I heard an analogy I found thoughtful, somewhat silly but still making a reasonable point… imagine playing cards with a group of friends, when we notice that one of them deals himself a royal flush every time he deals.
One is tempted to protest that he is cheating, but being well versed in theoretical physics as we are, we realize that, given the multiverse and the infinite possible worlds and parallel universes, then there are in fact an infinite number of possible worlds and universes where, just by sheer force of infinite probability, he deals himself a royal flush every time he deals, and perhaps we just happen to exist in one of those universes.
However, I think most of us in the real world would be content to conclude our friend is cheating.
That to me is the most cogent or persuasive argument [or not … as I guess I just answered it below] against parallel universes (or at least the conception of them that has every possible existing one actually existing.) The fact that we can actually be sure that something fishy is going on with our royal flush-dealing friend is a sign that we already intuitively know this.
[though the easy answer to the above is that in 99.999…% of all those universes where your dealer friend is dealing, he would not be dealing royal flushes - so I guess I’ve just dismissed my own objection since we should still be shocked to find ourselves in one of these rare royal flush-happy universes. Still our universe seems to stick with some amazingly stubborn consistencies, and there is something fishy about that. Be that as it may be, I still consider the whole concept a pretty silly one, not worth suffering any intellectual angst over.]
Also keep in mind though, that the comparison between your seemingly “lucky” friend and evolution is a flawed one. To make it something closer to right, we should have your friend institute a new way to deal his cards - yes, randomly at first, but then he insists on getting to keep certain ones perhaps for varying reasons as the process continues, and he throws most of them back in the deck and keeps dealing, selecting, and shuffling as he goes. Now it is not so surprising at all that a player or two “ends up” with things like a royal flush.
Well, I was only discussing multiverse, I wasn’t talking evolution at all… but since you brought it up…
I’d humbly suggest there is the “teleological flaw” in your analogy there, and thus we have a great analogy which supports and demonstrates intelligent design and intelligent, teleological purpose…!
… but blind evolution doesn’t select or reject mutations based on whether or not they will help arrive at a distant target. In fact, poker is probably a most excellent example.
Just off the top of my head (unless I’m missing something), I’m inclined to think that using analogous Natural selection and minute improvements and blind mutations/substitutions, while weighing their relative “fitness” in poker, will still rarely arrive at a royal flush.
If I set up a computer simulator, took a random poker hand, and set it up to repeatedly replace a random single card with another, but then revert to the previous hand if the “new hand” was less fit than its predecessor (but keep the new hand if it was as or more “fit” than the predecessor)… consider the outcomes…
Once you had a hand with any pair, my simulator would keep that pair (or evolve to a better/higher pair) in the vast, vast majority of cases (any case where you discarded one of those pair would almost certainly make the hand less fit unless it evolved to getting a card that created a higher pair… except in some very, very rare cases where that would lead to a flush or straight). It would “increase fitness” by replacing some of the other cards, eventually leading to a hand with two pair or perhaps 3ofakind… continue that process and you eventually get either a full house or 4ofakind… and even a full house could incrementally evolve to 4 of a kind in this process, discarding one of the full house’s pair for one that gives a 4 of a kind… but at that point you cease… any card you discard from 4ofakind will without exception make said hand less fit long, long before you adjust enough to find a path to a straight flush. In this process, for instance, even having 4 Jacks could never evolve into having 4 Kings, however more fit 4 Kings might be… since the path from 4 Jacks to 4 Kings (or a royal flush) requires multiple steps of said hand becoming significantly less fit before getting on the path to the higher fitness. Blind evolution doesn’t work against immediate fitness in order to achieve even more fit distant teleological targets.
Only if you started with a straight or flush (roughly 0.6% chance - or very fortuitously and randomly found that before finding a pair from nothing… a very rare occurrence) would you find yourself on the evolutionary “path” to a Royal Flush would your process work. Once you have a flush, this process would keep the flush (rejecting swaps that create a simple pair) and eventually you get a straight flush and then evolve to a royal flush. And similarly, once you have a straight, this evolutionary process would allow such beneficial substitutions as would allow eventual single step substitutions to a royal flush.
But essentially, I can only see this working in those far more rare cases where you randomly in your hand start with a flush or straight. Blind Evolution even aided by this artificial natural selection doesn’t even notice if you have “almost” a flush or straight. It only cares if the offspring is more fit, not if the parent had “most” of the genes/cards that would lead to a real advance.
So ballpark figures on the math, given an evolutionary algorithm of swapping out cards and keeping the fitter result or reverting to the immediate ancestor, And letting the process run, I’m still thinking that even this process could arrive at a royal flush in only < 1% of cases. In the other 99% of cases, the evolutionary pathway will dead end at 4 of a kind. Not bad of course, but no royal flush.
So even using a process of swapping out cards as you suggested… Dealing a Royal flush every time would still require intelligent agency and teleological purpose. A blind process of substitution however guided by stepwise natural selection could simply not accomplish that particular achievement.
Perhaps a better game to look at for a metaphor to evolution is Yahtzee. In that you get to keep some dice and re roll the rest to make the best possible hand, but you have a lot of end points that might give you points, with the possibilities and best course changing with each roll of the dice.
Well - if “royal flush” means just good enough that something successfully reproduces and its offspring survive to reproduce more … and what does “rarely” mean? Over some “possibility spaces”, “rarely” might mean that something happens quite often. But I realize that this is just begging the question and that all these are ill defined terms. A poker (or any game) analogy can probably only be pressed so far.
Your point is well-taken that stepping up through successively more valuable poker hands is going to be problematic at some points. But that just shows the weakness of our chosen analogy and doesn’t reflect on real-life evolutionary drift.
The way we set this up - maybe so - I’ll even concede it without flushing it out any more (so-to-speak). But while we are still attached to our project here I would also note that evolution probably does not need “royal flushes” every time (and certainly not suddenly from scratch). That would sound more like a caricature from creationists who labor under the misconception that intricately functioning systems as we now see them had to “spring up” at once from an a-biotic muck, or fall together at once from a vastly more primitive system before it. That still ends up being more like the microscopic version of the “hopeful monster” caricature of evolution.
I know this is off topic for this thread. But if we want to persist in this and deem it worth it, we can certainly make it the start of a new one.