May 10 – “1 chance in 1000000000000000000000000000000 (followed by another 2970 zeroes)”. “What?”, my friend asked as we sipped our coffee in the local morning hangout. A little background: my atheist friend, who fancies himself as a scientist, had asked me to meet him one morning so we could talk about the existence or non-existence of God. He knew I was an engineer by education and was puzzled by how, with my MIT degrees, I could believe in God. I pressed my point: “That’s the probability of the simplest cell components forming at random, but we still haven’t taken into account the fact that DNA, which is required for the reproduction of any cell, must somehow spontaneously form inside an already existing cell wall. So, it is not just about cell components forming, they have to form in a certain order and in a certain microscopic pinpoint location. It is a big world – to form, at random, one inside the other, when there is no evolutionary need for cell walls without DNA and vice versa? The odds are 1 in 10 followed by enough zeros to fill a thousand sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica.” My friend sat quietly, trying to digest what I had just said. He had expected me to justify my faith with some experiential argument about how I had felt the presence of God.
Although I have had these experiences, I decided to present him with some objective facts. I explained that the discovery of a Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago (of which, life has been around for about 4 billion years) has allowed us to calculate the probability of life coming from non-life. I told my friend, “You can put your faith in something that has such an infinitesimally small probability of happening that it is hard to put the numbers in any sort of context, or you can put your faith in a creator. Which seems more scientific?”
Associate Pastor Emeritus, Greg Zehner
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