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.