First published on the Worthychat Admin Blog on September 3rd, 2010
Let’s try an experiment.
Choose a number between 1 and 48. Don’t over-think it, the number should be random, as though you drew it out of a hat.
Write it down.
Next, choose some letter of the alphabet, either upper case or lower case, or choose a space instead of a letter, but make it something random, with no reason for your choice.
Write that choice down also.
Now, consider the following sentence:
Even a simple life form is extremely complicated
Now in the sentence above, count over from the left by the number you wrote down. In my case, I chose the number 7. Moving over 7 times in the sentence, I see that my number is the space between the word “a” and the word “simple”.
Now, remove the symbol that is at the number position you chose, and insert the character or symbol you chose (the letter or space). In my case, I chose the letter “h”.
Applying my choices we arrive at a new sentence which reads:
“Even ahsimple life form is extremely complicated”
Do this exercise a few more times, using your new sentence. For example, with the number 23 and the letter N, my new sentence reads:
“Even ahsimple life forN is extremely complicated”
Okay, two more times 43 s and 33 K
“Even ahsimple life form is extreKely complscated”
What has just happened? We took a perfectly good sentence and made a few random changes to it.
My question is this: “Did our changes improve the function of the sentence?”
The obvious answer is no, it did not. What is the difference between the original sentence and the modified one? One serves a purpose, the other is just a deformed mess. As you can imagine, the more random changes we make to our sentence, the less functional it becomes.
What accounts for the differences between the first sentence and the last sentence? In the first case, the letters were chosen intentionally, with a purpose in mind, to convey information. In the last sentence, we see how that purpose is destroyed by chance changes, mutations. This is the difference between intelligent design, and random changes.
Someone might argue, that given enough mutations, this sentence might again become functional. It has been said let a million monkeys type on a million typewriters for a million years, and you will get Shakespeare. Personally, I seriously doubt that. However, let’s assume that is true.
“To be or not to be, that is the question”
Here is the problem. Let the monkeys keep typing and you will soon have:
“fodfe ob soteto be phat iq tre wsdstoon.”
What chance creates, chance also destroys. Millions of years of monkey typing, will be eradicated in a few moments.
Any child can see that chance mutations cannot bring about sophisticated order, it takes a brilliant scientist, to come up with a story that that attempts to explain away, what we know intuitively.
Now, while this poses a problem for any honest atheist, it is a tiny problem compared with another problem.
In the first example (Even a simple life form is extremely complicated), we took an already formed and functional sentence and mutated it into extinction.
But what are the chances of this sentence coming into existence in the first place by random, non intelligent processes.
I had 26 lowercase letters as 26 upper case letters to choose from to make that sentence, plus the spaces, for a total 53 possible symbols.
There are 48 ‘slots’ taken up by the the letters and spaces in that sentence. To arrive at the total number of possible combinations we would take the number of symbols (in our example 53) and multiply it times itself 48 times.
The number of possible combinations of letters in those 48 places is then:
5.82427 X 10^82, or to put it another way, there are:
000,000,000,000 possible combinations.
Astro-physicists tell us, that there are about 10^80 atoms in the universe.
The number in bold is over 582 times larger that the second number, the number of atoms in the known universe.
To grasp the scope of this, imagine taking an atom,and writing a check mark on it. Next, take the atoms contained in 582 universes, and put them in a very big bowl, and toss our checked atom into the bowl. Stir them up very well. Now, with a blindfold on, reach into the bowl and draw out a single atom.
The chances of random letters falling into the 48 positions and forming the sentence, are the same as drawing out that one specific atom from 582 universes. Good luck with that.
So, how do these numbers relate to life arising. All life that we know of, contains DNA molecules. The DNA molecules, are the blueprints, the instructions that govern the nature of life forms. DNA is a language, a code, a form of information, just like our sentence is.
There is big difference though. The simplest micro-organism that we know of, is Nanoarchaeum. It has 10^200,000 possible combinations in it’s DNA code.
I would do the math and show you how big a number that is, except for two problems, my calculator cannot perform calculations with numbers that large, and you do not have enough time to read the number if I could put it here.
(if you want to see an interesting depiction of the way DNA ‘works’, you will have a better understanding of yet another aspect of this, that is just hard to explain away apart from an intelligent designer. Note: youtube is known for having videos of every sort, some which you may not want to see (use your own judgement):
Remember how I said that the first problem the random-chance theorist has to deal with was small, compared to the problem I just finish outlining?
Well, they have a bigger problem yet. Again, I will use the analogy of a sentence. A sentence is composed of words, and the words are composed of letters. What if there were no letters to choose from, what if there was no ink to write the letters with, or air to transmit the sounds of the words and letters. Without materials, we cannot communicate. So where do the letters come from? Where do the words come from. Where do the ideas to have letters and words come from, and where to the ideas come from that we communicate with the words and letters? The answer to all of those questions is that they come from intelligence, they are designed by a mind.
In a similar way, in order for DNA to be sequenced in a life form, there has to be a programmer, and a builder of the environment and the materials for life, is this really too complicated for those who do not believe in a creator to grasp? Of course it is not, but they have too much faith in the religion of nature and chance mutation driven evolution, to be rational.
I think the problem is obvious. One can believe in evolution or not. One can believe it is intelligently set in motion, or was just some cosmic accident.
A Christian (or other person of faith) can believe in evolution, as a instrument of God’s hand in creation. It is not the simplest explanation of what Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are about, but there are those who for their own reasons, believe that these chapters are more poetic, than literal, a metaphor of the actual events, only intended to identify the fact of a Creator, and introduce us to Him, and His claim on and (plan for) our lives. The Christian believing this way, can still have a saving relationship with his/her savior.
In the same way, a person who is sold on the idea of a naturalistic explanation of existence, can still believe in a God, whose hand is seen in the creation, without having to acknowledge any specific tenants of any given religion. This is possible because the examination of things outside of and existing prior to the universe, are outside of the investigation of science. That being the case, science can never affirm God. Neither can science refute God. Science is silent and therefore neutral on the topic.
For some reason, many scientists and those influenced by them, seem intimidated by the idea that it was God who did it. Is there some rational reason for this? If there is, I have never heard it, and I cannot think of one.
The mathematical science of statistical analysis and probability estimation, leads one to conclude that the odds are hugely in favor of a creator. Science and statistics cannot reveal if this creator is male or female or gender-less. It cannot reveal if it is the God of the Bible, or any other god, or, several gods. We can only look at the facts that we can observe, and perhaps extrapolate some details about this creative force. The universe seems to be in a state that supports diverse life on our planet. We study all of the interactions of physics and chemistry, life and environment, and when we take it all in, we should be stunned by how complex, intricate, and functional it all is.
We can also look at the things we have learned through science, and compare what we know to the catalog of beliefs in various religions, and weed out some of them as not worthy of consideration, they are just too out of whack with the facts in many cases, and in other cases, these religions just lack enough support from science, history, or other disciplines to make them worthy of further consideration.
My hope is, that one day, people who are anti-God in their philosophy, would just give it a rest, and realize that all the blustering in the world, does not make their case more likely or appealing, and we can enter into dialogue about what we actually know and can know.
I have had the opportunity on several occasions to have conversations of just that sort on worthychat.com, and in general, it has been a rewarding experience for all parties I believe.
This particular blog has been about looking at one aspect of belief systems and certain aspects of the physical world and looking at those through the spectacles of probability.
If you found this at all interesting, leave a comment, perhaps I will explore similar topics in the future.
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Fun with Numbers and the Probability of God's Existence by omegazine.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.