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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Argument from Chance

The sixth way is taken from the randomness to be found in things. Among  things that exist we observe that some come to be by chance, as for example the striking of Earth-1 by a marsbody at precisely the right angle and speed to throw off a lunar divot.  Or the end of a ball in a slot on the roulette wheel.  Although the motion of the ball is governed by deterministic laws, the final cause - viz., which numbered slot it winds up in cannot be predicted. 
However, we note that in paradigmatic random situations, such as a casino, great care and planning must be taken to ensure the requisite randomness.  Equipment must be fabricated and installed, rules enacted, systems established for accounting for the results, attracting players, and so on.  Thus while much of what happens in a casino happens by chance, the casino itself cannot happen by chance.  It is thus clear that a random universe does not arise by chance, but by careful planning. 
But careful planning requires a Planner.  Etc.

(Sexta via sumitur ex fortuiti qui in rebus inveniuntur. Invenitur enim in rebus aliquid in esse veniunt a casu, ut pro exemplo quod planeta magnitudinis Martis percuciet terram-I justum ius celeritate et angulus ut planeta magnitudinis Lunae abruptus est.  Etc.)

10 comments:

  1. Wow, what a freak. I came by to post a link to an xkcd comic about statisticians discussing chance and I find this article. What's the chance of that?

    http://xkcd.com/1132/

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  2. Reminds me of the problem with the "Chinese Room" thesis: even if the guy in the room doesn't understand Chinese, the thing which built it had to have. Could the laws of chance happen by chance?

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  3. But the casino has a clear purpose to the randomness. There does not seem any clear purpose to the randomness of the universe.

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    Replies
    1. I suppose that there are certain vital natural processes that would not work without randomness, like quantum mechanics or natural selection. The point remains that to achieve randomness requires purposeful activity. As to why one may purpose randomness, that is a different question.

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    2. Purpose requires a (at least partial) ordering relationship over a set of choices; randomness at a lower level can result from a higher-level random distribution over the choice set of {random, non-random}.

      I suspect a rigorous discussion would require dragging out some large cardinalities.

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    3. A purpose may exist whether or not it can clearly (as in easily seen and understood) be discerned. The beautiful complexity of the universe makes it very likely that the purpose behind it is hard to grasp. That's why I still have a job as a scientist! So when a person is having trouble seeing the purpose behind the randomness of the universe, they should not take their own difficulty as evidence that there is no purpose. It is far more readily a proof of our own ignorance and limitations than anything else.

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  4. What are the odds a creator would arise out of nothingness?

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    Replies
    1. Zero. Now show us the nothingness, and we can gauge the relevance of the question.

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    2. What are the odds on a married bachelor?

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  5. Just found this via a rabbit trail from Mark Shea. This is a great thought presented in a skillfully made analogy! Also, it reminded me of what Paul said.

    Acts 17:26-27 (CJB) "From one man he made every nation living on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the limits of their territories and the periods when they would flourish. (27) God did this so that people would look for him and perhaps reach out and find him although in fact, he is not far from each one of us..."

    As for the purpose of the randomness of the universe (uncertainty?). Ecclesiastes deals with the subject profoundly. From reflecting on its words, I wonder if the purpose behind randomness is an inverted version of what the casino aims at. The casino is designed to take advantage of our desire to win in order to keep us from winning. What if the randomness of life is meant to show us that we can't win, and in so doing teach us that it is actually our desire to win (gain control?) itself that is all wrong? It seems some of us are rather averse to learning that lesson!

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