Copyright © 2007—2009; 2015 by Kenneth S. Sumerford
Third version: February 2015 | All Rights Reserved
Natural Selection or Complex God?
In chapter 4 of Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion Dawkins states that specified complexity is better explained by Charles Darwin’s crane of Evolution (atheistic evolution) than by Intelligent Design which he calls the skyhook. Here’s the question: Is design (or apparent design) with its complexity better explained by the less complex crane of mutations and natural selection, or by the skyhook of Intelligent Design with a very complex God?
Dr. Dawkins finds it very improbable and unbelievable that a very complex designer (God) would design a complex object or creation. His question is: “Who designed God?” This is a separate discussion, but God could have been in a supremely complex state before the “Big Bang” or He could have evolved during the last 100 billion years before the “Big Bang” within a very different universe with 9 or more spacial dimensions. There was something roughly 14 billion years ago that produced the “Big Bang” or we would not be here now.
The following example will illustrate the relationship between a complex object ( designed) and its creator. In an illustration, suppose an alien lands on Earth in a field near a forest. The alien sees a pattern of sticks on the ground in the following characters: This message was written by passerby who lives 12 miles northeast of this spot. The alien notices a forest to the north and east of the characters. It also sees many birds: in the air; on the ground; flying back and forth from the trees in the forest; and the characters are composed of twigs.
The aliens have been observing Earth for about 60 years. From intercepted radio and TV signals the aliens have decoded English. So they know that the character set is from 26 letters, 10 numbers (0 through 9), and punctuation marks. Though all the characters are not perfectly formed, the sticks spell out a message in English. The probability of getting each character correct by chance is 1 in about 40. The chance probability of getting 5 characters in a row correctly is: (1/40) x (1/40) x (1/40) x (1/40) x (1/40) = 1 in 40 5 or 40 -5 (40 to the negative 5th power.)
The alien observes: a few birds have twigs in their mouths; and there are no humans in the field nor visible in the first 100 feet in the edge of the forest. The birds are the crane (closest and simplest building device) and the humans are vastly more complex and represent the skyhook. In general, we look for the simplest explanation for the solution to a problem. The simplest explanation is that the birds took twigs and constructed the design of characters.
Is there any way of using math and logic to determine whether the birds or the humans created this design or apparent design (the object or other thing looks like it was designed by an intelligent being but it was not so designed) of letters? We could use complicated arguments, but math and logic are more rigorous (strictly accurate) and reliable. Logic and statistics can provide a rock-solid solution. The alien has learned that birds are not intelligent beings and they cannot write English words or sentences. While the birds are not capable of design, by chance they could possibly construct the pattern of characters. There are 79 characters (with spaces) in the pattern or design. The chance probability of putting the 40 characters into the correct sequence for the words and the sentence is the following: 1 in 40 79 equals 1 in 2.7 x 10 127. This number is roughly 1 in 10 127 or 10 -127. In comparison, 1 in 100 trillion is 1 in 10 14 or 10 -14.
One alien communicates with the spaceship to find the probabilistic resources (the total number of times an event could have occurred during a time span, or the number of opportunities for an event to occur.) The following message comes back in a few hours: “We have calculated a maximum likely amount of probabilistic resources. In a time span of 50 years (twigs and letters decay over time) with 1 million birds each putting letters (of twigs) into the pattern at 1 per minute, the probabilistic resources are 50 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 1,000,000 birds equals 2.63 x 10 13.” The alien rounds up to 10 14.
The alien takes a computer and enters the chance probability times the probabilistic resources to get the total probability of: 10 -127 x 10 14 = 10 -113. (Remember that 10 -14 is 1 in 100 trillion. The larger the negative exponent, the smaller the number. So 10 -16 is smaller than 10 -14, by a factor of 10 -2 or exactly .01 or one-hundredth.) Notice that this total probability is less than 1 in 100 trillion x 100 trillion (which is 10-14 x 10-14 = 10 -28.) The alien and we reach the conclusion (from statistics, logic and science) that the human(s) used intelligent design to create the words and the sentence. The simplest explanation (of the birds creating the pattern or design) must be rejected. The skyhook is accepted and the crane is rejected as the likely explanation.
Dawkins states that the combination of natural selection and variations is sufficient to create apparent designs in life on Earth. The problem is that variations in living things are only passed to the next generation by genetic material (DNA for at least the most recent 3.5 billion years.) Natural selection can only select the traits found in the DNA. And the DNA is changed by chance mutations or could have been engineered by Intelligent Design.
Can we test for intelligent design? As the birds-and-sticks example demonstrates, you can use logic and statistics to test for intelligent design. Testing is better, more reliable than a hundred weak arguments or collecting opinions from so-called experts on the origin of life on planet Earth. The structure of DNA is very greatly more complex than the one sentence in our previous example. The biological code in DNA points to and confirms the works of a Master Programmer.
While it may seem to some that God is too complex a solution to the problem of the origin of life on Earth, the use of statistics, logic and science proves that Evolution (atheistic evolution) is not the answer. There has been evolution on planet Earth for at least 3.5 billion years, but the DNA and structures of proteins (for two examples) shows that intelligent design was used. Dawkins question of “Who designed God?” is not the only question about the origin of God. The following is my expanded version: Who designed God; or was God always formed in a very intelligent and powerful state of being; or did God develop over the last 100 billion years or more? (The estimate of the age of the known physical universe is 13.7 billion years.) Whatever the origin of God, we find Intelligent Design in nature including complex proteins and DNA. And we can use statistics, facts, logic and science to test for intelligent design by humans, angels or God.
Examples of probabilistic resources
Suppose a person rolls a die 7 times and wonders what is the total probability for a 5 to occur at least one time. The probabilistic resources is 7 and the chance probability is 1 in 6. The total probability is 7 x 1/6 = 7/6 = 1.167 which of course is more than 1 so it is very likely to occur.
What is the total probability for a 5 to occur 4 times in a row? The probability of a 5 occurring in a throw of the die is 1 in 6. We must know the probabilistic resources to find the answer. Suppose we throw a die 20 times. The probabilistic resources are 20. The total probability for a 5 to occur 4 times in a row is: 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 20 = (1/6)^4 x 20 = .0008 x 20 = 0.016 or (rounded to 3 decimal places) about 16 in a thousand. The probability of it not occurring is about 1.000 – 0.016 = 0.984.