When Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 the Christian Churches at the time were teaching that God created the world in 6 days. Darwin showed how natural selection explained the fossil record and the diversity of species and thus proved that the Bible's explanation of our origin was too brief to be complete. Unfortunately this helped to widen a rift between religion and science that survives today. We now have enough information to heal that rift and this essay explains how.
The theory of blind evolution, driven purely by natural selection, relies on the fact that it has taken a very long time. The scientific evidence so far indicates that the cosmos is some 13.7 billion years old and that life on earth has taken around 3 billion years to evolve and these are indeed very long periods of time. Supporters of this theory often said that if you put a monkey at a typewriter for long enough it would type a Shakespeare sonnet. It is surprisingly easy to prove that this is impossible.
Here is his first (from http://www.shakespeare-online.com which also has a translation into modern English).
FROM fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light'st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.
It has 623 characters in it so let's calculate how long a
monkey would need to type it using random key-presses. Let's give our
monkey a simple typewriter with 26 letter keys, a space bar a return
key and keys each for a comma and full stop. That is 30 keys so the
chance of getting the first letter correct is 1 in 30. The chance of
getting the first two correct is
1 in 30x30. ie. 1 in 302 = 1 in 900.
Getting the first word correct would require an average of 304 or 810 000 key-presses. Getting the whole thing correct would require 30623, or 1.76E920 character guesses. This is such a huge number it is impossible to fully understand its size. It is 176 followed by 918 zeroes. Assuming the monkey averages 1 key-press a second it would take 5.6E912 years. Another impossibly huge number which is 4.08E902 times the estimated age of the cosmos. In other words it is absolutely impossible for a monkey to type a sonnet.
What happens if we swopped our monkey for the most powerful super-computer imaginable? Let's assume that we can operate at 1000GHz and we can generate 1 character guess per clock cycle (more than 100 times faster than modern computers). Let's also assume that we can make such a computer with a single atom which is impossible but represents an upper limit. There are estimated to be 1070 atoms in the entire cosmos so if we could turn each one into a character guessing machine we could guess 1085 characters per second. Running this machine for 13.7 billion years (the estimated time since the big bang) allows us to make 4.3E102 guesses in total. This would allow us to guess just 69 characters (11 words) in the right order which is just over one tenth of the above sonnet. This is an important revelation and clearly illustrates that producing even the smallest chunk of meaningful text requires intelligence.
The sonnet above has 105 words in it of which 87 are unique.
Even if we gave our monkey a purpose-built typewriter with one key for
each of the words it would still take it
87105 = 4.5E203
attempts to type it correctly. Again, completely impossible, even with a certain amount of intelligent help.
We can do the same exercise with graphics instead of letters. The picture below is Leonardo da Vinci's Study for the Head of Leda.
To create a computer graphic in black and white we go to each
pixel and select its colour from a palette of 2. If we have a picture
of Y pixels the number of choices is 2Y. The one above is
341 pixels wide and 276 down. Considering just one row;
2341 = 4.48E102
which happens to be a bit larger than the figure calculated above for the maximum possible number of guesses the largest possible computer could make. Therefore guessing more than 1 row of the figure above is impossible. Below the centre of the picture has been resampled to 17 by 20 pixels (340 in total).
To emphasis how much detail has been lost below it is resampled to be 4 times bigger so that each pixel can be seen better.
Even this image is still a cheat because it is in colour. Below it is resampled into black and white and displayed full size and then magnified 4 times. This illustrates exactly just how preposterous it is to assume intelligent structures, like a sonnet, or a drawing, or a living cell, can be created by chance.. .
When we consider that so many life forms on our planet are not just beautiful when represented in a 2 dimensional black and white image but also in 3 dimensions, and in colour, it becomes completely obvious that an extreme intelligence had to be involved in their creation.
We can do the above exercise again with music. Assume a simple tune in a single octave of 8 notes. Playing 1 note at a time we can guess no more than 114 notes. At 2 notes per second that makes a little less than a minute of very simple music.
Using modern compression methods such as MP3 it is possible to get a reasonable quality sound recording using 32kbits per second. Using the figure determined above for the largest number of random choices we can conceive of making we can calculate that only 0.01 seconds of sound could be randomly guessed.
Whenever we see or hear something beautiful we can be sure it was created by an intelligence. When we see something beautiful that also moves gracefully we can be even more sure that a supreme intelligence designed it.
When Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace and their contemporaries were developing the theory of evolution by natural selection the understanding of how complicated biological systems actually are was nowhere near where it is today. They knew nothing of the complex genetic code stored in the DNA within the nucleus of every cell and they had minimal understanding of the complex interaction of the numerous hormones, proteins and other chemicals in living organisms.
We now know that even a single celled organism is a staggeringly complex structure far more complicated than the most sophisticated human creations such as a cars, aircraft or computers.
Fred Hoyle claimed that the accidental or random evolution of life would be like a whirlwind in a scrap yard producing a fully working passenger jet. He calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 1040 000.
To me the arguments above show beyond doubt that there has to be a creative intelligence behind the existence of life on earth. The big question is what is the nature of this intelligence. The explanation offered by many Christians is that God's creative effort began and was finished within 7 days. That belief denies the results of a huge volume of scientific evidence about the fossil record. Their explanation also fails to account for how genes have been observed to change and adapt. There are many other examples of evolution that have been seen to happen as we have watched and recorded the countless living organisms on our planet.
In fact machines such as computers and cars give us an excellent analogy of how evolution of life happens through creation. In organisations all around the world millions of people are designing new products. When a product manufacturer has finished designing a new model they introduce it into the market. If it sells well the factory boosts production and makes minor improvements to the model over the years. If it does not sell well they design a new model. If the market snubs too many of their designs the whole company goes bankrupt. For this reason they take great care about introducing a new model. They employ highly intelligent staff who have numerous years of relevant education and these skilled people communicate with each other to make sure they design the best product they can. A company that employs poorly educated staff and leaves aspects of the design to chance will soon go out of business and die. It will be eliminated by market selection in exactly the same way as a species of animal that is poorly adapted to the conditions it finds itself in is eliminated by natural selection. Our own bodies are the culmination of 3 billion years of work by unseen beings designing life-forms of different types, testing them out in the real world and learning from watching, and then applying those lessons to the next design.
My own experience of well over 30 years of building things has shown me that until you understand what you are doing your chances of success are tiny. I have designed and built parts for motorcycles and cars, and getting such things wrong can hurt. The electronic circuits I have built have usually given trouble until I have taken the time to learn enough about the subject. I have designed, built, and patented, many electrochemical systems, and again making something that works reliably requires a good understanding of the whole system. If you want to build any type of physical device and get it to work you have to understand everything about it. Anything less and you will waste unlimited amounts of time; and time is finite.
A car with even a trivial error such as the mirrors mounted the wrong way around would be rejected. Car makers leave nothing to chance. If the evolution of life was left to chance for 1 moment we would see all sorts of strange things like creatures with legs the wrong way around. We do occasionally see mistakes such as malformed arms, or 2 heads, but we always attribute this to something 'wrong' or 'unnatural'. Often the genes have been damaged by radiation or chemicals. If evolution was a chance affair life would be full of barely functional "mistakes". The fantastic beauty of the life forms found all over the planet leaves me in total awe of the supreme intelligence that designed it all. It must also have been done by an ongoing process of evolution by natural selection; almost exactly the same way modern machines have been created by evolving design. There may be a certain amount of experimentation in the design of a new model of animal, plant, or human-made machine, but that experimentation is always guided by intelligence.
The history of cosmology leading to the big bang theory is an
example of resistance to new ideas. This resistance is a healthy and
necessary reaction. New ideas are easy to generate but most of them are
wrong so we need to test every single one. However, whenever an idea
has been thoroughly tested and it passes those tests further resistance
becomes a barrier to progress. When the big bang theory was first
proposed by Georges Lemaître in his 1927 Nature paper it was not widely
accepted. It has since been tested at great length and has passed
nearly all those tests. In 1929 Edwin Hubble showed that the redshift
increased with distance showing that the universe is expanding. In 1990
the COBE satellite results disproved the remaining steady state models.
More accurate results from the WMAP satellite in 2003 (shown in the
illustration at the top of this page) gave conclusive evidence that
the cosmos is 13.7 billion years old. These and many other pieces of
evidence now make it very hard to deny the big bang yet those
determined to deny the evidence of an intelligent creator have invented
a way to do it. It is the many worlds theory. It proposes that every
time something happens that requires a choice a whole new universe is
created. Where these countless other universes go to is not explained.
Going back further to the dark ages of Europe we find a situation where most people believed that the earth was the centre of the universe and that the stars were insignificant objects that went around us. When Copernicus proposed that the earth revolved around the sun in the 16th century it was a lesson in humility that many did not want to accept. In 1600 Bruno was burned at the stack for delivering a further lesson in humility; he claimed that our sun is just like the millions of stars we see in the sky.
The work of Opik in the 1920s, and then Hubble, gave our level of insignificance a further boost when they showed that our milky way galaxy is just 1 of about 100 billion. The numbers comparing the size of our bodies to the size of the cosmos are just so large that our brains cannot reach a full comprehension in a single step.
I have had a long interest in astronomy, boosted by following the Apollo lunar missions. At the time few space probes had been sent to other planets and we had little idea what was out there. It has been fascinating seeing the photos coming back from probes to the various planets and moons, every one with a new range of surprises. The universe is an incredibly complex place and we are only just beginning to understand it.
One of the most significant facts about the big bang is that it is so finely balanced that it is impossible for it to have happened by chance. If it had been just a tiny bit smaller the gas would have collapsed back into a single black hole before there was time for the stars to form. If it had been a tiny bit bigger the gas would have dispersed too widely so that again no stars would have formed.
More recent more accurate astronomical measurements have proven that there is a vast amount of dark matter in the universe. Dark matter is just a name for something that is causing gravitational attraction but which we have not been able to detect by other means. My belief is that some of it is etheric (or aetheric) matter. The existence of etheric matter was thrown into doubt by the Michelson Morley experiment that showed that light always travels through space at a constant speed in any direction but I believe we have made incorrect assumptions about the nature of the ether, and how light travels through it.
The question then arises, "If evolution is guided by an intelligence, what is the nature of that intelligence?" Getting a full answer to this question is a bit like expecting a conversation about quantum physics with your cat. Our brains just do not have the capacity to understand a being that can create the amazingly huge cosmos we find ourselves in. There will always be mysteries about this being. There will always be a stage where we have to give up and just accept that things are just the way they are. However, I believe it is very important to gather what understanding we can. In fact many people devote most of their lives to this and I cannot accuse them of wasting their time.
It is very easy to end up going around in circles on this subject so it is important to get help from where ever we can. To me Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch is an excellent starting point for finding some answers. The book is totally logical, as I have also tried to be. Walsch is not alone on this subject and by reading large amounts of this literature, and meditating on its meaning, I have reached a stage where I feel I have something useful to contribute.
People frequently look at the details of the terrible suffering that is happening around the world and ask how a higher intelligence can let such things happen. The answer is that this intelligence looks at the bigger picture. It sees that the old must be cleared away before the new has space in which to come in, and it sees that humanity learns difficult lessons most quickly through suffering. What we are experiencing now is a process of humanity learning that to end suffering we must learn to properly honour the higher intelligence that designed our bodies.
......... A dodgem car on a public road.
If we are in the fair ground driving a dodgem car and bump into other dodgem cars we can have a lot of fun because the designers built them that way. If we tried to do the same on a public road with ordinary cars we would very quickly become very unpopular. Humanity is presently ignorant of the intentions of our bodies' designers so we are treating them inappropriately; using road cars like dodgem cars. We have lost the instruction manual for our bodies, but it could be found again with a cooperative effort by all humanity. As my contribution I would like to start by making a number of postulations
One of the messages that appears in numerous esoteric texts is that nearly all humanity is stuck in the illusion of separateness. We live every day with the experience of our bodies being separate from the bodies of others. But where exactly is the boundary? If we breath in air when exactly does it become part of our body? When we breath out, when does that gas become separate from our body? The same thought process can be applied to our food and water. When we have an idea and we talk to someone about it when exactly does that thought cease being ours alone? When we turn on a light the countless photons travel in all directions. Some will not travel far and will help us see our surroundings but other photons might escape into space and travel to another galaxy. If we contemplate the detail we see that there is a connection between all things in the cosmos. To me it seems to be useful to have a name for the sum of all things that make up the cosmos and that name is God. God is everything that is! And we are a part of God!
Why does God not give us all proof of His existence? We have all had the experience of loosing something and then finding it right where we were looking early on. Evidence of the creator is hiding in everything around us, and in us, but we cannot see until we look with an opened mind. If we are looking while holding a false concept of what we are looking for we will miss what is later obvious.
A being magnificent enough to create something as complex as our bodies is not going to be the least bit offended if we deny His existence. He is also going to respect our free will to acknowledge Him or not. There will be consequences either way, of course, but those are the lessons we need to learn.
God is love. When people talk with pride of being God fearing I cannot help thinking that they are headed in the wrong direction. Why would a being with the unimaginable intelligence required to design animals and stars want us to fear Him? Fear is an unpleasant emotion designed to get us out of danger. God wants us to love Him and everything else He created. Anything less is a huge disrespect for such a being. If we see imperfection in the world it is entirely due to our own misunderstanding.
Where does that misunderstanding come from? It can only be a mechanism to teach us the lessons we need to learn. A theory that makes a lot of sense to me is that on the galactic scale of things humanity needs to boost its rate of spiritual development and it has chosen to fall into the illusion of separateness (the grand illusion) to do this. This has caused the huge suffering we see today but it has a bigger purpose, and it could end soon. This is what the Bible story of Adam and Eve eating the apple is all about and it happened some 500 - 650 thousand years ago.
The purpose of life is to spiritualise matter. It has taken me many years to reach the understanding I have of this statement so if you have not heard this sort of thing before please allow plenty of time to contemplate it.
My belief is that the big bang was in fact a big bounce. The previous cosmos became pure spirit and the physical matter all compacted into a single black hole. It then bounced back out again and the new physical matter of our present cosmos was created. The physical matter then started its new cycle of gradually, over many billions of years, becoming pure spirit again.
Spiritualisation is about love and cooperation. At first the cosmos was a rapidly expanding hydrogen gas cloud with a bit of helium. Slowly the first stars were formed and then later the first planets were formed. These are examples of how atoms came together to form something more than the sum of their existence when alone.
Single celled organisms then started evolving because a group of molecules got together and created a cooperative clump. Later single celled organisms learned to cooperate with other cells well enough to form the first multi-celled organisms.
Mammals represent a further step in spiritual evolution beyond the dinosaurs because they take more care of their offspring and form cooperative groups. Humanity is at the top of that tree because we cooperate with each other more than any other animal. The next stage in that spiritual evolution will be for us to recognise the unity of all humanity and develop our cooperative nature to a whole new level where the violence and warfare we see today becomes unthinkable.
When we have reached that stage we will be welcomed to the society of other space travelling beings. Our task then will be to spread life to other planets and boost the spiritualisation process on those planets. Ken Carey's excellent book Starseed Transmissions explains this in more detail.
Something else that Carey says is that on the spiritual level our planet was designed for 8 billion humans. I see no reason to doubt him. Our existence on the planet has a very important spiritualising influence on it. When we keep mammals and birds as pets we help them develop spiritually. When we eat food we spiritualise the matter in it. When we build well thought out structures on Earth we make it a better place. It is such a shame that so much of what we have built so far has been motivated from completely the wrong direction; greed, fear and selfishness.
If we understand the bigger picture and work from a place of more love and selfless cooperation we can create a more spiritual world; which is one that everyone would see as Better. A true garden of Eden.
Evolution and creation is the same ongoing process and it is continually guided by unseen but extremely intelligent beings. These beings are often called Devas. Humanity has a place in this evolution/creation process but if we do not recognise our limitations we will do more damage than good. Surprisingly, all we need to do to cooperate with the Devas is to recognise our own limitations and ask with our minds for their guidance. Rather like teenagers cannot reach their full potential until they have the humility to understand that older adults have something important to teach them, humans cannot reach their full potential until they have the humility to listen to the subtle thought-forms injected into their minds by the devas.
The mechanism by which the devas interact with the physical world is hidden from us because humanity does not yet have the maturity to handle such powerful knowledge. It seems clear to me that it is hidden within the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
Writing what I have on this page is a risky step to take for someone who hopes to continue making a living in science and engineering. However, I figured the risk was worth taking because the message is important. If we believe that evolution happened by chance we can make some serious errors of judgement. If we hold the opinion that there is no inherent intelligence in nature then we can observe it and think that it is wrong or it has made a mistake. We might then set about fixing that mistake. History is full of examples of people doing things to "fix nature" and then finding they have only made things worse. The introduction of foreign animals onto islands is just one example. There are countless more.
If humanity is to prosper, and survive on earth for much longer, then we all have to learn to give nature (or Gaia) the respect she deserves. There is an intelligence far greater than ours guiding evolution. She (this greater intelligence) is already limiting our progress so that we do not do too much damage. If we continue to ignore this warning sign then homo sapiens will be eliminated from earth just as the Neanderthals and Hobbits were. If every one of us decides to give Her the respect She deserves then we will move into an era of unprecedented prosperity and happiness.
Frank; DNA is composed of four bases, ACTG. It is their order that codes for proteins. The code is a triplet from AAA to GGG. There are 64 permutations of the four bases. Three are for punctuation leaving 61 to code for the 20 amino acids that compose our proteins. The code is redundant. Some of the amino acids have six different codons, for example serene, leucine and argenine. Glycine, alanine and some others have four. Tyrosine, histidine and glutamic acid have three each and poor methionine has only one.
The human genome has a roughly 20,000 genes and each protein is roughly 100 amino acids long. These proteins require 2 million codons. Assume for a moment that each of the amino acids is equally represented ( I know they are not). Each would appear 100,000 times (5% of the time) somewhere in the genome. Let's get specific and consider glycine, the simplest amino acid. Each appearance could be one of four codons. The coding is independent, so two glycines can be coded four squared (42) or 16 ways. 100,000 glycines can be coded in 4100,000 ways. That's a big number. For each of the unique ways of making the glycines, there are an equal number of ways to code the alanines. These multiply also. I hope you can see that the number of permutations of the genetic code can easily reach the large numbers you require.
Reply; There is no argument that the human code is complex enough to mean that if all the cosmos was filled with humans for all of time there would be no 2 humans the same except for identical twins. There is no argument that the numbers of ways of making a viable human is so large that it becomes far too big to ever be real. By viable I mean a genome that produces a human who can live long enough to reproduce. However, the number of ways to make an inviable human are even bigger. So much bigger that again the numbers required to do the comparison become purely hypothetical. There are so many ways to get it wrong that if tinkering with the genome was left to chance for a single moment we would get nothing but a dysfuntional blob instead of a living embryo.Frank; Here are two URLs discussing the issue.
The Fundamentalists lost on two grounds. First they tried to claim that they want to teach "intelligent design", not "creationism". As you argued, they said the creator could be an intelligent alien, not necessarily God. Therefore what they were asking to be taught had nothing to do with religion. Still, the lawyers for the opposition wondered why their printed material had such strange constructs as "intelligent designism" and "intelligent designist". When they compared the brochures with those of the creationists, the answer became obvious. These idiots had done a global search & replace with a word processor for creation vs. intelligent design. When the word was creationism, they left intelligent designism.
Reply; Actually, I agree with the judgement. The case was about whether creationism OR evolution is the truth and an accusation that religion was being pushed into science by the back door. My argument is that evolution requires a creative intelligence and that creation is an ongoing process that uses evolution as a mechanism, and that both the church and conventional science need to adjust. I am not suggesting Darwin's theory of natural selection might be wrong (as the fundamentalists were) but that it is insufficient on its own.
Frank; Creationists often argue that because there is a watch, there must be a watchmaker. They then cite some complicated structure and say this could not have evolved, it must have been created. A typical example that has been refuted over and over again is the eye. What use is a half an eye?
Reply; It puzzles me that this argument has survived so long because when archaeologists dig up a bit of clay, or flint, they form strong conclusions about its origins and there is little controversy about this. There is no debate about whether or not a tiny piece of clay came from a man-made pot, even though it is vaguely possible that an animal could have accidentally made that shape in natural clay and then a wild-fire could have fired it. A tiny piece a flint fashioned into a tool is never considered to have been made by a chance rock-fall. How then could we suppose that a watch could have been made by chance? Having fixed many a watch and clock I can assure you they have to be perfect to work and fixing them requires huge skill only surpassed by the skill needed to make them in the first place. Think about just one pair of cogs within a clock. They both have to have teeth that match with each other. The teeth have to all be on a near perfect circle otherwise they will fail to mesh or jam. The teeth have to match the height of the teeth on the partnering cog. The pivot points have to be smooth and match the bearing surfaces they fit into otherwise the cog will not turn freely. The requirements go on and on and failing to meet just one causes the whole clock to fail. No watchmaker would dream of leaving any of the many thousands of construction steps to chance.
Half an eye is just as useless as half a watch and neither would work if some intelligence had not designed the whole thing and supervised its entire construction. In both cases there are countless ways to make a functioning one but far more ways to make a useless one. So many more ways that it would be impossible to fit enough attempts into our known cosmos to make even 1.
Frank; Evolution is not about being perfect. It is about being only slightly better. Incremental improvements over geologic time can work wonders. It can turn a single celled organism into an elephant, a whale or a dinosaur.
Reply; We improve our machines incrementally and because we can manipulate matter directly our rate of progress is faster than the evolution of life, yet I am still constantly amazed by the complexity of nature and its beauty. If natural selection was left to chance we would soon end up with life that just lived and the beauty and elegance we see in all nature would rapidly disappear.
All the symbiotic relationships between species that are being discovered recently convince me even more that there is a supreme intelligence guiding evolution. Insects that can only live off one plant and plants that need a certain animal and so on. Again, it parallels the way the technology we create develops symbiotic relationships. Modern cars could not be made without computers to design and optimize them and computers could not be made without modern transport systems, etc.
Frank; "A being magnificent enough to create something as complex as our bodies is not going to be the least bit offended if we deny His existence."
Most gods are arrogant and jealous. They DO resent human's denying their existence.. Read the Bible for God's first commandment. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Reply; That sentence is an attempt to answer the atheist question, "If God exists why does He not give us convincing proof?". Whether the first commandment also addresses that question or whether it is trying to discourage parishioners straying to other religions is not clear to me. What is clear is that denying the existence of a higher intelligence leads to errors such as thinking that life is unfair, or that it is possible to get away with behaviour we know to be bad.
Frank; The Bible condones slavery. The Bible allows soldiers to rape women in the lands they conquer. .etc..
Reply; Many religious texts say things that defy scientific findings, and modern logic and ethics. The errors made by every religious person (or text book) in no way disproves what they believe in. What I would like to promote is a civilized debate where extreme views are softened and where all ideas are tested against reality when possible. Darwin lived most of his life in a Christian community in the days when access to non-Christian literature was very difficult. We now know that the fundamental teachings of all the major religions are remarkably similar. They are also not in conflict with modern science but people are resisting that insight rather more. If Darwin had lived today and had the chance to study, for instance, the Theosophical literature, he would have seen that there need not be a conflict between his theories and religion. The conflict came from the distortions taught by the churches around him at the time, so it is encouraging to note that modern religious thought is slowly catching up with his insight.
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