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EvC Forum Science Forums Origin of Life

# Self-Replicating Molecules - Life's Building Blocks (Part II)

Author Topic:   Self-Replicating Molecules - Life's Building Blocks (Part II)
Member (Idle past 163 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006

 (3)
 Message 19 of 97 (612821) 04-19-2011 3:22 AM Reply to: Message 13 by Hunter04-18-2011 5:01 PM

Re: Probability
 You say that you think it’s very possible that there was debris left behind from the life cycle of previous stars and planets, but have you ever really looked into or calculated the probability of one protein molecule forming from such debris or mineral like material.

No, but if you have I'd be delighted to see your working.

I would point out, before you get into this, that protein molecules are formed all the time. "That's life", as they say. So if you've come up with a figure of 10^321, then you must be neglecting some of the ways in which proteins are actually formed.

 This doesn't even touch the probability of thousands of these protein molecules forming into DNA strands; which turns out to be 1 in 10^40,000.

Uh, no. The probability of protein molecules forming into DNA strands is 0. This is because DNA strands are not, in fact, made of protein molecules.

And this illustrates a fundamental problem in your thinking. There's no point trying to make this sort of calculation unless you're taking the facts of biology into account. And you are not.

 ... the chance that our universe could/would be laid out the way it is, is extremely improbable. It's 1 in 10^133, to be exact.

You have not shown your working.

Until you get round to it, here's something to consider. Take two decks of cards. Shuffle them together well. The chance that they end up the way they do is even more improbable.

What of it?

An undirected process is highly likely to produce results at long odds if most of the results it can produce are at long odds.

In order for your figure about the universe to be in any way significant, you'd have to show, not just that there was a very small chance of it coming up this way, but also a very large probability that it would come up some other particular way.

Let me try to clarify this with an example.

If there were ten billion balls in a jar, each with a different number on, and you drew one out at random, then the particular number you drew would be a one-in-ten-billion chance, but then so would all the other numbers you might have drawn, so I would not be impressed.

If, on the other hand, there were ten billion balls in a jar, and one was white and all the others were black, and you drew out one at random and it was the white one, then that, like in the previous case, would also be a one-in-ten-billion chance, but this time it would be impressive, because the one alternative, getting a black ball, would not be another one-in-ten-billion shot.

By drawing the white ball, you'd have hit a one-in-ten-billion chance when there was only a one-in-ten-billion chance of you doing so; as opposed to the first situation, when you were guaranteed an absolute certainty that you'd hit a one-in-ten-billion chance. You see the difference?

Now in order for any figure about the improbability of the universe to be at all impressive, you need to show that it's like the second case.

---

Now, this presents you with a big, big problem. Because in order to come up with any figures at all, including the one you've already presented, you need to know about the ensemble of possible universes from which our universe was picked.

Let me illustrate with another example. Suppose I have a number of playing cards. I shuffle them, you pick one, it's the ace of hearts. I shuffle it back in, you pick one, it's the ace of hearts. I shuffle it back in, you pick one, it's the ace of hearts. I shuffle it back in, you pick one, it's the ace of hearts.

What are the odds of that?

You have no idea. Why not? Because I haven't shown you the deck of cards from which you're drawing. If it was a standard deck, the odds against what just happened was one in seven million. If, on the other hand, it consisted entirely of aces of hearts, then it was a stone-cold certainty.

Now in order for any calculations about the probability of the universe to be based on anything, you have to know about the "deck" of universes from which our particular universe was selected.

If you ever manage to get anywhere with that question, you shouldn't be wasting your time posting on internet forums, you should be publishing in the peer-reviewed literature and buying a big can of Nobel Prize Polish.

 The theory you laid out in your second paragraph was nicely done, but it’s only a theory. No one has ever seen this complete process take place. Why would we base our beliefs on the origin of life on a theory?

It's not a theory, it's a hypothesis. Theories are hypotheses that have been proved.

(Note to Popperians: I mean proved in the colloquial sense. Go jump in a lake.)

And you shouldn't definitely believe it, no-one said you should. But it is an interesting hypothesis with a certain amount of plausibility. You are free to come up with another one.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

 This message is a reply to: Message 13 by Hunter, posted 04-18-2011 5:01 PM Hunter has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 163 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006

 Message 23 of 97 (725040) 04-23-2014 2:14 PM Reply to: Message 21 by Ed6704-23-2014 10:04 AM

Re: Probability
 -Argument from personal experience isn't very convincing.

That would actually be an argument from having replicated the experiment. If we're meant to discount those, we can kiss goodbye to much of science.

 This message is a reply to: Message 21 by Ed67, posted 04-23-2014 10:04 AM Ed67 has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 163 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006

 Message 25 of 97 (725154) 04-24-2014 2:12 PM Reply to: Message 24 by Ed6704-24-2014 1:04 PM

 "Evolution did it - POOF". That's, again, a statement of faith ...

 This message is a reply to: Message 24 by Ed67, posted 04-24-2014 1:04 PM Ed67 has not yet responded

 Replies to this message: Message 26 by Theodoric, posted 04-24-2014 3:19 PM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 163 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006

 (1)
 Message 32 of 97 (743727) 12-03-2014 9:08 PM Reply to: Message 31 by GDR12-03-2014 8:50 PM

RAZD didn't mention God, let alone doing away with him. That was your contribution.

 This message is a reply to: Message 31 by GDR, posted 12-03-2014 8:50 PM GDR has responded

 Replies to this message: Message 33 by GDR, posted 12-03-2014 9:31 PM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

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