Tag Archives: probability

Possibilities, probabilities and reality

When we look at the natural world, do we see order or chaos? There is order everywhere in the universe except where man has taken control. Even what we call “natural disasters” are caused by the order in the universe. They are a process of cause and effect. In other words, man can explain why they occurred based on various physiological factors that already existed. What man cannot explain is why anything exists at all. Scientists deal with possibilities and probabilities and are confounded by reality.

We live in an ordered universe. As one scientist put it: “A system requiring such a high degree of order could never happen by chance since random processes generate disorder rather than order, simplicity rather than complexity and confusion instead of “information.”’

Another scientist posted on the internet:

 “In living cells, most catalysts are protein enzymes, composed of amino acids, but in the 1980s another kind of catalyst was discovered. These are RNA molecules composed of nucleotides that are now called ribozymes. Because a ribozyme can act both as a catalyst and as a carrier of genetic information in its nucleotide sequence, it has been proposed that life passed through an RNA World phase that did not require DNA and proteins.

For the purposes of today’s column I will go through the probability  calculation that a specific ribozyme might assemble by chance. Assume that the ribozyme is 300 nucleotides long, and that at each position there could be any of four nucleotides present. The chances of that ribozyme assembling are then 4^300,  a number so large that it could not possibly happen by chance even once in 13 billion years, the age of the universe.

But life DID begin! Could we be missing something?”

The answer is, of course, yes, they are missing something. They are missing another possibility, one that the reality of the universe demonstrates to be a real probability—an intelligent  divine Designer. I am talking about a God that is wise enough and powerful enough to design and created our universe. It can be denied but it cannot be disproved.

Anything that has a zero probability of happening must have a zero possibility of happening. I.L. Cohen, in his Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities states: “Mathematicians agree that any requisite number beyond 1050 has, statistically, a zero probability of occurrence.”

Even the simplest replicating protein molecule that could be imagined has been shown by physicist Marcel Golay to have a probability of one in 10450. Frank Salisbury, a plant physiologist,  calculates the probability of a typical DNA chain to be one in 10600. Again, probability zero; possibility zero.

This is what Freeman Dyson, a theoretical physicist at Princeton University posits about evolution:

“You  had what I call the garbage bag model. The early cells were just  little bags of some kind of cell membrane, which might have been  oily or it might have been a metal oxide.  And inside you  had a more or less random collection of organic molecules, with the  characteristic that small molecules could diffuse in through the  membrane, but big molecules could not diffuse out. By converting  small molecules into big molecules, you could concentrate the organic  contents on the inside, so the cells would become more concentrated  and the chemistry would gradually become more efficient. So these things could evolve without any kind of replication.  It’s a  simple statistical inheritance.  When a cell became so big that  it got cut in half, or shaken in half, by some rainstorm or environmental  disturbance, it would then produce two cells which would be its daughters,  which would inherit, more or less, but only statistically, the chemical  machinery inside.  Evolution could work under those conditions.”

Yes, that is a theory worthy of the garbage bag!

“Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory … we would still be justified in preferring it over rival theories [creationism].”
—Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

The basis for a conclusion of this nature is obviously not observed facts, but a predetermined theological conviction that a divine Designer does not exist. There is a risk involved in making this presupposition. As I write in Chapter 7 of my The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be (which should be released by September) about the existence God:

Maybe you are not convinced. Are you a betting man? Are you willing to bet the rest of your life in this world and your eternity in the afterlife that I am wrong? According to Pascal’s Wager, that would not be a rational bet. Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist who charted new territory in probability theory and the formal use of decision theory. Pascal argued that belief in God is pragmatically justified in the long run because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain from holding that belief. If there is no God, there is no eternal judgment to fear. When life is over it is over, no matter how good or bad it was. But if there is a God…? Pascal was speaking of the God of the Bible, the God of Christianity. Here is the way his argument shaped up:

  1. If you believe in and live for God, and it is true that God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven—an infinite gain.
  1. If you do not believe in and live for God, and it is true that God does exist, you will be condemned to eternity in hell—an infinite loss.
  1. If you believe in and live for God, and it turns out that God does not exist, in the end you will have lost nothing because when you are gone you are gone—a finite loss.
  1. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you can live like you want to but in the end you lose everything because when you are gone you are gone—   a finite loss.

Put simply, Pascal argued that the expected value of believing in God is vastly greater than that of not believing, since if you believe in God and commit yourself to a life of faith and obedience to God and it turns out to be true, then you win an enormous good (eternity in heaven). But if you believe and it turns out to be false, then you have lost nothing except a few years of living for yourself that disappears when you die. Therefore, the rational thing to do is believe in God.

If you look at our universe with an open mind, the reality of it speaks to the possibility and the probability that it had an intelligent Designer.

Moral and intellectual bankruptcy

First, a note to my readers. A revised manuscript of Living Right in a World of Woe has been submitted and processed by the publisher. It corrects some citing errors that got past the proofers. Also, the price of the eBook version has been dropped to 99 cents in an effort to get more people to read it.

It has been about eight months since my last post. It is not because I have been idle; it is because I have been involved. We traveled back to Florida this past November to spend two months at the missionary homes where we have stayed when in the States for about twenty years. The same day we arrived the announcement was made that the homes had already been sold and were closing down. However, they were honoring the reservations already booked so we were able to stay there for one last time.

To make a real long story much shorter, it did not seem right to us that the 55 homes and eight acres of land that had been donated for missionary housing should be sold before any indication was given by the President or Board that this was going to happen. I fell back on to my old CPA skills and started investigating. After about three months of investigating, I found out that the President and Executive Director of this ministry made false statements to its supporters and missionary beneficiaries; they colluded with Pinellas County, Florida to sell the property to the county in secret and in apparent violation of the Florida Sunshine Laws; and they apparently violated the Charitable Trust Doctrine by selling the houses which were donated for specific charitable purposes.

A formal complaint with documented evidence was filed with the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi. The Florida Attorney General has declined to act on behalf of this Florida Charitable Trust. On June 7,  my AP news app had an article about Pam Bondi. She personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump at the same time her office was considering investigating alleged fraud at Trump University. She received a $25,000 donation and her office decided not to pursue the investigation.

The President of the missionary homes ministry is a well-known Florida attorney who claims to be a Christian but apparently doesn’t read the Bible the way I do. Just last month a judge disqualified him from a sex-abuse case for trying to represent both sides.

There was a time when this type of self-serving behavior by public servants and ministry leaders would not be tolerated. If prison was not sentenced, at least they would lose their position. But as my previous blog post stated: “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. The societal changes that began in the 1960’s have resulted in the absence of moral judgments. About the only Bible command society wants to obey is, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Illegal and immoral behavior is practiced with impunity.

I want to deal briefly in this blog with an article that appeared on the Business Insider website. The site provides and analyzes business news as well as other articles of interest to the editors. The CEO and Editor-in-Chief is Henry Blodget. He worked on Wall Street until he was charged with securities fraud. He agreed to a permanent ban from the securities industry and payments of $4 million in fines and disgorgement, but no prison. Not a problem – this man is now giving business advice to millions of people from a web-based company that last year sold 88% of its stock to a German publisher for a reported $343 million.

Now to the Business Insider article at hand. It shows, I believe, that not only is society morally bankrupt, it is intellectually bankrupt as well. You would think that Harvard University would be a hotbed of intellectuals, and that physicists might lead the pack. However, after reading the article posted on November 14, 2015 about the book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs written by Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard, I am sure that is not the case.

In that book she puts forth the theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs was necessary for the emergence of humans on the planet and the whole process was brought about by dark matter. What, in the name of what is, is dark matter you may ask. Randall describes it as “a dark, pancake-shaped patty of densely packed dark matter within our galaxy” which she says exerts gravitational influence.

OK, she has propounded a theory on the existence of dark matter and like a good scientist she must test it. Right? Not anymore. She goes on to say, “Dark matter has never been directly detected. However, there is enough evidence for its immense gravitational influence on our universe that the vast majority of the scientific community agrees that dark matter is a form of mysterious matter that we can neither see or touch, but that nevertheless must permeate the cosmos.”

The article goes on to state, “We have a dozen or so functioning detectors underground, on Earth’s surface, and in space – and none of them has yet managed to sniff out a dark-matter particle.” There you have it. The testing that can be done does not prove the theory, but that does not stop Harvard University from teaching the theory and it did not stop her from finding a publisher.

So, what does all this have to do with society being intellectually bankrupt? Going back to Randall’s statement: “dark matter is a form of mysterious matter that we can neither see or touch, but that nevertheless must permeate the cosmos”, we see a basic assumption (must permeate the cosmos) that is not really a product of intellect but of ignorance. Nothing is said of how gravitational influence brought about the existence of humans that, because of gravity, walk on the earth, but did not influence the development of birds and bees that defy gravity. Even that is not the ignorance I am talking about.

The assumption is made that dark matter “must” exist because at present there is no other scientific explanation for the existence of humans in the universe even though there is no evidence for dark matter’s existence. If an assumption is going to be made, why not make an intelligent assumption. In all of intellectual science’s theories and assumptions, the intellectuals have never been able to explain the existence of order in the universe or how a single human cell operates the way it does with its irreducible biochemical complexity, or the origin of the material universe. There are only unproven theories that do not account for everything that is or account for why things are the way they are. Only ignorance would hang its hat on these theories.

The alternative, and I believe the intelligent assumption, is to believe what the original scientists believed. They believed in the existence of a God who created the universe with intelligent order and with certain natural laws functioning within the universe. They believed the job of the scientist is to discover those natural laws. The list of scientists who believed in God include Copernicus, Bacon, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Mendel, Kelvin, Planck and Einstein. Einstein recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. These men were the intellectuals of their day, and unlike the intellectuals of today, their theories have not been disproved.

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction to the Apologetics volume of my School of Christianity which is waiting to be published:

Evidence, Proof, and Certainty

As we begin this section some definitions are in order. Evidence is anything which provides grounds for belief or disbelief of a proposition. Evidence appeals to the mind. Proof is evidence that establishes the truth of a proposition beyond any doubt. Certainty is the mental state of being positive and confident about an event or the truth of a proposition. Since certainty is a state of the mind it is possible to have certainty even without absolute proof. But you can have neither certainty nor proof without evidence. Christian Apologetics seeks to provide evidences for the Christian faith that will lead to certainty, but not proof, of its truths. We can take propositions about Christianity to be certain when we have no doubt about their truth. When the absence of doubt is justifiable we can be certain, and evidences justify the absence of doubt.

Contrary to popular opinion, proof is not available in science, and certainly not in religion. The scientific process consists of observation of some natural phenomenon (occurrence); the formulation of a theory based on that observation; testing of the theory by repeating the phenomenon a number of times; and based upon the test results, rejecting the theory or accepting it as a scientific fact. However, it is not fact, it remains a theory with a high probability of being fact. Science deals with measurements and averages since the same occurrence of an event cannot be repeated. Only a similar event can be made to happen and the similar event cannot be the exact duplicate of the original because, if nothing else, the time has changed. So measurements are taken and those measurements are averaged to get a result. They do not produce facts or proof of the original theory, only the probability (it may be very high) that the theory is correct. Proof is limited to mathematics (3 eggs times 4 equals 12 eggs and the eggs can be counted to prove it), and logic (If A equals B in all respects, and B equals C in all respects, then A equals C in all respects, and A and C can be compared to prove it).

We live in a world in which much of what we believe and do is based upon probability rather than proof. You normally do not sit in a chair full of anxiety that it may break at any time. You cannot be certain that it will not break, but you can sit with a high degree of probability that it will not break. You only have proof that the chair will not break after you have finished with the chair and gotten up. It did what you, by faith, trusted it to do and it proved itself to be true to your expectations.

I am willing to go with probabilities. You can do your own research, but I find the most frequent scientific estimate of the probability of life formed by natural process to be around 1 chance in 10 to the 40,000 power, that is 1 with 40,000 zeros after it. The atheistic  scientist would say that no matter how small the probability is, life exists. That is like looking at a man on top of a 10-story building and saying, “No matter how small the probabilities are that he jumped up there from the ground, he is up there, so he must have jumped.” The conclusion does not take into account other possible and more likely (or more probable) explanations of what is. More on this subject in the next post.