example, the potential space of 7-letter words is over 8 billion, but
the potential space of a 14-letter word or phrase is over
109,418,989,131,512,359,209 (over 100 million trillion)."
In response to our Creationist's assertions and challenges, I have made several interesting calculations, and even made a little program in VBA (Excel) to test the Creationist's assertions. I will demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the good Doctor's argument from incredulity is not only wrong, but completely, utterly, absolutely wrong.
I have broken the counter-argument down into chapters for the reader's convenience.
THE EXTENDED RULES
We will use these rules to determine how many random mutations and recombinations (with selection) are required to evolve long meaningful English phrases. (Note: the Original Rules are a subset of the Extended Rules.)
* STRING: a sequence of letters. To be valid and remain extant, it must form an English word or phrase, e.g. "DOG".
* WORD VALIDATION: Words must appear in Merriam-Webster to be considered a valid word for our purposes.
* POPULATION: a collection of valid strings, e.g. "DOG", "ZEBRA" or "CAT IN THE HAT".
* POINT-MUTATIONS: Change from any letter to any other letter, e.g. "BIND" to "BAND"; or the addition of any letter to the beginning or ending of a string, e.g. "LIMES" to "SLIMES", or "HONE" to "HONEY"; or the insertion of any letter at any point in the string, e.g. "LAD" to "LAID"; or the deletion of any letter at any point in the string, "LIKES" to "LIES". Every single possible point-mutation must be considered, but if it forms a non-valid string, it is automatically de-selected.
* SNIPPETS: Any contiguous section of a string, in whole or in part, e.g. "PPE" from "SLIPPERY". If the snippet forms a valid string, it can become a member of the population, e.g. "LIP" from "SLIPPERY". The remainder of the string, minus the snipped portion, can also become a member of the population if it forms a valid string, e.g. snipping "IPPER" from "SLIPPERY" leaves "SLY". Every single possible snippet and remainder must be considered, but if it forms a non-valid string, it is automatically de-selected. All snippets, valid or not, must be considered for insertions.
* INSERTIONS: An insertion is made by taking any snippet of any string and inserting it into any valid string at any place in that string, e.g. "RAV" from "BRAVERY" can be inserted into "TELLING" to form "TRAVELLING". Every single possible insertion must be considered, but if it forms a non-valid string, it is automatically de-selected.
* SELECTION: Besides automatic selection, at the end of each generation, we can de-select any strings we choose leaving a pool of "beneficial" strings. We can cull the herd.
* CALCULATION: During each generation, we must calculate every possible point-mutation, snippet and insertion. This number must be less than "zillions" or the game is over. As I don't know what a zillion is, let us use a typical number from biology. The number of prokaryotes on Earth is on the order of 10^30. That's TOO big. Let's use a smaller number, just for a little challenge. There are about 10^14 prokaryotes living in the typical human gut. A hundred trillion. That's about right.
* GENERATION: Consider that a population of prokaryotes will reproduce about every hour. Let's assume that they reproduce a thousand times a year. In a billion years, that's 10^12 generations. But let's be conservative. Assume the population only reproduces once a year for a million years, or 10^6 generations. This is certainly less than a "zillion". For the purposes of our puzzle analogy, we will assume that a reproductive cycle is simultaneous for the entire population.