Can Math Prove The Existence of God?

If someone has a history with YouTube, they probably know about the channel ASAPScience. With over 6,000,000 subscribers and many short, well-put together scientific videos explaining simple topics, it’s almost inevitable you’ve come across one of their videos before. Three days ago, they posted a rather very nice video titled Can Math Prove The Existence Of God? that simply must be watched by any theist.

Well-put together, and explains the easy inferiority of atheism, the view that there is no God, to theism, the view that there is a God. Indeed, the argument is very simple and easy to follow:

  1. If God does not exist, humans developing is very unlikely
  2. Humans did develop
  3. Therefore God not existing is very unlikely

Indeed, the premises are correct and thus the conclusion inevitably follows. The only problem with the video, of course, is when the go on about the “illusion/virtual reality” as somehow having a higher probability then the existence of God, however of course, the creation of a virtual reality by humans presupposes humans to begin with, and so we’re right back at the beginning point — No god V.S. God. And of course, God wins. It should be noted, based on specific religions (like Christianity), the probability of humans developing is 1/1. So math seems to show the existence of God.

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22 thoughts on “Can Math Prove The Existence of God?

  1. There’s a good reason why that video is the most disliked video AsapSCIENCE has ever made (at least that I’ve seen) – it’s complete nonsense from a statistical POV. I’ll just copy and paste the comment I put under the video when I first watched it 3 weeks ago here, but there are plenty of other good comments on the video that explain how it’s flawed:

    /
    This is precisely the problem with likelihood calculations as opposed to Bayesian inference. Only the latter is concerned with the probability of each of the hypotheses (in this case, the existence of no gods, a god, gods, or humans who run the simulation) being the case.

    Likelihood is the probability of getting the DATA (humans existing) given a specific hypothesis, while Bayesian inference tells us the probability of the HYPOTHESIS given the data, which is much more relevant to the title of this video.

    The example I was taught to illustrate this point about likelihood was simple:
    You hear a lot of banging and noise from upstairs. If the local invisible gnomes were holding their annual bowling tournament up there, they would certainly make a lot of noise, therefore the likelihood of getting your data (the noise) under this hypothesis (the bowling gnomes) is 100%. Does this mean that this explanation is most likely? Of course not!

    You have to consider the prior probability of the competing hypotheses. If this example, the probability that invisible gnomes exist and hold annual bowling tournaments in infinitesimal, so the (posterior) probability of this hypothesis being true is also infinitesimal, since the posterior probability is a function of the likelihood and the prior probability.

    Back the subject of the video: in order to assess the probability of a god or gods creating humans (a hypothesis), you would have to use a Bayesian method over the likelihood one, which means estimating the prior probability of the hypothesis. This inevitably involves estimating how likely the existence of god(s) is. In this case, that’s the question we’re trying to answer, albeit in a roundabout way.

    In short, we can’t assess the probability of a god or gods existing by trying to work out how likely particular events are if they do or don’t exist.
    /

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    • “There’s a good reason why that video is the most disliked video AsapSCIENCE has ever made”

      Correct, and that is because it triggered the leaving bolts out of the atheist mass watching the video, and dictating their conclusions on their presuppositions.

      Your ‘response’ to the video you go on to give is rather unconvincing — you claim that Bayesian methods should be the way to determine the probability of God’s existence, rather than the method used by ASAPScience. Indeed, I have never heard of an academic who has tried to determine the existence of God based on Bayesian methods, and there is no particular reason to favor this method.

      In order to show the reasoning of ASAPScience is incorrect, one would have to show that the probability of the hypothesis (God’s existence) is so low, as to counter-act the highly low probability of humans existing without God. Bayesian methods or whatnot, none will do any such thing, and thus there is no reason to think that the probability of atheism being true anywhere approaches theism. Indeed, as ASAPScience shows, all information we do have and that we can use to determine the probability of God’s existing puts it at an amazingly high level.

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      • //Correct, and that is because it triggered the leaving bolts out of the atheist mass watching the video, and dictating their conclusions on their presuppositions.//
        Maybe some atheists disliked the video “instinctively”, but for those of us paying attention, the video was actually drawing the opposite conclusion. The video tried to make the argument that using maximum likelihood, us living in a human-consructed simulation is actually more probably than the existence of a god or gods. The video wasn’t arguing for the existence of god, it was arguing that maximum likelihood can favour the god hypothesis, but it favours the “human simulation” hypothesis more. The problem is that their reasoning was wrong on a number of levels, as I explained. You can’t simply pick an explanation that gives the highest likelihood and say “this one is probably true”.
        How unbelieveably unlikely was it that your parents met? They might have lived in the same city, say with a couple of million inhabitants – what are those odds like? What are the odds of their parents meeting? How about their grandparents? And so on. The fact that a specific person (your father) met another specific person (your mother) is mind-bogglingly unlikely if you really think about it. In other words, the explanation that they met essentially by chance has an extremely low likelihood. But wait, I’ve just had a thought – what if there was a little invisible cupid that has been guiding events for thousands of years to ensure that your parents met? This little cupid is very powerful, so if it existed, your parents would definitely have met – in other words this explanation has a very high likelihood.
        I don’t think anyone would conclude from this that the little invisible cupid probably exists would they?
        You can even plug this example into your deductive format:
        1. If the little invisible cupid doesn’t exist, your parents meeting would be a very unlikely event.
        2. Your parents met.
        3. Therefore the little invisible cupid not existing is very unlikely.

        //Your ‘response’ to the video you go on to give is rather unconvincing — you claim that Bayesian methods should be the way to determine the probability of God’s existence, rather than the method used by ASAPScience.//
        I actually didn’t claim that. I pointed out that maximum likelhood methods don’t give you a direct estimate of the probability of the *hypothesis*, which is what the video is purported to be about. We’re trying to work out the probability of god existing, not the probability that we would exist if a god did. In order to evaluate the probability of a hypothesis, Bayesian methods are more appropriate, as that’s precisely what they’re designed to do – take a piece of data and see how it affects the probability that a particular hypothesis is correct. As I pointed out though, this is much more complicated, and it relies heavily on the prior probability, so one data point about the likelihood of us existing if a god does doesn’t tell us much. The prior probability is the probability of a god existing without considering that data point, but that’s the question we’re trying to answer in the first place! Therefore you would have to gather a heck of lot more data points than simply “humans exist” in order to reach a conclusion.

        //Indeed, I have never heard of an academic who has tried to determine the existence of God based on Bayesian methods, and there is no particular reason to favor this method.//
        Really? Have you never heard of Richard Swinburne, for example? He’s a prominant academic who’s written a lot of books on the subject of determining the existence of god, and he makes a lot of use of Bayes theorem.

        //In order to show the reasoning of ASAPScience is incorrect, one would have to show that the probability of the hypothesis (God’s existence) is so low, as to counter-act the highly low probability of humans existing without God.//
        No, in order to point that the reasoning in the video is incorrect, I just need to point out that their reasoning is incorrect, which I have done by highlighting the problems with a maximum likelihood approach. In order to show that the existence of god is unlikely, I would have to show that the prior probability of the existence of god is low – which is a tautology. This is what has been debated for centuries, arguments are used on both sides to raise or lower the prior probability – each new argument is another sequential step in the Bayesian process.

        //Indeed, as ASAPScience shows, all information we do have and that we can use to determine the probability of God’s existing puts it at an amazingly high level.//
        What? A single piece of information was presented in the video – humans exist. That’s not “all the information we do have”. Do you think substantiating the existence of a god is as easy as that?

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      • “Maybe some atheists disliked the video “instinctively””

        No joke?

        “The video tried to make the argument that using maximum likelihood, us living in a human-consructed simulation is actually more probably than the existence of a god or gods.”

        In truth, the video became irrelevant after it established that God’s existence is more likely than otherwise. As for the simulations, the video completely forgot that these simulations are completely dependent on the existence of humanity in the first place, and thus cannot be ‘more probable’ than God.

        “How unbelieveably unlikely was it that your parents met? They might have lived in the same city, say with a couple of million inhabitants – what are those odds like? What are the odds of their parents meeting? How about their grandparents? And so on.”

        This is a generic response I hear to the fine-tuning argument, and as always, it’s awful. No matter what two parents I ever had, by this logic, it would have been very unlikely. In other words, there’s a 100% chance that my parent-combination, no matter what it is, will be unlikely. If there’s a 100% chance the combination will be unlikely, then this is completely non-analogous to fine-tuning, or what the video talks about, because the probability of humans existing is far, far from 100%.

        “But wait, I’ve just had a thought – what if there was a little invisible cupid that has been guiding events for thousands of years to ensure that your parents met? This little cupid is very powerful, so if it existed, your parents would definitely have met – in other words this explanation has a very high likelihood.
        I don’t think anyone would conclude from this that the little invisible cupid probably exists would they?”

        The only problem with this cupid is that it makes more assumptions than it solves problems, and thus is unlikely, not likely. Secondly, your cupid analogy doesn’t take into account that there are other explanations for my parents meeting, and ones that are more likely than a cupid. Thus this is an obviously invalid analogy to the video.

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      • //No joke?//
        No joke – do you expect me to pretend that all atheists are shining beacons of intellect and sound reasoning?

        //In truth, the video became irrelevant after it established that God’s existence is more likely than otherwise.//
        As I’ve already told you, it established no such thing, but the way that you get of the maximum likelihood bandwagon as soon as it leads to a conclusion you don’t like is noted.

        //As for the simulations, the video completely forgot that these simulations are completely dependent on the existence of humanity in the first place, and thus cannot be ‘more probable’ than God.//
        The question was about the existence of *us*, not the existence of those humans who might be running the simulation that *we* inhabit. Obviously you can appeal to the infinite regression that must be necessary and claim that there must have been an all-powerful/ever-present being that started it all, but that wasn’t the subject of the video.

        //This is a generic response I hear to the fine-tuning argument, and as always, it’s awful. No matter what two parents I ever had, by this logic, it would have been very unlikely. In other words, there’s a 100% chance that my parent-combination, no matter what it is, will be unlikely.//
        That’s the whole point of the argument, to point out that calculating such probabilities of past events are pointless. They’re all extremely unlikely, which is precisely why invoking something like a cupid gives a much higher likelihood. My point is to show you that you can’t use such simplistic maximum likelihood calculations to make valid conclusions about the existence of something like a cupid.

        //If there’s a 100% chance the combination will be unlikely, then this is completely non-analogous to fine-tuning, or what the video talks about, because the probability of humans existing is far, far from 100%.//
        What? There’s a 100% probability of it being unlikely because of the nature of the events in question, i.e. 2 specific people meeting. In exactly the same way, humans existing seems to be very unlikely because of the nature of abiogenesis and evolution – as far as we know there is no teleological force driving towards the appearance of humans. If we hadn’t evolved, something else might have, and then they might be the ones pondering their existence.
        If your parents didn’t meet each other, they would have met other people, had other children, and then those children would have been the ones questioning the odds that their specific parents met.

        //The only problem with this cupid is that it makes more assumptions than it solves problems, and thus is unlikely, not likely. //
        Many people would say that the existence of a god makes more assumptions than it solves problems too. It assumes that supernatural beings can exist and manipulate reality in some immaterial way, that a consciousness can exist without a physical substrate, etc etc etc.

        //Secondly, your cupid analogy doesn’t take into account that there are other explanations for my parents meeting, and ones that are more likely than a cupid. Thus this is an obviously invalid analogy to the video.//
        This is precisely my point! In order to determine the probability that something like the cupid (or god) exists, you can’t simply look at the likelihood! The cupid is the explanation with the highest likelihood in my example, but we rule it out precisely because we (knowingly or not) use Bayesian thinking to evaluate that probability – if the prior probability of the cupid existing is low due to the fact that we don’t have evidence of such supernatural invisible beings etc, then we don’t give it a second thought, regardless of how high the likelihood is! If you want to make an argument for the existence of god, use a Bayesian framework like Richard Swinburne, don’t rely on silly maximum likelihood arguments like the one in the video.

        Like

      • “No joke – do you expect me to pretend that all atheists are shining beacons of intellect and sound reasoning?”

        I commend you.

        “As I’ve already told you, it established no such thing, but the way that you get of the maximum likelihood bandwagon as soon as it leads to a conclusion you don’t like is noted.”

        I have already responded to the ‘virtual reality’ troll stuff. This seems to have gotten away from your noting pad.

        “The question was about the existence of *us*, not the existence of those humans who might be running the simulation that *we* inhabit. Obviously you can appeal to the infinite regression that must be necessary and claim that there must have been an all-powerful/ever-present being that started it all, but that wasn’t the subject of the video.”

        That’s not even the argument I was making (although it is sound). I was pointing out how the existence of virtual reality is dependent on the existence of humans. Therefore, it cannot be calculated independently of the existence of humans. This is the methodology that must be followed to determine the probability of a simulation:

        1. Find the probability of humans existing (for example, 1 in 100)
        2. Find the probability of the universe being a simulation, presuming humanity exists (for example, 1 in 4)
        3. Multiply: 1/100 x 1/4 = 1/400
        4. Therefore, the probability of the universe being a simulation based on (1), (2) and (3) is 1/400

        ^This is because the existence of a simulation is dependent on humans, and therefore any probability of simulations developing must be after humans already developed themselves (which means simulations are necessarily less probable every time). I’m sure you’d agree with this.

        “What? There’s a 100% probability of it being unlikely because of the nature of the events in question, i.e. 2 specific people meeting. In exactly the same way, humans existing seems to be very unlikely because of the nature of abiogenesis and evolution – as far as we know there is no teleological force driving towards the appearance of humans. If we hadn’t evolved, something else might have, and then they might be the ones pondering their existence.
        If your parents didn’t meet each other, they would have met other people, had other children, and then those children would have been the ones questioning the odds that their specific parents met. ”

        I have already enumerated the enormous problem underlying your ‘parents’ comparison. The fact is, *no matter what* combination of parents met, it would be statistically ‘very unlikely’. Therefore, there is a 100% probability that the specific lineage of parents will be ‘very unlikely’. Because the probability of our specific parents meeting being unlikely is 100%, because all possible combinations will lead to improbable parents, this fails to compare to teleology. This is because in teleology, it’s shown that the chance of humans (or life in general) existing is INCREDIBLY low if you take into account all the odds. Based on 1 constant alone, about 1 in 10^120.

        “Many people would say that the existence of a god makes more assumptions than it solves problems too. It assumes that supernatural beings can exist and manipulate reality in some immaterial way, that a consciousness can exist without a physical substrate, etc etc etc.”

        No, this only makes 1 assumption: Omnipotence. After that, everything else of God is solved by His omnipotence. And in fact, many philosophers argue that this omnipotent, maximally great being *necessarily* exists (ontological argument), meaning that the more we look into it, the less valuable atheism seems to be for understanding and predicting God. God makes one assumption, which many philosophers consider necessary anyways (making that perhaps 0 assumptions), and solves *literally* everything else. Seriously. God solves everything. Cupid of course, causes far more problems then it solves, making it inherently improbable.

        And again, even taking into account Bayesian probability, if it is the case that God necessarily exists, then Bayesian thinking on its own forces that the end conclusion is that God exists 100%. So you seem to be signing your death warrant, no matter which approach you take.

        Like

      • “No joke – do you expect me to pretend that all atheists are shining beacons of intellect and sound reasoning?”
        //I commend you.//
        Why? It’s not a controversial point to take a stand on. No sane person would argue that “all atheists are geniuses”, just as no one would say “all Christians are geniuses” or “all Conservatives are geniuses”. Only the Sith deal in absolutes.

        “As I’ve already told you, it established no such thing, but the way that you get of the maximum likelihood bandwagon as soon as it leads to a conclusion you don’t like is noted.”
        I have already responded to the ‘virtual reality’ troll stuff. This seems to have gotten away from your noting pad.//
        Troll stuff? Sure, you tried to address it, but as I explained in the subsequent paragraph, your criticism was flawed.

        “The question was about the existence of *us*, not the existence of those humans who might be running the simulation that *we* inhabit. Obviously you can appeal to the infinite regression that must be necessary and claim that there must have been an all-powerful/ever-present being that started it all, but that wasn’t the subject of the video.”
        //That’s not even the argument I was making (although it is sound). I was pointing out how the existence of virtual reality is dependent on the existence of humans.//
        Again, the video showed that using maximum likelihood, it’s more probable that we’re in a simulation run by other humans that in a universe created by a god or gods. Whether or not those humans on the “level” above us are also in a simulation or not is irrelevant. This is my point though, it’s why ML is useless in arguments like this. Here it leads to an infinite regress rather than firmly establishing a theistic universe.

        //Therefore, it cannot be calculated independently of the existence of humans. This is the methodology that must be followed to determine the probability of a simulation:
        1. Find the probability of humans existing (for example, 1 in 100)
        2. Find the probability of the universe being a simulation, presuming humanity exists (for example, 1 in 4)
        3. Multiply: 1/100 x 1/4 = 1/400
        4. Therefore, the probability of the universe being a simulation based on (1), (2) and (3) is 1/400
        ^This is because the existence of a simulation is dependent on humans, and therefore any probability of simulations developing must be after humans already developed themselves (which means simulations are necessarily less probable every time). I’m sure you’d agree with this.//
        You’ve completely departed from the ML framework how.
        1. needs to include a qualifier – the probability of humans existing *in what scenario*?
        2. is backwards – the example is trying to show that the probability of humans existing is high if we’re in a simulation, not the other way around.

        //I have already enumerated the enormous problem underlying your ‘parents’ comparison. The fact is, *no matter what* combination of parents met, it would be statistically ‘very unlikely’. Therefore, there is a 100% probability that the specific lineage of parents will be ‘very unlikely’.//
        THIS IS MY POINT!!!

        //Because the probability of our specific parents meeting being unlikely is 100%, because all possible combinations will lead to improbable parents, this fails to compare to teleology. This is because in teleology, it’s shown that the chance of humans (or life in general) existing is INCREDIBLY low if you take into account all the odds. Based on 1 constant alone, about 1 in 10^120.//
        How are you getting that this is precisely my point? Seriously, how? We agree that the chance of humans existing without some kind of teleological driving force is extremely low, simply because of the number of events that have to happen in a particular way during abiogenesis and evolution to get to us. This is why invoking teleology will increase the *likelihood* of humans existing. I’m telling you that this is a limitation of using likelihood to ascertain truth, especially in an example like this, because invoking teleology makes *any* possible event more likely. Whether it be your parents meeting, you getting in an accident with another specific driver, whatever. Using the likelihood framework then, the most probable explanation for *everything* is that there is a teleological drive behind it all. Funnily enough, we don’t invoke teleology for every little unlikely thing that happens to us, do we? Why do you think that is?

        “Many people would say that the existence of a god makes more assumptions than it solves problems too. It assumes that supernatural beings can exist and manipulate reality in some immaterial way, that a consciousness can exist without a physical substrate, etc etc etc.”

        //No, this only makes 1 assumption: Omnipotence. After that, everything else of God is solved by His omnipotence.//
        Ok then. 1 assumption. 1 utterly massive assumption. Come on, think a bit before you post these comments. I think you know full well that the argument isn’t “the explanation with the fewest assumptions is best” – the magnitude of those assumptions makes a huge difference. I’d rather make 3 plausible assumptions than 1 utterly unfounded one. That being said, you require more than one assumption: you need to assume that a being exists (1) which is capable of wielding omnipotence (2), and finally that omnipotence is a plausible attribute for any being to have (3). Omnipotence is multifaceted, so I’m sure it could be argued that many more internal assumptions are required for omnipotence – just because you can summarise it in one word doesn’t make it a stand-alone thing.
        I don’t want to divert too much in philosophical arguments for god, I’m just not interested in that kind of thing. I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced of the existence of god based on pure philosophical arguments. Maybe it’s the scientist in me speaking, but I think I’m much more of an evidentialist. I want to see evidence, not listen to what amounts to little more than word games. It should be telling enough for you that philosophy isn’t a convincing medium for arguments for god since most philosophers tend to be atheists/agnostics.

        //And again, even taking into account Bayesian probability, if it is the case that God necessarily exists, then Bayesian thinking on its own forces that the end conclusion is that God exists 100%. So you seem to be signing your death warrant, no matter which approach you take.//
        If it’s the case that God necessarily exists, you can stop there. You don’t need to invoke any other kind of framework if you could conclusively prove that god necessarily exists – it’s redundant. That should be readily apparent to anyone – like multiplying any number by zero will always be zero. If you want to try and argue that god necessarily exists, be my guest. I’m not particularly interested in that sort of thing, I’m just telling you not to use this terrible likelihood argument. That’s the only reason I commented, not to actually debate the existence of god.

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      • Ignore my last comment, I forgot to clean it up after I finished composing it so it still contains remants of your quotes of me etc. This version should be clearer:

        //I commend you.//
        Why? It’s not a controversial point to take a stand on. No sane person would argue that “all atheists are geniuses”, just as no one would say “all Christians are geniuses” or “all Conservatives are geniuses”. Only the Sith deal in absolutes.

        //I have already responded to the ‘virtual reality’ troll stuff. This seems to have gotten away from your noting pad.//
        Troll stuff? Sure, you tried to address it, but as I explained in the subsequent paragraph, your criticism was flawed.

        //That’s not even the argument I was making (although it is sound). I was pointing out how the existence of virtual reality is dependent on the existence of humans.//
        Again, the video showed that using maximum likelihood, it’s more probable that we’re in a simulation run by other humans that in a universe created by a god or gods. Whether or not those humans on the “level” above us are also in a simulation or not is irrelevant. This is my point though, it’s why ML is useless in arguments like this. Here it leads to an infinite regress rather than firmly establishing a theistic universe.

        //Therefore, it cannot be calculated independently of the existence of humans. This is the methodology that must be followed to determine the probability of a simulation:
        1. Find the probability of humans existing (for example, 1 in 100)
        2. Find the probability of the universe being a simulation, presuming humanity exists (for example, 1 in 4)
        3. Multiply: 1/100 x 1/4 = 1/400
        4. Therefore, the probability of the universe being a simulation based on (1), (2) and (3) is 1/400
        ^This is because the existence of a simulation is dependent on humans, and therefore any probability of simulations developing must be after humans already developed themselves (which means simulations are necessarily less probable every time). I’m sure you’d agree with this.//
        You’ve completely departed from the ML framework how.
        1. needs to include a qualifier – the probability of humans existing *in what scenario*?
        2. is backwards – the example is trying to show that the probability of humans existing is high if we’re in a simulation, not the other way around.

        //I have already enumerated the enormous problem underlying your ‘parents’ comparison. The fact is, *no matter what* combination of parents met, it would be statistically ‘very unlikely’. Therefore, there is a 100% probability that the specific lineage of parents will be ‘very unlikely’.//
        THIS IS MY POINT!!!

        //Because the probability of our specific parents meeting being unlikely is 100%, because all possible combinations will lead to improbable parents, this fails to compare to teleology. This is because in teleology, it’s shown that the chance of humans (or life in general) existing is INCREDIBLY low if you take into account all the odds. Based on 1 constant alone, about 1 in 10^120.//
        How are you getting that this is precisely my point? Seriously, how? We agree that the chance of humans existing without some kind of teleological driving force is extremely low, simply because of the number of events that have to happen in a particular way during abiogenesis and evolution to get to us. This is why invoking teleology will increase the *likelihood* of humans existing. I’m telling you that this is a limitation of using likelihood to ascertain truth, especially in an example like this, because invoking teleology makes *any* possible event more likely. Whether it be your parents meeting, you getting in an accident with another specific driver, whatever. Using the likelihood framework then, the most probable explanation for *everything* is that there is a teleological drive behind it all. Funnily enough, we don’t invoke teleology for every little unlikely thing that happens to us, do we? Why do you think that is?

        //No, this only makes 1 assumption: Omnipotence. After that, everything else of God is solved by His omnipotence.//
        Ok then. 1 assumption. 1 utterly massive assumption. Come on, think a bit before you post these comments. I think you know full well that the argument isn’t “the explanation with the fewest assumptions is best” – the magnitude of those assumptions makes a huge difference. I’d rather make 3 plausible assumptions than 1 utterly unfounded one. That being said, you require more than one assumption: you need to assume that a being exists (1) which is capable of wielding omnipotence (2), and finally that omnipotence is a plausible attribute for any being to have (3). Omnipotence is multifaceted, so I’m sure it could be argued that many more internal assumptions are required for omnipotence – just because you can summarise it in one word doesn’t make it a stand-alone thing.
        I don’t want to divert too much in philosophical arguments for god, I’m just not interested in that kind of thing. I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced of the existence of god based on pure philosophical arguments. Maybe it’s the scientist in me speaking, but I think I’m much more of an evidentialist. I want to see evidence, not listen to what amounts to little more than word games. It should be telling enough for you that philosophy isn’t a convincing medium for arguments for god since most philosophers tend to be atheists/agnostics.

        //And again, even taking into account Bayesian probability, if it is the case that God necessarily exists, then Bayesian thinking on its own forces that the end conclusion is that God exists 100%. So you seem to be signing your death warrant, no matter which approach you take.//
        If it’s the case that God necessarily exists, you can stop there. You don’t need to invoke any other kind of framework if you could conclusively prove that god necessarily exists – it’s redundant. That should be readily apparent to anyone – like multiplying any number by zero will always be zero. If you want to try and argue that god necessarily exists, be my guest. I’m not particularly interested in that sort of thing, I’m just telling you not to use this terrible likelihood argument. That’s the only reason I commented, not to actually debate the existence of god.

        Like

    • “Troll stuff? Sure, you tried to address it, but as I explained in the subsequent paragraph, your criticism was flawed.”

      Hardly, the virtual reality trolling nonsense utterly fails, because virtual reality is dependent on human existence in the first place. Hence, you need to first calculate the probability of humans, and then multiply that by the probability of having virtual reality given humans. In this case, virtual reality will always be less probable than humans, because of course it assumes human existence.

      “You’ve completely departed from the ML framework how.
      1. needs to include a qualifier – the probability of humans existing *in what scenario*?
      2. is backwards – the example is trying to show that the probability of humans existing is high if we’re in a simulation, not the other way around.”

      1. I already explained each scenario; multiple gods, one God, no God.
      2. The video failed at that, as explained previously. Hence, God remains more probable than atheism given humanity.

      “THIS IS MY POINT!!!”

      It is? Then the analogy fails. Depending on the variation of my parents, it will by definition be an unlikely partnership. However, a life-permitting universe is not by definition unlikely, and so the analogy collapses. Secondly, the probability of my parents getting together is incalculable and outside of scientific inquiry, whereas the probability of the constants of the universe is not only calculable, it is observable and we can analyze it and the variations of the constants of the universe. So this is a really terrible analogy in general. The fact is that a life-permitting universe is incoherently improbable, it’s literally a miracle that the universe allows life to exist. Fine-tuning argument simplified. You appear to be trying to claim that ‘chance’ is the explanation, however the probabilities are so low as to be able to dismiss chance outright. We simply don’t get that lucky on the cosmic level.

      “We agree that the chance of humans existing without some kind of teleological driving force is extremely low, simply because of the number of events that have to happen in a particular way during abiogenesis and evolution to get to us. This is why invoking teleology will increase the *likelihood* of humans existing. I’m telling you that this is a limitation of using likelihood to ascertain truth, especially in an example like this, because invoking teleology makes *any* possible event more likely. Whether it be your parents meeting, you getting in an accident with another specific driver, whatever. Using the likelihood framework then, the most probable explanation for *everything* is that there is a teleological drive behind it all. Funnily enough, we don’t invoke teleology for every little unlikely thing that happens to us, do we? Why do you think that is?”

      This is the only logical thing you’ve posted on this post as of yet, but this too collapses.Take a look at the entire fine-tuning argument.

      Premise 1: The fine-tuning of the universe is either caused by chance, physical necessity, or design
      Premise 2: The fine-tuning is not caused by chance or physical necessity
      Conclusion: Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is caused by design

      Here, we can see in premise 1 that we have multiple explanations available to us, so we can cross-compare each explanation to see which one is the most probable for understanding the fine-tuning of the constants of the universe. The fine-tuning argument works here because it turns out design is the best way to understand the fine-tuning of the universe. The reason why we don’t just “apply” teleology to other aspects of the world is because it wouldn’t work in those examples. For example;

      Premise 1: Rainbows are either caused by the light spectrum (reflection, refraction, etc) or design
      Premise 2: Rainbows are not caused by the light spectrum
      Conclusion: Therefore, rainbows are caused by design

      In this example, how on planet Earth would someone justify premise 2? How would someone ‘show’ that rainbows aren’t caused by the light spectrum? It’s impossible, so teleology can’t just be thrown everywhere because it makes things ‘more likely’, it can only apply to areas about the universe where naturalism loses coherence.

      “(1) which is capable of wielding omnipotence (2), and finally that omnipotence is a plausible attribute for any being to have (3). Omnipotence is multifaceted, so I’m sure it could be argued that many more internal assumptions are required for omnipotence – just because you can summarise it in one word doesn’t make it a stand-alone thing.”

      This is flat-out nonsense, those aren’t different assumptions — those are entirely the same. Omnipotence. You’re just trying to magically break it down to pull out more assumptions from a hat, none of those you mentioned have any validity. I can do the same thing with naturalism;

      1) For naturalism to be true, we also need to assume reality exists 2) we must assume there is no supernatural 3) we must assume that everything that does exist obeys the laws of phsyics, etc, etc, etc

      As you can see, I can pull a bunch of garbage out of a hat to make naturalism seems like it has many assumptions. I mean just think about this, how can you even justify the 2nd assumption I listed? It’s impossible, and therefore impossible to justify naturalism.

      “I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced of the existence of god based on pure philosophical arguments. Maybe it’s the scientist in me speaking, but I think I’m much more of an evidentialist. I want to see evidence, not listen to what amounts to little more than word games.”

      This statement just shows how you amazingly misunderstand philosophy, which has, of course, laid the foundations for logic and understanding proofs. Science, and every other evidence-based discourse, is a product of philosophy. The first ‘scientists’ to live, such as Aristotle, were as philosophical as they get.

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      • //Hardly, the virtual reality trolling nonsense utterly fails, because virtual reality is dependent on human existence in the first place. Hence, you need to first calculate the probability of humans, and then multiply that by the probability of having virtual reality given humans. In this case, virtual reality will always be less probable than humans, because of course it assumes human existence.//
        I don’t know how you’re still not getting this. The video was looking at explanations for the existence of *us* and *our universe* by going “one level up” if you think about it like inception. It doesn’t try to calculate the specific probabilities of those explanations being most likely, and again I highlighted this as a flaw in purely likelihood based methods as opposed to Bayesian ones. The whole point of using the likellihood-based approach in the video was to illustrate that if we assume each of the explanations are equally likely, then the virtual reality works out as most probable purely becuase it has the highest likelihood. I don’t know how many time times I have ot explain to you that you’re departing from the maximum likelihood framework before it sinks in.

        //It is? Then the analogy fails. Depending on the variation of my parents, it will by definition be an unlikely partnership. However, a life-permitting universe is not by definition unlikely, and so the analogy collapses. Secondly, the probability of my parents getting together is incalculable and outside of scientific inquiry, whereas the probability of the constants of the universe is not only calculable, it is observable and we can analyze it and the variations of the constants of the universe. So this is a really terrible analogy in general. The fact is that a life-permitting universe is incoherently improbable, it’s literally a miracle that the universe allows life to exist. Fine-tuning argument simplified. You appear to be trying to claim that ‘chance’ is the explanation, however the probabilities are so low as to be able to dismiss chance outright. We simply don’t get that lucky on the cosmic level.//
        The analogy doesn’t fail at all. While a life-permitting universe is not unlikely by definition (although that’s arguable), we’re both assuming, at least for the sake of argument, that it *is* unlikely. You make that clear when you say “The fact is that a life-permitting universe is incoherently improbable”. In exactly the same way, a “Scientific Christian”-producing universe is unbelieveably unlikely, if you look at all the chance events that had to happen throughout the history of the universe to result in your birth. You say the odds of your birth are incalculable, but this does nothing to change the point of my argument. Let’s say we can calculate the odds of the universe permitting life and it’s 1 in 10^1,000,000. Would you agree that we can confidently say that your birth was much less likely than that, even if we can’t place a precise number on it? I would hope so. Anyway, that’s still irrelevant to my argument, which is just trying to illustrate the lottery fallacy to you. Any probabilty-based outcome appears infinitely improbable after the fact, but that doesn’t mean the events don’t happen. The exact same argument that says that it’s a miracle that the universe permits life can be used to say that it’s a miracle that you were born as opposed to somone else.

        //The reason why we don’t just “apply” teleology to other aspects of the world is because it wouldn’t work in those examples. For example;
        Premise 1: Rainbows are either caused by the light spectrum (reflection, refraction, etc) or design
        Premise 2: Rainbows are not caused by the light spectrum
        Conclusion: Therefore, rainbows are caused by design
        In this example, how on planet Earth would someone justify premise 2? How would someone ‘show’ that rainbows aren’t caused by the light spectrum? It’s impossible, so teleology can’t just be thrown everywhere because it makes things ‘more likely’, it can only apply to areas about the universe where naturalism loses coherence.//
        You’ve completel changed the analogy. We’re talking about *probabilities* here, not phenomena easily traceable to a physical cause. Did you suddenly forget about the ENTIRE conversation we’ve been having up until now? If you want to apply a *correct* analogy about other aspects of the world, the argument would go like this:
        Premise 1: Couples meeting each other are either caused by natural events including a heap of chance, or design.
        Premise 2. Couples meeting are not caused by chance.
        Conclusion: Therefore, couples meet by design
        According to your reasoning, teleolgy isn’t thrown at everywhere because it makes things “more likely”, it’s thrown everywhere *that chance is involved* because it makes these things “more likely”. Again, this is the problem with applying teleology that I explained before.

        //This is flat-out nonsense, those aren’t different assumptions — those are entirely the same. Omnipotence.//
        As I said before, you don’t get a free pass just because you can summarise a group of attributes under the umbrella of a single word. One great honking assumption is a lot harder to smuggle by than several trivial ones.

        //1) For naturalism to be true, we also need to assume reality exists 2) we must assume there is no supernatural 3) we must assume that everything that does exist obeys the laws of phsyics, etc, etc, etc
        As you can see, I can pull a bunch of garbage out of a hat to make naturalism seems like it has many assumptions. I mean just think about this, how can you even justify the 2nd assumption I listed? It’s impossible, and therefore impossible to justify naturalism.//
        Again, I wanted to try to avoid getting bogged down in these kinds of philosophical arguments, because my only objective here was to try to explain to you how the video you posted was flawed in its methodology, but if you write this stuff I migth as well respond for now. Those 3 assumptions are all much more justified than your behemoth assumption of “omnipotence”. We all assume reality exists, that’s a basic axiom that we all start from when reasoning about the world. You can’t even get as far as omnipotence without first assuming that reality exists. In the abscence of evidence for the supernatural, it seems prudent to assume, at least provisionally, that the supernatural doesn’t exist. Everything we’ve every encountered up until now obeys physical laws, even if we have to strive hard to characterise those laws and update them when we encounter new phenomena. I *won’t* get into an argument about naturalism vs supernaturalism/theism/whatever, even though I feel you really want to go there, because by only point is that assumptions aren’t all equal.

        //This statement just shows how you amazingly misunderstand philosophy, which has, of course, laid the foundations for logic and understanding proofs. Science, and every other evidence-based discourse, is a product of philosophy. The first ‘scientists’ to live, such as Aristotle, were as philosophical as they get.//
        I don’t deny any of that. My point is that philosophical arguments for the existence of things in our universe will always boil down to determining the truth of the premises, which is the realm of science, not philosophy in most cases.

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      • “I don’t know how you’re still not getting this. The video was looking at explanations for the existence of *us* and *our universe* by going “one level up” if you think about it like inception. It doesn’t try to calculate the specific probabilities of those explanations being most likely, and again I highlighted this as a flaw in purely likelihood based methods as opposed to Bayesian ones.”

        It’s not very wondrous why I can’t understand your incorrect logic. The video is trying to calculate the possibilities of certain scenarios to explain the existence of humans. That’s why they calculated this for God, multiple gods, no God, but then they tried to do the same with virtual reality which was a methodological error. Virtual reality presupposes humans, unlike the aforementioned options, hence, virtual reality is always the least probable.

        “The analogy doesn’t fail at all. While a life-permitting universe is not unlikely by definition (although that’s arguable), we’re both assuming, at least for the sake of argument, that it *is* unlikely. You make that clear when you say “The fact is that a life-permitting universe is incoherently improbable”. In exactly the same way, a “Scientific Christian”-producing universe is unbelieveably unlikely, if you look at all the chance events that had to happen throughout the history of the universe to result in your birth. You say the odds of your birth are incalculable, but this does nothing to change the point of my argument. Let’s say we can calculate the odds of the universe permitting life and it’s 1 in 10^1,000,000. Would you agree that we can confidently say that your birth was much less likely than that, even if we can’t place a precise number on it? I would hope so. Anyway, that’s still irrelevant to my argument, which is just trying to illustrate the lottery fallacy to you. Any probabilty-based outcome appears infinitely improbable after the fact, but that doesn’t mean the events don’t happen. The exact same argument that says that it’s a miracle that the universe permits life can be used to say that it’s a miracle that you were born as opposed to somone else.”

        Sorry, but the analogy doesn’t work at all. We can’t say my birth is less probable because we have no idea how to calculate the probability of my birth in general. It could be 0.000000000001%, it could be 1%, or it could be 99%. Who knows? How would we know? The analogy fails to stack up. The fact is with human civilization it is necessary to continuously produce babies, and so by definition, we will necessarily get these “improbable births” as time goes on. In other words, the probability that we’re going to get an unlikely birth as time passes in human civilization is about 100%. On the other hand, the probability that we’re going to end up with a life-permitting universe is incalculably low, meaning that the probabilities we’re discussing here are complete opposites. In your analogy, when we dig a little bit, we quickly find that the actual probability we’re dealing with is 100%, not something like 0.00001%, because in all variations we’re going to end up with an unlikely baby. However, there is perhaps only one variation in some 10^120 odds that a life-permitting universe can exist (given the cosmological constant). So the analogy collapses. The lottery is the same thing, the probability that someone will win the lottery is 100%, so it’s not unlikely at all for someone to win the lottery in general, just like it isn’t unlikely at all to end up with an unlikely baby. On the other hand, a life-permitting universe is improbable.

        Did you suddenly forget about the ENTIRE conversation we’ve been having up until now? If you want to apply a *correct* analogy about other aspects of the world, the argument would go like this:
        Premise 1: Couples meeting each other are either caused by natural events including a heap of chance, or design.
        Premise 2. Couples meeting are not caused by chance.
        Conclusion: Therefore, couples meet by design
        According to your reasoning, teleolgy isn’t thrown at everywhere because it makes things “more likely”, it’s thrown everywhere *that chance is involved* because it makes these things “more likely”. Again, this is the problem with applying teleology that I explained before.

        Even with your syllogism, your argument becomes self-refuting. Again, how on Earth would one justify your second premise? In fact, how would one even show that chance is less likely then design in a couple meeting? Couples meeting are actually quite probable, and so by my logic, it would appear to me more probable that a couple would meet of their own volition and chance rather than an entity being interested in this particular couple for no particular reason. In other words, given your syllogism, you perfectly have answered your own objection: teleology can’t just be thrown around everywhere because it simply can’t work everywhere.

        In the abscence of evidence for the supernatural, it seems prudent to assume, at least provisionally, that the supernatural doesn’t exist.

        This just seems outright flawed to me. Given that humans have no understandable methods of even directly investigating the supernatural (besides revelations and scriptures), it would be flat-out impossible to ‘find’ the supernatural. It’s like attempting to claim that there are no galaxies besides our own before we invented telescopes to actually check it out. Secondly, I would argue that something like the beginning of the universe is naturalistically incomprehensible.

        And again, you haven’t explained why omnipotence is a “behemoth” of an assumption. Just because you can’t understand its extent, makes no relevance to its probability. I sniff out an argument from personal incredulity here. Go ahead and explain why omnipotence is a “behemoth” of an assumption (I know many philosophers nowadays consider it a necessity of existence, aka ontological argument).

        “I don’t deny any of that. My point is that philosophical arguments for the existence of things in our universe will always boil down to determining the truth of the premises, which is the realm of science, not philosophy in most cases.”

        And what’s the problem of that? Besides, most premises are based in philosophy, not science. You simply don’t know enough about philosophy to make this blunder, you only appear to be familiar with the philosophy relating to God’s existence (admittedly, many renowned philosophers today are arguing about just that, i.e. William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, etc).

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      • By the way, what happened to your other blog post on the whale fossils where we had a couple of threads going for a while? Did you delete it? Why?

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      • I did delete it, I no longer consider my argument there foolproof there. I did some research, and thought to myself how I would try to rebut it as an evolutionist, and if I would satisfy my own personal burden of proof for rebutting or at least countering the arguments on the post. I concluded that, were I a positive evolutionist, my rebuttal to the arguments would satisfy my own personal burden of proof so I just deleted the entire thing.

        I have a history with deleting posts on my blog I no longer agree with later on or don’t consider foolproof arguments. This was just the latest addition.

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  2. What is the likelihood of life developing on a given habitable planet? We currently have no idea. Once we can reliably detect whether planets in the habitable zone have oxygen and water in their atmosphere, we can start looking for signs of life (CO2). The universe is huge, and we know that planets in the habitable zone are very common. So it looks possible that the chances of life evolving might actually be very good. The next question is the more interesting one, IMO: did consciousness evolve naturally, or is it the product of divine intervention?

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    • “What is the likelihood of live developing on a given habitable planet? We currently have no idea.”

      We can’t put an exact number on it, but it’s so utterly low that I would say it’s perhaps indistinguishable from zero LOL.

      “Once we can reliably detect whether planets in the habitable zone have oxygen and water in their atmosphere, we can start looking for signs of life (CO2).”

      CO2 is not equal to life, and of course, there are innumerable necessities/constants for a planet, even in the so-called habitable zone, to be very much in need of and is otherwise inhabitable. I trust you’re familiar with the recent discovery of those 7 planets that are technically in the ‘habitable zone’, but a second look at them revealed they are all failures to harvest any life, even though they are in this zone. Read this, as it will be very beneficial for your understanding of these things:

      http://www.reasons.org/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/earths-seven-sisters–are-they-really-similar

      From the many thousands of planets, even tens of thousands that we have found and observed, not a single one of them is remotely habitable. Being in the ‘habitable zone’ (the right proximity of distance from the planets star) is the bare conceptual minimum for having life. By the way, we already do in fact have reliable methods for determining whether water/oxygen exists on planets.

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      • I agree with most of your comments. If you understand how vast the number of stars in the universe is, it’s obvious that what we’ve found “so far” is a meaninglessly small sample. CO2 is a very good indicator of life as we know it, but life does not indicate intelligence. We can’t currently tell whether water or oxygen exist on exoplanets yet because we can’t observe their spectra of reflected light over such vast differences. Even rockiness is a guess, based on the change in light emitted by the star when the planet traverses it vs. the length of time it takes to do so.

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  3. I really liked the video as well. I don’t think I agreed with the idea of polytheism being more probable though just because of the number of gods is higher than monotheism. To me arguments about the coherency of theism and certain attributes of God preclude their being more than one God in the sense of a maximally great being. And who is to say that it wouldn’t be less likely on polytheism, because these gods could be more or less equal in power and want different things? But as he pointed out the numbers ultimately don’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Correct, and to be absolutely logical about it, if there are many gods — then logically speaking, only one of them can be maximally great — technically meaning there is one true God and the rest are just created lower beings.

      But in the end of the day, it does in fact show theism is mathematically more plausible than atheism.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey there, I like maths and I don’t believe in anything like the Christian god, so naturally I had to stop and read this!

    There are many reasons why I disagree, but overall I just feel like the argument is very much lacking substance. For example, you say the premises are correct as if it’s an obvious truth, but I would like much more justification for no. 1 “If God does not exist, humans developing is very unlikely”. Why should that be taken as a premise?

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    • The reason why premise 1 is correct is fairly obvious, and did have a bit of explanation in the video. Without God, the development of humans must be explained by random/naturalistic numbers, and the idea that by pure chance humans will develop is so ridiculously improbable as to have a probability virtually indistinguishable from 0. For example, take into account the countless constants determining whether or not life can exist, and then factor them specifically for human life as well — almost no chance. The video explains that on no God, the idea of random processes meaninglessly leading to the development of humans is by definition ridiculously implausible.

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      • I see what you mean, this is a commonly held perspective. On the other hand, “the idea that by pure chance humans will develop is so ridiculously improbable” isn’t. I don’t think anyone working in the field of the development of life thinks that it was “pure chance”.
        Even if it was, what if every possible universe exists? I’m not saying that’s true, but if I took that as one of my axioms of my belief then I’d have no troubles reconciling the improbability of life with the apparent existence of it.
        What I mean to emphasise there is that the whole topic is far more complex than the video presents it as, feels like something thrown together for some ad revenue.
        Anyway, I wish you the best for your future endeavours; you’re clearly passionate about your beliefs, I hope they continue to bring you joy!

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      • For the development of life to be not due to chance, there must exist an actual mechanism that produces life with intent. If there is no intent or guidance, it is by definition random. Aside from God, there is of course no such mechanism.

        As for making infinite universes one of your axioms, it’s definitely easy to axiomatically presuppose something without evidence, but it’s easier and perhaps more logical to simply compare no god VS God as the video posits and seeing which one, on their own side by side (without inserting external factors like infinite universes) is more plausible. Perhaps you will take this into account, I also wish you the best and hope you may be guided to the truth of God.

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