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The Forerunner

Creation Column: Evolutionary Improbabilities

By Editorial Staff
Published December 22, 2007

Evolutionists claim that life originated by natural processes, when one organism changed into another solely by chance. They propose that successive species of life arose over eons of time to produce the vast complexity and diversity of life we see in the world today. However, upon closer examination of these “natural processes,” one finds the statistical probability of life originating by chance to be incredibly small and unlikely.

The origin of life by natural processes would involve the following steps: 1) Formation of simple building blocks such as proteins and nucleic acids; 2) Arrangement of these molecules into biologically important compounds such as proteins and DNA; 3) Assembly of these proteins into a metabolically active system, and; 4) Origin of the first completely independent, stable and self-replicating cell. The probability of each step occurring by chance has been calculated by many scientists, and their conclusion has been that life could not simply arise by chance.

The Problem with Jelly Beans

Most of the cell’s important functions are carried out by compounds called proteins which are a chain of amino acids linked together. There are 20 amino acids which can be arranged in any combination and the average protein consists of over 400 amino acids linked together. The protein’s characteristics and function is determined by the number and particular arrangement of amino acids. A protein can be represented by a sentence which derives its meaning from the particular arrangement of letters, or amino acids.

According to evolutionary theories, amino acids were synthesized spontaneously and then linked together to form the first protein from a generic amino acid “soup.” In experiments attempting to synthesize amino acids, the products have been a mixture of right-handed and left-handed amino acids. (Amino acids, as well as other organic compounds, can exist in two forms which have the same chemical composition but are three-dimensional mirror images of each other; thus termed right and left-handed amino acids.)

One would think that the formation of amino acids into protein would randomly use both left and right-handed amino acids and result in approximately 50 percent use of each. However, every protein in a living cell is composed entirely of left-handed amino acids, even though the right-handed isomer can react in the same way. Thus, if both right and left-handed amino acids are synthesized in this primitive organic soup, we are faced with the question of how life has used only the left-handed amino acids for proteins.

We can represent this dilemma by picturing a huge container filled with millions of white (left-handed amino acids) and black (right-handed amino acids) jelly beans. What would be the probability of a blind-folded person randomly picking out 410 white jelly beans (representing the average sized protein) and no black jelly beans? The odds that the first 410 jelly beans would be all one color are one in 2 410 or 109 123.

To put the odds in perspective, there are only about 10 18 seconds in 4.5 billion years, the approximate claimed age of the earth, and it has been estimated that there are only 10 30 particles in the universe. Yet the probability of choosing all left-handed amino acids, without even considering their particular order or specific arrangement, is much larger than that!

Monkeys Typing Shakespeare?

Proteins are functional because the amino acids are arranged in a specific sequence, not just a random arrangement of left-handed amino acids. The formation of functional proteins at random could be likened to a monkey trying to type a page of Shakespeare using the 26 letters of the alphabet. Anyone knows that the monkey is not capable of accomplishing the task set before him.

What is the probability of synthesizing a protein with a specific sequence? Let us simplify the situation first. For example, if there are 17 students in a class, how many possible ways exist for them to order themselves in a line? It would take the students a long time to physically try all the possibilities since there are over 355 trillion different ways. If the number of students were increased to 20, equal to the number of amino acids that exist, the number of possible ways would be over 10 18 different ways, the number of seconds in 4.5 billion years!

Remember: this is a simple example of a specific arrangement of 20 amino acids. The probability is even greater when we consider that there are 20 possibilities for each spot. Also, in a specific protein of 100 amino acids, or in the formation of a hemoglobin molecule which has 574 amino acids arranged in a specific sequence, the probability becomes astronomical!

If only one amino acid is changed in the sixth position, the disease sickle cell anemia results. The RNA within the tobacco mosaic virus contains about 6,000 nucleotides. The probability that this molecule resulted by the random chance arrangement of the four nucleotides is 1 out of 4 6000 or 2.3×10 3216 !

A Trillion Years to Solve the Rubik’s Cube

Life is not contained within a single protein, however. Several proteins are required for even the basic functions of the simplest living organism. Even the most simple known cell, such as the mycoplasma, may have 750 proteins. The list of proteins essential for survival may be narrowed down to 238 proteins. The probability of forming these 239 proteins from left-handed amino acids has been calculated to be 1 in 10 29,345. Remember, the estimated number of particles in the universe is 10 30. (It seems that the evolutionists certainly believe in miracles … but not in a Miracle Maker!)

Many times we hear evolutionists using the term “primitive cell,” although we have no example of such. One of the simplest living systems, the tiny bacterial cell, is exceedingly complex. Dr. Michael Denton describes the bacterial cell, which weighs less than 10 -12 grams, as: “… in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up of one thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world.“1

Our human body has over 200,000 types of proteins in its cells, and the odds of just one of those proteins evolving by chance is vast. Sir Fred Hoyle, still an evolutionist, likens this to a blindfolded subject trying to solve the Rubik’s cube. The blindfolded man has no way of knowing whether he is getting closer to the solution or actually farther away. According to Hoyle, if the blindfolded subject were to make one random move every second, it would take him on the average three hundred times the supposed age of the earth, 1.35 trillion years, to solve the cube.2

Out of the 200,000 proteins in our body, roughly 2,000 provided the very essential function of cellular metabolism, similar to that in a bacterial cell. The odds of those essential enzymes arriving by chance is extremely large, almost improbable. As stated by Drs. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, “the trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in (10 20) 2000 = 10 40,000, which is an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.“3 This is about the same chance as throwing an uninterrupted sequence of 50,000 sixes with a pair of dice.

Hoyle described the thinking of those who leap to these improbable conclusions as a “junkyard mentality.” To believe natural processes assembled a living cell is like believing a tornado could pass through a junkyard containing the bits and pieces of a airplane, and leave a Boeing 747 in its wake, fully assembled and ready to fly!

The magic ingredient in the evolutionists’ model is time and chance, but it seems to take more faith to believe in chance than it does to have faith in the creative power of God. Nobel prize winner and discoverer of DNA’s double helix structure, biochemist Francis Crick, concedes: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to have been satisfied to get it going.“4

Dr. Hubert P. Yockey, former chief of the Reactor Branch at Aberdeen Proving Ground in England, accurately summed up our present scientific situation: “one must conclude that … a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.”

A Dead Cell Is a Dead Cell

When we gaze into the microscope of life, we observe the precision of an unparalleled system. Yet, even if we took all the proteins essential for a living cell and placed them within a test tube, we would still not succeed in producing life. A dead cell has all the essential components to function but something has offset the precision of its operation. Dead cells in a test tube will always remain dead no matter what is done to them, even though they seem to have the ingredients for life. Life does not simply consist of a mere assemblage of the right compounds or proteins.

When God created life in the beginning, He created life in its entirety – living cells, animals and plants. God imparted His life into all living things and was also the sustainer of what He made. Jesus Christ is often referred to as the source of life (John 1:4, John 14:6) and we know that all things were made through Him (John 1:30). It was through Jesus that God created the world (Hebrews 1:2) and by Him all things exist (Hebrews 2:10). The life of God is the very essence of all living things. Not only was it His infinite wisdom that assembled all the ingredients of life in perfect order, but it was His life that charged those ingredients with life itself.

1 Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, MD: Adler & Adler, Publishers, Inc., 1985), p. 250.
2 Fred Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983), p. 12.
3 Fred Hoyle and C, Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space. (London: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1981), p. 24.
4 Francis Crick, Life Itself (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981), p. 88.

» » Science

Your comments are welcome!

Your logic in a lot of this appears to be flawed. Know your enemy a bit better, and then try to win.

Posted by an evolutionist on 09/28/2008 12:27 AM #

Here’s a link to an Evol site that links to yours: http://toarchive.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html I have read both treatises and find yours more honest as his (Ian Musgrave) as he has left out the problem of obtaining optically pure amino acids from a pre-biotic earth. Unless he is that ignorant, which I cannot believe, I find that he is then stretching (to say the least) for his camp. Shucks! It would be nice to have just a little mutual respect and honesty about this situation. Abiogenesis is a problem that cannot be solved by naturalistic causes because Amino Acids will only occur as a racemic mixture of stereo isomers. As for the previous post: It’s getting harder and harder to “know our Enemy better” It looks like your camp is setting the pace for insulation. Not ours.

Posted by Mike Locus on 02/17/2009 06:06 PM #

1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a “modern” protein, or even a complete bacterium with all “modern” proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.

2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.

3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.

4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.

5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.

Posted by rtarbinar on 06/22/2009 01:44 AM #

Wait a minute… where does the “Random” part come in? Evolution is a deterministic process with very clear criteria that have continuously been empirically observed. From Darwin’s finches to the speciation events observed in laboratories all over the world, by men of faith and men of science alike, scientists have developed a coherent system to explain how these things came to be. Natural selection only seems random if you have too narrow a view to comprehend that each living thing competes for a finite selection of resources, and each living thing constitutes a resource for some other living thing. This means that, in a natural state, things will compete, to the death if necessary, over these resources and the faster, stronger, smarter, simply more oversexed, will have a greater innate likelihood of survival. Though this does not guarantee survival, if we look beyond the point of view of that single organism, like you creationists seem to be incapable of doing, and look at the environment andd it’s inhabitants, you will see lots of examples of this competition and see that it all REALLY IS HAPPENING FOR A REASON, AND THAT REASON SIMPLY IS NOT GOD. Hawks are good at catching mice, because they have excellent eyesight and see in spectrums that allow them to percieve heat. Mice fuck a lot and moved in with humans. Humans make technology like the internet and can’t seem to get it through their head that the species would be better off if the tech was too complicated for you retards to use it.

Posted by Ambrose on 12/21/2009 07:27 PM #

Does Mike propose that God made amino acids with his left hand and monosaccharides with his right? What I find incredibly improbable is that some sort of undetectable nonphysical agency (what the heck IS a Spirit anyway?) can develop, organize, archive and apply the astounding amount of information required to plan and operate the enormous variety of organisms currently in existence on this planet. And why was it so interested in single cell organisms and insects anyway? Without the collection of ancient, contradiction laden, selectively read writings compiled by politico-religious committees and proclaimed by THEM to be the inspired words of a deity, we could school more students to seek reality through the only self correcting procedure man has developed: the scientific method.

Posted by Factkneader on 01/21/2010 07:25 PM #

“Evolutionists claim that life originated by natural processes, when one organism changed into another solely by chance.”

The flaw in your argument is this contradictory first sentence. Evolutionists do claim life evolved by natural processes. They do NOT claim that it was a lucky chance. Natural processes are in fact the very opposite of chance.

Posted by Gwar on 03/03/2010 09:05 PM #

The Junkyard tornado AKA “Hoyle’s Fallacy”, was comprehensively debunked years ago — for those actually interested in why please see: http://www.ebonmusings.org/evolution/tornado.html for a summary or http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html for a more compreshensive explanation

BTW: “…about 10 18 seconds in 4.5 billion years, the approximate claimed age of the earth…”

4.5 billion years in seconds is actually about 1.4 × 10^17 so your estimate is out by 7 times – an indicator of the accuracy of the rest of you piece IMO

Posted by sysyphus jones on 04/24/2010 06:24 PM #

Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer supports and goes far beyond what is written here. Also ZYGOTE THEORY in wordpress.

Posted by Robert Mason on 06/14/2010 11:59 PM #

Explanation of left-handed amino acids need not be left to chance. If life based on left-handed amino acids acquired an early advantage over right-handed, soon only left-handed ones would have remained. That’s natural selection, and wherever the slightest advantage was introduced, it should have operated. Where chance operated was that one or the other would have gotten the advantage first, which it seems should have been 50%, other things being equal.

Mutations are random, and necessarily so, but evolution’s magic ingredient is actually the mechanism of natural selection.

Mutations must necessarily be random, because the variables involved in evolution are too many and constantly changing for any intelligence to encompass or anticipate. Not only is the physical character of the earth infinitely varied and constantly changing, but life through its own development is constantly changing the environment that gives birth to it. And furthermore, the introduction or change in every life form introduces new variables. The atmosphere, soil, and physical features are largely created that we and other creatures call home are largely the product of life’s work.

One might point to genetic engineering as counter-example, but the point here is that these changed were introduced to address just one variable. The full consequences of turning over these plants and animals to natural selection is not considered, although some things such as such as appearance of super weeds could be anticipated.

Posted by Stephen Mikesell on 07/23/2010 03:56 PM #

strong confessions of faith in comments of evolutionists here…Divine natural selection operating on nucleotides? I thought natural selection is kinda blind watchmaker operating on genes…:)

Posted by andre on 09/16/2010 06:46 AM #

Andre, above, and the editorial staff writing the original article, have a mistaken understanding of evolution. Natural selection does not “operate on genes,” blindly or otherwise. Mutation is the blind operator. Genes mutate at a statistically constant rate, and natural selection operates by the reproductive advantage or disadvantage offered by each mutation. The mechanism of change, mutation, has to be blind, because variables affecting adaptation are too great and in constant process of change, making any attempt to anticipate what will be adaptive doomed to failure. The selective pressure comes from constantly changing environmental variables, both physical and biological, both external and internal to the organism. Eucariotic cells even have a built-in system ensuring a one-way flow of information only outward through the nucleus wall, something necessary for the stability required for multi-celled organisms. (Thus genetic engineering will be doomed to failure because it usually is done according to only one variable heavily informed by market needs. It also makes me doubt the possibility of any sort of intelligence affecting evolution. The mere fact of change of any one gene inserts a changed environmental variable for not only all the other organisms the particular organism is interacting with, but for all the other genes within its own genome.) Instead of putting up straw men which have nothing to do with evolution and then say you’ve disproved the theory by knocking down the strawman you’ve created, I’d kindly suggest actually learning the theory first. A worthy combatant does well to understand his opponent. The argument put here has no understanding of the opponent, to the point of misrepresenting it, and the combatant is anything but worthy. Furthermore, the argument raises more questions than it answers: for example, what is the demonstrable mechanism of change of creationism?

Posted by Stephen Mikesell on 10/25/2011 01:29 AM #

There are a lot of comments here about natural selection being the solution to the presented problems. Yet no one making them seem to realize that before you can have N.S. you have to have a self-reproducing organism. How are the non-living chemicals reproducing in order to drive N.S.? It is just nonsense.

Posted by _ on 03/23/2012 02:06 PM #

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Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

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