Is the probability
of Evolution by random/chemical mutations large enough to consider as a
means of our existence ?
In 1953, two important scientific discoveries were reported. In England James Watson and Francis Crick published their results on the structure of DNA, deoxyribose nucleic acid, the genetic code of life. In Chicago the same year, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey published results of their “origin of life” experiments in which they were able to produce amino acids from electrical energy and inorganic matter, i.e., chemicals. These two discoveries have subsequently been shown to be related through the theory of chemical evolution.
Chemical evolution is the evolution of first life from inorganic chemicals. In the scenario of chemical evolution, the first living cells are thought to have evolved from chemicals in a series of steps. The first step was the creation of the basic molecules needed to form proteins, DNA, RNA, and membranes. The first experiments of Miller and Urey were concerned with the formation of amino acids, the “building blocks” for proteins. These basic molecules are thought to have occurred in a “primordial soup” and, through repeated independent trials, to have formed into long chains to produce proteins, DNA, RNA, and other organic compounds needed by the first living cell. These organic molecules then combined to form a proto cell and, finally, the first living cell.
In this example, we shall consider one aspect of chemical evolution, the chance formation of proteins from the amino acids that make up proteins in living cells. Thus we shall assume that all of the 20 different amino acids needed in protein synthesis were available as building blocks. Nineteen of the 20 amino acids needed in living cells occur in two forms, which we shall denote as left-handed and right-handed. They occur in approximately equal numbers. But only left-handed forms appear in living cells. Thus there are effectively 39 possible choices of amino acids - 19 left-handed forms, 19-right handed forms, and one amino acid that is neither.
An hypothesized mechanism by which these amino acids join together is “random,” i.e., the independent concatenation of amino acids, a reasonable mechanism for the appearance of first life? Let’s calculate the probability of forming one protein made up of 400 amino acids. A length of 400 is not, in fact, a large protein, but it is somewhat average.
To begin the calculations, let’s assume that the 20 different kinds of amino acids occur in equal numbers, i.e., 400 ÷ 20 = 20 of each kind in our hypothetical protein. Let’s perform the calculation in two steps. Suppose we assume that the correct kind of amino acid is selected for each of the 400 locations in our protein. “Chance” is required to select only left-handed (versus right-handed) forms. That is, what is the probability of selecting 380 left-handed forms from 50/50 mixture of left- and right-handed forms? (We use 380 because one of the 20 kinds of amino acids occurs as neither left- or right handed) This probability is the same as the probability of 380 heads in 380 throws of a fair coin.
Let N be the number of amino acids that independently concatenate per set of 400 amino acids in 1010 years per millisecond. You might think of this as randomly adding one amino acid to the end of our 400-acid long sequence and simultaneously removing one from the beginning of that sequence every millisecond for 1010 years. A sample space of possible amino acid sequences in an independent concatenation for each string of 400 is:
where X is the set of 20 forms of
amino acids excluding right handed forms. Now define "s" as a particular sequence that is
amino acids long:
be the event that
"s" appears at the kth index in
a sequence of amino acids of length N:
In other words, Ak
is the event that a particular sequence,
"s" , which
is "m" amino acids long, appears in the one set's sequence and ends
on index k (sm
occurs on index k). The
event of interest is A, given by
In our case m =400, and N is the total number of amino acids that concatenate to our strand in 1010 years per millisecond. Thus by Boole’s Inequality,
probability of the event Ak
is the number of outcomes of event Ak
divided by the total number of outcomes. The total number of outcomes for any chain of 400 amino acids with an equal number of 20
of each desired amino acid is 20N and the number of
outcomes that produce event Ak
is 20N-400. The exponent N-400
is because there are 400 positions specified in Ak.
The remaining N-400 are arbitrary. Now suppose both the sequence
of amino acids and left-handedness are selected by "chance." What is the
probability of forming a single protein, 400 amino acids long, that is:
Since N >> m. Thus P[A] is bounded above by N÷10635, where N is the number of trials produced by a single set of 400 amino acids. This is the probability bound for one set of a 400 amino acid chine.
To create a large number of trials, let's assume that every molecule in all the oceans on earth is an amino acid equally divided among the 39 forms. Assume that these amino acids link up in sets of 400 every millisecond for 10 billion years, we can think of forming one long sequence by concatenating all the sequences of all the sets of 400 in all the oceans so that N becomes the number of trials produced by all the sets in all the oceans.
Hence P[A] , on earth is bounded above by:
Therefore any attempt to build a probabilistic model for protein formation,
based on independent concatenation of amino acids, would assign probability zero
to this event and discard independent trials as a plausible mechanism. “Chance”
is not a reasonable mechanism to form a single average length protein, much less
all the other proteins, DNA, RNA, and membrane molecules needed to produce a
Some may argue that the entire 400-acid-long protein need not form in one simultaneous connection of 400 amino acids. Rather, the formation might occur with smaller units hooked up and then coming together in several steps. If the events of the amino acids coming together were independent, then it makes no difference how they are formed-whether in small chains or in one connection of 400. The probability of formation is the same. [Richard A. Roberts, An Introduction to Applied Probability, Page 89, Example 3.5.3 Copyright © 1992 by Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.]
It should be noted that most theories of Evolution are constrained by Random/Chemical mutation. Random/Chemical mutation is born by the accidental occurrences in the formation of a chain of amino acids necessary to form an exact copy of itself. These accidents may replace, add, or remove a particular amino acid from its intended location, thus creating a better, worse, or similar protein. Because of this, few plausible theories have been devised, allowing them to circumvent calculations similar to this calculation. This calculation is, in fact, very generous in allowing for an enormous amount of simultaneous trials.
Some may argue that there are many variations of the same protein, thus increasing its chances. Let us assume that there are 10100 different variations of the same 400-acid-long protein. Moreover let us assume that there are only left-handed amino acids to choose from in all the oceans along with the one which is neither left nor right-handed. We get:
Using the same N as above we
Suppose we now allow every atom in the entire universe to represent a pool of all 19 left-handed amino acids along with the one amino acid which is neither right-handed nor left-handed. Suppose also, that we allow all the same conditions as on the earth in our very first calculation. Moreover, suppose there are 10100 variations of the same 400-acid-long protein. The number of trials N is:
Thus we get N = 10100
Some known accepted facts:
Known Age of the universe is about 10 billion years.
Known Age of our solar system is about 4.6 billion years.
Our Sun has 5 billion years of energy before it burns out.
The Electron mass is 9.11*10-27kg.
The Proton mass is 1.67*10-31kg.
Mass of the sun is 99% of solar system = 2*1030kg
Mass of some of the largest stars are 100 times our sun.
Mass of some of the smallest stars are 1/20th times the mass of our sun.
There are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
There are about 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
The matter in the Universe is made up of about 75% Hydrogen and about 24% Helium.
Now that we have exhausted all possible time and all possible elements in the entire universe and replaced them with only left-handed amino acids and allowed for an enormous number of variations, let us look at the probability of the chance formation of n=1,2,3,... 400-acid-long proteins. The new formation of multiple proteins is analogous to a fair coin toss of n multiple coins simultaneously tossed. This is because, just as each coin is independent of the other, so too is the chance formation of each protein independent from any other, whether on one planet or on multiple planets. Because of independence, the probabilities multiply as follows:
There are about 2,000
proteins serving as enzymes for a cell’s activity and we shall assume that all
2,000 proteins are a length of about 400 amino acids. The probability of
getting all 2,000 400-acid long proteins would be approximately :
The reader may wonder what random/chemical mutation has to do with this calculation. Many people conclude that we are clearly decedents of ape's and/or monkeys. If this is so, then one can conclude that monkeys are decedents of small mammals such as rats. One can then conclude that rats are decedents of fish, which are decedents of worms, which are descendants of amebas, which are decedents of bacteria, which are decedents of self-replicating proteins.
What are self-replicating proteins? These are small acid-long proteins, supposedly able to reproduce themselves with the use of other material necessary for life. Self-replicating proteins are small enough to allow for probabilities large enough to merit a chance existence (perhaps a 20-30 acid long chain might make one??), given the age of the universe, and all other necessary conditions. However, random/chemical mutation is the accepted means by which anything alive, including self-replicating life improves. If this is so then the probabilities given above are completely valid, all the way up the evolutionary ladder.
Another interesting paradox is the right-handed Vs left-handed amino acid issue. Left-handed amino acids (the mirror image of Right-handed acids) are what make up all proteins known to man. One must ask the following question: Where are the right handed amino acid proteins? If there is, supposedly, a large probability for left-handed proteins to occur, then there's an equally large probability for right-handed acid life.
Some interesting Quotes from the experts:
"In spite of the genetic code being almost universal, the mechanism necessary to embody it is far too complex to have arisen in one blow."
"Mutations -sudden changes in heredity- breed true. They provide the raw material of evolution. The environment selects those few mutations that enhance survival, resulting in a series of slow transformations of one life form into another, the origin of new species."
"Most of them are harmful or lethal."
The World Book Encyclopedia:
"Mutations ... are the basis of evolution,"
Paleontologist Steven Stanley:
called mutations "the raw materials" for evolution.
"a slow accumulation of favorable mutations" for evolution.
"Evolutionary revisionists believe mutations in key regulatory genes may be just the genetic jackhammers their quantum-leap theory requires."
British zoologist Colin Patterson:
"Speculation is free. We know nothing about these regulatory master genes."
"of the DNA chains composing a gene is remarkably accurate. Misprints or miscopying are infrequent accidents."
"The fact that most mutations are damaging to the organism seems hard to reconcile with the view that mutation is the source of raw materials for evolution. Indeed, mutants illustrated in biology textbooks are a collection of freaks and monstrosities and mutation seems to be a destructive rather than constructive process."
"The greatest proportion of mutations are deleterious to the individual who carries the mutated gene. It was found in experiments that, for every successful or useful mutation, there are many thousands which are harmful."
Regarding good mutations: "Such results are to be expected of accidental changes occurring in any complicated organization,"
G. Ledyard Stebbins:
"After a greater or lesser number of generations the mutants are eliminated."
"Most mutations are for the worse." However, he then asserted: "In the long run, to be sure, mutations make the course of evolution move onward and upward"
"After observing mutations in fruit flies for many years, Goldschmidt fell into despair. The changes, he lamented, were so hopelessly micro that if a thousand mutations were combined in one specimen, there would still be no new species."
On Call (English medical journal):
Referring to the Peppered Moth "This is an excellent demonstration of the function of camouflage, but, since it begins and ends with moths and no new species is formed, it is quite irrelevant as evidence for evolution."
"Breeders usually find that after a few generations, an optimum is reached beyond which further improvement is impossible, and there has been no new species formed ... Breeding procedures, therefore, would seem to refute, rather than support evolution."
"Species do indeed have a capacity to undergo minor modifications in their physical and other characteristics, but this is limited and with a longer perspective it is reflected in an oscillation about a mean."
Molecules to Living Cells:
"The cells from a carrot or from the liver of a mouse consistently retain their respective tissue and organism identities after countless cycles of reproduction."
Symbiosis in Cell Evolution:
"All life ... reproduces with incredible fidelity."
"Living things are enormously diverse in form, but form is remarkably constant within any given line of descent: pigs remain pigs and oak trees remain oak trees generation after generation."
C. H. Waddington:
Regarding the belief in mutations: "This is really the theory that if you start with any fourteen lines of coherent English and change it one letter at a time, keeping only those things that still make sense, you will eventually finish up with one of the sonnets of Shakespeare ... it strikes me as a lunatic sort of logic, and I think we can do better."
Professor John Moore:
"Upon rigorous examination and analysis, any dogmatic assertion... that gene mutations are the raw material for any evolutionary process involving natural selection is an utterance of a myth.
Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe:
"The problem for biology is to reach a simple beginning,.... Fossil residues of ancient life-forms discovered in the rocks do not reveal a simple beginning .... so the evolutionary theory lacks a proper foundation."
Hoyle says about the probabilities calculated "If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court."
Regarding an intelligent creator being involved in the creation of life on Earth: "Indeed, such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific."
Chandra "From my earliest training as a scientist I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has had to be very painfully shed. I am quite uncomfortable in the situation, the state of mind I now find myself in. But there is no logical way out of it.... For life to have been a chemical accident on earth is like looking for a particular grain of sand on all the beaches in all the planets in the universe-and finding it."
Chandra "There is no other way in which we can understand the precise ordering of the chemicals of life except to invoke the creations on a cosmic scale."
Evolutionist Loren Eiseley:
"After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past."
Biologist Joseph Henry Woodger:
Characterized such reasoning on evolution by chance "simple dogmatism-asserting that what you want to believe did in fact happen."
Physicist H. S. Lipson:
Regarding the chance formation of life "The only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do no like if the experimental evidence supports it."
The Origin of Species, "evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to 'bend' their observations to fit in with it."
Mathematician Blaise Pascal:
"But is it probable, that probability gives assurance? Nothing gives certainty but truth: nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth."
"rule of the of the wager": If you bet God exists and live
accordingly, you will have gained much even if God does not exist; if you
bet the opposite and God does exist, you will have lost the reason for
living right --- hence everything.