Freethinking for Dummies

Skepticism, secular humanism, social issues

Embracing Randomness – Why Mathematics and Statistics Negates God

I had an interesting FB conversation with a couple of fundie friends of mine.  I had posted a quote to the about the ineffectiveness of prayer.  One replied with how she has prayed to God and that because of that she now is with a wonderful man who treats her and her kids great.  I responded that I am with a wonderful woman who treats me and my kids great, and I never prayed for anything.  The other friend then replied that he had prayed for me, implying that it was his prayers that brought me this wonderful woman.

Believers will ascribe all the wonderful things in their lives to God.  The fact that others who don’t believe in God, or in their particular god, also have wonderful things in their lives doesn’t seem to have an explanation within their world view.   A rational view of this data would indicate that good things happening are random throughout any given population (as are bad things).  Another factor is how specific people view the things that happen to them.  What seems a good thing to one person could be considered not to good to another.  It is a matter of one’s outlook on life.  Is the glass half empty or half full?

For me, knowing that events are basically random makes it easier to deal with bad events because I don’t have to worry if I am pissing off some invisible sky man.   Conversely, I also don’t have to waste my time and effort trying to please said sky man or thank him for a random event.   I can then focus on how I must deal with things.

That’s not to say that I don’t feel that I’m about due for some good things to happen in my life after all the shit I’ve been through.  Some would take this as a sign of karma.  Personally, I see it as a sign of the law of averages.  Since the past 20 years have pretty much sucked. With all things being equal, the fact that good things are now happening (and I believe, will continue to happen) is pretty much a matter of things averaging out.  Regression to the mean.  Mathematics and statistics are much better and more consistent at explaining the why good or bad things happen to us than is the idea of some benevolent (or malevolent, depending on how you look at it) god making things happen.

August 3, 2011 - Posted by | Atheism, Religion, Science, Skepticism | , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. On what mathematic principle are you basing your assumption that good and bad things will average out in a person’s life? Do individual choices affect this equation or is it just a matter of math?

    Comment by mondaymorningreview | August 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. Yes, your comment makes a very good post…I was going to say that my daughter is in total freak-out because she has just seen a friend get his ‘due’. She posted on fb that Karma is REAL! and I commented, “No it’s not, but actions have consequences.”

    Sometimes the consequences are much bigger than the action, like drinking a little too much at a party (small action) but driving home anyway and getting into a terrible accident and possibly killing someone (big huge consequence.)

    Sometimes the reverse is true. We do big huge things with our lives, and see little in the way of positive result. Sometimes life just sucks like that…

    Comment by Brick Window | August 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. Came across a great quote recently, “Luck is opportunity taken personally.”
    I believe we have a greater impact on the good and bad things that happen in our lives than we are often willing to admit. In a random world, my actions or reactions, like a wild card in a poker match, jack with the odds.

    Comment by mondaymorningreview | August 4, 2011 | Reply

    • I think that might be closer to the reality than anything like karma. If we are basically good and have a positive outlook, we will do good things and others will react positively to that. If we have a positive outlook, the bad things don’t seem so bad. Of course, the reverse is true also. People who do bad things and have a gloomy outlook see everything that happens in their lives as bad. They also tend to put themselves in situations, because of their bad actions, that lead to bad things happening to them.

      Comment by James Walker (@jpwalker1960) | August 21, 2011 | Reply

  4. Have you seen Tim Minchin’s Thank You God…?

    Comment by Medge | August 20, 2011 | Reply


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