Can the huge odds of spontaneous generation be overcome?

In the video below, Richard Dawkins tries to show how the overwhelming odds of natural selection (what he calls “mount improbable”) can be overcome. In doing so, he actually proved the opposite that natural selection cannot explain away the odds, only intelligent agency can.

Climbing Mount Improbable – Growing Up in the Universe – Richard Dawkins

Dawkins postulated the idea of a 3-stage combination lock whereby you don’t have the break the lock all at once. You break the lock one step at a time and achieve small success.

In real life, if it is a locked drawer or a bank safe, either it opens or not. It does not open slightly when you get it partially right and some cash falls out. If this safe has a 150-digit combination, you must get all 150 digits right. Likewise, if we are looking for a particular protein with the 150-amino acid combination, you must get all 150 right.

Having said that, it is true that there are different permutations that may be possible within a protein which will not cause it to lose its function but this is rather limited. For example, a car could be a Honda, Mercedes, etc. can still have the necessary components that make up the car’s functions. But the key parts that make up the car must be there. If the car has 150 parts, another object with 50 parts won’t do the job. Or another object with totally different 150 parts won’t do the job.

The idea of a locked safe is related to the concept of irreducible complexity. The bacterial flagellum has been used as an example of irreducible complexity as it has 40 parts that need to be present before its propeller can function. If you only have a portion of the bacterial flagellum – e.g. the Type III Secretory System – you won’t be able to unlock the bank safe, in this case the function of the bacterial flagellum. It is not like the safe postulated by Dawkins where you can have “some success” of perhaps a sluggish propeller.

Dawkins then carries out an experiment whereby the Darwin monkey types a random phrase. Computer reproduces 50 new sentences with tiny mutation. Computer reads these 50 sentences and chooses the one that most resembles the target phrase. With time, it begins to look more and more like the target phrase and eventually hits the target phrase. While it is not possible to achieve this without the computer knowing the target phrase, it is quite easily achieved once the computer knows the target phrase.

Dawkins’ experiment cannot be illustrating Darwinian theory because natural selection is blind. The Darwinian computer doesn’t know the target phrase. Therefore, Dawkins experiment actually proved the contrary of what Dawkins wants to prove i.e. the other experiment of blind selection could not produce the result while only the designed experiment could.