Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not A Chance

The fool says in his heart there is no God. If not God who, or what? Evolutionists posit chance as the mechanism that first strung together the chemicals of life and then sparked life itself from them. Add billions of years of natural selection working on chance mutations and the evolutionary formula handily creates the astounding variety of life that we see today and observe in the fossil record. All this from the mechanism of chance! Fortunately, chance is a statistical concept that can be treated mathematically. The odds makers in Vegas make a living doing so. So let us ask ourselves what is the likelihood that life arose by chance by doing a simple statistical exercise.

Since virtually everything within the living cell is one kind of protein or another (no proteins, no life), our statistical query will concentrate on the probability of one such protein forming by chance. Proteins are formed by linking amino acid residues into chains, most of which are hundreds of residues long, some thousands. Due to their chemical structure, amino acids form in two varieties that are mirror images of one another, called left-handed or right-handed. For whatever reason, all the proteins in living things are constructed of only left-handed varieties of the 20 amino acids found in life. Living things use these proteins in very specific ways, so shape and content are very important to function. A protein chain which is not shaped properly, with the appropriate chemicals in the appropriate places, will not function as it is intended-- either a deficiency in (as in many diseases) or a cessation of function will result.

So our query, as simplified as possible, will be: “What are the odds of a small, specific protein forming by chance in a chemical soup which has endless supplies of all the various amino acids necessary for life, all in their left-handed forms?” We pick a relatively small protein for this exercise, since by the evolutionary framework the first proteins would have been smaller on average than those we find in today’s lifeforms. For ease of calculation and visualization, we will use the number 100. This calculation does not take into account that amino acids formed outside of living things are 50% right-handed, nor is any consideration given to the decay rate of a protein chains due to water, radiation or heat, nor to the actual abundance or availability of necessary chemicals in any proposed schema for the primordial earth.

This exercise can be likened to drawing colored balls from a box. There are 20 different colors, all supplied in infinite amounts, all equally available at any given instant. We need to draw a specific color sequence from that box 100 balls long. What are the odds of doing so? The mathematics of probabilities tell us that the answer will be 1 in the total number of varieties of balls available raised by the number of balls in the sequence, or in our case 1 in 20100. That can be restated in scientific notation as 1/1.268 X 10130, the denominator representing the total number of different 100 ball sequences possible without repetition. Those are some mighty small odds, some might say vanishingly small.

Just to put these incredible numbers into some context, let’s interpose time into the problem. Let’s assume it is possible to draw six billion different 100 ball sequences every second. How long would it take in “chance time” to draw the specific sequence we were looking for? We take the odds above, 1.268 X 10-130, and divide them by 6 X 109 sequences per second, which results in odds that the one sequence desired would occur in 2.11 X 10120 seconds (or about 6.69 X 10112 years). According to most evolutionary scenarios the earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Even if it was 7 billion years, probabilities would suggest that age be raised to over the twelfth power to achieve the likelihood that one specific 100 amino acid protein chain would be produced by chance (and that, of course, assumes 6 billion chains per second could be formed).

Now there are evolutionists who argue with the use of probabilities in this way, but I haven’t found their arguments convincing, so the problem with using chance as the mechanism for the emergence of life on earth remains and is not mitigated by time—billions times billions of years do not make the odds any better, nor by including any of the complicating variables that we ignored here to make things simpler. When we consider the number of proteins that even the most basic single-celled organism uses to do what it does, the problem just gets worse and worse and worse. What the mathematics of probabilities demonstrates all too clearly is that chance is not a possible mechanism in explaining the origin of proteins, let alone life.


With odds like that, would I claim evolution as the source of all the wonders of life? Not a chance!

This illustrative exercise was originally part of a series of messages I preached on creation in November of 2003. Special thanks to Michael Behe, the contributors of "In Six Days," and a host of others whose have proposed similar statistical analyses. [I could not get my blog editor to type exponents, so smaller type was used as the convention for expressing them.]