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December 27, 2012

Time, Evolution & God

I am a glutton for punishment and I enjoy a good verbal debate on the Huffington Post website. It is an overtly left leaning site but I like to know what people are thinking and how they think even if it is different than my own mold. I have found that the comments section of any news story will bring out the best and the worst society has to offer- again, another post for another time. I was recently bashed on HuffPo for my thoughts on God, a topic that these people both loathe and enjoy talking about, when I made a comment about the CT shooting. The internet is a marvelous thing- it gives us an unending library of knowledge, entertainment and anonymity. Internet Courage is a great boost to one’s self esteem.

The conversation quickly fell into the classic, “Athiests are smart but Christians are stupid because they believe the Earth is only 6000 years old” routine.  I usually let these go since people are not going to be swayed by an internet Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em debate, but I went ahead and addressed this comment.

Knowing I was going into the lion’s den, I tried to appeal to intellect and reason by dusting off my statistics textbook and delving into probabilities. The probability of any event which has a known number of possible outcomes can be easily calculated – ask any card counter or craps player. The probability of rolling a 7 using two dice would be 6/36 since there are 6 ways to get a 7. This just happens to be the number that would also come up most often simply because there are 6 different combinations.  By contrast, there is only one combination to get snake eyes, a significantly harder or more infrequent number to roll. Nobody said the House was stupid.

The probability of flipping either a head or a tail, which is an event that must happen, is 1. The probability of rolling a 19 with two dice is 0- in other words, it is an impossibility. It isn't even an improbability!

How does this fit into evolution? The “average” sized protein consists of about 500 amino acids of among thousands of proteins in a living organism. Using this protein and some statistics, we can calculate how long it would take, by chance, a single building block to be created. There are 20 essential amino acids in all life on earth and they arranged in a very precise order, much like the order of letters in this sentence. If any single or group of letters is disarranged then the whole sentence structure fails. Our amino acids follow a much stricter order and while we can understand a typo, there is no room for error (called mutations) with proteins.
Here is where the fun starts: taking the 20 amino acids calculating the probability of the proper sequence among the 500 would yield simple a formula 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20 . . . five hundred times. This number is ridiculous- it is a 1 with over 600 zeros after it. If a legion of Bill Gates supercomputers could begin the task of crunching the numbers and calculating a billion combinations of our 500 amino acids every second, it would take 300 billion years. The known universe is only ~13 billion years old.

However, a lightning bolt zapped a pool of sludge in such a way that an amino acid formed, and then happened 499 more times to get the perfect combination of proteins for our very simple organism. And life flourished from there! 

Improbable or impossible?

1 comment:

  1. Just looking in on your blog STS1. I agree with with you, there is a God. Mere coincidence is not possible and we have a soul. Nice to see your still keeping the blog going. Keep in touch...Tony Payan