# Accident or design?

Some mathematicians argue that it would be even a more remarkable coincidence if there were no remarkable coincidences in the world. Considering that there are over 6 billion people in the world, there are bound to be stories of remarkable coincidences just because of the odds. There is the story of the New Jersey woman who won the state lottery grand prize twice. But considering that there are millions of people playing the lottery it was bound to happen sooner or later even though it is estimated that the odds of winning that lottery twice were at 1 in 17 trillion. There is a web site where you can put your 4, 5 or 6 digit birth date into an entry box to see where your birth date appears in the mathematical number of PI. The number Pi is random and in theory infinite so sooner or later your birth date is bound to appear in PI. So are there such a thing as synchronicity? It might appear that a remarkable coincidence has occurred when it was just the odds at play. For an example. I heard on the news last night that some people in Wisconsin that won the power ball thought it was an act of God. From their perspective they may believe so since what are the odds of it happening to them? But from another one’s perspective it was just a matter of odds. Sooner or later someone had to win. Why not them? Then there is the remarkable coincidence of life in a universe where the odds of such a series of circumstances happening by accident appear to be astronomical. But if there were an infinite amount of configurations of universes than sooner or later life would pop into existence just by accident. The problem with this is that there is no evidence that there is other universes in existence. So it would be logical to assume that there is some creative force in the universe.
As far as we know, infinities only exist in mathematics and we don’t know if mathematics was created or discovered. If it is the latter than there may be no “God”. The universe appears to have been created by some type of intelligence. Or did we just win the lottery of infinite chance?

(If you do not understand the anthropic principle or design argument, please do not reply to this thread)

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In my opinion it is reasonable to assume intelligent design. Things do just happen but assuming such intricate and precise values are just accidental is too much of a stretch of imagination and odds to make it reasonable for me. An eternal designer, creator may be unlikely and unprovable or disprovable but much more likely and reasonable than everything from nothing without reason or cause.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Royce said:
In my opinion it is reasonable to assume intelligent design. Things do just happen but assuming such intricate and precise values are just accidental is too much of a stretch of imagination and odds to make it reasonable for me. An eternal designer, creator may be unlikely and unprovable or disprovable but much more likely and reasonable than everything from nothing without reason or cause.
"...stretch of imagination and odds..."
"...reasonable..."
These are how humans naturally (i.e. before the aid of scientific method) process the world - by looking at things that are reasonable in their experience.

Show me a human who has lived 10 million years, and I'll show you a human who is capable of intuitively understanding the process of evolution.

The corollary of this is: show me a human who can't conceive of a process that takes 10 million years to occur ... and I'll show you a human who has lived less than a century.

But us not being able to understand is not a prerequisite of it being the truth.

(Note, this argument is irrespective of Darwinists et al, who have no problem accepting it.)

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There is the story of the New Jersey woman who won the state lottery grand prize twice. But considering that there are millions of people playing the lottery it was bound to happen sooner or later even though it is estimated that the odds of winning that lottery twice were at 1 in 17 trillion.
You are mistaken about the probabilities here.
After she won the first time, the probability that a single ticket she owns wins the grand price again are just as high as any other ticket from other contestants.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Rad is not mistaken. He did not say "a second time", he said "twice".

The probability of throwing a heads twice on a coin is 1 in 4 - i.e. the product of the two individual probs.

I think you shot from the hip on this one.

russ_watters
Mentor
The problem with this is that there is no evidence that there is other universes in existence. So it would be logical to assume that there is some creative force in the universe.
No evidence of other universes, no evidence of a creator. A scientific person would not assume the existence of either.

Regarding the gambling issue, I think we all understand the gambler's fallacy, but citing the probabilty in terms of odds of winning twice instead of odds of winning a second time implies to me an overstating of the odds. If you say, for example, that her odds of winning the second lottery were 1 in 700,000, it sounds a whole lot less improbable. In any case, maybe we're not talking about the same woman, but from what I see, the odds were 1 in 3.6 trillion.... http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/bizarre/4175323.html

There is also a guy who was hit by lightning 7 times at a lifetime odds of 1 in 3000 per hit...

...Then there is the remarkable coincidence of life in a universe where the odds of such a series of circumstances happening by accident appear to be astronomical...
Making an assumption is your first mistake. The odds might appear to be astronomical to us, but doesn't mean they are. Human history is full of assumptions that turned out to be wrong--the Earth is flat, the Universe is static...

ABout the anthropic principle...If the Universe was made just for us, does that mean we're safe from extinction? Can we do as we please without worrying about meteor impacts, superbugs, global nuclear war, etc.?

No personal God

Tojen said:
Making an assumption is your first mistake. The odds might appear to be astronomical to us, but doesn't mean they are. Human history is full of assumptions that turned out to be wrong--the Earth is flat, the Universe is static...

ABout the anthropic principle...If the Universe was made just for us, does that mean we're safe from extinction? Can we do as we please without worrying about meteor impacts, superbugs, global nuclear war, etc.?
If there is some type of "god" or intellignet creator it probably is like that of what Einstein thought, an impersonal God. A God that does not reward and punish which is in sharp contrast to that of the Judeo-Christian God.

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The living universe

russ_watters said:
No evidence of other universes, no evidence of a creator. A scientific person would not assume the existence of either.

Regarding the gambling issue, I think we all understand the gambler's fallacy, but citing the probabilty in terms of odds of winning twice instead of odds of winning a second time implies to me an overstating of the odds. If you say, for example, that her odds of winning the second lottery were 1 in 700,000, it sounds a whole lot less improbable. In any case, maybe we're not talking about the same woman, but from what I see, the odds were 1 in 3.6 trillion.... http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/bizarre/4175323.html

There is also a guy who was hit by lightning 7 times at a lifetime odds of 1 in 3000 per hit...

That fact that matter has come alive and started thinking makes me question as to whether all matter is alive and thinking, even matter that appears to be inorganic and inanimate.

Who is to say that a scientific minded person is superior to one who thinks philosophically? Science, taking collectivly, is still ignorant of many many issues in the universe, so a "scientific" minded person would have to admit ignorance. I have heard many circumstances where "scientific minded" people have made assimptions, one being the universe thought of as being static, which was Eistein. Then there is the case of Hawkins who made the assumption that computer viruses were a form of life. Everyone makes assumptions it is human nature.

Something is going on

Royce said:
In my opinion it is reasonable to assume intelligent design. Things do just happen but assuming such intricate and precise values are just accidental is too much of a stretch of imagination and odds to make it reasonable for me. An eternal designer, creator may be unlikely and unprovable or disprovable but much more likely and reasonable than everything from nothing without reason or cause.
Yes Royce I got to agree with you. The universe has come alive and started thinking because we have come alive and started thinking. If the universe is governed by pure chaos why didn't it stay chaotic? Where does organization come from?

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If there is some type of "god" or intellignet creator it probably is like that of what Einstein thought, an impersonal God. A God that does not reward and punish which is in sharp contrast to that of the Judeo-Christian God.
I agree with the "impersonal" part. There isn't a single indication that the Universe cares whether we exist or not. That's quite a slap in the face to a form of life that thrives on thinking of itself as special, and I suspect that's what leads us to create defensive, overblown ideas about our place in the Universe.

Tojen said:
I agree with the "impersonal" part. There isn't a single indication that the Universe cares whether we exist or not. That's quite a slap in the face to a form of life that thrives on thinking of itself as special, and I suspect that's what leads us to create defensive, overblown ideas about our place in the Universe.
Significant or not, we all, collectively and individually, are a part of this universe just as is every atom, molecule, photon or electron. If you or I should die or disappear tomorrow the Universe would be different, a different place and in a different state. In this way we are all special and unique and we all make a difference.

If the Universe does not care if we exist or not then why did it provide this world complete with everything we and all of life needs to come into existence and to continue to exist? Possibly the reason you think the Universe and/or the Creator/God is impersonal is because you have never tried to make a personal relationship with the Universe. It does take two, you know to make a relationship. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a preacher; but, it is something to think about.

Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
But considering that there are millions of people playing the lottery it was bound to happen sooner or later even though it is estimated that the odds of winning that lottery twice were at 1 in 17 trillion.
I think you mean "the odds of winning that lottery twice in two tries", which makes the odds deceptively larger -- if she plays 1000 times in her life (e.g. one ticket per week for 20 years), her odds of winning twice are a more reasonable one in 34 million.

Royce said:
Significant or not, we all, collectively and individually, are a part of this universe just as is every atom, molecule, photon or electron. If you or I should die or disappear tomorrow the Universe would be different, a different place and in a different state. In this way we are all special and unique and we all make a difference.

If the Universe does not care if we exist or not then why did it provide this world complete with everything we and all of life needs to come into existence and to continue to exist? Possibly the reason you think the Universe and/or the Creator/God is impersonal is because you have never tried to make a personal relationship with the Universe. It does take two, you know to make a relationship. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a preacher; but, it is something to think about.
Maybe there's a completely different way to look at it..

The universe came into existence, determinism ran its course and lots of objects were created by seemingly pure chance.
Suddenly life came into existence, and of course since everything is deterministic, life would automatically "fit in."
As life grew more and more complex, it started to go outside the boundaries of pure determinism, it started doing things that put it in danger.

Other life ate eachother and so forth.
But still underneath this seemingly "free" will, there was nothing buit hard concrete logic and determinism.
It is my opinion that the universe isn't made to cater for life, but rather humans are made to cater for themselves.

I also de believe that every human has a relationship with the universe, everytime you drink something, walk somewhere or do anything, you are a part of the universe doing what you are made to be doing.
The universe isn't conscious of your existence, and you are not conscious of its existence.

You are merely doing your part and nobody expects anything else.

octelcogopod said:
Maybe there's a completely different way to look at it..

The universe came into existence, determinism ran its course and lots of objects were created by seemingly pure chance.
Suddenly life came into existence, and of course since everything is deterministic, life would automatically "fit in."
First, how and why did the Universe come into existence?

Second, if the Universe is deterministic, it has yet to run its course.

Third, I think that "since everything is deterministic" is a totally unfounded and unsupportable statement.

I am not going to argue Determinism with you. I have already done that time and time again in other threads over the years. I am just going to say that I cannot and will not accept the truth of that statement.

You are, of course, free to believe whatever you want to and can live with but, so too am I. We disagree in our most basic assumptions and beliefs. Having said that, I am willing to continue the discussion within the topic of this thread.

I also de believe that every human has a relationship with the universe, every time you drink something, walk somewhere or do anything, you are a part of the universe doing what you are made to be doing.
The universe isn't conscious of your existence, and you are not conscious of its existence.

You are merely doing your part and nobody expects anything else.
We cannot know that the Universe is not conscious of our existence and you and I are most certainly conscious of the Universe's existence at least in part or we could not talk or write about it.

Mech_Engineer
Gold Member
Just throwing out an idea, I don't necessarily have the answer :-\

Matter has a natural tendency to arrange itself in the lowest stable energy state available (entropy), and this lowest energy state when it comes to carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. will tend to create conditions that are consistent with the building blocks of life... just as gravity tends to attract particles together and create circular / spherical objects and formations.

The appearance of life based on the odds in my estimation isn't improbable, it is inevitable.

Mech_Engineer said:
Just throwing out an idea, I don't necessarily have the answer :-\

Matter has a natural tendency to arrange itself in the lowest stable energy state available (entropy), and this lowest energy state when it comes to carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. will tend to create conditions that are consistent with the building blocks of life... just as gravity tends to attract particles together and create circular / spherical objects and formations.

The appearance of life based on the odds in my estimation isn't improbable, it is inevitable.
I agree completely that is virtually inevitable. My question is what are the odds that these tendencies that you mention and all of the other parameters and laws of science and nature should be so exactly the value that these laws and tendencies would lead to the formation of a universe such as the one we live in much less lead to complex intelligent life?

One other question that always was comes up is "WHY?"
Why are all of these things just the way they are and who or what made the physical and natural laws be what they are. The Anthropological Principle of course says that because if they were any other way or value we wouldn't be here to ask why.

This in my opinion just begs the question and is no answer at all. If all came from nothing without cause or reason then what are then the odds are nearly infinite that the parameters just happen to be the values that they are for all of this to come about.

Determinism is the same. If all is deterministic then who or what made that determination and made the laws, tendencies and values just the exact way they need to be for us to ask Why. And last but not least, once again, WHY? Why did they or it make it so that conscious, intelligent is inevitable if it wasn't on purpose?

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Royce said:
Significant or not, we all, collectively and individually, are a part of this universe just as is every atom, molecule, photon or electron. If you or I should die or disappear tomorrow the Universe would be different, a different place and in a different state. In this way we are all special and unique and we all make a difference.

If the Universe does not care if we exist or not then why did it provide this world complete with everything we and all of life needs to come into existence and to continue to exist? Possibly the reason you think the Universe and/or the Creator/God is impersonal is because you have never tried to make a personal relationship with the Universe. It does take two, you know to make a relationship. Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a preacher; but, it is something to think about.
No worry, I've been preached at much worse before. But never mind you or me dying tomorrow. Billions of people and trillions and trillions of other animals have already lived and died here on Earth. How has that changed the Universe? It's still going on its merry way as it would have if life had never evolved here.

If the Universe cared enough about me to give me life, why does it reserve the right to take that life away suddenly, horribly and for no reason? That's hardly a caring attitude. I can't "make a personal relationship with a Universe" (as you so anthropomorphically put it) that could whimsically commit random acts of unspeakable cruelty on me. I wouldn't respect myself in the morning.

Tojen said:
No worry, I've been preached at much worse before. But never mind you or me dying tomorrow. Billions of people and trillions and trillions of other animals have already lived and died here on Earth. How has that changed the Universe? It's still going on its merry way as it would have if life had never evolved here.
It is just another indication that the Universe is ever changing and evolving in many ways that we cannot fathom or even know.

If the Universe cared enough about me to give me life, why does it reserve the right to take that life away suddenly, horribly and for no reason? That's hardly a caring attitude. I can't "make a personal relationship with a Universe" (as you so anthropomorphically put it) that could whimsically commit random acts of unspeakable cruelty on me. I wouldn't respect myself in the morning.
Well put! I don't have an answer only opinions and beliefs. I think that individual life is not a concern but life itself over the entire universe may be. Without getting into religious beliefs this seems to be a reasonable belief.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Royce said:
Third, I think that "since everything is deterministic" is a totally unfounded and unsupportable statement. <snip /> I am just going to say that I cannot and will not accept the truth of that statement.

You are, of course, free to believe whatever you want to and can live with but, so too am I.
Nope, in a deterministic univese, his choice and your choice are predetermined!

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Tojen said:
If the Universe cared enough about me to give me life, why does it reserve the right to take that life away suddenly, horribly and for no reason?
I will I never understand how people can be so presumptuous as to believe they can comprehend - let alone question - the motives and rationale of hypothetical minds vastly more complex than ours.

Do you suppose a wild grizzly is capable of understanding the motive behind being shot with a tranq dart and waking up with a tag attached to its ear and perhaps a new set of dentures?

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DaveC426913 said:
I will I never understand how people can be so presumptuous as to believe they can comprehend - let alone question - the motives and rationale of hypothetical minds vastly more complex than ours.

Do you suppose a wild grizzly is capable of understanding the motive behind being shot with a tranq dart and waking up with a tag attached to its ear and perhaps a new set of dentures?
True enough.

Design is something we have conceived of and now comprehend in the things we observe. It is impossible to know if a grizzly or a salmon perceive or comprehend what we term as a design (be it an experimental design or designs for dinner and a fur coat).

Design implies intelligence, which is a human trait (we're told!) and design requires motive or motivation behind it (intelligence could be seen as a motive). Design requires a reason for it to be. And design requires reasoning in order to be realized. None of these requirements are met by the existence of the laws of physics. The laws exist as a result of natural selection. The laws that survive do so because their constitution allows for their continued existence. The laws that did or do not continue did not continue because they did not adhere to the principles of other more basic laws of physics. These laws are a result of a regimen of trial and error that has lasted, we are told, almost 14 billion years. Over this time the laws that have survived are what we perceive as a "design" when these are simply the orgainized, surviving remnants of what was, initially a chaotic explosion.

Accidents need the compliment of an organized design to be seen as "accidents". With this in mind I would propose that neither "accidents" nor "designs" exist beyond the thoughts and actions of human kind. Outside of our mental mechanism there a simple existence of events that have no value other than the fact that they exist, as far as I can see.

DaveC426913 said:
Nope, in a deterministic universe, his choice and your choice are predetermined!
That's the point, it is not a deterministic universe. This is supported by Quantum Mechanics, QED (Quantum Electro-Dynamics) and nuclear decay, all random and unknowable phenomena. In short if one truly random and/or unknowable, indeterminable event occurs in 14+ billion years then the universe cannot be deterministic. I, thus, do have a choice and free will as does the Universe if it is conscious and aware. We do know that at least part of it is. It is therefore possible that the Universe itself is entirely conscious and aware and it a sentient entity itself with a thousand names.

DaveC426913 said:
I will I never understand how people can be so presumptuous as to believe they can comprehend - let alone question - the motives and rationale of hypothetical minds vastly more complex than ours.

Do you suppose a wild grizzly is capable of understanding the motive behind being shot with a tranq dart and waking up with a tag attached to its ear and perhaps a new set of dentures?
I think that's what I'm saying. From our perspective, we can't come close to comprehending the Universe, so why would we assume it was made for just for us?

The bear can't come close to comprehending our motivations either, even with concrete evidence that we exist. It also wouldn't comprehend why next year a hunter would kill it just to have its head hanging on his wall and leave its cubs to slowly starve to death or be torn apart alive by another bear. From that perspective, it would reasonably conclude that this Universe was not made just so bears could exist.

Royce said:
That's the point, it is not a deterministic universe. This is supported by Quantum Mechanics, QED (Quantum Electro-Dynamics) and nuclear decay, all random and unknowable phenomena. In short if one truly random and/or unknowable, indeterminable event occurs in 14+ billion years then the universe cannot be deterministic. I, thus, do have a choice and free will as does the Universe if it is conscious and aware. We do know that at least part of it is. It is therefore possible that the Universe itself is entirely conscious and aware and it a sentient entity itself with a thousand names.
I won't get too deep into it but indeterminism does not entail "free will."
Even if it was indeterministic you wouldn't have free will either.
Free will is our conscious ability to make a choice, nothing more.
You have a choice don't you?

It can be seen as our ignorance to understanding what we are.