By Dave, the WM
The Christian arguments against evolutionary science habitually revolve around impressive sounding statistics that seem to indicate the extreme unlikeliness for life to have evolved. These stats are used as an apologetic against natural processes in favor of a hands-on, designing creator.
You know what? They are right! No, not about the creator, about the astronomical chances against me existing.
I've thought about this. My father and mother have been married just short of 50 years. They have slept in the same bed their entire married life. And they had a normal sex life. From what I understand, each time they slept together, millions of potential humans died. Only four out of all the hundreds of billions of potential human beings that left my father to find happiness in the womb of my mother survived the process. Only four out of billions. Remarkable. My embryonic genesis was marked by the tragic deaths of millions of competitors. Had the tail twitched just a tiny bit slower, some other crying infant would have been born to my parents, and I wouldn't be here today.
I was just a shot in the dark, but I beat the odds.
But wait, the deck was just as stacked against my parents, wasn't it? Yet, somehow they were born, whereas hundreds of billions of their competitors never made it either. Had either of my parents lost the game of "He who swims fastest gets more chromosomes," I wouldn't be here. So, the impossibly large odds against me existing just went up.
But wait again! What about my grandparents? And their parents? And theirs? And on and on...
Understanding how reproduction works -- that millions of potential individuals draw the straw during each act of copulation, but only one (usually) gets lucky -- makes the possibility of any of us being here seem extremely unlikely. Compounding the odds by adding in all the known preceding generations, well, the statistical chances of any of us existing is decreased to virtually nothing. In fact, it's impossible.
Yet, here we are.
Most people acknowledge that when it comes to making babies, it's a fairly random process. You don't know what kind of person a coupling will bring. Boy, girl, athlete, musician, smart, loving, kind, bully, sickly... no one can tell you a thing.
"Will he be pretty, will he be rich, please momma please tell me. Que Sera Sera..."
Life? It's random. It's chance. It's accident.
And the person that the two lovers make together will be only one (usually) out of millions who will never breathe air. Millions against one.
You might say that another person, against impossible odds, has won the lottery of life.
The only alternative for the Christian, in his or her railing against the evil wickedness of chance, is to say that God is directing every single spermatozoa into the exact right egg. And in that case, Monty Python's “Every Sperm is Sacred” is true and the Catholic Church is right to forbid men from putting those little rubber thingies on their willies.
So what is it? Is life random and accidental? Or does God surf our prostatic fluid? Are the odds against nature so high that there is no reasonable explanation for the existence and proliferation of life but belief in a magical, ultra-dimensional deity who "poofs" everything into existence?
I say that life is the chance result of an incomprehensibly large number of randomly combined accidents.
What do you think?
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Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)