The mathematical probability of Evolution?

One big mistake Creationists (and anti-Creationists) make in using probability arguments is to assume that events in sequence of events comprising some process are independent and then to multiply these probabilities together to get a very small number. That doesn’t work even if the events are independent–for example, 30 events each with a probability of 0.9 gives a probability for the sequence of (0.9)^30 = .033, a small number. It is even a worse mistake if the events are not independent, but each arises as a consequence of some physical law, Consider, for example, the properties that are life enabling (see “The Theology of Water–Is Design Intelligent?”. All these properties of water–improbable in each instance–arise as a consequence of quantum mechanics and electromagnetic theory.


One of the key adaptive systems of mammals is the immune system but this is designed to adapt through hypermutation. The reason it works is that the binding site is limited so the search is limited. DNA repair accuracy in mammals is not yet understood as far as I know. It has been measured in single cell organisms to be about 1 error every 10^11 nucleotides during cell division. We know that error correction is also performed before transcription so we have 2 passes of correction prior to transcription. I have calculated that there would be 22 trillion mutations from zygote to adult if accuracy was 10^11. I can supply raw calculations. 22 trillion mutations seems way too high. Much higher accuracy would lead to no raw material for SNP’s we are observing when we compare mammal DNA.

It is well known, the topic of hundreds if not thousands of papers. All easy to find on PubMed.[quote=“Billcole, post:79, topic:35420”]
I have calculated that there would be 22 trillion mutations from zygote to adult if accuracy was 10^11. I can supply raw calculations.

Please do. I suspect an error or two.


Do your calculations account for apoptosis induced by unrepaired DNA damage?


Or for the fact that the germline is set aside quite early in development in mammals?



If you just watch the video below, about Alaska and Florida Rabbits
you will learn about one of the examples of common descent that even many Evangelicals accept.

"As introduced by Socratic Fanatic: "Youtube’s Potholer54 . . . [‘Potholer54’ is the name of the YouTube user/channel who has a strong interest in debating with YEC’s] . . . has a great video were he explains how even Kent Hovind had come to agree with the idea of evolution—as long the word is avoided . . . . I sometimes use that video as an example of directly observing macroevolution today, because a North American rabbit species has diversified to where Florida rabbits of that species can’t/won’t breed with [Alaska] rabbits . . . . but rabbits living in the Midwest can breed with both. "

[This video was introduced by @Socratic.Fanatic at this post:
What is the Evidence for Evolution? ]

The leading cause for common descent leading to 2 populations that cannot breed with each other is through “independent mutation” of the populations (usually when separated by significant barriers or distance). In Birds, such failures to breed can be triggered by “innovations in song”, making mates from the other population treat the candidate like a completely different animal.

But I don’t think too many people have heard rabbits sing…

A final thought … please note that some of the exhibits at the Ark Encounter include references to “limited” evolution… apparently they have no problem with mutation rates being ordinarily sufficient to support “change” over time:

"This origin of species from a common ancestor occurred by evolutionary processes. This is made clear by an exhibit on the Ark Encounter where we learn that, “species give rise to new species, modified characteristics develop over time, and the fittest animals survive.”

" This is a reasonable description of Darwin’s explanation for the origin of species by means of natural selection. Many visitors to the Ark Encounter may be surprised to discover exhibits which embrace Darwin’s mechanism – natural selection – for producing new species albeit with some strict limits. "

"Along with other natural mechanisms of change the Ark Encounter has proposed what I call a “post-flood rapid speciation model” of modern biological diversity to solve the problem of the limited dimensions and manpower of Noah’s Ark.

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George, I think you should try this before recommending it. I just did (with and without quotes) and the results were not particularly edifying.

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Thanks for the heads up !!!

I don’t think I want to try that … I think I’ll just go to the trouble of pasting a copy of that video with the footage of the Evangelical discussing the rabbit “kinds”.

Lynn, you were the one that provided the folks here with the video, yes? That was an awesome eye opener! And I think we all owe you some thanks! (oops… look at the addendum below!).

I’ll be editing that part of my post ASAP…

Addendum: It looks like @Socratic.Fanatic was the one who brought the video to these pages!
I salute you, Socratic!

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I consider apoptosis part of the repair mechanism for calculation purposes. So if you estimate 10^11 level accuracy that would include apoptosis and repair yielding that accuracy.

Nope, not me, I just saw you post it in a few threads!

It appears to be an old argument used by Ken Hovind that got turned on him?? Anyway rabbits aren’t even native to Alaska (hares are) so I’m not really sure what it originated with. But a couple minutes is really all I’m inclined to spend googling it, so who knows?

I just didn’t want to send anybody ‘chasing down rabbit trails’ without knowing! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


That’s an error. Apoptosis removes cells with certain kinds of DNA damage. It’s not repair. It’s the opposite.

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Apoptosis removes variation of DNA through cell death. That, like DNA repair, is removing variation from the process. So I simply include it as part of the accuracy calculation. This will not make a difference to the analysis. If I can measure my DNA repair mechanism accuracy to 10^11, the system is multicellular and apoptosis is part of the cell cycle, this will make the results more accurate then DNA repair alone.

Why are you ignoring existing variation, the only thing that Darwin ever considered?

Why would you omit population sizes and pretend that evolution has to act on single organisms, which it doesn’t do?


Sy, this is kinetically incorrect. Any population that suffered no mutations would evolve driven by existing variation for a very, very long time, since existing variation is about a million-fold more common than new mutations.

Populations become endangered and extinct by losing their “reservoir” of existing variation, no?

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Excellent points.

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Mathematically, that seems obvious. But in the real world, populations become extinct by losing existing variation.

No one is proposing to mutagenize cheetahs to save them, are they?


Why can’t innovations in song be driven by existing heritable variation?

You do know that we already know, roughly, the generation-to-generation mutation rate in humans, right? It was published almost 5 years ago.

Estimating the human mutation rate using autozygosity in a founder population


[quote=“Billcole, post:79, topic:35420”]
One of the key adaptive systems of mammals is the immune system but this is designed to adapt through hypermutation. [/quote]

And theologically, how is this different from saying that biology is designed to adapt through regular mutation? And isn’t there V-D-J recombination before the hypermutation? Why would you omit that?

[quote]The reason it works is that the binding site is limited so the search is limited.
[/quote]Limited relative to other binding sites? How, exactly?

If God designed us, isn’t He quite an ironist if He designed our immune systems to work by shuffling existing variation by recombination, along with mutation? Isn’t that exactly how scientists have determined that we evolve, and what you’re denying while omitting the important role of existing variation? Is your omission a strategic one?


Yes, that is correct. I should have said, eventually. And of course we are mostly talking about the first 3 billion years of evolution, when all this was happening in bacteria (and other single celled organisms). There was plenty of time for those with perfect repair capacity to go extinct after using up the reservoir of variation.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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