Editorial – One in a (Lot More Than a) Million

we’re all unique, we’re all special. How many times have we heard that?and brushed it off? After all, we’ve had the line fed to us since childhood: teachers, parents, partners, friends, and self-help gurus have all underscored our uniqueness. After a while it loses its charm.

If everyone is so unique and special, how does that make us any different? Does ?one in a million? really have any meaning to a grown?and perhaps cynical?adult?

Shockingly, yes?and there’s science to back it up.

Although many like to keep science and spirituality in separate spheres, each can enlighten the other. A fascinating recent blog post uses mathematics to cross the spirituality line in a way that shook me to my core.

?What are the chances you would be born?? writer and life coach Ali Binazir wrote. Traditional Buddhist thought says that the likelihood of our existence is comparable to the likelihood of a single turtle in the ocean surfacing and putting its head through a single life preserver floating in the ocean. Binazir compared this with a scientist’s claim he’d heard. These, he calculated, put the probability of me being me at 1 in 400 to 700 trillion.

That’s a pretty amazing claim?and interesting that both numbers are fairly similar. But then Binazir proceeds to verify the math. Because his calculations are pretty simple (thankfully), he doesn’t factor in many of the twists and turns of fate that lead to one person meeting another. But he assigns reasonable probabilities of your parents meeting and hitting it off, and of your mother becoming pregnant. Oh, and the probability of it being the exact same sperm and egg that met, because your DNA could have wound up different just by a matter of chance.

That’s all mind-boggling enough. But then, Binazir extends the same thought backward throughout the generations. After all, for your parents to make you specifically, they had to inherit particular traits from their parents, and so on.

And That’s just talking about human reproduction. As several commenters mentioned, what about going back even further, to prehistoric days? Binazir doesn’t do that?for simplicity’s sake?but It’s fascinating to think back to times when intelligence or deliberate decisions didn’t factor in, when weather and climate and the bigger predator and good genes all worked together to decide whodunnits’d survive and who wouldn’t.

Nor does the article factor in all the minute twists and turns your life could have taken had there been a few tweaks to your story (the film Mr. Nobody comes to mind).

So based on the calculations Binazir does give, what are the odds you ended up you? Here’s the shocking truth: the probability of your existence ?[is] the probability of 2 million people getting together ? about the population of San Diego ? each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice ? and they all come up the exact same number.?

That’s incomprehensible. Astronomical. And it makes the head spin: Why did I end up being me?

Our very existence is a miracle?whether of chance, fate, nature, or a higher power. Life’s a gift. Let’s use it well.