Posted by: Randall Niles | February 11, 2011

Chance, God, and the Monkey Theorem

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 “intelligence.”

The “Monkey Theorem” is a popular device used by naturalists/materialists/atheists 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 about 50 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.”

Think that one thru,

Randall Niles

P.S. — Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) thought it thru…

“The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.”



  1. Another Thumbs Up

  2. With the Monkey Theorem you have a miss representation of what information is. The true problem with the Monkey theorem is that information requires that a sender that has the intelligence to write to a receiver that can understand and act upon it. The monkeys might be able to type out a COPY of a Shakespearian sonnet given enough time and an unlimited amount of monkeys, but it would hit the floor unappreciated by the monkeys and mixed with anything else produced by the monkeys. A copy of the simplest genome (if indeed there is such a thing as a simple genome) would be useless without a cell structure to understand it and could act upon it.
    A radio transmitter is useless without a receiver, both had to be invented at the same time, capable of the same frequency, have the same format or modulation, within range of each other and both are powered on and working. Even with all of the above it does no good if the person using the transmitter speaks only English and the person at the receiver only knows Spanish.
    Only a Creator with more intelligence than what was created could compose such a wonderfully complex structure as a living organism and the information there in. He also composed a Message to us, so we would not have to rely on only our own wisdom as to how we came to be. It’s time to take this Message (The Bible) to those people that are confused about origins and share with them His whole plan, starting at the very beginning.

  3. It’s funny, because the atheists try to use biology, more than anything else, to defend evolution. Yet, it is the facts of DNA, more than anything else in the physical world that gives me so much conviction that God exists and the Bible is true (outside of the Bible itself).

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