Who owns the argument from improbability? Statistical improbability is the old standby, the creaking warhorse of all creationists from naive Bible-jocks who don't know better, to comparatively welleducated Intelligent Design “theorists,” who should. There is no other creationist argument (if you discount falsehoods like “There aren't any intermediate fossils” and ignorant absurdities like “Evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics”). However superficially different they may appear, under the surface the deep structure of creationist advocacy is always the same. Something in nature—an eye, a biochemical pathway, or a cosmic constant—is too improbable to have come about by chance. Therefore it must have been designed. A watch demands a watchmaker. As a gratuitous bonus, the watchmaker conveniently turns out to be the Christian God (or Yahweh, or Allah, or whichever deity pervaded our particular childhood).
That this is a lousy argument has been clear ever since Hume's time, but we had to wait for Darwin to give us a satisfying replacement. Less often realized is that the argument from improbability, properly understood, backfires fatally against its main devotees. Conscientiously pursued, the statistical improbability argument leads us to a conclusion diametrically opposite to the fond hopes of the creationists. There may be good reasons for believing in a supernatural being
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Publication information: Book title: God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory. Contributors: Niall Shanks - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2004. Page number: vii.
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