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102

Your reasoning would be sound if you picked any random human who ever lived and checked whether they would be alive today. This chance would indeed be rather low. (Because today's world population is far higher than ever in the past, the chance is not quite as astronomically low as one might think.) However, we are not looking at any random human who ever ...


42

Shuffle a standard deck of 52 playing cards and look at the arrangement you end up with. Assuming your sorting was completely random the probability of you getting that exact arrangement is about 1 in 8 x 10 ^ 67. What an incredible coincidence! Well not really - you had to end up with one of the possible arrangements and they are all improbable, so an ...


22

This isn't really a philosophy question, but there is no atheism stackexchange and so it seems philosophy is the next best bet (we do address the philosophy of religion/religiosity and the lack thereof, but a question phrased like this is more of a psychology and/or cultural question). However, psychology wouldn't take this question and since I can't think ...


21

One has to keep apart different layers: a) abiogenesis (the emergence of life) vs. evolution (the development of existing life over generations) and b) the incompatibility of biblical accounts of the origin of species with evolution vs. the incompatibility of the belief in God being the creator of life with evolution. I will first answer the title question ...


13

I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember (I never quite believed anyone could rise from the dead, walk on water and stuff without documented, repeatable proof) and I've never struggled with this question, for the simple fact that life is awesome. I love many things: Photography, gadgets, my wife, my cat, my family, helping people. I get much ...


10

There are already several answers that hint at what I'm about to say, but here's my opinion on the matter. I've been an Atheist my whole life (I was actually shocked to learn that other people took religion seriously), but the full consequences of my (lack of) beliefs didn't hit me until I was about 12, when I first realized that I would die and that every ...


9

The first time I recall encountering this argument was in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, where the probability of what you describe is likened to “events with odds so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold”. I find the argument similar to the gambler’s fallacy. An example: In a fair coin toss, the probability of ...


8

I feel your pain. I grew up Catholic, but I lost my faith in my early 20s when I began asking questions and discovered answers that completely contradicted what I had known to be the truth. I'm actually upset that I lost that faith. As you're well aware, it provides comfort and gives you specific purpose in life - be good for 100 years and you'll have an ...


8

The probability of an event X happening, GIVEN THAT IT HAS HAPPENED, is always 100%. I hear thinking like you give used in many flawed arguments. For example, I once got into a conversation with someone who claimed that the Gospels in the Bible must be frauds, because the people who it is claimed wrote them would have been like 70 years old at the time they ...


7

The notion that death gives meaning to life is less a well-defined theoretical position than a commonplace; it strikes me in this sense as similar to the notion that "hate and love are the closest emotions" at least insofar as it might be difficult to isolate specifically philosophical expressions of this notion, but nevertheless it is a very frequently-...


7

Would all anti-entropic forces be considered living? I am having an extremely difficult time imagining a type of process where work is performed to create structures combatting the forces of entropy on a local scale. The obvious exception is life as it is on Earth, and it seems like the necessary antecedent. Would all instances of processes that ...


7

First, your emotions around this question are something that I would advise you to seek help with - whether it is with a trusted friend or relative, or someone trained to help people deal with such a sense of despair. I can tell you from personal experience, it is not an academic matter, and can be a matter of life or death. So talk to someone about how you ...


6

Chemistry is anti-entropic. Whether a reaction will occur or not depends on what is called Gibbs Free Energy. The fundamental equation is ∆G = ∆H - T∆S where H is the stored energy and S is the entropy. Any reaction where ∆G is negative will proceed--which could occur because entropy goes up, or could because energy is released (heating up the ...


6

Interesting idea, possibly the wrong place to ask that question, but still something I will do my best to answer. Fire is not typically considered a form of life because it is a property of both the thing being burned and the oxygen being "metabolized" to do so. As a result, fire does not technically "adapt", though that could be another definitional dispute....


6

A couple of brief pointers on how to think about this: First, in your question you are assuming that the passage of time is an objective feature of reality. That is, in order to give a full description of the world, you need (perhaps) to describe what occupies every point in spacetime, but that's not enough: you also need to provide a concrete location for ...


6

Right now I am looking at a pair of scissors laying on my desk. What are the chances of that?!?? Think about it: that pair of scissors had to be created; the desk had to be created. The house that this is all in had to be created. What are the chances a house was built right at the location it has been? And that a desk was brought in, standing in the ...


6

Dead or unborn people don't ask themselves : "Why am I not alive today?". By contraposition, you've got your answer: You can ask yourself the above question, it means you're alive.


6

Different subject matters Note: Philip Klöcking answers the title question, this answers the question in the body. The original work of Darwin was named "On the origin of species by means of natural selection", and not "On the origin of life". Evolution takes place after Abiogenesis. So asking someone trusts that evolution by natural selection is an ...


5

Science & religion are not mutually exclusive - unless you wish for it to be so. All the major religions have a cosmology & within that an originary myth. And almost all mention a chaos & then an order imposed. Quite how that differs from the 'Big Bang' I'm not sure. Most people look towards religion to give meaning, cohesion & continuity ...


5

Why do we (including other living organisms) reproduce? I don't think that "why" is a useful question here- it is akin to asking why we exist in time and space. In our universe, living organisms reproduce. That's simply a naked fact. Why is it necessary that our race keeps flourishing and multiplying? It is not necessary; in fact, it's highly ...


5

There are preconditions that must be met in order to get an altruism algorithm to produce benefits that reward the storage of additional complexity in living organisms (leaving aside the rather thorny question of what counts as "life"). So although on our planet these preconditions are usually met, there is no logical reason why they must be so (e.g. in a ...


5

"Symbiosis (from Ancient Greek σύν "together" and βίωσις "living") is close and often long-term interaction between two or more different biological species." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbiosis Assuming these married people belong to the same species, their pair-bond is not an example of symbiosis, by definition. In order for your idea to work, you ...


5

Embryos are a stage in development of human organisms. To phrase the issue concisely: If something is X at the end of a time interval, then either it must become X during that interval, or else it must have been X from the start. Therefore, becoming X requires a distinct change - "person" is a binary distinction. There are no "half-person" or "3/7ths ...


5

I wouldn't call it a bold hypothesis; its been generally affirmed through out history despite suffering that being human means, and of humanity in general. Of course, the absolute worth of humanity in Europe had been under-pinned by Christian Theology; and whilst this continues, a break in morality has occurred as acknowledged by Arendt and others; and this ...


5

Probably this is the right place to ask. Following such definition, some rocks would be alive (they can grow slowly by incorporating minerals on its structure, then when they break, the process can be described as reproduction, since the children still follow the same mechanisms, growing and reproduction, along thousands of years), and can metabolize ...


5

(This is not a philosophy question. It has no philosophical content of its own. It is straightforward question about the history and current state of biological science.) Darwin's noted solution here, spontaneous generation, is basically wrong. It is incredibly unlikely that life should spring, fully functional, from non-biological matter. There is ...


4

Example: Humans are alive and a virus is alive and germs are alive and so on. And in the future there will be living machines aswell. What makes you think that there will be "living machines"? To answer such a question already depends upon the very definition of life you claim to be proposing. Put another way: it appears that you have some intuition of ...


4

What's the purpose of our existence? Unless I am wrong, this is one of the main questions that philosophers for thousands of years have been trying to answer. Religions say that without the made-up gods humans have no purpose to live This is a strange observation since the phrase made-up can be misinterpretted related to your actual motives of ...


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