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.
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.