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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Chance and the Dover School Board

Intelligent Design theory postulates that complexity requires intelligence, i.e. that life is too improbably to have come about by chance and therefore must have been “created” by an intelligent designer. Leaving aside the issue of the Intelligent Designer’s complexity and how logically that “being” must have therefore been created as well, and ignoring the arrogant yet prosaic definition of life contained in their assumptions, using the Discovery Institute’s (the foundation devoted to promotion of creationist and intelligent design theories) own numbers, chance and random becomes quite likely rather than improbable. For example, if so called coincidences or “miracles” have a one in a million chance of occurrence per day, an extremely unlikely event, then a country with a population of 280 million will have a likelihood of 280 such unlikely events each day.

The Discovery Institute’s film “The Privileged Planet” argues that the chances of the conditions for life (oxygen –although many microbes and other life forms can exist in an anaerobic environment, -- a sun, recycling carbon, etc.,) are 1/100,000,000,000,000. The chances of that happening are so remote that they must have been controlled by an intelligent designer. That means the odds of there being another habitable planet are .0000000000001%. Assuming that a star system contains a habitable planet are 1/1000000000, a very conservative estimate (astronomers actually find planets in 1 in 10 star systems). There are conservatively about 10,000 billion star systems. Simple math then tells us that by chance alone there should be one billion habitable planets.

Using coincidence to prove a point is dangerous indeed. Lincoln was elected in 1846, Kennedy in 1964. Both were shot in the head, both were succeeded by Johnsons, both of whom were southerners and both were shot by southerners. Both were killed by men with 15 letters in their names; Booth was born in 1839 and Oswald in 1939, etc. The conclusion inevitably must be there lies an Intelligent Assassin behind it all.

Liberally borrowed from eskeptic

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