Creationist Wisdom #928: What Are the Odds?

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Lethbridge Herald of Lethbridge, in the Canadian province of Alberta. It’s titled From amoeba to human; what are the odds?, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote her by using her full name. Her first name is Esther. Excerpts from her letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

I would like to respond to the letter by Tony and Patricia Pargeter that says “facts, reasoning should be the basis of our education system,” as well as their statement, “obviously we are all human, but not all believers.”

We can’t find that earlier letter, but it doesn’t matter. Esther says:

I, too, agree that facts and reasoning – truthful reasoning, and actual facts, that is – should be the basis of our education system.

Aha — Esther is smart. She insists on truthful reasoning and actual facts. Then she gets right to the point:

When I went to public school, I was taught that an amoeba crawled out of the water and began dividing and eventually became everything we see today – a giraffe, elephant, horse, cow, lizard, eagle, monkey, etc., and eventually a human. Is this a scientific fact?

Brilliant question! She continues:

All you lottery folks out there – do you know what the probabilities of winning the 6/49 lottery are?

We’re not familiar with the 6/49 lottery, but Esther explains how to figure the odds. We’ll skip that until she says:

The final answer of choosing six correct numbers out of a possible 49 numbers is one chance in 13,983,816.

Maybe she’s right; maybe she’s wrong. It doesn’t matter. What does it have to do with her amoeba question? Let’s read on:

Now the amoeba has no brain and not very much intelligence and very little DNA.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The amoeba may not be very intelligent, but as we wrote in Consider the Divine Amoeba, the genome of the amoeba has 100 times more base pairs than ours.

Esther then asks a powerful question:

Are there any math teachers out there capable of figuring out what the probabilities are that a human brain, eyes, nose, ears, spinal cord, bones, lungs, kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, vascular system, digestive system, reproductive system, etc. were able to develop from the amoeba, one division at a time, and work simultaneously?

Wowie! You don’t have an answer, do you, dear reader? Fortunately, Esther doesn’t torment you. She quickly ends her letter with this:

We all believe – some in the “amoeba,” and some in God.

Right. You can believe that you evolved from some amoeba if you want to, but Esther has just demonstrated that only an idiot would believe such a thing.

ADDENDUM: Someone named Nightingale pointed out the size of the amoeba genome to Esther, and she responded with a brief letter: Counter evidence only strengthens writer’s position, saying: “From my way of thinking, Mr. Nightingale’s evidence merely serves to strengthen my position rather than refute it.”

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #928: What Are the Odds?

  1. “what are the chances”? Well … based on present evidence … 100%!
    when you visit hundreds of worlds you can start determining other odds!

  2. Well, if Ester really was told in public school that some amoeba crawled out of the water and developed into all the animals we see today, the person who told her apparently didn’t have a good grasp of evolution. If she’d like to actually learn something about evolution, I’d suggest Coyne’s Why Evolution is True and, for much more detail, Dawkin’s The Ancestor’s Tale.

  3. Wel, the terminology and the details were not correct, but the fact is that all of us have developed from a single cell.
    And whenever someone “calculates” the odds against evolution, shouldn’t they also at least give an estimate of the odds for their alternative?
    My humble estimate is this: An omnipotent creator is equally able to create any of an infinity of possibiities, making the probability of the one (the one that happens to turn up) equal to one divided by infinity, or zero.

  4. Esther, you were taught wrong about amoebas. And, you’re mistaken that all traits co-evolve. Better stick to lottery tickets.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Isn’t it amazing that Esther began as a single cell? And had no brain, and yet….

  6. Karl Goldsmith

    Oh dear I have just seen the IDiots lateat post.

  7. Esther demonstrates that if one starts with totally false premises, any reasoning is void. Or, to put it more pithily, GIGO.

  8. “one chance in 13,983,816”
    Hmm, those are much better odds than the U.S. Powerball (1 in 292,201,338) or Mega Millions (1 in 258,890,850), and yet someone wins those every year.

  9. @RogerE How do you know somebody wins? Were you there? /s

    I always love the ramblings of people who have not a clue as to what science says and then lecture people who do.

  10. Just to be clear, “ramblings” refers to Esther, not RogerE.

  11. I just added this to the post:

    ADDENDUM: Someone named Nightingale pointed out the size of the amoeba genome to Esther, and she responded with a brief letter: Counter evidence only strengthens writer’s position, saying: “From my way of thinking, Mr. Nightingale’s evidence merely serves to strengthen my position rather than refute it.”

  12. Michael Fugate


  13. Michael Fugate

    One of the commenters linked to this
    and it is worth looking at on creationist “probabilities”.

  14. @Michael Fugate
    As far as the “probability” argument against evolution, let it be noted that the argument (hwever flawed it is) stops short in the middle. It never goes on to show what the probability is for the alternative. Let us assume that the probability of evolution accounting for such-and-such is one in a gazillion. What, then is the probability that someting else accounts for it?

    Paulus mentions the number of ways that a deck of cards – the standard 52 cards dekc- can be ordered. This stands for all of the possible natural ordering of the deck. Now let”s see if we allow super-natural intervention. Add to the deck, standing for possibilities beyond the natural, add in more cards. Suppose that we add in just the two jokers, there are more possibilities, the probability of getting the one desirec outcome is less. What if we add in the cards in a Uno deck – I however many of them there are – the probability of one getting the desired outcome is far less.

  15. greenpoisonfrog

    Esther: Amoebas have less DNA.
    Response: No they don’t.
    Esther: Thanks for proving my point.
    Me: SMH