# What are the Odds of Life evolving by chance alone?

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I could accept that life evolved by chance alone if the universe were infiniteand eternal, the problem with that idea is how did we reach this moment intime, if time had no beginning and stretched back into past eternity? In such auniverse anything that could happen, will happen, including life not cominginto existence or vanishing and coming into existence countless times over inan everlasting cycle.

It's meaningless to ask a question regarding this moment in time or anything like that. It would be like having a billion sided die and rolling it. The die comes up with 21,566, I could go on all day about how unlikely that roll was, but it doesn't matter because it happened. To talk about how unlikely a thing is after the fact to explain how impossible it is means nothing because the event happened. Maybe it's a near impossibility before it happened, but it did happen, so now the chances that it happened are 1. It may be that life has come into existence before us, maybe we were the first, maybe we are the only life. It's pointless speculation from there until we can get data.

Most scientific minds now accept the Big Bang theory as the most likely way ouruniverse came into existence, thus in my opinion the time scale since its birthsome 14.5 billion years ago is to small for life to evolve by chance.

Just because something is amazing doesn't mean it didn't happen.

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Alan, when are you going to stop with the strawman, life did not evolve by chance, you have been given several examples of this, to keep saying it over and over is obnoxious and will never make life had to evolve by change a real description of reality....

Are, you now dictating to the forum how we should debate, I will debateexactly as I want to without your permission to do so. You continue to use anoxymoron idea of life not have evolving is chance/yet it did. And was somehowmindlessly ordered by the laws of nature.

My previous statement in post #49 remains a valid one?

Edited by Alan McDougall

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It's meaningless to ask a question regarding this moment in time or anything like that. It would be like having a billion sided die and rolling it. The die comes up with 21,566, I could go on all day about how unlikely that roll was, but it doesn't matter because it happened. To talk about how unlikely a thing is after the fact to explain how impossible it is means nothing because the event happened. Maybe it's a near impossibility before it happened, but it did happen, so now the chances that it happened are 1. It may be that life has come into existence before us, maybe we were the first, maybe we are the only life. It's pointless speculation from there until we can get data.

It's more than that... lets way you have a billion sided die, roll 21,566 and we all exist, roll anything else and we don't. How likely is it that we observe that roll? It is impossible that we DON'T observe that roll. Not because we're fated to exist, but that we wouldn't observe anything if that's not how the die roll went.

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Are, you now dictating to the forum how we should debate, I will debateexactly as I want to without your permission to do so. You continue to use anoxymoron idea of life not have evolving is chance/yet it did. And was somehowmindlessly ordered by the laws of nature.

You can make the claim that life couldn't have evolved by chance until the universe ends but that doesn't make it anything but a strawman argument that is meaningless...

My previous statement in post #49 remains a valid one?

No it does not...

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You can make the claim that life couldn't have evolved by chance until the universe ends but that doesn't make it anything but a strawman argument that is meaningless...

No it does not...

YES IT DOES!

In your opinion are you the only voice in the forum, yes it remains a valididea in an infinite eternal universe anything can happen including life cominginto existence without any creator!

If the answer to the question was as easy and settled as suppose why the hugeinterest and ongoing debate around this topic?

Edited by Alan McDougall

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In your opinion are you the only voice in the forum, yes it reamains a valid idea in an infinite eternal universe anything can haapen including life coming into existence without any creator!

!

Moderator Note

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Are, you now dictating to the forum how we should debate, I will debateexactly as I want to without your permission to do so. You continue to use anoxymoron idea of life not have evolving is chance/yet it did. And was somehowmindlessly ordered by the laws of nature.

My previous statement in post #49 remains a valid one?

Your statement doesn't stand for multiple reasons. You haven't made a good argument for life not being able to come into existence without god, other than an argument from incredulity which is a logical fallacy and not a real argument. It also doesn't stand because the 'chance alone' part of your statement is not what is actually believed, hence the straw man fallacy. Yet another is that you will not actually take on anyone's points other than repeating what you have previously said while ignoring people's actual arguments, which is another fallacy called proof by assertion.

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Your statement doesn't stand for multiple reasons. You haven't made a good argument for life not being able to come into existence without god, other than an argument from incredulity which is a logical fallacy and not a real argument. It also doesn't stand because the 'chance alone' part of your statement is not what is actually believed, hence the straw man fallacy. Yet another is that you will not actually take on anyone's points other than repeating what you have previously said while ignoring people's actual arguments, which is another fallacy called proof by assertion.

DIDLIFE FORM BY ACCIDENT?

http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/did-life-form-by-accident/

Mathematical Probabilities

The next stop would be to delve into the mathematical probabilities thatvastly complex organs such as the brain, the eyes, etc., could have developedby themselves. However, before we begin, I would like you to be able to fathomwhat the numbers that we will be giving you represent. It has been estimatedthat in 30 billion years there would only be one to the power of 100 seconds.Scientists estimate that in our entire universe there is only one tothe power of 80 electrons (that is a one with 80 zeros after it). Therefore, Iguess we would agree that one to the power of 100 is a number that isimpossible for us to comprehend. With this introduction, we will hopefully, beable to properly appreciate the upcoming quotations.

Ilya Prigogine, chemist-physicist, recipient of 2 Nobel Prizes in chemistry,wrote, “The statistical probability that organic structures and the mostprecisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generatedby accident is zero.”

.Thatis right

In their book Evolution from Space, astronomers Sir Fred Hoyle and ProfessorChandra Wickramasinghe calculated that the odds of randomly producing therequired enzymes for a simple living cell were 1 in 1040,000.Since the number of atoms in the known universe is only 1080,they argued that even a whole universe full of "primordial soup"wouldn't stand a chance. Hoyle also compared the random emergence of thesimplest cell to the likelihood that "a tornado sweeping through ajunk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein- zero!

ProfessorFrancis Crick, awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA, wrote:

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could onlystate that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almosta miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have beensatisfied to get it going.

The trouble is that there areabout two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a randomtrial is only one part in (1 to the power of 20)2,000=1 to the power of 40,000,an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the wholeuniverse consisted of organic soup. In terms of complexity, an individual cellis nothing when compared with a system like the mammalian brain.

The human brain consists of aboutten thousand million nerve cells. Each nerve cell puts out between ten thousandand one hundred thousand connecting fibres by which it makes contact with othernerve cells in the brain. Altogether the total number of connections in thehuman brain approaches one to the power of 15 or 15 thousand million million. Numbers in thisorder are of course completely beyondcomprehension. Imagine an area about half the size of the USA(one million square miles) covered in a forest of trees containing ten thousandtrees per square mile. Despite the enormity of the number of connections, theramifying forest of fibres is not a chaotic random tangle but a highlyorganized network in which a high proportion of the fibres are unique adaptivecommunication channels following their own specially ordained pathway throughthe brain. Even if only one hundredth of the connections in the brain werespecifically organized, this would still represent a system containing a muchgreater number of specific connections than in the entire communicationsnetwork on Earth.

Organic molecules, therefore forma large and formidable array, endless in variety and of the most bewilderingcomplexity. One cannot think of having organisms without them. This is preciselythe trouble, for to understand how organisms originated we must first explainhow such complicated molecules could come into being. That is only thebeginning. To make an organism requires not only a tremendous variety of thesesubstances, in adequate amounts and proper proportions, but also just the rightarrangement of them. Structure here is as important as composition - and what acomplication of structural. The most complex machine man has devised - say anelectronic brain - is child’s play compared with the simplest of livingorganisms. The especially trying thing is that complexity here involves suchsmall dimensions. It is on the molecular level; it consists of a detailedfitting of molecule-to-molecule such as no chemist can attempt.

Continued

An analogy to give us an idea ofthe complexity of a "simple" cell: "Altogether a typical cellcontains about ten million million atoms. Suppose we choose to build an exactreplica to a scale one thousand million times that of the cell so that each atomof the model would be the size of a tennis ball. Constructing such a model atthe rate of one atom per minute, it would take fifty million years to finish,and the object we would end up with would be [...] twenty kilometres indiameter, with a volume thousands of times that of the Great Pyramid." Allthe evidence shows that life is far too complex to have evolved by chance –there had to be some element of intelligence in the design for life.

Getting VeryDesperate

We continue. After scientists discovered the vast complexities of the DNAcode, and that these codes are to be found in even the simplest forms of life,they started to see “scary visions of a God.” Its massive complexities clearlypointed to a Great Designer, and that was no good. Therefore, they made up anew far-fetched theory, which in essence was saying - we see that there must bea God, but we do not want to acknowledge Him, so we must place God somewhereelse and are saying the following theory.

However, before we tell you the “latest theory” we must first tell you thatthis theory is taken seriously by many in the scientific world, even though theones that expounded it really did not believe it themselves. (We will speakabout this shortly.) The second thing is, that you must know the credentials ofthe ones that said this theory, and they have great credentials.

First, let us hear a little about Sir Francis Crick. Sir Francis H.C. Crick,a noted biologist, is the one who deduced the double-helical structure of DNA,for which he, together with his partner James Watson, later received the NobelPrize. Crick went on to contribute to the elucidation of the genetic code. Inshort, he is a much-respected scientist. In addition, what led Crick to givethe following view was the feeling that it is virtually impossible for theorigin of life to have been undirected (accident).

Therefore, Crick, together with noted chemist Leslie Orgel (who is trainedscientists, who always look for naturalistic explanations to their problems -and to admit to a God would not be scientific) said the following wild theory.And mind you that this theory was proposed in 1973, and reaffirmed in 1983 whenCrick wrote it in a book called Life Itself, and reaffirmed again in 1992during an interview in Scientific American.

The wild theory is as follows.

They say that some extraterrestrial civilization of another solar system,because of the fear of extinction, decided to “seed” other planets with theessence of their live matter. Therefore, they sent frozen bacteria out intospace, and eventually it reached earth. While on earth, it was these livebacteria from outer space that evolved into life as we see it now. This istheir theory. In addition, this wild theory was necessary, since it helpedexplain a hurdle that could not be made.

They, as well as many otherscientists, could not explain how an inanimate object could turn into even themost simple of life forms, bearing in mind the vast complexities that arefound in all life forms. Therefore, “necessity, the mother of all inventions”led them to make up this story, which supplied them with instant life, withouthaving to recognize God. Pretty wild, huh? Really desperate. This is the theoryof Drs. Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel. Now you know what weight the word “theory”has. We are also left with infiniteregression!

Nevertheless, astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, together with ChandraWickramasinghe, in Evolution from Space, said that just as it isimpossible for life to have developed by chance in our solar system, so toothere could never have developed intelligent life anywhere else in our entireuniverse as well. Hoyle wrote as follows: “Biochemical systems are exceedinglycomplex, so much so that the chance of their being formed through randomshuffling of simple organic molecules is exceedingly minute, to a point whereit is no different from zero ... For life to have originated on earth it wouldbe necessary that quite explicit instructions should have been provided for itsassembly.”

Therefore, Hoyle tries to pull off aninteresting trick. He says that really, the theory of seeding (which inscientific terms is called panspermia) is correct, but of course, there had tobe a Higher Intelligence, which created those outer space creatures thateventually sent down the seeds. So Hoyle, in order to avoid God, says the samefar-fetched “theory” as crick and Orgel, in order to take care of the problemof having to meet up with this Higher Intelligence. Hoyle said that it’s thecreatures from outer space that have the obligation to serve this HigherIntelligence, since it’s them who the Higher Intelligence created, and not us,so we earthlings have no obligation to serve Him. So even though Hoyle was atleast scientifically honest, as was Crick, by agreeing that life could neverhave evolved from inorganic (dead) matter, he still was not brave enough toface the God that he really admitted existed. But Newsweek could nothandle what Hoyle said, for ultimately, according to Hoyle, you still have toface a God somewhere at the top of the line, and this frightened them.

Tongue in cheek, Newsweek(March 1982) says only that “Hoyle has actually performed the improbable featof reinventing religion ... [and had been] led to exactly the same view thatseemed prevalent in the Middle Ages: that life did not arise spontaneously onearth.” Apparently, when Hoyle the scientist is led to God, Newsweekis irritated.

As mentioned before, Crick confided to Professor Robert Shapiro that hepersonally wasn’t really sold on the theory, and his real purpose in espousingthis new theory was to get people to drop all previous theories that they heldas true (such as the chemical soup theory, and the mutation theory, etc., allof them built on the idea that live matter can evolve from dead matter, whichhe held can’t be true) and give them an idea which they can relate to, such asunmanned rockets with live bacteria in them, to hold on to. He never reallybelieved this story, but it was to help people understand that this world couldonly have developed from live matter. So even though in public Crick says thathe still believes his theory to be “reasonable,” in private he told Shapirootherwise.

Nothing illustrates more clearly just,how intractable a problem the origin of life has become than the fact thatworld authorities can seriously toy with the idea of panspermia..

Desperate people indeed. After hearing such “theories,” one sees the staunchloyalty these scientists have to “science,” for the sake of science. Nevertheless,it would be more honest if they would express more openly the problems thatthey face, and maybe, just maybe, suggest that there is an alternative solutionto the origin of our universe - God.

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Logical fallacies:

1.) Proof by assertation

2.) Argument from authority

3.) Quote mining (technically quoting out of context)

4.) Argument from incredulity

etc.

If you want to know what I mean by quote mining, look up the rest of that quote by Crick and it gives a whole different picture[/edit]

Edited by Ringer

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How things are and how things were are not equivalent. Chemical bonds are not random mixtures nor do they lack specificity either. If those sugars maintained a stable structure, such as an aromatic structure, with decently reactive side chains and a decent Km it could function as a basic replication machine due to the side chains attracting or having an aversion to certain kinds of other molecule. Although it seems incredible, I don't find it any less believable that something like this could happen just because I find it amazing.

The central problem facing scientists is the identification of the first informational molecules, it doesn't necessarily have to be DNA, RNA or proteins, it could be anything. There are many problems for the origin of first replicating molecules in the pre-biotic earth and whatever it is, it is just pure speculation.

Natural selection can only add information once it originates, it cannot generate information in denovo. Hence one cannot apply darwinian evolution through single intermediate steps by blind non-random selection of nature for the problem of life. The origin of life and evolution of life are two different problems.

Shanon's information theory of communication systems is not concerned with the meaning of the message that is transmitted and hence to conserve the meaning of the message in the genetic strands there need to be specific strategies that have to be implemented considering the high error prone of early replication systems to various environmental damage but that is impossible without the origin of meaning in the first place.

The above is the main problem facing biology today. It is unsolvable within science.

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The central problem facing scientists is the identification of the first informational molecules, it doesn't necessarily have to be DNA, RNA or proteins, it could be anything. There are many problems for the origin of first replicating molecules in the pre-biotic earth and whatever it is, it is just pure speculation.

Natural selection can only add information once it originates, it cannot generate information in denovo. Hence one cannot apply darwinian evolution through single intermediate steps by blind non-random selection of nature for the problem of life. The origin of life and evolution of life are two different problems.

Shanon's information theory of communication systems is not concerned with the meaning of the message that is transmitted and hence to conserve the meaning of the message in the genetic strands there need to be specific strategies that have to be implemented considering the high error prone of early replication systems to various environmental damage but that is impossible without the origin of meaning in the first place.

The above is the main problem facing biology today. It is unsolvable within science.

I don't have the requisite knowledge in information theory to feel comfortable making an argument about it, doing so would only bring about misunderstandings. If you could give some sources to the idea that it is both unsolvable and impossible I would be most grateful.

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To exemplify what Ringer mentioned above. I just read the article by Prigigone and others 1 2 - whilst the quote could be seen in isolation as claiming the necessity for intelligent design, when read in the context of the article it is nothing of the kind. The conclusion of the article is that:

the apparent contradiction between biological order and the laws of physics - in particular the second law of thermodynamics - cannot be resolved as long as we try to understand living systems by the methods of the familiar equilibrium statistical mechanics and equally familiar thermodynamics

the rest of the article is an explanation of non-linearities and fluctuations that can lead even the simplest states away from an assumed thermodynamic equilibrium and thus do satisfactorily resolve the apparent contradiction!

Even the subtitle of the two parts of the article shows that, according to the authors there is no mystery, no need to invoke anything but science; the article is showing which direction the science must take and the article does not, in any way, call for supernatural or outside influences.

The funtional order maintained within living systems deems to defy the second law: nonequilibrium thermodynamics describes how such systems come to terms with entropy.

The ideas of nonequilibrium order and the search for stability extend Darwin's concept back to the prebiotic stage by redefining the "fittest"

1. Prigogine, I., Gregair, N. and Babbyabtz, A. "Thermodynamics of Evolution", Physics Today:25 November, 1972, p23-28.

2. Prigogine, I., Gregair, N. and Babbyabtz, A. "Thermodynamics of Evolution", Physics Today:25 December, 1972, p38-44.

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Here's the thing about the $10^{40,000}$ number: apply the calculation to a Miller-Urey style experiment. The calculated odds of the experiment working should be appallingly low, and yet it worked — complex molecules formed. This, one must conclude that the calculation is pure crap. The outcomes are not due to random chance. The model is falsified.

Edited by swansont
fix latex

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.Thatis right

In their book Evolution from Space, astronomers Sir Fred Hoyle and ProfessorChandra Wickramasinghe calculated that the odds of randomly producing therequired enzymes for a simple living cell were 1 in 1040,000.Since the number of atoms in the known universe is only 1080,they argued that even a whole universe full of "primordial soup"wouldn't stand a chance. Hoyle also compared the random emergence of thesimplest cell to the likelihood that "a tornado sweeping through ajunk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein- zero!

Every time I read that quote about the 747 it makes me chuckle, because it's the biggest strawman of the lot. No serious scientist is claiming that life went from a bunch of chemicals directly to a living organism. There were intermediate steps in the process, and the probability of some of those steps may be nearly close to 100%.

Here's what Dr. Ian Musgrave, from the University of Adelaide says on that:

So the calculation goes that the probability of forming a given 300 amino acid long protein (say an enzyme like carboxypeptidase) randomly is (1/20)300 or 1 chance in 2.04 x 10390, which is astoundingly, mind-beggaringly improbable. This is then cranked up by adding on the probabilities of generating 400 or so similar enzymes until a figure is reached that is so huge that merely contemplating it causes your brain to dribble out your ears. This gives the impression that the formation of even the smallest organism seems totally impossible. However, this is completely incorrect.

Firstly, the formation of biological polymers from monomers is a function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these are decidedly not random.

...

No matter whether the first self-replicators were single molecules, or complexes of small molecules, this model is nothing like Hoyle's "tornado in a junkyard making a 747".

Feel free to read the entire paper - it covers quite a bit about the steps involved in going from "soup" to life.

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations

edit to fix an obnoxious font.

Edited by Greg H.

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Here's the thing about the $10^{40,000}$ number: apply the calculation to a Miller-Urey style experiment. The calculated odds of the experiment working should be appallingly low, and yet it worked — complex molecules formed. This, one must conclude that the calculation is pure crap. The outcomes are not due to random chance. The model is falsified.

As you noted before, the rules of chemistry are no where near random.

It should be insightful to point out that organic chemistry would be impossible if every reaction yielded a complete random mixture of every possible bond beaking broken and or made.

The calculation is even more crappy if you consider that different molecules have different half-lives and different energetic barriers to decomposition/subsequent reaction.

You can throw a hundred reagents in a flask and, in theory (perhaps not in practice) predict all the products and their relative abundances. NOT random at all!

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When I think of the role of chance in Abiogenesis, I think of it with respect to the necessary reactants coming together under favourable conditions: once that happens the rest is deterministic according to the properties of the chemicals involved.

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When I think of the role of chance in Abiogenesis, I think of it with respect to the necessary reactants coming together under favourable conditions: once that happens the rest is deterministic according to the properties of the chemicals involved.

Scientists have not observedAbiogenesis happening in nature, nor have they been able to create a life formthrough controlled experiments

If some advanced lab were to succeed with makinglife from the inanimate, it would be the work of their intelligence, however, tosuppose some cosmic intelligence might be behind the original Abiogenesis isrejected by most scientist but not all of course.

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If some advanced lab were to succeed with makinglife from the inanimate, it would be the work of their intelligence, however, tosuppose some cosmic intelligence might be behind the original Abiogenesis isrejected by most scientist but not all of course.

You are completely misunderstanding the point of those experiments, if you truly believe this. Those experiments are based on what we understand about chemistry and biology. If some advanced lab succeeds in making life in a beaker, it will be because they have understood the necessary mechanisms of the chemistry and the biology. It will, in fact, prove that nature could do the same thing, based on those same laws and principles, removing the need for some supernatural agency to provide an initial condition.

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I don't have the requisite knowledge in information theory to feel comfortable making an argument about it, doing so would only bring about misunderstandings. If you could give some sources to the idea that it is both unsolvable and impossible I would be most grateful.

Yes, I was off for a while sorry.

Its something which should be addressed in every evolution textbook. A serious evolutionary biologist will address it and it has been addressed in the evolution textbook which I refer. After searching the papers which was cited by the author in that textbook I can put forward my argument in a more formal way. What I was getting at is this.

Holland, J., Spindler, K., Horodyski, F., Grabau, E., Nichol, S. & Vande Pol, S. (1982) Science 2

Rapid evolution of RNA Genomes

Genetic error and Genome Design

Abstract

The level of noise in the copier systems of the most ancient genes was probably seven to eight orders of magnitude higher than that found in the high-fidelity copiers of contemporary cells. The design of the genetic machinery in all forms of life has been fundamentally shaped by the need to minimize the harmful effects of high error rates.

What my argument is this -

Anyone from a background of computer networks or communications theory will understand that the problems nature faced to develop life out of scratch is something similar to the problems a computer networks engineer faces. As the above paper shows that the mutation rates in such highly evolved RNA viral genomes is of the magnitude millions of fold higher than DNA genomes and one can easily imagine the error rates for the first RNA initiator protogenes and solar radiation and other enviromental damage will definitely hinder the preservation of meaning or specificity in the message sequences of these protogenes and it is highly likely that where ever life started it became extinct then and there itself if not there existed some catalysts or strategies to preserve the meaning in these protogenes and make it viable but such strategies are impossible without the origin of meaning in the first place. There is a paradox, there is a mystery and it should be accepted and taught in schools.

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I guess 2^9, as per Conway's Game of Life. Actually they are a bit higher

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!

Moderator Note

A non-mainstream numerology post by nrh0904 was deleted. nrh0904, you have a post already in existence for numerology gimatria 'stuff'. Stick to it, and do NOT answer other threads with this as if it's proper science. It's not.

Please resume the proper topic in the original post.

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New species can evolve in around 6,000 years:

Edited by swansont

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New species can evolve in around 6,000 years:

The topic is not about evolution, it is about Abiogenesis or how did life come about from plainly put rock to life? and it this were the case what were the best odds of this happening by chance alone

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The topic is not about evolution, it is about Abiogenesis or how did life come about from plainly put rock to life? and it this were the case what were the best odds of this happening by chance alone

And yet again we are faced with the logical fallacy of your assertion....

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I am not sure we can answer this question, though. I mean, as far as abiogenesis is concerned, life didn't just "happen" and definitely NOT by chance. What would you define "life" for this exercise, a single-celled organism? The chances this would just "happen" by chance alone is ridiculous; and yet, that's not what anyone is suggesting has happened at all.

I don't think anyone one is saying abiogenesis happened by luck alone, so the question is misleading, seems to have a false premise, and I"m not entirely sure we define life in such a way where we can answer it properly to begin with.

Then again, life *did* happen, which makes the answer 100% possible. The chances that something that happened has happened ... are 100%.

~mooey

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