top of page
Archived Articles
Figure the Odd !

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet forming an estimated 1,025,110 words as of January 1st 2014. According to Global Language Monitor, a new word is created every 98 minutes. So how are these words formed and for what purpose?

Suppose we were to take a bingo machine and load it with all 26 letters then have the machine pick letters at random. Let’s assume that there will always be 26 letters in the bingo machine so that any letter is available each and every time the machine picks one. As each letter emerges from the machine we put them in a row forming a sequence of letters. What do you see? Nonsense.

Let’s look at a random approach. Random is defined as indiscriminate or chance and means lack of pattern or predictability in events. Randomness suggests a non-order or non-coherence in a sequence of symbols or steps, such that there is no intelligible pattern or combination.

What happens when we add order to this approach? Order suggests sequence or the nature of things to follow one after another. It is a condition in which each thing is properly positioned to other things and to its purpose; it is a methodical or harmonious arrangement such as the letters in the alphabet set in sequence from A to Z.

To add order and purpose, let’s say we compare the sequence of letters that came out of the bingo machine to the words in a dictionary and if we find a match we put the word aside in a pile. The remaining discarded letters are then put in a second pile. We continue this process until all 1million words in the dictionary have been matched. Now compare the two piles. Which do you think would have the greater amount of letters?

Now let’s increase the complexity. Let’s take the 1million words we just created and put them into the bingo machine and as before, let’s make all 1million words available each time the machine randomly picks a new word. As each word exits the bingo machine let’s compare it to the words in this article and if it matches a word here in its proper sequence beginning with the first word and ending with the last, we keep it. If not, we set it aside. Once all the words matching this article are picked we compare the word counts in both piles. Which do you believe would have the greater number or words? The number of words in this article or the number of words that were set aside? 

Randomness can show “how” words could be formed from letters, but it is “order” that give these letters and words purpose.

If we turn our eyes towards nature do we see only random occurrences or do we also see order? This observation has fueled debate amongst scientists, biologists, philosophers and theologians.  Referred to as the Anthropic Principle, some see the universe as uniquely tuned to give rise to humans.

As science discovers the making of the universe it is surprised by the number of coincidences that have occurred in the 14.7 billion years from the Big Bang to the creation of our planet that had to have occurred in order for complex life to exist. The chance of this happening is much like the chance of having this article coming about solely by letters randomly falling out of a bingo machine.

Figure the odds!!!

bottom of page