# ARCHIVE: Signals from space aliens or random chance?

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
Life exists, life is made up of inanimate components. Inanimate compenents are able to form into complex structures. Therefore there is a non-zero probability that life will form from inanimate components.
Your statement here is that life exists so it must have happened the way you say it does.

You've assumed your conclusions. We can all do that. Got any evidence?

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
Then, by your earlier arguments in this thread, the pixels on a TV must be flatly prohibited from randomly ever forming a picture of Marilyn Monroe. Can you explain why that particular pattern is one that can never occur?
Because it will never happen.

Would you like to return to the points that have led us this far or would you like to respond to the thread at where it's at?

#### chickenman

##### a-atheist
Gold Subscriber
Hall of Fame
Your argument was that because we don't know every single variable, we can't argue probability-over-time. My response was that variables don't matter as long as something has a non-zero probability. Every time I posted I made it explicitly clear what I was talking about.

Sorry if it wasn't clear to me. Or maybe it's become muddied at this point. Let me ask some clarifying questions, if you don't mind:
1. Are you 100% certain that life can NATURALLY form from non-life? I think your answer is No, here. But I don't want to put words in your mouth (or your fingertips).
2. If you answer Yes, then disregard question #3 and tell me: what is the process? I think I understand that your answer wouldn't be Yes. So go to #3 if I understand correctly.
3. If you answer No to Question #1, then wouldn't you agree that you also cannot say that there is an increasing probability over time that it will occur?
I'm truly not trying to be thick-headed, Johnny. I honestly want to get on the same page (in that we both completely understand what the other is trying to say).
Life exists, life is made up of inanimate components. Inanimate compenents are able to form into complex structures. Therefore there is a non-zero probability that life will form from inanimate components.
By "inanimate", do you mean inorganic? Do you mean non-life?

#### Johnny

##### New member
Stripe said:
Because it will never happen.
You do realize that whatever signal is received, however random, is just as unlikely as the Marylin Monroe picture? We just haven't assigned any meaning to it in advance. Had we done so, you would be sitting there saying "...it will never happen".

Stripe said:
You are still arguing where you know you have no opposition. Everyone agrees that if something is possible then the mathematical probability of seeing that event increases with time.
I'm clarifying a point that was repeatedly misunderstood.

Stripe said:
You've also made chickenman's argument out to be something it isn't. He has not said you cannot claim probability increases with time. He has challenged you to give a reason why we should believe that life from non-life (aka naturalism or materialism) is possible at all.
chickenman said:
For there to be some probability over time, the odds for a single event have to be known...Probabilities can only be said to increase over time if variables are identifiable.
Both statements are incorrect and I was pointing this out. I have not made his argument out to be anything he didn't say. I'll hit you and Knight's question in the next post.

chickenman,
chickenman said:
Sorry if it wasn't clear to me. Or maybe it's become muddied at this point. Let me ask some clarifying questions, if you don't mind:
No problem, sometimes people talk right past each other on here.

chickenman said:
1. Are you 100% certain that life can NATURALLY form from non-life?
No.
chickenman said:
If you answer No to Question #1, then wouldn't you agree that you also cannot say that there is an increasing probability over time that it will occur?
Not quite. What I can say is that with whatever certainty I believe that life can form naturally, I also believe that the probability increases over time. There is a difference between knowing with 100% certainty something and judging something to be true. If I judge something to be true, any secondary or tertiary reasoning which is dependent upon that judgment is only as strong as my judgment.

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
You do realize that whatever signal is received, however random, is just as unlikely as the Marylin Monroe picture? We just haven't assigned any meaning to it in advance. Had we done so, you would be sitting there saying "...it will never happen".
:sigh: The whole point of this thread is our ability to recognise intelligence. When we turn on a monitor we get a random signal. Before each image is received the likelihood is the same as that of receiving MM's image. If you say you can guess the next signal nobody is going to believe you. You can keep guessing for as long as you like. You are never going to guess correctly. That you can tell me what has happened after the fact means nothing.

Read again stripe. Quoting chickenman,Both statements are incorrect and I was pointing this out. I have not made his argument out to be anything he didn't say. I'll hit you and Knight's question in the next post.
And we have clarified that an event must be possible before the odds will increase over time.

#### ThePhy

##### New member
Because it will never happen.

Would you like to return to the points that have led us this far or would you like to respond to the thread at where it's at?
WHY will it never happen? Unadorned statements from you and Knight that it will never happen are not reasons.

Can you explain briefly what the number 256640x480 refers to? You used it several times, so tell us what you were referring to when you used it.

#### Johnny

##### New member
Knight said:
Do you know that there is ANY probability that life can arise from non-life? And if so, how?
If you want to claim increasing probability over time then you have to show non-zero probability. Can you prove non-zero probability?
Since you both asked the same question, I'll group the response here. The answer to you both is that I cannot prove a non-zero probability. I do not know for certain that life can arise from non-life. However, I think there are some relevant observations that may yield at least some insight.

It's important to keep in mind that a cell didn't just pop into existence by some happenstance collision of organic molecules. The odds of that occurring would be virtually insurmountable even for a universe orders of magnitude older than our own. Instead, it is much more reasonable to believe that abiogenesis occurred in a step-wise fashion with each step having reasonable (or at least manageable) probability of occurring. The earliest steps towards life might only qualify as life under the most rudimentary of definitions.

Life does arise from non-life, at least in a philosophical sense. The atoms that make up the cells in my body are not fundamentally different than other organic molecules that may be floating around wherever. It is thus reasonable to suggest that life is not a property of matter, rather it is a property that arises from certain organizations of matter. Life is found in the structure of matter. The question then becomes whether or not matter can be organized into what is termed "life" by some natural process. In other words, is there a path by which non-living matter can be gradually (or spontaneously) arranged into a pattern we would call living. This is still the subject of intense research and debate in the scientific community, but there are a number of observations and hypotheses that are showing promise. For example, we know that RNA can spontaneously form and "survive" under certain conditions (1). We know that from a random pool of RNA polymers, aptomers and ribozymes can spontaneously form (2). Some of these ribozymes can polymerize and self replicate (3). Even more, some ribozymes can catalyze reactions between small molecules and overcome small entropy hurdles (4). Some can even form peptide bonds between amino acids, thus behaving as a primitive translation system (5). So we know that ribozymes, which can spontaneously form, can perform a number of different tasks seen in modern cells: replication, elongation, protein synthesis, and enzymatic activity (protein function). Under this model, the earliest of natural selection took place in pools of RNA -- with random chains spontaneously forming and breaking. The chains that most efficiently catalyzed their own reproduction and were able to latch on to free nucleotides the fastest obviously out-reproduced other chains. We also know that phospholipid bilayers, which form the basis of the cell membrane, form spontaneously. It is reasonable to suggest that at some point a replicating ribozyme found the protection of a phospholipid bilayer and thus gained considerable advantage over other replicating ribozymes.

Now, I don't know for certain that such a scenario happened. My intent was not to say "look this happened". But I think it's a reasonable model and I think that showing that each of these steps is a possibility might give us clues to whether or not abiogenesis has a non-zero probability. In my mind, the defining moment will be when scientists are able to successfully synthesize such a protocell in the lab. Once there is a proof-of-principle, I think the rest will come much more quickly. To be honest, I don't think we're a long way off from this.

#### Johnny

##### New member
Stripe said:
When we turn on a monitor we get a random signal.
All I'm saying is that random signal (in whatever string of bits it was received) was just as unlikely as the Marylin Monroe picture. To say that the Marylin Monroe picture "will never happen" because of the sheer improbability is quite obviously not true because by the same logic that random signal (in whatever string of bits it was received) "will never happen".

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
WHY will it never happen? Unadorned statements from you and Knight that it will never happen are not reasons.
Why won't it happen? Take a look at the numbers!

Can you explain briefly what the number 256640x480 refers to? You used it several times, so tell us what you were referring to when you used it.
That's the amount of different 'images' possible on a 640x480 screen with 256 colours possible per pixel.

I say any guessed image will never be displayed. What do you say?

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
All I'm saying is that random signal (in whatever string of bits it was received) was just as unlikely as the Marylin Monroe picture. To say that the Marylin Monroe picture "will never happen" because of the sheer improbability is quite obviously not true because by the same logic that random signal (in whatever string of bits it was received) "will never happen".

Just because you can tell me what happened after the fact does not change that you will never be able to guess correctly the next image.

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
Since you both asked the same question, I'll group the response here. The answer to you both is that I cannot prove a non-zero probability. I do not know for certain that life can arise from non-life. However, I think there are some relevant observations that may yield at least some insight.

It's important to keep in mind that a cell didn't just pop into existence by some happenstance collision of organic molecules. The odds of that occurring would be virtually insurmountable even for a universe orders of magnitude older than our own. Instead, it is much more reasonable to believe that abiogenesis occurred in a step-wise fashion with each step having reasonable (or at least manageable) probability of occurring. The earliest steps towards life might only qualify as life under the most rudimentary of definitions.

Life does arise from non-life, at least in a philosophical sense. The atoms that make up the cells in my body are not fundamentally different than other organic molecules that may be floating around wherever. It is thus reasonable to suggest that life is not a property of matter, rather it is a property that arises from certain organizations of matter. Life is found in the structure of matter. The question then becomes whether or not matter can be organized into what is termed "life" by some natural process. In other words, is there a path by which non-living matter can be gradually (or spontaneously) arranged into a pattern we would call living. This is still the subject of intense research and debate in the scientific community, but there are a number of observations and hypotheses that are showing promise. For example, we know that RNA can spontaneously form and "survive" under certain conditions (1). We know that from a random pool of RNA polymers, aptomers and ribozymes can spontaneously form (2). Some of these ribozymes can polymerize and self replicate (3). Even more, some ribozymes can catalyze reactions between small molecules and overcome small entropy hurdles (4). Some can even form peptide bonds between amino acids, thus behaving as a primitive translation system (5). So we know that ribozymes, which can spontaneously form, can perform a number of different tasks seen in modern cells: replication, elongation, protein synthesis, and enzymatic activity (protein function). Under this model, the earliest of natural selection took place in pools of RNA -- with random chains spontaneously forming and breaking. The chains that most efficiently catalyzed their own reproduction and were able to latch on to free nucleotides the fastest obviously out-reproduced other chains. We also know that phospholipid bilayers, which form the basis of the cell membrane, form spontaneously. It is reasonable to suggest that at some point a replicating ribozyme found the protection of a phospholipid bilayer and thus gained considerable advantage over other replicating ribozymes.

Now, I don't know for certain that such a scenario happened. My intent was not to say "look this happened". But I think it's a reasonable model and I think that showing that each of these steps is a possibility might give us clues to whether or not abiogenesis has a non-zero probability. In my mind, the defining moment will be when scientists are able to successfully synthesize such a protocell in the lab. Once there is a proof-of-principle, I think the rest will come much more quickly. To be honest, I don't think we're a long way off from this.
With all this knowledge why has noone generated life in a lab yet?

Do you think that if or when someone does generate life in a lab that will show that it could have happened randomly?

#### ThePhy

##### New member
Why won't it happen? Take a look at the numbers!

That's the amount of different 'images' possible on a 640x480 screen with 256 colours possible per pixel.

I say any guessed image will never be displayed. What do you say?

I won’t dispute for a moment that the numbers show that the odds are staggeringly low – on any individual random set of pixels. In my first responses, I used terms like “unimaginably long times” because of that. Are you saying that the odds are precisely zero?

As to saying a guessed image will never be displayed - I (in a thought experiment) enlist the help of gazillions of helpers. Each one selects a different image, until all 256640x480 images have been selected. Now what are you going to display on your screen?

#### Nathon Detroit

##### New member
All I'm saying is that random signal (in whatever string of bits it was received) was just as unlikely as the Marylin Monroe picture. To say that the Marylin Monroe picture "will never happen" because of the sheer improbability is quite obviously not true because by the same logic that random signal (in whatever string of bits it was received) "will never happen".
It's true, that the signal from space (as worded) would be highly improbable.

But that signal from space is merely one example of a signal that could be received.

The statement could have been....

"earth people, we are a race of creatures that lives in a galaxy far away and we want to communicate to you that you are not alone in the universe."

Which is just slightly different from the original.

Or it could have been....

"Hello people of earth."

Or it could have been....

"People of earth you are not alone in the galaxy."

Or it could have been....

"The universe is teaming with life, we will meet soon."

Or it could have been....

"Theologyonline.com is the greatest internet forum in the universe, - Master Tan."

Or it could have been....

"Go Boston Red Sox."

Or it could have been....

Literally every comprehensible phrase ever uttered by mankind or even imagined by mankind could be an example of a message that would be attributed to intelligent life. The possibilities are almost infinite!

Therefore with each added possibility the odds of a comprehensible message increase. And assuming we trust that SETI could rule out a hoax, and assuming that randomness can produce comprehensible information we would have far greater chances of receiving a message simply by chance than at first it may seem. Yet, even with nearly an infinite "pool" of possible comprehensible messages..... nothing but noise is received day in and day out.

The truth is.... randomness does not produce ordered information and each and every one of you acknowledge that by attributing the "space signal" to intelligence and not random chance.

#### Nathon Detroit

##### New member
I won’t dispute for a moment that the numbers show that the odds are staggeringly low – on any individual random set of pixels. In my first responses, I used terms like “unimaginably long times” because of that. Are you saying that the odds are precisely zero?

As to saying a guessed image will never be displayed - I (in a thought experiment) enlist the help of gazillions of helpers. Each one selects a different image, until all 256640x480 images have been selected. Now what are you going to display on your screen?
Great point!

The Marilyn Monroe picture is just an example. Randomness has a nearly infinite pool of possible images to choose from. Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling balls. Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling balls in color. Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling in purple pajamas. Red Skeleton juggling Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling balls.

When my college professor used the example of Marilyn Monroe juggling fish he could have picked any example (real or imagined).

Any picture taken by every camera for all of time.

Any frame of every movie ever shot by every camera through all of history.

Any vision, of every eye, every seen by every human for all of time.

The pool of comprehensible images is nearly infinite!

Yet, randomness produces nothing but unordered snow, over and over again. Randomness does not produce detailed comprehensible ordered images.

#### Johnny

##### New member

Just because you can tell me what happened after the fact does not change that you will never be able to guess correctly the next image.
Zeno would be a cool first name. Maybe I can convince my wife to let me name my son Zeno I didn't mean to imply that you could ever guess. I was simply stating that any random string of x length, ordered or not, is just as likely as the next. To say that you'll never receive an ordered one because of the vast improbability ignores the fact that you just received a vastly improbabe (though by our measure random) message.

Zeno out.

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
I won’t dispute for a moment that the numbers show that the odds are staggeringly low – on any individual random set of pixels. In my first responses, I used terms like “unimaginably long times” because of that. Are you saying that the odds are precisely zero?

As to saying a guessed image will never be displayed - I (in a thought experiment) enlist the help of gazillions of helpers. Each one selects a different image, until all 256640x480 images have been selected. Now what are you going to display on your screen?
Could you deal in reality for a while? No matter how much you wish it could .. it never is.

#### Stripe

Hall of Fame
Great point!

The Marilyn Monroe picture is just an example. Randomness has a nearly infinite pool of possible images. Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling balls. Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling balls in color. Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling in purple pajamas. Red Skeleton juggling Marilyn Monroe juggling bowling balls.

When my college professor used the example of Marilyn Monroe juggling fish he could have picked any example (real or imagined).

Any picture taken by every camera for all of time.

Any frame of every movie ever shot by every camera through all of history.

Any vision, of every eye, every seen by every human for all of time.

The pool of comprehensible images is nearly infinite!

Yet, randomness produces nothing but unordered snow, over and over again. Randomness does not produce detailed comprehensible ordered images.
I have read the theory behind this point before, but can't remember where or all the details. I think the point about random processes is that each subsequent piece of data is constrained by the one that preceded it. So for a television signal the subsequent pixels follow a pattern. That pattern might have something to do with wavelengths or interference or the monitor .. anything really. The difference between an intelligent signal and a random one is that the intelligent signal has meaning attached and defies the random effects that infect everything else.

An intelligent message follows the will of the designer, everything else falls into the line of least resistance. Any random generation of data is only ever going to produce a reflection of the random things that affect it. They will never reflect an intelligent source.

I think Knight and I have approached this disagreement from completely different angles, but any way you look at it, it ain't going to happen and if you claim it could represent our reality then you have a lot more faith than any of us do ..

#### Nathon Detroit

##### New member
I have read the theory behind this point before, but can't remember where or all the details. I think the point about random processes is that each subsequent piece of data is constrained by the one that preceded it. So for a television signal the subsequent pixels follow a pattern. That pattern might have something to do with wavelengths or interference or the monitor .. anything really. The difference between an intelligent signal and a random one is that the intelligent signal has meaning attached and defies the random effects that infect everything else.

An intelligent message follows the will of the designer, everything else falls into the line of least resistance. Any random generation of data is only ever going to produce a reflection of the random things that affect it. They will never reflect an intelligent source.

I think Knight and I have approached this disagreement from completely different angles, but any way you look at it, it ain't going to happen and if you claim it could represent our reality then you have a lot more faith than any of us do.
I hear ya 100%. :thumb: When I said "great point" in response to ThePhy I was saying "great point" for us! (you and me and cm)