I thought about including this in my previous thread, but it has grown so large that I suspect it would be lost in the abyss. If Skeptical Zone readers are interested I’ll write a series of these posts, in which I’ll develop a number of themes concerning why I abandoned evolutionary orthodoxy and became convinced that an inference to design is most reasonable.
As most of you know, I am a classical musician. All great musical compositions have a theme, and the theme of this site is “think it possible that you may be mistaken.” With that theme in mind, might I suggest some skepticism concerning probabilities?
One doesn’t need precise numbers to recognize when proposed probabilities are way of whack. When I was growing up and learning mathematics my dad (a professor of chemical physics) admonished me to always check my calculations to see if they made sense on the surface (in my engineering department we call this “using the beverage out the nose” test). If I punch 87 x 53 into my calculator and get 46,481 I immediately know something is wrong (in this case I hit the 7 key twice by accident) even if I don’t know exactly what is wrong, because the result should be somewhere in the hundreds, not thousands. I don’t need to know exactly what the problem is in order to recognize that the result makes no sense.
I apply this logic to probabilities concerning evolutionary theory. We have some good empirical evidence that it took about 10^20 reproductive events for malaria to evolve chloroquine resistance. It could be that Lucy turned into Lizzie in 3.2 million years by stochastic Darwinian mechanisms filtered by natural selection, but I apply the beverage-out-the-nose test concerning the probabilities. Even given the most generous assumptions (a few hundred thousand generations with a few million individuals in each generation) the probabilistic Lucy–to-Lizzie resources don’t pass the smell test, in my view.
So, I ask Skeptical Zone readers: Is my skepticism unwarranted, and if so, why?