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That ol’ Darwinian magic – George Wald

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From Talk Origins, a lengthy excursus on the views of mid-twentieth century Nobelist George Wald (1906-1997), excoriating those who misquote him: We nonetheless read that he really did say with amazement:

When we consider the spontaneous origin of a living organism, this is not an event that need happen again and again. It is perhaps enough for it to happen once. The probability with which we: are concerned is of a special kind; it is the probability that an event occur at least once. To this type of probability a fundamentally important thing happens as one increases the number of trials. However improbable the event in a single trial, it becomes increasingly probable as the trials are multiplied. Eventually the event becomes virtually inevitable.

and

The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at lest once. And for life as we know it, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, once may be enough.

Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two [sic] billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the “impossible” becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles. More.

Sorry, George. If time alone made the impossible possible, Boltzmann brains would be floating everywhere and the dead would be walking around again.

To understand the origin of life, one must deal with the origin of information.

See also: What we know and don’t know about the origin of life

and

New Scientist astounds: Information is physical

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6 Replies to “That ol’ Darwinian magic – George Wald

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    No matter how improbable it may be that every person will become a Christian, it will happen at least once. Time is the hero of the plot though. Sorry Jesus.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    If we ignore Design, then there are actually 2 separately improbable incidents:

    Incident 1: Life arises from mere chemistry.

    Incident 2: The Life from Incident 1 successfully reproduces and thrives.

    There is an old example of Probability wherein George Gamow discusses the CHANCE that all of the oxygen molecules in a room wind up on the OTHER side of the room from where you’re sitting. Each of the molecules is moving independently and randomly. So OF COURSE this can happen.

    It probably happens all the time. But that state would have to be maintained for many seconds before we even noticed it, and the clustering, which is random, simply breaks down before it becomes significant (i.e., the human in the room faints from lack of oxygen).

    The huge advantage of Design is that if Prototype #1 falls apart, you simply launch Prototype #2. In accidental chemistry, if Prototype #1 fails to reproduce, the proper combination of random events shouldn’t happen again for another billion years.

    Design includes training wheels. Randomness does not.

  3. 3
    PaV says:

    If I crack open walnuts for all eternity, I’ll find one with a tiny copy of the Statue of Liberty made out of gold.

    It’s just a matter of time.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Time can work miracles?

    The interesting thing about Darwinists appealing to deep time to work miracles is that time itself is found to be connected to entropy. Thus deep time makes an unlikely event even more unlikely still:

    Time: The Unlikely Villain
    Excerpt: When confronted with the problem of equilibrium, most scientific materialists will appeal to the magic ingredient of time. In chapter one we saw this appeal by Nobel Laureate, George Wald:
    “Time is in fact the hero of the plot. Given so much time the impossible becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: Time itself performs the miracles.” 49
    However, Dr. (Harold F.) Blum, who is a materialist, points out that Wald’s faith in the miraculous ingredient of time is mere wishful thinking. Prolonged time periods, he asserts, actually worsen the dilemma:
    “I think if I were rewriting this chapter [on the origin of life] completely, I should want to change the emphasis somewhat. I should want to play down still more the importance of the great amount of time available for highly improbable events to occur. One may take the view that the greater the time elapsed the greater should be the approach to equilibrium, the most probable state, and it seems that this ought to take precedence in our thinking over the idea that time provides the possibility for the occurrence of the highly improbable.” 50 (Emphasis added)
    According to Dr. Blum, the magic bullet of time does not increase the likelihood that chains of DNA or proteins will form by chance chemistry. In fact, according to Dr. Blum, increasing the time factor actually ensures that any primordial soup would consist of predominantly unbonded amino acids and nucleotides!
    http://www.bibliotecapleyades......life13.htm

    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/

    Moreover, at one time time itself did not exist. So apparently the miracle worker of deep time, that atheists appeal to so frequently so as to overcome impossible odds, necessarily required another miracle worker to bring it into existence and somehow endow it with its miracle working powers that atheists imagine that it has:

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/bigbang.html

    Big Bang Theory – An Overview of the main evidence
    Excerpt: Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space.1, 2 According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy.”3
    Steven W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36.
    Steven W. Hawking, Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, 314 (1970) pp. 529-548.
    http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

  5. 5
    mike1962 says:

    One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles.

    Prove that statement of faith.

    Now, take a Rubics cube. Peel off the stickers and put them back on in such a way that you can no longer solve the puzzle. Hand it to someone with endless time on his hands. Now, it doesn’t matter how many times he spins the blocks, and in what directions, he’ll never solve the puzzle.

    Some things are impossible.

    Even when you have endless time.

    Even some things as simple as a modified Rubics cube.

    The DNA/ribosome/etc replicator is a helluva lot more complex than a Rubics cube. We don’t know enough about the nature and physics of the processes of that system to know if known physics plus time is enough to make it inevitable or even plausible, or if something with intention capable of meddling with physics below the quantum level is required to “put the stickers on correctly” in the first place to override physical barriers. Anyone who says otherwise is peddling snake oil.

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    What is time? Time being able to do anything would include doing nothing. Time does not equal miracles that create themselves.
    by the way it shows also the great biology concept coming into existence needs the evidence of a non biology concept.
    Why does biology never prove its fantastic claims by biology evidence? is it because there is none worthy to persuade?? YES thats the reason!

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