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Subject:  Re: Religionists miss the scale of things Date:  3/15/2005  12:06 PM
Author:  MATZOID Number:  143943 of 519606

So first, we have to determine how many possibilities exist given that there are 206 bones. In other words, how many combinations could we randomly make out of the 206 bones. A system of two parts (1 x 2) has two possible combinations...1,2 or 2,1. A system of three parts (1 x 2 x 3) has 6...1,2,3 or 1,3,2 or 2,3,1 or 2,1,3 or 3,1,2, or 3,2,1. And so on to 206 we go (1 x 2 x 3 x 4....x 206). This is called 206 factorial and it is approximately 10 to the 388th power. If this experiment could be completed every second for every single second available in some evolutionary estimates of 10 billion years...that is somewhere around 10 to the 18th power worth of seconds to work with. This produces a probability of 10 to the (388-10=370) power. The chance of getting the bones all in their correct position is less than one chance in 10 billion years.

The flaw in this is that you are trying to predict the odds of an entire skeletal system appearing from nowhere - kind of like the chance that some magical being created it. Yes, that would be impossible.

Actually, you need to calculate the odds of each tiny incremental change as it happened. For example, you would need to calculate the chance that a mutation would occur to turn the thumb, just ever so slightly, from facing away form the palm, like a chimp's, to facing slightly inward toward the palm. We obviouly know this can happen from the number of 'birth defects' we see all the time. Odds are good.

If a creature is born with a thumb turned slightly toward the palm turns out to be an advantage to it, it may have a slightly better chance of survival and pass that trait along.

And given 10 billion years, even in your scenario, it is possible for bones to evolve that actually line up so that they work together.

What would be really amazing is if people had bodies whose parts weren't working as a system. Now that would be a miracle.

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