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!