Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

# You Are On The Jury

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My tongue-in-cheek response to Denyse’s last post got me to thinking seriously about a practical way to demonstrate the lunacy of materialists’ invoking the “multiverse” to get around the statistical impossibility of life arising though blind unguided natural forces through pure random chance . See here for an example of this hand waving in action. I came up with a thought experiment. See below for more.

First an explanation and a little math:

The materialists do not deny that the odds are stacked very heavily against them. For example, the peer-reviewed article cited above calculates the odds of the random unguided generation of life at 10^-1018. To put this number in context, many cosmologists estimate that the number of particles in the universe is between 10^72 to 10^87.

Materialists attempt to get around the math be invoking the “multiverse.” The term “multiverse” means a system that contains infinite universes. In other words, the thought is that the universe we live in is not the only universe. Instead, it is just one of an infinite number of universes. The materialist then says something like this: “Yes, if there were only one universe, the spontaneous generation of life from non-living matter through blind unguided natural forces would be so wildly improbable as to be considered, for all practical purposes, impossible. But if there are infinite universes, then every universe that is not logically impossible actually exists, and we happen to live in a universe where this wildly improbable – though not logically impossible – event is instantiated.

My thought experiment involves the Powerball lottery. The chance of winning this lottery is approximately 1 in 150 million. The chance of winning the lottery five times in a row is approximately 1.32*10^-41.

Now that the stage is set, here is the thought experiment:

Assume you are on a jury in a criminal fraud trial. The defendant’s name is Harry. Harry is charged with defrauding the Powerball lottery. The following evidence is presented a trial.

The district attorney puts on only two witness. The first witness is the police detective who investigated the case, and he testifies that the ONLY evidence of fraud he has is that on September 1 Harry showed up at the Powerball office with the winning ticket. Harry also showed up with the winning ticket on September 8, September 15, September 22, and September 29, for five wins a row. On cross examination the detective admits that he does not have any evidence or even any plausible speculations as to how Harry committed the fraud.

Next, the district attorney calls a math expert, Dr. Iksbmed. Dr. Iksbmed’s testifies that the odds against winning Powerball five times in a row are 1.32*10^-41. On cross examination, Dr. Iksbmed is forced to admit that, while winning the Powerball five times in a row is wildly improbable, it is not, strictly speaking, logically impossible. The prosecution rests.

Harry exercises his 5th Amendment rights and does not take the stand. His lawyer calls a single witness, Dr. Snikwad. Dr. Snikwad does not dispute Dr. Iksbmed’s probability calculations. Instead, he testifies that the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that life spontaneously arose through blind unguided natural forces. The probability of this event happening is 10^-1018. Therefore, the overwhelming number of scientists believe that we live in a universe in which an event occurred that is many hundreds of orders of magnitude more improbable than winning the lottery five times in a row. The explanation for this, explains Dr. Snikwad, is simple. We live in one of an infinite number of universes, and we just happen to live in a universe were the highly improbable event of the spontaneous generation of life was instantiated. Similarly, explains Dr. Snikwad in a condescending British accent, he has no doubt of Harry’s innocence. This poor, unfairly maligned, and falsely charged gentlemen simply lives in a universe where his winning the Powerball five times in a row, admittedly wildly improbably on its face, happens to be instantiated. But only stupid, insane, benighted or evil religious fundies would insist that Harry’s five-peat was anything other than the result of purely random unguided natural forces.

The defense rests; the prosecution elects not to put on a rebuttal case. The judge charges the jury and sends you and your fellow jurors to the jury room.

The comment thread of this post will substitute for your deliberations. Let the deliberations begin.

Something causes design sequences in our universe - and might have even caused the design sequence of our universal laws. What that something is (God, MWI) is irrelevent to finding a model that successfully describes those design sequences
and
if it allows for the possibility that the designer may be an organizing principle in nature and not necessarily a person. Those that insist that the designer must be a person would be setting the bar TOO HIGH for ID science.
The explanatory filter is a criterion for distinguishing intelligent from unintelligent causes. At the first stage, the explanatory filter determines whether a law can explain the object in question. I'm not sure if a self-organizing principle/law in nature or the inevitability of infinite MWI should be considered an intelligent causation. That would be like calling the physics behind snowflakes a minor intelligence. Now let's assume the MWI is correct but it is only infinitely expanding into the future but has a finite past. If the original verse in the multiverse self-organized into an intelligence or hivemind via an organizing principle that makes MWI more compatible with ID theory. But, this scenario is entirely speculative and goes beyond my main point.Patrick
October 17, 2007
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Obviously, I meant that intelligence HAS always been associated with personality.StephenB
October 17, 2007
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Patrick wrote, “If the explanatory filter results in a positive how can there not be an intelligent causation in the form of a designer?” I agree with that statement, if it allows for the possibility that the designer may be an organizing principle in nature and not necessarily a person. Those that insist that the designer must be a person would be setting the bar TOO HIGH for ID science. Having said that, I have always believed that an impersonal designing force is implausible, because my experience teaches me that intelligence is always been associated with personality. William J. Murray wrote, "Whether one calles the designer “God” or “MWI”, you still have to develop a scientific description of the design sequences." I agree with WJB that, from a scientific perspective, the identity of the designer is irrevant. But I disagree that multiple universes can ever serve that purpose. It does matter "what" the designer is insofar as the designer, whoever or whatever, must be capable of planning and directing. In that sense, I think WJB sets the bar TOO LOW for ID.StephenB
October 17, 2007
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Of course the incident is not merely highly improbable but also conforms to an independent specification. In the real world ... Here in Canada there is suspicion concerning the number of lottery wins by lottery vendors. Here we have a statistical analysis of the events, a conclusion of design, the use of a probability bound (1 in 10^9), and an admission that the analysis cannot, and need not, invoke a mechanism. "We note that the statistical analysis does not (and cannot) describe the mechanism giving rise to the excess wins. Therefore, this mechanism must be identified by other means." http://www.alc.ca/English/AboutALC/MediaRoom/CorporateReleases/Article.aspx?id=1669&categoryId=1000 The problem seems widespread in Canada's lotteries: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/196088 The odds against the number of vendor wins in Ontario:
The Fifth Estate reported that retailers in Ontario won large prizes nearly 200 times in the past seven years. There are roughly 60,000 lottery ticket sellers in Ontario. A University of Toronto statistician, who crunched the numbers for the television show, said the chance of retailers winning that often is "about one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion," and estimated the number of wins should be closer to 57.
http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2006/10/26/ombudsman-probe.html Yes, improbable things happen all the time.Charlie
October 17, 2007
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#85: Quote: "If the explanatory filter results in a positive how can there not be an intelligent causation in the form of a designer?" You know there is a designer; I know there is a designer. However, the designer is irrelevant to the success of the theory. If materialists wish to avoid the implication of a designer by referring to MWI as the originator of design sequences in our universe, so what? Something causes design sequences in our universe - and might have even caused the design sequence of our universal laws. What that something is (God, MWI) is irrelevent to finding a model that successfully describes those design sequences - not explains them, but describes them scientifically. In other words, you can't get from A to Z without God or MWI (or something) organizing the steps in an apparent teleological method. DESCRIBE that method, i.e. ... what is the search formula? How many steps must be organized? Does it look more like "A builds B to get to C, then finds potential for E and builds D to get to E ...", or is the only explanation that A is trying to get all the way to Z from the onset? How much entropy must be overcome to keep, develop and encode the necessary information? Can we model the information code necessary to express such design sequences? Can we use that to predict certain interesting aspects of biology or the universe? Is the intelligent organization of historical events consciousness-related, like the collapse and instantaneous transmission of information in wave-collapse experiments? Can one alter historical pathways according to the nature of observation? Does DNA react to intelligent observation the same way photons do? Can we predict evolutionary changes based on extrapolating a "motive" by considering the interesting variations in a sequence? Can we find a way to test that motive? Can it be extrapolated into some kind of formula that can be meaningfully tested? This is why "the designer" is irrelevant. Whether one calles the designer "God" or "MWI", you still have to develop a scientific description of the design sequences.William J. Murray
October 17, 2007
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bfast,
With this scenerio, you have design detection without identifying the designer, or knowing how it was designed.
That's not the point...and I've already discussed those distinctions above. The point is that Murray said "MWI isn’t the enemy of ID theory; it’s just the enemy of ID ideologues that demand the theory imply a designer." If the explanatory filter results in a positive how can there not be an intelligent causation in the form of a designer? The identity and nature of the designer and how the design was enacted are separate issues which may be discovered through alternate methods.Patrick
October 17, 2007
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ReligionProf. There can be no reasonable doubt that there was fraud. And all the evidence points to Harry as the culprit for the simple reason he's the one with all the money in his pocket. Remember, he put on no evidence concerning a frame; as members of the jury our deliberations are bound to the evidence, not speculations about what might have happened. He is clearly guilty. There can be no reasonable doubt. Your post illustrates confusion between proof beyond a reasonable doubt and apodictic proof (i.e, necessarily true or logically certain). When you are on a jury, you NEVER get apodictic proof. Instead you must determine whether the evidence proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In your post you seem to be insisting on apodictic proof when you say that the math is not sufficient. No, the fact that Bob took five winning tickets in a row down to the office to collect means that beyond a reasonable doubt he is guilty of fraud.BarryA
October 17, 2007
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Bob: You have again, unfortunately missed the point -- exhaustion of probabilistic resources. Without diverting the thread, I will note on the point. 1] Clark and RSS Cf again my excerpt in 60:
[Ms Clark's] prosecution was controversial due to statistical evidence presented by paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow, who testified that the chance of two children from an affluent family suffering cot death was 1 in 73 million, when in fact it was closer to 1 in 200 . . .
The reason for that, in effect was, as the RSS said in their press release:
"This approach [multiplying individual probabilities on the assumption of independence without proper warrant therefor] is, in general, statistically invalid. It would only be valid if SIDS cases arose independently within families, an assumption that would need to be justified empirically. Not only was no such empirical justification provided in the case, but there are very strong a priori reasons for supposing that the assumption will be false. There may well be unknown genetic or environmental factors that predispose families to SIDS, so that a second case within the family becomes much more likely. "The well-publicised figure of 1 in 73 million thus has no statistical basis. Its use cannot reasonably be justified as a "ballpark" figure because the error involved is likely to be very large, and in one particular direction.
October 17, 2007
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kairosfocus @60 -
What Bob failed to do was to cite the reason the conviction was overturned, as was stated in the Wiki article he cited:
The reason is (largely) the same as the one I gave for the powerball problem - the prosecutor's fallacy. Read what the RSS wrote. That's the main reason why the probabilities diverge so much. If you don't want to believe me (and the RSS), then look at Dr. Dembski's explanation of the maths behind the Jesus Tomb affair. BobBob O'H
October 16, 2007
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#79 & everyone: I appreciate the conversation and debate, but I can see that I'm either failing to express myself adequately, or I'm misunderstanding some basic component of the ID debate. I'll ponder this and for now wish you all the best.William J. Murray
October 16, 2007
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Fellow members of the jury, I put it to you that the only way to reach a verdict is to carefully examine the evidence. If there is clear evidence of tampering, we must convict. If not, then there is reasonable doubt, and in spite of Dr. Snikwad's condescending British accent, according to the principles of American justice, we must find him not guilty. The sheer improbability of his multiple consecutive wins cannot be a basis for conviction, since improbable things do sometimes happen. Unless we can demonstrate his winning streak to be not merely improbable but impossible in the absence of tampering, then we have reasonable doubt and must find him not guilty.ReligionProf
October 16, 2007
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wjm The real problem with putting stock in a multiverse in order to explain extraordinarily improbable things is that it nullifies statistical mechanics which is underpinned by the 2nd Law of Thermodyamics. If you start throwing out laws of physics because they don't fit into your theories, and this is acceptable to the scientific establishment in general, then they might as well pack their bags and go home because they are no longer scientists. Fortunately engineers will still be around so progress will continue. Let's take a hypothetical example of statistical mechanics in evolution: it's theoretically possible for cockroaches to acquire through mutation fangs and toxic venom like a brown recluse spider on steriods, and a highly aggressive nature to go along with it. So why don't we worry more about this possibility? Because statistical mechanics informs us that the mutation in question is such a complex spontaneous reorganization of matter that we can rest assured it won't happen. Now suppose we actually saw a cockroach population like these suddenly appear? How would we best explain it? We could suppose that something nearly impossible happened and rule it a rare exception to probabilistic predictions. Personally I think an intelligent agency would be a better explanation because we know intelligent agency is possible. We positively know intelligent agency exists on the earth and acts to alter heritable traits in ways that statistical mechanics otherwise predicts is so improbable it'll effectively never happen. So the most reasonable explanation is not that there was some fluke exception to the laws of probability but rather that intelligent agency, which routinely manipulates matter into exceedingly unlikely patterns, was the culprit - whether we witnessed the act or not. DaveScot
October 16, 2007
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William J Murray wrote, "ID doesn’t need to claim a designer in a court case, it only needs to make the distinction between wrongful death and death by natural causes - it doesn’t even require a suspect or deliberately caused death. While a designer is an obvious inference, it is left out of the theory as stated for good and specific reasons, IMO." Well, not exactly. It is not possible to discern wrongful death without positing the presence of an intelligent agent. To experience a wrongful act is to be the victim of an abuse of intelligence. The term "designer" does not apply because the intelligent agent in a court case is analogous to the designer in nature. In a broader sense, you seem to want to reduce ID to to a level at which teleology can no longer serve as a guiding principle. Granted, the ID bar can drop below the level of supernatural intelligence to the level of human intelligence or even to the level of a rational principle in nature, but no lower. There must be something there to detect. But how do you detect the presence of intelligence in a cosmic madhouse that has no boundaries? Where is the unity to contextualize all that diversity? Yes, you can hypothesize, but you can't detect. Unless the universe has been set up in advance such that our rationality corresponds to a single rational universe that can be identified as THE object of investigation, there is simply no way to know what you are investigating.StephenB
October 16, 2007
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You have design detection without a designer! With this scenerio, you have design detection without identifying the designer, or knowing how it was designed. If I win the powerball 5 times in a row, we know that the cheat was designed before knowing how the cheat was implemented or who implemented the cheat.bFast
October 16, 2007
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IE, we know that a cheat for powerball was designed, we don’t know who the designer is. Simple.
That's my point to Murray. You cannot have design detection without a designer but you do need different methods to connect the designed object to the designer.Patrick
October 16, 2007
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Patrick:
If we’re using formalized design detection (ID theory) in a scenario like a court case if ID theory cannot claim a designer then…well, ID theory seems pretty useless to me.
Let me just help you out here a little bit with this lovely example. If I win the powerball 5 times in a row any court in the land will conclude that shenanigans happened. What the court cannot determine from this simple fact is wether I fooled the powerball system or somebody else. Maybe somebody fooled it, but gave me the money to throw the world off of its trail, with the promise that I cut him in later. Maybe my ex-wife did it figuring that I would get caught and charged with it. IE, we know that a cheat for powerball was designed, we don't know who the designer is. Simple.bFast
October 16, 2007
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quote: "If we’re using formalized design detection (ID theory) in a scenario like a court case if ID theory cannot claim a designer then…well, ID theory seems pretty useless to me." ID doesn't need to claim a designer in a court case, it only needs to make the distinction between wrongful death and death by natural causes - it doesn't even require a suspect or deliberately caused death. While a designer is an obvious inference, it is left out of the theory as stated for good and specific reasons, IMO. Quote: "Also, it seems to me you are conflating “goal-oriented” and “inevitability”. With infinite MWI everything is inevitable, not goal-oriented." As far as a scientific description of any relevant, interesting phenomena or processes, there is no difference between "inevitable" and "goal-oriented"; IMHO, one is mostly a materialist term for the process in question, and the other is a mostly non-materialist term for the process in question. And unless one is arguing ideology, I see no reason to debate the difference. Regardless if one calls it "inevitable" or "goal-oriented", the model describing the actual behavior is going to be the same.William J. Murray
October 16, 2007
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Murray,
As stated here http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....amp;id=697 and in many other documents describing the difference between intelligent design and creationism by leading ID proponents, and describing why ID is a scientific theory, a “designer” is only a possible implication of the theory and isn’t pertinent to the descriptive validity of the model.
I'm assuming you're talking about points 1 and 4. It's talking about a SUPERNATURAL designer being an implication of ID, NOT designer(s) in general. In point 14 Behe is discussing the specific identity of the designer and how he derives that outside of ID, not whether ID assumes that formalized design detection can infer a designer in the first place. In short, your entire argument in this thread appears to be based upon a misunderstanding of ID theory. If we're using formalized design detection (ID theory) in a scenario like a court case if ID theory cannot claim a designer then...well, ID theory seems pretty useless to me. Also, it seems to me you are conflating "goal-oriented" and "inevitability". With infinite MWI everything is inevitable, not goal-oriented.Patrick
October 16, 2007
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Professorsmith: I completely apologize if it seemed I was making a smear on your character, intelligence, ideology or position. I intended no such thing. I certain never meant to offend you or anyone else on this blog. I completely appreciate your efforts to discuss this with me. If I am currently incapable of understanding the resistance to MWI as anything other than an ideological bias, the problem lies in my inability to understand, and certainly not in others.William J. Murray
October 16, 2007
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October 16, 2007
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Professorsmith: I appreciate the great conversation, but I think we have somehow divergent understandings of what it means when a biologist invokes MWI. You seem to think it is an avoidance of teleological theory because it avoids the implication of a designer; I see it as submission to teleological theory as long as no designer is required; since ID doesn't postulate a designer, I don't see why IDers argue against it. I don't see any meaningful scientific difference between "design by god" or "design by MWI"; either way, it's still an admission of an apparent teleological process. I guess it comes down to ascertaining the intent of the biologist who invokes MWI; in every paper I've seen that invokes MWI, it is to explain an apparent teleological process that has no apparent undirected explanation. Whether one calls it the "Theory of Intelligent Design" or the "Theory of Massively Unlikely Events Achieving Virtually Impossible, Seemingly Organized and Deliberate Outcomes Made Possible Without Conscious Direction By MWI", it's the same theory, unless one is wedded to the designer implication.William J. Murray
October 16, 2007
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William J Murray, "So is saying “A Designer Did It”. Explaining why is irrelevant, as I pointed out. Describing the process is what ID theory is supposed to be about. You’re making an ideological argument here; I’m not." Nice red herring, but I am emphatically NOT stating "A Designer Did It" as a catch-all argument for ID. Again your attempts to tar my ideology are beneath us both. "It is an explanation of how our universe can come into existence; it describes nothing in particular inside it." Then it has nothing to say on the question of RM + NS vs. ID. Thank you, but you've just proved yourself wrong. MWI does NOT support ID. "It does if it is invoked as explanation in lieu of non-directed descriptions." No, it does not. This is a non-sequitor. If I invoke MWI as a way of subverting a design theory, it doesn't actually support just because you want to play cute rhetorical games and say, "Nyah nyah, you had to explain design away, so therefore you are supporting it." That would be like a Darwinist arguing that when you argue against RM + NS that you are actually strengthening his case because you are having to come up with claims to counter his claims. "It explains why, just as “God did it” explains why." And, I whole-heartedly agree, which is why I say it is no more science than to claim "God did it." "The only model left available is teleological - ID, whether “god did it” or “MWI did it”." What you mean to say here is, "The only model left when not invoking MWI is teleological." MWI is invoked to destroy the necessary teleological explanation. That you don't understand why that is doesn't mean that this somehow supports ID. "I don’t think most ID proponents have clearly thought this through, either, and are reacting out of ideological bias." And you would be wrong. I object because it simply isn't science, just as "God did it," is not science. Further, I think your interpretation of it and your understanding are sorely lacking. "How is asserting the existence of billions of non-autistic savants useful in understanding the autistic-savant qualities of the individual you are examining?" That's not the intent though, is it? The intent is simply to show that the potential outcome, no matter how improbable, can and will come true. That's what you are not getting here. That's what my coin flip example was about. If the odds of life arising are beyond the UPB for one universe, well with multiple universes you get that many more cracks at it and eventually you get one where life does arise. It destroys the long odds and replaces them with near certainty. With MWI, the materialists are free to rely on chance creating life because it is no longer improbable. Why do you not get this? "I don’t know how else to say this, but again, MWI is like “god did it”" And I agree with that completely. What I don't understand is how you can think it is scientific while fully admitting that it carries the same impact as "God did it." "What is my pet theory? I’m not advocating for MWI; my argument is that there is no reason for IDers to attack it." Your pet theory is obviously that MWI would somehow support ID if it were true. You seem unwilling and unable to recognize what MWI is, why it pertains to the question of ID, and what its implications are. "The more they toss up their hands and bleat, “MWI DID IT!” the better." Agreed, but only if we show it to be the unscientific pablum that it is. If we sit back and let the materialists dictate another unscientific "theory" onto us and try to co-opt it as our own, it will backfire. This is especially true because it simply does not support ID science.professorsmith
October 16, 2007
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GEM of TKI writes, "We can therefore see rapidly that OOL by C + N only on the scope of our observed cosmos is a hypothesis maintained in the teeth of abundant empirical data and knowledge. And, the multiverse hyp is in effect a resort to naked metaphysics to try to save the phenomena for a worldview that is in deep trouble on this front." Nicely put.BarryA
October 16, 2007
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Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t postulate nor require a designer - you might want to read it again.
Murray, based upon your previous comments I thought that might be what you were arguing. While, yes, the specific identity or knowledge of a designer(s) is not required for ID theory--since it currently does not incorporate formalized methods for designER detection--the existence of an intelligent agency in relation to the designed object is presumed from the outset. Hence the confusion by all the ID proponents on here. You cannot throw out design detection pointing to intelligent agency and still call it ID theory!Patrick
October 16, 2007
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I'll put a little humor in here. At work, myself and my coworkers frequently email each other stuff that is sometimes humorous. Earlier today, my coworker emailed me this:
I FELT SOMETHING IN MY SHOE SINCE I PUT IT ON THIS MORNING….FINALLY TOOK IT OFF AND A DIME FELL OUT…WHY COULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN A \$100 BILL?..LOL
My response:
I WAS READING A BLOG EARLIER AND THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT THE "INFINITE MULTIVERSE THEORY", THE THEORY THAT THERE IS AN INFINITE NUBER OF UNIVERSES WHERE THINGS ARE DIFFERENT THAN THEY ARE TODAY. IF IT'S TRUE, IN ONE OF THOSE UNIVERSES, A \$200 MILLION WINNING LOTTERY TICKET FELL OUT OF YOUR SHOE.
His comeback:
THANKS…I FEEL MUCH BETTER NOW…LOL
country6925
October 16, 2007
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Only developing a theory in a way that no physicist is ever likely to discover will a truly scientific teleological model be constructed. So that, firstly, a quantum hypothesis needs to be justified and developed that assumes and describes in enough detail the action of a cause that acts with non-local effects in addition to all the forces . And then large scale natural evidence of where such a cause can be thought to act needs to be found to support the quantum hypothesis. Such is an account that could be called a general theory of natural organisation. http://foranewageofreason.blogspirit.commerlin wood
October 16, 2007
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