TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Intelligent Design

Nobel laureate, organic chemist and a leader in origin of life studies, Professor deDuve writes in his excellent book, Tour of a Living Cell, "If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacteria cell to chance assembly of its atoms, eternity will not suffice to produce one..”
Humans and all mammals have some 50,000 genes. That implies, as an order of magnitude estimate, some 50,000 to 100,000 proteins active in mammalian bodies. It is estimated that there are some 30 animal phyla on Earth. If the genomes of each animal phylum produced 100,000 proteins, and no proteins were common among any of the phyla (a fact we know to be false, but an assumption that makes our calculations favor the random evolutionary assumption), there would be (30 x 100,000) 3 million proteins in all life.
Now let's consider the likelihood of these 3 million viable combinations of proteins forming by chance: Proteins are complex coils of several hundred amino acids. Take a typical protein to be a chain of 200 amino acids. The observed range is from less than 100 amino acids per protein to greater than 1000. There are 20 commonly occurring amino acids that join in varying combinations to produce the proteins of life. This means that the number of possible combinations of the amino acids in our model protein of 200 amino acids is 20 to the power of 200 (i.e. 20 multiplied by itself 200 times), or in the more usual 10-based system of numbers, approximately 10 to the power of 260 (i.e. the number one, followed by 260 zeros!). Nature has the option of choosing among the 10 to power of 260 possible proteins, the 3 million proteins of which all viable life is composed. In other words, for each one correct choice, there are 10 to power of 254 wrong choices!

Randomness cannot have been the driving force behind the success of life. Our understanding of statistics and molecular biology clearly supports the notion that there must have been a direction and a “Director” behind the success of life.

Topics: evolution

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 17 2012: No, I do not know everything about evolution, I admit! I admit! But that is not not the issue. Please carefully read my response, I think you missed the point as well. I thought I was clear as I wrote: "I have no problem with the Big Bang and even the concept of evolution –

    it is how or through what guidance this process came about and continues to manifest itself is another issue.

    And this is the difference in our opinions – please inform me if it is otherwise." What difference does what my knowledge of about "Where does the theory of evolution state that each and every organism assembles itself by pure random chance?" have to do with my thoughts about what I consider purposeful and meaningful design? Misrepresenting scientific knowledge would in my mind being drawing black and white conclusions about the factual solidity and philosophic and psychological implications of that knowledge.

    I now respectfully ask you to comment on my concerns.
    • Jan 17 2012: But Dave,

      How can anybody answer your concerns if your concerns are based on a cartoon that has nothing to do with evolution? You are the one who wrote this:

      "If the genomes of each animal phylum produced 100,000 proteins, and no proteins were common among any of the phyla (a fact we know to be false, but an assumption that makes our calculations favor the random evolutionary assumption),"

      Note the thing between parentheses. Not only you don't know everything about evolution (neither do I), but you know nothing about it if you think that it is about every organism assembling itself randomly. This mistake (if not misrepresentation), has everything to do with your seeing purpose and meaningful design because that's the basis for your claim, at least as you presented it. Your claim is based on a misunderstanding of scientific knowledge. Should you understand what evolution really is about, you would have no problem understanding why some of us don't see such "purpose and meaningful design pointing to a designer," behind any of it. I do not mean to say that you would agree, only that you would understand. Once you understand that nature and the way it works explains the whole thing, the designer seems unnecessary, but that does not mean there is no designer. At such point, some prefer not to believe in designer(s) without direct evidence for such, while others prefer to hold to a belief in designer(s) for whatever reasons such as religion.

      The answer, as Dustin Rodriguez told you, is that randomness is not all there is to evolution. Mutations are somewhat random, but selection and survival are not. I would add that you need better information and logic too. Example: birth defects happen when deleterious mutations occur. That does not mean that every mutation is deleterious. Do you see your fault at logic there? More to say, but maybe if we go by steps, or if you already got it, then that's it.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.