Debunking the probability argument for god

galaxies

We live in a universe of trillions of stars that after billions of years was able to support carbon based life forms on a miniscule fraction of planets. Most places make life impossible because of the amount of radiation, cold or heat and yet since life isn’t impossible everywhere, theists argue that everything must have been fine-tuned for human existence.

The perception of design is based on how you think about it. If you think about one specific planet that necessitated life as if it were one winning lotto number out of one ticket, you will likely think the odds of that happening by chance to be quite remarkable. However, if you think of one planet out of trillions happening to support life as if it were one winning lotto ticket out of millions, you will likely think that it’s not remarkable at all.

The universe contains certain attributes that allowed life to begin. If any of the known universal laws are altered we could lose the dynamics that enabled large pools of hydrogen to coagulate and form stars and therefore lose our very possibility to exist. However, if some of the laws are slightly altered perhaps we have twice as many stars in the sky or the ability to develop multi-cellular life forms much sooner.

Does the fact that we exist demonstrate fine-tuning, or is the nature of opposing forces and certain mathematical harmonies natural and eternal not through design, but simply by being what they are? The truth is that anyone can play the improbability game with anything, and the “god” word adds nothing to the equation.

Every single probability argument that theists conjure up against the “no-god” scenario can be applied to the “yes-god” fantasy. Simply add every metric you can think of to the improbability of a fine-tuned being that exists in a fine-tuned dimension beyond time and space that is specially fine-tuned to interfere with our universe fine-tuning every metric of everything in exactly the way it was fine-tuned. Theists may counter that god is not fine-tuned and just is, in which case atheists can argue the same thing for the universe without god. It just is.

Let’s apply the improbability logic to us. You are the result of one sperm out of 400 Billion and one egg out of 300. Any change in this result and you could be someone completely different. It gets even better. You are the result of one sperm from one man who is the result of one sperm out of 400 Billion and one egg out of 300. And, of course, you are also the result of one egg from one woman who is the result of one sperm out of 400 Billion and one egg out of 300. And so on, and so on, and so on. The fact that you are you is “infinitely improbable,” and yet, here you are.

What is the probability that in all of human existence you are living in a time where you can read this blog over the internet? What is the probability that you are sitting where you are right now in all the places on earth? What is the probability that each atom that exists in your body came from the exact origin of the universe from which it came? And what do all these probability numbers actually mean? Absolutely nothing, they are pointless.

This is not to say probability calculations are not practical and used every day. Probability formulas are used in manufacturing to figure out error rates which are directly tied to quality and cost. If raw material goes through seven manufacturing processes before becoming a finished product, what is the probability for error in each process and what is the total result?

The key difference in a business situation is that we have real data. We can measure an error rate out of 1,000 produced items and put those numbers into a formula and apply “what if” scenarios to possible process improvements. But when it comes to a probability number on god, erroneous metrics are imagined in what is beyond our senses and philosophies. The “divine” metrics that certain people plug into probability assertions don’t come from confirmable data; they come from bias and desperation. We have life on this planet in this solar system in this galaxy in this universe with no evidence favoring a divine plan. We adapted to fit into this universe, not the other way around. An imperfect universe allowed for the existence of imperfect humans.

-James Kirk Wall

References:
How much sperm can a man produce in a lifetime?
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_sperm_can_a_man_produce_in_a_lifetime
How many eggs does a woman have?
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/anatomy/female_reproductive_system/hic_the_female_reproductive_system.aspx

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