Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Debunking Corner - Improbable improbability arguments

Creationists often attempt to bamboozle people with arguments including huge numbers and saying things like, "that's just too improbable to happen even once in the lifetime of the universe".

The simple truth, however, is that they can't do the maths.

Here is the same creationist logic applied to a deck of playing cards;
Deal out a deck of cards then the chances of getting just that order of cards are very, very small, therefore it is a miracle.
One of the things that is wrong with their argument is the hidden assumption that the deck you deal is special in some way, the arrangement of cards is somehow special or unique.

They make this same case with the arrangement of amino acids that form proteins in living cells;
This one particular sequence of amino acids is just a one in a massively-huge-number chance, therefore it is a miracle.
Meanwhile, in the real world, science is finding out new stuff.

This story shows that there are other sequences of amino acids that can function in living cells.  How many more are there?

Science doesn't know.

Neither do the creationists.

The difference is that science isn't making claims based on something that isn't known.

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