Posted by: Randall Niles | October 22, 2008

Monkeys and Theorems

The DNA molecule represents a massive amount of complex information. In the human, DNA is comprised of 3 billion precise “letter” sequences, which, when read together, form a perfect set of instructions underlying the form and function of every cell in the body. When compared to a written work of Shakespeare, most of us agree that such coded information cannot be created or understood without some kind of “mind.”


The “Monkey Theorem” is a popular device used by naturalists/materialists to defend the idea that DNA code could arise by chance, given enough time – similar to a bunch of monkeys pounding away on typewriters and eventually delivering a Shakespearean sonnet.


Can you believe it? The British National Council of Arts tested the Monkey Theorem by actually placing six monkeys and a computer in a cage for a month. At the end of the experiment, the monkeys had produced a few pages of letters, but not a single word. Indeed, the shortest words in English are “a” and “I”, but those require a space on either side of the letter to be considered a word. Assuming a very simple keyboard with 30 keys (26 letters, a space bar, a period, a comma, and a question mark), the odds of getting a one-letter word is one chance in 27,000 (30 x 30 x 30).


That’s one letter… What about a Shakespearean sonnet?


Check this out from Gerald Schroeder, Israeli scientist and author of The Science of God:


“All sonnets are the same length. They’re by definition fourteen lines long. I picked the one I knew the opening line for, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” I counted the number of letters; there are 488 letters in that sonnet. What’s the likelihood of hammering away and getting 488 letters in the exact sequence as in “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” What you end up with is 26 multiplied by itself 488 times – or 26 to the 488th power. Or, in other words, in base 10, 10 to the 690th.


“Now the number of particles in the universe—not grains of sand, I’m talking about protons, electrons, and neutrons—is 10 to the 80th. Ten to the 80th is 1 with 80 zeros after it. Ten to the 690th is 1 with 690 zeros after it. There are not enough particles in the universe to write down the trials; you’d be off by a factor of 10 to the 600th.”


It’s dramatic to note that this statement was delivered at a New York University debate with Antony Flew in May 2004. Mr. Flew, a staunch atheist up to that point, recently declared the following in his book, There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (2007):


“After hearing Schroeder’s presentation, I told him that he had very satisfactorily and decisively established that the “monkey theorem” was a load of rubbish, and that it was particularly good to do it with just a sonnet; the theorem is sometimes proposed using the works of Shakespeare or a single play, such as Hamlet. If the theorem won’t work for a single sonnet, then of course it’s simply absurd to suggest that the more elaborate feat of the origin of life could have been achieved by chance.”


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