What's Wrong With Creationist Probability?

Now if we shuffle this deck of cards for a long time and then examine the particular ordering of the cards that happens to result, we would be justified in concluding that the probability of this particular ordering of the cards having occurred is approximately 1 chance in 10 to the 68th power. This certainly qualifies as minuscule.

Still, we would not be justified in concluding that the shuffles could not have possibly resulted in this particular ordering because its a priori probability is so very tiny. Some ordering had to result from the shuffling, and this one did.

Nor, of course, would we be justified in concluding that the whole process of moving from one ordering to another via shuffles is so wildly improbable as to be practically impossible.

The actual result of the shufflings will always have a minuscule probability of occurring, but, unless you're a creationist, that doesn't mean the process of obtaining the result is at all dubious.

The Science study is disturbing for many reasons, not the least of which is that there's no telling to what length the creationist trunk of the G.O.P. elephant will evolve.

Professor of mathematics at Temple University, John Allen Paulos is the author of best-selling books including "Innumeracy" and "A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market." His "Who's Counting?" column on ABCNews.com appears the first weekend of every month.

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