Sunday, June 11, 2006

Generating Multiple Codes through Mutations

From Dembski's blogsite:

June 10, 2006

'Writing Computer Programs by Random Mutation and Natural Selection'

"The first computer program every student writes is called a “Hello World” program. It is a simple program that prints “Hello World!” on the screen when executed. In the course of writing this bit of code one learns about using the text editor, and compiling, linking and executing a program in a given programming environment.

Here’s a Hello World program in the C programming language:


int main(void)
printf(”Hello World!\n”);

This program includes 66 non-white-space text characters. The C language uses almost every character on the keyboard, but to be generous in my calculations I’ll only assume that we need the 26 lower-case alpha characters. How many 66-character combinations are there? The answer is 26 raised to the 66th power, or 26^66. That’s roughly 2.4 x 10^93 (10^93 is 1 followed by 93 zeros).

To get a feel for this number, it is estimated that there are about 10^80 subatomic particles in the known universe, so there are as many 66-character combinations in our example as there are subatomic particles in 10 trillion universes. There are about 4 x 10^17 seconds in the history of the universe, assuming that the universe is 13 billion years old.

What is the probability of arriving at our Hello World program by random mutation and natural selection? How many simpler precursors are functional, what gaps must be crossed to arrive at those islands of function, and how many simultaneous random changes must be made to cross those gaps? How many random variants of these 66 characters will compile? How many will link and execute at all, or execute without fatal errors? Assuming that our program has already been written, what is the chance of evolving it into another, more complex program that will compile, link, execute and produce meaningful output?

I can’t answer these questions, but this example should give you a feel for the unfathomable probabilistic hurdles that must be overcome to produce the simplest of all computer programs by Darwinian mechanisms.

Now one might ask, What is the chance of producing, by random mutation and natural selection, the digital computer program that is the DNA molecule, not to mention the protein synthesis machinery and information-processing mechanism, all of which is mutually interdependent for function and survival?

The only thing that baffles me is the fact that Darwinists are baffled by the fact that most people don’t buy their blind-watchmaker storytelling."

[Bradford]: It baffles me too. I have some additional questions. How does a random generating and selection process produce the encoded conventions required by the C and English languages? There is an epigenetic parallel. "Hello World" is intelligible to those familiar with the alphanumeric code used to express the English language. The computer code is expressed by means of a second and distinct code. If these codes are not generated in the absence of intelligence what assures us the genetic code was?


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