The Evolution of Life, Probability Considerations and Common Sense-Part 6

By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2002
What are the odds that televisions will evolve into elephants? There are none—no matter how much time we allow or the event to occur. But this is essentially what evolutionists ask us to believe—dead matter + time + chance = life.

The Evolution of Life, Probability Considerations and Common Sense – Part Six

Still a Chance?

The kind of probability “progression into absurdity” we have seen over the past few articles is the very reason Borél devised his single law of chance—to show that beyond a certain point some things will never happen. For example, what are the odds that televi­sions will evolve into elephants? There are none, no matter how much time we allow for the event to occur. But this is essentially what evolutionists ask us to believe—that dead matter plus time plus chance produces life.

On occasion, the argument we are making here is misunderstood. Dr. Weldon’s uncle once heard a minister deliver a sermon in church regarding the odds against life originating by chance. The minister was stating that, based on probability considerations, it was “math­ematically impossible” that the universe was created by chance. The minister greeted Sam after the service and asked him what he thought of the sermon. Sam replied that he had “two serious problems with it.” The first was that even if there was one in a zillion chances that the universe was created by chance, then the conclusion that it was mathematically impossible for the universe to originate by chance was not valid. Even one chance in a zillion is still one chance and therefore mathematically possible. The second objection was that if there are an infinite number of opportunities for an event to occur then the odds could increase infinitely so that sooner or later the event would occur.

But again, this misses the whole point behind Borél’s single law of chance. Once we arrive at a certain point in probability considerations, no chance remains regardless of the amount of opportunities that are present. Anything beyond one chance in 1050 is not one chance in 1050 but 0 chance. And, as we have seen, the “chance” of evolution occurring is infinitely less than this. Probability considerations are important and do offer valid conclu­sions in the creation-evolution debate. They tell us there is no chance evolution will ever occur even if the universe is infinitely old.

Evolutionists respond the only way that they can. They say that given enough time even the impossible becomes possible. Nobel Prize winning biologist George Wald of Harvard University once wrote, “One only has to concede the magnitude of the task to concede the possibility of the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are—as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.”[1]

Wald proceeds to discuss what he means by “impossible.” Not unexpectedly, he claims that the word “is not a very meaningful concept.”[2] He goes on to say that, in terms of originating life, “Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of 2 billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experi­ence is meaningless here. Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself per­forms the miracles.”[3]

Oh? Given probability considerations, on what logical basis does Dr. Wald go from the impossible to the “virtually certain”? Wald is arguing as a committed materialist who has great faith in the magical powers of matter. Even though evolution is impossible, it really can’t be impossible because after all, here we are. Later he states, “We can be certain that, given time, all these things [necessary to evolution] must occur. Every substance that has ever been found in an organism displays thereby the finite probability of its occurrence. Hence, given time, it should arise spontaneously. One only has to wait.”[4]

What we are dealing with here is word games; the impossible is really possible; an event is conceded as impossible so we invoke infinite time and material to make it “possible.”

Dr. Wald himself has stated that a 99.999% probability is “almost inevitable.”[5] A little calculation shows that Wald’s initial statement that spontaneous generation was impossible is far closer to the truth than he himself proceeds to argue in his own chapter.

The word impossible is defined in the dictionary as, “Not possible, unable to be done or to exist” and “not capable of coming into being or occurring.” Also, we don’t have infinite time, we only have a few billion years even by evolutionists calculations and these calcula­tions themselves are suspect. Nor do we have anywhere near infinite material; it was quite finite and limited. Thus, if an event is truly impossible, then it will never occur by definition even given infinite time and material. “…as Saki wisely observed: Those who use ‘chance’ to argue that ‘anything is possible’ have reached the antithesis of science, whose laws are based upon the assumption that some things occur and others do not.”[6] Evolutionists should reconsider the following statement from a standard evolutionary text on the origin of life. The Origin of Pre-biological Systems, edited by Sidney W. Fox, states:

A further aspect I should like to discuss is what I call the practice of infinite escape clauses. I believe we developed this practice to avoid facing the conclusion that the probability of self-reproducing state is zero. This is what we must conclude from classical quantum mechanical principles as Wigner demonstrated (1961).[7]

Sir John Eccles, winner of the Nobel Prize and one of the foremost brain scientists in this century speaks of one chance in 1010,000 as being “infinitely improbable,” noting that “materialists’ solutions fail to account for our experienced uniqueness” and that therefore “we are constrained to attribute uniqueness of the psyche or soul to a supernatural spiritual creation…. We submit that no other explanation is tenable….”[8]

We can only wonder, what kind of logic deduces that the infinitely more complex things in nature resulted from chance when all the facts and evidence we possess concerning every single man-made object in existence around the world says these much simpler objects had to result from intelligence, plan and design? If the “simple” objects demand intelligence, how do the infinitely more complex objects not demand it at all?

Further, if, in ultimate terms, there are only two possible answers to the question of origins, then the disproving of one should logically prove the other. If the chances of evolu­tion occurring are e.g., “one” in 101,000,000,000,000, then the chance of creation occurring would have to be its opposite—the odds being 99.9 (followed by one trillion more 9’s). Again, George Wald of Harvard has stated that a 99.995% probability is “almost inevitable.”[9] Then what of 99.999999999999999 (plus one trillion more 9’s)?—the “chance” that creation has occurred?

Thus, it is not surprising to hear famous astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle originator of the Steady State theory of the origin of the universe concede that the chance that higher life forms might have emerged through evolutionary processes is comparable with the chance that a “tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the material therein.”[10] As he ponders the magnificence of the world about him, even the outstand­ing French biochemist and Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod admits in his Chance and Necessity:

One may well find oneself beginning to doubt again whether all this could conceivably be the product of an enormous lottery presided over by natural selection, blindly picking the rare winners from among numbers drawn at utter random…. [Nevertheless although] the miracle [of life] stands “explained”; it does not strike us as any less miraculous. As Francois Mauriac wrote, “What this professor says is far more incredible than what we poor Christians believe.[11]

Although Monod believes that life arose by chance, he freely admits the chances of this happening before it occurred were virtually zero: “The riddle remains, and in so doing masks the answer to a question of profound interest. Life appeared on earth: what, before the event were the chances that this would occur? The present structure of the biosphere far from excludes the possibility that the decisive event occurred only once. Which would mean that its a priori probability was virtually zero.”[12]


  1. George Wald, “The Origin of Life” in Editors of Scientific American, The Physics and Chemistry of Life (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1955), p. 9.
  2. Ibid., p. 10.
  3. Ibid., p. 12.
  4. Ibid., p. 15.
  5. Ibid., p. 12.
  6. Gary A. Parker, “The Origin of Life on Earth,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Sept. 1970, p. 101.
  7. Sidney W. Fox (ed.), The Origin of Prebiological Systems (NY: Academic Press, 1965, p. 45.
  8. Sir John Eccles, Daniel N. Robinson, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind (Boston: Shambhala/New Science Library, 1985), p. 43.
  9. George Wald in The Physics and Chemistry of Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1955), p. 12.
  10. Sir Fred Hoyle, “Hoyle on Evolution,” Nature, Vol. 294, November 12, 1981, p. 105.
  11. ”Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (New York: Vintage, 1971), pp. 138-139.
  12. Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (New York: Vintage, 1971), cf., James Coppedge, Evolution: Possible or Impossible?; cf. the following: Cohen, Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities; Michael Denton, Evolution a Theory in Crisis (Rockville, MN: Woodbine House, 1986) pp. 308-327; John M. Andresen, “Notes on the Use of Statistics in the Debate of Creation vs. Evolution,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 1980, 160-162; Moshe Trop, “Was Evolution Really Possible?,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, March 1975, 183-187; Holroyd, “Darwinism is Physical and Mathematical Nonsense” pp. 5-13; Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (New York Philosophical Library, 1984); Julio Garrido, “Evolution and Molecular Biology,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Dec. 1973, 166-169; Larry Butler, “A Problem of Missing Links at the Ultimate Primary Stage of Evolution,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Dec. 1969, 128; David J. Rodabaugh, “Mathematicians Do It Again,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, Dec. 1975, pp. 173-75).

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