Selection from Pyramids of Thrush Creek. (Names have been changed.)

 

          “He calculated the probability of those four freak accidents.”  Stan shook his head.  “And he came up with odds so low that he figured there had to be a plan or a conspiracy.  Yet he had no problem believing that life began spontaneously, with no plan at all.”

            “It seems to me that the probability of life beginning spontaneously would be much lower than the probability of four freak accidents.” Harvey shifted the transit to his other shoulder.  “But, of course, I haven’t actually done the math on that.”

            “Well, a lot of scientists have.  And they come up with some pretty big numbers.”

            “Bigger than ten to the thirty-third power?”

            “Oh my, yes!  They say one of the first steps toward the beginning of life would have been for a number of amino acids to come together to form a simple self-replicating peptide.”

            “A peptide?”

            “Yeah.  That’s not a living organism.  It’s just the first step toward life.  And the probability of the simplest peptide forming at random is one in ten to the fortieth power.”

            “Ten to the fortieth,” Harvey mused.  “That number would have seven more zeros than the number Cal came up with for the freak accidents.”

            “Right.  So we can say that the probability of a simple peptide forming is ten million times less than the probability of those four accidents.”

            “And yet,” Harvey shook his head, “he believed that someone must have planned the accidents, but not the beginning of life.”

            “Go figure,” Stan chuckled.