If some people cannot achieve what they wanted in life or have to face unexpected & unmerited adversities, they blame their luck. Muslims would call it Muqaddar, Hindus might say it is Prarabdha Karma, Christians might call it preordained fate.
But not many realize how lucky they are compared to others on this planet:
- If you have food to eat, clothes on your back, a roof over your head & a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.
- If you have money in the bank/ your wallet or have a Debit card, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
- If you wake up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the one million people who will not survive this week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of wars, the agony of imprisonment or torture or the horrible pangs of starvation, you are luckier than 500 million people alive & presently suffering.
- If you are alive, it means you were born and you were damn lucky to have been born. Your birth pre-empted the birth of many others, who were the unlucky ones.
LET US SEE WHAT SCIENTISTS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS:
You are the result of the fusion of one particular egg with one particular sperm. Each sperm and each egg is genetically unique because of the process of meiosis. A fertile woman has 100,000 viable eggs on average. A man will produce about 12 trillion sperm over the course of his reproductive lifetime. Let’s say a third of those (4 trillion) are relevant to our calculation, since the sperm created after your mom hits menopause don’t count. So the probability of that one sperm with half your name on it hitting that one egg with the other half of your name on it is one in 400 quadrillion.
Probability of right sperm meeting right egg: one in 400 quadrillion.
Then again the existence of you here now on planet earth presupposes another supremely unlikely and utterly undeniable chain of events. Namely, that every one of your ancestors lived to reproductive age — going all the way back not just to the first Homo sapiens, first Homo erectus and Homo habilis, but all the way back to the first single-celled organism. You are a representative of an unbroken lineage of life going back 4 billion years.
Let’s not get carried away here; we’ll just deal with the human lineage. Say humans or humanoids have been around for about 3 million years, and that a generation is about 20 years. That’s 150,000 generations. Say that over the course of all human existence, the likelihood of any one human offspring to survive childhood and live to reproductive age and have at least one kid is 50:50 — one in two. Then what would be the chance of your particular lineage to have remained unbroken for 150,000 generations?
Well then, that would be one in 2 to the power of 150k, which is about one in 10 to the power of 45k — a number so staggeringly large that my head hurts just writing it down.
Probability of every one of your ancestors reproducing successfully: one in 10 to the power of 45k.
But let’s think about this some more. Remember the sperm-meeting-egg argument for the creation of you, since each gamete is unique? Well, the right sperm also had to meet the right egg to create your grandparents, too. Otherwise they’d be different people, and so would their children, who would then have had children who were similar to you but not quite you.
This is also true of their parents, and so on till the beginning of time. If even once the wrong sperm met the wrong egg, you would not be sitting here. It would be your cousin Tommy.
That means in every step of your lineage, the probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg such that the exact right ancestor would be created that would end up creating you is one in 400 quadrillion.
So now we must account for those 150,000 generations by raising 400 quadrillion to the 150,000th power.
Taking all the above into consideration, the Scientists say the Probability of your being born is one in 10 to the power of 2685k.
HOW LUCKY WE ARE
Read below what my present GURU (in absentia) has to say about this:
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
― Richard Dawkins in "Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder"