Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is the Game Rigged?

Imagine that you and your buddies want to play a game of cards.  For this particular imaginative exercise, let us say you will play bridge.  You arrive at your destination and find a card table already laid out and four hands being dealt.

Everyone assumes a seat.  You begin to pick up your cards.  The first four cards you pick up are all spades.  "Not bad," you think.  But then you continue  to draw spades.  Eight, nine, ten spades.  Your mind begins reeling.  After picking up all thirteen cards in your hand, you realize you have a perfect hand.  You drew all thirteen spades--a truly remarkable feat.

Now, for those of you who are interested in statistics, drawing such a hand would be a 1 in 3.9542 x 10^21 chance.  Nearly impossible odds.

As you looked at your hand, you would possibly think one of two things:

  1. I am the luckiest guy in the entire world.
  2. The game is rigged.
From your perspective, you would probably want to think the first thought; yet those sitting around the table would probably offer up the second.  In fact, no one would probably accept the hand as genuine because those hands just don't come around--at all.  No one that I know has ever been dealt a perfect hand like the one I described.  Even thought it is technically possible--well, it just doesn't happen.  (This is why Vegas puts astounding odds at getting a Royal Flush, and that's with eight less cards!)

In a similar manner, our universe is something to marvel at when it comes to how it is finely tuned.  There are several mathematical constants which, if they were off by a magnitude of .01, would mean that life itself would not be able to exist.  Compound such a thing with the Earth's place in the midst of  the universe: we are in a galaxy situated just perfectly in the midst of space--there's not a lot of space junk: asteroids, etc. that we run into.  Our galaxy isn't colliding with any other galaxies.  We are situated in just the right place in our galaxy where we are not too close to the black hole at its center.  Again, within our galaxy we are situated perfectly so that we are not bombarded by space junk.  In addition to this, we are just the right distance from a star of just the right size so that water stays in its liquid form.  We have protective outer planets (Jupiter and Saturn) which protect us from any space junk which would bombard us.  We have a moon situated just right which also offers protection and interacts gravitationally with the planet in very helpful ways. 

Statistically, the odds of us being in just the right place with all the right measurements are astounding--on the measure of getting a perfect hand in bridge.  (Statistically, the odds are basically zero, BTW.)  Yet, here we are. 

Now, depending upon your perspective, you can conclude several things:

1. We are the luckiest folks in the history of the universe blessed by a phenomenal chance. 
2. There are an infinite number of universes out there, so one was bound to get it right.
3. The game is rigged.

What's the most reasonable answer? 

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