David Attenborough has remarked that life evolving on earth is a chance in a billion. It is not.

My son David, who is a Maths teacher, was discussing with me the probability of dealing two identical hands from a pack of 52 cards. It is staggeringly small.

It is calculated as 1/52! (52 factorial). That works out as 1/8.07 x 1067.

8.07 x 1067 is a mindbogglingly huge number.

I am a retired Chemistry teacher and that got me thinking.


1. The probability of throwing 4 dice and all turning up 6?



probability = 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/64 = 1/1296


Protein Chemistry

Proteins are chemicals containing the element nitrogen. Proteins are the major structural materials of animal tissue. Proteins are also involved in the maintenance and regulation of life processes.

Amino acids, the building blocks from which proteins are formed, are relatively small molecules which all contain an amino group (NH2), and a carboxyl group (COOH).

The majority of amino acids found in proteins are of the type


R represents a carbon side chain which may contain even the elements nitrogen and sulphur.

Name

R (side chain)

Glycine

-H

Alanine

-CH3

Valine

-CH CH3 CH3

Leucine

-CH2 CH (CH3)2

Aspartic Acid

-CH2 COOH

Methionine

-CH2 CH2 S CH3

Phenylalanine

-CH2 C6H5

Proteins are condensation polymers formed by combining amino acids to form long chain molecules of maybe several thousand amino acid units long.

The structure of a section of protein is based on the constituent amino acids.

When amino acids join together a peptide link (or amide link) (CONH) is formed and water is eliminated. The peptide link is formed by the reaction of an amine group with a carboxyl group.

There are 20 amino acids that protein is made from.

AlanineAla
ArginineArg
AsparagineAsn
AspartateAsp
CysteineCys
GlutamineGln
GlycineGly
GlutamateGlu
HistidineHis
IsoleucineIle
LeucineLeu
LysineLys
MethionineMet
PhenylalaninePhe
ProlinePro
SerineSer
ThreonineThr
TryptophanTrp
TyrosineTyr
ValineVal


Proteins can be classified as fibrous or globular. Within proteins, the long-chain molecules may be twisted to form spirals, folded into sheets, or wound around to form other complex shapes. The chains are held in these forms by intermolecular bonding (eg. hydrogen bonding or dispersion forces) between the side chains of the constituent amino acids.

Fibrous proteins are the major structural materials of animal tissue. The molecules are folded into sheets.

Fibrous proteins are found in skin, hair and muscle. Examples include the keratins (in wool, hair and nails), the collagens (in skin and tissue) and the elastins (in lungs and arteries).

Globular proteins are the functional proteins in living organisms. The long chains are spiral chains folded into compact units.

Globular proteins are involved in the maintenance and regulation of life processes and include enzymes, many hormones e.g. insulin, and haemoglobin.

Enzymes are biological catalysts and each enzyme has a specific task. Most proteins are fibrous in nature but enzymes are globular – they have to be soluble in water to function in cells.

Usually the name of an enzyme ends in ‘ase’.

Amylase converts starch to maltose. The lipases digest fat and the proteinases digest protein.

In an enzyme the protein molecule is coiled and folded in a very specific way which leads to its biological function. The very specific shape allows only certain substrate (reactant) molecules to fit and react. Only these molecules have reactions affected by that enzyme.

If the shape of the protein in coiling and folding is altered the enzyme will not work. The protein is said to be denatured. Changes in temperature and changes in pH lead to this denaturing.

That is school Chemistry.

The suggestion by Science is that these amino acids were in some ‘primordial soup’ and managed to join at random to form the molecules of life. That takes faith. If you have carried out any form of synthetic Chemistry you will know that conditions have to be incredibly precise for a reaction to take place (concentrations, pH and temperature). You have to purify before going on to the next step. You have to extract. You have to make sure you have enough reagent. Mixing a whole heap of Chemicals together just does not work.

So supposing there was this ‘soup’ what is the probability of these amino acid arranging to form a biologically active polypeptide by pure chance.


2. Insulin

Insulin is a smaller molecule than an enzyme. It is a hormone made in the pancreas which allows the body to use glucose for energy. It is made from 51 amino acids using 17 of the permitted 20.

What is the probability of each amino acid being in the correct place in the sequence? It has to be exactly in that order to be functional.

From the chain above what is the probability of the first amino acid being glycine (Gly). If there are 17 amino acids it must be 1 in 17 (1/17). The probability of the second amino acid being isoleucine (Ile) is again 1/17. It is like dice but 17 sided dice. So the probability of that molecule of insulin having all the 51 amino acids in the order shown is given by –

probability =  1/1751 = 1/5.66 x 1062

That is more than extremely improbable.


3. 4-oxalocrotonate tautomerase

4-oxalocrotonate tautomerase is the smallest enzyme in the human body. It is an enzyme that converts 2-hydroxymuconate to the alpha-beta-unsaturated ketone, 2-oxo-3-hexenedioate (that bit of Biology I don’t understand!).

The molecule is formed from 62 amino acids. Assuming all 20 amino acids for life are available. Forming this arrangement of atoms by chance would calculated in a similar way to shaking 62 20 sided dice.


probability =  1/2062 = 1/4.61 x 1080

That is ridiculous. To give some idea of what 4.61 x 1080 is as a number, it is estimated that the there are between 1078 to 1082 atoms in the known, observable universe. Yet, Scientists say this molecule has formed by chance.


4. Salivary amylase

The enzyme salivary amylase starts the process of starch digestion in the mouth. It breaks starch molecules down into maltose.

Amylase is built up from 496 amino acids.

The probability of the amino acids ending up in the order they are in by chance can be calculated by –

probability =  1/20496

This can not be calculated by the spreadsheet on my computer. It cannot be calculated on my calculator. It could not be calculated on any of the online calculators I tried. The answer is beyond large!

Now that is the probability for only two enzymes and one hormone forming by random joining of amino acids. When you combine probabilities they don’t add they multiply.

There are approximately 1300 different enzymes found in the human cell! Each of these coming about by chance.

Or what about the probability of the pre-biotic evolution of the DNA.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus.

The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.

Let’s not calculate the probability of these 3 billion base pairs being in the order they are in!


I have to believe in a Creator.

One argument suggested by Scientists round this infinitely high improbability is the multiverse model. The idea is that there are many universes. The suggestion is there are 10500 universes. There is not a shred of evidence for that. David Berlinski asks the questions – is it easier to believe in 10500 other universes or to believe in one God? It has to be God. (Psalm 8: 3, 4) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?