scattered playing cards

Cheating with Chance

Illogical and irrelevant analogy

by Don Batten

The argument from probability that life could not form by natural processes but must have been created is sometimes acknowledged by evolutionists as a strong argument.1 The probability of the chance formation of a hypothetical functional ‘simple’ cell, given all the ingredients, is acknowledged2 to be worse than 1 in 1057800. This is a chance of 1 in a number with 57,800 zeros. It would take 11 full pages of magazine type to print this number. To try to put this in perspective, there are about 1080 (a number with 80 zeros) electrons in the universe. Even if every electron in our universe were another universe the same size as ours that would ‘only’ amount to 10160 electrons.

These numbers defy our ability to comprehend their size. Fred Hoyle, British mathematician and astronomer, used analogies to try to convey the immensity of the problem. For example, Hoyle said the probability of the formation of just one of the many proteins on which life depends is comparable to that of the solar system packed full of blind people randomly shuffling Rubik’s cubes all arriving at the solution at the same time3—and this is the chance of getting only one of the 400 or more proteins of the hypothetical minimum cell proposed by the evolutionists (real world ‘simple’ bacteria have about 2,000 proteins and are incredibly complex). [Note added 2013: see update to How simple can life be?] As Hoyle points out, the program of the cell, encoded on the DNA, is also needed. In other words, life could not form by natural (random) processes.

Evolutionists often try to bluff their way out of this problem by using analogies to argue that improbable things happen every day, so why should the naturalistic origin of life be considered impossible? For example, they say the odds of winning the lottery are pretty remote, but someone wins it. Or, the chances of getting the particular arrangement of cards obtained by shuffling a deck is remote, but a rare combination happens every time the cards are shuffled. Or the arrangement of the sand grains in a pile of sand obtained by randomly pouring the sand is extremely complex, but this complex and improbable arrangement did occur as a result of random processes. Or the exact combination and arrangement of people walking across a busy city street is highly improbable, but such improbable arrangements happen all the time. So they argue from these analogies to try to dilute the force of this powerful argument for creation.

You probably realize there is something illogical about this line of argument. But what is it? …


image credit: Amanda Jones

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