Mount Improbable

            There are enumerable examples in the natural living world of genetic mutations chosen by natural selection to introduce innovatively beneficial traits to improve survival and reproductive advantage, and to modify fit in reaction to changing environments.

            But matter and energy do not possess the capacity to think-ahead and plan-out strategies.

            Matter and energy are indifferent to self-assembly in targeted trajectories spanning a series of small steps to reach some future ensemble of parts having coordinated function.

            A single mutation/selection process part-way up the gradually sloping side of Mount Improbable using one small step at a time as illustrated in Rickard Dawkins’ book Climbing Mount Improbable[1], cannot logically enlist the overall program of starting at the bottom of the hill then rising upward in a straight line to the top of the mountain to achieve function, in his analogous example.

            It takes a different class of information for this secondary operation to climb up the slope, having a targeted final outcome “in mind” over a number of connected steps, rather than isolated genetic mutations as single, unrelated events.

            Setting-up a series of coordinated steps leading towards well-defined, mature function involves informational thought that matter, energy, or natural selection do not have.

            A fundamental issue that Richard Dawkins misses here is that it takes an additional source of managerial information to climb the gradual slope of Mount Improbable in the upward direction to reach the top in terms of biological development.

            This is similar to the fallacy of the example of 100 monkeys over a period of years producing a Shakespeare play while randomly hitting the keys of typewriters.

            This example of typing monkeys invalidly starts with a narrowly targeted and specified means to communicate information in the English language as a baked-in, upfront given.

            The Mount Improbable explanation in biology for the concept of starting with the simple then progressing to the complex, subtly ignores the starting-point of a mountain having a steeply vertical face on one side, and a gradually inclined slope on the other side.

            This then stealthily imports the premeditated program of progressive development from the bottom of the slope to the top of the mountain, which has no correlation to the entirely different reality of single, isolated genetic mutations producing a beneficial new trait chosen through natural selection in isolated small steps.

            Having a mountain with steps going up a gradually sloping side is anything but starting-off with the simple.

            Neglecting the complementary puzzle-piece that connects all of the small mutation/selection events going up the mountain towards a final, well-defined outcome, is a theory killing oversight.

            Genetic mutations chosen by natural selection do not provide the informational protocol or instructions to climb up the gradually sloped side of the mountain.

            We can’t just assume that mutation/selection will automatically have the beneficial trajectories to eventually combine and coordinate into a positive vector that takes a developing organism to the top of the mountain.

            This might be the case of researcher/investigator bias unconsciously rigging the system upfront toward some anticipated outcome.

            But I recognize that the argument being made here by Dawkins is that when enough genetic mutations coalesce into a positive trait or an entire new organism to reach the top of the mountain to achieve function, it does not matter how many wrong turns or how much time it took.

            If, in our experience a laboratory chemist follows the sequential steps to reach an end-point outcome of a particular desired chemical compound or solution, it is clear that in this scenario the directional trajectory of the protocol is governed by intelligent agency to guide the process to generate the outcome.

            The assertion that is made in Climbing Mount Improbable is that natural selection is capable of integrating and coordinating the series of small steps to achieve function, in essence replacing the intelligent agency of the laboratory chemist with the process of natural selection instead.

            But this Mount Improbable example is not the same thing as starting from scratch with absolutely nothing…with no mountain, no small steps going upward, and no encompassing instructions connecting-the-dots of isolated mutation/selection events to proceed upward in the right direction.

            Finally, the difficulty of creating a new planet Earth-2 from scratch due to the practical limitations of physically material human beings being unable today of transcending the vastness of outer space and time, strangely limits us going in the other direction from being able to create life due to the microscopic size of the nanotechnology in living cells.

            The DNA molecule having 3.5-billion bits of information in the form of a four-letter chemical alphabet, when stretched-out is only 6 feet long.

            When we add 20 amino acid types, thousands of different proteins, and the molecular machinery in the typical living cell being about the size of the head of a pin, we are limited by this small size containing unimaginable complexity to the same extent that the planetary largeness of space in our solar system inhibits human beings from creating a nearby new planet Earth-2.

            Today, if we give chemists all of the materials needed and the ideal laboratory conditions to attempt to produce life, we cannot do it.

            These are not pie-in-the-sky, theoretical, crazy-headed concepts I am presenting here.

            They eliminate as possible candidates any version of physically material beings having the practical capacity to produce planets, solar systems, galaxies, universes, or such things as time, light, energy, gravity, conscious thought, and the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of the ten-million living species on earth.

            If matter and energy alone are not up to the job, then the only remaining choice is a non-material, Spirit Mind/Being having incredible architectural and engineering acumen coupled with a sublimely artistic imagination.

            This is why the question: “Is there empirical evidence for the existence of God?” is outdated now by about two to three decades.

            The empirical evidence for the existence of God is found in every physically material entity in the known universe, consisting of the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of non-material information needed to produce these physically material entities.

            The findings of contemporary science now tell a sophisticated modern culture through the process of elimination, that any solely materialistic causation is incapable of spanning across the great divide from point A to point Z, in producing the coordinated and sequential steps to create a functioning universe, life on earth, and the reality of a perfect summer day in sunny Southern California.

This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.

[1] Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1996).

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