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Never Tell Me The Odds

A popular argument from religious believers is the argument by design or some variation of that argument. Instead of taking Han Solo’s advice, they talk about the odds. Well, they are usually correct in that the odds are pretty bad for whatever. In fact, if we are going to talk about bad odds, it is unlikely that you would have ever been born… or at least born as you were.

This might get a little uncomfortable, but think about it. The circumstances had to be just right for your parents to meet, to be attracted to each other, and have the game to get it on. That is a lot of chance that goes into that. What if they met someone else they liked better first? What if one of them wore the wrong color or went to a different destination the day they met? What if one of them said or did the wrong thing and as a result your parents never had sex?

The odds aren’t looking in your favor, but that is just the beginning. Let’s say they did manage to beat those odds and have sex at some point. What are the odds that out of the millions of sperm that your dad shot to impregnate your mom, that the one particular sperm with the right mix of your particular genes was the one to make it to your mom’s egg? If a different sperm made it, then you would have a different mix of your parents’ genetic material and would be someone completely different. If there are multiple universes out there the odds that you would be in one looking and acting anything close to how you are today is astronomical.

If that wasn’t enough, multiple that times your parents’ parents and their parents and so on down the family tree. The bottom line is that it is extremely improbably that you would have ever been born with the traits that you have and yet here you are. It must be fate… or perhaps you would have been born a different person or not born at all.

Or maybe, the more likely possibility is that if something happened differently, you wouldn’t have been born and someone else would have. That person might now be asking the same questions, but we will never know because the odds were just too much for them and they never existed.

The odds look differently after the fact than they do before the fact. What were the chances that the Giants would beat the Patriots with a score of 21-17 in the Superbowl? Would you take that bet today after the game was already played? Sure, because the odds change after the fact. The chances that you would be born as you were are now 100% since that was in fact the outcome.

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