Nobel Prize winning biologist and evolutionist George Wald certainly thought time was the most important parameter of the evolutionary model. He wrote:
"Time is, in fact, the hero of the plot [the chance creation of life]... given so much time the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs miracles."Unwittingly, Wald has provided a compelling argument against evolution and the accidental creation of life.
It is important to remember Wald’s premise: given so much time. On the surface the argument is strong, and is still an important point in cosmology and the debate concerning the creation of the universe. You can argue that the unlikely event that caused the universe to be created ex nihilo, some sort of quantum fluctuation, can take as long as necessary—without a universe there is no ticking clock.
However, as far as the creation of life is concerned, the clock began ticking as soon as the earth was formed. As it turns out, there is not nearly enough time. Billions of years is not long enough (by orders of magnitude) for a single cell organism to develop from primordial soup. Then you have to squeeze into the equation the single cell evolving into complex life forms, and ultimately into modern humans. There isn’t time. And without the necessary time, Wald’s observation becomes a condemnation of the very theory he was attempting to support.
Why do I keep claiming there isn’t time?
There are many ways to answer this question. One is the approach often taken by creation scientists. It involves a simple chain of independent probabilities required for the formation of life. Suppose the formation of life required a thousand accidents, and each chance occurrence has a probability associated with it, then by multiplying the thousand probabilities together you get the over probability that life formed by chance. These calculations result in estimates of the probability of life emerging from non-life that are so vanishingly small as to be effectively zero.
Such calculations are rightly criticized as too simplistic. It does our cause no good to make trivial arguments that are easy to knock down.
More sophisticated and harder to discredit analyses involving Bayesian networks and other methods of dealing with conditional probabilities and other complications have been done. Although they give results that are not as infinitesimal as the simplistic calculations, they also conclude that per-chance creation of life, for the “impossible to become possible”, requires an earth that is orders of magnitude older.
And it gets worse all the time for the evolutionists, because upon further study the simple cell becomes more and more amazing—with the uncovering of previously unknown biochemical complexity. More complexity means more time, just to get to the cell.
Time is not on the side of the evolutionist. It is his greatest detractor. Four billion years might as well be 10 seconds.
Without time making all things possible, hope rests in the ability of physical systems to create (as opposed to sit around and wait for) complexity from simplicity, and to self-organize.
That the physical world has such properties is beyond debate. Things as simple as sand dunes exhibit the principle of self-organization. From the air we see complex structure in the sands of the Sahara, where at first we might expect a featureless vista. The sand (with help from the winds and terrain) organizes itself into patterns. Striking as they are, they are only dunes.
Simple “cellular automata” rules and nonlinear chaotic models create complex and sometimes life-like (in appearance) patterns from random initial conditions. But they are only pictures.
Self organization and chaos are fascinating mathematical studies. And they may indeed play important roles in the physical world. But so far they only produce inanimate complexity.
Things get more amusing all the time. Wald thought he had billions of years for time to perform its miracle. We now know that he had almost no time. Liquid water, which is needed for all life, formed about 3.8 billion years ago. We now have fossilized bacteria that have been dated to about 3.5 billion years. So that’s 0.3 billion years to get from nothing to, not even viruses, but actual bacteria, which are vastly more complex. That’s an order of magnitude less time than Wald thought he had to get to much simpler forms. He didn’t have enough time then, and he has much less time than he thought. After liquid water was present, life formed very quickly, at least in geological time scales. First water, followed immediately by life. Sound familiar?
9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. (Gen 1:9-11, NIV)