Mt. Improbable and other impossible evolutionary dreams

by / April 23, 2016

Above: A peak in Daedunsan Provincial Park, South Korea in the role of “Mt. Improbable”

I’ve exposed many of the tricks, logical fallacies, and games that evolutionists play and use to try to convince themselves and others that the patently false theory of Darwinian evolution is what they claim: the “factual” account of the origin of man and all life.  But when I came across these outrageous claims that are so clearly false, yet delivered with such arrogance and a deep belief in absurd statistical claims, I couldn’t help but wonder if these evolutionary evangelists intentionally ignore the obvious problems in order to convince themselves and others; or if they are so blinded by evolutionary dogma that they really can’t see the problems with what they’re saying.

Whichever the case, evolutionists tend to disbelieve any evidence that contradicts their theory, but a failure to believe valid evidence doesn’t make the evidence wrong. What it actually does, is place a burden of proof on the disbeliever to demonstrate why their interpretation of the data is better than another. Here is where evolutionists tend to leave the bounds of reality for flights of fancy into the world of Wonderland logic – where you can make any irrational claim you’d like, and believe it’s true. Because in the looking glass world of evolutionary theory – stories of how things happen don’t actually have to work in the real world. Since everything requires millions of years and can never be proved anyway, it just has to look true and sound true to like-minded believers when they look at it through the evolutionary looking glass. Unfortunately for evolutionists, not everyone looks at evolution through the looking glass. For those who prefer to stay grounded in reality and not follow the evolutionists down their rabbit hole, it’s not hard to spot the many problems and fallacies and point them out, as I will do here.

My latest journey into the Wonderland of evolutionary belief in the impossible started when I came across an article titled “Probability Mistakes Darwinists Make.[1] In it, biophysicist and author Kirk Durston analyzes errors in two YouTube videos (here and here) whose authors take issue with the fact that the chance of creating even a single protein is so tiny as to be impossible. Durston approaches it from a mathematical perspective. I’ll approach it from a number of different perspectives. But before dealing with evolutionist objections to the impossibility of random chance producing a protein, a brief overview to help set the stage to better understand where the evolutionists go wrong, and to get a small taste of the huge amount of oversimplification they use to arrive at their fallacious conclusions.

Proteins: An Overview

  1. Cellular processes are run primarily by proteins, thus life is impossible without proteins.
  2. Proteins are made of amino acids (there are 20 of them), which are sequenced in a certain order, then folded into a particular 3 dimensional shape in order for the protein to do its work.
  3. Since only a specific amino acid sequence will create a specific protein, there are relatively few sequences of amino acids that create working proteins, while there are literally trillions upon trillions of sequences that create meaningless non-working long molecules.
  4. When a cell needs a particular protein, it uses the information stored in DNA through a complex process that has been compared to a manufacturing assembly line to create a new protein of the needed type.

Given the key role of proteins in cellular activity, their uniqueness and extreme complexity, creationists present this conundrum to evolutionists:
There are about 100,000 proteins of varying lengths in the human body. But the process to create even a single protein (much less 100,000 of them) by random chance is so remote as to be impossible. How then did they come about?

Let’s put “remote chance” in context. Molecular biologist Douglas Axe calculated the probability of constructing a short protein (150 amino acids long – that’s short compared to others).  Axe determined that:

“…among all the possible amino acid combinations, the probability of generating just one short protein by mutation is roughly one in 1074. Or one chance in a hundred trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion.”[2]

“To put that in context, there’s only 1065 atoms in the entire galaxy.”[3]

Why specify by “chance” and “mutation”? Because those are the requirements of Neo-Darwinism. (Neo-Darwinism is Darwinism modernized to include genetics and mutations.) The mechanism for change or variation in Neo-Darwinism is random mutation. It’s random, because the change is not due to a guided process, person, or intelligence. Secular evolutionists insist on this point because they don’t want to allow a “divine foot in the door.”[4] Thus you will hear evolutionists categorically deny there is any design or purpose in the evolutionary process. For example:

Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us, loud and clear, and I must say that these are basically Darwin’s views: there are no gods, no purposive forces of any kind.[5]
William Provine

The highly respected evolutionist Ernst Mayr put it this way:

Another widespread erroneous view of natural selection must also be refuted: Selection is not teleological (goal-directed). Indeed, how could an elimination process be teleological? Selection does not have a long-term goal.

Also there is no known genetic mechanism that could produce goal-directed evolutionary processes.

To say it in other words, evolution is not deterministic.[6]
Ernst Mayr

Thus evolutionists themselves insist there are no goals, no purpose, no determinism and no intelligence in either evolution or genetic processes. So the creation of variation or change must, by their own definition, be a random process.

Down the rabbit hole to Mt. Improbable

Since evolutionists deny design in living creatures, and likewise deny that “God did it” as they like to put it, what is their solution to complexity problems in creatures – like protein formation? In his book Climbing Mt. Improbable, Richard Dawkins draws an analogy: creating a protein is like scaling a huge mountain: it’s impossible in one large leap. But he suggests we’re looking at the wrong side. Dawkins believes on the back side of the mountain is a gradual slope (metaphorically speaking) with which you could scale the mountain a little at a time, step by step.  That is clearly a flawed wonderland type suggestion. Here’s why:

Consider the picture above. Let us suppose the mountain is Mt. Improbable, and the depicted bridge (of which you see only a portion) represents the many small steps necessary to reach the top. At the top of the stairs you may recognize a highly complex molecular machine: the bacterial rotary motor. This acid powered wonder of complexity is what drives the flagellum that moves the bacteria that biochemist and Author Michael Behe made famous in his book Darwin’s Black Box – The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.

The climb up Mt. Improbable stopped by Irreducible Complexity

In that book Behe clearly defines the concept of irreducibly complex structures. He uses a mousetrap to explain the concept: A mousetrap has 5 parts – a Hammer [which strikes the mouse], spring [which snaps the hammer with great force], holding bar [which holds the hammer cocked until the mouse takes the bait], catch [which holds the bait and releases the holding bar which releases the hammer when the mouse takes the bait] and the platform, [upon which it is all built]. His point: all these pieces must exist simultaneously together for the trap to work.  You cannot make it useful for catching mice with any piece missing, and a complete trap would never come about by a random, step by step process. It takes planning and foresight and a specific process, thus you cannot build it with an evolutionary type process.

Likewise with the bacterial rotary motor. It is irreducibly complex. So not only will it not work with pieces missing, it must be assembled in a certain order or it won’t work. The assembly of such a motor requires planning and foresight (which is a type of intelligence and design) and thus random processes cannot mimic the process needed to correctly assemble such a motor.

Climbing Mt. Improbable requires abilities forbidden to Evolution

Consider now the evolutionary “step by step” process represented above by the ladder going up Mt. Improbable. There are 3 obvious flaws you may have caught be now.

1. Why are you [as a personification of the evolutionary process] going up the bridge in the first place? That requires purpose. Just as water doesn’t flow uphill naturally, what would make a random process seek to send anything to the far distant and difficult to reach top? Remember, evolution cannot purpose to go to the top.  Put another way, evolution cannot purpose to assemble the bacterial rotary motor, or even create the individual components of it.  There is no purpose, therefore no need or impetus to do either. Evolutionists cannot claim “selection pressures” as a reason to go up because before the thing exists, there is nothing to select. They can therefore only state that “random chance set things in motion and it wound up on the first step.” Unlikely, but we’ll consider that next. Remember – each step represents extremely remote possibilities.

2.  Even if you [meaning the evolutionary process again] could make it onto the bridge, onto the first step, what makes you think you’d stay on the bridge as you ascend? The depicted bridge has hand rails because it was designed for the safety of humans, but remember, there is no design in evolution. So no safety rails. Nothing to keep any process on the bridge. (Not to mention there is no reason to even move beyond the first step – see item 1.) Now consider all the steps. Dawkins has likened the evolutionary process to a “blind watch maker”.  So consider this: You’re blindfolded on the bridge.  You have no goal to reach the top. You have no purpose. Every step you take must be a step in a random direction. To make sure you take a random step, before moving, someone spins you around like a wheel of fortune, so being blind folded, you have no idea what direction you’re facing. Then a random wind blows you in a direction. Given the many directions you could be facing, how long do you think you’d stay on the bridge – when each time you take a step, you’re moving in an unknown direction? Falling off of course means the end of the line for that evolutionary creation. What Dawkins fails to disclose is that trying to get to the top of the mountain reveals purpose; and it also reveals design of some type to achieve that purpose. For example, a process to keep you on the bridge whether following hand rails, developing sight, the development of the needed mechanism to make it “up” to the next step, etc. It’s all purposeful, and all forbidden to evolutionists.

3.  Some steps are not single steps. Like the mouse trap and the bacterial rotary motor, arriving at a completed process – in this case arriving at the top – requires taking multiple steps together to get there. But taking multiple steps together – or making a jump to bypass a complexity problem – is another way of saying you’re using planning and purposing to achieve a certain end – because that’s the only way you can get there. Even Darwin recognized this and strictly forbade allowing jumps in the evolutionary process with this axiom of his theory: “Natura non facit saltus” – Nature takes no sudden leaps.”[7]

So let me emphasize once again: any type of planning, purpose or jumps to overcome complexity problems is strictly forbidden in the evolutionary process. Any attempts to include them means you have conceded that the process is designed.  Thus Dawkin’s suggestion fails miserably to meet the requirements of evolution that evolutionists like himself insist on.

Even Nebuchadnezzar would catch this evolutionist trick

Let’s return now to the objections of the evolutionists to the protein probability problem. Author Kirk Durston sums up the evolutionists problem nicely:

“Ironically, these examples demonstrate a profound ignorance of this problem.”[8]

The most glaring error they make is this one: creating a highly improbable event, and claiming that since they were able to do so, it shows that the creation of highly improbable events are common. In the examples cited, one fills a 10 x 10 grid with 100 unique symbols and claims a 1 in 10157 chance for the result. Another shuffles a deck of cards and spreads them out 3 times getting 3 different arrangements of cards and stating that event has a 1 in 10204 chance of occurring. As Durston explains:

“Both scenarios are supposed to show that we are surrounded by extremely improbable events all the time, so we should not be surprised in the least if evolution has accomplished the fantastically improbable.”[9]

The proper response to this is so old it’s in the Bible – spoken by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon who ruled over the Babylonian empire 2500+ years ago. One night, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and wants it interpreted.  His wise men (astrologers) tell him, “Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.” (Dan 2.4) But Nebuchadnezzar knows that given the dream, they can make up any story they want about what it means. So what does he tell them? “The king replied to the astrologers, ‘This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.'” (Dan 2.5)

What Nebuchadnezzar realizes is that if you designate something that’s hard-to-know as a target after you reveal the hard-to-know item,  then you haven’t proved anything about your skill in anything. And thus your story about it is likely just that: a story. You must designate the hard-to-know target first, and then hit it (or in his case explain it) to demonstrate your skill and ability.  And so he insists on the astrologers defining the target first – give him the dream. If they could hit the target by revealing the dream, he would then have confidence in their ability to define probabilities and meanings. But, of course, they can’t. Likewise for our evolutionist video makers. If they had first defined a target, then hit that target by getting the exact shuffles, or letters in squares, then we could believe their probabilities. As it is, they first revealed the event, called it the hard-to-know target, and then wanted to wax eloquent on it. But as even Nebuchadnezzar knows – that’s all nonsense.

Thus our evolutionary objectors are attempting to get away with a trick even Nebuchadnezzar would see through (and not allow).  Put another way, it’s easy to hit a target when anything you hit (or come across, or make up, or cards you shuffle, or squares you fill)  is the target.  That’s what the evolutionists do in these Wonderland videos. They create an event that has many possible outcomes, then once they see the outcome, proclaim that it’s the improbable event they were looking for (the target) and thus they’ve proved how easy it is to hit an improbable event, when all they’ve really done is prove they know how to shuffle cards, or fill squares with various characters and symbols.

Specified  Complexity explains why the evolutionists are wrong

Outside of Wonderland in the real world, to identify the signs of design, you need more than just a rare or complex event. You need a rare or complex event coupled with something that matches a specific pattern – such as a specific sequence of amino acids that must be “hit” to achieve a certain outcome. This is why intelligent design advocates speak of specified complexity; not just complexity. William A. Dembski, one of the catalysts behind the resurgence of Intelligent Design theory defines “specified complexity” this way:

“Briefly, intelligent design infers that an intelligent cause is responsible for an effect if the effect is both complex and specified.  A single letter of the alphabet is specified without being complex. A long sentence of random letters is complex without being specified. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified. We infer design by identifying specified complexity.”[10] (emphases his)
William A. Dembski

Here we get at the root of the errors of the evolutionists in Wonderland, using the modern concepts of Intelligent Design.  The evolutionist video makers indeed made a complex event, but it was not a specified event, and thus of no significant meaning. No one infers design from what they did.  On the other hand when a protein is coded based on information from the four character chemical alphabet in DNA, and folds properly into it’s prescribed 3 dimensional shape, and functions properly in the cell doing the intended cellular function, we can infer design because it is both complex, and meets a specification – conforming to the specific 3D shape necessary to perform the required cellular function.

To further illustrate, Dembski uses an illustration reminiscent of that used by the 13th century church father Saint Thomas Aquinas[11] that illustrates the idea of specification. What can you conclude he asks, if an archer shoots an arrow, and the arrow hits something, then the archer draws a target on the object around the arrow? That process says nothing about the archer’s ability, and the probability of hitting the target was 100% since the “pattern”  or target that was matched, was not specified, and in fact, was  determined after the arrow was shot. (This is parallel to what the evolutionary objectors do.) On the other hand:

“But suppose instead the archer paints a fixed target on the wall and then shoots at it. Suppose the archer shoots a hundred arrows and each time hits a perfect bull’s-eye. What can be concluded from this second scenario? We are obligated to infer that here is a world-class archer, one whose shots cannot legitimately be referred to luck but rather must be referred to the archer’s skill and mastery. Skill and mastery are of course instances of design.”[12]

This underscores the problem with Dawkins argument. Clearly skill and mastery – not steps in random directions – would be needed to stay on the bridge to reach the top of Mt. Improbable. But as Dembski points out, skill and mastery are instances of design – which is forbidden in evolution.

Finally let’s look at some of the fallacious claims made in the videos. In the first video, after looking at his 10 x 10 grid, he looks at a random pebble, and claims:

    “Let’s look at a random pebble. It contains about a billion billion billon atoms each in a specific location. Well what’s the probability of this happening by sheer chance or just an accident?…

He goes on to say the pebble arrives in its current state because it is:

    “… governed by a field of Chemistry called Statistic Thermodynamics. … However ultimately no matter how improbable, the system must exist in this state.”

And concludes ultimately:

    “… The Populations of states explored by a system are not governed by chance, but by chemistry – essentially the electro-magnetic force. This too is a factor the creationists simply do not take account of.”

Three observations:

1. He has made an observation of complexity, but the specificity that he speaks of does not match a particular pattern, so design is not inferred by the complexity and “specific location” that he speaks of. So if his assumption is that design is inferred by just that observation, he’s mistaken. But his next statements point to questions he’d probably rather not answer.

2.   Why “must” the pebble “exist in it’s current state?” Though he doesn’t appear to realize it, here he approaches the philosophical question “why is there something rather than nothing?” He doesn’t seem to realize that philosophically, the pebble need not exist, either in that state or any other state. If it’s true that the pebble “must exist in this state” due to the laws of chemistry that simply points to the next observation.

3.  Where do the laws of chemistry (and other laws of science) come from? Why does matter conform to these laws? Where in fact, does matter come from? These are philosophical questions that are unanswerable by materialists chemists (those who believe only material things exist). It is easily answered by those who believe “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1.1) And He created it such that the universe obeys certain laws like the laws of chemistry, thermodynamics and electro-magnetism.

This same point can be made in response to the conclusion of the evolutionist in the other video who states:

    “The point you should be taking home is that protein synthesis is not a random process. It’s not like the cell randomly picks amino acids and gets it right for no reason. Instead it follows the pattern of chemical reactions dictated by the DNA as it is transcribed to RNA then translated to polypeptides. So the cell is not randomly picking the proteins or the amino acids. This probability does not represent protein synthesis.”

In short he states, it:

    “Follows a process dictated by DNA”

Similar questions apply:

1. He’s describing processes within a living cell. Where did the first living cell come from?   Evolutionists have no idea. (For more, see Evolution: Fact or Newspeak under “Origin of life.”)

2.  The difficulties of creating a protein from the Mt. Improbable scenario is impossible (as demonstrated above), not merely improbable.

3.  Where did DNA, and the information in it come from? Further, DNA contains not just information, but coded information. Where did the code come from? Where did the process and the ability to encrypt and decrypt the information come from? Once again, evolutionists have no idea. (For more, see DNA and Windtalkers)

So while these YouTube evolution evangelists claim to be refuting “Creationist Probability of Protein Formation” what they are really doing is showing either their ignorance of the depth of the many evolutionary problems involved, or being outright deceptive about the ability of  evolution to answer all the questions and bridge all the gaps.

In closing, this has been, I realize, a somewhat lengthy discussion. But such detail is needed to demonstrate the ignorance of false claims that originate in Wonderland from the equivalent of fast talking salesman who want you to buy into their fallacious Looking Glass logic. Believers in God, if you come across such claims, you can either refute them or just smile and say “No thanks.” Either way, you know better. If somehow, there are any evolutionists still reading this, here’s a reason to continue to read those who calmly and fairly point out both the the problems in evolutionary theory and why the creation account better conforms to reality:

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”
Prov 18.17

Fast talking evolutionists may seem right at first – until all the evidence comes out. And it’s all about the evidence, right?


Notes

1Kirk Durston, Probability Mistakes Darwinists Make, Evolution News and Views, April 5, 2016, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/04/probability_mis102748.html

2. Narrator, Darwin’s Dilemma, The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record, Illustra Media documentary, 2009

3. Stephen C. Meyer, Darwin’s Dilemma

4. As geneticist Richard Lewontin put it.
Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, 1997), The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.
referenced from Amazing Adminission, CMI, accessed 4/19/2016 http://creation.com/amazing-admission-lewontin-quote

5. William Provine, referenced from Atheism, Ken Ammi, 6/11/2009, http://creation.com/atheism

6. Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, New York: Basic Books, 2001, p. 121

7. Charles Darwin, quoted by Stephen Meyer in Darwin’s Dilemma

8. Durston, Probability Mistakes Darwinists Make

9. Durston, Probability Mistakes Darwinists Make

10. William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1999, p. 47

11 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1969, p 70.
See Aquinas’s fifth way of proving the existence of God, which is based on the “guidedness of nature.” Aquinas uses an unintelligent object – an archer’s an arrow – to illustrate lifeless things do not have purpose and thus cannot hit a target by themselves. The fact that they do in fact hit a target must therefore mean they were guided to the target by someone or something doing the guiding, as an archer guides the arrow to the target.
Clearly, intelligent design concepts have been around a long time, that’s why I speak of a resurgence of the theory, not an initial founding of the theory.

12. William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1999, p. 131


Image: Daedunsan Mountain Vertical Suspension Bridge in Daedunsan Provincial Park, South Korea
© Benjamin Huseman / Fotolia

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Duane Caldwell
Duane holds a B.Sc. in Aeronautics and a M.Div. from Trinity International University. A former pastor, one of his favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 11.9: "...for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Until that day arrives Duane is distressed to see the glory due God given to false ideas like Evolution and the Big Bang. He is likewise distressed to see those deceived into believing that science contradicts the Bible or has solved all problems apart from God. He considers his current ministry to be demonstrating why the Christian worldview is the only true worldview, and why science does not contradict it or the Bible. He blogs on numerous topics touching the faith at Rationalfaith.com.

2 Comment

  1. I loved the entire article but my favorite paragraph was “So let me emphasize once again: any type of planning, purpose or jumps to overcome complexity problems is strictly forbidden in the evolutionary process. Any attempts to include them means you have conceded that the process is designed.  Thus Dawkin’s suggestion fails miserably to meet the requirements of evolution that evolutionists like himself insist on.”

    The requirements that Darwinian evolution has at every step completely destroys their false theory as you say. It’s so evident by the mathematical probabilities just to make one simple protein.

    Their theory can’t even begin because those requirements are made subject to the math to make a single simple protein and the math also destroys their theory.

    This trenchant article is just as powerful as irreducible complexity! Great job Pastor Caldwell, thank you so much we thoroughly enjoyed it and will pass it along to others. Blessings to you and your ministry efforts.

  2. Suzie,
    Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the article and that it was helpful. You have astutely picked up on key points that show the impossibility of evolution, something evolutionists won’t do because conceding to such truths means conceding to the truths of God’s existence and their accountability to him (which at the core is what they’re rebelling against). Thanks also for sharing. – DC

    Duane Caldwell

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