Former atheist Antony Flew said, “I was particularly impressed with Gerry Schroeder’s point-by-point refutation of what I call the MONKEY THEOREM!”

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Discussion (1 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas

Uploaded on Sep 22, 2010

A discussion with Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas. This was held at Westminster Chapel March, 2008

Is Goodness Without God is Good Enough? William Lane Craig vs. Paul Kurtz

Published on Jul 29, 2013

Date: October 24, 2001
Location: Franklin & Marshall College

Christian debater: William Lane Craig
Atheist/secular humanist debater: Paul Kurtz

For William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/
For Paul Kurtz: http://paulkurtz.net/
To purchase this debate: http://apps.biola.edu/apologetics-sto…
To purchase a published version of this debate:http://apps.biola.edu/apologetics-sto…

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The Bible and Science (Part 01)

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Making Sense of Faith and Science

Uploaded on May 16, 2008

Dr. H. Fritz Schaefer confronts the assertion that one cannot believe in God and be a credible scientist. He explains that the theistic world view of Bacon, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday and Maxwell was instrumental in the rise of modern science itself. Presented as part of the Let There be Light series. Series: Let There Be Light [5/2003] [Humanities] [Show ID: 7338]

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What is the “infinite monkey theorem?” Wikipedia states:

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In this context, “almost surely” is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the “monkey” is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces an endless random sequence of letters and symbols. One of the earliest instances of the use of the “monkey metaphor” is that of French mathematician Émile Borel in 1913,[1] but the earliest instance may be even earlier. The relevance of the theorem is questionable—the probability of a universe full of monkeys typing a complete work such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time hundreds of thousands of orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe is extremely low (but technically not zero).

Variants of the theorem include multiple and even infinitely many typists, and the target text varies between an entire library and a single sentence. The history of these statements can be traced back to Aristotle‘s On Generation and Corruption and Cicero‘s De natura deorum (On the Nature of the Gods), through Blaise Pascal and Jonathan Swift, and finally to modern statements with their iconic simians and typewriters. In the early 20th century, Émile Borel and Arthur Eddington used the theorem to illustrate the timescales implicit in the foundations of statistical mechanics.

A chimpanzee (rather than a monkey) sitting at a typewriter. Given enough time, a hypothetical monkey (or in this case ape) typing at random would, as part of its output, almost surely produce all of Shakespeare’s plays.

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Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins employs the typing monkey concept in his book The Blind Watchmaker to demonstrate the ability of natural selection to produce biological complexity out of random mutations.

Former atheist Antony Flew said, “I was particularly impressed with Gerry Schroeder’s point-by-point refutation of what I call the ‘monkey theorem.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Atheism and monkeys

Anthony Flew is a world renowned philosopher who has aggressively advocated atheism for more than 50 years. Recently he changed his mind. He says he is now convinced on the basis of reason alone that atheism is no longer a viable option. He has just published a new book entitled “There is a God; How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind” (He notes that the title was not his idea). In this book Flew says,

“I was particularly impressed with Gerry Schroeder’s point-by-point refutation of what I call the ‘monkey theorem.” This idea, which has been presented in a number of forms and variations, defends the possibility of life arising by chance using
the analogy of a multitude of monkeys banging away on computer keyboards and
eventually ending up writing a Shakespearean sonnet.”

Schroeder first referred to an experiment conducted by the British National Council of Arts. A computer was placed in a cage with six monkeys. After one month of hammering away at it (as well as using it as a bathroom!), the monkeys produced fifty pages—but not a single word. Schroeder noted that this was the case even though the shortest word in the English language is one letter (a or I). A is a word
only if there is a space on either side of it. If we take it that the keyboard
has thirty characters (the twenty-six letters and other symbols), then the
likelihood of getting a one-letter word is 30 times 30 times 30, which is
27,000. The likelihood of getting a one-letter word is one chance out of
27,000. (76-77)

Schroeder then calculates the probability of producing a Shakespearean sonnet. All sonnets are 14 lines long. The one he chose happened to have 488 letters in it. The chance that these monkeys would produce a sonnet like this by chance turns out to be a 1 followed by 690 zeros. If you wonder how big that is, Schroeder points out that the number of estimated particles (protons, electrons, neutrons) in the entire universe is only 1 followed by 80 zeros!.

Needless to say, the very simplest living cell is incalculably more complicated than a Shakespearean sonnet! Most of us simply don’t have enough faith to believe the universe originated without some kind of intelligent designer.

Posted by at 6:34 PM 

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About Me

I am a library director, Bible professor, and pastor with masters’ degrees in library science and theological studies, and a doctor of philosophy in religion and society. This blog contains some of my articles, essays and posts.

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