About chance and arguments.

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About chance and arguments.

#1

Post by Ngakunui » Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:30 am

I technically wouldn't use the word philosophy to describe this, but it seems from the subforum description that this is the right place.

I know a lot of people say, in quite a few topics here, namely while debating in the evolution/creation thing, that "there's no such thing as chance". Let me first mention the entire ninth verse of Ecclesiastes. I'm quite sure it wasn't written by an atheist, because if it was, it would be silly to put it in the Bible. It goes on and on, speaking of the entire book, speaking about how utterly meaningless everything people do is. It also writes about how people can't really find any grand scheme behind everything- oh wait, it mentions after that that there's a single, commonly shared destiny for everyone; It's called death. Go figure why there's so much chaos when people won't let anything go anyone else's way- never mind, I'm getting off topic. But really, it mentions that basically everything that anyone who's anyone has worked for is successful at least partially from chance. You should read the book, I found it to be quite good.

It also says (chapter eight, verse 15) "So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of life God has given him under the sun."- A lot of people seem to think enjoying anything that isn't affiliated with or is a church service is evil- this is silly, unless you think the churches have priority over the Bible, which they don't.

But my point is, why is it so hard to accept that some things can happen accidentally? Is it merely because an atheist said it, and you must immediately contradict him? Don't you know what happens if you answer someone like that to his own silliness? All I ever read, in the "creation talk" subforum is:

"I think this is this", "no it's not it's the opposite of that", "no, it's what this man of my constituency said", "no it's what this guy on this science site said this", "well this news article says that","well that's impossible because of this","no that's impossible because of that","well, you brought it up","no you brought it up","no you did","no you did","Why do you exist?", "well, why do you exist?", "I asked you first", "No I asked you first", "no I did", "No I did", and it goes on and on about people contradicting each other thinking somehow reality conforms to them simply on account of it sounding believable to them. It's silly. And I'm sure on some other quantum of the internet that doesn't speak English the whole chance/not a chance thing is the other way around. "God made everything and allowed it to follow chance","No, everything is subject to the laws of Evolution strictly"- and it goes on and on. It's like it's human nature to have the same interests just to argue over them.

Personally, and I know a lot of people are raised to believe the opposite, if you would focus more on your differences than similarities in these discussions, that is to say, before they become raving arguments, you would probably, in fine detail, explain things that you believe, instead of downright annoying the other with questions and disguised insults. The purpose of a discussion is to make beliefs and understandings on things known to another person anticipating it to be responded to similarly: in a civilised manner.

But seriously, now; if you're going to argue, you, and I mean all four or so sides of the conflicts, can at least sound reasonable in arguing. No really; if you're going to quarrel about something, you can at least make your insults sound witty.

But in all honesty, you really don't need to assume your "opponent" is stating the exact opposite of the truth simply because he's opposing you. That's silly, and it will not only end up with you stumbling over yourself, but... well, it points towards not having a very strong constitution as well.


Simply my views based on my observations. I trust if you have anything to add, it will be civil.

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Re: About chance and arguments.

#2

Post by Yrreg » Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:50 pm

Ngakunui wrote:
[...]

But my point is, why is it so hard to accept that some things can happen accidentally? Is it merely because an atheist said it, and you must immediately contradict him? Don't you know what happens if you answer someone like that to his own silliness? All I ever read, in the "creation talk" ...

[...]

But in all honesty, you really don't need to assume your "opponent" is stating the exact opposite of the truth simply because he's opposing you. That's silly, and it will not only end up with you stumbling over yourself, but... well, it points towards not having a very strong constitution as well.


Simply my views based on my observations. I trust if you have anything to add, it will be civil.

My own impression about exchanging views with atheists is that they tend to argue instead of exchange views, and they always appear to be denying what you stand for, so that they oppose at once your very first words, before they even read the whole of your view about something.



For my own part, I consider myself an independent theist and a Christian also independent Christian.

Are you Ngakunui an atheist or a theist and if theist of what faith and denominational alliance?



The way I see it God is the maker of everything that is not God, wherefore there is no such thing as chance.

But then we have you and to come first to a mutually accepted concept of chance.


Here is my concept of change: a situation where things are acting without any regulated directions and manners.

An example of such a situation is the scene inside a giant concrete mixer where sand, gravel, cement, and water are moving in all and every directions, everything inside hitting each other, and the mixer is rotating in quick successions clockwise and counterclockwise and up and down and left and right and fast and slow, etc. -- you get the picture.



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Re: About chance and arguments.

#3

Post by Christian7 » Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:27 pm

Yrreg wrote:
Ngakunui wrote:


An example of such a situation is the scene inside a giant concrete mixer where sand, gravel, cement, and water are moving in all and every directions, everything inside hitting each other, and the mixer is rotating in quick successions clockwise and counterclockwise and up and down and left and right and fast and slow, etc. -- you get the picture.



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What does seemingly random courses for rocks in a mixer have to do with the Laws of the universe? Well, it may not be observable by our physical eyes, but maybe if you rolled that mixer for a good amount of millions of years, there would be a pattern.

Must we go any further with this symbology? The only good symbols and metaphors are for is putting an image in the mind so it can play and tinker with the notion.

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Re: About chance and arguments.

#4

Post by Yrreg » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:30 pm

Well, the way I see it, atheists don't believe that there is order in the totality of existence; but just the same for them chance produces for example life and the species of life, including of course humans with conscious intelligence and volition.

My point is that their concept of chance is not chance if it can produce life and species of life and human beings.

Because genuine chance as I understand chance cannot produce anything at all that is stable or that stays in a permanent form like for example your nose and my nose.

And I understand chance as in the concrete mixer I described in my post above.

Of course even in that kind of chance inside the concrete mixer as God exists Who made everything and is in charge of everything and keeps everything in operation, there is ultimately no chance but order only we cannot see it.


Addressing atheists here: Do you explain the rise of life by bringing in chance, in which case how do you understand chance?



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Re: About chance and arguments.

#5

Post by August » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:32 am

I am one of those that say there is no such thing as chance.

For those that appeal to chance, please describe the ontology of chance. Describe its creative power to produce anything. Where is it? What does it look like from the materialist perspective?

We appeal to chance when we don't know all the variables.
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Re: About chance and arguments.

#6

Post by Jac3510 » Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:49 pm

Why do you have a problem with the notion of chance, August? I, for one, am very comfortable with it. As far as its ontology goes, I would say it is anything that is not the direct result of intended action. To illustrate, suppose I am playing baseball, and I swing at a pitch and hit a homerun. That is not chance. I intended to swing and hit. On the other hand, suppose I am blindfolded and I swing and hit a homerun. That is pure chance. Certainly, I intended to swing, and I hoped to make contact, but there is a very real difference in the two.

I think it is dangerous to deny chance, as well. If I expand an argument I only just picked up from Bowlin, I find it difficult to conceive of virtues in the absence of chance, because the virtues teach us to deal with contingencies in life, and I find it difficult to conceive of contingency without chance--at least, I find it difficult to conceive of a world in which contingency abounds and there is absolutely no chance. That would lead to some pretty disturbing ideas, I think . . .

Another reason I think it is dangerous to deny chance is that it hurts our ability to properly respond to evil. I, for one, happen to believe that gratuitous evil is very real, and I think Christians hurt themselves a great deal when they try to build defenses or theodicies that denies its reality (the common appeal to the "greater good" defense is, I think morally problematic in its own right). This, I think, is actually philosophical necessary, for the simple reason perfection is one of God's non-transferable attributes. That is, God couldn't make the world perfect anymore than He could make me omnipotent. Some things belong to God alone their and His nature, for simply, to be perfect is to be God. If the world were perfect, it would need nothing, even God Himself, which is obviously absurd. But if the world is not perfect, then it has "places" in which it lacks. I think in the original creation--and certainly in the creation to come--God filled those gaps Himself. At the Fall, though, God "withdrew," as it were, and left those "cracks" open. Those "lackings" are exactly what evil is, for, as you know, evil is nothing but a lack of good. If, then, we recognize that God has allowed evil in the world, then we must recognize that He has withdrawn Himself to at least some extent, and I think that makes gratuitous evil a philosophical necessity, for what could be more lacking than something without intention, or, what you and I would call chance?
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Re: About chance and arguments.

#7

Post by Yrreg » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:31 am

Jac3510 wrote:Why do you have a problem with the notion of chance, August? I, for one, am very comfortable with it. As far as its ontology goes, I would say it is anything that is not the direct result of intended action. To illustrate, suppose I am playing baseball, and I swing at a pitch and hit a homerun. That is not chance. I intended to swing and hit. On the other hand, suppose I am blindfolded and I swing and hit a homerun. That is pure chance. Certainly, I intended to swing, and I hoped to make contact, but there is a very real difference in the two.

[...]

You see, or you don't, that you are restricting your concept of chance to whether there is intention by an human agent in anything or there is no intention by an human agent.

Your being blindfolded and just the same hitting a homerun is indeed not from your intention to hit a homerun; as far as intention from you is concerned which is not present in you, you can call the homerun a chance occurrence, but it is not a chance occurrence in regard to the laws of physics.

And for theists the laws of physics have for their author God, the maker of everything, and Who keeps everything in existence and in operation in accordance with all kinds of laws He also sets up to govern everything in existence and in operation.


If there are no laws of physics then you can say that your being blindfolded and just the same a homerun occurs from your wild swinging of a baseball bat, that homerun is a chance occurrence, yes you can say that.

But will a homerun in the situation you describe where there are no laws of physics, will a homerun ever occur at all?


That is why I say that nothing can ever come about in a situation of chance, for example, in my example of situation of chance inside a concrete mixer as described in my two posts above.


Suppose there is no God, will you ever in an environment of chance come to existence as a conscious entity with intelligence and free will, and stay around for say a split second on the supposition that you do come about to existence and operation?




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Re: About chance and arguments.

#8

Post by A Y323 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:48 am

Chance shouldn't be something we have to worry about. It's really nothing more than a mathematical tool to tell us the likelihood that something will or will not happen. I agree that chance has no creative power, because chance is not a "thing" at all, it is just an idea.

I think Yrreg is on the right track by making a distinction between chance and the laws of physics, so I will add to that. Suppose you are in a vacuum with nothing but a table (or flat surface) and a coin, a regular coin with two sides: heads and tails. Also suppose that all laws of physics are active in the vacuum (really the "vacuum" is just so there is no outside interference). Suppose you flip the coin and it lands on heads. What were the chances of that? Well the coin only has two sides, so the chance was 50%. Now suppose you flip the coin again, in exactly the same way that the coin was flipped last time. Your hand is held at exactly the same height above the table, you put exactly the same amount of force on the coin, it flips exactly the same amount of times in the air, it hits the table at exactly the same angle and speed, etc. Would it land on heads or tails? If everything is exactly the same as the first time, it would land on heads. That is all because of the laws of physics, where does chance factor into that? Nowhere, because chance is just an idea with no power to create or manipulate anything.

Even in Yrreg's giant concrete mixer analogy, if we knew the exact position, velocity, physical properties, etc. of everything in the mixer and all the forces acting on/in the mixer, there would be no "chance" in the movements of the particles in the mixer- it could all be calculated using the laws of physics. But since it's next to impossible for us to know that much information about virtually anything, we came up with this idea called chance that helps us determine the likely outcome of an event.

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Re: About chance and arguments.

#9

Post by Byblos » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:23 am

A Y323 wrote:Chance shouldn't be something we have to worry about. It's really nothing more than a mathematical tool to tell us the likelihood that something will or will not happen. I agree that chance has no creative power, because chance is not a "thing" at all, it is just an idea.

I think Yrreg is on the right track by making a distinction between chance and the laws of physics, so I will add to that. Suppose you are in a vacuum with nothing but a table (or flat surface) and a coin, a regular coin with two sides: heads and tails. Also suppose that all laws of physics are active in the vacuum (really the "vacuum" is just so there is no outside interference). Suppose you flip the coin and it lands on heads. What were the chances of that? Well the coin only has two sides, so the chance was 50%. Now suppose you flip the coin again, in exactly the same way that the coin was flipped last time. Your hand is held at exactly the same height above the table, you put exactly the same amount of force on the coin, it flips exactly the same amount of times in the air, it hits the table at exactly the same angle and speed, etc. Would it land on heads or tails? If everything is exactly the same as the first time, it would land on heads. That is all because of the laws of physics, where does chance factor into that? Nowhere, because chance is just an idea with no power to create or manipulate anything.

Even in Yrreg's giant concrete mixer analogy, if we knew the exact position, velocity, physical properties, etc. of everything in the mixer and all the forces acting on/in the mixer, there would be no "chance" in the movements of the particles in the mixer- it could all be calculated using the laws of physics. But since it's next to impossible for us to know that much information about virtually anything, we came up with this idea called chance that helps us determine the likely outcome of an event.
Would you say then that chance is the unpredictable change in a given set of variables?
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Re: About chance and arguments.

#10

Post by A Y323 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:48 am

Byblos wrote:Would you say then that chance is the unpredictable change in a given set of variables?
Well, I think it depends on how much we don't know about the event in question. It is predictable to some extent, that's what chance is in my opinion: a tool used to predict likelihood. The accuracy of the prediction goes up with the amount of known information, and down with the amount of unknown information.

That's not to say that I believe a human prediction of a very complex scenario could be 100% accurate. Especially if there is a human agent with a choice involved. So would I say that chance is unpredictable change? No, because that's just not what I think of when I think of "chance". When I think of chance, I really just think of mathematical probability, like "There are 5 blue balls and 7 red balls in a bag, what is the chance you will pull out a blue ball?"

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Re: About chance and arguments.

#11

Post by A Y323 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:27 am

Above was just my initial reaction to the question. After a bit more thought, I'd like to add that I think calling chance "the unpredictable change in a set of variables" in a way ascribes causative power to chance. It's like saying, "We had this set of variables, so we calculated this outcome. But instead we got this other outcome. Chance must have interfered because there's no way we could have predicted that." So you're left with a sort of "Chance of the gaps" argument. "We don't know what caused this, so we'll just say Chance did it." I maintain that chance, as nothing more than an idea, has no power to create or manipulate anything. I would say the change is due to either a lack of information, unforeseen (not necessarily unpredictable) forces, or human error in the calculation. Sorry if I misunderstood the question in any way.

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Re: About chance and arguments.

#12

Post by The11thDr. » Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:58 am

What about non-random chance?
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Re: About chance and arguments.

#13

Post by DannyM » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:48 pm

A Y323 wrote:Chance shouldn't be something we have to worry about. It's really nothing more than a mathematical tool to tell us the likelihood that something will or will not happen. I agree that chance has no creative power, because chance is not a "thing" at all, it is just an idea.

I think Yrreg is on the right track by making a distinction between chance and the laws of physics, so I will add to that. Suppose you are in a vacuum with nothing but a table (or flat surface) and a coin, a regular coin with two sides: heads and tails. Also suppose that all laws of physics are active in the vacuum (really the "vacuum" is just so there is no outside interference). Suppose you flip the coin and it lands on heads. What were the chances of that? Well the coin only has two sides, so the chance was 50%. Now suppose you flip the coin again, in exactly the same way that the coin was flipped last time. Your hand is held at exactly the same height above the table, you put exactly the same amount of force on the coin, it flips exactly the same amount of times in the air, it hits the table at exactly the same angle and speed, etc. Would it land on heads or tails? If everything is exactly the same as the first time, it would land on heads. That is all because of the laws of physics, where does chance factor into that? Nowhere, because chance is just an idea with no power to create or manipulate anything.

Even in Yrreg's giant concrete mixer analogy, if we knew the exact position, velocity, physical properties, etc. of everything in the mixer and all the forces acting on/in the mixer, there would be no "chance" in the movements of the particles in the mixer- it could all be calculated using the laws of physics. But since it's next to impossible for us to know that much information about virtually anything, we came up with this idea called chance that helps us determine the likely outcome of an event.
A Y323 wrote:Above was just my initial reaction to the question. After a bit more thought, I'd like to add that I think calling chance "the unpredictable change in a set of variables" in a way ascribes causative power to chance. It's like saying, "We had this set of variables, so we calculated this outcome. But instead we got this other outcome. Chance must have interfered because there's no way we could have predicted that." So you're left with a sort of "Chance of the gaps" argument. "We don't know what caused this, so we'll just say Chance did it." I maintain that chance, as nothing more than an idea, has no power to create or manipulate anything. I would say the change is due to either a lack of information, unforeseen (not necessarily unpredictable) forces, or human error in the calculation. Sorry if I misunderstood the question in any way.
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Re: About chance and arguments.

#14

Post by Byblos » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:24 pm

A Y323 wrote:Above was just my initial reaction to the question. After a bit more thought, I'd like to add that I think calling chance "the unpredictable change in a set of variables" in a way ascribes causative power to chance. It's like saying, "We had this set of variables, so we calculated this outcome. But instead we got this other outcome. Chance must have interfered because there's no way we could have predicted that." So you're left with a sort of "Chance of the gaps" argument. "We don't know what caused this, so we'll just say Chance did it." I maintain that chance, as nothing more than an idea, has no power to create or manipulate anything. I would say the change is due to either a lack of information, unforeseen (not necessarily unpredictable) forces, or human error in the calculation. Sorry if I misunderstood the question in any way.
You did not misunderstand it and your answer is more than adequate (for now). Thanks.
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