Vampires and Intelligent Design

Joe Carter tells about an interesting mathematical study proving that vampires cannot exist. If a vampire has to feed once a month and his victim becomes a vampire, and THOSE vampires drink people’s blood and turn THEM into vampires, the human race would DECREASE geometrically and the number of vampires would INCREASE geometrically. In two years, the human race would cease to exist. Since human beings DO exist, there must not be any vampires.

But look at the application. According to the authors of the paper, Costas J. Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi, “Another philosophical principal related to our argument is the truism given the elaborate title, the anthropic principle. This states that if something is necessary for human existence, then it must be true since we do exist. In the present case, the nonexistence of vampires is necessary for human existence.”

The anthropic principal–that conditions had to be just right in a statistically-improbable way for human life to exist–is a concept much used against the theory of random evolution by advocates of Intelligent Design. Here is how Mr. Carter applies the argument from vampires:

The anthropic principle is often stated in a positive way, assuming that certain conditions must be met before human life can exist. At least two dozen demandingly exact physical constants must be in place for carbon-based life to exist, the slightest variation in any of these conditions–even to a minuscule degree–would have rendered the universe unfit for the existence of any kind of life, much less for humans.

But I believe Efthimiou and Gandhi’s paper provides an example of how the anthropic principle can be stated in a negative way. Vampires are a prime example of a class of objects (let’s call them V-class objects) whose non-existence is necessary for the existence of humans. In other words, if humans exist, then it is necessary that V-class objects do not exist.

At first glance this seems so obvious as to be unworthy of notice. Since we humans do, in fact, continue to exist, it shouldn’t be surprising that vampires (and other V-class objects) do not exist. But this begs the question of why humans exist and V-class objects do not. Their existence is, after all, as probable (or improbable) as the existence of humans. And the non-existence of any V-class objects is as statistically improbable as the aligning of dozens of independent physical constants that give rise to life.

The anthropic principle could therefore be restated as claiming that the existence of human life requires both (a) the alignment of several cosmological, chemical, and physical constants and (b) the non-existence of all V-class objects. The probability that each of these stochastically independent events could align precisely as they have, without any intervention, is roughly 0 — in other words, it can’t happen. The evidence therefore points to “fine-tuning” of these conditions.

Having reduced the chance hypothesis to a virtual impossibility we are left with the obvious conclusion that the fine-tuning is not only apparent but actual. The fine-tuning implies the existence of a tuner, hence we can conclude that the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that God exists.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fw

    So… are you saying that eventually we will all become attorneys and that the human race as we know it will cease to exist as a result in it’s relatively benign form…

    so THAT explains why I am drawn to enroll into law school….

  • fw

    So… are you saying that eventually we will all become attorneys and that the human race as we know it will cease to exist as a result in it’s relatively benign form…

    so THAT explains why I am drawn to enroll into law school….

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I’m not qualified to criticise such analysis, but I’ve never been entirely onvinced. Let me put it this way. If you throw a stone into a large meadow, the chances against the stone landing on one particular blade of grass are enormous. Yet the stone must land on some blade of grass, and when it does it will be a highly improbable–yet necessary–event.

    On the other hand, I could argue that the difference between human existence and non-existence is not analogous to the difference between two random blades of grass.

    The whole thing makes my head hurt, frankly.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I’m not qualified to criticise such analysis, but I’ve never been entirely onvinced. Let me put it this way. If you throw a stone into a large meadow, the chances against the stone landing on one particular blade of grass are enormous. Yet the stone must land on some blade of grass, and when it does it will be a highly improbable–yet necessary–event.

    On the other hand, I could argue that the difference between human existence and non-existence is not analogous to the difference between two random blades of grass.

    The whole thing makes my head hurt, frankly.

  • Ryan

    The study assumes two points that may be disputable.

    1. “Vampire need to feed once a month”… or what they die? Wait, aren’t they already dead?

    2. Victims turn into Vampires. Part of the folklore surrounding Vampires is preventative measures against the once bitten from rising and the prevention of being bitten in the first place. I predict a large scale outbreak of Vampires would be countered with Garlic and Crucifix stocks rising coupled with deforestation due to wooden stake manufacturing.

    Vampires are a supernatural phenomena, and originally conceived with relation to Satanic forces. There is more than mere biological reasoning that goes along with this.

    I’m sure that the author did not intend this biological focus… but it is interesting to watch the progression of Vampires from demonic foes to merely some sort of thinking biological/viral zombie (ala’ I am Legend). There seems to be a reflection of something societal in that, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    Finally, and most importantly, regarding Vampire population… there is Buffy. ;)

  • Ryan

    The study assumes two points that may be disputable.

    1. “Vampire need to feed once a month”… or what they die? Wait, aren’t they already dead?

    2. Victims turn into Vampires. Part of the folklore surrounding Vampires is preventative measures against the once bitten from rising and the prevention of being bitten in the first place. I predict a large scale outbreak of Vampires would be countered with Garlic and Crucifix stocks rising coupled with deforestation due to wooden stake manufacturing.

    Vampires are a supernatural phenomena, and originally conceived with relation to Satanic forces. There is more than mere biological reasoning that goes along with this.

    I’m sure that the author did not intend this biological focus… but it is interesting to watch the progression of Vampires from demonic foes to merely some sort of thinking biological/viral zombie (ala’ I am Legend). There seems to be a reflection of something societal in that, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    Finally, and most importantly, regarding Vampire population… there is Buffy. ;)

  • S Bauer

    So, let me see if I get this, instead of make-believe examples of V-class objects, like vampires, we need to use real examples of things that don’t exist, like….wait, that’s not right either. Aaargh!

    And I think Dawkins takes Lar’s observation and makes a lot of hay with it (not that that’s Lar’s fault).

  • S Bauer

    So, let me see if I get this, instead of make-believe examples of V-class objects, like vampires, we need to use real examples of things that don’t exist, like….wait, that’s not right either. Aaargh!

    And I think Dawkins takes Lar’s observation and makes a lot of hay with it (not that that’s Lar’s fault).

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    I think that Anne Rice got out of the Vampire business in the nick of time. Imagine her dilemma if this information had been known during her vamp heyday! She might have been forced to come up with some sort of mumbo jumbo ex nihilo explanation for vampires. Shiver my timbers.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    I think that Anne Rice got out of the Vampire business in the nick of time. Imagine her dilemma if this information had been known during her vamp heyday! She might have been forced to come up with some sort of mumbo jumbo ex nihilo explanation for vampires. Shiver my timbers.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    Seriously though: the anthropic principle essentially argues backward to certain conclusions. I think the anti-ID people have already anticipated that, and have come up with a number of scenarios whereby increasing natural-selection complexity becomes in itself the fine tuner. This idea was already being bandied about at the famous Intelligent Design debates sponsored by the Cranach Institute at Concordia many years ago. While I haven’t kept up with the arguments lately, I can easily see the principles of ID vis a vis the anthropic principle being philosophically, at least, side-stepped. And since none of this can be directly tested, philosophy is largely what we have anyway.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    Seriously though: the anthropic principle essentially argues backward to certain conclusions. I think the anti-ID people have already anticipated that, and have come up with a number of scenarios whereby increasing natural-selection complexity becomes in itself the fine tuner. This idea was already being bandied about at the famous Intelligent Design debates sponsored by the Cranach Institute at Concordia many years ago. While I haven’t kept up with the arguments lately, I can easily see the principles of ID vis a vis the anthropic principle being philosophically, at least, side-stepped. And since none of this can be directly tested, philosophy is largely what we have anyway.


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