The Meaning of Life: Why Chance Can’t Explain the Creation of Life

In our investigation into the meaning of life, we’re looking into how we humans came to be here. The Bible says God created us. Evolutionists say we arose by random, unguided processes—chance. But how much sense does that really make? Can chance, alone, really account for the appearance of first life on earth?

When asked about this, evolutionists simply throw up their hands. They have no explanation for how first life came about. They simply point to a spin of the cosmic roulette wheel. But chance and randomness lie at the heart of evolution. Chance alone must play the central role. Without randomness, the only explanation for life’s creation becomes an intelligent Creator God.

We’ll start with an interesting question: monkey-typingHow much time and how many monkeys banging away on typewriters would it take to create the works of Shakespeare? Well, the British National Council of the Arts decided to find out.

They placed a computer keyboard in a cage with six monkeys. For one month, they let the primates bang away. Unfortunately, our apes not only banged on the keyboard, they also used it as a toilet. In any event, at the end of one month they produced a grand total of 50 typed pages. So far so good. Yet wait. They didn’t type a single word. The authors of the study even looked for the two simplest words of the English language—the words “I” and “a” which had to be separated by spaces or punctuation to count.

Gerry Schroeder, author, scientist, and lecturer, looked at this result and thought it interesting. So he calculated the chances of creating just one Shakespearean sonnet by chance. Here’s the first line of a popular sonnet: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Each of the bard’s sonnets is fourteen lines long. The one we just mentioned has 488 letters and 103 words.

But the first thing Schroeder did was get rid of the monkeys. Just couldn’t deal with them. Instead he used a much larger canvas. He proposed this idea: Let us convert all the sub-atomic particles in the universe to computer chips. (Sub-atomic particles are electrons, neutrons, protons, etc…) That’s 10E80 particles—10E80 is an exponential number, a “1” with 80 zeroes behind it. (Yes, physicists are able to estimate these things.) Now we’ll let each computer chip spin out 488 trials at a million times a second, producing random letters. And we’ll give our experiment 14 billion years, about the age of the earth. After this time we’ll have about 10E90 trials (a “1” with 90 zeroes behind it). Sounds like a lot. Maybe we’re getting somewhere.

Then Schroeder calculated how many trials we’d need to create just a single sonnet by chance. And the number is—10E690 trials (690 zeroes). Says Schroeder: “You will never get a sonnet by chance. The universe would have to be 10E600 times larger. Yet the world just thinks the monkeys can do it every time.”

But we’re not done. We’re talking about the evolution of life, so let’s look at the following:

  1. The building block of life all—DNA and,
  2. The simplest single celled organism—the amoeba.

amoeba17Did you know that the DNA in the cell nucleus of one amoeba contains more information than in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica? And in the entire amoeba, there is as much information as in 1,000 complete sets of that encyclopedia. That’s about 44 billion words worth of information! This testifies to the incredible complexity of even the simplest unit of life.

Now for our big question: If 10E80 computer chips, generating 488 trials per microsecond for 14 billion years cannot create a simple Shakespearean sonnet, a mere 103 words—how can random chance ever have created the amount of information in 1,000 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 44 billion words?

Let us also add one more hurdle we rather glossed over. We started our experiment with the concept of a language—letters, words and a syntax. (Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases, with things like nouns and verbs, to create a sentence that’s meaningful.) So random chance must also create such a language from scratch, with meaningful letters, words, and syntax. No one’s ever calculated how long that would take.

Thus probability simply precludes chance as an explanation for the creation of first life. It’s more than improbable; it’s impossible. What about chance as an explanation for creating the multiple, highly complex organisms that arose within the five-million-year Cambrian Explosion? Well, it also fails to work there.

Yet the entire argument for evolution rests, at its fundamental core, on chance and randomness, not on a supreme intelligence, as the driving force behind the creation of the many species of life on earth.

But enough with science. I think we’ve given enough information that even the most ardent evolutionist will have trouble defending the theory.

Next time we’ll move on to our second question in our quest for meaning: Who are we? Read more

The Meaning of Life: Does Evolution Explain Human Origins?

In our exploration of the meaning of life, we have determined that God created the universe and man. But the world proposes that evolution, not God, created mankind. So this and the following post will examine some scientific arguments refuting evolution. (After that, we’ll leave science behind.)

Darwin’s Descent of Man Theory says that mankind was created by unguided, random processes, not by God. According to this we evolved gradually over time through a progression of bipedal hominids—apes, if you will. If this is true, then God, if he exists at all, is only a bystander.

To answer this theory we will present two (out of many) reasons why this theory is untrue. In the process we’ll present some surprising evidence supporting the truth of the Bible. We are indebted to Rich Deem’s marvelous website for some of this material.

1) Biochemical studies.

When geneticists studied mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome, they determined that homo sapiens descended from just a few individuals in one location. (See Rich Deem’s study references, below.) Their method looked first at mitochondrial DNA, nearly all of which comes from mothers. Likewise, they examined a Y-DNA gene passed down only by fathers. Using these markers, researchers measured mutation rates across generations to determine the dates of modern man’s most recent common ancestors. If we take the average of the studies, what are the results?

a) Mankind had a common female ancestor less than about 50,000 years ago.
b) Mankind had a common male ancestor about 43,000 years ago.

This result came from the largest, most accurate study and used a very large piece of the Y chromosome (18,300 base pairs). It came up with a range from 37,000 to 49,000 years ago for a common male ancestor. A date in the middle would suggest about 43,000 years ago.

Three independent studies using different techniques all confirm that modern humans arose less than 100,000 years ago. Yet the evolution of man theory requires millions of years, not the short periods above. Note also, the correspondence of the above two dates to the biblical text:

a) Noah would have been the common male ancestor of all humans. The men on the ark were his sons, but the women all came from different families.
b) Eve would have the common female ancestor.

What does this tell us? The data supports the Bible, not the evolution of man.

[Study references:
* R.L. Cann, M. Stoneking, A.C. Wilson. 1987. Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution. Nature 325: 31.
* L. Vigilant, M. Stoneking, A.C. Harpending, K. Hawkes, A.C. Wilson. 1991. African populations and the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA. Science 253: 1503.
* M. Hasegawa, S. Horai. 1991. Time of the deepest root for polymorphism in human mitochondrial DNA. J. Mol. Evol. 32: 37.
* Stoneking M, Sherry ST, Redd AJ, Vigilant L. 1992. New approaches to dating suggest a recent age for the human mtDNA ancestor. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 337: 167-175.
* Whitfield, L.S., J.E. Suston, and P.N. Goodfellow. 1995. Sequence variation of the human Y chromosome. Nature 378: 379-380.
* S. Paabo. 1995. The Y chromosome and the origin of all of us (men). Science 268: 1141.
* R.L. Dorit, H. Akashi, W. Gilbert. 1995. Absence of polymorphism at the ZFY locus on the human Y chromosome. Science 268: 1183.
* Hammer, M.F. 1995. A recent common ancestry for human Y Chromosomes. Nature 378: 376-378.]

2) Neanderthal DNA .

Evolutionists have always considered Neanderthal “man” as mankind’s most recent common evolutionary ancestor. NeanderthalMan503207xSo it’s interesting that Mitochondrial DNA has been recovered from five different Neanderthal specimens. Analysis showed that this DNA was so different from modern and ancient humans that the study’s authors concluded Neanderthal man could have made no contribution to the human gene pool. (See study reference, below.)

Neanderthals lived between 400,000 and 28,000 years ago and were the only bipedal hominid whose species overlapped with homo sapiens. The analysis of one sample was dated to 29,000 years ago—only 1,000 years before the last Neanderthal disappeared. If Neanderthals and humans had interbred, one should have expected to see this in the last remnants of the Neanderthals. It’s also interesting that all five fossils were separated geographically by over 2,500 km, showing that the Neanderthals were a homogeneous species and not “evolving” separately.

[Study references:
* Adcock, G.J., E.S. Dennis, S. Easteal, G.A. Huttley, L.S. Jermiin, W.J. Peacock, and A. Thorne. 2001. Mitochondrial DNA sequences in ancient Australians: Implications for modern human origins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 98: 537-542
* Bowler, J. M., Johnston, H., Olley, J. M., Prescott, J. R., Roberts, R. G., Shawcross, W., and Spooner, N. A. 2003. New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia. Nature 421: 837-840.
* Krings, M., A. Stone, R. W. Schmitz, H. Krainitzki, M. Stoneking, and S. Paabo. 1997. Neandertal DNA Sequences and the Origin of Modern Humans. Cell 90: 19-30.
* Ovchinnikov, I.V., A. Gotherstrom, G. P. Romanovak, V. M. Kharitonov, K. Liden, and W. Goodwin. 2000. Molecular analysis of Neanderthal DNA from the northern Caucasus. Nature 404: 490-493.]

To be fair the studies mentioned above were done before a recent one claiming that Neanderthals and humans interbred. But when you read the criticism of that study, it appears their samples may have been contaminated by the researchers’ DNA. There is also this analysis of the study from a contributor on Wikipedia: “While Noonan et al. were unable to definitively conclude that interbreeding between the two species of humans did not occur, they proclaim little likelihood of it having occurred at any appreciable level. The study failed to reject the notion of a 0% contribution of Neanderthal DNA to the modern European gene pool.”

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal_genome_project

The headlines scream, “Man interbreeds with Neanderthal.” But the buried details say, “Wait a minute. Maybe not.”

Next time we’ll look at why chance is a highly improbable explanation for the origin of any life, human or otherwise.

The Meaning of Life: Where Did We Come From? Is Theistic Evolution the Answer?

We are examining the meaning of life. We have shown that God created the universe and he created man. But some Christians have proposed the idea that Genesis 1-2 is merely symbolic, and that what really happened is that God created man through an evolutionary process. This they call “theistic evolution”. (Please note this and the following two posts will delve into some science to refute this and evolution in general.)

My understanding of “theistic evolution” is that God evolved the early bipedal hominids to a certain advanced stage, and then breathed into them a soul and the essence of modern man. Thus, Adam and Eve of the Bible were figurative, mere typological symbols of man’s fallen nature. It proposes that God directed the evolutionary process to create man from ape. Although I have no problem with God creating a physical process and directing it with physical laws to his ends, I believe this approach is misapplied to man’s creation and unsupported by the evidence.

To support the view of theistic evolution, adherents point to Francis Collins’s book, The Language of God. dna-2As I read this I found his first argument to be the strongest, with the second worth mentioning. For this post we’ll look only at his two strongest arguments and the problems with them:

1) The pseudo-gene argument.
Pseudo-genes are supposedly unused, nonfunctional genes that appear in parallel positions in both human and mouse genes, and for apes and humans. The proposal is that because these “nonfunctional” genes appeared in the same place in both mice and humans, we must all have common ancestors. The claim is that these genes copied themselves redundantly and somehow the copy was truncated. Evolutionists state unequivocally that these are “pseudogenes”. Because they appear truncated, they must therefore, by their logic, be nonfunctional. Thus, they conclude these genes were the result of evolutionary mutation. But as we’ll see below, this has now been proven false.

In September 2012, publications from the ENCODE project (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) showed that we now know the function of 50-80% of this supposedly “junk DNA”. It also implies that we may soon discover the functions of the remaining DNA segments. The “truncated” DNA regions turn out to be “switches” that turn genes on or off and control how cells behave. This discovery now devastates the “pseudo-gene” argument for evolution. It also shows that DNA is far more complex than scientists previously thought—presenting layers upon layers of complexity.

This shows us something else interesting—scientists claim to know what God would have done. They knew for a fact that God would never have placed such a “pseudogene” where it was. But this is negative theology, presuming to know what God would do and then using that assumption as an argument to support evolution. In this case, it turns out the “pseudogenes’ had a function after all.

2) Explaining irreducibly complex organisms.
The eye, and complex organs like it, has always been a serious problem for evolution. anatomy-of-the-eyeIt is “irreducibly complex”. Remove one part—an iris, an eyelash, a retina—and it ceases to function. The problem is: How could evolution produce such a complex organism? All parts must be present simultaneously. Bring in one intermediate step to create such a part and it’s useless. So how could such an organism ever arise through a process of slight, successive changes over a long period of time?

Collins responds to this conundrum by pointing out the many different species with light sensitive organs, such as flatworms with a simple, pigmented pit that contains light-sensitive cells. The chambered nautilus has a more advanced version. The suggestion is that these could be evolutionary way stations on the road to the kind of eye that we find in higher life forms. But all these examples just prove that simpler organisms need simpler light sensitive organs and that higher organisms need more complex organs. They do not show us how such a complex structure could appear, fully functional and all at once, in higher animals. His argument doesn’t wash.

Thus we submit that theistic evolution is not the answer. Next time let’s look at how archaeology and biochemistry actually support the Genesis account.