I believe some of the strongest arguments in favor of a creation based interpretation of the data of history are from observations of design. Of course evolutionists debate this point and claim we only observe the “appearance” of design. One way creationists talk about design is from Borel’s law which states “events whose probability is sufficiently small never occur”.1 Borel further states the numerical value of “sufficiently small” depends upon the scale, for example, on the earth vs. in the universe. Creationists have used Borel’s value for the scale of phenomena in the universe of 1×10-50 and applied it to the terrestrial scale. For example, the probability of a sequence of amino acids randomly assembling in the correct order to form a single protein of cytochrome a is 1×10-60.2 In most cases the probabilities are so low for forming just one protein that creationists rationally conclude random chance events can not lead to the formation of a living cell which requires at least 382 proteins.3
I recently found a critique of how creationists use Borel’s Law, but the calculations presented there were seriously flawed.4 Briefly, they claimed the probability to see light from the Andromeda galaxy by the human eye was less than the 1×10-50 number used by creationists. But a human can see the Andromeda galaxy with the naked eye. The event was predicted by Borel’s Law to be impossible, but yet we see it. Thus, the creationist use of Borel’s law is falsified.
However, this calculation misses two points which have a huge impact on the final result. First, implicit in their calculation is a single emission of photons from the galaxy. In reality a star is emitting on the order of 1043 photons per second. Second, the human eye has about 100 million rods to detect these photons from a distant star or galaxy. So, when these factors are taken into account the human eye is estimated to be detecting approximately 25 photons per second of light from the Andromeda galaxy. As that famous French detective Inspector Clouseau has said, “case sol ved.”
Yes, there are questions about the specific cut-off probability for an event to be labeled as statistically impossible. However, the general principle in Borel’s Law is well-founded and not maliciously misapplied by creationists.
Written by Dr. Al Gotch
1. Borel, Emil; Probability and Life, Dover, New York, 1962. (translated from the original, Les Probabilite et la Vie, 1943, Presses Universitaire de France)
2. For example http://www.parentcompany.com/creation_essays/essay44.htm (accessed 2013.02.23)
3. Glass, John; Nacyra Assad-Garcia, Nina Alperovich, Shibu Yooseph, Matthew R. Lewis, Mahir Maruf, Clyde A. Hutchison III, Hamilton O. Smith *, and J. Craig Venter. “Essential genes of a minimal bacterium”. PNAS 2005, 103, 425–430. http://www.pnas.org/content/103/2/425
4. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Borel%27s_Law (accessed 2013.02.23)