Sunday, July 25, 2010

And down the stretch they come...

Maybe a couple times a year me and the wife will go to the Horse Track. It's a great time, it's exciting, and it's a great place to people watch. But I've never had much luck at actually winning any money there. But if I was an Atheist I'd be living at the track or out buying lottery tickets. And with their luck I'd only have to buy one to win.

They live in a Universe where somehow something came from nothing. Where non living things can produce living things.

They live in a world where the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and the Galaxies are all the precise size in conjunction with one another to maintain life. Also the distances between them all are also perfect for life to continue for all living organisms, plants, animals and people.

There lucky enough to be traveling around the Sun at 67,000 mph while we are spinning at over 1,000 mph and wobbling at a perfect 23.5 degrees. Cause if any of these were off just a few percentages we'd be flying off into space somewhere. Either burning up or freezing to death.

Those fortunate rascals also ended up on a planet with the precise amount of water, the right type of atmosphere mixture of Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon and Carbon Dioxide.

If that ain't enough them suckers have an O-Zone layer protecting them from ultra-violet rays. And an ideal magnetic field also protecting them from deadly rays bearing down from the Sun.

Peace and 75 SPF, feeno


  1. Now we just have to figure out what God created the hostile wasteland that makes up the other 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999% (conservative estimate) of the universe for.

  2. Of all the stars with all the planets revolving around them, it's fairly trivial actually that one would support complex life. Think about it: Astronomers estimate that there are approximately 10^21 stars in the universe (about 1 sextillion, or 1 million trillion). If we guess that on average a star will have one planet (since some will have none, and others like our own will have many), the chances are pretty good that one or more planets will support life.

    Think about it this way: If the chances of life are one in a billion, that still results in about a billion planets with life on it. We just happen to be on one of them.

  3. cpj

    Welcome to our blog. Thanks for commenting. I think the same God did that. And maybe...(?) just maybe for you and me.


    So your admitting your pretty damn lucky?

    Peace to the 10^21, feeno

  4. Nicely done. And with just a $2 bet on some of the long shots they bet on, I can only imagine what their winnings would be. (Of course, I could be dating myself or revealing how long it has been since I've been to the races, but it was when the minimum bet was $2.)

  5. Crusty Terp

    Still just 2 bucks. And your outside and the horses are pretty and when the Jockeys come out before the race I'll call out my guys name and tell 'em "Bueno Suete". You and the Mrs. can spend a day at the track with lunch and a cold one, bet 2 dollars on each live race and spend less than $40.00. Every other race is simulcast. I've don't bet on a simulcast. Just not fun.

    Thanks for the props, feeno

  6. We appear less and less lucky all the time, Feeno, as more and more planets are discovered outside our solar system and improved search techniques allow us to see planets which are closer to the size of our own.

    The Earth is lucky to be one in a billion or whatever, perhaps, but we're not lucky in the same way. We or beings like us would be pondering the same luck from whichever planet we had come from if just that one planet in the whole universe had been conducive to the emergence of intelligent life. This is the anthropic principle.

    The apparently low probability of that emergence is countered by the inconceivably high number of opportunities it's had on Earth, let alone universe-wide. If you played the lottery a billion times, you'd be surprised if you didn't win at least once, and you wouldn't consider yourself lucky if you did win. Alternatively, imagine betting on five hundred different horses in a day, when only thirty races are running.

    I don't see what is so inherently ridiculous about living things coming from non-living. All of the living creatures on this planet are made from the most common materials available in the non-living stuff: water, carbon, iron and so on. Some of the materials spontaneously work together on contact using a huge number of different chemical reactions. Wind, waves and plate tectonics were combining and recombining them all for about a billion years before the first life emerged. Why wouldn't something have eventually come together?

    Atheists aren't in agreement about the origin of the universe, so it's too general of you to tell us what we think as a group. There are actual hypotheses about the universe coming from nothing (because, for example, "nothing is unstable") but many atheists think that there has always been something, and it's never had to come from nothing. I think this is quite likely, since as far as we know matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed.

  7. I'll let you guys have the last word on this one. But think about this. If we are the lucky one in a billion, and the likeliness of God creating us is.. oh, let's say is uh one in a half billion, then that still means that it was twice as likely that God created us. I think my math is right?

    late, feeno

  8. I vererate that which created God, which I think makes my religion better.

  9. Feeno, if the probability of abiogenesis happening anywhere in the universe at all is about one in a billion, and if your arbitrary probability of special creation is in the ballpark, then you're right.

    Thing is, if the probability per planet is around one in a billion, or even if it's a lot less, the huge total number of planets makes the universe-wide probability of abiogenesis far higher than one in two, in other words much more likely to occur than not. It's hard to make a god look more likely than that. And wherever it happens, there we are, wondering how we came to be.

  10. Just for the hell of it, I did the rest of the math.

    If life arises naturally on one planet in a billion, the number of planets required to be in the universe for the total probability of abiogenesis to be 0.5 is 693,147,181. That's less than one planet for every hundred galaxies. Since the hundreds of planets discovered so far are all in this galaxy, things are looking up.

    To look at it another way, if we assume an average of just one planet for every five stars, the probability of abiogenesis per planet required for the total probability to reach 0.5 is anything above about one in thirty sextillion planets, or 3 and 22 zeroes, or three times more than the total number of stars. So it'd have to be really unlikely in any given place to be unlikely overall.

    Incidentally I'm aware of creationist calculations where the probability per planet involves hundreds of zeroes, but I'm also aware of the flaws in those calculations.

  11. SmartLX: "Thing is, if the probability per planet is around one in a billion, or even if it's a lot less, the huge total number of planets makes the universe-wide probability of abiogenesis far higher than one in two, in other words much more likely to occur than not. It's hard to make a god look more likely than that."

    Well yeah, unless we add together the Greek, Norse, and Hindu pantheons, and calculate the probability of at least one god creating life.

    But uhh....Christians are still screwed :P

  12. Well, we're talking past each other in a sense. Abiogenesis seems so likely to happen at least somewhere that even if there is a god of some sort it might not have had to create life specially. So even if we knew there were a god we wouldn't know that we were created.

    I assign a low probability to any theistic god, let alone a specific one, because all such entities proposed so far share two qualities (among others): they have tremendous influence on the universe, and they want us to believe in them. The apparent absence of unambiguous evidence for their existence is therefore most simply explained by the absence of any such agent.

  13. It would appear that you are ripe for this.

  14. Brilliant, Gentle, I was looking for a simple expression of Krauss' concept of something-from-nothing and it's come from Krauss himself.

    Of course, in this concept "nothing" has mass and energy and it bubbles like foam, so in practical terms it's an eternal something.

  15. Here's a proper response to JD's 'Doubting the Gospel of Thomas' post.

    Hopefully everyone here will find time to read it, as I correct some common misconceptions regarding the dating of the text and its legitimacy as an Early Christian writing.

  16. SmartLX:

    It's become one of my favorite things, that lecture. Elegant, parsimonious, demonstrable. I love that it turns the idea of nothingness on it's head. I'm currently wrestling with Frank Wilczek's book about QuantumChromoDynamics, "Lightness of Being" which covers some of the same ground. It's important to understand that the 'nothing' actually DOESN'T have mass: QCD is a theory about the literal origin of mass. It's mind-bending for creatures who can only perceive a relatively narrow chunk of the light/energy spectrum in relatively large increments of time … but again, the math and experiment are sound.

  17. feen - "Also the distances between them all are also perfect for life to continue for all living organisms, plants, animals and people."

    "Perfect"? Tell that to the Approximately 1.1 million people who were killed, mostly in Egypt and Syria, in 1201. The deadliest earthquake in history.

    "Perfect"? Tell that to the Approximately 25 million who lost their lives through the bubonic plague in 1347-1350. Between 25% and 33% of the entire population of Europe at that time.

    "Perfect"? Tell that to the Approximately ten million people lost their lives from a famine in Bengal, India in 1769.

    "Perfect"? Tell that to the Approximately 90,000 (10,000 in the tsunami and 80,000 from the famine that followed) during the Mt Tambora (volcano on Sumbawa Island in 1815

    "Perfect"? Tell that to the 200,000 that drowned in the Indian Tsunami of 2004. It was cause by a "perfect" earthquake under the ocean.

    "Perfect"? Tell that to the 230,000 that died in this years "perfect" earthquake in Hattie.

    I guess I could go on, but I think our little blue marble is not as "perfect" as you think it is.