I am currently reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbably."
The term comes from the European belief that all swans are white since that's the only kind they had ever seen. Then the British began exploring Australia and what do they find?
Taleb refers to Black Swan Events. An event that is so improbable that it can't be fit in the traditional Bell Shaped Curved. I'm just getting a good start into his work, but he's a good read. So far, he is making the argument that these BSEs...to create my own acronym...are the driving force behind history. That human history doesn't just roll along nice and smooth with one event being caused by preceeding events and then, when it has happed becomes the cause of other events.
He rather argues that history does not grow logically and rationally, but rather is a sequence of unpredictable leaps caused by unpredicatable events: Black Swans.
He uses 9/11 as an example as well as the emergence of the Internet...I would go back further and include the Black Plague, the discovery of the North American continent and many others. Each event was so improbable that no sane man would actually take them into account when predicting the future but they are the events that have driven history forward. Of course, historians with the advantage of "Assward thinking"...what other people call 'hindsight'...come up with why this Black Swan was perfectly predictable and inevitable.
Evolution is subject to the same fits and starts, with long, slow periods between where the results of the latest BSE are fine tuned and elaborated.
If you assign any probablility at all that event may occur then, however improbable, it will occur. Does that mean even things we think of as impossible are to be given credence? If you get into the multiverse theory as it is often understood, then you are stuck with that conclusion. I don't buy into this vision of the multiverse because in my admitedly limit knowledge what would change between one possible universe to the next would not be whether I win the lottery...and to those who commit Quantum Suicide I think they should be given a Darwin Award for Lifetime Achievement. What my gut...and there is plenty of it...tells me is that what changes between universes in the multiverse are the rules of physics themselves.
The argument from the improbability of events is defeated by the simple rule of "Here we are."
It's a skydiver who survives a fall from thousands of feet in the air. He's here, he's alive...you can buy him a drink...but one thing you cannot do is say he doesn't exist.
Humans have cognitive abilities. That is the point from which the discussion must begin, not end. The question remains is God more or less improbable than the naturalistic explaination?
I would say that God is not just improbable...he has been shown to be impossible.
The God of the Creationists did not exist at the time when he was supposedly creating the universe and all that is in it. The God who exists today is a product of the last three hundred years or so. This God was created out of the necessity to put forward a defense against the growth of rational observation. The rational mind sees the fallacy behind the God Theory and presents an argument. In olden days, when life was easier to explain, this pesky rationalist would have been put to the stake before his contagion could spread to others.
Today, when faced with a multitude of rational explanations for things once attributed to God, it is the concept of God that is changed to encompass and explain this new information. I call this "Getting God Off the Hook Theology." It's most popular in the discussion of the existence of evil in a world supposedly created by an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. Usually comes down to some variation of the Free Will argument. But if you closely examine the various texts you will find no reference to God creating people with Free Will. What could that mean? Where is the Free Will when, if you don't go along with God, you will burn forever in a fiery Hell?
The point is you can read the history of God...there's plenty of literature out there on the subject...that shows God as having evolved from primitive superstition. God...well, at first The Gods...there's a fascinating study on its own, the transformation from polytheism to monotheism, try Robert Wright's The Evolution of God...begins his/her existence as a big human being, with a whole family constantly giving him trouble and all the foibles of humanity...jealousy, rage, vengeance...love is the only human attribute that doesn't appear in the description for thousands of millenium.
If I can read the history of something, then I can say with certainty that the latest incarnation of the artifact did not exist at the earliest stages of it's development.
And I can say this artifact is a production of human cognition...not the cause.
A simple example is the plow.
For the longest time, humans dug the ground with their hands in order to plant seed. Then one day someone thought to use a stick to turn the ground without having to bend over...is it Robert Heinlein who opined that human progress is due to lazy men looking for an easier way to do things. From there came the idea of adding weight to the business end of the stick, sharpening the stick, replacing the stick with a bone or a rock, then came metallugy and the plow grew a sharp, heavy metal blade. First pushed by men, then pulled by animals and, with the Industrial Revolution, powered by machines.
So you go from digging with your fingers to using a stick and on through the history of agriculture to the latest model from John Deere.
So you've got people with a brand new John Deere tractor...with AC, GPS, online computer, DVD player and all sorts of doodads and finagles...who want to put forth the claim that this plow somehow existed before people even began digging in the ground with their fingers to plant seed.
It's 2013 and we've got this brand, spanking new God with all the stuff that has been added to him over the centuries and especially in the last three. And we've got people that want to argue that this latest version of God created the Universe.
If you can trace the history of something...a plow or a God...then it is a human artifact going through changes to fit the needs of each passing culture and phase of history.
God has no existence outside of the cognitive minds of human beings.
There's a word for things that exist only in our minds and not in the real world.
They're called fantasies.
The premise of the term fantasy is precisely that it does not exist ourside of the human imagination.
We all enjoy a good fantasy just as we all wake up happier after a night of good dreams.
But when you wake up then you put aside these 'childish things' pick up your rationality and go to work on making the real world a better place.