©2002  by Gerard Wakefield
(This article may be copied for educational purposes only.)

"Life Is Not Here By Chance"

One of the fundamental tenets of the theory of evolution is the belief that the alleged upward development from non-life to primitive life, and from primitive life to more advanced life, is the result of pure, random chance. Biologist Mahlon B. Hoagland, president and scientific director of The Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology and a confirmed evolutionist, put it most succinctly. Co-discoverer, along with Paul Zamecnik, of transfer RNA in 1956, Dr. Hoagland stated that

chance plays the tune in evolution. How DNA will be altered by mutation is a matter of chance. What characteristics of a pair of parents will appear in offspring by sex-mixing of DNA is a matter of chance. The meeting of mating pairs is a chance occurrence. And what environment will be making the selection of changed organisms is in the hands of chance. Thus are the roots of all of life buried deep in chance (Hoagland, 78-79).…One of the problems in comprehending evolution derives from one’s seeing changes that seem purposeful, when, in fact, the mechanism involves only chance events. (Ibid. 87 [italics original]). He further wrote that every step in evolution is a chance — and therefore unpredictable — event. All living creatures, humans included, are products of an enormously large series of chance events. It may be said that in the particular form in which we humans find ourselves today, we are incredibly improbable! Another way of saying this is that if evolution started all over again on the same earth and under the same conditions, the chance of producing humans again would be infinitesimally small (Ibid. 90). Echoing Prof. Hoagland’s thought is Dr. Stephen J. Gould, professor of biology, geology, and the history of science at Harvard and the world’s leading advocate of the theory of evolution. Regarding the Burgess Shale fossils, which show that the earliest life forms appeared suddenly, Dr. Gould stated: Wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale. Let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay (Gore 126). Despite these claims, scientists are beginning to recognize the extreme unlikelihood of chance being the driving force behind the origin and development of life. For example, Prof. William Thorpe of Cambridge University’s zoology department declared: I think [it] is fair to say that all the facile speculations and discussions published during the last ten to fifteen years explaining the mode of origin of life have been shown to be far too simple-minded and to bear very little weight. The problem in fact seems as far from solution as it ever was. The origin of even the simplest cells poses a problem hardly less difficult. The most elementary type of cell constitutes a "mechanism" unimaginably more complex than any machine yet thought up, let alone constructed by man (Hitching 68). Francis Hitching, a member of the Royal Archaeological Institute and the Prehistoric Society of England, speculating on what happened in the Cambrian Period, when the first life appeared suddenly in the fossil record, noted that the current theory of an accidental, random union of protein molecules in a warm pond to form the first life leaves unanswered the crucial question of what sudden event caused the single-celled creatures to develop into highly complex multicellular ones; and what evolutionary or biological mechanism there was to permit this to happen. In a sense, it just pushed the problem back earlier in time. The origin of multicellularity remains "the enigma of palaeontological enigmas" (Ibid. 19). Other scientists are coming to the same conclusion. For example, Dr. Michael J. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University, discovered that even the simplest chemical compounds from which all life sprang — the building blocks of life — are "irreducibly complex," and that such mind-boggling complexity effectively rules out chance as the cause of life as we know it. He writes in his book Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution: Despite comparing [gene] sequences and mathematical modeling, molecular evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be. In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish (Behe 186). Prof. Behe is not alone, as the Boston Globe reported in 1993: Some evolutionary biologists conclude that the development of complex, conscious life was all but inevitable — and, perhaps, the result of a grand design (Flint 1)....Advances not only in cosmology but in other fields have contributed to the interest [in Intelligent Design], scientists say. Some evolutionary biologists, for example, have been grappling with the question of how the molecules that led to intelligent, self-aware living things first formed — and a consensus is growing that it wasn’t entirely random. "Discoveries in biology in the last 30 years present a whole new world view, a whole new stage on which to think about origin and creation," said Ursula Goodenough, a geneticist at Washington University in St. Louis (Ibid. 12). After decades of convincing people that chance was the all-powerful mover behind evolution, advocates of Darwin’s theory are now trying to backpedal, saying that chance was never the prime mover all along. Yet how can we believe them, when they’ve been wrong for so long? The conclusion appears inevitable — "chance" doesn’t have a chance of being the cause of life on earth.


Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996).

Flint, Anthony. "More scientists look to divine," Boston Globe, 12 July 1993.

Gore, Rick. "The Cambrian Period: Explosion of Life," National Geographic 184, no. 4 (1993).

Hitching, Francis. The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong (New Haven/New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1982).

Hoagland, Mahlon B. The Roots of Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978).

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