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A hypothetical question for neo-Darwinists, on the age of the earth

Recently I came across a fascinating biography of Lord Kelvin over on the creationist Website, crev.info. That article gave me the idea for an interesting hypothetical question, which I’d like to put to evolutionary biologists and other defenders of Darwinism. If Professors Jerry Coyne, Larry Moran or P. Z. Myers want to weigh in, I’d be delighted.

Darwin’s biggest problem in the nineteenth century: there wasn’t enough time for his theory of evolution to work

First, a little bit of background. Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection had numerous critics in the nineteenth century. By far the most formidable of these critics was Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) (pictured above, portrait by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, Glasgow Museum, image courtesy of Wikipedia). I’d like to quote an excerpt from the biography of Lord Kelvin at crev.info:

Thomson applied his expertise in physics and thermodynamics to argue that the earth could not be as old as Darwin required for evolution. Darwin needed many millions of years to produce a man from a “warm little pond” of chemicals. Janet Browne explains the seriousness of Thomson’s challenge, and describes how combatting anti-Biblical claims (and bad science) was not a new avocation for the physics professor:


While working on this fifth edition [of The Origin of Species], Darwin also encountered major intellectual problems over the age of the earth. William Thomson (the future Lord Kelvin) had asserted on the basis of experimental physics that the earth was not sufficiently old to have allowed evolution to have taken place. To some extent, Thomson was tilting at Lyell—he had never liked Lyell’s endless geological epochs stretching back into eternity. Earlier on, he had attacked Lyell’s gradualism and uniformitarianism, saying that geologists ignored the laws of physics at their peril and that the earth was much younger than usually thought….

In 1866, thoroughly frustrated by what he regarded as pig-headed obtuseness from the Lyellian-Darwinian fraternity, and propelled by anti-evolutionary, Scottish Presbyterian inclinations, Thomson launched a vigorous polemic against the lot of them, stating that 100 million years was all that physics could allow for the earth’s entire history. As Darwin noted, Thomson intimated that the earth had a beginning and would come to a sunless end.

(Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, 2002, p. 314; emphasis added).

… It was not that Thomson himself believed the earth was as old as 100 million years. But he was convinced that physics itself set an upper limit on the age of the earth that falsified Lyell’s and Darwin’s claims.

Browne next describes the hubbub this caused in the Darwin fraternity. Lyell tried to answer Thomson’s challenge in the tenth edition of his Principles of Geology. Huxley, in what Browne calls one of his “froth and fury” speeches, tried to claim that it didn’t matter, because all Darwin would have to do was speed up the rate of variation. “That,” she claims, “was just what Darwin could not do”—


In the first edition of the Origin of Species he had calculated that the erosion of the Sussex Weald must have taken some 300 million years, a breathtaking length of time that, taken with the rest of the stratigraphic table, provided ample opportunity for gradual organic change. But Darwin’s calculations were wrong. The actual time was much shorter. “Those confounded millions of years,” he had complained to Lyell and deleted the entire example.

So no wonder that “Thomson’s views of the recent age of the world have been for some time one of my sorest troubles.” The 100 million years that Thomson allowed was not nearly long enough for the exceeding slow rates of change Darwin envisaged in nature. The fifth edition of the Origin bore witness to his discomfort. Rattled, he tried various ways to speed up evolution. He was aware that he was becoming more environmentalist, more Lamarckian, as it were, and producing a poor-spirited compromise. He roped in George [his son], with his Cambridge mathematics, to make alternative calculations, telling him that the age of the earth was the single most intractable point levelled against his theory during his lifetime.

Five years later Darwin was still protesting that Thomson’s shortened time-span was “an odious spectre.”

(Ibid., pp. 314–315, emphasis added).

Respected geologists, like Archibald Geike, James Croll and Clarence King, confirmed Thomson’s calculations. The evolutionists were up a creek and running scared…

Thomson kept up the attack. To make matters worse for the Darwinians, he calculated a maximum age for the sun, based on calculations of energy due to gravitational potential energy, resulting in a sun far too young for their requirements. He demonstrated irrefutably that the laws of thermodynamics dictated that the universe and the sun and the earth had a beginning, requiring a Creator, and would come to an utter end – a heat death – barring a supernatural intervention. Darwinians could not assume an infinitely old universe…

Darwin died in 1882, never finding a way out of this vexing corner Thomson had put him in. Browne wraps up this episode, saying, “Decades of continuing debate over the age of the earth were resolved only with the discovery of radioactivity early in the twentieth century, that, broadly speaking, allowed the earth to be as old as evolutionists needed it to be (Ibid., p. 315, emphasis added). In addition, the age of the sun became extendable to billions of years when thermonuclear reactions were discovered. Darwinians breathed a collected sigh of relief…

…Kelvin fought like a gentleman. Even his adversaries respected the fact that he never became personally vindictive. Even “Darwin’s bulldog” Thomas Huxley, praised Kelvin as a gentleman, a scholar, and a formidable opponent: he called him “the most perfect knight who ever broke a lance.”

But a gentleman can be a warrior, too. Known for his self-confidence, Kelvin held the Darwinists’ feet to the fire of scientific rigor and didn’t let them get by with mere storytelling.

My question for neo-Darwinian evolutionists

So here’s my question. Scientists currently set the age of the Earth at 4.54 billion years (with an accuracy of plus or minus 1%), and the age of the universe at 13.798 billion years. However, Scientology founder Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911-1986) (pictured above in 1950; public domain image, courtesy of Wikipedia) proposed a much longer timescale: in his chronology, Incident I, which may have corresponded to the beginning of the universe, took place four quadrillion years ago. That’s about 300,000 times longer than the currently accepted age of the universe, and nearly one million times longer than the currently accepted age of the Earth. (I should add that I personally accept the modern scientific estimate, just as I accept common descent.) So here’s my hypothetical question:


Imagine that a flaw is discovered in currently accepted methods of estimating the age of the Earth and of the universe. Imagine that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s chronology is vindicated, and that the universe turns out to be 4 quadrillion years old. That’s 4,000,000,000,000,000 years. Neo-Darwinian evolutionists now have one million times as much time to play around with than before. On the basis of modern evolutionary theory, can you show me why this would be too much time? And can you set an upper limit to how much time evolutionary theory will allow for the evolution of life on Earth?

In an earlier post of mine, titled, At last, a Darwinist mathematician tells the truth about evolution, I quoted from a talk given by Professor Gregory Chaitin, a world-famous mathematician and computer scientist, on 2 May 2011, titled, Life as Evolving Software. In that talk, Professor Chaitin describes a mathematical problem he had with his toy model of Darwinian evolution: it seemed to require too much time. He used a Busy Beaver (BB) function, and he modeled it using three scenarios: (i) intelligently guided evolution, which reaches fitness BB(N) in time N, which is the fastest possible time; (ii) Darwinian evolution, which requires a time of between N^2 and N^3 to reach the same level of fitness; and (iii) a blind search, which reaches fitness BB(N) in time 2^N. At first, Chaitin was pleased that Darwinian evolution performed so much better than a blind search. But he continues:

But I told a friend of mine … about this result. He doesn’t like Darwinian evolution, and he told me, “Well, you can look at this the other way if you want. This is actually much too slow to justify Darwinian evolution on planet Earth. And if you think about it, he’s right… If you make an estimate, the human genome is something on the order of a gigabyte of bits. So it’s … let’s say a billion bits – actually 6 x 10^9 bits, I think it is, roughly – … so we’re looking at programs up to about that size [here he points to N^2 on the slide] in bits, and N is about of the order of a billion, 10^9, and the time, he said … that’s a very big number, and you would need this to be linear, for this to have happened on planet Earth, because if you take something of the order of 10^9 and you square it or you cube it, well … forget it. There isn’t enough time in the history of the Earth … Even though it’s fast theoretically, it’s too slow to work.” He said, “You really need something more or less linear.” And he has a point…

So there we have it. The amount of time currently available for life to evolve is of the order of time N (billions of years), but according to Chaitin’s toy model, Darwinian evolution should take at least time N^2, or quintillions of years. That fact troubles Chaitin, and it should. But at least he has the honesty to admit there is a problem.

Another honest evolutionist is Dr. Eugene Koonin, whom I wrote about recently in my post, Hoyle’s fallacy? I think not. Dr. Koonin is a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Koonin is the author of a peer-reviewed article, The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life, Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15. In that paper, he uses a toy model – which he admits is not realistic, but which is intentionally over-optimistic in its estimates of how it would take for life to originate on Earth – and concludes that even in a region the size of the observable universe (which he refers to as an O-region, or observable region), the chances of life emerging within the time available are vanishingly remote:

In other words, even in this toy model that assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region is P < 10-1018. Obviously, this version of the breakthrough stage can be considered only in the context of a universe with an infinite (or, at the very least, extremely vast) number of O-regions.

So I would like to ask the evolutionists again: what would you say if you had one million times more times to play around with? Would your response be “That’s wonderful!” or “No, thank you, that’s too much time”?

My point about setting an upper limit to how much time evolutionary theory will allow for the evolution of life on Earth is a vitally important one. It’s no use having a scientific theory that says you need more than 100 million years (say), if that theory is unable to come up with even a ballpark estimate for how long evolution should take, from the first living thing to the life-forms we observe on Earth today. Any theory of origins that could cheerfully accept billions, trillions or even quadrillions of years for the age of the Earth, doesn’t deserve to be called a proper scientific theory.

N.B. In the interests of clarity, my main question to Darwinian evolutionists is: how much time do you think it should take to get from the earliest life-forms to life-forms like ourselves? Or more generally, how long should it take for complex animals to evolve from the first organisms? If the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is a scientific theory, it should be able to calculate that – at least to the nearest order of magnitude (e.g. billions of years, but not tens of billions). Of course, the question of how long it should take for life to evolve from simple chemicals is also of interest, but of lesser relevance, as one might argue that it falls outside the province of biology proper.

So the ball’s in your court, Darwinists. Who will rise to the challenge?

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24 Responses to A hypothetical question for neo-Darwinists, on the age of the earth

  1. 1

    I predict you will get one of two responses from the Darwinists:

    (1) [crickets] or

    (2) The amount of time Darwinian evolution needs is pretty much the amount of time it took, whatever that is.

    Answer (2) is kind of like the Darwinist version of the anthropic principle, which says that the fine tuning we see in the universe should be unsurprising, because if the fine tuning were not there we would not be here to observe it. Those of us who try not to assume our conclusions are not terribly impressed with this reasoning.

    Darwinists have their own principle, which I call the “Shifting Goldilocks Principle” or SGP for short. Under the SGP, if Darwinists calculate that X is the “just right” amount of time that is necessary for Darwinian evolution to have operated to bring about the complex and diverse biosphere we see today, then X is what the theory predicts, with the proviso that if it later turns out that “Y” time is the “just right” time necessary, then Y time is what the theory will have predicted all along (even when it was predicting X time).

    The SGP operates in all areas of Darwinism. Say, for example, the theory predicts that most of the genome consists of useless vestigial junk DNA. Under the SGP, if it later turns out that there is little or no junk DNA in the genome, then that is what the theory has always predicted (even when it was predicting the opposite).

    Thus, under the SGP, Darwinism is immune from falsification, because at any given time whatever it needs to predict will be what it always predicted.

  2. . . .if that theory is unable to come up with even a ballpark estimate for how long evolution should take, from the first living thing to the life-forms we observe on Earth today.

    Nobody has the faintest idea how long it should take. This is because no-one has any idea of what is even involved in getting from first life to where we are today.

    What we do know is that the time available is but a rounding error compared to the awful probabilities that beset the theory. So a million times more time will knock a few zeroes off,* but it doesn’t change the overall calculation meaningfully.

    —–

    * In fact, the age of the universe is largely irrelevant to the question posed. Let’s grant just for purposes of discussion that first life arose early in the Earth’s 4.5BY history. Now we still have to explain how life progressed from a simple replicator to its current state of diversity and complexity in 4.5BY. Doesn’t matter how long the universe existed beforehand, at least in terms of the question vjtorley poses.

  3. 3

    It also reminds me of a terrible movie I had the misfortune of watching in the 80’s, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.” Even though the movie as a whole was dreadfully bad, there was one line that has stuck with me some 30 years later: “no matter where you go, there you are.”

    The Darwinist corollary to Buckaroo’s Axiom: Whatever amount of time is right, that’s what it took.

  4. About the only thing more damaging to your scientific credibility than quoting god is quoting Hubbard.
    Scientology meets ID. You can never be expected to be taken seriously.

  5. I’m not sure that the question makes sense.

    Evolution will continue, as long as biological life continues. “How long does it need?” only seems to make sense if you believe evolution is supposed to produce some particular result. But evolutionists do not claim that.

    More time for the cosmos as a whole would give more possibilities for origin of life (together with panspermia). But origin of life would still be an unsettled question.

  6. More to the point, the Earth cooled down enough to permit life,it is estimated, at about 4 billion years ago. We have definite evidence of life at 3.6 bya and possibly 3.8 bya. Awfully quick for the appearance of the miracle of life, don’t ya think!

  7. Of related note:

    Does Deep Time Help Darwinism Work Miracles?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_Hyx5j3OYRUv3OVUW1f2Wk8oOKplqRE-xeBlQjXdDSc/edit

  8. Graham2: Presumably you realize that vjtorley specifically said he doesn’t believe Hubbard’s number? It was raised as a “what if” only to set up the question.

    —–

    Neil: I think the question can be asked in a way that makes it meaningful and not depend on whether some particular result is supposed to be produced. We know what the result is. The question is, how long did it take?

    The answer being requested is an answer based on what evolutionary theory holds/predicts about how long it should take. If the answer is that it took as long as it did, then the skeptic should be forgiven for noting that such an answer is entirely circular. If the answer is 3.5BY (or similar number), then the question arises: on what basis should we think it would take 3.5BY? Again, an answer that “that is how long it took” or “that is how long life has been around” is circular.

    Is there anything concrete in evolutionary theory that would allow us to say how long it did or should have taken? If, as we may presume, there is not, then that is a telling admission.

    As I said in #2, the fact is no-one knows how long it would have taken because no-one knows what would have been required. The most that can be asserted is that, well gee, it did happen. And it took whatever amount of time was available.

    The Great Evolutionary Explanation:

    Stuff Happens.

  9. The interesting thing about Darwinists appealing to deep time to work miracles is that time itself is found to be connected to entropy:

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy. ,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    Time Asymmetry: Time’s Quantum Arrow Has a Preferred Direction, New Analysis Shows – (Nov. 19, 2012) —
    Excerpt: Time marches relentlessly forward for you and me; watch a movie in reverse, and you’ll quickly see something is amiss.,,,
    Reported this week in the journal Physical Review Letters, the results are impressively robust, with a 1 in 10 tredecillion (10^43) or 14-sigma level of certainty — far more than needed to declare a discovery.
    “It was exciting to design an experimental analysis that enabled us to observe, directly and unambiguously, the asymmetrical nature of time,”,,,
    Taking advantage of the quantum entanglement of the B mesons, which enables information about the first decaying particle to be used to determine the state of its partner at the time of the decay, they were able to find that these transformations happened six times more often in one direction than the other.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....094627.htm

    Yet irreversible entropy, despite the Darwinists vehement denials to the contrary (G. Sewell), is now, experimentally, found to be connected to the information inherent in the cell:

    Maxwell’s demon demonstration (knowledge of a particle’s position) turns information into energy – November 2010
    Excerpt: Until now, demonstrating the conversion of information to energy has been elusive, but University of Tokyo physicist Masaki Sano and colleagues have succeeded in demonstrating it in a nano-scale experiment. In a paper published in Nature Physics they describe how they coaxed a Brownian particle to travel upwards on a “spiral-staircase-like” potential energy created by an electric field solely on the basis of information on its location. As the particle traveled up the staircase it gained energy from moving to an area of higher potential, and the team was able to measure precisely how much energy had been converted from information.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....nergy.html

    Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010
    Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski.
    http://www.scientificamerican......rts-inform

    Yet this irreversible relationship of entropy to the information inherent in the cell is completely contrary to what Darwinists need for their theory to be true:

    “Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.”
    Charles J. Smith – Biosystems, Vol.1, p259.

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis – preeminent Chemist of the first half of last century

    And this tendency of entropic processes of the universe to decrease information in a cell is overwhelmingly confirmed to be true from our laboratory work covering the last four decades:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Thus, Darwinists are found to be postulating that the irreversible ‘random’ events of entropy of the universe, entropic events which explain time itself in the first place, are creating information when in fact it is now shown that these random entropic events in the cell, and of the universe, will do exactly the opposite of what Darwinists claim they can do. These ‘random’ entropic events are found to be consistently destroying the information in the cell rather than ever creating it. It is the equivalent in science of someone claiming that gravity can make things fall up instead of down, and that is not overstating the bizarre situation we find ourselves in in the least with this completely unsupported postulation from Darwinists for how life arose and diversified, since gravity itself is tied to time and entropy.

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 8:18-21
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    Phillips, Craig & Dean – When The Stars Burn Down – Worship Video with lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPuxnQ_vZqY

  10. Semi OT:

    Uh oh, it turns out even the many worlds theory allows for immortality. Atheists just can’t seem to catch a break with that whole many worlds postulation of theirs can they? :)

    10 Mind-Bending Implications of the Many Worlds Theory – February 2013
    http://listverse.com/2013/02/2.....ds-theory/

  11. Whoaaaa!
    Wait a scientific minute here!!!
    If geology makes evolution not viable (not true) and dArwin admits this by his desperate need to have time THEN it is evidence evolution is not based on the scientific biological evidence found in nature but RATHER is based on geological evidence from whence hypothesis of biological evolution conclusions can be made.
    Why do evolutionists need geology?? if the biology research proves evolution then geology is irrelevant!!
    It doesn’t matter if geology gives/takes enough time.
    To be a scientific theory of biology EVOLUTION must base its investigation, its scientific methodology, on biology alone.
    Thats what science is. Accurate methodology.
    Otherwise one can’t falsify evolution as a biological hypothesis/theory if biology is not its evidence!!
    The biological evidence is not persuasive as Darwin admits!
    its just a hunch.
    Fossilism must be dropped as evidence for a biological theory or to critize that theory.
    ID folk screw this up too.

    Science is a high standard of evidence gathering .
    Its not science to gather evidence from a foreign subject relative to the subject being investigated.
    Put down evolution as a scientific biological subject as long as one picks up geology.

  12. I was imaging a coin being tossed to fall on hard ground. And I was thinking that it was extremely improbable for the coin to be neither head nor tails.

    I then imagined when it is tossed on soft ground. Then the chance of it not being head or tail is improved.

    Darwinian evolution seems to depend on this “soft ground for the coin to not land on either head or tail”.

    It seems to me that the first life form (or its descendants) reached a/or condition(s) (which represents the soft ground), which lead to change in them (the coin landing neither landing on its face or its tail), bringing about a build-up of a new life form radically different from its ancestor. The same could be said of these new life forms and their radically different descendants.

    My question is this: Why is time needed? Does the change in genetic make-up need so long, even though the “coin has just fallen neither on head nor tail on soft ground”? What factor(s) determines the length of the change?

  13. That’s a easy question. Species will start disappearing due to deleterious mutations and soon the planet will be sparsely populated and will disappear . In fact you can simulate using any numeric simulation. For eg If we use MENDEL,and simulate for say 10000 generations, we see the following result

    By 100 generation the fitness goes down to 0.8796 with standard deviation (sd) of 0.4728E-01
    By 500 generations,fitness is 0.7478 with sd of 0.4728E-01

    By 5000 generations,fitness is 0.2670 with sd of 0.2048E-01

    By 8000 generations,fitness is down to just 0.1148 with sd of 0.2107E-01
    By 10000 generation, fitness is just 0.02872

  14. I don’t think Darwinists’ main problem is as much if there was enough time for the evolution to work, though that would be a legitimate question, if a much more important issue was resolved first-of the origins of life.

    Down on sandwalk somebody by the name Quest has demolished Larry Moran’s theme on the origins of life by asking the following simple and yet profound questions on the origins of life issue:

    “Enzymes are needed to produce ATP. However, energy from ATP is needed to produce enzymes. However, DNA is required to make enzymes, but enzymes are required to make DNA. However, proteins can be made only by a cell, but a cell can be made only with specific proteins.-Quest”

    So, the question we should be asking Darwinists is not only it evolution had enough time on Earth to accomplish what they claim it had, but also if the origins of life had any time at all or how the above issue was resolved first before Darwinian evolution could even operate.

    Nobody gave Quest any rational answers except the usual intimidations and name calling.

    http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/20.....mment-form

  15. Entire universes exist in the single atoms comprising the nail of my left-hand pinky finger.

    Can you show me how much time each of these universes takes to evolve life?

    Ergo, evolution is false, materialism is incoherent, Jesus is Lord, and Reagan-style conservatism is super for everybody.

  16. Evolutionary theory is historical narrative. How much time is required depends on how many stories need to be told.

  17. I’m note sure if this is a useful question. It more or less equates to asking “given what we know of evolution, what will life look like in [some large number] of years time”.

    Evolution is a contingent process, include stochastic processes and ever-changing fitness landscapes. So, we can’t make specific predictions about what specific creatures will look like, or which groups of species will dominate ecosystems (well… it’s always insects really).

    But we can make some more general predictions. As evoluton proceeds we’ll eventually get to the point that proteins reach the edge of sequence space and thus stop evolving apart from each other. It’s hard, given what we know now, to put a very specific date on when this wil happen. But it’s hard to imagine porteins could evolve in many many lineages for trillions of years without bumping up against the edge of the usable space. Molecular clocks are the other obvious evidence that would be hard to align with a many times older earth – they could only be explained if the calibrations by which they were set were off by some level (and in the case of more recent calibrations, that mutation rate has speed up greatly in recent times).

  18. Hi Lar Tanner,

    Thank you for your comment. You write:

    Entire universes exist in the single atoms comprising the nail of my left-hand pinky finger.

    Can you show me how much time each of these universes takes to evolve life?

    Where’s the evidence that these universes you postulate exist?

    Assuming that you’re referring to a prediction made by the widely accepted theory of the multiverse: the multiverse is outside and beyond space-time, anyway.

    In any case, we can still make frequency predictions regarding even random events (such as radioactive decay) that take place within space-time – that’s what the concept of a half-life is all about.

    Finally, the essential point about Darwinian evolution is that it is non-random. Its entire course, as Darwin explained in the last paragraph of his Origin of Species, is an iron consequence of the laws of Nature. Hence it should be possible to predict, at least in broad outline, how long it should take to get from the first living thing to the first eukaryote, and from that organism to the first multicellular organism, and from that organism to the first animal, and then the first chordate, say. Remember, I’m not asking for a number, just an order of magnitude (e.g. billions of years).

  19. Hi wd400,

    Thank you for your post. I take your point that evolution is a contingent, partly stochastic process as variation is random, and fitness landscapes are ever-changing.

    Nevertheless, it should be possible to make at least relative predictions – e.g. it should take five times as long to get from the first living cell to the first eukaryote as the time taken to get from the first animal to the first chordate. A theory that cannot even make predictions of that kind does not deserve to be taken seriously, in my opinion.

  20. Funny, isn’t it, how evolutionists can tell us they have enough time to evolve an eye, but can’t tell us how they know that.

    Don’t population sizes and generation times factor in somehow?

    IOW, it’s “possible to do the maths.” But Darwinists don’t.

    vjt:

    Finally, the essential point about Darwinian evolution is that it is non-random. Its entire course, as Darwin explained in the last paragraph of his Origin of Species, is an iron consequence of the laws of Nature. Hence it should be possible to predict…

    Doesn’t Steve Fuller argue that this is a misreading of Darwin?

  21. Well, this get’s back to Nick’s comment and the hidden assumption that what happened in evolution had to happen. If you could re-wind the tape, change some time variable and let life evolve again I very much doubt eukaryotes, let alone animals or chordates would have evolved. Since I don’t think eukaryotes had to evolve, there is certainly no upper limit on the relative time it should take them to arise.

  22. “Finally, the essential point about Darwinian evolution is that it is non-random.”