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Odds against the Universe

  1. Apr 27, 2006 #1
    I've heard that the nature of an atom is extremely precise, just .0000001 difference and stability becomes impossible.

    I'm sure there are other chance happenings in the universe that defy the odds.

    When all of these accidents are looked at statistically doesn't it seem impossible for life to exist by chance alone?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2006 #2

    DrChinese

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    This is really a philosophical question and not one of physics. This has already been discussed and debated many times.
     
  4. Apr 28, 2006 #3
    Only if you look at all of the accidents as a "set", and then attempt (falsely) to apply the mathematics of sets to the odds (probability) of each individual step-by-step event. What you must understand is that the cumulative process of individual "chance" events that resulted in the formation of life on earth was not holistically a chance event, but directed by "nonrandom" reproduction of genotypes (this is why Charles Darwin made a name for himself--he gave a name to this process--he called it "natural selection"). May I suggest a book for you to read that deals with this subject of chance events as relates to formation of life on earth--The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins, 1987.
     
  5. May 1, 2006 #4

    HallsofIvy

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    Didn't we just have this argument? You cannot assert probabilities "a-posteriori". I cannot, for example, pick a number out of 10000, get the number "36347" and claim "Aha! If my choice were random, the probability of getting that particular number would be only 1/10000 so obviously my pick was not random. It was clearly guided by some 'intelligent design'!"

    If certain things had not happened the way they did, we would not be here to ask the question. You are welcome to use the fact that we are here to ask to question to assert that things did happen that way but you cannot talk about a probability for what did happen.


    (This reminds me of the standard "fortune teller" strategy for success- predict that a large number of things are going to happen. Those that don't happen you don't mention- those that do, you say "See, what did I tell you!")
     
  6. May 3, 2006 #5
    It seems to me that the chance of picking the number thirtysix thousand threehundred-fortyseven out of ten thousand is ZERO.
     
  7. May 4, 2006 #6
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