Thursday, October 27, 2005

Argument Against Evolution?

If we could go back four billion years and calculate the odds that humans would result from unguided evolution, the answer would surely be exceedingly small. Is this an even mildly strong argument against evolution? No.

First, an analogy: Suppose we had a trillion dollar lottery. We then find a trillionaire, and ask ourselves whether he won the lottery. If we say, "well, going back before the lottery, the odds that this guy would be a winner are exceedingly small," we are ignoring the fact that our method for choosing this guy (looking for a trillionaire) matched finding a lottery winner.

Back to evolution: If we go back four billion years and ask ourselves what we think is going to result from about a trillion (i.e., a million million) generations of slightly imperfect reproduction together with fierce competition to reproduce, the answer is, clearly, ... something amazing. That's the evolutionary lottery, and something was bound to win.

Whatever exists now is a winner, a trillionaire, and we shouldn't ignore the fact that our reason for asking questions about ourselves (we exist) matches our having won the evolutionary lottery.


Jesse S. Sommer said...


Anonymous said...

There are 2 problems with your comparison:
1. Having a trillion dollar lottery does not imply odds. There could be any number of people in the lottery.
2. A trillionaire may not have won the lottery, but made his money otherwise.

Anonymous said...

In accordance with this analogy, going back before life began; who or what set up the trillion dollar evolutionary lottery? Setting up a lottery of this magnitude would without a doubt require an intelligent [designer], concise and absurdly organized undertaking. Perhaps jumping to the lotterr results is a mistake. Instead, we may want to concentrate on how the lottery of evolution was organized.

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