Comment: Too different an example

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Too different an example

The probability of receiving a signal, given that I'm in that space ship in that spot, is very low. So it's a jar of marbles with trillions of red marbles, and only one blue marble, and I draw the blue marble. Unless I'm misreading your example you've assumed something about the contents of the jar, but the question is whether we can conclude anything about the contents of the jar from the fact that we drew a blue marble.

In the universe-conducive-to-life question, we know that the only kind of marble we can draw from the jar, no matter what's in there, is a blue marble. The key point is that the selection isn't random. The variables aren't independent. Any probability argument has to take into account that the probability of us drawing a blue marble, given that we're here, no matter what is in the jar, = 1.0.

And since the question is whether the fact that we drew a blue marble justifies a preference for one hypothesis about what's in the jar over another, you can't start by assuming things about what's in the jar. For example, when you say (in the other comment) "If I could only grab blue marbles, and blue marbles only occurred once out of a trillion ..." or "If there is just one world, and it could have been a trillion ways ...". Those assumptions are doing all the work in your argument.

Does it even make sense to talk about the odds of a particular universe existing? What does "could have been a trillion ways" mean, if there really is just this one universe? We can make probabilistic arguments based on empirical evidence (do it lots of times and count), or things we think we understand well enough to analyze or simulate. The formation of universes isn't any of those things. Probabilistic arguments about meta-universe questions, i.e. a singleton universe vs a multi-verse, or naturalism vs supernatural, seem even more likely to me to be meaningless.

I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool naturalist, BTW, or even a committed naturalist in some respects. I enjoy a lot of your posts because in a lot of ways I'm sympathetic with your point of view on these sorts of things (although much less compelled to spend mental cycles trying to figure it all out). I'm rejecting the argument, not taking a position for or against the conclusion.

If X is true for every possible hypothesis, then knowing that X is true can't help you distinguish between the hypotheses. In every hypothesis you could dream up to explain how we got here, we drew a blue marble. Maybe there are other arguments for preferring one hypothesis over another, but the fact that we drew a blue marble doesn't differentiate between any of them, because it's true of all of them.

As long as I'm rolling up all my replies into one, thanks for pointing me back to that thread about natural law. Having read back through it, I still don't remember writing any of it. Strange. I was probably drunk. It probably makes more sense than what I wrote this evening, drinking only tea.