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Friday, May 2, 2008

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Regardless of what you believe about the evolution of living organisms, the probability of life arising from non-life by chance is infinitely small (non-living matter does not evolve). More support for this is found (more implicitly than explicitly) in this fascinating article, from a secular viewpoint, on the search for intelligent life in the blogosphere, er, I mean, universe.

1 comment:

JLundell said...

"the probability of life arising from non-life by chance is infinitely small"

We have here an example of argument from personal incredulity, or perhaps argument by lack of imagination. I (or perhaps my pals and I) can't imagine how X could happen; therefore X is impossible. Neither is a particularly compelling argument.

WRT the article, the author insists (it seems he can't imagine it to be otherwise) that if other life (I think he means intelligent life, by which he apparently includes us) has arisen at all commonly elsewhere, then we surely must have become aware of it.

This is by no means a given. There are some compelling arguments against bothering with SETI to the effect that even if life is quite common throughout the universe, the probability of SETI finding it is so small as to be negligible. I'm sure you can google them up if you're interested in pursuing the question.

Without the premise that alien life would surely be apparent to us, the remainder of the article's argument falls apart. (Not that the article argues that life arising from non-life is impossible--only that the author would prefer it to be otherwise.)