Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Typist: Monkey, Maker or Lucky Mud

I was discussing the new movie Expelled with my daughters the other day, and I was able to recount to them my own experience with the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate. For those of you who do not know, the movie is a documentary about free speech restrictions and harassment towards people – in the US of all places – who adhere to the Intelligent Design position.

As a Physics student who was also a new Christian at the time I often found myself in the middle of debates, but one occurrence always comes to memory. It took place in my Thermal Physics class where we were discussing the mathematical representation of entropy. Hey, don’t tune out here. I will keep it simple.

Here was my professor’s presentation: How long would it take a
monkey typing randomly to eventually type out Hamlet with no mistakes. The monkey of course cannot read, and we assume that in this thought experiment that even if we gave him 4 billion years of trial and error he would not just evolve into William Shakespeare and figure it all out. He is just a random key puncher.

Next, we increased the odds by allowing 30,000 monkeys to work together for 4 billion years. A lot of bananas needed for motivation. Will one of them come close to typing out Hamlet? The statistical answer is “NO”. Then my professor likened the odds to this happening to the odds of humans and chimpanzees not being genetically related. Yes, he used this to support evolution. Since there was very little difference in our two DNA's he postulated that we must have come from the same line.

The argument made a weak point, but there were other problems. The DNA line was similar, but it did not point to a common ancestral origin. It pointed to a common originator, designer or Creator as some us refer to Him. In much the same way that engineers use the wheel for a myriad of inventions the Creator used four limbs, a trunk and a head for most of His design.

I said nothing in class that day because I had a plan up my sleeve. The monkey argument had a more gaping flaw, so the next day before class I snuck in 30 minutes earlier and wrote on the board, “What is the statistical chance of nature at the typewriter being able to type out the classic work known as DNA in 4 billion years?” Hamlet contains over 130,000 letters and the odds of it being typed with a universe full of monkeys is 1 in 10183,800. This is basically ZERO.

Now for DNA. The human genome contains about 3,100,000,000 letters which is equivalent to 100 Manhattan phone books. This is 23,000 times the letters in Hamlet. We still come out with ZERO CHANCE, a bigger zero if you know what I mean.

Yet here we stand pondering the typist. Shakespeare, whose DNA is similar to a chimp, can type out Hamlet and a few other works, but a chimp cannot type out the word “banana”. There is another Typist I think – you may not agree – and in light of the sheer impossibility of wind, water & fire being in the publishing business it is not unreasonable to inquire if there is a ghost writer behind it all.

My professor – one of my favorites – walked into the class, read the board, grunted and then erased my question. He did not do the math.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalms 19:1


Anonymous said...

again you leave me no other choice but to conclude... you know everything. that was a great presentation. you know earth, wind and fire did publish some songs... not sure where water is in all this.
really great dude!
pastor jack sparrow

Mike Watkins said...

Thanks Jack. I hope you like your new name. I did think of using an example from Earth Wind & Fire, but I am trying to pass myself off as being younger than I am these days.

As to the rumor that I know everything, it is a fabrication started by a friend named Jeff many years ago. Thanks