But sanctify the Lord God in your heart and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Posted By saintbenaiah

Monkey Typing

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

A software developer by the name of Jesse Anderson is running a simulation in which he is using millions of monkeys to randomly rewrite the complete works of Shakespeare.  His monkeys, however, are not real monkeys they are computer programs.  This story was reported by Discovery.com with the headline "Monkeys are Rewriting Shakespeare."  It also garnered enough interest to by reported by the BBC.

The developer says that he is testing the theory that "a million monkeys sitting at a million typewriters will eventually produce Shakespeare."  This theory, in one of its different forms involving monkeys, dates to the turn of the last century, but the mathematical/philosophical concept (minus the typewriter) may go back to the times of Aristotle.  The ultimate purpose of any such argumentation is to show that random, chance events may produce organization and information.  It is an attempt to get around design and the need for a Designer.  In other words, you and I, indeed, the universe and everything in it, are here by chance. 

Trying to bolster the evolution hypothesis, Richard Dawkins used the concept to argue that the change from a single-celled organism to a 50+ trillion celled organism can be accomplished through randomly selected, single-stepped mutations.  It is all just a matter of time and chance, we are told.  Similarly, Daniel Dennett proposed the Library of Mendel, an imaginary library where all possible genomes exist.  It is confidently asserted that with this infinite library of all genetic combinations, both viable and unviable, we can get from nothing to us without any problems of which to speak.

The problem with this or any such simulation, and the problem with this view being applied to the evolution of life, is that this simulation is goal driven.  There is a target phrase to be reached, whether it is a single line like "Methinks it is like a weasel," or it is the complete works of Shakespeare.  The characters are apparently randomly generated, but they are kept only when they correspond to an intelligently preselected string of characters.  However, evolution is--must be--purposeless.  There is no pattern to be followed.  There is no goal to be reached.  But this simulation requires just such a target or goal.

Furthermore, serious problems arise when this concept is applied to evolution and the origin of life.  First, a perplexing paradox arises.  How do you get a character generating machine in the first place when the character generating machine is based on the rules produced by a character generating machine?  How are these strings of characters generated in the first place?  Where does the character generating machine originate?  How does the character string define the creation and operation of the program which produces the character string itself?  Try this simulation without any materials to start with whatsoever and see how far the simulation proceeds.

Eric L. Padgett




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