What do you say to someone who thinks evolution is wrong because random molecules cannot just come together and give life and emotions, e…

July 13, 2015

Answer by Saurio Pérez:

Tell the creationist to perform this little experiment at home:
Get 60 bolts and 60 nuts. Of course the nuts must be the aproppiate size to fit to the bolt.
Put the nuts and bolts separated into a tin can with a lid (so you can close it).
Shake and roll the tin can for 25 minutes or more.
Open the tin can.
You'll find that a certain number of bolts have nuts screwed to them.

The creationist answer to a nut-bolt pair is that somebody screwed it, that the pairing can't happen by itself, but this experiment shows that a random process can produce the ordered state of a nut screwed to the bolt.
"Ah" your creationist friend will say "but somebody shook the can".
This is the moment when you hit his head with the can full of nuts and bolts 😉

Well, if you don't want to get that violent, tell your friend that the shaking is a random process, that it doesn't matter who or what did the shaking, that could have been a person or a sufficiently long mountain slope where the tin can rolled. Ask him how many times he put the earbuds of his stereo in a drawer to find the cables knotted. Who did the knots?

"Ordered" states can come out from disorder.


Intermission:

Edit July 10, 2015.
As somehow predicted above, several creationists started with the "but somebody designed the nuts and bolts!" argument. You can read them in the comments section.
The nuts, bolts and cans don't matter, don't get stuck on the surface. The example is just an example of how a random procedure can give origin to an "ordered" state. Also: It is NOT an example of EVOLUTION!

I'll add another example of how a random procedure can give origin to an "ordered" state that doesn't involve physical things like nuts, bolts and cans, with the hope that now the readers can go beyond the example and make the leap to the bigger picture that answers the question:

Do this procedure copied from Wikipedia (except for a little addition of mine).

    1. Take 3 points in a plane to form a triangle, you need not draw it.
    2. Randomly select any point inside the triangle and consider that your current position.
    3. Randomly select any one of the 3 vertex points.
    4. Move half the distance from your current position to the selected vertex.
    5. Plot the current position [Draw the new point, not the line].
    6. Repeat from step 3.

Do we all agree that this is a procedure to draw random points on a plane, right? Right?
Ok.
After a million iterations you get this:

Here is an animation of how this nice fractal picture is randomly created using this procedure:

Or watch this video.

https://youtu.be/hq3pcdNQrCw
What you get is the Sierpinski triangle using a Chaos game.

No nuts, bolts or gods involved. No creation. No design. Just a complex figure formed by a random procedure.

If you have 7 minutes to spare, watch this video on youtube where a kid actually does the procedure with pencil, paper, ruler and a die, although he doesn't go on till the final figure (the poor kid got tired after hours of drawing). He also gives a good explanation of the process and everything behind this order from chaos figure.

Now, please, use the brain inside your skull, go beyond the surface of the example and don't come with "But somebody designed the pencil/ruler/paper/computer/Sierpinski!" or I'll be forced to violate the Quora "Be nice" policy.
Use this example to leap to imagine the much too more complex bioelectrochemical reactions and processes involved in the formation of life.
Thanks.

End of edit. Continue with the original answer.


The error in the creationist reasoning is not understanding what "improbable/unlikely" means.
For instance, it is very unlikely that I win today's lottery. The odds against me winning it are very high. But somebody will win today's lottery (or, at least, a potential winning number will be drawn today).
Evolution is just a long string of winning numbers in a natural lottery, where all the losers are eliminated on the way.

Another example: suppose one Sunday you receive an email from a financial consultor telling you to invest in X stock next Monday because it will rise. You delete it assuming it is spam but next Monday you find that he was right, the stock went up.
Next Sunday he sends you another email telling you to sell because the stock will go down. Next Monday you find out that he was right again.
After some weeks of continuous right predictions you are convinced that the guy has a gift to predict how the market will behave.
But the truth is that the guy is doing this: starts with a list of 2000 email addresses, 1000 get the "It will rise" prediction and 1000 "It will fall".
Next week repeat the procedure with the 1000 that got the right answer.
Next week repeat the procedure with the 500 that got the right answer.
Next week repeat the procedure with the 250 that got the right answer.
Next week repeat the procedure with the 125 that got the right answer.
Etc.
As you can see, after only five weeks you have 125 persons (you included) that believe that the guy is always right and has a gift, but all he did was play it safe with stats and randomness. And, if these lucky 125 would have invested as told, they would have earned a lot of money.
Once again, order out of chaos.

Evolution is like this process: Starts with a big sample of cases/mutations, a percentage will survive and another won't. From the survivors, new mutation, some will survive, some won't. And so on.
The difference with the financial example is that the number of "advised" is increased because organisms reproduce themselves.

Random molecules can come together. Actually, that's what are they doing all the time.
Dissolve salt in water. There is no more salt, there is a liquid that contains Na+ and Cl- ions floating around H2O molecules.
Let the water evaporate and salt (NaCl) crystals appear again. If you did the process right you can even get nice big cubic crystals.
Do your friend believe that God himself crafted each salt crystal that it has formed? Or he won't find unlikely that the atoms came together to form the slat molecule and these molecules came together to for the crystal?
A more complex chemical process produced self replicating molecules. Some of them got "lucky" (the "adviser" gave them the right "advise", they "won" the "lottery") and survived.
The random process goes on and on and on and eventually you have more complex self replicating molecules with more chances of survival and here we are.

Randomness is counterintuitive, that's the problem. Add that to people's refusal to change their mind easily and, presto, a creationist is born!

What do you say to someone who thinks evolution is wrong because random molecules cannot just come together and give life and emotions, e…

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