Intelligent Design

But Should We Discount it as a Practical Possibility?

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Since 1859 Darwinist have made their living leveraging mere logical possibility (no matter how astronomically improbable) into scientific certainty. And that is why I thought of them when a friend posted this on Facebook.

33 Replies to “But Should We Discount it as a Practical Possibility?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    That may be a British raccoon as that looks like a Vickers .303 machine gun he’s manning – or raccooning. Either way, don’t mess with raccoons.

    And while it’s highly improbable you’re going to fall victim to a raccoon firing a belt-fed machine-gun, it’s not unheard of for hunters to be injured or even killed by their own rifle being accidentally discharged by their dog.

  2. 2
    Latemarch says:

    it’s not unheard of for hunters to claim be injured or even killed by their own rifle being accidentally discharged by their dog.


  3. 3
    daveS says:

    There was just such an alleged incident here a year or two ago. When I read the story, I concluded it must either be the world’s most dexterous dog, or far more likely, a cover story to avoid legal trouble (two people were injured).

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    The point is being missed in a way that points exactly to the issue. Notice the specification in the OP. It is very intricate and detailed. Notice the examples of accidental discharge caused by dogs. Now run both through the explanatory filter. If we see a racoon shooting a machine gun in exactly the way specified, what is the inference to the best explanation? Some intelligent agent intervened to cause it. If we see a dog brush against a rifle causing it to fall over and discharge, what is the best explanation? That is well within the realm of chance. And that is why those hunters were not charged with murder.

    The extremely complex specification represented by the racoon is – take your pick – even the most simple cell, any organ, any living thing.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Number of subatomic particles in the universe: 10^80

    Probability of a protein forming by chance in a prebiotic soup: 1 in 10^164 power

    Origin: Probability of a Single Protein Forming by Chance – video

    Mathematical Basis for Probability Calculations Used in (the film) Origin
    Excerpt: Putting the probabilities together means adding the exponents. The probability of getting a properly folded chain of one-handed amino acids, joined by peptide bonds, is one chance in 10^74+45+45, or one in 10^164 (Meyer, p. 212). This means that, on average, you would need to construct 10^164 chains of amino acids 150 units long to expect to find one that is useful.

    Probability of finding a single protein fold: 1 in 10^77

    Doug Axe Knows His Work Better Than Steve Matheson
    Excerpt: Regardless of how the trials are performed, the answer ends up being at least half of the total number of password possibilities, which is the staggering figure of 10^77 (written out as 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000). Armed with this calculation, you should be very confident in your skepticism, because a 1 in 10^77 chance of success is, for all practical purposes, no chance of success. My experimentally based estimate of the rarity of functional proteins produced that same figure, making these likewise apparently beyond the reach of chance.

    Stephen Meyer Critiques Richard Dawkins’s “Mount Improbable” Illustration

    Total number of trials available for an evolutionary trial to find that 1 in 10^77 stable protein fold: 10^40

    About a Bike Lock: Responding to Richard Dawkins – Stephen C. Meyer – March 25, 2016
    Excerpt: Moreover, given the empirically based estimates of the rarity (of protein folds) (conservatively estimated by Axe3 at 1 in 10^77 and within a similar range by others4) the analysis that I presented in Toronto does pose a formidable challenge to those who claim the mutation-natural selection mechanism provides an adequate means for the generation of novel genetic information — at least, again, in amounts sufficient to generate novel protein folds.5
    Why a formidable challenge? Because random mutations alone must produce (or “search for”) exceedingly rare functional sequences among a vast combinatorial sea of possible sequences before natural selection can play any significant role. Moreover, as I discussed in Toronto, and show in more detail in Darwin’s Doubt,6 every replication event in the entire multi-billion year history of life on Earth would not generate or “search” but a miniscule fraction (one ten trillion, trillion trillionth, to be exact) of the total number of possible nucleotide base or amino-acid sequences corresponding to a single functional gene or protein fold. The number of trials available to the evolutionary process (corresponding to the total number of organisms — 10^40 — that have ever existed on earth), thus, turns out to be incredibly small in relation to the number of possible sequences that need to be searched. The threshold of selectable function exceeds what is reasonable to expect a random search to be able to accomplish given the number of trials available to the search even assuming evolutionary deep time.
    (3) Axe, Douglas. “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds.” Journal of Molecular Biology 341 (2004): 1295-1315.
    (4) Reidhaar-Olson, John, and Robert Sauer. “Functionally Acceptable Solutions in Two Alpha-Helical Regions of Lambda Repressor.” Proteins: Structure, Function, and Genetics 7 (1990): 306-16; Yockey, Hubert P. “A Calculation of the Probability of Spontaneous Biogenesis by Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 67 (1977c): 377-98; Yockey, Hubert. “On the Information Content of Cytochrome C,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 67 (1977b) 345-376.

    Conservative estimate for the first cell forming: 1 in 10^41,000th power

    Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer – Book Review – Ken Peterson
    Excerpt: If we assume some minimally complex cell requires 250 different proteins then the probability of this arrangement happening purely by chance is one in 10 to the 164th multiplied by itself 250 times or one in 10 to the 41,000th power.

    More realistic probability for the first cell forming from the thermodynamic perspective: 1 in 10^340,000,000

    “The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!”
    – Professor Harold Morowitz, – Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University

    The “odds that a cell would reassemble itself under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment)” would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000.

    Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Horold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias)

    The probability of life forming when taking into account “interactome space”: one in 10 followed by the exponent 7.9 x 10^10

    The Humpty-Dumpty Effect: A Revolutionary Paper with Far-Reaching Implications – Paul Nelson – October 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Tompa and Rose calculate the “total number of possible distinct patterns of interactions,” using yeast, a unicellular eukaryote, as their model system; this “total number” is the size of the space that must be searched. With approximately 4,500 proteins in yeast, the interactome search space “is on the order of 10^7200, an unimaginably large number,” they write — but “more realistic” estimates, they continue, are “yet more complicated.” Proteins present many possible surfaces for chemical interaction. “In all,” argue Tompa and Rose, “an average protein would have approximately 3540 distinguishable interfaces,” and if one uses this number for the interactome space calculation, the result is 10 followed by the exponent 7.9 x 10^10.,,, the numbers preclude formation of a functional interactome (of ‘simple’ life) by trial and error,, within any meaningful span of time. This numerical exercise…is tantamount to a proof that the cell does not organize by random collisions of its interacting constituents. (i.e. that life did not arise, nor operate, by chance!)
    – per evolution news

    Number of times that Darwinian processes have been observed to create a protein: ZERO

    Probability that Intelligence can create functional information: 100%

    Seversky’s typical reaction to being shown all these astronomical probabilities against his atheistic theory being true:

    Dumb and Dumber – “So you’re telling me there’s a chance”


  6. 6
    Ed George says:


    it’s not unheard of for hunters to claim be injured or even killed by their own rifle being accidentally discharged by their dog.

    How does a dead person claim anything? Seance?

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Don’t extremely improbable things that can be exhaustively specified happen all the time?

  8. 8
    ET says:

    Do they? Examples, please

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:


    I find it interesting that the photo has indeed got a Vickers machine gun (as Sev got in before me), a revision to the Maxim design. The M1917 Browning, of course, comes from that genius, John Moses Browning and operates on a gas principle not a recoil principle. Both are conditional oscillators.

    The 250 round belt remains, but 0.303 was the standard loading for most Vickers guns. Interestingly enough, the US did adopt a Colt built 30-06 version of the Vickers dateline 1915 and did ship them off to WW1 in France where given numbers they likely saw significant frontline use, credibly far more than the Browning.

    Could a Raccoon fire it? Only if it had been properly set up, a rather unlikely circumstance.

    And I think this one is no longer possible, it looks like remaining stocks were sent to the UK after Dunkirk and as they were not desired back by the US they were destroyed by the UK.

    The probability vs impossibility case may be best answered on possible worlds. In no PW can there be a square circle. In our world an unaided swimmer could not swim from San Diego to Hawaii, but in a PW where Hawaii were say 20 miles offshore, that would be a different story.

    If a case K is maximally implausible under relevant circumstances C it is conditionally practically impossible.

    p(K|C) ~ 0,

    which does not need to be mechanically specified once we have a good reason to draw the inference.

    Now, if we have a different circumstance on the relevant PW so that p(K| D) is materially greater than 0,

    p(K|D) = m, m being a positive real or hyperreal and non-infinitesimal value in the span (0,1] and m != 0, being significantly larger than 0. m!~ 0

    i.e. likelihood of K on ED materially exceeds that on C and there is no credible option E that is more plausible then the actual occurrence of K indicates D is a more plausible explanatory circumstance than C.

    This is of course key to the design inference.

    First, C –> blind chance and/or mechanical necessity, facing the search challenge in configuration space challenge. D –> intelligently directed configuration. There is no plausible extra case E.

    Where K –> FSCO/I, D is a more plausible explanation than C.

    Such is what the per aspect explanatory filter draws out.


  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, consider the case, mortal wound so that one may speak before expiring. This is similar to earlier lockouts you have exerted in recent days. Kindly, draw the lesson that what you imagine as so does not necessarily exhaust what may well be so. KF

  11. 11
    daveS says:

    I had in mind the old trope where the victim is able to write “ZEKE” (the killer’s name) in blood with his finger, and then collapses immediately after completing the last stroke.

  12. 12
    daveS says:


    p(K|D) = m, m being a positive real or hyperreal and non-infinitesimal value in the span (0,1]

    i.e., a real number in the interval (0, 1]?

    Edit: My mistake, they are not the same.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    In mathematics, a real number is a value of a continuous quantity that can represent a distance along a line.

    There are infinite real numbers between 0 and 1

  14. 14
    daveS says:


    There are infinitely many between 0 and 1 (but no real x between 0 and 1 is itself infinite, obviously).

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I am leaving room for calculus hence my leaving room for hyperreals, the standard parts of which will be reals. We don’t want m infinitesimal or as a “fat zero” otherwise, and m must be significantly larger than the estimate for on C, large enough that it is not a fat zero or a skinny one. (And yes, there is some discussion on that out there.) KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I think ET was saying there are transfinitely many reals between 0 and 1. Surrounding each real of course is a cloud of infinitesimals in the close neighbourhood that is also transfinite in terms of how many values are there, I symbolised ad hoc-ly *r*. KF

  17. 17
    JVL says:

    Kairosfocus: I think ET was saying there are transfinitely many reals between 0 and 1.

    No, ET had it right: there are infinitely many reals between 0 and 1. Actually, there are infinitely many reals between any two values you pick.

  18. 18
    daveS says:


    Well, there’s really no need to include nonreal hyperreals just to do calculus. In this context, there is no advantage that I can see in going beyond R.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    (the) Nonreal Hyperreals- Sounds like a great name for a band 😎

  20. 20
    ET says:

    Once, I had a 3-number combination lock. The numbers were 21 and 27.

  21. 21
    Retired Physicist says:

    @DaveS back in the day (way back) i did Calc 1,2,3 and DiffyQ 1 and 2 with zero knowledge or discussion of hyperreals.

  22. 22
    JVL says:

    ET: (the) Nonreal Hyperreals- Sounds like a great name for a band ????

    It would have to be a psychedelic band!!

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    JVL, the transfinite is more ontologically cautious terminology. KF

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    DS (attn RP), the hyperreals are legitimate as well as useful and there is no good reason to lock them out. And yes, epsilon delta stuff with limits also works. There’s more than one way to skin a catfish. KF

  25. 25
    JVL says:

    Retired Physicist: @DaveS back in the day (way back) i did Calc 1,2,3 and DiffyQ 1 and 2 with zero knowledge or discussion of hyperreals.

    That is correct. You can get through all the mathematics you need for engineering without even mentioning hyperreals. In fact, you can get through a lot of mathematics period without mentioning hyperreals.

    Did you ever get to fast Fourier transforms? That stuff kicks ass.

  26. 26
    daveS says:


    They’re fine for this application, if you enjoy gratuitous complexity. 😛

  27. 27
    Retired Physicist says:

    JVL I want to say Fourier transforms were taught around the same time as Laplace transforms. If I recall correctly Fourier is a two-sided Laplace with i multiplied in. Probably calculus 2. If not, then the ODE class. It was OK, but wasn’t my favorite math in the world. That would be groups and rings. 😀

    BTW the hyperreals are a closed ring. I never did anything interesting with them though.

  28. 28
    JVL says:

    Retired Physicist:

    Groups and rings? You took that as an engineering student? Wow. The only thing I hated more than abstract algebra was statistics. That’s a real pile of poo. Give me some number theory and I”m well good.

  29. 29
    Fasteddious says:

    A related brain teaser:
    What is the integral between 0 and 1 of the following function?
    f(x) = 1 for x – rational, f(x) = 0 for x = irrational
    Explain your answer.

  30. 30
    daveS says:


    It’s not Riemann integrable, but the Lebesgue integral equals 0, since the value of the function equals 0 except on a set of measure zero.

  31. 31
    Retired Physicist says:

    @JVL I did not take that as an engineering student. Why would you think I took that as an engineering student? I took lots of unnecessary math classes when the professors were good, to fill up science electives I needed, back when i was an undergrad. You don’t do that stuff in grad school because you’re usually working 70 to 80 hour weeks in physics. I would take any undergrad classes that Dr. S_________ taught, just for fun because he was such a great teacher, for instance. If you can make Idempotents fun, you are a special type of person.

  32. 32
    Retired Physicist says:

    When I was an undergrad in college I did live in a house with three engineering students, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, and I did tutor them in math. One poor fella I tutored in Statics and he just couldn’t get the concept that you add up all the force vectors they have to net zero. So if you add up all the vectors you have, and it is not zero, there’s another force with equal magnitude in the opposite direction. After he failed his statics class the third time he had to choose a different major. The Good Lord didn’t bless us all equally, as they say.

  33. 33
    daveS says:


    Was that me you tutored? 🙂

    I had a great high school physics teacher and tried studying physics in college, but it wasn’t to be, alas.

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