A Mind Exercise!

"Proof" that Life cannot arise by chance, as Evolution predicts and demands.

First, a short review of mathematics, and a quick description of a text-friendly notation:

When I write a number as, for example, 3_{7} I mean a three followed by 7 zeros, or in this case, 30 million. The reason I do this is because this is a convenient way to represent very large numbers, and we will soon be using some very large numbers indeed! Now, it turns out that:

4_{12} divided by 2_{7} is 4/2_{12-7}, or 2_{5},

which makes arithmetic on such large numbers much easier too!

Now, think if you will of a short computer programme in a language called BASIC, which looks like this:


INPUT A<return>

INPUT B<return>

PRINT A+B<return>

PRINT "End"<return>

where <return> is a "carriage return", and consists of 1 character.

A very simple programme, which does something moderately useful - it accepts 2 numbers from you and gives you the sum of those two numbers, and then tells you it is done. It consists of a total of 42 "ASCII" characters, each selected from the standard ASCII set of 256 characters. But the order is very important - each character including spaces must be in exactly the right spot for this to work, with 4 exceptions - the A's and the B's, which in practice could be any of the letters of the alphabet.

Now, imagine a mythical computer with a specific job. This computer can do 4_{13} operations per second, making it many times faster than any computer now in existence. This computer does nothing but generate a random series of 42 characters, then checks to see if it is our programme. If not, it tries another random series of 42 characters, and rechecks, but it makes sure first that it isn't repeating a previously failed attempt (we don't want it to waste any time!) It can select only from the 256 "ASCII" characters available to it.

The chance of it getting the first character (the "C") correct is 1 in 256. The chance of it getting the second character correct is also 1 in 256, and so on for all 42 characters (with the exception noted above). HOWEVER, the chance of getting BOTH the first AND second character correct is 1 in 256 TIMES 256. The chance of getting the first 3 characters correct is 1 in 256 times 256 times 256, and so on. So the chance of getting all 42 correct is 1 in 256 times 256 times 256....42 times! (Since there is the exception noted above, let's for now eliminate the "A"s and the "B"s, so the number we want is actually 1 in 256 to the 38th power).

How big is this number? It is approximately 1_{90}, or a 1 with 90 zeros following it. That is the odds of our mythical computer coming up with the simple programme we want. This is the number of tries it MUST make to ensure success.

Now, we freely admit that it might, just MIGHT get it correct on the first try. Or the second, or the 100th. But the chances are very small - i.e. 1 in 1_{90}!

How long would this mythical computer take to come up with the solution? Well, it can generate 4_{13} random characters per second, meaning it can generate about 1_{12} trial "programmes" per second. Therefore, it will take 1_{90} divided by 1_{12} or 1_{78} seconds.

Apparently the population of the earth is about 5_{9}. Suppose it were twice that - 1_{10}, and that each person on earth had one of these mythical computers working on this problem. Now, it would only take 1_{78} divided by 1_{10}, or 1_{68} seconds to ensure our result.

Wildly optimistic estimates would say there are some 1_{10} "earth-like" planets in the universe, which could support intelligent life as we know it. Let's say they are wrong - that there are actually 1_{18} such planets, each populated like the Earth with 1_{10} "persons" each with such a mythical computer, all doing the same task. Now it would only take 1_{68} divided by 1_{18}, or 1_{50} seconds.

Now, there are about 0.3_{8} seconds in a year, which for simplicity we will take as 1_{8} per year (actually more like a 3 year period, but we'll ignore that for now). So all our mythical computers would now take about 1_{42} years to do this task.

Scientists tell us that our universe is about 11 billion, or 11_{9} years old. For argument's sake, lets suppose they are wrong, and it is actually 1 trillion, or 1_{12} years old.

We now see that our universe as we described it, with all those people with computers on all those planets for the entire age of our universe would still have only a 1 in 1_{42-12} or a 1 in 1_{30} chance of coming up with our simple programme. Our universe, with all its people and computers, would have to be repeated 1_{30} times to ensure we get 1 copy of our simple 42 character programme!

Apparently such successive universes cannot communicate across their associated "big bangs" or "big crunches" to the next cycle - the laws of physics break down at these times, so how would we ever know if we had success? In short, we wouldn't! By simple chance, we could NEVER come up with even such a simple programme.

Now we will not do so here, but it would at this point be most legitimate to ask where the "programme" for making our mythical computers came from, or where the programme to generate unique random character strings and check them out came from, or who "programmed" the "operating systems" of our mythical computers. This would add TOO much time to our calculations, if they had to arise by chance.

This has led to the axiomatic statement, recognized by most mathematicians, that programmes CANNOT arise by chance.

There's nothing mysterious about a programme. It's simply a set of instructions which must be carried out in a set sequence. The BASIC programme we propose is such a thing - consisting of 5 simple instructions which must be carried out in a set sequence. A recipe for Red Velvet cake with cornstarch icing meets this definition of a "programme." So does our biological DNA sequence.

Now, even the simplest genetic code - that for a simple virus - contains many hundreds of "characters." And viruses depend for survival on entities with MUCH more complex genetic codes. So even a simple virus has less chance of "evolving" from primal ooze than our little basic programme has of coming into existence by "chance" let alone the more complex DNA-based organisms on which it relies for survival!

So, how could life have "evolved"? Simply stated, it couldn't have! It needed a "programmer" to get it started. A "designer" of the genetic code. An Architect, if you will.

Now, once we have such an Architect around, then we can ascribe the common architecture of life on Earth to a common architect, rather than to a common "ancestor."

So, in order to keep things as simple as possible (again a scientific axiom called Occam's Razor - seek the simplest solution that works), we need not postulate a complex "evolutionary" scheme to account for life on Earth. A common Designer or Architect is scientifically a much more simple and plausible explanation. Using the principle of Occam's Razor, Evolution becomes an untenable scientific theory, and Architectural Design, or "Creation" becomes a much more plausible scientific theory! Not a religion - a valid scientific theory!