Darwin Revisited, Leap of Faith


In order to find out, you could read Darwin’s Leap of Faith by Ankerberg and Weldon. But basically many scientists admit that evolution is virtually miraculous in many ways, because simple random chance could not have led to the changes necessary for present day earth, even with natural selection and the amount of time attributed to it.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #22

What does ‘simple random chance’ mean? And can you demonstrate that for me? As in the types of changes necessary at the nucleotide level and then a comparison of the mechanisms for how genomes can change, demonstrating that its ‘impossible even with lots of time.’


I suspect you know what simple random chance means… The impossibility of simple random chance to create the necessary molecules and amino acids and DNA for the beginnings of life from a pre-biotic soup, the impossibility of random chance to create or lead to the necessary chirality in the levorotary form, the impossibility of a random big bang to result in the orderliness of solar systems and galaxies, rather than in a complete disintegration and disorder of what we normally see in natural or human caused explosions.


A bit more on probability and chance… The book quotes people like Rodabaugh, Hoyle, Morowitz, Coppedge, Wise, Holroyd who have examined the probability of the first living cell. Sir Frederick Hoyle claims there is a chance of one in 10 to the power of 40,000. Dr. Holroyd says there could have been only 4.8 x 10 to the power of 38 possible mutations in all life throughout the history of earth. Because of the normal laws of probability, the chance of getting the right 100 factors for a living cell is one chance in a googol. Dr. Rodabaugh calculated that the probability (which means possibility) of life generating itself even on 10 to 23power of planets, is only one chance in 10 to the power of 2,999,940. Which basically means, impossible. And this is before selection even gets started, because there can be no selection without something to work on first. The argument of the book is that if life couldn’t get started, then it can’t continue. At least the principle of unguided, random changes is unsupported, and unsupportable. Thus it becomes somewhat arbitrary as to when random changes become the law of life, and when they do not. This is a very difficult principle to support through mere materialistic science. The science says random occurence cannot create it, and yet science also says that an arbitrary application of randomness to evolution and development cannot have a law or algorithym attached to it.

(Steve Schaffner) #25

What does this have to do with polystrate fossils?

(Matthew Pevarnik) #26

You don’t know the probability distributions of any of those nor all of the initial conditions. Perhaps you could illustrate with one of them (the big bang resulting in galaxies and solar systems) what the probability of anything actually is.

Let’s look this one up. I’m not sure who he is but found this article that references him: https://www.jashow.org/articles/the-evolution-of-life-probability-considerations-and-common-sense-part-2/

The footnote takes me to a Creation Research Society article which then gives this explanation:

Note, reference 8 says: These figures are all from Huxley, Julian 1953. Evolution in
action. Harper Bros., New York, p. 41.

Perhaps @glipsnort can enlighten us on this wonderful calculation, though we certain knew an awful lot about the genome in 1953 (also I moved this over to this thread instead of the Polystrate fossils one).

(Steve Schaffner) #27

It’s, um, wrong.

(William Pennat) #28

I agree with a lot of the points made by various posters, especially this one. The literally tons of fossil evidence, as well as reams of DNA evidence support the basic idea of an evolutionary progress of life from simple to highly complex forms over the course of billions of years. And it seems to make little sense to consider this process a serious of discreet steps (somehow) rather than a slow, continuous process of many many incremental steps. No. What’s in question, really, it seems to me (and others here) is the theory to explain this sequence of steps. Darwinian and neo-Darwinian theories explain these steps as essentially the result of selection pressures on random mutations. I’ve always thought it was a stretch to see how complex biological structures could arise out of random processes like this and I think that’s the whole problem. The answer, though, is not necessarily some version of so-called “Intelligent Design”. To my mind, the suggestion by Thomas Nagel in his book “Mind and Cosmos” is worth consideration here. He points out that contemporary science essentially relies on only three out of the four traditional Aristotelian “causes” – formal (the mathematics of a theory), material (in a sense the “composition” of something) and efficient (process – what we usually mean by the word “cause”). What is left out – and deliberately in the original formulation of the scientific method mainly because it was not regarded as something that could be measure or observed, is Aristotle’s “fourth cause” – teleology (sometimes now called “teleonomy”). That is, in essence, “purpose”. Nagel calls for a restoration of teleology to the scientific method. And I think his call applies especially to the evolutionary process. I should also point out that Nagel is an atheist (I’m not but I won’t go there) so that re-integrating teleology in scientific explanation does not necessarily (as it should not) entail bringing God in into the bargain…

(Matthew Pevarnik) #29

There are a lot of ways genomes can change - what makes you say that’s a stretch?


That’s not enlightening. That’s just dogmatic. And you sound rather hesitant about your dogma.


I understand your skepticism. I am the same. I want to see the calculations behind the assumptions that a transitional fossil can be placed as a transitional, in a particular continuous sequence, with a normal degree of statistical significance, without the availability of DNA.


Then the answer to the question is yes, the quotes were accurate. The context of the quote was the evolutionists continued belief in evolution, in contrast to his statement of impossibility. This context was described in the text. I mistated “out of context”, since the quote itself was not extensive enough to capture everything else that was said by the evolutionist. In most cases, statements by such evolutionists that support evolution could also be said to be taken out of context, since they usually do not mention that the same evolutionist admits in the same paper or speech that he finds certain events impossible under mere random chance, even with natural selection, and even with endless amounts of time.


I suppose you have some evidence of calculated probabilities, that make the initiation and development of the primary viable single cell possible within 4 bill years? Or are you saying that some intelligent being designed and instructed all the processes to take place so that normal randomness for these events does not apply?

I also think perhaps you are confusing probability distributions with simple probability for a single event. In other words, confusing the probability distribution of multiple measurements of a type of event, such as, how fast can a man run?, with the probability of turning up a single identified card, such as queen of spades, out of a deck of cards. The necessary conditions for life, as best as we can determine the minimal conditions on the basis of experiments and observations, are already very complex and specific, without which we could not have life, even a rudimentary viable and reproducible cell. The probability is also affected by all the non-life possibilities for the same material substance, the same primordial soup, the same initial combinations, and for the same subsequent conditions. So if there are ten different positions for a particular molecule to align, but only one is viable, and also ten positions for a combinant molecule to align, but only one is viable, then we have a chance of one in one hundred that both will align correctly in the first attempt. But there are 239 different proteins in the simplest cell, each with numerous molecules. The probability is factorial, and so the probability of getting the right sequence, with the right molecules, in order for the cell to form, survive, and reproduce becomes progressively small. Coppedge estimates that the chance of getting one single protein molecule in 5 billion years is one chance in 10 to the power of 161. The chance of a viable cell in same time period becomes exponentially smaller.

(James McKay) #34

No John, it is not. If a quote is taken out of context, it is not accurate, no matter what point they are trying to make.

In any case, you haven’t given any examples.


I think you misunderstand both what a quote actually is, and what taken out of context implies, in relation to accuracy of the quote. You may not believe what the quote says, but that does not make the quote inaccurate. The quote taken out of context may seem unfair, but that does not make the quote inaccurate. In addition, the general context was indeed provided by the book, in the explanation around the quote, so the book was as fair as possible. Eg. "Evolutionist, Ambrose of the Univ. of London, writes concerning the appearance of new species, “the probability is so small in terms of the known age of the universe that it is effectively zero.” "

(James McKay) #36

Can you give a reference for that quote so that we can check it out for ourselves? Please point to the original source, not to some random site that just quotes it.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #37

I do not. And neither do you. And neither does anybody else. For that you need to know the initial conditions, all the possible interactions between fundamental molecules, the specific pathway that life on earth took, etc. we are learning more about these all the time and are getting closer to understanding this complex topic. But that does mean that every single probability calculation that you posted is entirely meaningless.

I’m not sure what you’re talking about. We know for a fact that there are random processes That govern how genomes change. It is entirely possible that there is some over arching teleology to such processes or from the perspective of God they are not random.

The ‘simple probability’ as you put it depends on what the probability distribution is. The context of getting a particular card is meaningless unless you know the distribution of possible choices and what the odds are of getting each choice and how the selecting is occurring.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #38

@jammycakes This is apparently the source:

E. Ambrose, The Nature and Origin of the Biological World (1982), p.142

I don’t have access to the book but here’s from one reviewer:

It almost sounds like Ambrose was an early Discovery Institute fellow before they existed And almost certainly believed in the special creation of each species. I could grab some more quotes from the review later.

(Steve Schaffner) #39

You mistake sardonic for hesitant. That’s the kind of response I would give to someone claiming that Christianity shouldn’t be take seriously because its sacred book, Winnie the Pooh, was inaccurately translated from the original Polish.

Let’s do a back of the envelope calculation(*) using mutation numbers that reflect what’s actually known about genetics. Take humans descending from a common ancestor with
chimpanzees. The mutation rate is roughly 1.25 x10^-8 mutations/bp/generation, or 4.5x10^-10 mutations/bp/year. That’s 1.34 mutations per genome copy per year. Assume a census population size of 50,000 (= 100,000 genome copies), that gives us 134,000 mutations occurring in the population per year. Perhaps 5% of those are deleterious and will be weeded out by natural selection, leaving 127,000 mutations per year to work with. We have ~7 million years during which mutations occurred, meaning that a total of ~900 billion non-deleterious mutations occurred.

Now to guess some numbers. If 1 in 10,000 of these was beneficial, there were 89 million beneficial mutations. If we assume each one conferred a selective advantage of 0.1%, then ~0.2% of them would have fixed. That would mean that 178,000 beneficial mutations have fixed in humans since our split from chimpanzees. If 5% of proteins each had 2 beneficial coding mutations, that’s 2000 mutations, leaving 176,000 regulatory mutations. If 20% of genes had some role in the phenotype changes that produced modern humans, that would be 44 beneficial regulatory changes per gene. Frankly, I think these numbers are implausibly high – I suspect the fraction of beneficial changes would have been smaller. 1/100,000 would give a more plausible number of changes to produce humans.

In summary, no, there seems to be no obvious problem with the number of mutations needed to produce new species.

(*) We’ll pretend we’re physicists.

(James McKay) #40

So, @johnZ, was he or wasn’t he an “evolutionist”? What exactly do you mean by “evolutionist” anyway?