Articles and Essays

Home: creationsafaris.com
Teacher’s Resource: creationsafaris.com/teach.htm
Bible & Science Library: creationsafaris.com/bisci.htm


Tim Canham is a software engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS

by Tim Canham
 
In 1961 Frank Drake came up with his famous equation estimating the number of species in the galaxy capable of communicating across space.  He factors in the number of stars in the galaxy, how many stars live long enough to produce life, the average number of planets per star, the number of planets suitable for life, the number of planets where life actually develops, the number of planets which produce intelligent, communicating life, and the average life span of such a civilization, and then divides the whole mess by the lifetime of the universe.  This equation, when computed using values suggested by Drake, gives a range of anywhere from 100 to 100 million civilizations spewing alien soap operas into the interplanetary void.  Actually, the equation is quite reasonable, but there are serious problems with the factors used to get the result.  This equation is used as evolutionary public relations device, but as we examine it closely, it rears it head and bites its owners.

We can settle the argument by looking at a single factor, that being the probably of life evolving.  It would be reasonable to look at proteins, which are the basic building blocks of living cells.  Proteins are formed by linking long chains of amino acids, which form a sort of biological alphabet of 20 letters.  Only a certain few of these chains form functional proteins.  We can take a simple protein, therefore, and compute the odds against it forming by chance.  Living systems are comprised of hundreds of thousands of these proteins working in concert, so we are limiting our examination to a tiny corner.

We can use insulin, a very simple protein, as our model.  Insulin is a chain of 51 amino acids, although more complicated proteins can occur in chains of up to 50,000 amino acids.  Let’s limit our study to this single protein for the moment, however.  When you compute the odds against the relatively simple protein insulin forming, they come to 1 in 10 raised to the 56th power (1056).  That is a 1 followed by 56 zeroes!  It is an impossibly huge number, one we can’t really even grasp.  If we accept the age of the universe given to us by evolutionists (which we don’t), they would say that the earth is 1018 seconds old.  If the necessary molecules were present and recombined once per second, then the odds against insulin forming would be 1 in 1028, still unimaginably huge.  If you were generous and allowed the molecules to recombine 1 billion times per second, that would only raise the odds to 1 in 1019.  The odds against it are so incredibly high, you can say with complete confidence that it would never happen.  This is only one trivially simple protein among giants, all which produce figures ridiculously low.

What about an organism?  Even if this protein or others were somehow to miraculously form, it would be for naught if it weren’t contained in a biological structure which could preserve and replicate it.  We would realistically have to postulate that some minimal organism would form that was self-contained.  This probability can also be computed, and it comes out to be one in 10400.   Adding a simple DNA molecule, which holds the information for reproducing and repairing the organism brings the odds against success up to one in 101000.  These numbers are arrived at using overly generous concessions, and are in reality much larger.  Suffice it to say, these numbers are so large as to be meaningless.  This is not even taking into account the enormous complexity in living systems which are composed of highly specialized, smoothly interacting cells forming organs, which form organisms, which form ecologies, etc. These results are carefully detailed1 in the excellent text, Scientific Creationism, by Henry Morris.

These results are a painful reminder to evolutionists as to how impossible the whole basis for evolution is, yet they cling tenaciously to their philosophy; “professing to be wise, they became fools.” How much greater is our Creator, that instead of a sterile, hostile universe, we read that “the heavens declare the glory of God.”  Our faith is a rich one with a sure hope of coming redemption, while they inhabit a pointless and hostile universe which cares nothing for their lives.  As Joshua said, “Choose for yourselves this whom you will serve . . . As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

1See also Evolution: Possible or Impossible? by James F. Coppedge.