Can Chance Create Complex Things?

            In Michael Denton’s 1985 book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, in chapter 13 entitled Beyond the Reach of Chance[1], he describes in terms of mathematical probability the difficulty of constructing single words of varying lengths using the method of chance substitution.

            In what I consider to be a brilliant and irrefutable argument, the reasoning goes something like this.

            There are only so many words that can be found in the English language having one letter only.

            When we start with the first letter “a” then bingo, we find a word.  As we progress through the rest of the 26-letter alphabet, the only other one-letter word I find is the lowercase letter “i” when it is capitalized to “I.”

            I do not see any other single letters that form a word.

            What this first attempt at finding English words starting with single letters tells us is that two usable words “a” and “I” are found, but 24 other single letters are useless, throw-away “junk” as possible candidates.

            Michael Denton calls this illustrative example of looking for a small number of functional words within a vast sea of possible gibberish, of searching for a small amount of truth surrounded by a large amount of possible error…the process of a random search strategy.

            Moving-on to two-letter English words, starting at the beginning of the alphabet letter “a” we find the usable words ad (short for advertising), am, an, as, and at, if I have not missed any other possibilities.

            Moving-on to the next letter “b” in the alphabet, I find the two-letter words be and by.

            Moving next to the letters “c” through “m” using this random search strategy of plugging-in letters to find English words, using a quick search I see only the words do and go.

            As we go through the possible combinations of alphabet letters having lengths of one letter to seven letters, for example, such as the word “perfect” compared to the nonsensical combinations of letters like clxkzuf or mckflqh, we have gone through an ocean of gibberish to find a small pond of meaningful and sensical English words.  

            When we combine letters, spaces, and punctuation marks into meaning sentences such as: “Time waits for no man,” using the rules of English grammar, syntax, and semantics…the process of a random search strategy to find meaningful sentences “within the infinite space of all possible combinations of letters”[2], becomes a hopeless and unfruitful endeavor.

            In this essay, I would like to expand upon this concept to explore some realities easily understood by the common layman in the street to be so complex as to be beyond the reach of chance.

            The human male sperm has 23 chromosomes, and the female egg has 23 chromosomes.  When these two join together, they form a single cell which begins to divide into a developing embryo at the successive rate of 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 cells leading to a fully developed child at childbirth.

            But at some milestone point along this process the internal information exists inside these multiplying cells that says it is time to produce an umbilical cord and a placenta.

            It is easy to see how this wonder-of-nature could be taken-for-granted by the general populace because it is so commonplace. 

            But what is the tally of letters, spaces, and punctuation marks translated into the language of biological genetics, that accurately differentiates between possible useless gibberish to safely guide this process of a functional umbilical cord connecting mother with developing child inside the mother’s womb, through the intricate successive steps to reach a successful outcome, having no room for error?

            The atheistic paradigm of scientific materialism requires that function in embryonic development must be obtained through blind, mindless, accidental, trial-and-error, random, and undirected processes…being the defining features of a random search strategy.

            By what logic, for the man on the street, can the information tally needed to produce an umbilical cord and a placenta at just the right time in the womb of the human mother, be reduced down to the simplicity of the random search for two or three-letter words “within the infinite space of all possible combinations of letters,” when this database of genetic information would likely fill an entire book.

            When we apply this similar reduction to simplicity to all of the complexity we see in the natural world, the facts-on-the-ground do not align with the rhetoric of the worldview of scientific materialism.

            When I look at my own physical body, not only do I need to start with the mass of complex and highly specified information contained within the 3.5-billion bits of information contained within my DNA, but the physics, chemistry, and mathematics that describe the enumerable systems of information producing human function poses the quantitative question of whether I am a walking book of coordinated letters and sentences of information, or am I a walking and breathing, entire section of books in a typical university library?

            Apply this commonsense test to every known phenomenon in the natural living and non-living world, and the simplicity inherent in a random search strategy to produce anything complex and specified…is left miles behind in the dust.

            Up until the age of about 14 or 15, I could play tackle football in the park in my street clothes without breaking any bones, because the structural strength-to-weight ratio of my leg and arm bones are capable of withstanding the forces of running, blocking, and tackling and being tackled.

            If I am a medium-level tennis player, what is the tally of information needed to place a line-drive, flat serve in either back-corner of the opponent’s service rectangle, or hit a spinning serve that first bounces near a back-corner then curves away from my opponent?

            When playing tennis, how much biological information is actualized when during a rally I choose a particular ball hit to my forehand and I step into the shot and hit it down-the-line for a winner?

            How much information is involved in the classic words of the Rogers and Hammerstein song Some Enchanted Evening, of looking across a crowded room of people to spot my one true love?

            These few examples amidst an enumerable quantity of other realities exhibit complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information unearthed by modern science today, that preclude as nonsensical the simplistic explanations of their origin and causations as presented through the worldview of naturalistic materialism…of the reach of chance to singular produce two and three-letter words but not whole books of information that comprise actual reality. 


[1] Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase: Adler & Adler, 1985), 308-325.

[2] Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase: Adler & Adler, 1985), 308.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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