Monday, January 21, 2008

God meets calculus

Reprinted from a comment thread without the permission of the author, because it made me chuckle:
[T]his reminds me of the day I disproved God with calculus, in calculus class, at a Catholic high school. Let me see if I remember it...

Let {C} be the set of all possible truth claims that might fill a particular gap in our knowledge. If we have no reason whatsoever to choose one possible claim over another, the probability of each claim being true is 1/n (where n is the number of truth claims).

The believer makes the mistake of assuming that n = 2 (i.e. "Jesus" and "Something Else"). But the elements of a set must be discrete: "Something Else," unlike "Jesus," is not a discrete claim. "Something Else" is itself a set of discrete possibilities, all of which must be counted individually among the truth claims of {C}.

If the believer cannot introduce any reasons (i.e. arguments) to narrow the set of possible claims, then the membership of {C} is limited only by our imagination. As Vishnu piles upon Odin, as telepathic koalas who control the weather bump into the invisible leprechauns who tuned the Universal constants, n quickly approaches infinity — and the limit of 1/n, the probability of any one claim being true, falls to zero.

Q.E.D. ......?
I really don't remember my high school calculus class too well--I'm one of those people who can honestly say I won't ever need calculus for my job. I get about as far as n = , so 1/n becomes infinitely small, and then I get lost.

1 comment:

Todd Stadler said...

"The day I disproved God with calculus ... Coincidentally, the same day they kicked me off the debate team."

I mean, there's no reason for me to take this seriously, except that it's more interesting than pointing out how poorly reasoned it is, and how I expect better from (ap)atheists otherwise arguing for our superior logic and reasoning skills in these latter days.

I mean, let {I} be the set of all integers from which to seek a value x such that 1+1=x. If we have no reason whatsoever to choose one possible integer over another, the probability of any integer being the solution is 1/n, where n is the number of integers, which is to say infinity. 1/infinity being equal to 0, there is no integer x that satisfies 1+1=x. QED!

And thus the whole of mathematics is shown to be a fraud. Similar "logic" can be used to demonstrate that you don't exist (the probability of finding someone with your exact characteristics is vanishingly small), and that Earth does not sustain life (same).