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What Are The Odds?

Published March 29, 2017

Michael V Wilson
By Michael V. Wilson

I'm a pest control technician, the bug man. My job takes me to people's houses every single day. I treat inside their homes and outside. I also do inspections for termites, which takes me around the outside of their house, or, in the case of a pier-and-beam, under their house, where I get up close and personal with dirt.

Today I saw something at a customer's house that made me think about evolution; more specifically, the odds that evolutionists claim we've beaten in order to be here by random chance. What I saw was a pile of sticks.

“So what?” you might ask. “It's just a pile of sticks.” And normally you'd be right.

Sticks-02But I took a picture of them [right] and I want you to take a closer look at it. Do you see what I see? They're all – more or less – laid out in a parallel direction and most of them are approximately the same length. They were either broken to the same length or sorted by length before being put in the pile. Then they were laid out in a mostly parallel fashion.

The moment you see a pile like that you automatically figure someone is piling them up to be discarded or thrown out or whatnot. The key point here is, someone did it. It was deliberate. It was done on purpose, and done for a reason. It wasn't just a random pile of sticks; there was intelligence behind it.

Let me prove it to you.

I counted about 20-25 sticks, but for the sake of simplicity let's assume there are only 10 sticks in the pile. Each one of them could randomly fall in any one of 360 different directions because that's how many degrees are in a complete circle. But, if each stick is smooth and unmarked from end to end (they're not, but work with me on this, ok?) then we only have to worry about 180 degrees, or 180 different positions for each stick because the head and tail would be indistinguishable from each other. But the sticks aren't perfectly parallel with each other. They're a little off; not much, but enough to be noticeable. So lets say they only have to be within 10 degrees of each other in either direction. That narrows it down to 160 degrees, or different positions for each stick. (10 degrees in each direction would be 10 x 2 = 20. 180 – 20 =160.)

So, each stick has 1 chance in 160 (1/160) of randomly falling in the correct orientation to be (mostly) parallel with the others. In order to get the probability for ALL of them falling in the correct orientation, you have to multiply 160 for each stick, as follows.

160 x 160 = 25,600. The first 2 sticks each have 160 possible positions they could randomly fall in. So the odds for both of them falling mostly parallel to each other would be 1 in 25,600.

Adding a 3rd stick would be 25,600 x 160 = 4,096,000, or 1 chance in 4,096,000 of all three falling (mostly) parallel to each other.

The 4th one would be 4,096,000 x 160 = 655,360,000

The 5th would be 655,360,000 x 160 = 104,857,600,000

The 6th would be 104,857,600,000 x 160 = 16,777,216,000,000

The 7th would be 16,777,216,000,000 x 160 = 2,684,354,560,000,000

The 8th would be 2,684,354,560,000,000 x 160 = 429,496,730,000,000,000

The 9th would be 429,496,730,000,000,000 x 160 = 68,719,476,700,000,000,000

The 10th would be 68,719,476,700,000,000,000 x 160 = 10,995,116,300,000,000,000,000

In scientific notation that would be 1.099 x 1022, or for simplicity's sake, 1 x 1022.

Akos Balogh is an Australian blogger whose aim is to help people “see your world through a Christian lens.” In a pithy article on probability he makes the following statement:

Science is at the point where to believe in an accidental beginning to our universe is a very large leap of faith, against astronomical odds, i.e. the odds of tossing a coin 10 quintillion times (i.e. 10 x 1018 or 10 with 18 zeros’s after it), and expecting it to come up as ‘heads’ every single time. That just defies rationality. [1]

Yet our little pile of sticks has only 1 chance in 1 x 1022 of happening by random chance, far worse than his example of tossing 'heads' 10 quintillion times in a row. The odds of these things happening by random chance are so infinitesimal as to be effectively zero.

While some might try to argue there is still a chance, no matter how small, I would contend just because you can put a theoretical number on something doesn't mean it actually has a real world chance of happening. Instead I would say it simply verifies the old saying that, “Liars can number and numbers can lie.”

So the next time somebody tries to convince you we're the product of evolution, think back to our little pile of sticks and remember that the odds against evolving all the complex amino acids and proteins, etc., etc., etc., necessary for life are infinitely higher than getting 10 sticks to fall in line with one another.

Then gently try to help that poor soul see the light.


  1. Akos Balogh (emphasis in original)

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