Sunday, November 07, 2010

Creationist Mathematics

Those creationists are just so darn cute when they try to do mathematics, you just want to pinch their cheeks.

Here's Robert Sheldon, who babbles about infinity so incoherently, the folks at Uncommon Descent thought they should reprint it for all to see. And what a mess it is.

Despite claiming that he's "gotten quite comfortable with infinity", he emphasizes that "the important thing is not to think about it too long". And that is certainly what he's done!

How many errors can you spot in this word salad? This is a good one: "For example, take the number line from 1 to ∞. It’s infinite of course. But now divide every number by the largest number on the line." Yeah, that'll work really well.

And here's another: that the cardinality of the irrational numbers is denoted ℵ1. I guess Mr. Sheldon has never heard of the continuum hypothesis.

I think Mr. Sheldon and Marvin Bittinger should get together. What a great book they could write!

Anonymous said...

Technically the cardinality of the irrationals is 2^{aleph_0}, or beth_1. It is aleph_1 only if you assume the continuum hypothesis.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

"For example, take the number line from 1 to ∞. It’s infinite of course. But now divide every number by the largest number on the line"

Imagine a planet with no red tower. Go to the red tower.

Norm Olsen said...

Scroll down a few posts from that one and read his post on epigenetics. Here's a small taste:

So my physicist way of describing natural selection then, is that it is local in time and space; it has no long range forces in either space or time. Mathematically it operates like the motion of a gas atom in a room--bouncing randomly in all directions--it can only diffuse. For to deny teleology, in physicspeak, is to deny long-range interactions that would allow to be greater than 0.

I wouldn't have thought it possible to be so obtuse about such a simple and intuitive concept as natural selection, but there you have it.

Ronaldo said...

I would welcome a review, by Mr. Shallit, of the following works:

Wistar Institute in Philadelphia published a Symposium Monograph in 1967 entitled, "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution". And McGraw-Hill, Inc., has published in a house organ, Scientific Research, two such articles: "Heresy in the halls of biology: mathematicians question Darwinism" (November, 1967) and "Thinking the unthinkable: are evolutionists wrong?" (September 1, 1969).

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Ronaldo:

Yes, I've read the Wistar Institute proceedings. Creationists love to cite it, but there's really nothing of interest in it. Schutzenberger made some very silly comments about simulating evolution that were completely wrong ("by making changes randomly... on computer programs, we find that we have no chance... even to see what the modified program would compute; it just jams.") It has had no influence at all on evolutionary biology.

Blake Stacey said...

And, of course, the use of mathematics in evolutionary biology has advanced in both quantity and sophistication since 1967: bioinformatics, the quantitative study of fitness, quasispecies theory, evolutionary game theory, mathematical ecology. . . .

Quinn said...

Although I'm not sure exactly what Mr. Sheldon means when he says "there has to be another infinity tucked between every baby universe, there has to be ℵ1 infinity", he seems to be implying that the cardinality of a set consisting of densely packed infinite sets is (at least) ℵ1, which is not necessarily true. (E.g. replace each rational by a set with cardinality ℵ0; the resulting set has cardinality ℵ0 x ℵ0 = ℵ0.)

Anonymous said...

Minus the risible errors, isn't this the same as William Dembski's ploy? Concoct some space of possible universes, dream up a probability distribution on that space such that our universe is incredibly unlikely, and infer that your holy text is the divine, inerrant truth.

Miranda said...

"Concoct some space of possible universes, dream up a probability distribution on that space such that our universe is incredibly unlikely,"

As opposed to the multiverse theory, where you concoct some space of possible universes, dream up a probability distribution on that space such that our universe is incredibly likely.

John Stockwell said...

Hi Miranda,

The many worlds hypothesis is a natural outgrowth
of quantum mechanics.

Now, is this a foundation for physics? No. It is
a result of pushing the physics we have back to
the beginning of the universe.

The question is whether or not the parameters
that define the universe can actually be different.

Intelligent design is a very different sort of thing. It is a hightech religious apologetics that is essentially about making scientific looking arguments that will
be sufficiently convincing that science teachers and religious fellow travelers won't be able to tell the difference and will push to have these items taught
in school with real science.

andlp said...

As opposed to the multiverse theory, where you concoct some space of possible universes, dream up a probability distribution on that space such that our universe is incredibly likely.

To what end, Miranda? We're not the ones drawing outlandish conclusions from alleged improbabilities. We may or may not live in a multiverse and our universe may or may not be "likely" (whatever that means, as probability is seriously being abused here), but in any outcome, we're not jumping to the completely untenable metaphysically extravagant conclusion that all of this was explained by revelation to ancient peoples who established successful Bronze Age institutions. And this is why Anonymous's criticism is valid while yours is not.

Miranda said...

"The many worlds hypothesis is a natural outgrowth of quantum mechanics. "

So you believe. I say it's a natural outgrowth of realizing how improbable it was that life formed on even one planet in this one universe. Lets toss in some other universes. That'll help the odds.

"We're not the ones drawing outlandish conclusions from alleged improbabilities... metaphysically extravagant conclusion that all of this was explained by revelation to ancient peoples who established successful Bronze Age institutions. "

Huh? No one draws that latter conclusion (that revelation part) from the alleged improbability of life arriving on earth. They reach that belief by other means.

andlp said...

Huh? No one draws that latter conclusion (that revelation part) from the alleged improbability of life arriving on earth. They reach that belief by other means.

Riiight. No theist anywhere buys into a teleological argument from improbability. None.

Miranda said...

It's a MIXTURE of different arguments, andlp. And the "revelation in the Bronze age" is not exactly the same as "the teleological argument."

andlp said...

And the "revelation in the Bronze age" is not exactly the same as "the teleological argument."

Did I say they were the same thing? No I did not.

Miranda said...

Maybe you didn't mean to, but you did equate them nonetheless. Just compare your two prior posts, and you'll see.

andlp said...

Maybe you didn't mean to, but you did equate them nonetheless. Just compare your two prior posts, and you'll see.

Nope, I did not, nor did I inadvertently do so. There was no equivocation. Wow, you really do lack basic reading comprehension skills as Jeffrey noted in the other thread.

Miranda said...

You sure know how to fool yourself.

andlp said...

You sure know how to fool yourself.

Yeah, I thought I could get through to you despite how dense you are. That was self-delusional on my part.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Miranda,
Do you understand what a probability distribution is? Do you understand the notion of infinity? If you reply yes, then I will ask you a few questions to make sure you are not lying.

The bozo creationist who wrote this article on infinities clearly has no clue. None of the intelligent design creationist have any clue of what they're talking about. The poor imbeciles are trying to use mathematics and are making fools of themselves. They only appear sophisticated in the eyes of the religious folk who applaud them.