Professor Angry and the Argument from Probabilistic Resources
An anonymous professor at the University of Minnesota writes a blog that came to our attention because he tries to knock down not an actual argument for intelligent design but the most simplistic parody, provided to him not by any actual ID advocate but by an unnamed female friend whom he quotes:
I just learned that mathematicians assert (not necessarily in an argument to support God) that there hasn't been enough time for the theory of evolution to be viable. I'm making an assumption you have been aware of this given your profession and scientific mind and I'm curious of your take on this.Replying under the title "Evolution: Time Is on Our Side," the professor-blogger not only doesn't write under his own name but is cagey about what department he teaches in -- though he says he has "a background in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology." The blog itself is called, promisingly, "Angry by Choice."
Professor Angry thinks he's shown us a thing or two because as he goes on to write, silly Darwin doubters try to show how wildly improbable chance-driven Darwinian evolution is, given the finite time constraints. Yet we fail to see that any seemingly improbable chance occurrence -- like a series of Powerball winning numbers coming up -- is 100% certain to occur once it's already occurred. Why didn't we think of this?
Maybe Dr. Angry is ticked off because he couldn't cut it at the U. of M.'s elite Morris campus, where our buddy PZ Myers teaches. Even PZ seems more familiar with the Darwin-doubting arguments he derides than this fellow does, and surely everyone knows that if you want to refute an idea convincingly you need to go to a sophisticated presentation of it and argue against that. To make things really easy for Angry, we suggest that he do a word search here at ENV for the phrase "probabilistic resources."
OK, we've done it for him. Here you go. That produces a couple of pages of article links that we encourage him to read through and then get back to us. Better yet see an accessible treatment of the issue like in William Dembski's The Design Revolution.
But we're not holding our breath. This is how these folks always respond to probabilistic arguments against Darwinism (or materialistic origin of life scenarios). They implicitly treat the prior probability of alternatives such as ID as being vanishingly close to zero. Therefore, something like Darwinian evolution must be true, since we're here. So whatever the improbability, the actual proves the possible, and there's only one possibility worth considering.
Which just goes to show that no argument is sufficient to persuade the committed materialist. It doesn't follow that there aren't good arguments available for the open minded.