The Odds of a Cell Forming Randomly by Chance Alone

by Mark Goodnight

My previous blog, DNA Points to Design, was about some fascinating information about DNA. Scientists have also determined another factor in how incredibly fine-tuned even a cell is.

Stephen Meyer, in chapter 9 of his book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, entitled Odds and Ends, talks about the odds of a minimally complex cell coming into existence. As I have said elsewhere on this site, I’m a math guy, so when I read numbers, it really puts it in perspective for me. (I should note that Dr. Meyer’s book is actually very easy to read for the layperson (i.e. generally speaking, you and me), and covers the entire history of the scientific discovery of DNA and the cell, as well as his own inquiries and research into it.)

On pg 205, he talks about how even a relatively short protein, of which cells are made of, in the range of “say, 150 amino acids”, that there are approximately 10^195 possible combinations. I’ve previously explained the scientific method of writing numbers here, but to quote myself:

Let’s start with something small. The generally accepted age of the universe is around 13.8 billion years. When you translate that into seconds, the number of seconds that have passed in the entire history of the universe is 10^17, also known as 10 to the power of 17. This is 1 followed by 17 zeroes. Or 100,000,000,000,000,000. When you start dealing with incredibly large numbers, it’s easier to write 10^17. This is called the scientific notation.

So the number of seconds that have passed in the universe is 10^17. Or 1 followed by 17 zeroes.

The number of estimated cells in the human body is 10^14. Or 1 followed by 14 zeroes.

The number of sub-atomic particles in the known universe is 10^80. Or 1 followed by 80 zeroes.

Just like in that blog, these numbers will help put the rest of this blog in perspective…


The Odds of a Cell Forming Randomly by Chance Alone