Sun 9 Nov 97 15:39

Figures don't Lie but Creationists Figure - By Alec Grynspan

One of the Creationists' ploys has been to quote two Astrophysicists as if they were experts in biochemistry.

Note that the 2 individuals in question (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe) have no problem with evolution itself and considered Creationists insane. They argue only that the ORIGIN of life, which is not part of evolutionary fact or theory, requires either a much older universe for Panspermia or that life needed a Creator to start.

More background: Years ago Hoyle and Wickramasinghe postulated a steady-state universe and opposed the idea of the "big bang". As part of their attack on "big bang", which was rapidly winning ground over steady-state, they cooked up a "probability" for life to originate on Earth that was essentially impossible.

To then cover the fact that life actually existed on Earth, they came up with the question-begging hypothesis of Panspermia. The result was that the origin of life was pushed further back. With the probability being so low, it would have taken trillions upon trillions of years for life to form using their concept.

BUT - with a steady-state universe, a trillion zeroes in the probability equation would have had no effect on the end result, since the universe would have been eternal.

Eventually, however, the steady onslaught of evidence for a "big bang" and against a steady-state universe forced Hoyle and Wickramasinghe to acquiesce.

So they were stuck with their bogus equations. What to do?

Well, if one postulated the existence of a creator, one eliminated the problem of the equations! One further undermined the concept of a non-created universe, giving them one more kick at the "big bang" cat.

This "probability", combined with a distortion and misquotation of Dawkins, has actually been used as a claim by some extremely dishonest Creationists as the foundation of a scientific theory of Creation, even though it is nothing of the sort for other reasons.

The flaw in the equations used by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe was that they used anonymous/non-anonymous atoms and, later, genetic sequences, to calculate the probability of a random assembly becoming a modern uni-cellular organism. The same tactic by Behe was used, via the debunked "irreducible complexity" approach, to derive a probability.

But this method of applying probability is utterly dishonest.

Let us take a simple example - table salt crystals.

Table salt is made up of sodium and chlorine atoms, so let's start with a very small quantity (around 50 milligrams) of sodium and chlorine - around 10^20 atoms of each.

Let's place these elements in a small container and mix it up.

What is the probability of a sodium atom meeting a chlorine atom in this container?

Answer: Virtually Unity.

What is the probability of a *SPECIFIC* sodium atom meeting a *SPECIFIC* chlorine atom in this container?

Answer: Once the sodium atom meets any OTHER chlorine atom, it is out of the picture. Similarly, once the chlorine atom meets any OTHER sodium atom, then IT is out of the picture.

The probability of the specific atoms meeting each other?

1 in 10^40.

The probability of every single specific sodium atom meeting a specific chlorine atom?

1 in 10^80. 1 with 80 zeroes after it.

Once we have 10^20 salt molecules, what is the probability of any salt molecule linking to any other until we have a salt crystal?

Answer: Unity.

What are the chances of a SPECIFIC salt molecule meeting another SPECIFIC salt molecule? 1 in 10^20.

Of all of them meeting like this? 1 in 10^40?

Of that batch of Sodium and Chlorine making that crystal?

1 in 10^120

This is how Hoyle and Wickramasinghe and Behe established their probabilities - by using permutations and treating each component of the cell as a totally unique entity with no other properties prior to final assembly than staying where placed.

Yet a pyridine molecule(for example) is the same wherever it is! Plus the properties of the variuos components REQUIRED that they have a constrained number of possible combinations.

Further, all that we need is some form of self-replication molecule that can absorb other molecules in order to replicate and mutate - already verified to be able to form naturally (although many Creationists will quote 40-year-old editorial opinions as "proof" that it can't happen), plus the verified Dawkins effect to bring on evolution of the final form of that cell.

Let's take another look at why this natural selection sequence, which creationists edit out when pretending to quote Dawkins, improves the probability to unity.

Let us do a little back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Let us presuppose that there were 10^6 mutations that caused 10^6 evolutionary bifurcations - with each alternative being of equal weight.

That means that, when that primitive barely-life nucleic acid first started the sequence, the probability against the final result being a specific cellular structure would have been

2^(10^6) or 2^1000000 or 10^300000 - 1 with THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND zeroes after it.

But, at any bifurcation, the probability that SOME path would be taken is UNITY. Therefore the probability against life forming is:

1 - 1^(10^6) or 1 - 1^1000000 or zero.

In other words, the probability that modern life would form by random mutation with natural selection is


Note that this does not take into account the bifurcations where one of the paths is lethal (bad mutation). These would be dead ends and would reduce the probability against the current life form developing. The end result, however, cannot pass the limit of UNITY, so it can only affect the final form of life and not the probability.

The argument of Hoyle/Wickramasinghe/Behe and probabilities is therefore debunked!

Figures don't lie but Creationists figure, part II

"The Second Law Of Thermodynamics (All praise its glory) says that evolution is impossible!"

This has been the rallying cry of Creationists for decades.

Yet it is one of the biggest lies in their arsenal of lies.

Before we go much further, let's take a look at the REAL second Law of Thermodynamics:

In plain language:

The above can be proven with great mathematical elegance.

Proven. Mathematically. Elegantly.

All THREE of the laws of thermodynamics can be shown to true via mathematics and axiomatic assumptions.

Or can they?

Is there no constraint on these Laws?

Yes, there is. The following constraints must be true:

BUT!!!! Within an incredibly wide band, the Laws of thermodynamics are the most elegantly simple things in physics!

This elegance, combined with the penchant for extrapolation and extension of simple concepts into the slippery world of analogy, has resulted in the laws of thermodynamics to be expressed in "clever" terms.

A similar situation occured years ago, when relational databases were first conceived, by Codd and a method of designing them that was based on 3 basic rules (eventually 5) developed.

This became, as a mnemonic:

"The key, The Whole Key and nothing but the key. So help me Codd."

Cute, and easy to remember. But not quite the scientific statements that they were based on.

In the same way, the laws of thermodynamics, which were a little difficult for the beginners to understand, were rephrased into simpler concepts, divergent from


These laws, rephrased so cleverly, were grabbed up and used to extend the concepts within Metaphysics.

But Metaphysics is not science. It is philosophy. The elegance of "You can't get out more than you put in" is a virtual cornerstone of a large measure of philosophic thought.

But it isn't science.

Extending that further, we get "Things tend towards disorder", which is actually based on the THIRD law of thermodynamics.

Somehow, this has been extended, thru judo arguments and voodoo science, to "The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that entropy keeps things fromm getting more complex. Therefore evolution isn't real."

Yet this has absolutely no basis in science. The Second Law, or the third or the first deal only with HEAT! The rest of the extrapolations are philosophical analogies!

Yet! Even though enough scientists have fallen into the same trap and argued based on the same concept - that entropy and bio-complexity are related - the same scientists have won that argument!

Because the argument that increasing complexity is negative entropy, bogus though it is, is countered by the fact that the TOTAL entropy of the Earth/Sun pair is actually monstrously positive, courtesy of the Sun!

Thus we have a case where the Creationist, using pseudo-science and taking the laws governing heat flow and work out of context, LOSES ON HIS OWN GROUND!

Once again, the Creationist loses. This time - twice over!


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