Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review May 28, 2003 / 26 Iyar, 5763

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Monkeys and atheists | Thomas Huxley ("Darwin's bulldog") is said to have come up with the most famous defense of the atheist belief that life was created by chance, not the Divine. In a debate at Oxford, he is reported to have stated that if enough monkeys randomly pressed typewriter keys for a long enough time, sooner or later Psalm 23 would emerge.

Not all atheists use this argument, but it accurately represents the atheist belief that with enough time and enough solar systems, you'll get you, me, and Bach's cello suites.

This belief has always struck me as implausible. The argument that infinitely complex intelligence came about by itself, unguided by any intelligence, can only be deemed convincing by those who have a vested interest (intellectual, emotional, psychological) in atheism.

I fully acknowledge the great challenge to theism -- the rampant and seemingly random unfairness built into human life. But no intellectually honest atheist should deny the great challenge to atheism -- the existence of design and intelligence. The belief that Bach's music randomly evolved from a paramecium should strike anyone as so fantastic as to be absurd, even more absurd than the belief that a monkey could monkey Shakespeare. The finite number of years in the universe's existence and the finite number of planets would not come close to producing a few sentences, let alone Psalm 23 or a Shakespeare play.

But a just reported English University experiment has convinced me that the number of monkeys and the amount of time are irrelevant. Psalm 23, let alone Hamlet, would never be written. Why? Because the monkeys probably wouldn't do any typing.

According to news reports, instructors at Plymouth University put six Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys in a room with a computer and keyboards for four weeks. Though one of the monkeys frequently typed the letter "s", the other monkeys ignored the keyboard, preferring to play with one another and with the ropes and toys placed there. When they did pay attention to the keyboard, one smashed it with a stone and the others repeatedly urinated and defecated on it.

The instructors hastened to note the study was not scientific, given the short duration of time and the small number of monkeys, but some of us find this "study" to be a hilarious vindication of our view of the "enough monkeys for enough time" argument for random creation.

According to the science correspondent of Britain's Guardian newspaper, "assuming each monkey typed a steady 120 characters a minute (itself a preposterous assumption), mathematicians have calculated it would take 10 to the 813th power (10 followed by 813 zeros) monkeys about five years to knock out a decent version of Shakespeare's Sonnet 3 . . . "

To put 10 to the 813th power into perspective, remember that a billion is 10 to the ninth power.

There are many intellectually honest atheists, and there are many intellectually dishonest believers in the Divine. Nevertheless, I believe that any objective person would have to conclude that the belief that everything came about by itself and that randomness is the creator is infinitely less intellectually sound than the belief in a Creator/Designer.

Sadly, many people come to doubt the Divine's existence because so many intellectuals are atheists. But it was a major scientist, Professor Robert Jastrow, one of the greatest living astronomers, head of the Mount Wilson Observatory, formerly head of NASA's Goddard Space Center, and an agnostic, who best explained the atheism of many scientists.

In his book "G-d and the Astronomers," Jastrow tells of his surprise when so many fellow astronomers refused to accept the Big Bang hypothesis for the origins of the universe. In fact, Jastrow writes, many astronomers were actually unhappy about it. Why? Because the Big Bang implied a beginning to the universe, and a beginning implies a Creator, something many scientists passionately reject.

This led Jastrow to the sobering conclusion that many scientists have vested, non-scientific interests in some of their beliefs, especially the non-existence of G-d. For some psychological or emotional reasons, not intellectual ones, many scientists prefer to believe that given enough monkeys, one will type out a psalm.

But neither math nor science argues that all came about randomly, without a Creator. Only a keen desire to deny G-d explains such a belief, a belief that should be laid to rest beneath a large pile of monkey doo-doo at Plymouth University, England.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.


05/20/03: Women pretending to be men
05/13/03: My week at Stanford
05/06/03: Burn families, barbecue chickens: why some can't tell the difference
04/25/03: Much talent, little wisdom
04/15/03: America the good
04/08/03: Dear Germany: Have you learned anything?
04/01/03: Saddam offered professorship at U.S. college
03/25/03: Grieve for Rachel Corrie's parents, but spare us the hagiography
03/18/03: Blame the Jews?
03/11/03: The Lone Ranger rides again
03/04/03: Dan and Saddam
02/26/03: Which will the world's future be: Muslim, European or American?
02/18/03: When have millions of Europeans ever been wrong?
02/11/03: Don't waste your money on an expensive college
02/04/03: What the world would like the president to say
01/28/03: How memories paralyze: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat, cont'd
01/21/03: Why Jews and blacks vote Democrat
01/14/03: Why the Arab world hates America --- time to myth-bust
01/07/03: Conservatives have talk radio; liberals have everything else
12/31/02: If you believe that people are basically good . . .
12/17/02: Lott, Clinton, and the problem of the career politician
12/10/02: The healthiest and longest living generation of humans since the 900-year-olds of Genesis are being scared silly
12/04/02: Morally neutral reporting is dishonest reporting
11/26/02: Understand Nigeria and you understand the Islamic threat
11/19/02: James Bond meets his most fanatical foe yet -- anti-smokers
11/12/02: Conservatives need to be more compassionate on divorce
11/05/02: Of course, the great majority of Muslims are peaceful -- so what?
10/29/02: Nice guys finish first: Thoughts on the World Series
10/24/02: A Jew defends evangelical Christians
10/16/02: Bigot laureate well represents New Jersey
10/11/02: Why the Creator must always be higher than the Angels
10/02/02: Loudmouth "stars" are remaining surprisingly quiet about Israel
09/25/02: Bob Greene is a good man
09/11/02: 9-11 made America better
09/04/02: What I learned at the Minneapolis Metrodome about liberals and homosexuality
08/28/02: Teach our college co-eds about Islam --- but teach them the truth
08/14/02: How the nuclear family became "controversial"
08/07/02: Every generation is tested by great evil
07/31/02: Those who curse the Jews and those who bless them . . .
07/24/02: Children should talk to strangers
07/17/02: Why my son's best friend is black
07/11/02: Why Hesham Hadayet may be scarier than al Qaeda
07/03/02: "Pro-Israel lobby" is not why America supports Israel
06/26/02: Why does the Left support the "Palestinians"?
06/19/02: The commencement address I would give
06/12/02: Why do adult children live with their parents? Because they actually like them
06/05/02: The stripper and the Christian school: Thoughts on what a Christian school should do when a parent is a stripper and on who the biggest sinner here is
05/31/02: Don't worry, New York, you are safe from a terrorist threat
05/15/02: A proud member of the world's two most hated peoples
05/10/02: What Israelis are saying
05/06/02: Thank Heaven for moral violence
04/29/02: Give back the Nobel Peace Prize: A letter to Elie Wiesel
04/22/02: Why so many students cheat
04/12/02: Is it 1938 again for the Jews?
04/05/02: It's the values, stupid
01/31/02: Smoke and lose your son
10/30/01: Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis

© 2002, Creators Syndicate