The Mathematical Impossibility of Evolution

According to the most-widely accepted theory of evolution today, the sole mechanism for producing evolution is that of random mutation combined with natural selection. Mutations are random changes in genetic systems. Natural se-lection is considered by evolutionists to be a sort of sieve, which retains the "good" mutations and allows the others to pass away.

Since random changes in ordered sys-tems almost always will decrease the amount of order in those systems, nearly all mutations are harmful to the organ-isms which experience them. Neverthe-less, the evolutionist insists that each complex organism in the world today has arisen by a long string of gradually accu-mulated good mutations preserved by natural selection.

No one has ever actu-ally observed a genuine mutation occur-ring in the natural environment which was beneficial (that is, adding useful genetic information to an existing genetic code), and therefore, retained by the selection process. For some reason, however, the idea has a certain persuasive quality about it and seems eminently reasonable to many people--until it is examined quan-titatively, that is!

For example, consider a very simple putative organism composed of only 200 integrated and functioning parts, and the problem of deriving that organism by this type of process. The system presumably must have started with only one part and then gradually built itself up over many generations into its 200-part organization. The developing organism, at each succes-sive stage, must itself be integrated and functioning in its environment in order to survive until the next stage. Each suc-cessive stage, of course, becomes statis-tically less likely than the preceding one, since it is far easier for a complex sys-tem to break down than to build itself up.

A four-component integrated system can more easily "mutate" (that is, somehow suddenly change) into a three-component system (or even a four-component non-functioning system) than into a five-component integrated system. If, at any step in the chain, the system mutates "down-ward," then it is either destroyed alto-gether or else moves backward, in an evo-lutionary sense.

Therefore, the successful production of a 200-component functioning organ-ism requires, at least, 200 successive, successful such "mutations," each of which is highly unlikely. Even evolution-ists recognize that true mutations are very rare, and beneficial mutations are ex-tremely rare--not more than one out of a thousand mutations are beneficial, at the very most.

But let us give the evolutionist the benefit of every consideration. Assume that, at each mutational step, there is equally as much chance for it to be good as bad. Thus, the probability for the suc-cess of each mutation is assumed to be one out of two, or one-half.

Elementary statistical theory shows that the prob-ability of 200 successive mutations be-ing successful is then (1/5) to the 200th power, or one chance out of 1060. The number 1060, if written out, would be "one" followed by sixty "zeros." In other words, the chance that a 200-component organism could be formed by mutation and natural selec-tion is less than one chance out of a tril-lion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion! Lest anyone think that a 200-part sys-tem is unreasonably complex, it should be noted that even a one-celled plant or animal may have millions of molecular "parts."

The evolutionist might react by say-ing that even though any one such mu-tating organism might not be successful, surely some around the world would be, especially in the 10 billion years (or 1018 seconds) of assumed earth history. There-fore, let us imagine that every one of the earth's l0 to the 14th power square feet of surface harbors a billion (i.e., 10 to the 9th power) mutating systems and that each mutation requires one-half sec-ond (actually it would take far more time than this).

Each system can thus go through its 200 mutations in 100 seconds and then, if it is unsuccessful, start over for a new try. In 10~ seconds, there can, therefore, be 10 to the 16th power, trials by each mutating system. Multiplying all these numbers together, there would be a total possible number of attempts to de-velop a 200-component system equal to 10 to the 14th power (109) (10 to the 16th power), or 1039 attempts. Since the probability against the success of any one of them is l060, it is obvious that the probability that just one of these 1039 at-tempts might be successful is only one out of 10 to the 60th power divided by1039, or 10 to the 21st power.

All this means that the chance that any kind of a 200-component integrated func-tioning organism could be developed by mutation and natural selection just once, anywhere in the world, in all the assumed expanse of geologic time, is less than one chance out of a billion trillion. What pos-sible conclusion, therefore, can we de-rive from such considerations as this ex-cept that evolution by mutation and natural selection is mathematically and logically indefensible!

There have been many other ways in which creationist writers have used probability arguments to refute evolu-tionism, especially the idea of random changes preserved, if beneficial, by natural selection. James Coppedge de-voted almost an entire book, Evolution: Possible or Impossible (Zondervan, 1973, 276 pp.), to this type of approach. I have also used other probability-type arguments to the same end (see, e.g., Science and Creation, Master Books, pp. 161-201).

The first such book, so far as I know, to use mathematics and probability in refuting evolution was written by a pas-tor, W. A. Williams, way back in 1928. Entitled, Evolution Disproved, it made a great impression on me when I first read it about 1943, at a time when I myself was still struggling with evolution.

In fact, evolutionists themselves have attacked traditional Darwinism on the same basis (see the Wistar Institute Sym-posium, Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolu-tion, 1967, 140 pp.). While these scien-tists did not reject evolution itself, they did insist that the Darwinian randomness postulate would never work.

Furthermore, since the law of increas-ing entropy, or the second law of thermo-dynamics, is essentially a statement of probabilities, many writers have also used that law itself to show that evolution on any significant scale is essentially impos-sible. Evolutionists have usually ignored the arguments or else used vacuous argu-ments against them ("Anything can hap-pen given enough time"; "The earth is an open system, so the second law doesn't apply"; "Order can arise out of chaos through dissipative structures"; etc.).

In the real world of scientific obser-vation, as opposed to metaphysical speculation, however, no more complex system can ever "evolve" out of a less complex system, so the probability of the naturalistic origin of even the simplest imaginary form of life is zero.

The existence of complexity of any kind is evidence of God and creation. "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth" (Isaiah 40:26).
This article was reprinted from the Institute for Creation's "Back to Genesis" No. 179

Back to Top