When dealing with 'random' mutations the analogy of 'monkeys typing randomly and yet eventually coming up with a complete work of Shakespeare'.
Thomas Huxley (“Darwin's Bulldog”) used this technique in Oxford, in 1860, while debating Samuel Wilberforce. He stated that if monkeys randomly strummed typewriter keys for a long enough time, then sooner or later Psalm 23 would be printed out. Huxley used this argument to demonstrate that life could have originated on Earth by chance.
Julian Huxley (1887-1975) repeated this analogy to 'prove' that long periods of time could allow impossible evolution to occur. In his analogy, given enough time, monkeys randomly typing on typewriters could eventually type out the complete works of Shakespeare.
It was obvious that this was in fact a terrible problem for the Darwinists because it ignores the 'harm' that would be derived all that inaccurate typing all those monkeys were doing (if we continue the analogy that the typing is = to DNA coding). Furthermore the time-frame involved is enormous.
Dawkins continued using the monkey-typing analogy, but thought he could solve the time-frame problem. Dawkins continued this hypothesis in his novel “The Blind Watchmaker”
Dawkins provides an easy-to-understand computer simulation of the principle of selection from random mutations using the example of a “monkey typist.” The monkey's first efforts on the typewriter produce the following random string of characters:
WDLMNLT DTJBKWIRZREZLMQCO P
Dawkins now “breeds” from this incomprehensible starting point a litter of “progeny” in each one of which a letter is randomly changed to any other letter (with a space counting as a letter). Of all the offspring, only one is kept for continued breeding; the one whose letter sequence matches more closely, however, slightly, the Shakespearean phrase:
METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
After forty-one generations of “breeding,” the random initial phrase “evolves” into the target phrase: “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL.”
Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 47-8.
“A potential source of confusion is the idea of evolution having a “target;'' we have normally combined this activity with others, such as Selection in Action, to address this. Cumulative SelectionOne of the most frequent arguments one hears against the theory of evolution is that complex forms and behaviors simply couldn't have evolved by ``random chance'' alone. The point we must often get across to students is that evolution does not, in fact, work this way; change is cumulative. Richard Dawkins, in his book The Blind Watchmaker, dispels the myth of random chance by using the very metaphor that opponents of evolution often turn to: the monkey at the typewriter. This program models his suggestion that, were a monkey allowed to type random letters, he would produce a work of Shakespeare very quickly if letters he happened to type in the right places were preserved with each attempt. With this program, students type in a phrase of their choosing and observe how long a random phrase takes to ``evolve'' into their target phrase. Below are some sample investigations...”http://www.geocities.com/jscarrie/sf0/bill.html
However, the problem is that these proposals rest on the anti-evolutionary idea of 'purpose'.
“When I observe that Richard Dawkins was unable to write a computer program that simulated his linguistic thought experiment, I did not mean that the task at hand was difficult. It is impossible. Mr Wadkins commends the discussion in Keen and Spain's Computer Simulation in Biology
as a counterexample; it is no such thing. What Keen and Spain have done is (to) transcribe Dawkins's blunder into the computer language BASIC. Here are the steps that they undertake. A target sentence is selected “BASIC BIOLOGICAL MODELLING IS FUN”. The computer is given a randomly derived set of letters. The letters are scrambled. At each iteration, the computer (or the programmer) compares the randomly derived sequence with the target phrase. If the arrays - sequences on the one hand, target phrase on the other - do not match, the experiment continues; if they do, it stops.
There is nothing in this that is not also in Dawkins, the fog spreading from one book to the next. The experiment that Keen and Spain conduct is successful inasmuch as the computer reaches the target; but unsuccessful as a defense of Darwinian evolution. In looking to its target and comparing distances, the computer is appealing to information a biological system could not possess.
The point seems to be less straightforward than I imagined, so let me spell out the mistake. Starting from a random string, suppose the computer generates the sequence BNDIT DISNE SOT SODISWN TOSWXMSPW SSO. Comparing the sequence with its target, it proposes to conserve the initial “B”. But why? The string is gibberish. Plainly, the conservation of vagrant successes has been undertaken with the computer's eye fixed firmly on its future target, intermediates selected not for what they are (gibberish, after all), but for what they will be (an English sentence). This is in violation of the rule against deferred success. Without the rule, there is nothing remotely like Darwinian evolution. What the computer has in fact done is to match randomly selected items to a template, thus inevitably reintroducing the element of deliberate design banished from the Darwinian model.”
David Berlinski; “Letters: David Berlinski and Critics” in Dembski, W. A. (ed) “Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals who Find Darwinism Unconvincing”, p304