29 September 2011

As The Worm Turns

So I ‘m transferring a bunch of files between computers this morning, a long a tedious process that nonetheless requires regular attention.  In short, a numbing chore.  Between checks I scan the NYTimes of course, and find this article:

Bill Buckner Strikes Again - NYTimes.com by Nate Silver

Anyone who follows baseball even a little knows that it is enthralled by numbers.  The new movie, Moneyball, is all about a chapter in that story.  Nat Silver’s charts and calculations are impressive, especially as that pertain to a sport.  Would that many Americans were as devoted to such calculations applied to the national debt and other economic questions.  Politics would be the better, perhaps.

Anyway, as someone not gifted with numbers or using the principles of algebra, I slogged through Silver’s article until I saw a reference to Bayes’ Theorem.  This took me to an article (hyperlinked for your convenience) that took me to new levels of algebraic esoterica. 

But I was hooked now, and worked my way down the article to where it cites Richard Price, 18th century English clergyman and philosopher, to wit:

“Richard Price discovered Bayes' essay and its now-famous theorem in Bayes' papers after Bayes' death. He believed that Bayes' Theorem helped prove the existence of God ("the Deity") and wrote the following in his introduction to the essay:

"The purpose I mean is, to shew what reason we have for believing that there are in the constitution of things fixt laws according to which things happen, and that, therefore, the frame of the world must be the effect of the wisdom and power of an intelligent cause; and thus to confirm the argument taken from final causes for the existence of the Deity. It will be easy to see that the converse problem solved in this essay is more directly applicable to this purpose; for it shews us, with distinctness and precision, in every case of any particular order or recurrency of events, what reason there is to think that such recurrency or order is derived from stable causes or regulations in nature, and not from any irregularities of chance." (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1763) [3]

In modern terms this is an instance of the teleological argument.”

Of course, I had to read about that.  And so I found myself reading that article, which to my delight ended up citing my friend, the late philosopher,Charles Hartshorne on panentheism. 

So between file transfers and other tedia, I took a walk from the collapse of the Red Sox to the arguments for and against God.  They connect on the matter of chance and probability. 

At the end of it all I think the chances of the the Red Sox failing to make the playoffs is less than the chances there is some sort of divine entity in the universe.  But if that’s so, how can a piece of the universe that we know is true be less likely that a force in the universe that we can’t know is true? 

Let me see, maybe I should click on ontological argument

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