What is the probability that there is a God?

What is the probability I am experiencing reality right now and not a dream or illusion?

What is the probability that the people around me are thinking beings and not just robots?

What is the probability that the universe is real?

I think these questions are really impossible to answer with probability.

So far as I can see, probability only works for events that we have measured before, preferably many times.  The more something is measured, the more likely our statistics are to be accurate.

If I only flip a coin once to see if I get heads or tails, I am not get an accurate probability.  I’ll either think that the coin lands on heads 100% of the time or tails 100% of the time.  If I flip a coin 5 times, the odds are that I will have a more accurate, although it is still possible that I flipped to heads 100% of the time or tails 100% of the time.  If I flip a coin 10,000 times, the odds are overwhelming that I will have a much better probability, very close (thought probably not perfect) to 50-50.

So I don’t see how we can reasonably assign a probability to something that we can’t test even once[1].

I can say that there is a 1 in 33,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 that if I make a gingerbread cookie it will jump off the tray and run away.  The problem is . . . we have never seen a gingerbread cookie get up off a tray and run away.  So how can I establish any probability about this at all?  How do I know that a gingerbread cookie would ever jump off a tray?  What if it’s never possible?

So how can I make a probability guess about how likely it would be for the universe to come into being on its own?  I could give a number with all kinds of zeros behind it, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible.  I have never seen a universe come into being, so how could I know the probability that a universe would come into being on its own?  What if it’s never possible?

On the flip side, what is the probability that God exists?  What number can I ascribe to this?  Once again, I could string a bunch of zeroes behind a one, but that would not mean a God does or does not exist.  What if there is no chance there’s a God?  Or what if it’s not possible the universe can exist without God?

Probability-wise, I’m not getting anywhere fast on any of these questions.  Probability-wise, I’m not getting anywhere slow either.  I’m not getting anywhere at all.

Probability might be helpful when I’m rolling a die[2] but it isn’t much good at determining what occurs or has occurred outside the observable realm.

When probability doesn’t work for my most important questions . . . where will I find my answers?

I think about Elijah’s prayer:

“O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” (1 Kings 18:37, NLT)


[1] (unless, of course, a higher authority tells us the probability!)

[2] (however, only to an extent, since it can never guarantee me what I will roll, nor can it promise me that my roll is not influenced by a higher will, who could have created mathematics)

See The New Answers Book 2: Chapter 6: Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life by Mark Riddle, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab2/natural-processes-origin-of-life

Photograph by Flare, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/75898532@N00/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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