Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Naples Daily News: of Naples, Florida. The letter is titled Misinformed. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city.
The letter begins by referring to an earlier letter, What it is, isn’t, written by an MD. It’s a reasonably good defense of the theory of evolution, but today’s letter-writer disagrees. Okay, here we go:
When it comes to science-related evolution, the era of genetics and DNA has passed by the doctor. We now use DNA and the laws of probability to convict people of crime. More important, scientists can calculate the probability that humans evolved from apes or chimps or any other animal.
Wait a minute! We thought this was a creationist letter. When are we going to get to the crazy stuff? Be patient, dear reader. It’s coming now:
Facts: The specific genetic material which decides what creature we have — human or chimp — contains 6 billion nucleotides inside the nucleus in each cell, arranged in specific sequences, and specific quantities which enable genetic material to function. Is it probable that a single gene can evolve from ape to human being by chance? Or, what is the probability of a single specific sequence of the nucleotides to be arranged by chance?
Ah, probability! Let’s read on:
The Chimp Genome Project which sequenced the DNA of the chimpanzee concluded there was at most a 96 percent similarity of genetic material. Even if similarity were 99 percent between a monkey’s gene and a human’s gene, we are still talking about 6 billion nucleotides that must be haphazardly rearranged to change the monkey into human.
Right — never mind the 99%, the other 1% has to be “haphazardly rearranged.” The letter continues:
The laws of probability tell genetic scientists that this is an utter impossibility. The chance that a chimp evolved into a human is one in 10 raised to 3,571,428,571 power.
Yowie! That’s 1 in 103,571,428,571. We’ve never seen a number that large. Where did it come from? According to this article in Wikipedia, the number of atoms in the universe is only 1080. How did the letter-writer compute 103,571,428,571? Well, we googled around for that number, and what-da-ya-know? In spite of the odds against it — at least 1069 bazillion to one — we found it here: Chances Of One Gene Forming From Ape To Human. That website says:
There are 6 billion nucleotides which are lined up in specific sequences in specific quantities. The chances that these 6 billion nucleotides could have been lined up in the specific sequences for the genetic material to function is: 1 in 10 raised to 3,571,428,571.
That’s from a site named Islamic replies, the purpose of which “is to address the oft repeated allegations & misconceptions put forward by Christian missionaries, skeptics and Islamaphobes, regarding Islam.” The odds are that’s probably where today’s letter-writer gets his information.
Here’s more from today’s letter:
As important, is that evolution from a lower species into a human would have to increase the genetic information contained in a cell.
Oooooooh — information! That’s impressive. And here’s the letter’s end:
Genetic scientists have not been able to find or produce a single mutation that results in added information. To the contrary, mutations almost always lose information.
There it is, dear reader. Another fine addition to our collection.
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