The Statistical Improbability of Life

What is a human being? What is life? Can science give us reliable answers to such questions? The electricity of life. The meaning of human consciousness. Are we alone? Are the traditional contests between science and religion still relevant? Does the word "spirit" still hold meaning today?
JHL
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The Statistical Improbability of Life

Unread post by JHL » Mon Mar 15, 2021 3:35 pm

From The Ethical Skeptic:
...it is one thing to claim a single grand accident under the idea, ‘Grant me one miracle and I can explain all the rest’. We stomach such miracles of science all the time, at the very least to serve as placeholders until we attain better information. However it is another thing entirely to demand in the name of science, six miracles inside a tight sequence, in order to protect one’s religious beliefs.

[...]

In order to advance as mankind, we will need open our minds to possibilities which address, not mere ‘gaps’ in our knowledge, but rather vast barren domains of Nelsonian ignorance. Unfortunately our Wittgenstein definitions and religious assumptions regarding the appearance of life on Earth, are serving to bias us into an extreme corner of statistically remote plausibility, from which we staunchly refuse to budge.
This in summary reaction to the 1 in 2.7 sextillion odds against the human genome and related phenomena:

https://theethicalskeptic.com/2021/02/2 ... nd-letter/

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paladin17
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Re: The Statistical Improbability of Life

Unread post by paladin17 » Tue Mar 16, 2021 10:13 am

As I've indicated in my video, indeed if one naively uses the statistical apparatus to describe the Universe, one quickly concludes that the present moment is impossible.
Even from a very simple mechanistical point of view: if we have an observable volume of 10^26 meters with 10^80 particles in it, then the chances that we'd have the exact positioning of them that we observe right now (doesn't really matter what "right now" we are talking about - it is applicable to any moment in time) are indistinguishable from zero.
Conclusion: statistics may be useful in certain areas, but this is not one of them.

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nick c
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Re: The Statistical Improbability of Life

Unread post by nick c » Tue Mar 16, 2021 3:33 pm

As I've indicated in my video, indeed if one naively uses the statistical apparatus to describe the Universe, one quickly concludes that the present moment is impossible.
Even from a very simple mechanistical point of view: if we have an observable volume of 10^26 meters with 10^80 particles in it, then the chances that we'd have the exact positioning of them that we observe right now (doesn't really matter what "right now" we are talking about - it is applicable to any moment in time) are indistinguishable from zero.
Conclusion: statistics may be useful in certain areas, but this is not one of them.
Yes! I am sure that a competent mathematician could come up with a "model" that shows that life is highly probable and must be quite common throughout the universe. It comes down to just playing games with assumptions and numbers.

JHL
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Re: The Statistical Improbability of Life

Unread post by JHL » Tue Mar 16, 2021 3:37 pm

paladin17 wrote:
Tue Mar 16, 2021 10:13 am
As I've indicated in my video, indeed if one naively uses the statistical apparatus to describe the Universe, one quickly concludes that the present moment is impossible.
Even from a very simple mechanistical point of view: if we have an observable volume of 10^26 meters with 10^80 particles in it, then the chances that we'd have the exact positioning of them that we observe right now (doesn't really matter what "right now" we are talking about - it is applicable to any moment in time) are indistinguishable from zero.
Conclusion: statistics may be useful in certain areas, but this is not one of them.
Of course the present moment is impossible. That's not an audacious point of view either; it's the self-evident, conscious point.

Any distillation of the encoded information in DNA such that it somehow equals blind happenstance in a corner of time and space is a damn difficult hypothetical - let's build your premise out a little more realistically than that, Paladin.

I think it's beyond naive to conflate sand with architecture. Existence utterly violates the status quo, which is that neither could possibly exist. And yet here they both are (along with the ability to express unsupportable claims like if you see the place in a particular way, statistical analysis mayn't exist).

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