As previously mentioned, here is my second installment on chapter two of Coyne’s book. As this chapter makes apparent, long stretches of time are essential to the project of evolutionary hand-waving, a process whereby impossible things are made more plausible to us by having them happen very, very slowly. Don’t think I can walk across that swimming pool? Watch this as I inch my way out there. Bet I can do it if a spend three months at it. Time fixes all implausibilities.
Going with Coyne’s figure of 600 million years of evolution in 4th gear, after leaving out those halcyon days of one-celled organisms just bobbing about, not to mention the subsequent time of the eukaryotes (p. 28), and not messing with leap years, we come up with, using a simple arithmetical process, 219,000,000,000 days available for evolution. Roll that around in your mind for a moment. All the marvels that evolution has wrought were accomplished in a matter of countable days. This has ramifications.
I said earlier that I was going to be offering a variation on Haldane’s Dilemma, but before getting to my version, let my brother Gordon (the scientist) explain Haldane.
“That said, we know the entire genomes of both humans and chimps. There are 40-45 million nucleotide bases present in humans that are missing from chimps, as well as about the same number present in chimps that are absent from humans. This amounts to ~40 million separate mutation events that would need to occur to separate these two kinds. These two creatures are supposedly separated by 300,000 generations. This means that about 133 mutations need to be fixed in a population’s genome every generation. This is a huge problem and is called “Haldane’s Dilemma” because it is empirically untenable to assume that that staggering number of mutations could be fixed in comparatively few number of generations. ‘Fixed in a population’ means that it can’t just happen to one individual. A beneficial mutation needs to spread to most members of the population and that has to happen by passing it down to your descendants with the help of natural selection promoting the mutation’s success. This of course requires several generations to let it spread.”
In this form, evolutionists think they have enough of an answer to dismiss creationists as chumps for advancing it, and for those interested, you can always pursue it further. In my view, this kind of response is just more hand-waving, but allow me to restate the problem in a variant form. Here the problem is more statistical and mathematical, while Haldane’s problem was more strictly biological. The common factor in these arguments is the amount of time available for what needed to have happened.
Coyne tells us that the estimated number of species that have lived could be as high as 4 billion (p. 22). Let’s take that number to illustrate the point, knowing that the same point can still be made with a different number.
With four billion species out there, let us surmise a crazy low number of genetic changes in one species to turn it into another one — ten changes, let’s say. But ten changes per species with four billion species means that we need forty billion beneficial mutations in order to account for all these different species that showed up at one time or another. So let’s divide this 40 billion into how many days we are working with. That means that in the history of evolution, a beneficial mutation would need to be happening, on average, somewhere on earth to some critter every 5 or 6 days or so.
But wait. In order to “register” as a beneficial change, making room for the next change to also register, it has to confer a survival advantage — because the central mechanism that makes evolution go is natural selection. But it has to confer this survival advantage in less than a week.
Now I am not assuming that all species are lined up in a series, with a direct line from our most distant ancestor straight down to us. In short, I am not assuming “no cousins.” I am not lining all these species up in a straight line, as though there were no cousins or distant cousins. I am just saying that something marvelous has to be happening in evolutionary history constantly, somewhere on the planet. A number of these lines can be running in parallel, but the ones that successfully make it to the next species have to be running in series for their ten changes at some point. The bridge has to make it all the way across the river.
In order to register in the fossil record, in most instances it has to make it all the way across the bridge to the next species, since we have very few transitional forms in hand. But this means that the statistical average time span for the transition from one species to another would be just over a couple of months. It needn’t be this quick for all of them, of course. I am just talking about the averages.
If evolution happened in a matter of countable days, and if we have had as many species as we have, we can calculate what the average pace of beneficial evolutionary events would have to have been. And remember, if you stretch out the time for one transition to happen with any ancestor, you are shortening the time available for any descendants.
One other thing. The odds of flipping a coin to heads ten times in a row is 1 in 1024. Those are the odds for our ten changes from species to species if each change presented itself as a simple heads/tails possibility. But of course, mutations present many more options than just two. I will leave the rest of that to our statistician friends out there. Suppose at each genetic fork in the road there were just ten options instead of two. The coins have 9 sides other than heads. What would the odds be of flipping the right choice ten times in a row then? And remember, when you have flipped, you don’t just look at it and say heads. You have to wait 6 days (on average) to see if any survival advantage was conferred.
Now make the final adjustment. Ten changes from species to species is absurdly low. A one in ten chance for the mutation to be beneficial is absurdly low. The chances that we will get identifiable survival advantage in less than a week is absurdly low. Get yourself a real calculator, one that goes up to the decillions, and enter the real numbers. The one thing you will not be able to do after that point is dismiss as an idiot someone who has trouble believing in this high speed miracle of yours with no God around. For mark my words, once the real numbers are entered, observing the process of evolution would be like watching a hummingbird fly.
The trouble for evolutionists is that they set the evolutionary chronology back when we had no idea of the staggering complexities that go into even one-celled organisms. The chronological framework was set for them, and poured into concrete, back when we thought 600 million years was plenty of time. It reminds me of the time when I had a computer that had 10 megabytes of memory, which I thought cavernous. And the more complexity we find, which we are doing all the time, the more we have to fit into our 219,000,000,000 days. That’s days, people.
It is starting to look as though we won’t have to even speed that time lapse camera up, and what I really want to do is go watch it in an IMax theater.