Monday, March 30, 2015

#81 The Definition of Impossible

We have all heard the expression that “anything could happen” and we typically accept the proposition without thinking about it too deeply. If you then add in the concept of huge amounts of time or even infinity, well then “anything could happen.” This is typically part of the argument for evolution.

I want to take a deeper look at what might really be possible and what is in reality impossible by trying to construct a useful definition of what is impossible.

I give credit for this idea to a mathematician named William Dembski in his book, The Design Revolution. He clearly put a lot of deep thought into what is possible and what is impossible and why.

He devises a number which he calls a “universal probability limit.” This is a number limit that no reasonable person, certainly no person of science or math, could ever argue with. The number is 10150. The working definition is that if the likelihood of some event is less than one in 10150, it is beyond the universal limit and will never happen and could never happen.

I am henceforth going to call that number “the definition of impossible.”

Where this number comes from is very important. First you take the number of all the protons, electrons, and neutrons in the universe. That is 1080. Next you multiply that number by the number of seconds since the universe started at the “Big Bang.” That is 4.0 x 1017 seconds. Now, lastly, you multiply that by what is theoretically the smallest unit of time, the Planck Unit. There are 1043 Planck units in a second.

You have to practically be a PhD in mathematics to understand a Planck unit, but look that up if you are interested. It’s something like the time it takes the speed of light to pass a proton.

Now if we multiply those three numbers together, we get 1080 x 4.0 x 1017 x 1043 or approximately 10140. Just for good measure, let’s multiply this by ten billion more and we get the number 10150. This is how Dembski got the “universal probability limit” or what I’m calling the “definition of impossible.”   

If the likelihood of an event is 1 in 10150, or anywhere close, and especially anywhere exceeding that, then it is impossible.

Let’s take a fairly simple example of coin flipping. There are only two possibilities for random flipping of a coin, either heads or tails. 

What is the possibility that you can flip the coin and it will land on heads 1,000 times in a row? It would be ½ x ½ x ½ ….on and on up to 1,000. There is one chance in 21000. That converts to one chance in 10301.

1000 coins
The conclusion is that it is impossible if we use the “definition” we just established.

So think of it this way. Even if you had one person for every proton, electron, and neutron in the whole universe and they were flipping coins AND they could do 1,000 flips every Planck unit of time since the beginning of the universe, they wouldn’t even come close to an outcome of all heads. They have hardly gotten started. Conclusion, it’s impossible. The chances are just too small for it ever to happen by accident.

We now have a more realistic understanding of “anything can happen.” Actually, as you can see for yourself, it can’t.

Did I lose you? Let’s go one more simple step and see if that helps. Suppose instead of flipping a coin, you are rolling a die that has six sides and want to get the side with the “one” mark on it to come up 1,000 times in a row. 

You can see that is way “harder” than getting 1,000 heads in coin flipping. It’s way more impossible, right?

Getting a “one” would be 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 … on and on up to 1,000. This is a much, much bigger number, i.e. 61000. Totally impossible. Are you with me?

And now the final point to show that life did not happen by accident. It is totally impossible to a much, much greater degree than flipping coins or rolling dice.

There are 20 to 22 different so-called “standard” amino acids required by all life forms, even the very simplest living cell [1]. 

And those amino acids have to be perfectly arranged in a long chain in an exact order to make a functioning protein [2]. (See my Proof for God #74 Proteins [3].)

The really simple proteins are made up of 300 amino acids in a precise order. Once the long chain is created, then it folds over and over again on itself in another exact pattern. Then proteins interact with other proteins.

So the number of possible arrangements for the very simplest protein are 20300. In a human being the average functional protein has about 450 amino acids, again in a very precise order. That would be one out of 20450 random possibilities. That’s the average human protein, but the number of amino acids in a single protein can go as high as 34,350 according to one source.[4][5]

The human body contains approximately 100,000 different, unique proteins [6] but there are estimates up to 2 million [7]. Every different protein has a precise arrangement of the 20 amino acids.

By the definition of impossible that I have established, even one single protein is impossible to occur randomly. But we know there are 100,000 or more different proteins in the human body.

Sample protein arrangements
The most abundant life source on earth, blue-green algae, is also one of the simplest. However, as simple as it is, it still requires about 2,000 genes that each produce different proteins [8]. Any single protein is impossible by randomness and blue-green algae requires 2,000 proteins.

Life is not an accident. The simplest life form could not have occurred randomly. We have shown that it is impossible. We have shown it is orders of magnitude more impossible than 1,000 heads in a row by flipping coins.

There must be God.
[1] Amino Acid article in Wikipedia,

[2] Protein article in Wikipedia,

[3] Stephens, Jim, Proof for God #74 Proteins,

[8] Ell, Douglas, Counting To God, AttitudeMedia, 2014, page 106.

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered your blog well searching for pictures of the pacific golden plover to show my primary class. I cannot wait to start with #1 and read every single one of them! Thank you, thank you for all your hard work in getting out the good news of our Creator. God bless and keep you and your family.