This article is from
Creation 1(1):9–10, June 1978

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

A look at some figures


Illustration by Caleb Salisbury

Evolutionists generally believe that although the spontaneous generation of life from non-living matter was a highly improbable event, the amount of time available is long enough to overcome this problem. This fallacy is because they (and most of us, really) just haven’t gotten around to some actual calculating on some of these problems.

The difficult thing is to conceive the size of some of the figures obtained. James F. Coppedge in the book Evolution: Possible or Impossible? has given some fascinating examples, one of which is here presented. Consider first this statement from the evolutionist George Wald writing on The Origin of Life in Scientific American August, 1954, p. 48.

“Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless there. Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles.”

This is the very first article in the Article Section of the first Creation magazine, called Ex Nihilo, produced by Dr Carl Wieland in June 1978, and published under the name of the Creation Science Association (an organisation he and others founded in 1977, three years prior to the existence of the ministry now known as Creation Ministries International.

Now using Coppedge’s figures, let’s look at the time it would take for one simple gene to arrange itself by chance. (Remember, natural selection cannot operate until a self-replicating system is produced). Of course, this gene by itself is still only a dead molecule in the absence of other genes and other complex chemicals all perfectly arranged in time and space. Nevertheless, let us use as many sets as there are atoms in the universe. Let us give chance the unbelievable number of attempts of eight trillion tries per second in each set! At this speed on average it would take 10147 years to obtain just one usable gene. What does this number really mean?

Let’s look at Coppedge’s example; assume we have an amoeba—and let’s assume that this little creature is given the task of carrying matter, one atom at a time from one edge of the universe to the other (thought to be about thirty billion light years in diameter). Let’s further assume that this amoeba moves at the incredibly slow pace of one Angstrom unit (about the diameter of a hydrogen atom) every fifteen billion years (this is the assumed age of the universe assigned by many evolutionists). How much matter could this amoeba carry in this time calculated to arrange just one usable gene by chance? The answer is that he would be able to carry 2 x 1021 complete universes!

The more information comes to hand, the more preposterous the whole idea of a naturalistic origin of life becomes.

This means that all the people living on earth, man, woman and child, counting day and night, would be counting for five thousand years just to count the number of entire universes which this amoeba would have transported across a distance of thirty billion light years, one atom at a time.

Coppedge’s book makes fascinating reading in other respects and is one of the few works that really comes to grips with this matter of molecular biology and probability mathematics.

Evolutionists would have us believe that modern molecular biology lends its support to their world view, but the more information comes to hand, the more preposterous the whole idea of a naturalistic origin of life becomes.

Update, August 2012

Since the above article was written, 34 years of research into the structure of the cell has revealed even more amazing and intricate machinery. The idea that a living cell could form from non-living chemicals is becoming even more implausible with time.

Posted on homepage: 1 August 2012