Tag Archives: DNA

Possibilities, probabilities and reality

When we look at the natural world, do we see order or chaos? There is order everywhere in the universe except where man has taken control. Even what we call “natural disasters” are caused by the order in the universe. They are a process of cause and effect. In other words, man can explain why they occurred based on various physiological factors that already existed. What man cannot explain is why anything exists at all. Scientists deal with possibilities and probabilities and are confounded by reality.

We live in an ordered universe. As one scientist put it: “A system requiring such a high degree of order could never happen by chance since random processes generate disorder rather than order, simplicity rather than complexity and confusion instead of “information.”’

Another scientist posted on the internet:

 “In living cells, most catalysts are protein enzymes, composed of amino acids, but in the 1980s another kind of catalyst was discovered. These are RNA molecules composed of nucleotides that are now called ribozymes. Because a ribozyme can act both as a catalyst and as a carrier of genetic information in its nucleotide sequence, it has been proposed that life passed through an RNA World phase that did not require DNA and proteins.

For the purposes of today’s column I will go through the probability  calculation that a specific ribozyme might assemble by chance. Assume that the ribozyme is 300 nucleotides long, and that at each position there could be any of four nucleotides present. The chances of that ribozyme assembling are then 4^300,  a number so large that it could not possibly happen by chance even once in 13 billion years, the age of the universe.

But life DID begin! Could we be missing something?”

The answer is, of course, yes, they are missing something. They are missing another possibility, one that the reality of the universe demonstrates to be a real probability—an intelligent  divine Designer. I am talking about a God that is wise enough and powerful enough to design and created our universe. It can be denied but it cannot be disproved.

Anything that has a zero probability of happening must have a zero possibility of happening. I.L. Cohen, in his Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities states: “Mathematicians agree that any requisite number beyond 1050 has, statistically, a zero probability of occurrence.”

Even the simplest replicating protein molecule that could be imagined has been shown by physicist Marcel Golay to have a probability of one in 10450. Frank Salisbury, a plant physiologist,  calculates the probability of a typical DNA chain to be one in 10600. Again, probability zero; possibility zero.

This is what Freeman Dyson, a theoretical physicist at Princeton University posits about evolution:

“You  had what I call the garbage bag model. The early cells were just  little bags of some kind of cell membrane, which might have been  oily or it might have been a metal oxide.  And inside you  had a more or less random collection of organic molecules, with the  characteristic that small molecules could diffuse in through the  membrane, but big molecules could not diffuse out. By converting  small molecules into big molecules, you could concentrate the organic  contents on the inside, so the cells would become more concentrated  and the chemistry would gradually become more efficient. So these things could evolve without any kind of replication.  It’s a  simple statistical inheritance.  When a cell became so big that  it got cut in half, or shaken in half, by some rainstorm or environmental  disturbance, it would then produce two cells which would be its daughters,  which would inherit, more or less, but only statistically, the chemical  machinery inside.  Evolution could work under those conditions.”

Yes, that is a theory worthy of the garbage bag!

“Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory … we would still be justified in preferring it over rival theories [creationism].”
—Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

The basis for a conclusion of this nature is obviously not observed facts, but a predetermined theological conviction that a divine Designer does not exist. There is a risk involved in making this presupposition. As I write in Chapter 7 of my The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be (which should be released by September) about the existence God:

Maybe you are not convinced. Are you a betting man? Are you willing to bet the rest of your life in this world and your eternity in the afterlife that I am wrong? According to Pascal’s Wager, that would not be a rational bet. Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist who charted new territory in probability theory and the formal use of decision theory. Pascal argued that belief in God is pragmatically justified in the long run because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain from holding that belief. If there is no God, there is no eternal judgment to fear. When life is over it is over, no matter how good or bad it was. But if there is a God…? Pascal was speaking of the God of the Bible, the God of Christianity. Here is the way his argument shaped up:

  1. If you believe in and live for God, and it is true that God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven—an infinite gain.
  1. If you do not believe in and live for God, and it is true that God does exist, you will be condemned to eternity in hell—an infinite loss.
  1. If you believe in and live for God, and it turns out that God does not exist, in the end you will have lost nothing because when you are gone you are gone—a finite loss.
  1. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you can live like you want to but in the end you lose everything because when you are gone you are gone—   a finite loss.

Put simply, Pascal argued that the expected value of believing in God is vastly greater than that of not believing, since if you believe in God and commit yourself to a life of faith and obedience to God and it turns out to be true, then you win an enormous good (eternity in heaven). But if you believe and it turns out to be false, then you have lost nothing except a few years of living for yourself that disappears when you die. Therefore, the rational thing to do is believe in God.

If you look at our universe with an open mind, the reality of it speaks to the possibility and the probability that it had an intelligent Designer.