The author of the great webcomic XKCD, Randall Munroe, has just started a new series called “What if?”, in which he answers hypothetical questions scientifically. The latest offering tackles the question, “What if everyone who took the SAT guessed on every multiple-choice question? How many perfect scores would there be?” I’d encourage those interested to read the whole response, but let me cite the part most relevant to this post:
There are 44 multiple-choice questions in the math (quantitative) section, 67 in the critical reading (qualitative) section, and 47 in the newfangled writing section. Each question has five options, so a random guess has a 20% chance of being right.
The probability of getting all 158 questions is:1 in 2.7 x 10110
(That’s one in twenty-seven quinquatrigintillion.)
If all four million 17-year-olds all took the SAT, and they all guessed randomly, it’s a statistical certainty that there would be no perfect scores on any of the three sections.
How certain is it? Well, if they each used a computer to take the test a million times each day, and continued this every day for five billion years—until the Sun expanded to a red giant and the Earth was charred to a cinder—the chance of any of them ever getting a perfect score on just the math section would be about 0.0001%.
– via XKCD “What If?”, bold emphasis mine
Renowned mathematician and founder of the oldest French school for statistics, Émile Borel, marked the limit for possible events at: 1 in 1 x 1050.1 Comparing that with the more than double “1 in 2.7 x 10110” for the SAT equation we arrive at statistical certainty that someone completely guessing their way to a perfect SAT score will never, ever happen (as Randall helpfully articulates in his answer).
Having all of that in mind, mightn’t it be interesting to look at the numbers for the statistical probabilities of the secular evolutionary idea of life arising from naturalistic random chance processes for comparison?
I have two numbers for your consideration. The first is the likelihood of a single protein being formed out of constituent left-handed amino acids by random processes, as calculated by Walter Bradley, PhD, materials science, and Charles Thaxton, PhD, chemistry2:
1 in 4.9 x 10191
Compare that with the number for the SAT and note that this is even more statistically remote of a possibility. Indeed, it is an impossibility based on Borel’s cap for possible events.
The second number is what atheists Sir Fred Hoyle, PhD, astronomy, and Chandra Wickramasinghe, professor of applied math and astronomy calculated as the odds of a lone cell arising out of naturalistic processes3:
1 in 1 x 1040,000
So, as you can see, as much of a long shot (read: impossibility) as the SAT guessing trick is, it is degrees of magnitude upon degrees of magnitude more far-fetched to believe that life could originate from naturalistic random chance processes, much less evolve to the state of complexity we currently observe in the living things around us.
However, even with all of that demonstrated, the secular mind will continue to refuse to accept God as an explanation, preferring the darkness of speculation as Romans ch. 1 clearly says. I can bet you this: the atheists that read this post will not be persuaded because, as far as they are concerned, one chance in 1040,000 is still a chance. And to the mind that is antithetical to God, that’s a straw worth grasping.
For more on this subject, I recommend this article by Mike Riddle, which is where I was introduced to the sources I’ve cited here.
(1) E. Borel, Probabilities and Life, [New York: Dover Publications, 1962], p. 28.
(2) Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin, p. 80.
(3) F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 176