Email - June 2021

Improbable Retroviruses

Evolutionists believe in ridiculous probability.

Last month’s “six-page” newsletter 1 ran long because it contained a 5-page background article on viruses, DNA, and RNA 2 to support a 5-page rebuttal 3 of a video that had been viewed nearly 66,000 times. That video, which has now been viewed more than 72,000 times, was a straw man argument which misrepresented the creationists’ position in order to debunk it. It claimed that creationists believe that viruses independently corrupted the DNA of chimpanzees and humans in exactly the same places by chance, and used statistics to show how improbable that would be. Their calculations were mathematically correct, but irrelevant, because creationists don’t believe it happened by chance. Creationists believe the similarities are the result of design. It was like making fun of a person for believing that different brands of automobiles just happened to have the same number of cylinders in their engines by chance, when that person believed the similarities were the result of design. The argument in the video disproved something that creationists don’t believe.

Since last month’s newsletter was already nearly twice as long as normal, we could only mention in passing the fact that it is the evolutionists who believe in ridiculously improbable chance. Al sent us an email in which he thought that we should have made that point more strongly. The two key sentences in his email were,

Out of the trillions of sperms that I have produced in almost 60 years nine have been successful. So far none have been successful in the long run (I don't (yet?) have any grandchildren).

The Fertilization Lottery

The producers of the video believe that endogenous retroviruses are the result of accidental viral infections in the DNA of eggs or sperm which are then passed down to subsequent generations.

Last month we quoted the video as saying,

In mammals, modern retroviruses usually infect white blood cells. If, however, a retrovirus happens to infect a sperm cell or egg cell, and if that sperm or egg cell ends up participating in fertilization, the resulting child will have a copy of virus DNA in every single one of her cells. She’ll even pass it on to her kids if she has children. 4

This is because viral infections require the virus to come in contact with a cell. A virus is likely to come in contact with a white blood cell (which fights viral infections, on purpose) in the bloodstream, but not with an egg or sperm that is safely protected inside the body. So, the producers of the video start off with the improbable situation that a single sperm or single egg will get infected. The exact probability is anybody’s guess, but the evolutionists who made the video admited it isn’t likely.

To Al’s point, what is the probability that the unlucky sperm that was infected with the virus will be lucky enough to fertilize an egg? According to the Live Science website,

In fact, the average male will produce roughly 525 billion sperm cells over a lifetime and shed at least one billion of them per month. A healthy adult male can release between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm cells in a single ejaculation.

In contrast, women are born with an average 2 million egg follicles, the reproductive structures that give rise to eggs. By puberty, a majority of those follicles close up and only about 450 will ever release mature eggs for fertilization. 5

In Al’s case (whose remarkable virility we applaud) only 9 of his 525 billion sperm cells produced offspring. What are the chances that the one unlucky sperm cell (out of his 525 billion) that was infected by a virus happened to be one of the nine lucky sperm cells that fertilized an egg? If you bought nine tickets for a lottery in which 525 billion tickets were sold, would you expect to win? (Al, with his nine lucky sperm, had more lucky sperm than many men. )

The odds for women’s eggs are a little bit better. The virus has a 450-out-of-2-million (0.0225%) chance of infecting an egg that will be released for fertilization. The 450 number wasn’t just pulled out of a hat.

A woman can get pregnant and have a baby as soon as she begins ovulating, or producing eggs. This typically occurs about a year after they first begin menstruating, which for North American women, usually happens between the ages of 11 and 12. Some women start ovulating late, though, and others, extremely early. The early onset of menstruation is called "precocious puberty." 6

Menopause is defined as the time in a woman's life, usually between age 45 and 55 years, when the ovaries stop producing eggs (ovulating) and menstrual periods end. After menopause, a woman can no longer get pregnant. 7

If a woman starts menstruating at age 11, and continues until she is 46, that’s 35 years of fertility with 13 periods per year, which works out to 455 eggs released. But not every one of those 455 eggs will have a chance to be fertilized.

For most women, with a 28 day cycle, they will be fertile on days 11-17. Her most fertile days will be days 13, 14 and 15. 8

For all 455 eggs to get a chance at being fertilized, she would have to have sex at least once every seven days from her 11th birthday until her 46th birthday. But she could not get pregnant more than once every nine months (at best). Theoretically, she could have one baby in every one of those 35 years from age 11 to 46. No woman loves her husband that much!

If by some unspecified small chance, one of Al’s wife’s eggs was infected by a virus, there is only a nine-in-2-million (0.00045%) chance that egg would be fertilized and result in a child. If, on the outside chance that one of Al’s 525 billion sperms was unlucky enough to be infected, there is only a 0.00000000171% chance one of his nine sons would have been the result of the infected sperm.

According to the video,

It turns out that the human genome contains thousands of endogenous retrovirus segments, long stretches of DNA with sequences that match those of retroviruses. Luckily for us, none of ours can still make full-fledged viruses. They have simply mutated too much to perform their original virus-y functions. 9

So, if, by some incalculably small chance that an egg or sperm cell gets infected in the first place, there is a calculably small chance (0.00045% for an egg or 0.00000000171% for a sperm) that endogenous retrovirus segment will get passed on. It is as unlikely as a winning lottery ticket getting coffee spilled on it. It is “unlikely squared.” According to the video, this unlikely event happened thousands of times before apes and humans split from their common ancestor millions of years ago.

Unverified Assumptions

That’s just the improbability fallacy. It is merely their assumption that endogenous retrovirus segments are actually the result of a virus infecting the DNA of a sperm or egg cell. They also assume it didn’t kill the offspring because it luckily lost its “original virus-y function.” They also assume we are now fully dependent upon that mutation.

Recent studies have found in at least one case, it seems that an ancient mammal was infected with a virus that ended up aiding the animal in reproduction. Many of that early mammal’s descendants, humans included, eventually became fully dependent on the virus gene. We can no longer reproduce without it. 10

As we said last month, there is no proof that ever happened. It just “seems” to have happened. They hope it happened because it would explain away the obvious evidence of design in the DNA molecule. We are fully dependent upon those stretches of DNA because they are necessary components of the design, not mutated viruses which accidentally got into the DNA.

Clearly Stated had the gall to accuse creationists falsely of believing that similar sections of DNA in chimpanzee and human DNA are the result of chance with incredibly low coincidental probability; but creationists don’t believe chance had anything to do with it. They believe the similarity is evidence that humans and chimps were designed to have some similar characteristics which are the result of similar genes. It is the evolutionists who foolishly believe that all those similar segments of DNA are the result of incredibly improbable chance.

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Footnotes:

1 http://scienceagainstevolution.info/vol25-8.pdf
2 Disclosure, May 2021, “The Evolution of COVID-19”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v25i8f.htm
3 Disclosure, May 2021, “Retrovirus Rebuttal”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v25i8e.htm
4 Clearly Stated, “DNA Evidence That Humans & Chimps Share A Common Ancestor: Endogenous Retroviruses”, https://youtu.be/oXfDF5Ew3Gc, time 2:42-3:04
5 https://www.livescience.com/32437-why-are-250-million-sperm-cells-released-during-sex.html
6 https://www.livescience.com/33170-youngest-age-give-birth-pregnancy.html
7 https://www.uptodate.com/contents/menopause-beyond-the-basics
8 https://www.conceiveeasy.com/get-pregnant/how-many-days-a-month-is-a-woman-fertile/
9 Clearly Stated, “DNA Evidence That Humans & Chimps Share A Common Ancestor: Endogenous Retroviruses”, https://youtu.be/oXfDF5Ew3Gc, time 4:19-4:38
10 ibid., time 3:46-4:04