by Bill Nugent
Carl Sagan, the famous skeptic who died of cancer some years ago, often invoked the phrase “billions and billions of years” when he asserted that evolution had enough time to work. Random collisions of atoms in a primordial warm little pond somewhere were supposed to produce the first living cells if simply given enough time.
Modern observational science has progressed to the point where we now know the exact composition of bio-polymers (proteins) and the probability of even one protein forming by random interaction of chemicals. Scientists as prominent as Francis Crick and Harold Morowitz have done probability analyses and shown that random formation of just one protein molecule, even one with “only” 200 precisely sequenced base pairs, is so remote as to essentially never happen.
Those who cling to evolutionary dogmatism have nevertheless held on to their appeal to “deep time” which is to say “billions and billions of years.” Unfortunately we can’t put billions of years into a test tube and do observational experiments on them. So we have a stalemate. Random formation of proteins is theoreticallypossible but should a scientist regard such a hyper-improbable random event plausible and worthy of scientific respect?
Recently there has been some significant movement on this issue of deep time and it looks like the stalemate has started to be resolved even in the highest scientific circles. A peer-reviewed article in a prominent science journal has introduced the“Universal Plausibility Metric” (UPM) as a means of objectively deciding if an event is actually plausible and not merely possible.
The article by David L. Abel is titled “The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP)”in the journal Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling. Vol. 6:27 (Dec 3, 2009).
The following is a quote from Abel’s article: “But at some point our reluctance to exclude any possibility becomes stultifying to operational science. Falsification is critical to narrowing down the list of serious possibilities. Almost all hypotheses are possible. Few of them wind up being helpful and scientifically productive. Just because a hypothesis is possible should not grant that hypothesis scientific respectability.”
Abel goes on to describe the mathematical contents of the Probability Metric and how it can be used to falsify hypotheses if those hypotheses are based on utterly remote possibilities.
Abel’s article gives much ammunition to the creationist and intelligent design movements in the quest to falsify the notion that life came about by random interaction of nonliving molecules. The UPM is an objective standard from a respected scientific source. Evolution fundamentalists will find it impossible to hide behind “billions and billions of years.”
To look at a specific example of a probability analysis that could be held up against the UPM let’s consider the work of Francis Crick, Nobel prize winning co-discoverer of DNA. Crick did a probability analysis on the possibility of one simple protein forming by chance. The protein would consist of just 200 amino acids in a polypeptide chain. He describes this analysis in his book Life Itself: Its Origin and nature on pages 51-52.
Crick found that the number of random possible sequences of the 200 amino acids was ten to the 260th power which is a one with 260 zeros after it. That number, ten to the 260th power, is far more than the number of atoms in the known universe! In other words to get the right sequence to form the protein would be one in ten to the 260th power or far less of a probability than randomly choosing the right atom out of all the atoms in the universe! Even if many billions of years of random interaction of atoms is considered it does little to diminish this immense hurdle of hyper-improbability.
An application of the UPM to Crick’s analysis would show that the one simple protein would never form by chance. A protein forming by chance is nevertheless possible but is totallyimplausible and thus should not be given scientific respectability.
For argument’s sake let’s say that a protein did form by chance, against all odds, in the primordial soup. To form a living cell, that protein would have to combine with trillions of other proteins (which would also have to form by chance!) and then form a structure, by chance, to approximate a cell wall, nucleus and mitochondria of a cell and then start the cell to begin living and reproducing. The monstrously high improbability of such a scenario should cause all scientifically minded people to falsify the notion of life coming from nonlife. If this first step of evolution falls, the whole evolutionary edifice falls.
The same utterly remote probabilities apply to all steps in the theory of evolution. Genetic mutations, the supposed mechanism of evolution, must also cope with utterly remote probabilities. Genetic mutations are mostly destructive errors to the DNA. To put feathers on a lizard, for example, would require a favorable macromutation that would add a long strand of properly sequenced base pairs to the DNA.
Though theoretically possible such a favorable macromutation has never been observed. A step by step series of small mutations to gradually put feathers on a lizard would also be implausible because partially formed feathers would be disadvantageous to the lizard. The needed macromutation with hundreds of properly sequenced base pairs would be as hyper-improbable as the chance formation of the protein we discussed above.
We can confidently say that virtually all steps in the alleged macroevolution process would fail the UPM test. Evolution is falsified. Secular fundamentalists have relied on evolution as their origins myth and have fooled many into accepting evolution on the false claim that it’s based on science. It’s becoming clear that secularists must abandon evolution and since no other secular grand theory of origins is waiting in the wings to replace evolution, secularists are obliged to return to God.