Analogies

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unfogged
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Analogies

Post #1

Post by unfogged »

I've been considering a few analogies to use when talking with theists and I'd appreciate any thoughts anybody has on them or any other analogies that they have found to be useful.

Regarding evolution and the "when did a dog give birth to a cat" type of question:
A common game in childhood was to draw a stick figure at the bottom of the page of a notebook. On the next page you'd draw a slightly different figure and so on. When you rifled the pages you can make the figure move across the page, grow, shrink, change shape, etc. The differences between any two pages were small but the difference over multiple pages was large. Evolution is the same in that the differences among any small sample of generations are tiny and often unnoticeable but when you compare animals hundreds or thousands or millions of generations apart the differences can be huge.

Regarding the highly unlikely chances that order can come from chaos:
When a cereal producer fills a box of raisin bran cereal the raisins and flakes are mixed randomly and fill the box. The box is then subjected to random jostling as it is shipped and shelved and purchased. Very often the consumer finds that the raisins and bran have mostly separated out into different layers in the box and they have compacted to fill less volume. That is an increase in order produced entirely by random processes produced only by the physical laws that govern objects. While the reason those laws are what they are may be debatable it remains that they operate blindly and that randomness can increase order.

Regarding the statistical improbability of random chemicals forming living compounds:
If you toss a large number of bar magnets into a box and then check you will find that they have lined up with the north and south ends each as close to their opposites as possible. They do not join north-to-north or south-to-south or end-to-middle. Chemical compounds, like the atoms that make them up, also have fixed ways of joining with other compounds so the odds of particular compounds forming is significantly higher than a completely random mixing might imply.

Regarding the improbability of human DNA forming randomly:
If you have a box full of paperclips and you insert a magnet and draw it out you will get a long chain of paper clips suspended from the magnet. The odds of those particular paper clips being caught up in the chain and in that particular order are vanishingly small and yet there they are. If you repeat the experiment the chances of getting that same initial chain repeated exactly are near zero. The error is in attaching significance to that initial chain; while the odds are against any specific chain forming there is certainty that some chain will form. If the earth could be reset the chances of humans evolving again are essentially zero and whatever did evolve would be wondering about the odds it beat.

Another view on statistical improbability:
If you have a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle that you want to assemble there are 500 factorial possible arrangements of the pieces (500x499x498x497…x2x1). Taking just the first 5 pieces there are more than 30 trillion possible combinations. If you try 1 piece every second it would take more than 973000 years to try them all. It’s obviously impossible to a jigsaw puzzle to ever be completed. Of course, since the pieces can’t all be assembled interchangeably, and you don’t have to try all possible combinations, and you don’t keep trying new pieces when you find a match, the numbers are irrelevant.

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Post #11

Post by unfogged »

[Replying to post 9 by keithprosser3]

True enough. My response to that objection would be that jigsaw puzzle pieces by themselves do not join together spontaneously but the parts that make up DNA do. The need for an external factor to put puzzle pieces together is irrelevant when no such external factor is needed.

I realize that the argument would likely then turn to the need for god to create atoms with the ability to spontaneously join into molecules and compounds and so on but that's a different discussion. With the jigsaw analogy I'm only looking to demonstrate why the statistical unlikeliness of DNA forming is misleading.

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Post #12

Post by keithprosser3 »

I think the basis is wrong. I've been checking the Bible and when Jesus used analogies - he called the parables - he only had to explain them afterwards so I don't think theists are really up to speed with the metaphorical.

So if your analogies don't work and all else fails I think we should try arguments of the sort they're used to.

I suggest "If you believe in the Big Bang and evolution when you die you will go to a pretty place in the sky full of flowers and little birds where no one goes hungry or ever ever gets sick. But if thou believeth not in the Big Bang and evolution you and your big ass will burn in a bottomless pit of sulphur and your every bone filled with molten lead. Your big ass will be filled with hot lead also. You, your son, your ass's son and all generations until the very tenth shall wail and gnash their teeth.'

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Post #13

Post by Divine Insight »

unfogged wrote: [Replying to Divine Insight]

I think I see what you are saying but I wouldn't call what initially exists "order". There are constraints on what is possible and outcomes that are more likely than others based on the inherent properties but that I would not call that "order".
In that case, then I guess you do have a problem trying to argue how order came from chaos.
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Post #14

Post by keithprosser3 »

Regarding the highly unlikely chances that order can come from chaos:
In what context do theists bring up this issue?

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