# Probability and life by Chance Alone

## Recommended Posts

This was similar to a question I asked of swansont. Earlier I provided some new information by Douglas Axe that provided indication that Hoyle's estimates were reasonable. I believe there is more than one estimate and they are in the same range. I would like to hear how one comes to a conclusion without a basis.

Douglas Axe only covered one of Hoyle's assumptions. There were many.

Because doing nothing is often not an option. If BP did not react to the debacle they created, because they had known flaws in their plans, oil would still be flowing today.

I'll agree if we ever get a massive abiogenesis spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Admitting ignorance is a perfectly valid solution in science. That's why we continue to do research.

Then you can offer a better estimate given the corrections that have been made in Hoyle's analysis. Please do if you have not given up.

I said "insufficient information." I will consider consulting the Oracle of Delphi, however.

I stated from the beginning that Hoyle's number is an estimate. Estimates are generally regarded as being subject to revisions. In other threads you have been quite comfortable with estimates that you know are wrong. Why not this thread? If you know it is wrong, improve on it. If you can't improve on it then it is the best one we have.

Being the best we have does not prevent it from being wrong.

Likewise, the best estimate I have for 32,104,893,252 factorial is 64,133,321,314, but I'm fairly certain that is wrong. It's not big enough. However, it will take my computer a significant amount of time to compute the true value, and I'd have to spend time learning to use arbitrary precision integers. That does not mean I should use 64,133,321,314 as the answer until I can perform the correct computation. That means I should do the necessary research and wait on the correct answer.

• Replies 163
• Created

#### Popular Days

And thus we are at an impasse. I sensed we were and that is why I suggested we move on. the only thing to avoid is the half hour I think we wasted on the last several posts.

##### Share on other sites

And thus we are at an impasse. I sensed we were and that is why I suggested we move on. the only thing to avoid is the half hour I think we wasted on the last several posts.

I don't think this counts as an impasse.

##### Share on other sites

I don't think this counts as an impasse.

I dunno. Perhaps cypress is admitting he's in an "impasse: a position or situation from which there is no escape."

##### Share on other sites

I dunno. Perhaps cypress is admitting he's in an "impasse: a position or situation from which there is no escape."

Fair point.

##### Share on other sites

I dunno. Perhaps cypress is admitting he's in an "impasse: a position or situation from which there is no escape."

I see that my post stated "we are at an impasse"

##### Share on other sites

Probability and life by Chance Alone What estimates are valid?

I think the real answer to the OP is None

##### Share on other sites

It seems perfectly valid to develop a hypothesis (life on earth is a product of chance processes) then a prediction (if by chance alone, biological processes require that a minimal set of functional systems would first have to arise randomly, then these systems would generate the system plans for future life) then one could use reaction kinetics, chemical affinities and knowledge of what it means to be functional to derive a mathematical model that shows how this prediction is false and therefore how the hypothesis is false. Seems straightforward. As far as I know, nobody has provided a better demonstration and yet there must be one otherwise we have no basis for coming to a conclusion on this point. How did you arrive at your conclusion?

Throughout the history of science we have had hypotheses that were wrong and were concluded to be wrong, without benefit of the correct theory having yet been developed. Phlogoston and caloric were developed and discarded, for example. We didn't need Newton to discard epicycles, that happened earlier with Kepler. Is there any theory that sprang forth with no failed attempts that preceded it? So it would seem that it's just fine to simply show an hypothesis to be wrong. Furthermore, it has been mentioned several times that the process is not described by random chance. There's nothing to be gained by coming up with a "better" calculation of random chance, when it's simply the wrong paradigm. This is reminiscent of the people that e.g. think gravity is a magnetic phenomenon. What's the point in coming up with a "better" magnetic gravity hypothesis, when the entire approach is demonstrably wrong?

##### Share on other sites

You are right swansont. The purpose of this thread was to agree that life on earth by chance alone is an unreasonable position. The rest is simply banter. It does not matter how or why Hoyle might be wrong or what the odds are. It makes no difference what lies beyond the observable universe. The conclusion was the focus. Thanks for the redirect. I'm done here.

##### Share on other sites

How about life in any of the universe by chance alone?

Might as well discuss it, if the other topics are concluded. It was sort of Mr Skeptic's point.

##### Share on other sites

How about life in any of the universe by chance alone?

Might as well discuss it, if the other topics are concluded. It was sort of Mr Skeptic's point.

Agreed.

In fact, how about life for any reason in any place should be discussed since noone can logically decide this issue.

##### Share on other sites

You are right swansont. The purpose of this thread was to agree that life on earth by chance alone is an unreasonable position. The rest is simply banter. It does not matter how or why Hoyle might be wrong or what the odds are. It makes no difference what lies beyond the observable universe. The conclusion was the focus. Thanks for the redirect. I'm done here.

I hope that last sentence is true. I'm not holding my breath, though.

This thread started with an implied religious contention (life is impossible, therefore god created life) and a blatantly false misrepresentation of abiogenesis (Hoyle's fallacy). I'm only going to say one thing on the first issue: Assuming for the sake of argument that life is impossible, how do you know that it was your god that created the original life? How do you know it wasn't Agdistis, Ah Puch, Ahura Mazda, ..., or Zeus? (See this thread)

Hoyle's answer is both right and wrong. How is it right? Simple: He correctly calculated that a nearly impossible event had a nearly impossible chance of occurring. There is only one minor problem with his calculation: It has nothing to do with how life did form. Life did not form by having a bunch of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms magically come together to form the first DNA molecule. The odds of that happening is indeed a near impossibility. This is where he is wrong. Using this gross misrepresentation of how life formed as proof that life did not form is a straw man fallacy.

The conditions on the early Earth favored rather than disfavored the formation of life. The current train of thought is that life formed via some pre-biotic chemical evolutionary process. The early Earth had a reducing atmosphere that was conducive to the generation of complex hydrocarbons, including amino acids. How those eventually formed life is an open question. There are two leading trains of thought, gene-first versus metabolism-first. Life did not spontaneously erupt in either scenario. It built up over time precisely because the laws of physics favor the formation of ever more complex molecules given the right circumstances.

##### Share on other sites

Here is what Koonin says:

I argue that the “many worlds in one” version of the cosmological model of eternal inflation implies that emergence of replication and translation by chance, as opposed to biological evolution, is a realistic possibility. Under this model, any life history that does not violate physical laws is realized an infinite number of time in the infinite universe although the frequencies of different histories are vastly different. Thus, the complex system of coupled translation and replication that is required for the onset of biological evolution would emerge an infinite number of times by pure chance although the probability of its appearance in any given region of the universe is vanishingly small.

That is essentially what I've been telling you, combined with the fact that no one has ever proven the probability of the universe to be infinite is less than 10^-41,000. Do you then concede that the claim that the probability of life forming by chance is therefore nothing but mere speculation about, among other things, the size of the universe?

Skeptic, you, swansont, moontonman and I are in agreement that life by chance alone on earth is and always was an unreasonable position. Should we not move on?

If by "move on" you mean "change the context of what I mean by chance so as to equate the assumptions and conclusions made by Hoyle to those of every single abiogenesis theory", then perhaps we can move on to discussing the similarities and differences of the two. Right after you concede that the number of 10^-41,000 is nothing more than an argument from ignorance since you have no basis to calculate it due to not knowing the size of the universe.

The purpose of this thread was to agree that life on earth by chance alone is an unreasonable position.

No changing the goalposts. You didn't specify "on earth" until after you already lost.

And defending your argument from ignorance by calling my pointing out that you made an argument from ignorance an argument from ignorance isn't going to fly. Go look up "argument from ignorance" and you'll see that I am right and you are wrong. The argument from ignorance is assuming the universe is the size you want it to be because no one knows, and not the pointing out that we don't know its size and you are making an ignorant assumption by assuming it is finite.

Now I'm not the sort that likes to simply claim victory in an argument, but avoiding the main point of someone's claim (your estimate is wrong because it doesn't account for the probability that the universe is infinite) for over 160 posts, seems like an acknowledgment of defeat if I've ever seen one.

##### Share on other sites

There is no need to invoke speculative concepts such as multiverses or an infinite universe, Mr. Skeptic. Hoyle's fallacy is a fallacy in this finite little corner of our singular universe.

## Create an account

Register a new account