The Raving Theist

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Atheist Calculates Probability of God at 4%

March 24, 2004 | 32 Comments

New York, New York, March 24, 2004
The Raving Atheist

Fine-tuning the calculations of a noted physicist, a prominent internet atheist has estimated that there is a 4% chance that God exists.

The Raving Atheist’s ground-breaking discovery corrects the findings of Dr. Stephen Unwin, who assessed the likelihood of God’s existence as 67% by employing a 200-year-old formula called “Baynes Theorem.”

“Dr. Unwin’s first error was assuming that there’s a 50% a priori chance that God exists,” said TRA. “The starting point is really 0% — because like a square circle, the notion of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent is self-contradictory and therefore impossible.”

TRA agreed with Unwin, however, that the probability should be raised 17% over the baseline after weighing factors such as the existence of goodness, natural and moral evils, religious experience and miracles. “Jesus couldn’t have risen from the dead by accident,” he noted in approving the addition of twenty percentage points, a number that was reduced by 3% after factoring in the existence of Hitler, Stalin, Dean Esmay, cancer and earthquakes.

The final figure was reached after TRA made a 13% downward adjustment for the complete lack of empirical evidence, a deduction Unwin had rejected on the ground that “you can’t see air or a baby’s smile either.” TRA observed that air was detectable in other ways such as by breathing, and that baby’s smiles were in fact visible. “So the ultimate answer is 4%,” said TRA. “Multiplied by zero.”

A collorary discovery made by TRA in the course of the calculations was that it is impossible to discover a cubed integer which is the sum of two lesser cubes, a fourth power as a sum of fourth powers, or, in general, any power beyond the second as a sum of two similar powers. However, the proof of that theorem was omitted due to a lack of space in the margins of his notebook.

[Link courtesy of Madman]

Comments

32 Responses to “Atheist Calculates Probability of God at 4%”

  1. Jarod
    March 24th, 2004 @ 4:46 pm

    At the bottom of the Guardian’s article – “Mr Sharp said William Hill (a legal gambling sportsbook in England – Jarod) does take bets on the second coming, which currently stand at 1,000/1. For this confirmation is needed from the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

    Attention all Atheists who read this blog – this is the safest bet in the history of mankind. Get to your nearest William Hill booking office. I went to their website (http://www.willhill.com) and couldn’t find out how to place this bet. So, if anyone can tell me how to place this bet, I’d love to make this easy money.

    The only risk I see in this bet is how in the world the Archibishop of Cantebury can assess whether the Second Coming has arrived. Also, I wonder if there’s a time frame for the bet. If anyone has more info, please pass along. Thanks.

  2. Pierre de Fermat
    March 24th, 2004 @ 5:15 pm

    RA

    I resent the sarcastic comment at the end of your note.

  3. Kevin
    March 24th, 2004 @ 10:35 pm

    So what you’re saying here is that laying odds on the existence of gods is utterly pointless. I can agree with that. I say we set it at the chance that god talks to Pat Robertson if he really exists(and who says you can’t have negative infinite).

  4. Leonhard Euler
    March 25th, 2004 @ 12:56 am

    Fuck, why didn’t I think of that?

  5. Josh
    March 25th, 2004 @ 3:05 am

    I’d like to point out that Bayes’ (not Baynes) Theorem does work–remarkably, incredibly well–the stipulation being you can’t pull the probabilities out of your ass like he did.

  6. Jean-Paul Fastidious
    March 25th, 2004 @ 4:28 am

    What if instead of pulling them out of your ass, you pray to have the probabilities revealed to you?

    In all seriousness, the actual problem with the calculation isn’t just that he’s making up the probabilities, rather that he assigns anything other than even probability for each outcome. Contrary to the claims of the religious, God offers no explanation for goodness or love, and thus there is no reason to say that those things are more likely if there is a god. And contrary to the reactionary counterclaims of the unreligious, evilness and cancer offer no refuatations of God, since he could just be indifferent or a jerk.

    However, if Dr. Unwin claims that the Judeochristianmuslim God does imply the probabilities he is using (since its followers make claims like “God is love” — ignoring for the moment that that’s blithering nonsense), then his calculation is horribly incomplete since he has to also calculate for every possible variation of diety (the probabilities for Cthulhu would be significantly different than for Jehova, presumably.) Since there are an infinite number of perambulations of gods, then the conditional probabilities for any particlar outcome will, for a generic “there is a god”, average out to 50/50 and consequently the final probability will be the same as the prior probability, leaving him back at square one.

    The Bayes’ theorem just doesn’t apply for this, and the whole endeavor is as silly as this.

  7. Jean-Paul Fastidious
    March 25th, 2004 @ 8:03 am

    Although this is getting attention now, Dr. Unwin’s book has been out since September of last year in the US. I guess the Guardian is covering the British edition.

    For reference’s sake, his website: StephenUnwin.com. He of course doesn’t show his work there, you have to buy the book.

    Which raises the question of what sort of peer-review process there is for something like this. Is there a journal of theomathematics or eternal risk analysis that he could submit his calculations to?

  8. Jean-Paul Fastidious
    March 25th, 2004 @ 8:36 am

    Ok, some more…

    Dr. Unwin is not alone. Richard Swinburne used Bayes’s theorem to calculate the probability of Jesus’s Resurection at 97% (and, apparently, beat Unwin to the punch by applying Bayes’s theorem to God’s existence in a book in 1979.)

    Math. Is there nothing it can’t do?

  9. leon
    March 25th, 2004 @ 9:28 am

    My caculations were adjusted to .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000385274% that there is something. But perhaps it was an electromagnetic contaminational flux warp from finger stress.

  10. The Serpent
    March 25th, 2004 @ 11:49 am

    The Raving Atheist: The Raving Atheist

  11. joann
    March 25th, 2004 @ 1:21 pm

    Where did the priest touch you when you were a child? When he did, that must have caused a lot of mental damage to you

  12. The Serpent
    March 25th, 2004 @ 2:58 pm

    Joann: Where did the priest touch you when you were a child?

    You tell me Chicky, I have no idea what you are talking about?

    Do you fantasize about priest molesting children often?

    Joann: When he did, that must have caused a lot of mental damage to you.

    Ohh, do tell?

    Please elaborate. I would be fascinated to hear your analysis.

    Thank the Goddess I don

  13. My 2 cents
    March 25th, 2004 @ 8:28 pm

    Please calculate the probability of NO God and be sure to post the results.

  14. EclecticGuru
    March 26th, 2004 @ 12:26 am

    According to the Zeus theorum:

    P(NO God) = 100% – (4×10^9) x Z

    Where Z = the probability of Zeus.

  15. Satan
    March 26th, 2004 @ 3:20 am

    If probability of no god = .5 then probability of Christian god = .5 / all possible deities.

    Also… The probability of H conditional on E is defined as PE(H) = P(H & E)/P(E), provided that both terms of this ratio exist and P(E) > 0

    Huh?

  16. The Serpent
    March 26th, 2004 @ 9:19 am

    My 2 Cents: Please calculate the probability of NO God and be sure to post the results.

    I

  17. Redfred
    March 26th, 2004 @ 10:23 am

    yawn, give it a rest snake.

  18. Ash
    March 26th, 2004 @ 10:40 am

    Calculating the probability of something that is not provable, nor testable doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, apart from a fun mathematical exercise.

    Reminds me of a quote by Michael Pain which I’m sure KK and others might enjoy …

    “Religion is based on the observations of a primitive society and is never tested. Science is based on the observations of an advanced society and is constantly tested. ”

    http://www.atheistempire.com/thoughts.html

    Ash

  19. The Serpent
    March 26th, 2004 @ 11:43 am

    Science is based on the observations of an advanced society and is constantly tested.

    What is the empirical evidence that

  20. Ash
    March 26th, 2004 @ 12:18 pm

    Serpent,

    From your comments you don’t understand concepts such as rational inquiry and the scientific method. Nor the difference between your faith and the laws of physics as a testable and continually refined model of the observable universe. Attempts by earnest individuals to explain these concepts to you are met with infantile word-play typical of a Christian fundamentalist or a third-rate philosophy student. You may not be either of these but your behavior is certainly similar.

    Ash

  21. Kommander Killjoy
    March 26th, 2004 @ 1:48 pm

    Ash;

    You’re my god. I’ve converted from the “all ‘ighty ‘ollar” (Simpsons).

    MATH RULES THE UNIVERSE. All of infinity is just an infinit, complex chain reaction. All things in the universe have an effect, however miniscule, on every other thing in the universe.

  22. hermesten
    March 26th, 2004 @ 5:54 pm

    Sepent, sane or insane? The evidence mounts. Harmless or dangerous? Here is a selection of quotes from his previous posts. You be the judge.

    “Questionable” remarks:

    Serpent:

  23. polytix
    March 26th, 2004 @ 8:09 pm

    i am so glad that i decided a while back to take a break from posting in these here comment threads.

    Snakey,
    Could you provide a mathematical proof that someone gives a rat’s ass about your ‘philosophical’ questions before you post again? You obviously think it’s really ‘cool’ and ‘deep’ that you can act like a total skeptic, but you’re absolutely terrible at both debating and thinking, so please just spare us all the torture of your tirades.

  24. My 2 cents
    March 27th, 2004 @ 10:42 pm

    Blah, blah blah blah blah! If some lunatic could say that the probability of God is
    less than 4%, then why is that not verifiable.
    My definition of God is a creator. You really dont belive that you climbed from a
    scummy pond,
    Do you!!?? The evidence of a creator is overwhelming. Please just L@@K at the
    facts.
    All this crap about evolution and extra terestial beings is,,,, well just crap.

    PS congrat to kap’n killjoy on his self-promotion to cmndr. JOB well done!

  25. Kommander Killjoy
    March 28th, 2004 @ 1:56 am

    2 cents;

    Fuck off.

  26. Forever Incredulous
    April 9th, 2004 @ 10:56 am

    No math is needed, it is quite simple, the bible is a book of virtues and god is just pretend. God is pretend like Santa Claus, The Easter bunny and all of
    the failed gods before. You Christians and other religious folk are simpletons; evolution is the only way because things don’t just appear. There is not
    a bit of evidence proving the existence of a creator and yes WE and every other creature did evolve from the depths of a “scummy pond” whether
    you like it or not!

    Bottom line: I don’t need a god to watch over me and tell me right from wrong, I am not so insecure and fearing of death that
    I need to believe in heaven or hell (heck I don’t fear death at all, It WILL happen sooner or later) and I think that all of the judgmental idiots out there
    need to stop telling me that I

  27. you?
    October 15th, 2004 @ 11:18 am

    just ridiculous…all of this…open your eyes

  28. you?
    October 15th, 2004 @ 11:18 am

    just ridiculous…all of this…open your eyes

  29. Hanson
    September 17th, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    To be clear I am bor advocating for either position – There is stronger evidence that science does in fact support a supreme being. They are not at odds. too many people blindly believe what fits them best without actually listening to evidence from both sides. And I mean actual evidence, not “cause the bible says” or otherwise. Frankly it’s more likely that your personal belief in god Is based more strongly in your world view than anything else. Try agnosticism and see where you end up. It’s too easy to say the other side is wrong without actual knowledge. Just look at the American political system; which is a joke IMO. Blind following is cancer in society. Read Plato’s Gorgias and then do your homework.

  30. guy437
    May 10th, 2013 @ 5:54 am

    lolz, 4 percent is way bigger than the probability that the earth could be produced by the universe through the occurence of natural random events

  31. guy437
    May 10th, 2013 @ 5:58 am

    im not denying the existance of evolution to be clear, anyone who does that is stupid but if we are going by the stats on this website produced by one of you atheists then god is more likely than the creation of the earth and our existance by accident

  32. guy437
    May 10th, 2013 @ 6:25 am

    so using the best statistics of atheists about the likelihood of the existance of god and the likelyhood of the creation of the earth through random events god is 4 thousand trillion times more likely than a series of random events

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