some of his error is similar to how people don't understand how to calculate that the probability that two people in a room of 23 people sharing the same birthday is 1/2. Probability is not intuitive to humans, generally.

One more note, I don't know how much stock we should put into one of the most difficult probability calculations one could come up with (not that we have the data to make a real attempt in the first place) when the solution being proposed is by an MD (not even a graduate degree in any field of science) who's famous for his book on "The Tao of Dating: A thinking man's guide to success with women". That's more than a little silly =P
Posted by OpponentDestroyer 2 years ago
I will concede that I may be... inflating my conclusions a bit. There is a necessary leap of imagination, yes. I am making a philosophical argument, not a mathematical one. The first argument itself was not intended to demonstrate that there is likely an afterlife but that any individual person has an objectively very low probability of experiencing there own subjective existence. It is perfectly possible that it is the case that everyone is simply that lucky. But I am doubtful. I'm not saying there's anything *wrong* with the probability, but that when an additional, philosophical principle is added to the picture, it is more intelligible. There is a great relief of cognitive dissonance. Whether that is evidence of something or proof that I'm deluding myself is your judgement.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
That is simply not how probability works. I would teach you Introduction to Probability theory if you have taken Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus, two Linear Algebras, abstract Algrebra, and combinatorics. Have you taken these before?

Even if we assume the calculation is correct (although I don't accept all of the assumptions made, and calculating the probability of a past event has certain obvious problems), what you're saying is that the probability of a specific human being born is tiny, therefore we are immortal. One does not follow from the other, regardless of probabilities.
Posted by OpponentDestroyer 2 years ago
To UndeniableReality:

I did not calculate anything myself. I provided the link to the first article I could find on the subject. To be honest, I'm sure there have been much more rigorous attempts at such a calculation, but I imagine those would only be even more startlingly in favor of my position.

The methodology was not to calculate the probability of the existence of an afterlife *directly,* rather it was to calculate one's odds of existing as one incarnation and only one, by factoring in all (maybe not all, but a very thorough hypothetical number) contingencies necessary in the past for one to exist. It takes into account things like your parents meeting, all of your ancestors successfully reproducing, etc., all the way to how many atoms there are in the known universe. The result, simply put, is that statistically speaking, none of us should exist in the first place.

As I see it, either 1) we simply accept that we are miraculously lucky, or 2) we are more skeptical in the face of such an astonishing number, and make an inference that there is some fact which negates or greatly decreases that number. I have chosen 2, and though further reasoning, along with my argument against physicalism, came to the conclusion that the best explanation is a form of necessary and eternal metaphysical idealism, which implies that every person has a necessary aspect which has always been and will never die.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
How did you calculate the probability of an afterlife?
Posted by Skepticalone 2 years ago
"How can consciousness arise from nothing?" It seems your main thrust is an argument from ignorance/incredulity, and you provide no alternative explanation to lack of consciousness in damaged physical brains. I hope to see you address this. That being said, I do like your argument. It will be interesting to see how your opponent responds.
Posted by OpponentDestroyer 2 years ago
@Ozzyhead: Okay, I have opened the debate to be accepted.
Posted by Ozzyhead 2 years ago
I'd do it
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