The Dracula Argument:
God, Vampires, and the Anthropic Principle

Apologetics — By on April 2, 2007 at 1:39 am

In debates over the existence of God and man, the ontological status of vampires rarely enters the discussion. Whether Count Dracula and his kin exist hardly seems to be a relevant concern. But after reading a fascinating paper by a pair of physicists, I’ve become convinced that the existence–or rather the non-existence–of vampires lends support to the argument from fine-tuning.
In “Ghosts, Vampires and Zombies: Cinema Fiction vs Physics Reality” (PDF), Costas J. Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi use math and physics to illuminate inconsistencies associated with the popular myths about ghosts, zombies, and vampires. “The fact of the matter is,” they note, “if vampires truly feed with even a tiny fraction of the frequency that they are depicted to in the movies and folklore, then the human race would have been wiped out quite quickly after the first vampire appeared.”
Vampires feed on human blood which not only causes the victim to suffer blood loss but also to bear the indignity of turning into a vampire themselves. Each feeding therefore decreases the human population by one and increases the vampire population by one. If only one vampire where to exist on earth it wouldn’t be long before the entire human population was decimated.
To illustrate this point, the authors of the paper show what would happen if the first vampire made his appearance in the year 1600. They note that the global population of humans at the start of that year is estimated to be 536,870,911. Using the conservative estimate that a vampire would only need to feed once a month, they are able to calculate the effect on the human race.

On February 1st, 1600 1 human will have died and a new vampire born. This gives 2 vampires and (536, 870, 911−1) humans. The next month there are two vampires feeding time a single vampire feds on a single human in the first month, this would create two vampires — and decrease the human population by one and thus two humans die and two new vampires are born. This gives 4 vampires and (536, 870, 911−3) humans. Now on April 1st, 1600 there are 4 vampires feeding and thus we have 4 human deaths and 4 new vampires being born. This gives us 8 vampires and (536, 870, 911 − 7) humans.

The result is a geometric progression with ratio 2. Since all but one of these vampires were once human, the human population is its original population minus the number of vampires (excluding the original one). So after n months have passed there are 536, 870, 911 − 2n + 1 humans. As the authors note, the vampire population increases geometrically and the human population decreases geometrically.
This chart shows the vampire and human population at the beginning of each month during a 29 month period.

vpopchart.gif

The authors determine that if the first vampire appeared on January 1st of 1600 AD, humanity would have been wiped out by June of 1602, two and half years later:

We conclude that vampires cannot exist, since their existence contradicts the existence of human beings. Incidentally, the logical proof that we just presented is of a type known as reductio ad absurdum, that is, reduction to the absurd. 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.

It is this last principle that I find particularly intriguing and suggestive. 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.
As I have stated ad nauseam, the uses of such an argument are not to prove that God exists but to highlight the metaphysical and illogical knots that the agnostically inclined will twist themselves into in order to deny the obvious. The fact that vampires don’t exist doesn’t prove that God does — but it does make that inference more reasonable and probable than its alternative.
Addendum One argument against this conclusion is that there are vampire killers (e.g., Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who are able to keep the vampire race in check. Clive Thompson runs the numbers and concludes that the precise number of vampires that could exist in a Buffy universe is no more than 512.
See Also: For more on the fine-tuning argument and answers to objections against it, see Dismantling Implausibility Structures: The Argument from Fine-Tuning.



  • Baggi

    What if the theory of Vampires was changed?
    You see, a person does not become a vampire if a vampire feeds off of that person. A vampire can feed off of the same human for all of that humans life, which can be quite long. These humans are called Ghouls.
    A human only becomes a vampire when that human is drained of all of it’s blood and then the vampire feeds the now dead human his own blood, thus becoming “undead”.
    Don’t ask me how I know all of this.

  • http://honest2blog.blogspot.com Baus

    Dr. (?) Dracula?
    When did he ever earn his PhD or MD?
    A Count, sure… but doctor?

  • Baggi

    Just had another thought. Maybe they are confusing Vampires and Werewolves? Werewolves I believe pass on their curse through the bite.
    But if you watched the Ann Rice movies with Tom Cruz and Brad Pitt you’d know that simply feeding off of a human does not pass on vampirism. They have to feed the human back their own blood. In other words, the population can be controlled.

  • John M.

    Baggi,
    But since vampires are immortal, even if they create one other vampire every century, humanity would still be wiped out. Their number would just double every century rather than every month. So it would take a couple thousand years (an eye blink on cosmic scale)

  • kwbr

    I didn’t see any allowance in the calculations for births of new humans. Perhaps the additional births could cause the population growth to outstrip vampire production, especially if vampires take time to manifest their changed nature.
    I’m not a believer in vampires of course, but do believe that the complexity of some systems resist such simple quantifying.

  • http://thecrockery.blogspot.com TeresaHT

    What if the theory of Vampires was changed?
    Yes, I think there’s a simplistic theory of vampires going on here. Stoker seemed to assume that all victims of vampiric activity became vampires- but later writers haven’t assumed that. In the Buffy ‘verse, for instance, a vampire has to CHOOSE to turn its victim into another vampire. This seems to be the most popular theory in vampire fiction these days, as far as I can tell from my limited sampling. And most vampires don’t go around indiscriminately making vampires. (Why would they WANT the competition?)
    Furthermore, vampires do sometimes get into territorial wars and kill each other. Meanwhile, there are always wise Van Helsings around helping people kill ‘em. So to say that “vampires are immortal” is deceptive. They are only immortal until something kills them, and their peculiar vulnerabilities mean that if you find them in daylight, they are very easy to kill.

  • http://GraphOilogy.blogspot.com khebab

    Interesting post.
    Re: 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.
    Your reasoning is based on the assumption that there is only one Universe but what about parallel universes? some modern physic theories are suggesting that there are possibly an infinite number of parallel Universes. If this is true, your conclusion that the fine-tuning of the Universe physical constants can only occur by design is falling apart!
    In fact we just don`t know and the “fine-tuning” of the Universe physical constant becomes just another act of faith!
    This type of reasoning has been debunked by Michael Ikeda and Bill Jefferys:
    The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalism
    Here is a good counter-example, I quote:

    Let A=”I am holding a Royal Flush.”
    Let B=”I will win the poker hand.”
    It is evident that P(A|B) is nearly 0. Almost all poker hands are won with hands other than a Royal Flush. On the other hand, it is equally clear that P(B|A) is nearly 1. If you have a Royal Flush, you are virtually certain to win the poker hand.

    Therefore, P(“fine-tuning”|”Natural Universe”) very small does not necessarily implies P(“Natural Universe”|”fine-tuning”) is very small.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Objections:
    1. A small thing, but add 2 more months to account for human births.
    2. What if *we* were the vampires who had already done in humanity in the summer of 1602? What is necessary for a V-class being to exist? Can they survive without human blood to feed upon? And if so, can we postulate the probability that humans never existed because they’re not necessary to support V-class life?
    (BTW, I prefer my E class.)
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    khebab Your reasoning is based on the assumption that there is only one Universe but what about parallel universes? some modern physic theories are suggesting that there are possibly an infinite number of parallel Universes. If this is true, your conclusion that the fine-tuning of the Universe physical constants can only occur by design is falling apart!
    I addressed this objection in a previous post on fine-tuning. Basically, to invoke the “multiverse theory” as a way out simply commits the inverse gambler’s fallacy. This fallacy states that an improbable event can be made less improbable by the hypothesis that many similar events exist, and that the hypothesis is thence confirmed by the improbable event. Even if multiple universe do exist, though, it does not change the probability that our universe would turn out as it did. As philosopher John Leslie has explained:

    There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly. Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.

    In other words, the existence of multiple universes has no bearing on the fine-tuning of our own.
    This type of reasoning has been debunked by Michael Ikeda and Bill Jefferys:
    Yeah, Ikeda and Jeffrey’s paper has been floating around the internet for years. The problem with it is that it misstates the probability function. The claim that “P(F|N) << 1, therefore P(N|F) << 1″ –which in no way resembles the fine-tuning argument—and use that strawman to build their case. A superb rebuttal that points out their flawed reasoning in detail can be found here.

  • khebab

    re: A superb rebuttal that points out their flawed reasoning in detail can be found here.
    It’s not new also! it seems that it is a copy paste of David Kwon’s argument that has been debunked also (see APPENDIX 1: Reply to Kwon).

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    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.
    True, here Joe should be fair an employ another one of his favorite arguments against evolution…the argument that probability says there would be a slight chance that humans would ever evolve.
    Well what is the nature of a vampire here? It is something with an immortal lifespan. It’s only source of energy is one human’s worth of blood every month. From this it powers not only a body with infinite life but also superhuman strength, the ability to heal from conventional wounds (knifes, gunshots etc.) very quickly etc.
    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.
    WEll you have your answer Joe. Vampires ARE NOT equally likely to exist as humans. The appearence of a vampire would be an extraordinary biological event. It may even be an impossible event since I suspect such a creature would probably have to voilate the laws of physics/chemistry at some point.
    In fact, I would consider the existence of vampires to be more likely to indicate ‘design’ (presumably by some diety who was angry with humans and wanted to make their remaining days quite dramatic).
    The fact that vampires don’t exist doesn’t prove that God does — but it does make that inference more reasonable and probable than its alternative.
    I’ll say it again, if vampires existed that would be potent evidence that God does but not the opposite. Think about it Joe, if tomorrow vampires started popping up don’t you think more people would start believing in God? You really think such an event would be a positive to atheism?
    John M
    But since vampires are immortal, even if they create one other vampire every century, humanity would still be wiped out. Their number would just double every century rather than every month. So it would take a couple thousand years (an eye blink on cosmic scale)
    Yea but Anne Rice’s vampires, while technically immortal, end up having short lifespans. Most of them find themselves getting very bored and depressed with the repetitiveness of existence. They end up getting themselves killed or going into hibernation.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Joe
    I addressed this objection in a previous post on fine-tuning. Basically, to invoke the “multiverse theory” as a way out simply commits the inverse gambler’s fallacy. This fallacy states that an improbable event can be made less improbable by the hypothesis that many similar events exist, and that the hypothesis is thence confirmed by the improbable event. Even if multiple universe do exist, though, it does not change the probability that our universe would turn out as it did.
    True but irrelevant. Instead of many universes think of many hands of poker being played at a casino. As Khebab noted the chance that a poker hand will be won with a Royal Flush is quite small. But the odds are strong that the casino operator will see at least one hand ending in a Royal Flush every day, or every hour depending on how many hands are played. The ‘multiple hands’ theory doesn’t make the odds of any one hand ending in a Royal Flush more likely but it means one hand, if not more, will exist.
    Even in this case, then, if the odds favored vampire like creatures taking over in any human environment (and I think the odds certainly DO NOT favor such a thing) then there is at least one universe where the humans lucked out. If that’s the case then you shouldn’t be surprised to see yourself talking about the lack of vampires in this universe. In every other one you don’t exist!

  • http://www.randythomas.org Randy

    I am fascinated with vampire mythology and am shocked you actually posted something about it. What other Christian do I know who would do this? None… well maybe one.
    Very interesting post but I am more into the symbolism of bloodlust, vulnerability and consumerism.

  • http://strangemonkeydoll.com/ Count Grecula

    Joe I’m surprised you over-looked the obvious: some of us Vampires got saved!
    Of course, I was then later snatched-up by Theo-cons, but that’s another story.
    Count Grecula

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The Dracula arguement remains hogwash. If one species is going to end up ‘on top’ of the evolutionary chain then it’s kind of pointless to be amazed that one species did. There were dozens of different types of humanoids that are now long gone. Perhaps we were the ‘vampires’ to those species, driving them to extinction because of our advantages.

  • whittr666

    I personally think that vampires do
    exist in all of us some more then others
    we all have a craving for meat
    and blood I have a high
    craving for that for some reason
    and im sure others do to its
    wheather you listen to that
    part of your mind. I used to know
    someone who would drink blood
    because he needed it like a
    vampire doctors thought he had
    some problems and ran tests
    but never found anything
    wrong….so i think it is
    possible for humans to become
    a vampire and im sure they are out
    there somewhere. It also depends
    on your mind state people dont no
    how the brain works and some
    of our brain does not work
    but everyone has the power to unlock that part which is not active, That is where we get our sixth sence and many of us have it like i do but they are afraid to awaken it so we have the ability its just out of our mind set. So i think vampirism is possible to someone who wants it.

  • plunge

    “As I have stated ad nauseam, the uses of such an argument are not to prove that God exists but to highlight the metaphysical and illogical knots that the agnostically inclined will twist themselves into in order to deny the obvious.”
    Unfortunately, it highlights nothing in particular. Unless someone is actually capable of drawing up the odds of any given set of brute facts, any claim about any state of affairs being “unlikely” is baseless. Things can only be unlikely GIVEN a particular set of odds. But there is no way to derive “odds” from “what a universe is like” because we’ve only ever encountered the one. For all we know, compared to all other possible universes (and I’m not talking about multiverses here, just “what other universes could have been possibly), our universe could be remarkably UNordered, amazingly chaotic, odds-defyingly lacking in intelligent life.
    Al the fine-tuning arguments fall flat on this point, and going on about this or that necessary universal constant is pointless. For all we know, most possible universes have all sorts of laws and features and constants that ours simply lacks that we don’t know about. Again, trying to talk about probability in this situation is like trying to guess the odds of rolling a 6 on a die you’ve never seen, don’t know how many sides it has or what is on any of the sides. In other words: a pointless exercise based on willfully capping ones imagination and ignoring all contrary possibilities.

  • vlad the impaler

    The hypothesis of the vampire myth….Interesting posts, especially the numbers graph at the top.
    Apparent vampireism dates back well before Vlad the Impailer, one of my friends is reading a book about it, but I’ve forgotten the name of the book, so sorry, cant make reference to it. Though…….
    Vlad the Impaler, a.k.a. Vlad III, Dracula, Drakulya, or Tepes, was born in late 1431, in the citadel of Sighisoara, Transylvania, the son of Vlad II or Dracul, a military governor, appointed by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. Vlad Dracul was also a knight in the Order of the Dragon, a secret fraternity created in 1387 by the Emperor, sworn to uphold Christianity and defend the empire against the Islamic Turks. Transylvania, along with Moldavia, and Wallachia, are now joined together as Romania. The name Dracul can be interpreted in two ways, the first translation from Romanian would be “Dragon”, but it sometimes also means “Devil”. Vlad was not called Tepes, which means “”spike” in Romanian, until after his death; instead, he was known as Vlad Dracula, the added “a” meaning “son of”, so essentially, throughout his life, he was known as the “son of the Devil”
    The impaling is portrayed in films by stabbing the vampire in the heart. Vlad also had a blood lust. This is where the legends came from.

  • destiny

    ok so what about the number of births per month?
    the calculations only show the rate of decrease of the human race but not the increase. for every adult there should be at least one child born.
    plus, we cant assume that all people will turn into vampires. some may just end up dead.
    also, humans, in a way, can act as vampires. we are meat eaters but of course i dont see the cow population decreasing. yes, there have been a few animals such as the mammoth that became extinct due to our uncontrollable hunger. but we have learned to create some control to prevent extinction. so, i think theres a possibility that vampires also learn to control their food supply. after all, who wants to food supply to run out?
    also blood supply comes from other types of animals not just humans.
    im not saying im a believer, but i think this article focuses on one point of view. it lacks all other possibilities that contradicts this theory.