Now what’s the chance of that?

Most of us have laboured over a jigsaw puzzle. The harder ones have more pieces, and the hardest have lots of the same colour pieces, and many different shapes. Checking a piece against the box lid picture often helps. It’s usual to start with the edge pieces, which are fewer in number and where there is one uniform side to line up with other similar pieces. Here is a picture illustrating that approach.

A very different approach would be to repeatedly throw all the pieces in the air, and hope they fall on to the table in exactly the right way. They must all fall picture side up, and all the edge pieces must be on the outside. And all the pieces must be oriented correctly to line up with the one next to them. Would you challenge a friend to use the normal approach with one puzzle while you tried throwing everything for another puzzle in the air, to see who would finish first? You could agree to quit after an hour, with the most complete puzzle winning. Would you bet your friend $1,000 that you will win, because you believe there is a chance everything could fall from the air just right, in time? But you don’t believe that, do you? Both scientific knowledge and experience tell you it will never work, not in a million years. And you don’t have a million years anyway.

While none of us would risk $1,000 on such a bet, many seem prepared to risk far more for an even less probable outcome.

Let’s call the two puzzle approaches “intervention” and “chance”, with “chance” being the throwing in the air method. The bigger challenge is, which method do you think is most likely the reason we as humans came to be walking on the earth today? Those with mathematical skill to apply to such a question would have to work out how many chance events would have to occur in the right order for complex beings like ourselves to develop from the simplest form of life. We might think a few hundred million years would be enough for random chance events to accomplish the result we now see around us. However, those best able to study the biology and do the math have concluded chance alone could not be successful in even the 4.5 billion years it is suggested this Earth has been in existence.

Some have therefore proposed life must have originated and developed elsewhere and then somehow got to Earth in a partially developed form. But if we propose that, we have really moved from applying the “chance” method to applying the “intervention” method. In the jigsaw puzzle test we know who intervenes. Who or what could intervene to bring life to Earth? What capabilities would such an external force have to possess, and where did they come from? And is there any scientific evidence for that?

To complicate matters further, we could try to calculate the chance that Earth itself would exist as it now certainly does, assuming the universe were to start billions of years ago. But the environment we now enjoy depends upon a host of different variable factors, which must individually and together operate to govern the universe within extremely narrow ranges. And they do, in a way that is to be expected if they are operating by design not chance. Or Earth as we know it simply would not exist. We are comforted that these things are measurably governed by apparent physical laws, so we are not expecting to vanish in a puff of smoke any time soon! But where do such laws come from if we are using the “chance” model? A huge further complicating factor is that nothing so far discussed attempts to explain why the universe itself came into being, or why life ever began.

Perhaps that’s enough for now. We are left to ponder why we should believe people who advise us to bet everything we have that no external force was involved in starting or maintaining the universe, or originating life, when science seems to demand it. But if there is nothing that can explain the present reality except such an external force (the “intervention” approach), why would we risk everything and blindly adopt a “chance” solution, just like throwing puzzle pieces in the air and wishing it could make them create a finished picture? Christian’s can see the finished picture of life on Earth, the box lid so to speak, and can place their confidence in a Bible-based worked-out solution requiring all the pieces to be in the correct place. Don’t be satisfied with an incomplete solution!

We can be encouraged by the fact that fellow-Christians are included among competent professionals in the fields of mathematics, nuclear physics and biology. If you’d like a suggested reading list of science-based material addressing these issues, by properly qualified writers, please contact us.