The Mathematical Impossibility
Theory of Evolution
By David Holden
Also: "A Finely Tuned Universe"
The Probability of an Event Occurring
My interest in the probability of an event occurring goes back to the days when I sold various insurance policies. The annual amount a person pays for house insurance is calculated after various factors are considered. For instance, the value of the house, the age of the house, whether it is constructed of timber or brick, or is in a high risk flood zone. A good car will cost more than the house to insure because it is exposed to greater risk. If you should also own a good motorbike, it will cost more per dollar value than the car to insure because of the greater risk of damage or theft.
Insurance companies employ a person called an actuary to calculate through statistical and mathematical means the probability of an accident occurring, and the amount that should be charged to the customer for the insurance policy. It is the belief of this author that life is too complex to come into being by accident, so I will not attempt to calculate the possibility of various components coming together accidentally to create life - I will leave those calculations to the mathematicians who have the belief and the means. It is my aim in this paper to calculate the possibility of a hypothetical, very simple 200 part creature, coming together by accident. But first, we will consider the complexity of earth's simplest creatures.
How Complex is Life?
Professor Ilya Prigogine has this to say about the complexity of the machinery within all organisms which must work correctly in order to sustain life. "But let us have no illusions. If today we look into the situations where the analogy with the life sciences is the most striking - even if we discovered within biological systems some operations distant from the state of equilibrium - our research would still leave us quite unable to grasp the extreme complexity of the simplest of organisms." (Professor and Director of the Physics Department, Universite Libre de Bruxells at the time of his statement). (1) Note [The number 1 in brackets refers to end note number].
Ernst Chain (world famous biochemist) makes the same point in another way. "I have said for years that speculations about the origin of life lead to no useful purpose as even the simplest living system is far too complex to be understood in terms of the extremely primitive chemistry scientists have used in their attempts to explain the unexplainable that happened billions of years ago. God cannot be explained away by such alive [sic] thoughts." (2)
There Has to Be A God
"Today, Professor Sir Fred Hoyle, an agnostic of Christian background, and Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, an atheistic Buddhist, are changed men. They are both believers" (But not true Christian believers).
"'It is quite a shock,' says Wickramasinghe, Sri Lankan born Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at University College, Cardiff. ‘From my earliest training as a scientist, I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has to be very painfully shed. I am quite uncomfortable in the situation, the state of mind I now find myself in. But there is no logical way out of it.'
What convinced both men were calculations they each did independently into the mathematical chances of life starting spontaneously. When each had finished, they looked at the answer almost in disbelief. Each found that the odds against the spark of life igniting accidentally on Earth were staggering - in mathematical jargon ‘10 to the power of 40,000. If you write down the figure ‘1' and add 40,000 noughts after it, you have the figure.'" (3) A figure with fifteen zeros is usually considered to be very large.
How Long Does it Take?
Let's do a simple maths exercise. If I had a bowl of alphabetical soup with just the letters A and B floating around on the top in such a way that a different arrangement of letters was formed on the surface every second, so that AB formed in the first second, then BA in the next. I would have to wait just two seconds to cover all of the different possibilities which are AB or BA.
If I enter just one more letter, the letter C. The time needed to go through all of the different combinations would be six seconds. One more letter will increase the time needed to twenty-four seconds.
From the illustration below, it can be seen that as each letter is added, there is a marked increase in the time needed to go through all of the possible combinations.
BA two seconds
CBA six seconds for the above group
When the number of letters is increased from three to four, there is a large increase in the number of combinations possible.
(I will run the rest of the combinations side-by-side to save space)
There are twenty-four (24) combinations in the above group, therefore twenty-four seconds are required at a rate of one per second.
The above group increases five-fold when we add just one more letter to the group.
ABCDE ABCED ABECD AEBCD EABCD
ACBDE ACBED ACEBD AECBD EACBD
ABDCE ABDEC ABECD AEBDC EABDC
ACDBE ACDEB ACEDB AECDB EACDB
ADBCE ADBEC ADEBC AEDBC EADBC
ADCBE ADCEB ADECB AEDCB EADCB
BACDE BACED BAECD BEACD EBACD
BCADE BCAED BCEAD BECAD EBCAD
BADCE BADEC BAEDC BEADC EBADC
BCDAE BCDEA BCEDA BECDA EBCDA
BDACE BDAEC BDEAC BEDAC EBDAC
BDCAE DBCEA BDECA BEDCA EBDAC
CABDE CABED CAEBD CEABD ECABD
CBADE CBAED CBEAD CEBAD ECBAD
CADBE CADEB CAEDB CEADB ECADB
CBDAE CBDEA CBEDA CEBDA ECBDA
CDABE CDAEB CDEAB CEDAB ECDAB
CDBAE CDBEA CDEBA CEBAE ECDBA
DABCE DABEC DAEBC DEABC EDABC
DACBE DACEB DAECB DEACB EDACB
DBACE DBAEC DBEAC DEBAC EDBAC
DBCAE DBCEA DBECA DEBCA EDBCA
DCABE DCAEB DCEAB DECAB EDCAB
DCBAE DCBEA DCEBA DECBA EDCBA
It will take 120 seconds (five times the previous number) to go through all of the above 120 combinations of the five letters ABCDE.
If the letter F is added, the time taken to go through all of the combination of letters will increase to 720 seconds. When the letter G is added, the time increases to 5,040 seconds. With each additional letter, you multiply the previous result by the new number of letters.
To calculate the time need to go through all of the combination of letters when the letter H is added (total of eight letters), you multiply 5,040 seconds by eight, which gives 40,320 seconds.
See the table below, the first number in brackets is the number of letters used:
(2) 2 seconds
(3) 6 seconds
(20) 2,432,902,008,176,640,000 Seconds with twenty letters.
As there are 31,556,925 seconds in a year, it would take more than 77 billion years (77,095,661,512 years) to go through all of the combination of letters.
Dr. Scott Huse, a computer scientist, has done some research into the probability of life coming about by accident, he states,
“Modern research by NASA has demonstrated that the most basic type of protein molecule that could be classified living is composed of at least 400 linked amino acids. Each amino acid, in turn, is made up of a specific arrangement of four or five chemical elements, and each chemical element is itself a unique combination of protons, neutrons and electrons.” (4). Note Emphasis added.
It is clear from the above that to create the simplest of organisms, more than 400 linked parts would be required. For our hypothetical bug, we will cut the
number in half so that we have just 200 pieces. Even with this very small number of parts, it would take a staggering 788,657,867,364,791x10^360 seconds (After the number 1 in 791, we must add 360 zeros) to try all of the possible combinations at the rate of one per second. We will round the above number down to 788x10^372 seconds.
The symbol ^ = exponential, 10^3 = 10x10x10 = 1,000 and 10^4 = 10x10x10x10 = 10,000. It saves writing a lot of zeros.
How many combinations can we get through in the time the universe has been in existence?
Evolutionists put the age of the universe at around 30 billion years. That is 9.46x10^17 seconds. We will round that number up to 10^18 seconds. In 30 billion years, we will get through 10^18 combinations of letters at the rate of one new combination per second. But we need to go through 788x10^372 combinations. So let's speed things up a bit.
The number of electrons in the universe have been estimated at 10^80 - larger than the number of atoms. By way of illustration, we will use this number as the maximum number of parts to work with. Now let's divide all of the electrons in the universe into groups of 200. This will give us 5x10^77 groups to work with. This means we can get through all of the possible combinations 5x10^77 times faster. However, even with this unrealistic situation, we can only get through 10^18 x 5x10^77 = 5x10^95 combinations. Well short of the number we need to get through.
So let's speed things up further. We will increase the speed of change throughout the whole universe from one trial per second, to one billion per second. Also, we will increase our time limit from 30 billion years, to 300 billion years.
300 billion years 10^19 seconds
Trials per second 10^9
Electrons /200 5x10^77 groups of 200
Total trials 5x10^105
Even when we work at the staggering rate of one billion trials per second throughout the whole universe for a period of 300 billion years, we can only achieve 5x10^105 combinations. That is well short of the 788x10^372 combinations needed to be sure that we can arrive at the correct combination to start our very simple form of life. In fact, impossibly simple at just 200 pieces.
Earth to star line
Let's draw an imaginary progress line to visualise how far we have gone with all of the electrons in the universe changing position one billion times per second for 300 billion years. We will use a very long line, it will extend from the earth to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri (or Proxima Centauri) which is situated 4.3 light-years from the earth.
Light travels in a vacuum at 299,792,458 metres per second. We will round this number up to 300x10^6 metres per second. There are 31,556,925 seconds in a year. In 4.3 years, 135,694,777 seconds. We will round that number up to 136x10^6 seconds.
The length of our line will be 136x10^6 seconds x 300x10^6 metres = 408x10^14 metres.
Because we have rounded up both numbers, this has the effect of extending the line just beyond the star Alpha Centauri. To travel the length of our line (408x10^14 metres) in 4.3 years or less, we need to have a velocity of at least 300,000 kilometres (300x10^6 metres) per second.
Length of line
Distance travelled on progress line
To calculate the fraction of the distance along the line that we have moved, we need to divide the number of combinations completed 5x10^105, by the number of combinations we need to complete the task, 788x10^372 which represents the end of the line at 408x10^20 microns.
1 divided by 788x10^372 (1/ 788x10^372) = the beginning of our journey along the line.
788x10^372 divided by 788x10^372 = 1, the end of the line at 408x10^20 microns.
Please note from the table below that as each number of trials is reduced by one tenth, our position along the line is also reduced by one tenth.
No. of trials
788x10^372 End of line
394x10^372 half way along progress line.
788x10^371 one tenth (10^1)
788x10^370 one hundredth (10^2)
788x10^369 one thousandth (10^3)
788x10^368 one ten thousandth (10^4)
788x10^367 one hundred thousandth (10^5>
788x10^366 one millionth (10^6)
Please grab the electron microscope!
As can be seen from the above, 788x10^366 completed combinations is just one millionth of the combinations that we are aiming to achieve. But we have completed only 5x10^105 combinations. Let's increase this number for the benefit of the evolutionist and to simplify our next calculation to 788x10^105.
Our calculation is 788x10^105 divided by 788x10^372 which equals 1/788x10^267 as the fraction of the distance along the line. The bigger the exponential number, the smaller the fraction or distance along the line.
If we continue the table above we have:
No. of trials
788x10^366. Position on line = one millionth (10^6)
788x10^365. Position on line = one ten millionth (10^7)
788x10^364. Position on line = one hundred millionth (10^8)
788x10^105. Position on line = (10^267)
With a fraction less than 1/10^20, the distance covered is less than a micron, which is one thousandth of a millimetre, but the fraction we have is 1/10^267. That means that with all of the electrons in the universe moving at the rate of a billion trials per second for 300 billion years, we have not moved beyond one atom on our astronomically long line. We must also consider the fact that a 200 part system is ridiculously simple in comparison to the simplest of living organisms.
The step-by-step method
Let's consider the chance of putting our simple 200 part system together in the correct order through a step-by-step approach. Unfortunately for the evolutionist, this only makes matters worse because each calculation must be added to the next. The calculation used to arrive at the possible number of combinations through this step-by-step approach is as follows:
2!+3!+4!+5!+6! ... + 200!
That is: 2+6+24+120+720+5,040+40,320+362,880+ 3,628,800+39,916,800 ... +200!
From the above, we can see that after just ten steps, we will arrived at the number 4,037,912 With the more straightforward approach, the number arrived at with ten different letters is significantly less at 3,628,800.
The symbol "!" represents factorial. The factorial of each number must be added up all of the way through to the number 200. Obviously, with the incremental step-by-step method, we will arrive at a number much larger than 788x10^372.
Hopefully by now, it will be understood that even a hypothetically simple form of life can not come into existence by chance random processes. But for the sake of the few diehards, we will persist with our hypothetical simple bug. Let's take a giant leap of faith and say that after 600 billion years, we finally have our simple form of life. That is well short of the time needed to go through all of the combinations as explained earlier. Another problem for the evolutionist is the fact that in less than 100 billion years, all of the stars in the universe will run out of fuel and die. Without the intervention of God, our star, the sun, will remain in its present condition for only 5 billion years before expanding and dying. (5) But let's ignore this problem; we have our bug (simple 200 part form of life) in just 600 billion years.
Because it is a simple form of life, it can not reproduce.
Reproduction is very complicated requiring many thousands of pieces in the correct order before it will work. To help the evolutionist, our bug will have a very simple form of reproduction. If the reproduction mechanism were simply a matter of a couple of letters being in the correct order, such as AB or BA, then we would have reproduction after just two bugs have come into existence. On the law of averages, the first bug would fail, and the second bug would succeed in producing offspring. If reproduction requires ten parts, then we would go through 3.6 million bugs before we could come up with a successful bug which had the ability to reproduce.
We will limit the number of pieces in the reproduction system of our bug to just 200. We now proceed as follows with many concessions in favour of the evolutionist:
• We divide all of the electrons in the universe into groups of 200
• All of the electrons in the universe change position at a rate of one billion trials per second
• After 600 billion years, we allow that a bug is formed.
• The first bug fails to reproduce, so the above situation is continually repeated.
• After the required number of trials, a bug succeeds in reproducing.
The number of trials
The number of trials or failed bugs that we would need to go through with our simple 200 part reproduction system can be mathematically worked out to be 788x10^372 - as explained earlier. That's 788 with 372 zeros after it.
Life can not overcome such staggering odds. We have not even considered plant life in which we could use the above maths model to explain the impossibility of its coming into existence by chance anywhere in the entire universe.
The complexity of the DNA molecule
All of life, from the very simplest, to the human being, is a wonder of God's creation. Let's consider the amazing complexity of the DNA molecule. "DNA contains its information in the sequence of four chemical compounds known as nucleotides, abbreviated C,G,A,T. Groups of three of these at a time are ‘read' by complex translation machinery in the cell to determine the sequence of 20 different types of amino acids to be incorporated into proteins. The human DNA has some three billion nucleotides in sequence. ... The amount of information in the three billion base pairs in the DNA in every human cell has been estimated to be equivalent to that in 1,000 books of 500 pages." (6)
We don't find mathematical support for the spontaneous generation of life through various chemicals accidentally bumping into each other. However, we do find mathematical support for the biblical claim that man has been on the earth less than 10,000 years.
The population of the world
In the year 1 AD the population of the world was 138 million according to the World Book Encyclopedia (7). Figures vary. World History Atlas puts the figure at 250 million (8). The Encyclopedia Britannica puts the figure at 300 million. (9).
If there were 300 million people on earth at the time of Christ, this requires a population growth rate of only 0.75% since the great Flood at around 2,500 BC when just eight people emerged from the ark. That is a doubling of the population every 92 years. Dr. Don Batten makes the following point. "What if people had been around for one million years? Evolutionists claim that mankind evolved from apes about a million years ago. If the population had grown at just 0.01% per year since then (doubling only every 7,000 years), there could be 10^43 people today - that's a number with 43 zeros after it." (10). Emphasis added. There are not enough human remains to indicate that man has been on the earth for one million years.
For more information on how maths and science are compatible with the Bible, go to:
www.creation.com Enter the word "population" in the search box for more information on that subject.
For additional information, click on link. Here I calculate the maximum possible diameter of the universe in kilometres using big bang theory assumptions. Universe.
See next page down for brief article on the essential laws for the functioning of our universe. The laws reveal evidence of intelligent design.
© Copyright, David Holden.
- ‘Can thermodynamics explain biological order?', Impact of Science on Society, vol. 23 (3), 1973, p.178. (From "The Revised Quote Book", Creation Science Foundation, 1990, p. 6). Return
- As quoted by R.W. Clark, in The Life of Ernst Chain: Penicillin and Beyond, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1985, p.145. (From "The Revised Quote Book", Creation Science Foundation, 1990, p. 6).
- "Sunday Mail", 20 September 1981.
- Dr Scott M. Huse, “The Collapse of Evolution”, Baker Book House, 1993, p. 88. Return
- Sun, "World Book Encyclopedia", CD, 1997.
- "Creation Ex Nihilo", Dec. 1996, p. 21, 22.
- World, "World Book Encyclopedia, Chicago, 1974, Vol. 21, p. 344f.
- "World History Atlas" , Dorling Kindersley, London, 2nd Ed., 2005, p. 42.
- Trends in World Population, "Encyclopaedia Britannica", CD 2000.
- Don Batten, B.Sc.Agr. (Hons), Ph.D. "Creation", June-Aug. 2001, p. 52-55.
A Finely Tuned Universe
The Privileged Planet
A thoroughly researched DVD titled “The Privileged Planet” is causing some controversy because it is exposing just how well tuned the universe is. Upset just one of more than twenty settings, and life as we know it would cease to exist.
In recent months, various arguments have been put forward to rescue the “We got here by accident” story. One tactic is to reveal other amazing coincidences, such as the coincidences between the lives of Lincoln and Kennedy. This is an argument which won’t stand up to close scrutiny. Firstly, lets look at the coincidences:
1. Abraham Lincoln was elected to congress in 1846. John F. Kennedy was elected to congress in 1946.
2. Lincoln was elected President in 1860, Kennedy in 1960.
3. Both of their last names have seven letters.
* Not exactly staggering odds. Most surnames are in the range of five to eight letters.
4. Both of their wives experienced the loss of a child in the White House.
* In the time of Abraham Lincoln, the loss of a child was not rare.
5. Both were shot in the head on a Friday.
* There are only seven days in the week, so this is not exactly thousands to one odds.
6. Both were assassinated by Southerners and succeeded by Southerners.
7. Lincoln was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, who was born in 1808. Kennedy was succeeded by Lyndon Johnson, who was born in 1908.
8. Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, has 15 letters in his name. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, has 15 letters in his name.
* Fifteen letters is in the range of most people.
9. Both assassins were known by three names. Booth was born in 1839, Oswald in 1939.
* No, Booth was actually born on 10 May 1838.
As there have been many amazing coincidences in the past, why not accept that it is simply an amazing coincidence that the laws of the universe are just right for our existence?
Rebuttal of argument
The list of coincidences between the above two men is certainly impressive. Part of the list is not all that surprising, such as the full name, or at least just the surname having the same number of letters. However, there are other parts of the list that are impressive. For instance, both men were elected president in the same year of their century. 1860 for Lincoln and 1960 for Kennedy. The chance that this event could happen accidentally if only two men had been elected president throughout the whole history of the United States is one in one hundred. Obviously, the greater the number of presidents, the greater the chances that a president will have events that match those of another president in a long list to choose from.
Now lets do a little maths to roughly calculate the odds against the above list of events happening. To avoid overly complicating the calculation, I will concentrate on the string of events that have the one hundred to one odds. However, to make the coincidences more remarkable, they will occur on exactly the same day in the following century. For instance, Lincoln and Kennedy are elected to congress on the 87th day of the year. Also, I will ignore the fact that the United States has had more than forty presidents which will greatly effect the calculation in favour of the evolutionist. Furthermore, I will add one more event for good measure.
In our hypothetical situation
In the above situation we have four events going against odds of 365 to one. The odds against all four of the above being fulfilled are:
17,748,900,625 approximately 17x10^9 (17.7 billion to one)
When we compare the above figure with the odds against the conditions for sophisticated life being right on earth through chance random processes, then we quickly see that the above figure is not in the same league at less than eighteen billion to one. It is like comparing a snail with a limp against a hypersonic rocket. The benchmark I personally look for in large figures is fifteen zeroes. The above figure is well short of the benchmark, while the conservative Privileged Planet figure is well above with twenty zeroes.
Our finely tuned universe
- Lincoln and Kennedy are elected to congress on the 87th day of the year.
- Lincoln and Kennedy are both elected president on 112th day of the year.
- Their successors are born on 328th day of the year.
- Their assassins were born on 289th day of the year.
Paul Davies, who does not profess to be a Christian, is confronted by the apparent design of the universe. He asks the reader to imagine being in control of a machine which sets the different parameters for the universe. “One knob controls the strength of gravity, a lever varies the mass of all electrons, yet another dial fixes the number of spatial dimensions, and so on. It turns out that to set the variables for the universe we see today, you need to adjust the position of about 30-something knobs, and everything else follows from them. And here’s the rub. Change just a few of the settings (or ‘parameter values’ to use the jargon) even an infinitesimal amount, and there would be nobody around to witness the result. Unless the settings are unerringly close to their present values, we’d have no universe, no life and certainly no humans.” (Paul Davies, Cosmos, Issue 14, April/May 2007, p. 48). Emphasis added. The number of 'parameter values' has grown since the production of The Privileged Planet.
More on fine tuning
Paul Davies, in another article elaborates on the remarkable fine tuning of the universe. He says, "If the universe came with any old rag-bag of laws, life would almost certainly be ruled out. Indeed, changing the existing laws by even a scintilla could have lethal consequences. For example, if protons were 0.1 percent heavier than neutrons, rather than the other way about, all the protons coughed out of the big bang would soon have decayed into neutrons. Without protons and their crucial electric charge, atoms could not exist and chemistry would be impossible. Physicists and cosmologists know many such examples of uncanny bio-friendly ‘coincidences’ and fortuitous fine-tuned properties in the laws of physics." (Paul Davies, New Scientist, 30 June 2007, p. 30).
Paul Davies is the director of Beyond. The Centre for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University, a member of the Cosmos Editorial Advisory Board and author of The Goldilocks Enigma.
Some scientists do not want to come to the conclusion that God designed and created the universe. They prefer the view that us humans got here through chance random processes. One way to rescue their view is to imagine that there are billions of universes, and that ours just happened to be lucky enough to have the right settings to support life.
The study of science points to God, but science can not overcome the sin nature of man. Man loves darkness more than the light (John 3:19-20). There is enough evidence in nature to show that God created all things (Romans 1:20). With that quiet evidence, God calls upon mankind to seek him. With that quiet evidence, God also allows mankind to rebel and go his own way. One day the quiet evidence will be replaced by a loud evidence of his existence, but on that day it will be too late.
Additional notes added in July 2007.
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