Infinite Monkeys and a Gambler’s Chance

monkey gamble

It has been claimed that over 98% of chimpanzee DNA is similar to human DNA.  While this has been shown to be more like 95%, maybe it’s time to revisit the infinite monkey theorem.  According to dictionary.reference.com, the infinite-monkey theorem states:

 “If you put an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters, eventually one will bash out the script for Hamlet.”

Behind this is a deeper implication: that enough chance and time can produce the wealth of information required for the universe, including the DNA of its living organisms.  This should be a gift to atheists everywhere.  Assuming chimps are nearly human, it shouldn’t be long before an actual experiment is demonstrating the ability of monkeys cranking out Hamlet.  Now, chimpanzees are apes rather than monkeys, but we are giving the evolutionist more leverage (assuming the above.)

 Actually, such an experiment was done with macaques.  In summary, “… after a month, the Sulawesi crested macaques had only succeeded in partially destroying the machine, using it as a lavatory, and mostly typing the letter ‘s'”.  Apparently, these monkeys were far from bashing out the script for Hamlet.  Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk

 Before we attempt an experiment with chimpanzees, let’s take a look at our assumptions.

 Assumptions:

  • Chimps go against instinct to do otherwise, e.g. forage or socialize, even when unmonitored and untrained.
  • Supplies are nearby – ink and paper.  Furthermore, chimps will insert ink cartridges and paper into the typewriter.
  • Chimps will hit all letters one at a time to prevent jamming or continuous repetitions.  Yes, with chimp-sized fingers.
  • Errors will get thrown out to prevent overcrowding of space.

 There are surely more assumptions, but perhaps the largest unspoken assumption is that chance arrangements of letters can represent the chance arrangement of DNA.  Eventually, the theory of evolution will have to show that chance rather than a Creator could bring such an arrangement together.  What greater probability than utilizing an animal scoring 95 or above in human-like standards?  An honest look tells us that things are not adding up.  The invented tool of the chimp is the stick, while the human can lay claim to everything from shovels to supercomputers.  And DNA is not merely an arrangement of ‘letters’, it’s a 3-dimensional interactive object.  Unfortunately for the chimps, they will need to not only hash out the letters but act out the drama, if they are to imitate the essential molecule of life.

 Life is a Stage (Further Assumptions):

  • Best work is saved and recognized by others
  • The others begin making error-proof copies (very minor errors)
  • Complete work is translated into activity – drama is enacted
  • This complete cycle is repeated to ensure the continuance of propagation

 Hamlet’s work without Shakespeare is at the mercy of time, chance, and high hopes.  So what is supposed to be keeping this information in place?  Mainly, two things.  Darwinian evolution proposes a preservation mechanism, the idea that the fittest will survive.  This concept works well to preserve one generation of a species, but the succeeding generation solely depends on the accurate copyist skills of DNA.  The other preservation mechanism is a theorized closed system, where energy is transformed into information over time.  This mechanism doesn’t explain where the energy supply originates, nor does it last in the reality of open systems.  Outside of a vacuum, entropy pulls things apart through time.  Let’s call the Darwinian preservation Chimp and the energy-to-information method Champ.  Chimp is banking on Champ to hand him information to preserve, but then what?  Information is nothing, nothing other than gibberish without translation.  Herein lies the greater problem, the prized yet missing element called intelligibility.  The awesomeness of DNA is being able to take terabytes of information and translate that into 3-dimensional, highly advanced, moving machines. 

 Our typewriting monkeys can now better illustrate what is needed.  Writing the Shakespearean play does nothing for our Darwinian mechanism Chimp.  Chimp holds onto the vacant hope unless the written words actually mean something to him.  Out of all the countless papers on the floor, Chimp will first need to pick the winning copy.  Darwinian evolution offers its best hope now, the idea that the fittest will survive.  But we have just begun.  Chimp now needs a way to copy this play and pass it on, if it will continue to survive.  Chimp needs another ape to recognize his work is worth copying, proofread with high accuracy, and hit every letter on the typewriter accordingly.  If there are mistakes, those mistakes need to work to the betterment of the composition.  Suppose Champ can do this for a limited time, affordable from an enormous supply of time, chance, and energy.  We’re still missing a director.  We need another monkey to get Chimp to act out all the parts of the script.  Otherwise, we have blueprints without a building, AutoCAD without a machine, DNA without an organism.  No matter how much theory we supply into the vacuum of monkeys, intelligibility needs to step in and decipher the meaning of information.

 I don’t see chimpanzees writing or enacting Hamlet without human guidance.  Human guidance is our first-hand experience of intelligibility and a proven method of directing chimpanzees. So what  I have is a new theorem for the 21st century chimpanzee.  I’ll call it the Busted-Chimp Theorem.  It states:

 “If you put an infinite number of chimpanzees in a casino, the greatest winner will either face the greatest loss or get caught cheating.”

busted chimp

 Now allow me to explain.  The expression “The House always wins” means the casino is keeping track of winnings and making sure things are in their favor.  Natural forces such as decomposition do likewise.  When life attempts to build up, nature seeks to return the living to the dust.  Information is subject to the scattering of a meaningless universe.  Even if chance were afforded enough time to script complexity, the universe plays the part of the House (casino).  What you’ll see in Vegas is a flow of happy faces going into the casino and a flow of sadder faces going out.  Usually, those who make it big keep putting their money back into the same tables.  Unfortunately for the gambler, the law of averages absorbs the winnings.  The cheater thinks he’s doing better, but he can’t do well continuously.  Just like a cheater won’t rake in winnings day after day without drawing notice, complexity can’t stay at its apex in a House full owned and operated by chance.

 Let’s send Chimp and Champ to the casino.  They play every day, sometimes winning and sometimes losing.  However, they’ll need a big win to stay ahead and sustain their banana-hungry lifestyle.  One day they encounter Slick Rick, a human with a nifty cheater’s tool.  After a week of training, the chimps are ready to go into the casino and behave like any average gambling ape.  No one knows the better, as the cheating tool hides well beneath their fur.  No one, that is, until the winnings begin adding up, and adding up, and adding up,  The reason they draw attention Is because everyone knows chance is full of ups and downs.  Eventually, the same chance that brought their winnings up will be the same chance that brings them to certain loss.  The House sends its burly employees to the chimps’ table and they resume carrying out the apes.  Of course, natural elements do not play the part of watchful casino bosses, but the rules of probability, blind or not, call ridiculous winnings to accountability.

 Let’s challenge human intelligence the way we would cheaters at a casino.  Assume human intelligence, the apex of complexity, came to us thanks to chance.  The winnings are outstanding.  They draw attention due to the stark contrast of rocks and gases, monkeys and flowers.  The great surrounding void of entropy closes in like the burly casino workers.  How do we as humans, as scientists or as reasoning beings, hold up our logic as a winning, infallible prize?  How do we know the surrounding universe is not reclaiming it even as I write?  Are we cheating by pretending to assign ourselves meaning and value, if we are merely a different arrangement of molecules than those around us?  If there is no Creator, there is no dependable source of intelligence , complexity, or meaning.  Whatever statistical chance we may grasp for, the gamble is not in our favor for any guaranteed length of time.  Either God the Creator wins, or the House of Entropy takes the winnings away.

Infinite-Monkey Theorem

 “If you put an infinite number of monkeys at typewriters, eventually one will bash out the script for Hamlet.”

 Busted-Chimp Theorem

“If you put an infinite number of chimpanzees in a casino, the greatest winner will either face the greatest loss or get caught cheating.”

Busted-Chimp Corollary

“If you put an infinite number of chimpanzees in a casino, there is no perpetual winner.”

Advertisements