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 You are in / Foolish Faith / Read Book Online / Chapter 3 / Odds & Complexity
"Nobel Prize winner Dr. Francis Crick (co-discoverer of one of the most important discoveries of 20th century biology) arrived at the theory that life could never have evolved by chance on planet earth."
»  Chapter Introduction
»  The Experts Say What?
»  Life from Non-Life
»  Mutations - Evolution's Raw Material
»  Fossils
»  Ape-Man
»  Radio Dating
»  Starlight
»  The Creation Model
»  Dinosaurs
»  Odds & Complexity
»  Chance Design?

Chapter 3:
Two Worldviews in Conflict
What do thousands of scientists believe about creation and evolution?

Odds & Complexity

  • In the biological world of living things lie the most complex concepts of engineering known to mankind. The Encyclopedia Britannica concedes, “A living cell is a marvel of detailed and complex architecture. . . . The information content of a simple cell has been estimated as around 1012 bits, comparable to about one hundred million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica.”[107]The human body comprises a conglomeration of some 100,000,000,000,000 (1014) cells which work together in perfect harmony to maintain human life. [108]

  • It has become very common to speak of evolution from a single-cell to a human, as if the cell was the simple beginning of the process. On the contrary, if life arose from nonliving matter, the progression from dead matter to a single cell was at least as great as from a single cell to a human. The most elementary type of living cell constitutes precise engineering that is unimaginably more complex than any machine yet thought up, let alone constructed, by mankind. Molecular biologist Dr. Michael Denton explains what is involved:
    “To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the portholes of a vast spaceship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.”[109]
  • If a living cell is compared to a computer, the cell’s DNA might be considered equivalent to computer software, and the cell itself (which contains the DNA) would be equivalent to computer hardware. Just as a computer software program (code) determines what the computer will do, so a cell’s DNA code determines what the cell will do. The DNA code is four digits, error correcting, overlapping, and self-replicating. It would be the equivalent of a computer software program that could fix its own errors and reproduce both itself and the computer it resides in.

  • The amount of DNA information that can be stored in a space the size of a pinhead is equivalent to the information content of a pile of paperback books 500 times as tall as the distance from earth to the moon. Indeed, living things have by far the most compact information storage/retrieval system known to mankind.

  • Creationist scientists (and now a growing number of non-creationist scientists as well) believe that the DNA molecule, which is billions of times more complex than the most powerful computer to date, did not spontaneously form by itself, but was intelligently created by a Master Designer.

    Dr Denton asks:
    "Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which — a functional protein or gene — is complex beyond our own creative capacities, a reality which is the very antithesis of chance, which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man? Alongside the level of ingenuity and complexity exhibited by the molecular machinery of life, even our most advanced artifacts appear clumsy."[110]
What are the odds?

  • The mathematical probabilities against the spontaneous generation of life are sometimes acknowledged by evolutionists as a strong argument for creation. The odds in favor of the chance formation of a functional simple cell are acknowledged to be worse than 1 in 1040,000.[111] The scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle, a renowned mathematician from Cambridge known for many popular science works,[112] has used analogies to try to convey the immensity of the problem. For a more graspable notion of the improbability, he has calculated the odds of the accidental formation of a simple living cell to be roughly comparable to the odds of rolling double-sixes 50,000 times in a row with unloaded dice.[113]

  • As another comparison, Hoyle asks, what are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747 and just accidentally assemble it so as to leave it sitting there all set for take-off? “So small as to be negligible,” Hoyle says, “even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole universe.”[114] Although not a creationist, Hoyle’s calculations have convinced him that there must have been some “intelligence” behind the emergence of life on earth.

  • Likewise, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Francis Crick also arrived at the theory that life could never have evolved by chance on planet Earth.[115] Because he is a co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA, an accomplishment which became a cornerstone of genetics and which is widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th century biology,[116] his conclusion is particularly noteworthy — especially since he is an atheist!

  • Why would these (and many other) distinguished scientists come to such conclusions? For a clearer perspective, consider the following “coin-toss” analogy: Suppose I announce that I am going to repeatedly flip a coin and hope to come up with a sequence of all heads. So I proceed to flip the coin, and it comes up heads. You say, “Okay.” I flip it a second time, and it comes up heads again. You say, “Okay.” I flip it again, and it comes up heads again. You say “Hmmm, okay.” Say I flip it again, and it comes up heads a fourth time. You say “Hmmm.” Say I flip it again, and it comes up heads a fifth time. You say “Wait a minute, what’s going on here?” I flip it again, and it comes up heads a sixth time. You say “Stop, this isn’t fair.” I say, “Why?” You say, “It isn’t random. You’re doing something to make that coin come up heads each time.” I flip it again, and it comes up heads a seventh time. I say, “Look, millions of people have flipped coins throughout history. This was bound to happen sooner or later.” I flip it again, and it comes up heads an eighth time. You say, “Come on, what are you doing?” I flip it again, and it comes up heads a ninth time. I say, “Nothing. Really! I’m just flipping this coin and it keeps coming up heads by chance.” I flip it again, and it comes up heads a tenth time. You say, “You’re a liar. What do you take me for, some sort of fool?”

  • Now, if it is true that over a million people have tossed coins throughout history then maybe you should have waited until at least 20 throws (since 220 is over a million) before considering crying “foul.” But most people, in fact, won’t. Why did the observer in the above example not wait that long? Because after 10 tries she concluded that she could call the coin-thrower a liar based on the non-random results. Statistically, she would have only one chance in a thousand (1 in 210) of being wrong!

  • Given the lower probabilities of the origin-of-life issue, it is thus consistent to conclude that life did not spontaneously originate by chance. A person who comes to such a conclusion would have less than a 1 in 1040,000 (that’s 10 followed by 40,000 zeros) chance of being wrong, solely on the basis of mathematical probabilities. In any case, this person is not to be taken for some sort of fool.


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