April 23, 2009

We, As Individual Humans, Really Are Flukes

I really hate the creationist argument that uses the idea of odds when it comes to their rejection of evolution. From the chances that life would arise from non life (which of course isn't evolution) to the chances that a series of flukes would lead to an earth dominated by man, creationists continue to show a complete misunderstanding of probability.
My simplest retort to those who use these type of arguments is the big jackpot lottery winner. Prior to winning the pot, the player had a mathematical chance of maybe 1 in 15 million, but when the numbers were drawn, his odds went up to 100%.
In other words, if we turn back the clock 4.6 billion years, or even 17 billion years, and then made odds for what life would be like on earth in the year of the fictitious lord 2009, there would be an infinite amount of possible outcomes. The odds that the world would be populated by exactly those who populate it today, with our exact ages, and with our exact lineage (I'm talking plants, all animals) would be as close to zero as it gets.
Just look at us as individual humans.

The first thing is something I can't answer because I aint no biologist, but I can guess until maybe one of my readers sets me straight. It has to do with what exactly makes me me and you you. What exactly makes a fraternal twin different than his or her sibling, for example? Is it the egg that gives us an individual consciousness or is it the sperm, or a combination. And does it depend on which sperm and what exact time that sperm makes it into the egg?
What I mean is that did my parents have to mate at the exact time they did in order to create me? Was there any leeway? Did it have to be that certain sperm at that certain time? Would I be here if another sperm made it to the egg first or if my parents did it 15 seconds sooner or 15 seconds later than they did it? Are chemical reactions in the womb the only difference between me and my siblings? I highly doubt it.

Ok, this is what I'm getting at. I'm going to assume that I wouldn't be here if my parents didn't do it exactly when they did give or take an hour each way. Now lets go back only 300 years. What are the odds that all my ancestors would have met and mated exactly the times they did? From here, it is 100%. But 300 years ago, with wars and disease, and since I'm of Jewish ancestry (and even though I'm 3rd or 4th generation Canadian my ancestors came from all over the place) and we know what Jews had to go through up until very recently, what would be the odds that I would be sitting here writing this blog piece today? What are the chances I would even have the wife I have? It is as close to zero as can be.

We are real flukes whether we like it or not. And we should consider ourselves lucky that we exist, at least for now. Make the most of your win fall.