Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The odds against creation

New from the Department of Specious Statistics, the owner of a biblical timeline business and self-proclaimed mathematician has stated that she has calculated the likelihood of the biblical creation story being wrong as "less than 1 in 479 million."

Margaret Hunter, who owns Bible Charts and Timelines of Duck, West Virginia, stated in an interview, "I realized the twelve items listed in the Genesis creation account are confirmed by scientists today as being in the correct order, starting with light being separated from darkness, plants coming before animals and ending with man.  Think of the problem like this.  Take a deck of cards.  Keep just one suit—let’s say hearts.  Toss out the ace.  Hand the remaining twelve cards to a one year old child.  Ask him/her to hand you the cards one at a time.  In order.  What are the chances said toddler will start with the two and give them all to you in order right up to the king?"

Not very high, Hunter correctly states.  "Being a mathematician, I like thinking about things like this," she says.  "Moses had less than one chance in 479 million of just correctly guessing [the sequence of the creation account].  To me, the simplest explanation is Moses got it straight from the Creator."

Righty-o.  This just brings up a few questions in my mind, to wit:
  • Are you serious?
  • Where did you get your degree in mathematics?  Big Bob's Discount Diploma Warehouse?
  • There's a town called "Duck, West Virginia?"
Of course, the major problem with all of this is that we can all take a look at the events in the biblical creation story, and see immediately that Moses didn't get them right.  Here, according to the site Christian Answers, is the order of creation:
  • the Earth
  • light
  • day & night
  • air
  • water
  • dry land
  • seed-bearing plants with fruit
  • the Sun, Moon, and stars
  • water creatures
  • birds
  • land animals (presumably birds don't count)
  • humans
One immediate problem I see is that there was day and night three days before the Sun was created, which seems problematic to me, as the following NASA photograph illustrates:

But of course, the problems don't end there.  Birds before the rest of "land animals?"  Plants before the Sun and Moon?  The plants are actually the ones on the list that are the most wildly out of order -- seed-bearing plants didn't evolve until the late Devonian, a long time after "water creatures" (the Devonian is sometimes called "the Age of Fish," after all), and an even longer time (about 4.5 billion years, to be precise) after the formation of the Sun.   Humans do come in the correct place, right there at the end, but the rest of it seems like kind of a hash.

So by Hunter's brilliant mathematics, if putting the twelve events of creation in the right order has a 1 in 479 million likelihood of happening by chance, then the likelihood of putting them in the wrong order by chance is 478,999,999 in 479 million.  Which is what happened.  Leading us to the inevitable conclusion, so well supported by the available hard evidence, that Moses was just making shit up.

You know, I really wish you creationists would stop even pretending that this nonsense is scientific.  Just stick with your "the bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it" approach, because every time you dabble your toes in the Great Ocean of Science, you end up getting knocked over by a wave and eating a mouthful of sand.  And it's becoming kind of embarrassing to watch, frankly.  Thank you.


  1. After reading through the third last paragraph I had a comment already queued up but you slid it in there right at the end of the second last paragraph:

    "...Moses was just making shit up."

    Great minds think alike :)

  2. The name of the city is a reference to the necessary safety precautions required to avoid stray gunfire from Bob, the Uberpatriot.

    How does a person who believes that the Earth was the first thing created in our solar system (or The Universe), actually intend to mingle, in any meaningful way, with any actual scientists?

    Rhetorical question, I know, but her inability to accurately reference the existing scientific model while trying to debunk it is... astonishingly stupid.

    It's like arguing the contents of the 17 commandments.