The mathematical probability of Evolution?

It’s not clear to me what’s even being discussed here. The probability of what, exactly? We have no mathematical model that would let us calculate the probability of, say, a land mammal evolving into a marine mammal, or the probability that a hominin will evolve to be more intelligent (or less intelligent, or become extinct). No one does.


And the reply will be “Therefore, goddidit.”

George – interesting perspectives!

Along similar lines of “choosing which style of nonsense”, I find atheists who rail at the notion of God as nonsense, and are perfectly willing to accept the existence of the universe and the multiverse. But really, they believe in infinity, eternity, and uncreated stuff. How is that any less nonsense?


Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

I’ll push back gently that Berlinski is no slouch, and I’m not so comfortable dismissing him so easily. But that may be a much longer conversation than we want to get into here.

Hoyle’s quote “ physics, as well as with chemistry and biology” I take to imply the Anthropic Principle (physics), origins of life (chemistry), and evolution (biology). I may be wrong, but that’s how I read it.

Yes, Yockey was focused on origins, but some aspects of evolution are similar. I’ll post more detail about that in a minute to Steve.

I think you’re right about common ground. Do you find that most people would have a lot of common ground, if they take the time to find it? Too many seem to focus on where they think they disagree.


Steve – love your handle! It sounds like the name of a dwarf in Lord of the Rings. Is that your algorithm of the same name on github?

To be more specific about probability, the most meaningful for this discussion would, I think, be the probability of first arriving at some particular enzyme. Once an enzyme is in place, it’s clear that microevolution can refine it. But how do we get the first one? We would exclude those that have ancestor homologues, because proteins get repurposed often enough.

This seems to me closely related to origins of life, since the first proteins had to arise somehow. But after origins, new stuff still arises, so the issue is the same. The question for both origins and development of life is “How?”, and probability can be discussed. Though it would be impossible to characterize precisely, some useful and reasonable assumptions could be made. But everyone who has tried has walked away saying, “there’s something wrong with this picture.”


Oh, that Atheist stuff is nonsense, but for me I have narrowed it down to a pretty clean little hypothesis:

I don’t believe the Universe would have ever created an epiphenomenon like consciousness. Consciousness/Awareness in a Godless universe is like having a Mona Lisa painting, painted by a blind man, in a room full of blind men. It doesn’t compute in my view.

So, when I’m debating atheists, once we all agree that there is something called Consciousness, then my internal deduction is that there is a Cosmic source for this Consciousness. They say I can’t prove it, and I say they are trying to convince a man who loves Chocolate that he doesn’t really love Chocolate. It can’t be done. I tell them not to even think it can be successfully done more than a few times in a lifetime.

I love my God. I love my Chocolate.

I think my views on God and Consciousness would fit in well with discussions on this thread, when it gets under way!

Four years ago, Nature Chemistry devoted an entire issue to research on prebiotic chemistry. Over the intervening years, there have been several major breakthroughs in various aspects of prebiotic chemistry, from chemical scenarios for the generation of biochemical building blocks to better pictures of the (potential) evolution and function of catalytic RNA. I haven’t searched for anything resembling the phrase “there’s something wrong with this picture,” but I am certain it isn’t in that collection at Nature Chemistry. Could it be that eager believers are prone to misstating what we do and don’t know? That’s what I think, but in any case it is simply untrue that “everyone” engaged with these questions talks the way Marty wishes they did.

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Yes, I do find this. And I devote a lot of effort to establishing common ground and seeking peace in the debate. Just this last week, had the fun of hanging out with Hugh Ross, James Tour, Francis Collins, and Philip Johnson. The week before, I was with John Sanford. I disagree with them all on important points, but also found substantial common ground. Even though we disagree, we are all the same family.

And @Marty I think I already like you. You should tell us more about yourself. Note to everyone else, don’t pick on guests, especially when they are not combative.

The topic shifted. Probably need a moderator to make a new thread… (@Casper_Hesp)

Presuming that science could disprove God (as some atheist argue) is absurd nonsense. I agree. It is begging the question. Obviously circular. An obvious error in logic.

The multiverse is different. It may or may not be ultimately real, but there is some evidence for it. The stranger notion is that this somehow obviates creation. If the multiverse exists, I’m sure God created it.

This should really be kept separate. There is very strong evidence for evolution, but the case for abiogenesis is much weaker. Maybe God did it by natural process, and maybe He didn’t. Reasonable and informed people come to different conclusions here without reject large parts of mainstream science.

Evolution is different. One can still reject it if so inclined, but the evidence here is overwhelming. Of course, science does not consider God’s action (and I cannot imagine how it could), so we cannot say for sure. At the very least, however, He made us all in a way that looks like we evolved. It requires rejecting large swaths of mainstream science to reject evolution.

Abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing.

And @sfmatheson, I’m not denying the real progress that has been made. That is exciting work that might someday close the loop, but we are not there yet.

This is not the correct probability to compute. Even if the probability of arriving at a particular enzyme is impossibly small, this does not tell us anything about evolution. We know that many enzymes can all carry out the same function, but we do not know how many. Moreover, there is nothing that tells us that this specific function needed to arrive.

Instead, we need to compute the probability of evolving any new function by any new protein. It is impossible to compute this probability with any accuracy directly. Though there is convincing evidence that new functions are evolved from new proteins on a regular basis.

Any how @Marty tell us more about yourself.


Seconded. :+1:


A significant list, Joshua, in that it covers mainstream OEC, non ID anti-Darwinism, EC and ID, three of them undoubted leaders of their positions. And I may be wrong, but isn’t Sandford a YEC?

On the assumption that they all also disagreed with you on important points, and further that it’s not simply because you’re correct on everything (which you’re entitled, even bound, to think, but the rest of us inevitably won’t! :grin:), then it’s an important reminder. A reminder that the world is not divided between the correct and the not even wrong, but consists of clever, generally honest and informed people taking all kinds of different positions.

That still leaves the business of arguing ones own well-considered points persuasively, but it shows up the intrinisic dishonesty involved in trying to “silence the opposition”, whether that’s in a small internet discussion thread or in the broader public arena.

I’ll retreat now, because I said rather similar things in the only article I was asked to write for BioLogos back in 2011, and got much flak for it in the comments.

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Hi Marty. I am glipsnort on github, too, although that’s not the name of the one program I have there. (Which reminds me, I really should be releasing the rest of that package, and writing the paper describing it. Oh well – I’m scheduled to work on that tomorrow.) “Glipsnort” was a name I made up for some stories we told our older son when he was quite small – it was the name of an alien race. It must have been some time ago, since that son is now in grad school.

Exactly. A pretty amazing week I must say. I found real things to respect in all of them. Honest, was not really one argument in any of this. And our understanding grew about one another.

I was really struck by Hugh Ross and his wife. Unprompted, she got on a soap box about how RTB is not anti-evolution, and that is a real mistake. Pretty impressive from an OEC.

The biggest surprise for me was Philip Johnson. I really liked him. I am more convinced that his early ID position was very well-intentioned and important ways actually won the debate. To his chagrin, Eugenie Scott ends up appropriating his best arguments. Though this ends up being a thorn in the side of the ID movement, it is an example of really phenomenal success. He won that argument, and we all benefit from this. Also, I was encouraged by his continued desire to seek peace, that came through so early on in the ID movement, but often seems lost in the current moment.

Exactly. And it is fun this way too. Wouldn’t it be boring if we all agreed?

No, you’re quite wrong there… :slight_smile:

Phillip Johnson is the only one of those guys I’ve also met, when he spoke in my town back around the turn of the millennium. Bearing in mind I was just “in the crowd” he was very gracious.

Hi Joshua -

I’m curious which arguments you are speaking of here. Perhaps it’s worth opening another thread, given the title of this one.

Chris Falter

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I have updated my profile. Hope that’s a good start! Thanks for asking.

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3 posts were split to a new topic: George wants to know about OEC

@DarkX_Studios, I hesitate to pry, but not enough to prevent me from doing so… How did everything work out with the talk at your school? Let me applaud you for the curiosity and determination needed to seek answers and I hope this forum has been helpful to you. Praying for the Lord’s blessings as you search out His truth.

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“Young universe” Christians lack faith in God. They refuse to believe that God has the ability to design the universe that careful observations indicate we live in. They think God created a stage play or a computer game for us and our universe.

On the other hand, doesn’t Job describe sort of a chess game between God and Satan?

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How did it go?

The question does not compute. Why? Because statistics only applies to historical events and probability only applies to future events. If an event happened, Second, statistics only applies to the total data set under consideration and not to anything outside the set.

Third, if the odds of an event are 10 to 1 then this should be confirmed by several sets of 10 experiments. But in any of the 10 experiments in each set, the unique event could occur in any of the 10 tries. If the resuly occurred several time in several sets, the hypothesis has not been demonstrated.

Fourth, we only have one universe under consideration thus . . . .

I propose two different questions:

  1. If evolution did occur then what is the probability it could occur a second time in an identical universe?

  2. Can God create a a universe that can evolve?

Further the problem of evolution is much simpler that the problem of abiogenics.