Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
Hey, Craig, welcome to booktalk!
First, it’s important to recognize that the first beginnings of life were not the same single celled organism that you are talking about. They were much more simple.
All you need for the beginnings of life is a molecule that builds on itself and some encasing molecular structure. The reproduction of that molecule which builds on itself is then a mechanical event where it is physically broken into pieces, but the “data” which is nothing other than some repeating structure and at that point contains nothing about building anything other than that same pattern over and over again, takes some of that encasing molecular structure with it. And in that way, through nothing but the physical interactions of matter and the bonding properties of chemistry you have the beginnings of life.
The statistics you reference are large, but you need to think of that in context of big time and big space. With the number of places in the universe that this could happen and the amount of time that has been available for it to happen factored in, not only is the emergence of life not all that surprising, it is positively inevitable.
To go from that simple structure to organisms like ourselves took about 3.5 billion years (after you subtract the years of heavy bombardment where circumstances on earth were too hostile to complex chemistry). But the arrival of life after those tumultuous years was only 400 million years. Nearly as soon as it was possible, in other words, it happened.
So you are talking about processes which we know exist (chemical interactions in exact accord to observed behavior) unfurling exactly as it seems that they should over a very long time period and in innumerable possible locations (all habitable planets in the universe) and you should rightly come to the conclusion that life literally must
occur somewhere and at some time. Because it is just a consequence of chemistry, and we know that chemistry exists and how it works.
Now on the other hand you would rather embrace the idea of an omnipotent creator god, but on what basis? You think the odds of our complex chemistry are long, but at least we know it to be possible. On what grounds would you think that omniscience, or omnipotence is possible? How could you assign any numerical value to the odds of that happening where there is no recorded instance of it having ever taken place, and then how exactly do you figure that is more likely than what we see happening all around us every day?
The naturalistic explanation of life is that life is a thing that is possible in our universe and a natural product of it. The supernatural explanation is that life is not possible and is only present because of the intervention of something that could not possibly exist in our universe (because it is supernatural).
How is the supernatural explanation more likely?
Reality isn’t obliged to fit into your imagination, craig. Just because it is hard to put a number like 100,000 light years into perspective doesn’t mean that isn’t the size of our galaxy. And just because you have a hard time dealing with big time and big space doesn’t mean that is any limit on the activity of chemistry.
And if life were of a supernatural origin, or a very, very incredibly rare thing, then why is it so easily understood using the scientific method? Why should it even appear to be possible? Why could we study mutation rates over time or watch speciation if it were not a product of the natural world?
Shouldn’t we then find that life is not something we can study and know anything about? Wouldn’t the explanation of how it arose then necessarily be stupefyingly unlikely? Shouldn’t the explanation be extraordinarily unlikely in order to account for the singular specialness of life? Or even be impervious to study of any kind due to it’s supernatural origin?
Yet it has proven to be no different in character than any other chemistry. We are extreme examples of ordinary chemical interaction, and it isn’t all that rare, is it? If we were so special, and life was so hard to come by, then why are we made of the most common elements in the universe? Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon.. etc..The most common elements in the universe are on this planet and that’s what we are made of. Coincidence? The whole planet is coated in life. We know of one planet where life is possible, and it is drowning in it.