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ESSAYS ON ORIGINS:
Can Evolution Produce an Eye? Not a Chance!
by Dr. David N. Menton, Ph.D.
This version copyright (c) 1994 by:
Missouri Association for Creation
[No. 10 in a series] April 1994, Vol. 4, No. 4
The human brain consists of approximately 12 billion cells, forming
120 trillion interconnections. The light sensitive retina of the eye
(which is really part of the brain) contains over 10 million
photoreceptor cells. These cells capture the light pattern formed by
the lens and convert it into complex electrical signals, which are then
sent to a special area of the brain where they are transformed into the
sensation we call vision.
In an article in _Byte_ magazine (April 1985), John Stevens compares
the signal processing ability of the cells in the retina with that of
the most sophisticated computer designed by man, the Cray supercomputer:
"While today's digital hardware is extremely impressive, it is
clear that the human retina's real-time performance goes
unchallenged. Actually, to simulate 10 milliseconds (one
hundredth of a second) of the complete processing of even a
single nerve cell from the retina would require the solution of
about 500 simultaneous nonlinear differential equations 100 times
and would take at least several minutes of processing time on a
Cray supercomputer. Keeping in mind that there are 10 million or
more such cells interacting with each other in complex ways, it
would take a minimum of 100 years of Cray time to simulate what
takes place in your eye many times every second."
If a supercomputer is obviously the product of intelligent design,
how much more obviously is the eye a product of intelligent design? And
yet, evolutionists are dead certain that the human eye (and everything
else in nature) came into being by pure chance and the intrinsic
properties of nature! Evolutionists occasionally admit that it is
difficult for even them to believe such a thing. Ernst Mayr, for
example, has conceded that:
"...it is a considerable strain on one's credulity to assume that
finely balanced systems such as certain sense organs (the eye of
vertebrates, or the bird's feather) could be improved by random
mutations." (_Systematics and the Origin of Species_, p. 296).
Evolutionists rarely attempt to calculate the probability of chance
occurrence in their imagined evolutionary scenarios. While there is no
way to measure the probability of chance occurrence of something as
complex as the eye, there are ways to calculate the probability of the
chance occurrence of individual protein molecules that are essential to
life. Over a thousand different kinds of proteins have been identified
in the human body, and each has a unique chemical composition necessary
for its own particular function.
Proteins are polymers, whose chemical composition depends on the
arrangement of many smaller subunits called amino acids. There are 20
different kinds of amino acids that are used to construct the proteins
of all living organisms, including man. These amino acids are linked
together end-to-end (like a string of beads) to form a single protein
macromolecule. The average protein consists of a string of 500 amino
acids. The total number of combinations of 20 different amino acids in
such a string is, for all practical purposes, unlimited. Each protein
in our body, however, must contain a specific sequence of amino acids if
it is to function properly. It is the task of the genetic system in our
cells to organize the assembly of the amino acids into precisely the
right sequence for each protein.
Proteins have been called _informational_ macromolecules because
their amino acid sequence spells out information, in much the same way
as the letters of the alphabet can be arranged to form a sentence or
paragraph. We can appreciate the improbability of randomly assembling
one of the essential proteins of life by considering the probability of
randomly assembling the letters of the alphabet to form even a simple
phrase in English.
Imagine if we were to try to spell out the 23 letters and spaces in
the phrase "THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION" by using the evolutionary principle
of _chance_. We might proceed by randomly drawing characters from a
Scrabble set consisting of the 26 letters of the alphabet plus a space
(for a total of 27). The probability of getting any particular letter
or space in our phrase using this method would be one chance out of 27
(expressed as 1/27). The probability of getting all 23 letters and
spaces in the order required for our phrase can be calculated by
multiplying together the probability of getting each letter and space
(1/27 x 1/27 x 1/27 -- for a total of 23 times). This calculation
reveals that we could expect to succeed in correctly spelling our phrase
by chance, approximately _once_ in eight hundred, million, trillion,
trillion draws! If we were to hurry the process along and draw our
letters at the rate of a billion per second, we could expect to spell
our simple little phrase once in 26 thousand, trillion years! But even
this is a "virtual certainty" compared to the probability of correctly
assembling any one of the known biological proteins by chance!
The 500 amino acids that make up an average-sized protein can be
arranged in over 1 x 10^600 different ways (that's the number ONE
followed by 600 zeros)! This number is vastly larger than the total
number of atomic particles that could be packed into the known universe.
If we had a computer that could rearrange the 500 amino acids of a
particular protein at the rate of a billion combinations a second, we
would stand essentially no chance of hitting the correct combination
during the 14 billion years evolutionists claim for the age of the
universe. Even if our high-speed computer were reduced to the size of
an electron and we had enough of them to fill a room measuring 10
billion light years square (about 1 x 10^150 computers!), they would
still be exceedingly unlikely to hit the right combination. Such a
"room" full of computers could only rearrange about 1 x 10^180
combinations in 300 billion years. In fact, even if all the proteins
that ever existed on earth were _all different_, our "room" full of
computers would be exceedingly unlikely to chance upon the combination
of _any one of them_ in a mere 300 billion years!
Evolutionists counter that the whole probability argument is
irrelevant since evolution is utterly purposeless, and thus never tries
to make anything in particular! They insist, more over, that "natural
selection" makes the impossible, possible. But evolutionists were
vigorously challenged on this claim by mathematicians in a symposium
held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the proceedings were
published in the book, _Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian
Interpretation of Evolution_) Murray Eden, Professor of Engineering at
"The chance emergence of man is like the probability of typing at
random a meaningful library of one thousand volumes using the
following procedure: Begin with a meaningful phrase, retype it
with a few mistakes, make it longer by adding letters; then
examine the result to see if the new phrase is meaningful.
Repeat this process until the library is complete."
I will leave it to the reader to consider the probability that an
intelligent Designer and Builder can intelligently design and build an
Dr. Menton received his Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University. He has
been involved in biomedical research and education for over 30 years.
Dr. Menton is President of the Missouri Association for Creation, Inc.
Originally published in:
St. Louis MetroVoice
PO Box 220010
St. Louis, MO 63122
Corrections and revisions have been made by the
author from the original published essay.
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