Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

A commenter at Telic Thoughts explicates the rules:
But the requirement for so much tuning, for the coming-to-pass of numerous and so-unlikely events, will simply be spun as evidence *against* design. Why, it all just shows how ridiculously unlikely all this is, how much our very presence depends not on intention and design but outlandish chance. Wouldn't a designer's handiwork be made evident not by tuning or chance, but inevitability?

Unless, of course, the argument is that life and humanity were inevitable. In which case, the near certainty that life would arise, that intelligent life would arise, is evidence against a designer too! After all, wouldn't we expect a designer to accomplish something particularly unlikely, to leave a kind of signature in the form of requiring very unlikely events, or laws that required considerable tuning?

It's like the Origin of Life. Is the OoL event very unlikely? Then it's just proof we are a freak accident, a mistake, a one-in-a-billion (or more!) fluke of the universe. Not designed. Is the OoL event likely? Then it's just proof we are ridiculously common, typical, non-special, dime-a-dozen. Not designed.


Stephen J. said...

I appreciate arguments from improbability, but I do feel they're usually a form of begging the question, as the likelihood of *anything* happening is always 100% *after it happens*. If it *could* have happened by chance, then it doesn't matter how unlikely it was once it has.

They're also prone to mismatched criteria, as the "probability" of any given event only has meaning within a defined field of time and space with room for more than one such event. When the "event" in question *is* the entire matrix within which such events have their probability-of-occurrence measured, "probability" isn't really applicable.

Pointing out invisible-cat logic in your opponents (i.e., treating the absence of evidence for your thesis as being itself evidence for that thesis) is always worth doing, but more for the sake of moving past the "improbability" argument completely, I think.

IlĂ­on said...

At the same time, *nothing* literally "happens by chance."

To assert that an event "happened by chance" is literally to assert a lack of correlation between "cause" and "effect" -- that is, it is to assert that the "effect" has no cause.