Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Create Account now to join.
  • Login:

Welcome to the Online Debate Network.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.

Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Palace of Kubla Khan and bovine worshippers
    Posts
    3,011
    Post Thanks / Like

    Betting on the Beginning of Time

    Leading paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould posited: "Humans arose as a fortuitous and contingent outcome of thousands of linked events, any one of which could have occurred differently and sent history on an alternative pathway that would not have led to consciousness."

    Using that as the backdrop for this thread, can we put this idea into statistical terms?

    The sciences have used probablistic mechanisms to arrive at an age of the universe, which is not under question here, and have developed elaborate scenarios for how the universe expanded to its current state and conditions. From a scientific standpoint, can any of you outline some of the major possible scenarios that could have played out from the beginning of time* or equivalent, assigning an approximate probability value to each? If it's easier for you, use a hypothetical model starting with a new universe right now with the conditions as they might have been at the beginning of time (or equivalent).

    (*-If you reject a beginning of time, then reference the argument instead to the first change that occurred or something similar -- it should serve the same purpose)

    So in other words, according to your understanding of abiogenesis and related matters, what are the groupings of the most likely scenarios of the development of the universe (assuming no intelligent agents at the beginning of time)?

    I'm interested in seeing several different scenarios within each submission, some involving consciousness and some not, with approximate weights placed on each, in terms of percentages of expectation.

    Here's a crude sample, to show the format. Please adjust these and insert other categories as needed. These are simply suggestions to give you a starting point.

    Scenario A: 90% - No patterned development (a big bowl of of primordial soup just simmering)
    Scenario B: 6% - Very basic patterned development (order)
    Scenario C: 2% - More detailed patterned development (cell structure, planets)
    Scenario D: 0.5% - Highly intricate patterned development (organs, eyes, solar systems)
    Scenario E: 0.001% - Very highly intricate patterned development (neurological activity, circulatory sytems)
    Scenario F: 0.000001% - Complex patterned development still beyond our understanding (immune systems, DNA, consciousness, intelligent beings capable of altering natural processes)
    Scenario G: 0.00000000001% - Complexity beyond what we have experienced (comprehension of infinity, x-ray vision, hyperspace, multiverses, organisms with wheel-like structures)

    The important thing here is to categorize possible scenarios within their related groupings and assign rough probabilities to them. Use as many different scenarios as you'd like.

    Addressing the probability that we should exist, and other such probabilities, is something that science should be able to handle, considering the sophistication of modern biology.
    anything could be an illusion and we wouldn't know the difference... proof schmoof...

  2. #2
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    7,671
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Betting on the Beginning of Time

    Scenerio #1 - It was 99% probably an accident. Whatever existed before us blew up in the big bang. 1% probability goes to God creating this mess.

    Scenerio #2 - It was 99% probably God's intention to create everything exactly the way it is. 1% probability goes to an accident.

    I can't decide between the two scenerios.
    While laughing at others stupidity, you may want to contemplate your own comedic talents. (link)
    Disclaimer: This information is being provided for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only.

  3. #3
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Texas.
    Posts
    3,681
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Betting on the Beginning of Time

    Quote Originally Posted by Xanadu Moo

    Addressing the probability that we should exist, and other such probabilities, is something that science should be able to handle, considering the sophistication of modern biology.
    Uhm...not really. Science is still arguing about the chemicals in the prebiotic soup. Until we get more data and evidence to give us a clue, it's still at the "best guess" stage.

    The below text has been automerged with this post.

    Well, here goes the dreaded AUTO_MERGE...

    XM:

    Big Bang: 98%
    Subsequent formation of matter in the universe: 100%
    Subsequent formation of stars and other stellar flora as events settled: 100%
    Planets, comets, moons, and smaller bodies forming: 100%
    Odds of one body settling into a "golden zone" for life to form. 100%
    Odds of life forms beginning as simple cells and gradually becoming more complex over time: 100%
    Eventuality of life becoming self aware and sentient: 100%.
    Odds of other sentient life being "out there" somewhere: 100%

    Honestly, I think if it weren't for the dinosaurs having the nicety to die off, we'd all have scales.
    Last edited by Slipnish; May 26th, 2006 at 09:04 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    411
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Betting on the Beginning of Time

    When you mention Stephen Jay Gould were you refering to his book "Wonderful Life"? Because, even though I haven't personally read it, doesn't he argue that there are innumerable ways of life to develop? Before we talk about statistics and probability it's pretty much true that as long as life is able to live it becomes more complex one way or another (however, most evolution is towards morphological simplicity rather than complexity). Given enough organisms and time, consciousness seems to be an inevitability. Secondly with the postulate that physics determines biology suggests furthermore that life is not created by chance (not that you said it did) but rather it's an inevitable outcome.

    But to answer your question of whether or not we can quantify this into statistical terms - I'd unfortunately have to say no. We simply don't know that much about it yet to be accurate.

    Scenario A: 90% - No patterned development (a big bowl of of primordial soup just simmering)
    As far as I know, there are no organisms which don't evolve. Therefore there is always "patterned" (which I'm considering to be 'systematic') developement. The organism's evolvability (Dawkins's term) and rate of evolution can't ever be 0. All things have patterns and are subjected to inherent basic processes.

    Scenario B: 6% - Very basic patterned development (order)
    Scenario C: 2% - More detailed patterned development (cell structure, planets)
    Scenario D: 0.5% - Highly intricate patterned development (organs, eyes, solar systems)
    Scenario E: 0.001% - Very highly intricate patterned development (neurological activity, circulatory sytems)
    I would boost all of these numbers but maintain the assumption that it becomes less probable as things become more complex. But just about every animal has eyes. Theres a good book out there by Michael F. Land and Dan Eric-Nillson titled Animal Eyes and they state pretty simplistically how eye evolution progressed (theoretically speaking of course) - thus debunking things like irreducible complexity at least for things like our camera eyes.
    I rebel - therefore we exist.

  5. #5
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Sheffield, S.Yorks., UK
    Posts
    8,862
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Betting on the Beginning of Time

    Just what kicked off time and the laws to which time and events are slavishly tied is the $64,000 question. All else including evolution and even life itself is subservient to this power/event/phenomenon.

    Since what started things off must have been outside of 'time' it must be still around and not dictated to by those subsequent 'universal' laws and events.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  6. #6
    ODN Community Regular

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Palace of Kubla Khan and bovine worshippers
    Posts
    3,011
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Betting on the Beginning of Time

    Replies so far...
    Slipnish: Science is still arguing about the chemicals in the prebiotic soup. Until we get more data and evidence to give us a clue, it's still at the "best guess" stage.

    paintist: To answer your question of whether or not we can quantify this into statistical terms - I'd unfortunately have to say no. We simply don't know that much about it yet to be accurate.
    So you're both saying we have no real clue, where it can't even be quantified in basic terms? Then why is it that a great deal of scientists -- possibly most -- contend that the likelihood of another intelligent civilization in the universe such as ours is very slim? If they can derive such a hypothesis as that, then why can't the same set of rules be applied to the likelihood of one happening from the beginning of time? When the latter comes up, many suddenly become ignorant on the subject. I'm a little dubious as to why there's an inconsistency there. On the one hand, science claims to be an authoritative voice on the origins of the universe, and on the other hand, science says it's all speculation. This is a very convenient set of stances to take -- almost political in nature if one didn't know better. (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    Subsequent formation of matter in the universe: 100%
    Subsequent formation of stars and other stellar flora as events settled: 100%
    Planets, comets, moons, and smaller bodies forming: 100%
    Odds of one body settling into a "golden zone" for life to form. 100%
    Odds of life forms beginning as simple cells and gradually becoming more complex over time: 100%
    Eventuality of life becoming self aware and sentient: 100%.
    Odds of other sentient life being "out there" somewhere: 100%
    You're not very keen on hypotheticals or re-creating events, are you?

    Quote Originally Posted by paintist
    Given enough organisms and time, consciousness seems to be an inevitability. Secondly with the postulate that physics determines biology suggests furthermore that life is not created by chance (not that you said it did) but rather it's an inevitable outcome.
    Under a progressive state, time would cure this, though the estimated age of the universe is not at such an astronomical range yet. We're very young compared to the required combination of circumstances, based on many proposed models. (see bottom of post)

    Quote Originally Posted by paintist
    As far as I know, there are no organisms which don't evolve. Therefore there is always "patterned" (which I'm considering to be 'systematic') developement. The organism's evolvability (Dawkins's term) and rate of evolution can't ever be 0. All things have patterns and are subjected to inherent basic processes.
    But that seems insufficient to me, because it still doesn't describe how they started evolving in the first place, how they got from the first stage to the next. And if they were inherent, then wouldn't that eliminate the whole idea of first causes?

    Quote Originally Posted by paintist
    I would boost all of these numbers but maintain the assumption that it becomes less probable as things become more complex.
    If they were higher, then wouldn't we also expect to be detecting many other civilizations within our corner of the universe? Do you see the dilemma here?

    Quote Originally Posted by paintist
    When you mention Stephen Jay Gould were you refering to his book "Wonderful Life"?
    The quote was taken from "The Evolution of Life on Earth," Scientific American (Oct. 1994): 85-86.

    Below is a re-post from a thread from last year. It revolved around ID, but ID need not be discussed in the forefront of the current post for this idea to be examined.

    Hugh Ross:
    Anything but the slightest disturbance in the values for the four constants of physics and for more than a dozen parameters of the universe would yield a universe unsuitable to support life.


    In other words, if we had nothing to go by, the default postulation would be that it would be highly unlikely for a universe to sustain life much, much less than a 1% chance. The odds would be overwhelming that there would be no life, according to known natural laws.

    One astrophysicist likened the "coincidental" nature of these constants and parameters to the chance of balancing thousands of pencils upright on their points. Design characteristics also are becoming apparent for our planet earth. At least nineteen such life-sensitive parameters have been investigated. Considering that the universe contains only about a trillion galaxies, each averaging a hundred billion stars, we can safely conclude that not even one planet would be expected, by natural processes alone, to possess the necessary conditions to sustain life. These lists, each of which grows longer each year, would seem to provide another body of convincing evidence for the hand of the Creator-God of the Bible in the formation of the universe and of the earth.

    Now that the limits of the universe have been established, it is possible to calculate whether it is large enough and old enough to produce life by natural processes. The universe contains no more than 1080 nucleons (basically protons and neutrons) and has been in existence for no more than 1018 seconds.

    Compared to the inorganic systems comprising the universe, biological systems are enormously complex. The genome for the DNA of an E Coli bacterium has the equivalent of about two million amino acid residues. A single human cell contains the equivalent of about six billion amino acid residues. Moreover, unlike inorganic systems, the sequence in which the individual components (amino acids) are assembled is critical for the survival of biological systems. Also, only amino acids with left-handed configurations can be used in protein synthesis; the amino acids can be joined only by peptide bonds; each amino acid first must be activated by a specific enzyme; and multiple special enzymes are required to bind messenger RNA to ribosomes before protein synthesis can begin or end.

    The bottom line is that the universe is at least ten billion orders of magnitude (a factor of 1010,000,000,000 times) too small or too young to permit life to be assembled by natural processes. Researchers, who are both non-theists and theists and who are in a variety of disciplines, have arrived at this calculation.

    Invoking other universes cannot solve the problem. All such models require that the additional universes remain totally out of contact with one another; that is, their space-time manifolds cannot overlap.

    __________________________

    Hoyle, Fred and Wickramasinghe. Evolution From Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981), pp.14-97.
    Thaxton, Charles B., Bradley, Walter L., and Olsen, Roger. The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories. (New York: Philosophical Library, 1984).

    Shapiro, Robert. Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. (New York: Summit Books, 1986), pp. 117-131.

    Ross, Hugh. Genesis One: A Scientific Perspective. (Pasadena, Calif.: Reasons To Believe, 1983), pp.9-10.

    Kok, Randall A., Taylor, John A., and Bradley, Walter L. "A Statistical Examination of Self-Ordering of Amino Acids in Proteins," in Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, 18. (1988), pp.135-142.

    Hoyle, Fred. The Nature of the Universe, second edition. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1952), p.109

    http://www.origins.org/articles/ross...troproofs.html
    anything could be an illusion and we wouldn't know the difference... proof schmoof...

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Bible Difficulties
    By nanderson in forum Religion
    Replies: 85
    Last Post: June 6th, 2006, 06:44 PM
  2. Will the real "God" please stand up.
    By PerVirtuous in forum Religion
    Replies: 142
    Last Post: January 7th, 2006, 11:30 AM
  3. Evidence against Evolution
    By Iluvatar in forum Science and Technology
    Replies: 134
    Last Post: May 30th, 2005, 03:38 PM
  4. Multiple dimensions of time
    By AntiMaterialist in forum Science and Technology
    Replies: 56
    Last Post: August 6th, 2004, 02:29 PM
  5. What If...
    By James in forum Science and Technology
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: February 5th, 2004, 08:40 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •