IX. The Math
(9/12/11)


1. The probability of drawing a particular sample from a particular population has
mathematical implications re the probability that a particular sample was, in fact,
drawn from that population... You might have to read that again...
2. The implications are indefinite, however, unless the populations possible can be
restricted and their probabilities at least estimated. (Drawing the 4 aces from a
deck we took from the closet made us justifiably suspicious -- but there was no
way we could assign a specific probability to it. In the other situation, however,
when we identified the decks possible – e.g., 49 normal decks to 1 all-aces deck –
the probability that we had selected the normal deck was totally specific, and
teeny.)
3. The thing is, we have the mathematical right to apply this logic to our own
existence and to where we came from

4. According to the typical, non-religious model of reality, each of us is temporary
and singular -- at best. If we ever live, we won’t live long, and we’ll do it only once.
5. If that is indeed the case, however, the probability of me existing right now is
teensy-weensy, or vanishingly small. I’m damned lucky to be here, and damned
lucky that it’s now.
6. “So? Those things happen.” (or something similar) … is the usual response.
7. Yeah. And every once in awhile, someone gets a poker hand of 4 aces. You’re
right, those things happen. But if you have any existing suspicions about the
dealer and your opponent, those suspicions will take a decided turn for the worse
if your opponent turns over 4 aces at a particularly convenient time.
8. In other words, if you have a plausible hypothesis other than the ‘null
hypothesis’ and you get results you wouldn’t expect given that the null hypothesis
were correct, you can be justifiably suspicious of your null hypothesis (in our
case, the non-religious hypothesis). It’s simply, which hypothesis – over all –
makes the most sense. No problem.
9. It’s only when you have no other plausible hypothesis that you’re stuck with
the null hypothesis.
10. So, the question is, do I have available another plausible hypothesis for my
current existence?
11. As noted above, I can think of at least four that seem plausible.
12. And further, I can lump these four together (along with all other plausible
hypotheses) in the compliment to the null hypothesis and say something concrete
and definite about the probability of the null hypothesis – the non-religious
hypothesis – being true, given my existence.

13. Given
...k = all background knowledge,
...P = the probability of,
...NR = Non-Religious hypothesis,
...| = given,
...me = me (my existence),
...R = Religious hypothesis.
The formula for this probability is
...P(NR|me & k) = P(me|NR)P(NR|k) / (P(me|NR)P(NR|k) + P(me|R)P(R|k)).

14. Since P(me|R) is simply indefinable (it isn’t .0 or vanishingly small), I can
substitute any positive value I want (.01 for instance), and the probability of the Non-Religious Hypothesis given my current existence and all background knowledge (P(NR|me & k) becomes P(me|NR)P(NR|k) / (P(me|NR)P(NR|k) + .01P(R|k)).
15. If I then assign the subjective probabilities of .9 to P(NR|k) and .1 to P(R|k),
P(NR|me&k) = (vanishingly small) times .9, divided by .01 times .1 = vanishingly small.
16. Since I do exist, the probability of me being temporary and singular is
vanishingly small.
17. I’m relieved! (Act 3)