Home > Uncategorized > What are the odds of that?

What are the odds of that?

Today I found myself wondering that if something has a non-zero chance of occuring (eg: I win the lotto 100 times in a row), does that event become a certainty if it is attempted an infinite number of times?

I think it does actually (but I have been wrong before)

Well that got me thinking about the argument of the creationists that goes “the odds of this world just appearing by accident are so slim that it points to the hand of a designer/creator”. (Let’s no worry about the obvious question of who created the creator for now)

Well I think we all agree that the odds of this world happening the way it has are indeed very very very small. But … we know the odds of it happening are NOT zero! How come? Because it’s here!

Now we also don’t know how long this universe has been here. 15 billion years? Maybe. But what if it is infinite? That would mean there has been an infinite number of expansions and contractions. If infinite, it means this universe as we know it is no longer here by small small chance, but is here because it is an absolute certainty.

But then … I’ve been wrong before.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 19, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Jon …

    Good to see you posting again.

    Hope you are well,


  2. December 19, 2011 at 5:50 pm


    I have been thinking the exact same thing over the last few weeks. I think statisticians call it the “Random Walk Hypothesis”. If a drunk man staggers with equal probability in either direction, and there’s a canal nearby, he’ll eventually fall into it.

    The logical conclusion of what you’re considering is that in an infinite universe there would be infinite copies of ourselves doing slightly different (or even identical) things. After all, if an event has a non-zero probability of occuring, then in an infinite timeframe it would occur an infinite number of times, not just once.

    This started to hurt my brain until I had a slice of Pi.

    Pi has an infinite number of decimal places. Each digit appears to occur pretty randomly, and over a large sequence, the probability of any one digit occurring is pretty much the same as the next. So it would lead us to assume that if you plumbed the depths of the digits of Pi long enough, it would start repeating. Or… if you assigned each pair of digits an ASCII code you’d eventually end up spitting out the complete works of Shakespeare.

    I don’t think this has ever happened 🙂 And I don’t think it will. If the digits in Pi repeated, then it would not be an irrational number.

    And if something as “simple” as Pi can be infinite and yet non-repeating, then I think something as complex (and “irrational”) as the universe can probably manage the same feat.

    The whole argument of a creator by simply begs the question, “If you want to have an infinitely long-lived imaginary friend who made everything else, why can’t I simply have an infinitely long-lived universe instead?”.

    I love reading your blog. Please keep writing and thinking out loud 🙂


    • December 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Neal,

      Great comment – very thought provoking!

      I especially like your example of pi, that wonderful irrational creature.

      I think that just because a universe can be infinite, this does not mean that everything will happen. For instance, I don’t think that – no matter how long you left the universe to it – the sun would instantaneously turn into a block of mozzarella cheese. I think we can safely say this has a zero probability!

      But the fact that this universe is here is porof in and of itself that the likelihood of its existence is non-zero. I suppose – to continue your excellent pi example – this would mean that the universe is rational!

      I suppose my point is that just because the universe is extraordinarily complex, does not preclude that, given enough chances to exist, one day it will.

      I love your phrase:

      The whole argument of a creator by simply begs the question, “If you want to have an infinitely long-lived imaginary friend who made everything else, why can’t I simply have an infinitely long-lived universe instead?”.



  3. February 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    …smiling…physicists have recently proven that the “big bang” had to be precise. Little bit too slow and it wouldn’t have happened; little but too fast and it wouldn’t have happened.

    I would share that ideas such as probability, statistics, chance and luck reveal and express absolutely no understanding of how Creation is created. Big sky in the sky, who’s so emotionally insecure that he has to use fear to control and manipulate, is the product of imaginations trying to glorify limitations in both substance and quality of character, “understanding” and “compassion” for Humanity being just two of them.

    Reality “precipitates” quantum mechanistically.

    It’s wonderful to see a post! Maybe I’ll join you some day…

  4. Steve Philbrook
    February 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Very nice, I love thinking about stuff like this. One of my hobbies is collecting genesis stories.( there are many!) The one I think makes the most sense goes live this. I believe it pre dates the Old Testament version. There never was nothing. Since nothing can not “exist”, it’s a contradiction of terms anyway. This does NOT mean that there was a physical universe such as we find ourselves in now. What there was, was called the sea of consciousness. This was not the same as our everyday awake consciousness. It was more comparable to the dream state. There are no rules and time does not flow linearly. It was also called the sea of chaos. (Strangely enough, what scientists now say underlies the subatomic realm) The main difference is REASON. So somehow a tiny part of this began to reason. It then began slowly but determinedly adding to itself from the surrounding sea. This was the beginning of what we refer to as God or the Creator. The story makes it clear that unfathomable eons passed before the physical universe was constructed. That said, I sense a problem with the idea of a creator around these parts. I certainly don’t go for the bearded God on a throne, punishing and rewarding according to his/her mood at the time. It is equally obvious to me that three dimensional matter is a construct. I don’t want to get into all the evidence, but simple causality is enough for me. Everything comes from something before, this chicken and egg problem must begin/end somewhere. And like any built item, from a watch to a house, the builder is higher or superior to the product constructed. Why this would bother some people I cannot understand, but would be happy to have it explained to me. Like when atheists are bothered by Christmas decorations. How can something you don’t believe in, possibly bother you? I personally don’t think that bunnies lay eggs in trees, but when my neighbors decorate their trees, I remain as serene and unoffended as I am at all the other crazy things people believe.

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