# The case of the typing monkeys

Dr. Aikman recounting one reason the noted atheist Anthony Flew (whose arguments against the existence of God I was subjected to when I was an undergraduate) changed his mind:

The “Monkey Theorem,” in its popular form, holds that if you have an infinite number of monkeys banging away at an infinite number of keyboards, eventually you will get from one of them Shakespeare’s Sonnet Eighteen, the first four lines of which read:

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? /Thou art more lovely and more temperate./ Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May/ And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Well, in  the 1990’s the British National Council of the Arts, in an inventive use of taxpayers’ money, placed six monkeys in a cage with a computer.  After banging away at the keyboard for a whole month – and using the computer as a bathroom at the same time – the monkeys had typed 50 pages but failed to produce a single word in the English language, not even the letter “a” by itself.   [Gerry] Schroeder applied probability theory to the “Monkey Theorem” and calculated that the chance of getting Sonnet Eighteen by chance was 26 multiplied by itself 488 times (488 is the number of letters in the sonnet) or, in base 10, 10 to the 690th.  If that number is written out, it is 1 with 690 zeroes following it.  But, as Schroeder showed, the number of particles in the entire universe —  protons, electrons and neutrons – is only ten to the 80th.  Thus, even if every particle in the universe were a computer chip that had been spinning out random letters a million times a second since the beginning of time, there would still be no Shakespeare’s Sonnet Eighteen by chance.  As Flew concluded, “if the theorem [the Monkey Theorem] won’t work for a single sonnet, then of course it’s simply absurd to suggest that the more elaborate feat of the origin of life could have been achieved by chance.

I love knowing that there are 10 to the 80th particles in the universe!  Is that all?  And a typing monkey couldn’t come up with one of them!

"http://davidpawson.org/reso... Some really good points here"

Blaming the Reformation
"...3 percent of the population now owns half of all the guns.I've read that as ..."

Why Would a High School Kid ..."
"pcxian,Why would you say my observation of conservative churches is insular? I've observed many and ..."

Why Would a High School Kid ..."
"Perhaps your insular observation of conservative churches is misplaced because they, unlike so-called liberal churches, ..."

Why Would a High School Kid ..."

Browse Our Archives

Related posts from Cranach
• S. Bauer

While this may be a necessary element in refuting evolution, it is not a sufficient one. As Dawkins loves to point out, it does not take the effects of natural selection that the theory also proposes into account (which gives him the unbridled pleasure in pointing out that Christians who trot out this argument to refute evolution reveal they do not know what they are talking about).
There was nothing in the monkey cage “selecting” certain “passages” the monkeys were “composing” over others. Somehow natural selection is supposed to drive random replicating processes toward “meaningful” or more organized patterns, even though natural selection itself has no pattern toward which it is aiming. Of course, as I see it, the whole question is whether natural selection has been demonstrated to carry such a burden.

• S. Bauer

While this may be a necessary element in refuting evolution, it is not a sufficient one. As Dawkins loves to point out, it does not take the effects of natural selection that the theory also proposes into account (which gives him the unbridled pleasure in pointing out that Christians who trot out this argument to refute evolution reveal they do not know what they are talking about).
There was nothing in the monkey cage “selecting” certain “passages” the monkeys were “composing” over others. Somehow natural selection is supposed to drive random replicating processes toward “meaningful” or more organized patterns, even though natural selection itself has no pattern toward which it is aiming. Of course, as I see it, the whole question is whether natural selection has been demonstrated to carry such a burden.

• S. Bauer

Hah! It worked!

Dr. Veith, enclose your paragraphs with the HTML paragraph tags – like this…
I hope I got the escape sequences correct.

• S. Bauer

Hah! It worked!

Dr. Veith, enclose your paragraphs with the HTML paragraph tags – like this…
I hope I got the escape sequences correct.

• S. Bauer

Nope. Try again.

• S. Bauer

Nope. Try again.

• S. Bauer

OK. This has got to be it.
<p>This is text.</p>

• S. Bauer

OK. This has got to be it.
<p>This is text.</p>

• ! That should be easy enough to remember. Thanks.

• ! That should be easy enough to remember. Thanks.