Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Probability and the 15 Mechanisms (edit: now 17)

I'm expanding on a couple of different posts I made at the Skeptic's Annotated Bible Discussion Board, one of my favorite hang-outs. Basically, you see a lot of probability discussions in IDC literature. This is one more reason why they are nonsense. They generally looked at random mutation (that is, the replacement of one "letter" in the DNA with another letter) and natural selection.

There are at least 15 (now 17) different mechanisms involved in evolution:

Mechanisms that increase diversity in a population
Random replacement mutation in DNA
Gene duplication
Phase shift mutation (Edit: Frame shift mutation)
Gene flow from other species
Recombination
Symbiosis
Environmentally generated changes to DNA decoding
Protein changes (prions, etc.)

Mechanisms that alter allele proportions in a population
Natural selection
Sexual selection
Random genetic drift
Late addition: Kin selection

Mechanisms that operate at a level above populations
Speciation
Punctuated equilibrium
Extinction/competition/invasive species
Mass extinction events
Late addition: Parasitic/symbiotic relationships (note this is different from the symbiosis that occurs at the genetic/cellular level).

To do a probability calculation, you need to account not only for the probabilities of each of these mechanisms, but also for the independence of every possible subset of these mechanisms. that would be 32,768 (2^15) (131,072, 2^17 now) possible subsets, so any probability calculation would require you to factor in 32,768 different probabilities. The next IDC document I see that uses more than 10 factors will be the first.

Just one more way IDC falls short of even it's own goals.

Edited for spelling. I'm really much better at spelling long-hand than typing. Really.

Edit to add more to the list.

26 comments:

anonimouse said...

IDC?
I thought you were going to work on that distinction.
But, I guess your emotional investment into your worldview is clouding your ability to talk on these topics rationally.

One Brow said...

The disrinction remains. You'll hear ID people talk about structure, organization, or front-loading, but so far the false probability aregument is strictly from the Creationist heritage, making it firmly an IDC aspect. I hear the argument from the likes of Behe and Dembski, but as an example, never over at the blog of Dr. Reppart.

Lifewish said...

Good post. Did you mean "frame shift mutation"?

One Brow said...

Thanks, and probably that's what I meant. I'll make an edit.

Anonymous said...

Scientists themselves have long debated probablilty questions in connection with evolution, aint they? For example:

On April 25 and 26, 1962, a scientific symposium was held at the Wistar Institute of
Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which some of the most distinguished
evolutionary scientists were present.
At the beginning of this Symposium which was titled, “Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-
Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution,” the Chairman, Sir Peter Medawar of the National Institute
for Medical Research in London, England, stated the reasons why they had gathered:
…the immediate cause of this conference is a pretty widespread sense of
dissatisfaction about what has come to be thought of as the accepted evolutionary
theory in the English-speaking world, the so-called neo-Darwinian Theory.… These
objections to current neo-Darwinian theory are very widely held among biologists
generally; and we must on no account, I think, make light of them. The very fact that
we are having this conference is evidence that we are not making light of them.
http://www.ankerberg.org/Articles/_PDFArchives/science/SC1W0102.pdf

Anonymous said...

Course, then ya got the question of what kinda probablity theory we even talkin bout, eh?:

"on behalf of science I would like to call a "time-out" in the debate. Why? Because science has an in-house problem, a severe case of divided mind, that needs to be resolved before returning to the fray (a house divided and all that)...

Modern genetics has given us a good description, at least in broad outline, of what actually happened over the last four billion years of life on Earth. Science, even in its divided-mind state, tends to blow fundamentalist religion out of the water when debating what happened.

No, the real debate for the well-informed nowadays is all about why it happened. Why did life evolve? Why did the human lineage emerge from the hominid lineage? Why did it happen the way that it happened? The Big Questions.

Now you may be of the mind that this question has been answered in full by modern science. It is assumed to be a closed question, that the answer is in. It is certainly what you learned in high school, even college. Most evolutionary theorists are also convinced the question has been answered by what is called the Modern Synthesis...

This is the divided mind that current science has about the nature of probability. The fundamental sciences use quantum concepts of probability to describe the very small and the very few; the top-level sciences use the approximate classical concepts of probability to study zillions and the very large....

Now we can formulate that question that science needs to firmly answer before returning to the debate with religion--for science to get its house in order.

When describing genetic rearrangements: What kind of probability are we talking about? More technically, does recombination and speciation necessitate the full rigor of quantum probability, or can we get by with classical probability considerations?

At this point, you still might be of the opinion that, whichever way science decides the question, it should not make that much of a difference. Nothing, however, could be further from the actuality, for if the decision is that quantum probability considerations apply, everything will change...

Richard LLewellyn Lewis,

http://www.worldandi.com/subscribers/feature_detail.asp?num=24674

One Brow said...

I believe the Wistar symposium to which you refer happened in 1966, not 1962.

One persons take on the transcript is not nearly so kind to the Creationists. Yes, I agree with Medawar that the symposium shows that the scientific commujnity did not take the objections lightly, but it also showed that the theory was able to answer all the objections raised.

One Brow said...

Course, then ya got the question of what kinda probablity theory we even talkin bout, eh?:
Well, so far the IDC crowd that engages in these probability arguments has generally avoided using complex probabilities and quantum mechanics. It would probably lose them their audience if they did try it, since the issue for IDCers seems to be convincing the public, not discovering new science.

Anonymous said...

"...it also showed that the theory was able to answer all the objections raised."

Heh, Eric, that's a fine conclusion, but what does it really mean? "Answer" all objections? Are you claimin it has been proved that the modern synthetic theory of evolution, with it's insistence that all mutations are strictly random, has somehow been proved to be probable? Or are you just sayin sumthin like a guy who denies his guilt has an "answer" for his accusers?

One Brow said...

Heh, Eric, that's a fine conclusion, but what does it really mean? "Answer" all objections? Are you claimin it has been proved that the modern synthetic theory of evolution, with it's insistence that all mutations are strictly random, has somehow been proved to be probable? Or are you just sayin sumthin like a guy who denies his guilt has an "answer" for his accusers?
It means that of the mathematical issues that were raised at that particular symposium turned out to have been previously considered and were either irrelevent or solved.

Anonymous said...

Would this be an example of an instance where a "problem" has been "solved" or shown to be "irrelevant," ya figure, Eric?

"Yet another attempt, one of the most sophisticated yet, has been published. Walter Bradley and Charles Thaxton wrote "Information Theory and the Origin of Life" in The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer (J.P. Moreland, ed., InterVarsity Press, 1994, pp. 173-234). But they still commit the same fallacies as always. For example, as a start to their project, they tell us that "if a protein had one hundred active sites, the probability of getting a proper assembly would be...4.9 x 10^-191" (p. 190). Of course, they do not mention that this is only true if the first replicating protein had to be exactly, and only, one hundred amino-acids in length, and if only one exact protein could get life started. When we factor in the possibility that millions of possible proteins of dozens of different sizes might do it, the odds for life starting this way are not so grim."

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/addendaB.html

If Roger Clemens was not at a party where a witness said he was, does that prove that Clemens did not use HGH? Is whatever is "possible" therefore plausible, ya figure.

Anonymous said...

To continue the section quoted above:

"But they make no attempt to account for this, so their statistic is useless. But this number also assumes that only, and exactly, twenty amino-acid types must be involved--but since there are thousands of types, and for all we know any combination of any of them may have begun a replicating life-form (the fact that our phylogeny ends up with these twenty is, after all, most likely chance, not necessity), it follows that this assumption of twenty kinds, no more and no less, also invalidates their statistic."

Is this the "for all we know" line of "solving" problems at work here?

Their statistics are "invalid" because the assumption of 20 amino acid types "must" be involved, and it is probably just chance, not necessity that we end up with 20?

So therefore we must reject the conclusion that the chances are 4.9 x 10^-191"? What are the chances, then?

Anonymous said...

I guess what I'm sayin is that attacking plausbile assumptions as not conclusively proven does not strike me as "solving" any problem. Anyone can do that (with grounds) for any and every argument. This does not "solve" the problem, though.

I guess, for some, it proves that there simply is no problem. Which is just another way of sayin that the odds of randomly assembling a self-replicating protein are 100%, i.e conclusively and irrefutably proven.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I see now that the argument seems to boil down to the claim whatever is even remotely possible is indeed "plausible." A few quotes:

1.Borel calculates that, when examining questions on a cosmic scale, anything with odds worse than 1 in 10^50 can be regarded as impossible, while anything with odds between 10^0 to 10^50 could have happened at least once in the age and expanse of the cosmos.

2. calculating the probability of achieving one end result, whether by Schroeder's or Dawkins' or my own methods, will actually tell us nothing about whether that result would or would not have happened naturally. But the methods of Dawkins and myself do prove that such a result is possible given the right conditions, and thus to argue against us requires proving that those conditions did not obtain.

3. ... his own math leads him to the conclusion that, in fact, "the convergent organ appears within the time frame presented by the fossil record" (p. 111). In other words, he concludes that it is possible after all, when all the proper considerations are made. So Schroeder's own conclusion, that evolution is actually plausible...

4. There is still the same, single, fundamental problem with all these statistical calculations, one that I mention in my review of Foster: no one knows what the first life was. People like Morowitz can try to calculate what is, at a minimum, possible, and laboratory experiments, like that which discovered the powers of tetrahymena (see Addenda C), can approach a guess, but these guesses still do not count as knowledge, and it is not sound to claim that simply because we don't know what it was, therefore we can't assume there was such a simple life form

Heh, in other words, he's sayin (in #4, there) that he is free to assume whatever he wants to, since he doesn't know, while at the same time condemnin others for just "guessin."

Anonymous said...

Notice also, in #3 above, the implied assumption that anything that is not theoretically impossible is therefore "plausible."

Is that really what "plausible" means, ya figure?

Anonymous said...

"Theories which make the origin of life plausible are hypotheses like any others...creationist arguments fail to take into account plausible hypotheses that would make natural biogenesis on earth highly probable.... creationists have not ruled out the relevant hypotheses...and consequently their probability arguments are groundless."

I aint no creationist, let's git that straight. But looky here, eh? This guy wants to dismiss any "hypothesis" which he doesn't like as "invalid," "groundless," and meaningless, all while toutin (unproven) hypotheses which make natural biogenesis "highly probable," eh? But his whole argument has been that without provin your assumptions, all calculations of probablility are "useless."

Seem what's good for the goose aint zakly always good for the gander, eh?

One Brow said...

Would this be an example of an instance where a "problem" has been "solved" or shown to be "irrelevant," ya figure, Eric?

"Yet another attempt, one of the most sophisticated yet, has been published. Walter Bradley and Charles Thaxton wrote … the odds for life starting this way are not so grim."

Yes, I would say it was shown to be irrelevant.

If Roger Clemens was not at a party where a witness said he was, does that prove that Clemens did not use HGH?
Well, when the witnesses refer to 1,000 different parties where Clemens was using HGH, and it turns out he was there for none of them, and there isn’t any other evidence he used HGH, then you have to give him Clemens the benefit of the doubt.

There are too many interesting ideas in abiogenesis research, including some interesting results, yet far too few established facts or mechanisms, to say the field is pointing anywhere with certainty. Bad probability arguments will not suffice to derail it.

Is whatever is "possible" therefore plausible, ya figure.
Plausibility changes with the observer.

Is this the "for all we know" line of "solving" problems at work here?
There is not a problem to solve here, merely an invalid probability argument to rebut.

What are the chances, then?
There is no good way to calculate them at this time, and even if we could, it is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...
I guess what I'm sayin is that attacking plausbile assumptions as not conclusively proven does not strike me as "solving" any problem. Anyone can do that (with grounds) for any and every argument. This does not "solve" the problem, though.

There has to be a problem to solve, first.

Perhaps you could point out what this problem is that you see and I don’t.

Yeah, I see now that the argument seems to boil down to the claim whatever is even remotely possible is indeed "plausible." A few quotes:

1.Borel calculates that, when examining questions on a cosmic scale, anything with odds worse than 1 in 10^50 can be regarded as impossible, while anything with odds between 10^0 to 10^50 could have happened at least once in the age and expanse of the cosmos.

Borel is foolish, then. Wildly unlikely things happen every day. There are more than 1.02*10^161 ways of shuffling a Canasta deck, so every game I played, that arrangement of cards had a probability of less than 1/10^161 of occurring. Sometimes I’d make several "impossible" events happen in a afternoon. Probability looks at what might happen, it is less useful for what has happened.

2. calculating the probability of achieving one end result, whether by Schroeder's or Dawkins' or my own methods, will actually tell us nothing about whether that result would or would not have happened naturally. But the methods of Dawkins and myself do prove that such a result is possible given the right conditions, and thus to argue against us requires proving that those conditions did not obtain.
Proving something could not happen does boil down to proving it is impossible.

One Brow said...

3. ... his own math leads him to the conclusion that, in fact, "the convergent organ appears within the time frame presented by the fossil record" (p. 111). In other words, he concludes that it is possible after all, when all the proper considerations are made. So Schroeder's own conclusion, that evolution is actually plausible...

4. There is still the same, single, fundamental problem with all these statistical calculations, one that I mention in my review of Foster: no one knows what the first life was. People like Morowitz can try to calculate what is, at a minimum, possible, and laboratory experiments, like that which discovered the powers of tetrahymena (see Addenda C), can approach a guess, but these guesses still do not count as knowledge, and it is not sound to claim that simply because we don't know what it was, therefore we can't assume there was such a simple life form

Heh, in other words, he's sayin (in #4, there) that he is free to assume whatever he wants to, since he doesn't know, while at the same time condemnin others for just "guessin."

Scientists have a bias for guesses that spur research, as opposed to those that are research-stoppers.

Notice also, in #3 above, the implied assumption that anything that is not theoretically impossible is therefore "plausible."

Is that really what "plausible" means, ya figure?

Nope, that was probably not the best wording.

I aint no creationist, let's git that straight. But looky here, eh? This guy wants to dismiss any "hypothesis" which he doesn't like as "invalid," "groundless," and meaningless, all while toutin (unproven) hypotheses which make natural biogenesis "highly probable," eh?
Yes, that’s the same bias, the preference for choices that lead to more science being done, coming into play.

Anonymous said...

"Wildly unlikely things happen every day. There are more than 1.02*10^161 ways of shuffling a Canasta deck, so every game I played, that arrangement of cards had a probability of less than 1/10^161 of occurring. Sometimes I’d make several "impossible" events happen in a afternoon. Probability looks at what might happen, it is less useful for what has happened."

Very interestin, Eric, but what I wanna know is this here: What are the chances, ya figure, of the deckin shufflin it's own damn self while you go get a cup of coffee, eh?

Anonymous said...

Eric, you're a statistician, aincha? Mebbe you can help me out here. Richard Carrier makes this claim:

"Just because every sequential arrangement of hands in poker has the same odds of being dealt as a royal flush, it does not follow that the odds against any hand being dealt are the same as the odds of dealing a royal flush. This is bogus reasoning in the extreme."

Bogus reasonin in the extreme, eh? Spoze you and me each designate a specific hand to be dealt. You say a royal flush in the suit of spades. I say a five-card hand consistin of (1) 2 of hearts, (2) 9 of spades, (3) 3 of diamonds, (4) queen of clubs, and (5) 6 of hearts.

Are my chances of bein right somehowze different than yours, because you picked a royal flush, ya figure?

Anonymous said...

More from Carrier on the relevance of knowledge to probablility calculation and of the "odds" of certain things happnin, eh?

1."This commits two mistakes:.... second, the "smallest known living thing" is already billions of years more advanced than the first life, which is almost certainly extinct."

"Almost certainly," billions of years more advanced, eh? What does that translate into, in terms of odds? A 99.999 chance, or sumthin?

2. "...even if all presently living organisms required two thousand enzymes it would not follow that the first life did. It almost certainly did not."

Once again, Carrier hauls out claims about what is "almost certain, eh?

3."Random mutation is no respecter of order, and selection is partial to complexity. Thus, once the first replicator formed, complexity would be an inevitable outcome of mutation and selection. We don't know how "complex" the first replicator had to be or could have been, nor do we know how many were possible."<---Carrier finally admits to something that he does pretend to know to an "almost certain" degree ...good for him, but...

4."Morris also assumes that only one sequence of 1500 steps will begin life--but in fact there may be millions of different sequences that will work, and there may be many different numbers of steps, and any derivation of odds must sum the odds for all possibilities: i.e. the odds for every possible number of steps, from 1 to infinity, and of every arrangement of steps within each number of steps that will produce a reproducing protein. This is impossible to know. Such a statistic cannot be calculated, even using Morris' math." <---If odds can't be calculated without knowin the odds of every single possibility and the odds of every single possibility that "may be," how can Carrier conclude that the odds of anything are "almost certain."

5. In his appendix, Carrier approvingly cites Schwartz as sayin: "It is probable that another, unseen phylogenetic tree preceded the one we can now reconstruct, and led from the first form of life to the progenote" (p. 325). He likewise approves of this statement by Schwartz: "it is clear that "all life on earth is descended from a single common ancestor," and "that ancestor...was certainly not the first form of life."<---notice the inclusion of such terms as "clear," and "certain." These words seemed to import a degree of probability calculations with them, don't they, to wit, a 100% chance.

As usual, the zealousness of the the rabid atheist's attack on what he perceives to be "religion" proves just a little too much for the atheist's own purposes and leaves him lookin like a pompous hypocrite, if ya ax my ass.

Where does Carrier's virtual "certainty" come from, in light of his attacks on the uselessness of probability calculations, I wonder? Faith, mebbe?

Anonymous said...

In other words, usin Carrier's tatics (which seem to be along the lines of "if you have ever made any kinda mistake, that proves I'm right"), all of his assertions are easily dismissed as useless, meaningless, and irrelevant.

All I gotta do is say: You are assumin X, but you have not proved X, and it is possible for not-X to be the case, therefore everything you say and think is irrelevant and useless. The whole God 'problem" has been "solved." You have proved nuthin, therefore there is no problem. Therefore the creationists are right, obviously.

Anonymous said...

In closin here (unless mebbe there are futher comments) lemme just say that it often seems that people who talk about probabilities and odds confuse the subjective with the objective, i.e., the chances of an individual "knowin" (or guessin, or predictin) the outcome of a future event with the "odds" of that outcome actually happnin.

If the ref has flipped a coin at the 50 yard line, a player callin "heads" while its in the air can be said to have a 50% of guessin it right.

But if it turns up heads, ya could argue that it's true chances, while it was in the air, of comin up heads were 100% and the chances of it bein tails were 0%.

For the deteminist, everthing that happens "had" to happen. For them, the mere fact that some particular event happens proves that there was a 100% chance of it occurin, and a 0% chance of it not occurin. Probability is itself a meaninless concept, given those premises.

I don't see why these atheists, who are invariably deteministic, mechanitic, materialists, don't just use the simplest argument to "prove" their conclusions (which are merely dictated by their premises). For example:

1. Everything happens by mere chance, in the sense that there is no "purpose" or design involved.

2. Everything that happens has to happen, because it is merely the necessary implication of the precedin state of material reality.

3. Therefore the fact that sumthin happens proves that it both (1) happened by chance, and (2)certainly had to have happened. Any claim to to contrary has to be wrong.

Makes perfect sense, don't it?

One Brow said...

Very interestin, Eric, but what I wanna know is this here: What are the chances, ya figure, of the deckin shufflin it's own damn self while you go get a cup of coffee, eh?
Depends on how strong a breeze there is on the card table.

Eric, you're a statistician, aincha? Mebbe you can help me out here. Richard Carrier makes this claim:

"Just because every sequential arrangement of hands in poker has the same odds of being dealt as a royal flush, it does not follow that the odds against any hand being dealt are the same as the odds of dealing a royal flush. This is bogus reasoning in the extreme."

Bogus reasonin in the extreme, eh? Spoze you and me each designate a specific hand to be dealt. You say a royal flush in the suit of spades. I say a five-card hand consistin of (1) 2 of hearts, (2) 9 of spades, (3) 3 of diamonds, (4) queen of clubs, and (5) 6 of hearts.

Are my chances of bein right somehowze different than yours, because you picked a royal flush, ya figure?

You are correct, in that your hand is equally likely to mine, no more or less. However, I think you missed the point of Carrier’s argument, which was much the same as my Canasta example. He’s saying that even if getting a specific sequence that is now in the horse genome is unlikely, that some sort of sequence was going to happen, and that no other types of sequences are necessarily more likely. He meant regardless of whether it is a royal flush or a queen-high, you’ll have some type of hand.

Anonymous said...
More from Carrier on the relevance of knowledge to probablility calculation and of the "odds" of certain things happnin, eh?

1."This commits two mistakes:.... second, the "smallest known living thing" is already billions of years more advanced than the first life, which is almost certainly extinct."

"Almost certainly," billions of years more advanced, eh? What does that translate into, in terms of odds? A 99.999 chance, or sumthin?

No way to quantify it. It’s reasonable that the first cells would have thought of the proto-cellular "life" as a food source.

2. "...even if all presently living organisms required two thousand enzymes it would not follow that the first life did. It almost certainly did not."

Once again, Carrier hauls out claims about what is "almost certain, eh?

I think everyone agree that it is very unlikely two thousand enzyme sprang into being by chance.

3."Random mutation is no respecter of order, … nor do we know how many were possible."<---Carrier finally admits to something that he does pretend to know to an "almost certain" degree ...good for him, but...

4."Morris also assumes … <---If odds can't be calculated without knowin the odds of every single possibility and the odds of every single possibility that "may be," how can Carrier conclude that the odds of anything are "almost certain."

As an atheist, he assume abiogenesis happened without supernatural intervention. It does color his statements from time to time.

5. In his appendix, Carrier approvingly cites Schwartz as sayin: … These words seemed to import a degree of probability calculations with them, don't they, to wit, a 100% chance.
I agree this seems unwarranted, especially since, with our current understanding of horizontal gene transfer, we don’t even seem to have a single common cellular ancestor.

As usual, the zealousness of the the rabid atheist's attack on what he perceives to be "religion" proves just a little too much for the atheist's own purposes and leaves him lookin like a pompous hypocrite, if ya ax my ass.
Atheists are human, after all.

Where does Carrier's virtual "certainty" come from, in light of his attacks on the uselessness of probability calculations, I wonder? Faith, mebbe?
Why not? Atheists have faith, just usually not in supernatural beings.

In other words, usin Carrier's tatics …
A good thing debate tactics don’t define reality, eh?

Anonymous said...

"Scientists have a bias for guesses that spur research, as opposed to those that are research-stoppers."

"Scientists" seem to have a bias for more than just that, eh, Eric? Ya wanna talk implausible? Let's talk big bang theory for a second, eh?

Once scientists form consensus that the big bang theory is "plausible," and refuse to deviate from their assumption that all physical laws are constant across all time and space, what happens? Well, when they find out that that the rate of expansion is increasin, they invent unseen and unexplainable "dark energy" to save their theory. When, they find out that galaxies defy the "laws" of gravity, then invent unseen and unexplainable "dark matter" (3 varities, no less, conformin to different physical laws, and all). Do they ever really just say: "Well, mebbe this here big bang theory just aint right?" Naw, the just invent more and more ad hoc ghosts to cure all the problems. (Just like Carrier and his homey, Schwartz, create unknown and unknowable prior lines of evolution.

I mean, it's not even like the cosmic egg/big bang theory had any inherent plausibility to begin with, ya know? All the matter in the universe compressed into space smaller than that taken up by a proton? Hmmmm.....

And, funny thang is, it don't even help to achieve one of their basic biases, i.e., that the entire history of the universe can be "known" and explained in terms of physical forces alone.

How that egg git there? Time and space are in it, matter and anti-matter is in it, but not no kinda "intelligence?" Why not? Everything else there, why not some "design" or teleological purpse? That wouldn't be as strange as the mere positing of the egg itself, would it? Does anything about the nature of the egg forbid that assumption?

Course not, but faith does. As the atheists like to point out, blind faith can lead to some strange conclusions. Maybe Nietzsche said it best: Faith doesn't move mountains, it creates mountains where there are none.

What always amazes me is the way the one's who put absolute faith in fanciful "science" want to pretend they do not act on faith.

One Brow said...

Ya wanna talk implausible? Let's talk big bang theory for a second, eh?

OK.

Once scientists form consensus that the big bang theory is "plausible," and refuse to deviate from their assumption that all physical laws are constant across all time and space, what happens? Well, when they find out that that the rate of expansion is increasin, they invent unseen and unexplainable "dark energy" to save their theory. When, they find out that galaxies defy the "laws" of gravity, then invent unseen and unexplainable "dark matter" (3 varities, no less, conformin to different physical laws, and all).

It's perfectly possible that some phsical "laws" are not constant, and scientists are well aware of that. They used to think that mass was constant, and then came Einstein's generation. When the evidence contradicts the "law", it is abandoned or its domain is modified.

Do they ever really just say: "Well, mebbe this here big bang theory just aint right?" Naw, the just invent more and more ad hoc ghosts to cure all the problems. (Just like Carrier and his homey, Schwartz, create unknown and unknowable prior lines of evolution.

These are as much place holders as anything, at first. The Big Bang theory has a number of experimental success as well as successful predictions, but when another theory comes along that explains everything as well and doesn't involve dark matter or energy, it will probably be preferred.

Everything else there, why not some "design" or teleological purpse? That wouldn't be as strange as the mere positing of the egg itself, would it? Does anything about the nature of the egg forbid that assumption?

Nope, nothing. You have any way to test it? No? Then you're not even wrong.

What always amazes me is the way the one's who put absolute faith in fanciful "science" want to pretend they do not act on faith.

I trust science to find natural answers to how things happen. Most atheists don't accept that is everything in the universe.