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DNA: Evidence of Intelligent Design or Byproduct of Evolution? (cont.)
By Jim Elvidge

Doing the Math

The math doesn't look good for the atheists. Francis Crick, molecular biologist, physicist, and Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of DNA, once commented on the miracle of constructing a single protein from evolutionary combinatorial selection: "all the cell need do is to string together the amino acids (which make up the polypeptide chain) in the correct order. This is a complicated biochemical process, a molecular assembly line, using instructions in the form of a nucleic acid tape (the so-called messenger RNA). Here we need only ask, how many possible proteins are there? If a particular amino acid sequence was selected by chance, how rare of an event would that be?... the number of possibilities is twenty multiplied by itself some two hundred times. This is conveniently written 10E260, that is a one followed by 260 zeros!" [1]

Dr. Robert L. Piccioni, Ph.D., Physics from Stanford says that the odds of 3 billion randomly arranged base-pairs matching human DNA is about the same as drawing the ace of spades one billion times in a row from randomly shuffled decks of cards.

Dr. Harold Morowitz, a renowned physicist from Yale University and author of Origin of Cellular Life (1993), declared that the odds for any kind of spontaneous generation of life from a combination of the standard life building blocks are one chance in 10E100000000000 (you read that right, that's 1 followed by 100,000,000,000 zeros). [2]

Famed British Royal Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle proposed that such odds were one chance in 10E40000, or roughly "the same as the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard could assemble a 747." [3]

By the way, scientists generally set their "Impossibility Standard" at one chance in 10E50 (1 in a 100,000 billion, billion, billion, billion, billion). So, it seems that the likelihood of life forming via combinatorial chemical evolution is, for all intents and purposes, zero.

Other Ideas

Perhaps discouraged by the straight combinatorial odds against life forming, scientists have ratcheted up the creative thinking and come up with some interesting new ideas that could explain how life formed naturally from the primordial soup. One such idea, explored by Michael Yarus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and validated by David Johnson and Lei Wang of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, California, is that certain RNA building blocks (amino acids and nucleotides) have a chemical affinity for one another. This affinity tends to line up the right molecules to form self-replicating chains of RNA, which led to the formation of DNA and life. [4] Essentially, this idea changes the odds that we discussed above. Instead of purely random associations of life’s building blocks, we would be dealing with less than random processes. But how much less than statistical randomness is the million-dollar question. Slightly less, and we still have a massive improbability. Significantly less, and perhaps life could have formed naturally.

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