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Evolution through the Back Door
Various | 6/15/2003 | Alamo-Girl

Posted on 06/15/2003 10:36:08 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl

Evolution through the back door - musings of an Alamo-Girl

What Mathematics brings to the Table

I do very much love the epistemological zeal that mathematicians bring to the "evolution biology" table. For one thing, to a mathematician the "absence of evidence IS evidence of absence."

For another, mathematicians and physicists accept axioms of the level evolutionary biologists do not, such as taking life as an axiom. According to Sir Karl Popper, when given two theories an experiment will decide one true and one false. But in wave-particle duality one experiment proves the electron is a wave, another proves it is a particle. Mathematicians and physicists consider these undecidabilities whereas evolutionary biologists offer "just-so" stories.

Evolutionary biologists speak of function and complexity over time. Mathematicians speak of functional complexity, randomness and probabilities over time.

Evolutionary biologists speak of chemistry and genetics. Mathematicians speak of symbolization, self-organizing complexity and syntactic autonomy.

Or to put it more succinctly, the evolutionary biologist describes but the mathematician/physicist explains.

This article will attempt a new approach - starting at the mathematics/physics angle - to explore the much argued subject of biological evolution. As always, the first step is definition of terms and scope, which in this case is "all that there is."

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.

Einstein's speech 'My Credo' to the German League of Human Rights, Berlin, autumn 1932, Einstein: A Life in Science, Michael White and John Gribbin, page 262

 

What is "all that there is?"

This is no small philosophical question. Many of us agree that "reality" must exist before it is discovered, observed or measured. However, that definition becomes qualified with whatever a person already believes because, for example:

To a metaphysical naturalist, "reality" is all that exists in nature

To an autonomist "reality" is all that is, the way it is

To an objectivist "reality" is that which exists

To a mystic "reality" may include thought as substantive force and hence, a part of "reality"

To Plato "reality" includes constructs such as redness, chairness, numbers, geometry and pi

To Aristotle these constructs are not part of "reality" but merely language

To some physicists, "reality" is the illusion of quantum mechanics

To Christians "reality" is God's will and unknowable in its fullness.

 

Reality and Physics:

Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Einstein

In physics, "realism" refers to the idea that a particle has properties that exist even before they are measured. Measurement however presents a problem and thus, our sense of "reality" in quantum mechanics.

Measurement Problem - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

From the inception of Quantum Mechanics (QM) the concept of measurement has proved a source of difficulty. The Einstein-Bohr debates, out of which both the Einstein Podolski Rosen paradox and Schrödinger's cat paradox developed, centered upon this difficulty. The problem of measurement in quantum mechanics arises out of the fact that several principles of the theory appear to be in conflict. In particular, the dynamic principles of quantum mechanics seem to be in conflict with the postulate of collapse. David Albert puts the problem nicely when he says:

The dynamics and the postulate of collapse are flatly in contradiction with one another ... the postulate of collapse seems to be right about what happens when we make measurements, and the dynamics seems to be bizarrely wrong about what happens when we make measurements, and yet the dynamics seems to be right about what happens whenever we aren't making measurements. (Albert 1992, 79)

"Reality" also suffers from our difficulty in accounting for the mass which is observed in the universe. Both Fermilab and CERN are looking for the Higgs boson/field which is predicted by the Standard Model. But even if found, 70% of the mass in the universe is attributed to something else, dark energy - which, if it exists, ought to be detectable in local space, the laboratory. So far, it is not detectable.

DOE Office of Science, High Energy Physics Program

As we reach the centennial of Einstein's theory of relativity, we may find ourselves at the threshold of discoveries equally profound. What gives matter its mass? Have we at last identified nature's ultimate constituents, or will we find a mirror set of "supersymmetric" particles? What is the dimensionality of space-are there extra dimensions hidden from us, and why? What is the role of the neutrino in the universe? What are the mysterious "dark energy" and "dark matter" that seem to make up 95% of the universe? Why is the remaining 5% of the universe made only of matter, with hardly any antimatter? At the end of this decade, our views of matter and the universe may be changed forever.

The major tools at hand to explore these fundamental questions are the high energy accelerator facilities built and operated by the Office of Science, and used by the talented and imaginative scientists that it supports at its laboratories and universities. With these tools, the HEP program will pursue the following challenges:

Higgs and the Origin of Mass.

The Large Electron-Positron Collider at CERN was shut down in 2000, leaving behind a tantalizing hint of the long theorized, but as yet unseen Higgs boson. The Higgs is believed to be the source of mass for all elementary particles, and its discovery would mark a profound advance in science. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) now being constructed at CERN, will be a strong contender to find the Higgs, and American physicists will participate in that research. However, the LHC cannot begin an intense physics program before the spring of 2007, leaving the Tevatron collider at the Office of Science's Fermi National Laboratory with a window of opportunity to make this important discovery. This collider and its two detectors completed major upgrades and began operating in March 2001. With protons and antiprotons colliding at energies of one trillion electron volts (1 TeV), the Tevatron will be the world's highest energy physics research facility until the LHC is operational.

Beyond the Standard Model.

Theoretical explorations beyond the Standard Model suggest that a new class of "supersymmetric" particles may be discovered, or that extra dimensions may exist beyond the familiar four dimensions of space/time. The upgraded Tevatron may be able to test these theories. Confirming either theory would represent a major advance in human knowledge.

Matter and the Universe.

Scientists using the B-Factory and its BaBar detector at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) have an opportunity to explain the vast preponderance of matter over antimatter in the universe. Electrons and positrons colliding at energies of several billion electron volts allow the study of a small asymmetry in the way B mesons decay into other particles. The asymmetry is known as Charge-Parity (CP) violation and was first discovered in 1964. CP violation is believed to be at least partly responsible for the survival of more matter than antimatter after the Big Bang origin of the universe.

The Role of Neutrinos.

The neutrino is a particle that plays a key role in the interactions of elementary particles and in astrophysical processes. Neutrinos are created and detected in one of three "flavors": electron, muon, or tau. The current theory of elementary particles, called the Standard Model, requires that neutrinos be massless, but experimental results now provide compelling evidence that they do have mass. If they have mass, a neutrino created in one flavor would "oscillate" among different flavors as it travels. A new Fermilab experiment called MiniBooNE will begin taking data in 2002 to test whether muon neutrinos oscillate to electron neutrinos, as indicated by an earlier experiment. Another new detector called MINOS is being as- sembled in a Minnesota mine and a beam of neutrinos for it is being built at Fermilab. With this long baseline experiment (450 miles), physicists will make precise measurements of neutrino mass. Results from MiniBooNE and MINOS will help scientists understand the role of this unique particle in particle interactions and in the evolution of the universe.

Dark Energy and Matter.

At the Office of Science's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, studies of supernovae have indicated that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, due to "dark energy," estimated to comprise 70% of the critical density of the universe. "Dark matter," which emits no radiation, makes up another 25% of the critical density, with normal matter contributing only 5%. Explaining these mysterious forms of matter and energy is another high priority of the HEP program.

FermiLab

CERN

A significant anomaly exists with regard to space/time. Non-locality is at issue with the violations of Bell's Inequalities at distance. And there is no bridge for the quantum to classic, i.e. Schrodinger's cat.

Bell's Inequalities violated at distance - Physics News 399, October 26, 1998

Splitting a single photon of well-defined energy into a pair of photons with initially undefined energies, and sending each photon through a fiber-optic network to detectors 10 km apart, researchers in Switzerland ... showed that determining the energy for one photon by measuring it had instantaneously determined the energy of its neighbor 10 km away

Uncertainty Principle

Classical physics was on loose footing with problems of wave/particle duality, but was caught completely off-guard with the discovery of the uncertainty principle.

The uncertainty principle also called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, or Indeterminacy Principle, articulated (1927) by the German physicist Werner Heisenberg, that the position and the velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory. The very concepts of exact position and exact velocity together, in fact, have no meaning in nature.

Ordinary experience provides no clue of this principle. It is easy to measure both the position and the velocity of, say, an automobile, because the uncertainties implied by this principle for ordinary objects are too small to be observed. The complete rule stipulates that the product of the uncertainties in position and velocity is equal to or greater than a tiny physical quantity, or constant (about 10-34 joule-second, the value of the quantity h (where h is Planck's constant). Only for the exceedingly small masses of atoms and subatomic particles does the product of the uncertainties become significant.

Any attempt to measure precisely the velocity of a subatomic particle, such as an electron, will knock it about in an unpredictable way, so that a simultaneous measurement of its position has no validity. This result has nothing to do with inadequacies in the measuring instruments, the technique, or the observer; it arises out of the intimate connection in nature between particles and waves in the realm of subatomic dimensions....

For centuries, scientists have gotten used to the idea that something like strong objectivity is the foundation of knowledge. So much so that we have come to believe that it is an essential part of the scientific method and that without this most solid kind of objectivity science would be pointless and arbitrary. However, the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics (see below) denies that there is any such thing as a true and unambiguous reality at the bottom of everything. Reality is what you measure it to be, and no more. No matter how uncomfortable science is with this viewpoint, quantum physics is extremely accurate and is the foundation of modern physics (perhaps then an objective view of reality is not essential to the conduct of physics). And concepts, such as cause and effect, survive only as a consequence of the collective behavior of large quantum systems....

In 1935 Schrodinger, who was responsible for formulating much of the wave mechanics in quantum physics, published an essay describing the conceptual problems in quantum mechanics. A brief paragraph in this essay described the, now famous, cat paradox.

 

Quantum Field Theory

Reality in Math - Plato v. Aristotle

The debate about whether constructs are real has raged from the time of Plato and Aristotle. It was argued by Einstein and Gödel and is being argued today by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose. They are two different worldviews which cannot be reconciled.

By extension, the debate goes to the issue of when to stop looking. For instance, Hawking is content when an experiment confirms the theory, but Penrose wants the theory to also make sense.

I am a Platonist - more like Penrose than Hawking. For instance, I perceive that geometry exists in reality and the mathematician comes along and discovers it, e.g. pi, Schwarzschild Geometry, Riemannian Geometry and so on.

It is important to know and/or pick a side because it has a lot to do with how this information (and other science information) will be understood. Here are the two sides:

Parallel Universes - Max Tegmark

According to the Aristotelian paradigm, physical reality is fundamental and mathematical language is merely a useful approximation. According to the Platonic paradigm, the mathematical structure is the true reality and observers perceive it imperfectly. In other words, the two paradigms disagree on which is more basic, the frog perspective of the observer or the bird perspective of the physical laws. The Aristotelian paradigm prefers the frog perspective, whereas the Platonic paradigm prefers the bird perspective....

A mathematical structure is an abstract, immutable entity existing outside of space and time. If history were a movie, the structure would correspond not to a single frame of it but to the entire videotape. Consider, for example, a world made up of pointlike particles moving around in three-dimensional space. In four-dimensional spacetime--the bird perspective--these particle trajectories resemble a tangle of spaghetti. If the frog sees a particle moving with constant velocity, the bird sees a straight strand of uncooked spaghetti. If the frog sees a pair of orbiting particles, the bird sees two spaghetti strands intertwined like a double helix. To the frog, the world is described by Newton's laws of motion and gravitation. To the bird, it is described by the geometry of the pasta--a mathematical structure. The frog itself is merely a thick bundle of pasta, whose highly complex intertwining corresponds to a cluster of particles that store and process information. Our universe is far more complicated than this example, and scientists do not yet know to what, if any, mathematical structure it corresponds.

The Platonic paradigm raises the question of why the universe is the way it is. To an Aristotelian, this is a meaningless question: the universe just is. But a Platonist cannot help but wonder why it could not have been different. If the universe is inherently mathematical, then why was only one of the many mathematical structures singled out to describe a universe? A fundamental asymmetry appears to be built into the very heart of reality.

As a way out of this conundrum, I have suggested that complete mathematical symmetry holds: that all mathematical structures exist physically as well. Every mathematical structure corresponds to a parallel universe. The elements of this multiverse do not reside in the same space but exist outside of space and time. Most of them are probably devoid of observers. This hypothesis can be viewed as a form of radical Platonism, asserting that the mathematical structures in Plato's realm of ideas or the "mindscape" of mathematician Rudy Rucker of San Jose State University exist in a physical sense. It is akin to what cosmologist John D. Barrow of the University of Cambridge refers to as "pi in the sky," what the late Harvard University philosopher Robert Nozick called the principle of fecundity and what the late Princeton philosopher David K. Lewis called modal realism. Level IV brings closure to the hierarchy of multiverses, because any self-consistent fundamental physical theory can be phrased as some kind of mathematical structure.

 

What is Mathematics?

The view [Platonism] as pointed out earlier is this: Mathematics exists. It transcends the human creative process, and is out there to be discovered. Pi as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is just as true and real here on Earth as it is on the other side of the galaxy. Hence the book's title Pi in the Sky. This is why it is thought that mathematics is the universal language of intelligent creatures everywhere....

Barrow goes on to discuss Platonic views in detail. The most interesting idea is what Platonist mathematics has to say about Artificial Intelligence (it does not think it is really possible). The final conclusion of Platonism is one of near mysticism. Barrow writes:

We began with a scientific image of the world that was held by many in opposition to a religious view built upon unverifiable beliefs and intuitions about the ultimate nature of things. But we have found that at the roots of the scientific image of the world lies a mathematical foundation that is itself ultimately religious. All our surest statements about the nature of the world are mathematical statements, yet we do not know what mathematics "is" ... and so we find that we have adapted a religion strikingly similar to many traditional faiths. Change "mathematics" to "God" and little else might seem to change. The problem of human contact with some spiritual realm, of timelessness, of our inability to capture all with language and symbol -- all have their counterparts in the quest for the nature of Platonic mathematics. (pg. 296-297)

Ultimately, Platonism also is just as problematic as Formalism, Inventionism and Intuitionism, because of its reliance on the existence of an immaterial world. That math should have a mystical nature is a curiosity we are naturally attracted to, but ultimately does not really matter. Platonism can think of a mathematical world as an actual reality or as a product of our collective imaginations. If it is a reality then our ability to negotiate Platonic realms is limited to what we can know, if it is a product of our collective imaginations then mathematics is back to an invention of sorts. True or not our knowledge of mathematics is still limited by our brains.

Do there exist mathematical theorems that our brains could never comprehend? If so, then Platonic mathematical realms may exist, if not then math is a human invention. We may as well ask, "Is there a God?" The answer for or against does not change our relationship to mathematics. Mathematics is something that we as humans can understand as far as we need.

 

Naturalized Platonism or Platonized Naturalism (pdf)

Platonized Naturalism is the view that a more traditional kind of Platonism is consistent with naturalism. Traditional Platonism is the realist ontology that recognizes abstract objects, i.e., objects that are nonspatiotemporal and outside the casual order. The more traditional kind of Platonism that we defend, however is distinguished by general comprehension principles that assert the existence of abstract objects. We shall argue that such comprehension principles are synthetic and are known a priori. Nevertheless, we claim they are consistent with naturalist standards of ontology, knowledge, and reference. Since we believe that Naturalized Platonism has gone wrong most clearly in the case of mathematics, we shall demonstrate our claims with respect to a comprehension principle that governs the domain in which mathematical objects, among other abstracts, will be located. This is the comprehension principle for abstract individuals, and in what follows, we show that our knowledge of mathematical truths is linked to our knowledge of this principle. Though we shall concentrate the argument of our paper on this particular principle, we believe that similar arguments apply to corresponding comprehension principles for properties, relations and propositions.

 

Beyond the Doubting of a Shadow - Roger Penrose

9.2 Moreover, in the particular Gödelian arguments that are needed for Part 1 of Shadows, there is no need to consider as "unassailable", any mathematical proposition other than a P-sentence (or perhaps the negation of such a sentence). Even in the very weakest form of Platonism, the truth or falsity of P-sentences is an absolute matter. I should be surprised if even Moravec's robot could make much of a case for alternative attitudes with regard to P-sentences (though it is true that some strong intuitionists have troubles with unproved P-sentences). There is no problem of the type that Feferman is referring to, when he brings up the matter of whether, for example, Paul Cohen is or is not a Platonist. The issues that might raise doubts in the minds of people like Cohen - or Gödel, or Feferman, or myself, for that matter - have to do with questions as to the absolute nature of the truth of mathematical assertions which refer to large infinite sets. Such sets may be nebulously defined or have some other questionable aspect in relation to them. It is not very important to any of the arguments that are given in Shadows whether very large infinite sets of this nature actually exist or whether they do not or whether or not it is a conventional matter whether they exist or not. Feferman seems to be suggesting that the type of Platonism that I claimed for Cohen (or Gödel) would require that for no such set could its existence be a conventional matter. I am certainly not claiming that - at least my own form of Platonism does not demand that I need necessarily go to such extremes. (Incidentally, I was speaking to someone recently, who knows Cohen, and he told me that he would certainly describe him as a Platonist. I am not sure where that, in itself, would leave us; but it is my direct personal impression that the considerable majority of working mathematicians are at least "weak" Platonists - which is quite enough. I should also refer Feferman to the informal survey of mathematicians reported on by Davis and Hersch in their book The Mathematical Experience, 1982, which confirms this impression.)

And from a post by Freeper tortoise, an Artificial Intelligence expert:

They [symbols] are very real in the same sense that all information is. Symbols (in the information theoretic abstract) describe everything describable, and the more thoughtful people realize that physical objects are actually a complex collections of symbols at their essence. Of course, one could then argue that energy is the ultimate substrate in which symbols manifest, a pervasive field of unknown origin that we only see from differentials in the energy field (as manifested symbols).

 

In the beginning...

One of the most profound discoveries of science is that there was a beginning, which of course is the first phrase in the Bible.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. - Genesis 1:1

The discovery of a beginning is evidently a great stumbling-block to metaphysical naturalism (atheism) - since a beginning requires a cause, which obviously is God.

It appears that I am not the only one who concludes it was to counter the obvious theological importance of that discovery - that the multi-verse theories were proposed. But that strategy is only clever by half since even a multi-verse must have a beginning.

Interview with Nicolo Dallaporta, a father of modern cosmology

To get away from this evidence, cosmological scenarios are offered that in one way or another repropose a form of the old principle of plenitude ("everything that can exist, does exist"). The existence is thus postulated of an infinity of chances, among which "our case" becomes an obvious favorable case (today the most popular form is that of multi-universes). What is your view on this?

It is very possible, but it is not physics. It is a metaphysics in which recourse is made to a chance that is so enormously limitless that everything that is possible is real. But in this way it becomes a confrontation between metaphysics in which chance collides with purpose. This latter, however, seems much easier to believe! Physics up to now has been based on measurable "data." Beyond this it is a passage of metaphysics. At this point I compare it with another metaphysics. Those who sustain these viewpoints (like Stephen Hawking, for instance) should realize that this goes beyond physics; otherwise it is exaggerated. Physics, pushed beyond what it can measure, becomes ideology.

Robert Jastrow's book God and the Astronomers underscores the significance of a beginning:

Interview with Jastrow

JASTROW: Oh yes, the metaphor there was that we know now that the universe had a beginning, and that all things that exist in this universe-life, planets, stars-can be traced back to that beginning, and it's a curiously theological result to come out of science. The image that I had in my mind as I wrote about this was a group of scientists and astronomers who are climbing up a range of mountain peaks and they come to the highest peak and the very top, and there they meet a band of theologians who have been sitting for centuries waiting for them.

Einstein offered and then withdrew as "kluged" a cosmological constant which allowed the universe to be considered unchanging, steady, i.e. no beginning. Continuing today, the line of defense against God, the multi-verse model, is that we should not be amazed at physical existence because everything that is possible to exist, does.

Nevertheless, most multi-verse theories require a causation and thus only push the beginning further away. The Tegmark article summarizes the multi-verse theories.

What is astonishing is the transparency of motive, which is clearly visible in the following excerpts!

Why is there life? - Martin Rees

The Universe is unlikely. Very unlikely. Deeply, shockingly unlikely.

"It's quite fantastic," says Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, waving a hand through the steam rising from his salmon-and-potato casserole...

In his newest book, Just Six Numbers, Rees argues that six numbers underlie the fundamental physical properties of the universe, and that each is the precise value needed to permit life to flourish. In laying out this premise, he joins a long, intellectually daring line of cosmologists and astrophysicists (not to mention philosophers, theologians, and logicians) stretching all the way back to Galileo, who presume to ask: Why are we here? As Rees puts it, "These six numbers constitute a recipe for the universe." He adds that if any one of the numbers were different "even to the tiniest degree, there would be no stars, no complex elements, no life." ...

Faced with such overwhelming improbability, cosmologists have offered up several possible explanations. The simplest is the so-called brute fact argument. "A person can just say: 'That's the way the numbers are. If they were not that way, we would not be here to wonder about it,' " says Rees. "Many scientists are satisfied with that." Typical of this breed is Theodore Drange, a professor of philosophy at the University of West Virginia, who claims it is nonsensical to get worked up about the idea that our life-friendly universe is "one of a kind." As Drange puts it, "Whatever combination of physical constants may exist, it would be one of a kind."

Rees objects, drawing from an analogy given by philosopher John Leslie. "Suppose you are in front of a firing squad, and they all miss. You could say, 'Well, if they hadn't all missed, I wouldn't be here to worry about it.' But it is still something surprising, something that can't be easily explained. I think there is something there that needs explaining."

Meanwhile, the numbers' uncanny precision has driven some scientists, humbled, into the arms of the theologians. "The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine," contends Vera Kistiakowsky, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But Rees offers yet another explanation, one that smacks of neither resignation nor theology. Drawing on recent cosmology- especially the research of Stanford University physicist Andrei Linde and his own theories about the nature of the six numbers- Rees proposes that our universe is a tiny, isolated corner of what he terms the multiverse.

The idea is that a possibly infinite array of separate big bangs erupted from a primordial dense-matter state. As extravagant as the notion seems, it has nonetheless attracted a wide following among cosmologists. Rees stands today as its champion. "The analogy here is of a ready-made clothes shop," says Rees, peeling his dessert, a banana. "If there is a large stock of clothing, you're not surprised to find a suit that fits. If there are many universes, each governed by a differing set of numbers, there will be one where there is a particular set of numbers suitable to life. We are in that one."

Imaginary Time - Stephen Hawking

In this lecture, I would like to discuss whether time itself has a beginning, and whether it will have an end. All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago. This is probably the most remarkable discovery of modern cosmology. Yet it is now taken for granted. We are not yet certain whether the universe will have an end...

The time scale of the universe is very long compared to that for human life. It was therefore not surprising that until recently, the universe was thought to be essentially static, and unchanging in time...

Since events before the Big Bang have no observational consequences, one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang. Events before the Big Bang, are simply not defined, because there's no way one could measure what happened at them. This kind of beginning to the universe, and of time itself, is very different to the beginnings that had been considered earlier. These had to be imposed on the universe by some external agency. There is no dynamical reason why the motion of bodies in the solar system can not be extrapolated back in time, far beyond four thousand and four BC, the date for the creation of the universe, according to the book of Genesis. Thus it would require the direct intervention of God, if the universe began at that date. By contrast, the Big Bang is a beginning that is required by the dynamical laws that govern the universe. It is therefore intrinsic to the universe, and is not imposed on it from outside.
Although the laws of science seemed to predict the universe had a beginning, they also seemed to predict that they could not determine how the universe would have begun. This was obviously very unsatisfactory. So there were a number of attempts to get round the conclusion, that there was a singularity of infinite density in the past. ....

If space and imaginary time are indeed like the surface of the Earth, there wouldn't be any singularities in the imaginary time direction, at which the laws of physics would break down. And there wouldn't be any boundaries, to the imaginary time space-time, just as there aren't any boundaries to the surface of the Earth. This absence of boundaries means that the laws of physics would determine the state of the universe uniquely, in imaginary time. But if one knows the state of the universe in imaginary time, one can calculate the state of the universe in real time. One would still expect some sort of Big Bang singularity in real time. So real time would still have a beginning. But one wouldn't have to appeal to something outside the universe, to determine how the universe began. Instead, the way the universe started out at the Big Bang would be determined by the state of the universe in imaginary time. Thus, the universe would be a completely self-contained system. It would not be determined by anything outside the physical universe, that we observe.

To return to the basic argument between Plato and Aristotle - Hawking (Aristotle worldview) says that quantum mechanics is all we can ever know and if you use imaginary time then you can have a beginning for the universe that is not on real time. No need to look further, end of story.

From the Platonist side, mathematicians/physicists like Penrose, would say "not so fast!" (figuratively speaking.) IOW, we ought not shut down the (inconvenient) research - there is always a cause and a beginning, if we can't know any more from quantum mechanics, then let's look for a new kind of physics.

I recognize the Hawking-Aristotle worldview as "the end justifies the means" style of science that has so dominated evolution theory. Nevertheless, even in imaginary time there is a beginning and there will be an end.

Speaking of time...

Time does not mean what we commonly assume that it means. That is true from all points of view but is particularly revealing in the Level IV parallel universe description in Tegmark's article.

Time is geometric. Therefore, as long as we look at that which is physical, there is always a beginning.

The only way to get perspective on time is to get outside of it mentally, i.e. to understand the mathematical constructs of dimensions - or more directly, the spiritual realm and God - i.e. that which is non-temporal, non-spatial and non-corporeal.

Did God have a beginning?

Some people assert that God must have created Himself.

Others (I am one) say that God the Creator exists outside of space and time and thus there is no beginning for God, i.e. the creation is not some in which the Creator exists. There is no "before" the big bang or any multi-verse or dimensional parallel in ekpyrotic cosmology.

This is another area wherein each person must work out his own understanding. Mine is somewhat unique but is based on the Word, Jewish tradition and science.

One of the words used to describe God at creation is Ayn Sof which roughly translated from Hebrew means infinite and nothing. The scientific term for such a state at the beginning of this universe, is singularity - in which there are no physical laws, no space, no time, no particles, no geometry, no energy, nothing - and yet everything. It has a parallel in math as well, the number zero - nothing can be divided by it, anything multiplied by it is it, it is in between all positive and negative numbers. Infinite and not at the same time.

I pondered on this state at length and deduced that God must have wanted to reveal Himself and thus there was a beginning.

Then I pondered how God would go about revealing Himself. I deduced He would create beings who could think to whom He would reveal Himself and would commune. I further deduced how He would go about communicating Himself to these beings, i.e. that He is good and truth and so forth.

These attributes would have no meaning in any language unless they were set in contrast to what they are not. (How would you know if you are happy if you have never been sad?) Thus, I pondered that He would create good and evil, love and hate, et al so that a language could be formed, the Word.

I then pondered He would communicate His will to the thinking beings so they would know Him. I also pondered that, for the words to have meaning, He would give them numerous manifestations of all these contrasts - space/time, geometry, particles, energy, matter, creatures.

One of the ideas of the Jewish Kabbalah that rings true to my spirit is that the Scriptures are another name for God, i.e. it reveals who He is. So I see all of creation - spiritual and material - and the Word as God revealing Himself.

Enter Satan, beautiful and thinking being as he is, decided he ought to exalted. He became "aware" of his beauty and self and thus was at odds with God's will for him.

Likewise, Adam and Eve became "aware" of themselves and sought to be more by gaining the knowledge of good and evil. So likewise, they were at odds with God's will for them and were banished to mortality (the frog view.)

When it is all said and done I see us restored to what was intended at the beginning, we will be the thinking beings to whom God reveals Himself and with whom He communes. His will is what matters over all else. The Lord's Prayer reveals as much, the meaning of life and the purpose of our existence:

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

IMHO, every believer ought to meditate deeply, every day, on the Lord's Prayer - phrase by phrase and word by word. Our place is sandwiched between God's purpose and His dominion.

What about reality and the non-temporal, non-spatial and non-corporeal?

There are various aspects of the non-temporal, non-spatial and non-corporeal gaining attention from a variety of disciplines. These include such things as consciousness, healing power of prayer, near death experiences, retrocognition, precognition, clairvoyance, telepathy.

As you can imagine, the opinions vary wildly. But here are a few links to read-up and help formulate your own conclusions:

PSYCHE: an interdisciplinary journal for cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, physics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence

Healing Power of Prayer

Near Death Experiences

Edgar Cayce

The consciousness debate...

Of course, those working on strong Artificial Intelligence expect to achieve a self-aware device, i.e. consciousness by mechanism. The presumption is that the conscious mind (thought) is a physical phenomenon of the brain:

Summary of that view

Modern neurophysiology, though, leaves no room for the soul. A neurophysiologist can change our perceptions, our opinions, our motivations and memories by removing or stimulating tiny but well-defined fragments of the brain, or by administering small amounts of a hormone or neurotransmitter to the right place. What seemed a font of life is now part logical engine, part chemical soup, and all vulnerable to outside physical influences. Specific neurological deficits can make us feel that our family members are impostors, that a leg does not belong to us, that others are plotting against us, even that we are ourselves dead, all deeply personal feelings yet driven by ordinary interactions of neurons. Certain drugs or stimulation of parts of the temporal lobe can even elicit religious experiences.

Physical penetration into the depths of the self on this scale allows no free will -- neurons are affected only by other neurons, not by will or effort. The only remaining alternatives are a deterministic mechanism or an element of randomness. Determinism obviously would rule out free will. But the workings of the axons, dendrites and synapses are only determined to a first approximation. Unfortunately the indeterminacy of random errors does not help, for free will is defined as goal-directed, not random. In the neurophysiological context, randomness and chaos offer an escape from predetermination, but fall short of restoring free will.

Until recently considerations of free will have been the purview of a branch of modern philosophy, the philosophy of mind. Wegner makes short work of the philosophers, for without empirical progress there is nothing more to go on than yet another speculation or introspection. The introspection of free will, though irresistably powerful, is not science. And science is just a systematic way of looking closely at the world and at ourselves.

Naturally, I strongly disagree. A successful model does not an original make. To some it makes no difference whether it is the Mona Lisa, a fine reproduction of it or a photographic copy. But neither the reproduction nor the photo are the Mona Lisa.

The device, a thing contrived, is not a human, an ensemble of anatomical parts, physiological functions and consciousness. As far as I know, strong A.I. is not trying to create such an ensemble.

Some believe strong A.I. may eventually give us a device which has its own qualia, e.g. preference for da Vince over Picasso. But even that does not make the device a human.

Qualia

Feelings and experiences vary widely. For example, I run my fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry. In each of these cases, I am the subject of a mental state with a very distinctive subjective character. There is something it is like for me to undergo each state, some phenomenology that it has. Philosophers often use the term 'qualia' (singular 'quale') to refer to the introspectively accessible, phenomenal aspects of our mental lives. In this standard, broad sense of the term, it is difficult to deny that there are qualia. Disagreement typically centers on which mental states have qualia, whether qualia are intrinsic qualities of their bearers, and how qualia relate to the physical world both inside and outside the head. The status of qualia is hotly debated in philosophy largely because it is central to a proper understanding of the nature of consciousness. Qualia are at the very heart of the mind-body problem....

Moreover, any viable hypothesis such as "thought is a physical phenomenon of the brain" must have more than evidence - it must have a falsification. That is the concept Sir Popper brought to the table and this debate is a good example why.

For instance, my "hypothesis" is that the brain is like a transmitter/receiver for the soul which is non-temporal, non-corporeal and non-spatial. All the evidence that goes to prove the "thought is a physical phenomenon" hypothesis proves mine as well. Tinker with the physical brain, certain emotions, thoughts, functions and words cease, others arise.

The trick is that neither view can be falsified; instead, we have to look further to the physical laws and moreover, define "all that there is" to see what is possible.

The one view requires a universe or multi-verse which is more narrowly construed because it requires a corporeal, temporal or spatial explanation for consciousness. Mine is within the mathematical constructs of higher dimensional dynamics as described in Level IV of the Tegmark article.

Moreover, the above article strikes me as an evangelical flyer for metaphysical naturalism (atheism) as he makes sweeping statements that the reader should take as "gospel" truth simply because he says so. And in doing, he sweeps away free will and the soul, and therefore also philosophy and theology as irrelevant. That is the reasonable end result of any "thinking is a physical phenomenon" hypothesis.

His hypothesis reminds me of what might happen if an intelligent cave-dweller got his hands on a radio. Since he knows nothing of radio waves, they don't exist in his world. He tinkers with the radio and discovers he can control whether it speaks or not or what it says. Aha, says he, these parts in the radio only touch these other parts in the radio and it does this and that by my tinkering - ipso facto there is no soul, no free will and hence, theology and philosophy are irrelevant.

Obviously quantum mechanics and higher dimensional dynamics are outside the scope of A.I. and the biology of the brain - much like abiogenesis is outside the scope of evolution biology. That works quite well until either discipline makes a statement touching on the out-of-scope subject. It doesn't work to make such a statement and then dismiss all rebuttals to it as "out of bounds."

Therefore I assert that quantum mechanics, quantum field theory and higher dimensional dynamics overarch all physicality and are relevant to the study of any physical phenomenon, including the brain and consciousness. So naturally, I believe my hypothesis is better grounded.

To sum it up, what we comprehend is by choice of three spatial coordinates plus time. This is the "natural" boundary of both vision and the brain - but we deduce there may well be other dimensions and have formulated laboratory tests to affirm or falsify.

The Curse of Dimensionality (pdf)

I am not sure how many ways our physical bodies appear in the eyes of God or any being self-aware in a higher dimension. But I very much appreciate the frog/bird metaphor Tegmark used to illustrate that our comprehension is limited to three spatial dimensions plus time. Tegmark explains that the frog would appear as a bundle of cooked pasta from the bird's view. That may be true.

The above link on the curse of dimensionality goes into the issue in greater detail.

I do believe our being - our spirit - is whole in a higher dimension, but that our physical bodies are intentionally made in such a way that we cannot easily perceive it - thus are not aware of the severe damage we do by untoward thoughts in this mortal life (even without acting on them!) I believe this is the subtext for all the relevant warnings in the Sermon on Mount and elsewhere in Scripture.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. - Matthew 5:21-22

For these reasons, I see physical death as the shedding of the mortality (dimensional) blindfold - and why I conclude that the physical brain is a transmitter/receiver for the spirit and not a container for consciousness.

Predestination v. Free Will

Simply put, as shown in the above linked article - following the "thought is a physical phenomenon of the brain" in a metaphysically naturalist worldview leads to the conclusion that all is predestined, thus there is no free will.

But predestination v free will is not a doctrinal dilemma for me. Fulfilled prophecy is evidence of predestination. The Word authenticates predestination in Romans 8:30:

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified them he also glorified.

Likewise, we have free will, the ability to choose. Our spiritual realm ancestors Adam and Eve choose self will over God's will and thus became mortals grounded to a finite timeline in the physical realm - "pastaness" in the frog/bird metaphor. But God's is eternal, i.e. unchanging.

Here is why I do not have a problem with predestination v free will.

To begin, I see that "all that there is" - all spiritual realms, physical realms (including dimensions, multi-verses and all geometries) - are God's revealing Himself to creatures He is concurrently creating to commune with eternally.

As one cannot know health if they have never know sickness - likewise, courage appears by contrast to fear, love to hate, good to evil, obedience to disobedience, etc. The "properties" of God are being shown to us in contrast to what He is not. When His kingdom comes, all that is Him emerges and that which is not Him is culled.

But if the process did not exist, we would have no way to know Him.

Only God exists, i.e. has life in Himself; He says we can use the nickname I am to refer to Him. He is outside of space/time, before "the beginning" and after "the end" from our point of view. Thus, being well beyond all form of geometry, He is not constrained to or by any timeline.

That is why He speaks of what is the future to us, as if it were already past. That is why, when He pronounces judgment, it is already done. If this were not so, then Christ's sacrifice would be unecessary.

That Christ became the propitiation for our sin is evidence to me that my concept of eternity v. time-like paths is so. The emphasis on Christ as the Lamb of God in Revelation goes to that understanding as well.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. - Revelation 13:8

So, yes, we have free will in the same sense that we have physical reality and physical laws in the Level IV multi-verse. Life goes on in blissful disregard of wave/particle duality, multi-verses, dimensionality - and the import of time. He of course has always known what we will choose in our individual mortal timelines because He is above and beyond our geometry.

In the frog/bird metaphor, He sees the entire movie - but we, being the frog observers, see it one frame at a time. Conversely, our pasta-like geometry is malleable over all time by Him, but not by us.

As He says in the Word, His sheep hear His voice, He knows us and we follow Him. John 10:14-29 Further, those passages make it clear that He already knows His sheep.

This understanding of free will does not bother me in the least, because the meaning and purpose of our existence is not to be the captains of our ships and the masters of our destiny - but rather, to know Him and thereby, to prepare us as family members for all eternity. From Revelation 4:11:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

I do realize this analysis would be extremely distressing to anyone - believer or not - who wishes to be the master of their own destiny.. Anyway, that's my two cents...

Which brings us to evolution...

We see requisite mechanisms at the most elementary levels, building blocks laying hither and fro, we can theorize how species arose - but that does not speak to opportunity or viability even at the most primitive levels, much less the functional complexity that we actually see.

And that's only looking at the biology - the enigma is magnified when one also examines what would be necessary to evolve consciousness under the metaphysical naturalist worldview.

Naturally, I support the Intelligent Design view. However, except for the following links which are offered so others can get the information from the "movement" directly - I will concentrate on remarks by scientists who are not affiliated with the Intelligent Design movement.

Discovery Institute, Center for Science and Culture

Access Research Network

Dembski Website

The problem of functional complexity

Interview with Marcel-Paul Schützenberger

Until his death, the mathematician and doctor of medicine Marcel-Paul Schützenberger (1920-1996) was Professor of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Paris and a member of the Academy of Sciences...

Q: What do you mean by functional complexity?

S: It is impossible to grasp the phenomenon of life without that concept, the two words each expressing a crucial and essential idea. The laboratory biologists' normal and unforced vernacular is almost always couched in functional terms: the function of an eye, the function of an enzyme, or a ribosome, or the fruit fly's antennae -- their function; the concept by which such language is animated is one perfectly adapted to reality. Physiologists see this better than anyone else. Within their world, everything is a matter of function, the various systems that they study -- circulatory, digestive, excretory, and the like -- all characterized in simple, ineliminable functional terms. At the level of molecular biology, functionality may seem to pose certain conceptual problems, perhaps because the very notion of an organ has disappeared when biological relationships are specified in biochemical terms; but appearances are misleading, certain functions remaining even in the absence of an organ or organ systems. Complexity is also a crucial concept. Even among unicellular organisms, the mechanisms involved in the separation and fusion of chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis are processes of unbelieveable complexity and subtlety. Organisms present themselves to us as a complex ensemble of functional interrelationships. If one is going to explain their evolution, one must at the same time explain their functionality and their complexity.

Q: What is it that makes functional complexity so difficult to comprehend?

S: The evolution of living creatures appears to require an essential ingredient, a specific form of organization. Whatever it is, it lies beyond anything that our present knowledge of physics or chemistry might suggest; it is a property upon which formal logic sheds absolutely no light. Whether gradualists or saltationists, Darwinians have too simple a conception of biology, rather like a locksmith improbably convinced that his handful of keys will open any lock. Darwinians, for example, tend to think of the gene rather as if it were the expression of a simple command: do this, get that done, drop that side chain. Walter Gehring's work on the regulatory genes controlling the development of the insect eye reflects this conception. The relevant genes may well function this way, but the story on this level is surely incomplete, and Darwinian theory is not apt to fill in the pieces.

Q: You claim that biologists think of a gene as a command. Could you be more specific?

S: Schematically, a gene is like a unit of information. It has simple binary properties. When active, it is an elementary information-theoretic unit, the cascade of gene instructions resembling the cascade involved in specifying a recipe. Now let us return to the example of the eye. Darwinists imagine that it requires what? A thousand or two thousand genes to assemble an eye, the specification of the organ thus requiring one or two thousand units of information? This is absurd! Suppose that a European firm proposes to manufacture an entirely new household appliance in a Southeast Asian factory. And suppose that for commercial reasons, the firm does not wish to communicate to the factory any details of the appliance's function -- how it works, what purposes it will serve. With only a few thousand bits of information, the factory is not going to proceed very far or very fast. A few thousand bits of information, after all, yields only a single paragraph of text. The appliance in question is bound to be vastly simpler than the eye; charged with its manufacture, the factory will yet need to know the significance of the operations to which they have committed themselves in engaging their machinery. This can be achieved only if they already have some sense of the object's nature before they undertake to manufacture it. A considerable body of knowledge, held in common between the European firm and its Asian factory, is necessary before manufacturing instructions may be executed.

Q: Would you argue that the genome does not contain the requisite information for explaining organisms?

S: Not according to the understanding of the genome we now possess. The biological properties invoked by biologists are in this respect quite insufficient; while biologists may understand that a gene triggers the production of a particular protein, that knowledge -- that kind of knowledge -- does not allow them to comprehend how one or two thousand genes suffice to direct the course of embryonic development.

Q: You are going to be accused of preformationism...

S: And of many other crimes. My position is nevertheless strictly a rational one. I've formulated a problem that appears significant to me: how is it that with so few elementary instructions, the materials of life can fabricate objects that are so marvelously complicated and efficient? This property with which they are endowed -- just what is its nature? Nothing within our actual knowledge of physics and chemistry allows us intellectually to grasp it. If one starts from an evolutionary point of view, it must be acknowledged that in one manner or another, the earliest fish contained the capacity, and the appropriate neural wiring, to bring into existence organs which they did not possess or even need, but which would be the common property of their successors when they left the water for the firm ground, or for the air.

 

Can the part become greater than the whole?

For evolution theory to work there must be autonomy, self-organizing complexity and symbolization - such that functional complexity can arise.

"Self-organizing complexity" is a relatively new area of study and the meaning varies considerably whether the subject is economics, biological systems, information theory, consciousness, etc. What is meant by "self" in each usage becomes significant; and since evolution theory precludes intelligent design, I added "autonomy" to the requirement of "self-organized complexity."

In sum, the "jury is still out" on the subject in all disciplines - but all the latest can be found here:

Los Alamos archives

International Society for Complexity, Information and Design

What could have started biological evolution?

I suspect we are seeing the influence of information theory on the field of evolution biology. Scientists like Yockey, Patten and Rocha are pointing to the requirement - within evolution biology theory - of the organism to have autonomous self-organizing complexity, including symbolization. My observation is that the lack of any of these in the genetic code leaves the mechanism empty to explain the rise of functional complexity.

Moreover, even if all of these were discovered - it would nevertheless require a bootstrap on the front end to initiate the process. And the existence of such a bootstrap, if algorithmic, would point directly to intelligent design. IMHO, the randomness pillar of evolution theory is in deep peril due to these contributions from mathematics.

With all the talk of primordial soups, one might think this issue has been solved. It has not. There is even a nice prize for the first one to come up with a good solution:

Origin of Life Prize

"The Origin-of-Life Prize" ® (hereafter called "the Prize") consists of $1.35 Million (USD) paid directly to the winner(s). The Prize will be awarded for proposing a highly plausible mechanism for the spontaneous rise of genetic instructions in nature sufficient to give rise to life. To win, the explanation must be consistent with empirical biochemical and thermodynamic concepts as further delineated herein, and be published in a well-respected, peer-reviewed science journal(s).

Hubert P. Yockey

All dialectical materialist origin of life scenarios require in extremis a primeval soup. There is no path from this mythical soup to the generation of a genome and a genetic code. John von Neumann showed that fact in his Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata U of Ill. Press 1966. One must begin with a genetic message of a rather large information content. Manfred Eigen and his disciples argue that all it takes is one self-catalytic molecule to generate a genome. This self-catalytic molecule must have a very small information content. By that token, there must be very few of them [Section 2.4.1] As they self-reproduce and evolve the descendants get lost in the enormous number of possible sequences in which the specific messages of biological are buried. From the Shannon-McMillan theorem I have shown that a small protein, cytochrome c is only 2 x 10^-44 of the possible sequences. It takes religious faith to believe that would happen. Of course the minimum information content of the simplest organism is much larger than the
information content of cytochrome c.

H. H. Pattee

But there is another type of subjective feeling about understanding life that motivated Pearson's question, the same, I think, that motivated Lucretius' and von Neumann's questions. It is a feeling of paradox, the same feeling that motivated Bohr, Wigner, Polanyi, the skeptics, and somewhat ironically, the founders of what is now reductionist molecular biology, like Delbrück. They all believed that life follows laws, but from their concept of law, they could not understand why life was so strikingly different from non-life. So I find another way of asking this type of question: What exactly does our view of universal dynamical laws abstract away from life, so that the striking distinctions between the living and the lifeless become obscure and apparently paradoxical?

My first answer is that dynamical language abstracts away the subject side of the epistemic cut. The necessary separation of laws and initial conditions is an explicit principle in physics and has become the basis (and bias) of objectivity in all the sciences. The ideal of physics is to eliminate the subjective observer completely. It turned out that at the quantum level this is a fundamental impossibility, but that has not changed the ideal. Physics largely ignores the exceptional effects of individual (subjective) constraints and boundary conditions and focusses on the general dynamics of laws. This is because constraints are assumed to be reducible to laws (although we know they are not reducible across epistemic cuts) and also because the mathematics of complex constraints is often unmanageable. Philosophers have presented innumerable undecidable metaphysical models about the mind-brain cut, and physicists have presented more precise but still undecidable mathematical models about quantum measurement. But at the primeval level, where it all began, the genotype-phenotype cut is now taken for granted as ordinary chemistry.

My second answer is that if you abstract away the details of how subject and object interact, the "very peculiar range" of sizes and behaviors of the allosteric polymers that connect subject and object, the memory controlled construction of polypeptides, the folding into highly specific enzymes and other functional macromolecules, the many-to-many map of sequences to structures, the self-assembly, and the many conformation dependent controls - in other words, if you ignore the actual physics involved in these molecules that bridge the epistemic cut, then it seems unlikely that you will ever be able to distinguish living organisms by the dynamic laws of "inorganic corpuscles" or from any number of coarse-grained artificial simulations and simulacra of life. Is it not plausible that life was first distinguished from non-living matter, not by some modification of physics, some intricate nonlinear dynamics, or some universal laws of complexity, but by local and unique heteropolymer constraints that exhibit detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter in the universe?

Luis Rocha

The idea that life may have originated from pure RNA world has been around for a while. In this scenario the first life forms relied on RNA molecules as both symbolic carriers of genetic information, and functional, catalytic molecules. The neutralist hypothesis for the function of RNA editing assumes such a RNA world origin of life. It posits that RNA editing could offer a process by which the dual role of RNA molecules as information carriers and catalysts could more easily co-exist. The key problem for the RNA world origin of life hypothesis is precisely the separation between these two functions of RNA. On the one hand RNA molecules should be stable (non-reactive) to carry information, and on the other hand they should be reactive to perform their catalytic function. RNA editing, could be seen as means to fragment genetic information into several non-reactive molecules, that are later, through RNA editing processes, integrated into reactive molecules. This way, the understanding of this process of mediation between the role of RNA molecules as information carriers and catalytic molecules based on RNA editing, can also offer many clues to the problem of origin of a semiotic code from s dynamic (catalytic) substrate.

Given many random distributions of the reactivity of a RNA sequence space, we could study how easily can reactive sequences be constructed from RNA edition of non-reactive molecules. A study of this process is forthcoming.

 

And leaving the soup bowl doesn't make math/physics problems with biological evolution disappear. Indeed, the long view of biological history is perplexing:

Stephen Wolfram

On the basis of traditional biological thinking one would tend to assume that whatever complexity one saw must in the end be carefully crafted to satisfy some elaborate set of constraints. But what I believe instead is that the vast majority of the complexity we see in biological systems actually has its origin in the purely abstract fact that among randomly chosen programs many give rise to complex behavior....

So how can one tell if this is really the case?

One circumstantial piece of evidence is that one already sees considerable complexity even in very early fossil organisms. Over the course of the past billion or so years, more and more organs and other devices have appeared. But the most obvious outward signs of complexity, manifest for example in textures and other morphological features, seem to have already been present even from very early times.

And indeed there is every indication that the level of complexity of individual parts of organisms has not changed much in at least several hundred million years. So this suggests that somehow the complexity we see must arise from some straightforward and general mechanism and not, for example, from a mechanism that relies on elaborate refinement through a long process of biological evolution....

Gerald Schroeder

Life is in essence a symbiotic combination of proteins (and other structures, but here I'll discuss only the proteins). The history of life teaches us that not all combinations of proteins are viable. At the Cambrian explosion of animal life, 530 million years ago, some 50 phyla (basic body plans) appeared suddenly in the fossil record. Only 30 to 34 survived. The rest perished. Since then no new phyla have evolved. It is no wonder that Scientific American asked whether the mechanism of evolution has changed in a way that prohibits all other body phyla. It is not that the mechanism of evolution has changed. It is our understanding of how evolution functions that must change, change to fit the data presented by the fossil record. To use the word of Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould, it appears that the flow of life is "channeled" along these 34 basic directions...

Among the structures that appeared in the Cambrian were limbs, claws, eyes with optically perfect lenses, intestines. These exploded into being with no underlying hint in the fossil record that they were coming. Below them in the rock strata (i.e., older than them) are fossils of one-celled bacteria, algae, protozoans, and clumps known as the essentially structureless Ediacaran fossils of uncertain identity. How such complexities could form suddenly by random processes is an unanswered question. It is no wonder that Darwin himself, at seven locations in The Origin of Species, urged the reader to ignore the fossil record if he or she wanted to believe his theory. Abrupt morphological changes are contrary to Darwin's oft repeated statement that nature does not make jumps. Darwin based his theory on animal husbandry rather than fossils. If in a few generations of selective breeding a farmer could produce a robust sheep from a skinny one, then, Darwin reasoned, in a few million or billion generations a sponge might evolve into an ape. The fossil record did not then nor does it now support this theory...

With the advent of molecular biology's ability to discern the structure of proteins and genes, statistical comparison of the similarity of these structures among animals has become possible. The gene that controls the development of the eye is the same in all mammals. That is not surprising. The fossil record implies a common branch for all mammals. But what is surprising, even astounding, is the similarity of the mammal gene the gene that controls the development of eyes in mollusks and the visual systems in worms. The same can be said for the gene that controls the expression of limbs in insects and in humans. In fact so similar is this gene, that pieces of the mammalian gene, when spliced into a fruit fly, will cause a wing to appear on the fly. This would make sense if life's development were described as a tree. But the bush of life means that just above the level of one-celled life, insects and mammals and worms and mollusks separated.

The eye gene has 130 sites. That means there are 20 to the power of 130 possible combinations of amino acids along those 130 sites. Somehow nature has selected the same combination of amino acids for all visual systems in all animals. That fidelity could not have happened by chance. It must have been pre-programmed in lower forms of life. But those lower forms of life, one-celled, did not have eyes. These data have confounded the classic theory of random, independent evolution producing these convergent structures. So totally unsuspected by classical theories of evolution is this similarity that the most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal in the Untied States, Science, reported: "The hypothesis that the eye of the cephalopod [mollusk] has evolved by convergence with vertebrate [human] eye is challenged by our recent findings of the Pax-6 [gene] ... The concept that the eyes of invertebrates have evolved completely independently from the vertebrate eye has to be reexamined."

The significance of this statement must not be lost. We are being asked to reexamine the idea that evolution is a free agent. The convergence, the similarity of these genes, is so great that it could not, it did not, happen by chance random reactions.

 

Ah, the epistemological zeal of the mathematicians and physicists! None of the above scientists are hostile to evolution theory but neither do they accept pedigree as proof, they require explanations - not descriptions.

All over the internet and in public forums hither and yon, the battle rages between Biological Evolution and the Intelligent Design Movement. When the evidence is descriptive, the format of the debate reminds one of a courtroom. But when the subject turns to mathematics, the format of the debate narrows to such issues as "irreducible complexity."

I aver that it doesn't matter who wins this particular contest. Even if the "movement" were crushed tomorrow, the mathematicians and physicists are already in the fields of molecular biology and evolutionary biology. And there are far too many Platonists (weak and strong, naturalized and not) to sustain any "just so" stories.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
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I'm working on an article to organize some thoughts on a new approach (grounded in math/physics) to the subject of biological evolution.

I would greatly appreciate your critiques, comments, additional or preferred sources, etc.

Thank you!

1 posted on 06/15/2003 10:36:08 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; Phaedrus; logos; unspun; tortoise; js1138; cornelis; gore3000; ALS; PatrickHenry; ...
I'd greatly appreciate your input and/or your pinging anyone else you think might have input! Hugs!
2 posted on 06/15/2003 10:39:07 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
Good Lord, A-Girl. This thing will take days to digest. Massive work. I'll dig into it a bit at a time.
[I'm just ape over you!]
3 posted on 06/15/2003 10:44:25 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
I'm sorry, Alamo-Girl, but I don't have the time to wade through everything here! From what I glean, you seem to believe in special creation, which I utterly adhere to.

Personally, I believe that evolution is blasphemous nonsense. The beginning is in Genesis 1. God once described Himself as "I am that I am" and He is the "Beginning and the Ending". Since He is the "Beginning" we don't need to try to figure out when the universe started. I did a tremendous amount of study on evolution in high school, and I reject the theory of evolution in its entirety, whether or not so-called scientists try to combine theological elements with it or not.

Am I correct in assuming that you believe the same thing?
4 posted on 06/15/2003 10:48:52 AM PDT by No Dems 2004
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To: PatrickHenry
Thank you so very much for your willingness to give me a hand! I'm looking forward to your input. Hugs and *smooches*!
5 posted on 06/15/2003 10:54:30 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: No Dems 2004
Thank you so very much for your insight! Indeed, we would agree on most things. This particular article is oriented to approaching evolution from the math/physics angle.

There is another article where we've collected various Freeper views on creation and the patriarchs. That article and its continuation addresses Genesis specifically. If you are interested and/or would like to state your views there, here's the link: Freeper Views on Origins

6 posted on 06/15/2003 10:58:22 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
It appears that I am not the only one who concludes it was to counter the obvious theological importance of that discovery - that the multi-verse theories were proposed. But that strategy is only clever by half since even a multi-verse must have a beginning.

I've only progressed a little way. I have a quibble here. I understand that the multi-verse scenario wasn't proposed for theological purposes, but rather to explain the remarkably congenial set of physical laws we observe. When I say "explain," I use that term in the scientific sense -- by which I mean providing a comprehensible, natural, cause-and-effect, testable explanation. Yes, it's "naturalism," but only procedural naturalism, the kind that science is stuck with. No way to ever preclude supernatural explanations. And no reason not to search for natural ones.

The so-called "fine tuning" of the universe is interesting, and one can duck the issue and say that it's just the way things are, or (I see this as another dodge) that what we observe are indeed only one set of an infinite array of physical laws. Of course, anyone can put a theological spin on these issues, and you seem to have done so. Personally, I doubt that cosmologists are really sitting around looking for ways to sabotage religion. I suspect that there are perfectly good and understandable reasons for the physical laws we observe, but as with other scientific problems, it will take time to dig out the answers.

7 posted on 06/15/2003 11:04:28 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: No Dems 2004
Those who are threatened by the concept of evolution are insecure in their religious faith.
8 posted on 06/15/2003 11:05:48 AM PDT by Rudder
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To: Alamo-Girl
This is really a placmarker, because I haven't tead it all. A couple of quick comments, not necessarily directed at you.

There is a tendency in FR threads for some to reason from the necessary existence of God, directly to the existence of the Christian God, complete with whatever attributes some particular church or demonination ascribes to God.

Second, it is quite reasonable to hypothesise that God exists only through the existence of the universe; that is, God cnnot be said to have attributes except those those that manifest themselves through existence. I used to think this was called Deism, but correct me if I'm wrong about this.

9 posted on 06/15/2003 11:06:00 AM PDT by js1138
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To: Alamo-Girl
According to Sir Karl Popper, when given two theories an experiment will decide one true and one false. But in wave-particle duality one experiment proves the electron is a wave, another proves it is a particle.

Strictly speaking, these experiments "prove" is that what they are seeing is neither a particle nor a wave. Which of course physicists have known for a while. They know that using the concepts of "particles" and "waves" are just that -- concepts.

10 posted on 06/15/2003 11:06:23 AM PDT by dark_lord (The Statue of Liberty now holds a baseball bat and she's yelling 'You want a piece of me?')
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To: PatrickHenry
Thank you so much for your comments on that point!

I included the excerpt from Hawking's lecture and the article on Martin Rees to illustrate that the multi-verse motive is transparent, at least in those instances. But as you say, the meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

11 posted on 06/15/2003 11:10:20 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138
Thank you so much for your comments!

Indeed, it is impossible for me to speak of someOne I personally know as a hypothetical. So I will always speak of God in the Judeo/Christian context.

There are of course other concepts of God. One of these is the "collective consciousness" to which you are speaking. But that would not be reasonable in the context of a Creator, IMHO, since there is always a beginning, a cause - and a collective consiousness follows.

12 posted on 06/15/2003 11:14:44 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: dark_lord
Thank you so much for your post!

Indeed, they are both constructs with their own sets of problems - hence quantum field theory.

13 posted on 06/15/2003 11:16:54 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
Whenever you talk creationism, you simply can't get past the chicken or the egg conundrum. It's obvious the "chicken" always comes out of some "egg", ie undifferentiated self into differentiated self. Beginnings are arbitrary, dependent on your perception of time - an immense aspect of what we call consciousness. In physics time/space is same thing. We only have glimpses of other times - life spans of other creatures, altered states of perception. God must be absolute time or timelessness, yet an infinity of times. Your Kabbalistic teachings state categorically that God is ultimately formlessness, void, chaos, nothingness (Ain). Consciousness is recognition of otherness - or binary good/evil, on/off reality - a direct reflection of one's differentiated state. Number comes next, counting the on/off occurences. Whenever the counting starts is the beginning, though the on/off may or may not have been eternally present in God - no beginning per se. In this complexity, arguments of the betterness of creation or evolution would seem to exclude ultra-complex explanations of yet unperceived timelessness and creations. We will never fully grasp the ultimate void (beginning) unless we perceive undifferentiatedness - meaning no consciousness or memory in the sense that we can describe it to one another in linear time-dependent symbolism (language).

All that gobbledygook leads to one question: Is the process of differentiation named creation or evolution? From my perspective it's all about the intent of describing the process. Is mystery mechanical or is mechanical mysterious? Both perspectives can lead to greater knowledge. All that matters is honest exposition.
14 posted on 06/15/2003 11:27:28 AM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: Alamo-Girl
[Bookmarking this thread.] Forgive this intrusion by an amateur.

Because our understanding of the nature of time is not yet complete, it is just as functional to say that a Creator is at work as to say there is not a Creator at work. If one starts with the notion that a Creator of spacetime and all attached to such a reality has a nature greater than the spacetime reality, the likelihood that such an Creator would use evolution (in some manifestation) as a process useful in the ongoing creative effort is acceptable. Nothing yet has 'falsed' that notion. Is it possible some future 'discovery' will false the notion? Well, the answer to that, on a personal, level depends on the level of openness one brings to the debate. In the last analysis, believing there is a Creator at work but we don't grasp the complexities yet is preferrable, to this amateur. To believe otherwise holds the potential for a possibly unpleasant surprise once one is 'beyond' the confines of spacetime as we experience it. Why chance the alternative when nothing compels one to reject the notion of a Creator at work? [Perhaps the 'divine ambivilence' is a part of the plan for evolving the creation. What if there IS a part of our nature that is not confined to spacetime?]

15 posted on 06/15/2003 11:28:31 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
A quick scan gives me the impression that you have produced a thesis of meritorious intellectual content. But I don't have time to fully consider it right now. So I'm bookmarking for later perusal.
16 posted on 06/15/2003 11:33:04 AM PDT by sourcery (The Evil Party thinks their opponents are stupid. The Stupid Party thinks their opponents are evil.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
You have far more philosophical audacity than I do. I'm not even going to try to debate whether God had a beginning, or where God was before the universe began (I think of this as the "homelessness" issue, and it's quite beyond my limited powers to solve). Ditto for the Plato/Aristotle debate about the "reality" of abstractions. These are obviously outside of the limits of biological evolution. But they're delicious questions.

The biological development of consciousness is, in my opinion, still a good avenue for research; but I don't pretend to know any answers there. I may have something to say about the "free will" issue, if time permits (and if I'm not predetermined to ignore it).

I'm dazzled by the effort you've put into this. [Enthusiastic smooches!]

17 posted on 06/15/2003 11:33:28 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: dark_lord
"They know that using the concepts of "particles" and "waves" are just that -- concepts. dark_lord " [In a whisper, so as to avoid flames ...] I'm betting that it is our limited understanding of the nature of time that yields this ambiguity, this duality of particle and wave. Will the antrhopic principle help to resolve this paucity on time? Oh my, that is the conundrum!
18 posted on 06/15/2003 11:37:33 AM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
This article will attempt a new approach - starting at the mathematics/physics angle - to explore the much argued subject of biological evolution.

With all due admiration for your unbounded energy, this is not a new approach at all. You'll encounter a host of mathematicians and physicists who have published articles in places like PRL, J. Theor. Biology, Theor. Pop. Biology, Statistical Physics, J. Mathematical Biology and others. There are hundreds of those researchers who have put forth simple and, sometimes, silly models of evolution. Fields such as thermodynamics, emergence, adaptive systems, and mechanics have all been applied to biological evolution. And don't forget the evolutionists who have developed strong mathematical models of evolution. Names like Smith, Fisher, Haldane, Wright come to mind. The hope is that one of these days, the mathematicians and physicist who devise elegant, clean, simple models of evolution might bother to learn some actual biology.

19 posted on 06/15/2003 11:42:35 AM PDT by Nebullis
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To: PatrickHenry
I'll need more than an afternoon to comprehend all of this, but ... thanx AG.

(Now ... where did I put those stackers???)

20 posted on 06/15/2003 12:17:43 PM PDT by knarf (A place where anyone can learn anything ... especially that which promotes clear thinking.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
A great part of the problem, for example materiality, is that ideas have been contributed to the body of thought in many different languages. Gurfjieff said that everything was material, just different degrees of fineness. He might have said that in Russian, Armenian, or English, doing a running translation as he went and causing ideas somewhat different from his own to appear in the listener's mind. We might observe cyberspace or the noosphere and consider it material somehow. Plato's materiality might be different from Kant's materiality only in that the language each used was different and both are being rendered in English. It's just another level of complication to add to the normal complexity of communicating ideas to family and friends who supposedly speak the same language.
21 posted on 06/15/2003 12:29:04 PM PDT by RightWhale (gazing at shadows)
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To: JmyBryan
Thank you so much for your post! It was quite engaging.

For Lurkers interested in following up on your statement that "In physics time/space is same thing" I'd like to offer this link on the construction of the Lorentz Transformation

Is the process of differentiation named creation or evolution? From my perspective it's all about the intent of describing the process. Is mystery mechanical or is mechanical mysterious? Both perspectives can lead to greater knowledge. All that matters is honest exposition.

IMHO, there would probably not be so great a hostility, and little offense to the mention of intelligent design or evolution, if there were no political and ideological agendas.

We will never fully grasp the ultimate void (beginning) unless we perceive undifferentiatedness - meaning no consciousness or memory in the sense that we can describe it to one another in linear time-dependent symbolism (language).

Indeed, null beginning is a concept which exceeds the capability of language. But the geometric mechanics (4D space/time) are more accessible from the higher dimensional dynamics:

Classical and Quantized Aspects of Dynamics in Five Dimensional Relativity (pdf)

22 posted on 06/15/2003 12:35:11 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: MHGinTN
Thank you so much for your insight!

In the last analysis, believing there is a Creator at work but we don't grasp the complexities yet is preferrable, to this amateur. To believe otherwise holds the potential for a possibly unpleasant surprise once one is 'beyond' the confines of spacetime as we experience it. Why chance the alternative when nothing compels one to reject the notion of a Creator at work?

A very good point. Thank you!

23 posted on 06/15/2003 12:37:59 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: sourcery
Thank you so much for the kudos and encouragement! I look forward to your comments!
24 posted on 06/15/2003 12:39:42 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: PatrickHenry
Thank you so very much for sharing your reactions! Hugs and *smooches*!

I got into the Plato/Aristotle debate because, laying the Intelligent Design Movement aside, IMHO it lies at the root of what the mathematicians and physicists are bringing to "the table."

As to the beginnings, well, I guess you are right - I am philosophically audacious - but it seemed appropriate to connect the thoughts.

25 posted on 06/15/2003 12:46:19 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Nebullis
Thank you so much for your post!

With all due admiration for your unbounded energy, this is not a new approach at all.

Indeed, it is however a new approach for me and my collection of musings - and it is new for the debate here on the forum.

The hope is that one of these days, the mathematicians and physicist who devise elegant, clean, simple models of evolution might bother to learn some actual biology.

I tried to use some mathematicians and physicists who would pass your scrutiny on that very point. Rocha and Pattee came from your Santa Fe lead. And Yockey from the same line of research, he authored the book "Information Theory and Molecular Biology." And of course, Schützenberger was a doctor of medicine as well as a mathematician.

26 posted on 06/15/2003 12:52:27 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: knarf
You are quite welcome, knarf! I look forward to your comments!
27 posted on 06/15/2003 12:53:20 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
The commonality of genes between diverse species has, besides inheritance, another possible source: "horizontal gene transfer". Bacteria can introduce genes into their hosts, and retroviruses are known to carry genes between animals of the same species (and may carry genes between species as well).

Ref: T.A. Brown, Genomes. Wiley, 1999.

28 posted on 06/15/2003 12:55:05 PM PDT by AZLiberty
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To: RightWhale
Great catch! Excellent points. Thank you for your post!
29 posted on 06/15/2003 12:55:18 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: AZLiberty
Thank you so much for your post and the excerpt!
30 posted on 06/15/2003 12:57:02 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
...cosmological scenarios are offered that in one way or another repropose a form of the old principle of plenitude ("everything that can exist, does exist"). The existence is thus postulated of an infinity of chances, among which "our case" becomes an obvious favorable case (today the most popular form is that of multi-universes). What is your view on this?

It is very possible, but it is not physics. It is a metaphysics in which recourse is made to a chance that is so enormously limitless that everything that is possible is real. But in this way it becomes a confrontation between metaphysics in which chance collides with purpose. This latter, however, seems much easier to believe! Physics up to now has been based on measurable "data." Beyond this it is a passage of metaphysics. At this point I compare it with another metaphysics. Those who sustain these viewpoints (like Stephen Hawking, for instance) should realize that this goes beyond physics; otherwise it is exaggerated. Physics, pushed beyond what it can measure, becomes ideology.

For whatever reason, this part leaped off the screen as I read it; likely for its reference to purpose and the conclusion leading to ideology.

This is difficult reading due mainly to its length and formatting on this small screen; I could follow it better if your first person remarks were non-italicized ariel font and others in a contrasting form.

It sure is one heck of an effort.

31 posted on 06/15/2003 1:36:52 PM PDT by Old Professer
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To: PatrickHenry
In this one paragraph, you have dismissed the entirety of her work; is that your intent?

I once remarked that after the scientists defrocked the priests that they would assume their robes, I was merely kidding at the time.

32 posted on 06/15/2003 1:40:13 PM PDT by Old Professer
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To: Old Professer
... is that your intent?

No.

33 posted on 06/15/2003 1:43:13 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: PatrickHenry
ABIOGENESIS

That slow process by which living organisms were spontaneously generated from non-living matter. This scientific fact should not be confused with the old discredited myth of spontaneous generation by which it was once foolishly believed that living organisms arose from non-living matter. (see Law of Biogenesis).

A.C.L.U.

An organization that zealously protects our American civil liberties by preventing students in public schools from considering scientific evidence that is either consistent with creation or critical of evolution.

BIG BANG

The mechanism, or at least the noise, by which all matter and energy came into existence billions of years ago.

BIOLOGY

The branch of the exact sciences which is exclusively concerned with the evolution of living organisms by means of random mutations and natural selection.

DROSOPHILA

The "guinea pig" of the evolutionist to which we all owe a debt of gratitude for our understanding of the role of mutations in evolution. Trillions of generations of these rapidly breeding little flies have had their wings crumpled and their eyes damaged by strong mutagenic agents to provide us with a genetic insight into how man evolved from the prehominid brutes in a few thousand generations.

EVOLUTION

A truly perfect scientific theory which explaims in detail how everything in the universe came into being -- slowly. The theory of evolutions is so perfect and flexible in its ability to explain virtually all observable phemomena or opinions that it would be impossible to even conceive of an experiment capable of disproving it. (see Law).

GEOLOGIC COLUMN

A precise hierarchy of fossilized animals and plants of known age found in successive layers of stratified rock with the simplest and oldest at the bottom and the most highly evolved, i.e., most recent, at the top. Uninterrupted columns of this type may be found in any book of geology, paleontology or evolution. Bits and pieces of the column may even be found in the stratified rocks of the earth, but since these layers are often out of correct order and very incomplete, one should study the geologic column in books, not nature.

HOPEFUL MONSTER THEORY

A concept first introduced out of necessity by the geneticist, Richard Goldschmidt, which states that evolution occurs by sudden and large changes in the offspring of a species resulting in radically different but well adapted organisms, i.e. "hopeful monsters." After being widely discredited for many years this idea is being reintroduced, out of necessity, as a serious theory. The great leaps forward implicit in this theory entirely account for the absence of the "missing links." (See Punctuated Equilibrium)

INDEX FOSSILS

Fossils of animals whose ages are precisely known from the age of the rocks in which they are found, thus, serving as a means for accurately dating the rocks in which they are found as well as the age of any other fossils that may be contained therein.

LAW

In science, a statement of fact about a sequence or phenomenon that has been invariably observed to occur under known conditions such as, for example, the theory of evolution. (see Evolution).

LAW OF BIOGENESIS

Simply states the obvious...that all life comes from pre-existing life. This law, which was confirmed by Redi and Pasteur, permanently laid to rest the ludicrous idea of the ignorant ancients that living organisms could spring from inanimate matter. It should be emphasized that this law in no way precludes the slow origin of living organisms from inanimate matter through the process of evolution - after all, we are here, aren't we? (see Abiogenesis).

LIFE

The only term in this dictionary that defies definition since it has been said that "the division of matter into living and nonliving is perhaps an arbitrary one. It is a convenient method for distinguishing, for instance, a man from a rock." (quoted verbatim from The Origins of Life, by Cyril Ponnamperuma, 1962, H. P. Dutton, New York, p. 36).

MICROSPHERES

Primitive cells which have been artificially synthesized from simple laboratory reagents. As the name implies, the principal similarity between microspheres and living cells is that both are small and sort of round.

MISSING LINKS

An inconceivably vast assemblage of plants and animals which are intermediate in their evolutionary development between all of the discrete kinds of plants and animals one sees either alive or in the fossil record. Unfortunately as the name implies they are missing.

MUTATIONS

A change in the genetic material (DNA) of the cell induced by hazardous chemicals or radiation which in addition to killing or maiming organisms will, given enough time and enough mutations, inexorably lead some organisms on to an ever more successful and adaptive life.

NATURAL SELECTION

That miraculous process by which incredibly complex and useful structures, such as the eye or brain, are culled out from a vast array of random and purposeless mutations. In the distant past this marvelous natural artificer has produced the whole scope of existence from molecules to man but today it appears to be limiting its activities to such mundane matters as controlling the relative numbers of white and black moths in England.

NEO-DARWINIAN EVOLUTION

An embellishment of the old Darwinian theory of evolution, it states that random changes (mutations) in the genome of an organism will be selected for, and thus contribute to the evolution of the new species, only if they ultimately lead to a greater number of offspring. Thus, an ever-increasing rate of reproduction entirely accounts for the evolution from bacteria to man.

ONTOGENY RECAPITULATES PHYLOGENY

A law first discovered by Ernst Haeckel which if pronounced correctly and with conviction, impresses laymen and students of science in the elementary grades. Simply stated, and thus less convincingly, it means that the embryos of all animals bother to provide a historical review of many stages of their evolution during their embryological development. Although this type of reminiscing is touching and is taught in almost every general science and biology text book, it is no longer accepted by scientists or even evolutionists.

PHYLOGENETIC TREE

A tree that grows mainly in textbooks of biology and which has a variety of both contemporary and fossil animals perched on the tips of its branches. This tree clearly shows how all of these animals branched off from common ancestors a long time ago. For some reason the common ancestors are never shown sitting in the crotches of the tree. Plants presumably grow on different trees which are rather rare.

PILTDOWN MAN

Once known by all true scholars of human evolution to be an ancient ancestor of man. This true "ape man" had the jaw of a modern ape and the skull of a modern man. Today this ape-man is not so well known among true scholars of evolution.

PRIMITIVE

Old, inferior, poorly adapted, less evolved, shoddy, bungling.

PROOF

The assimilation of data in such a way that the desired conclusion seems to be the most plausible hypothesis.

PROTOZOA

As the name implies, these are known to be the first true animals on earth. If these primitive organisms had continued to adapt to their changing environment they might still be with us today.

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM

An ad hoc hypothesis or alibi that claims the reason there are no known transitional forms in the fossil record is because evolutionary changes occur so quickly and the reason we can't see evolutionary changes in the laboratory is because they occur so slowly. (see Hopeful Monster Theory).

RADIOCARBON DATING

A remarkably precise method of actually measuring the age of any carbon-containing sample. Except for certain spurious (young) dates, radiocarbon, like other methods involving the decay of radionuclides will, given several absolutely safe assumptions, invariably indicate a ripe old age for any specimen consistent with a slow process of evolution.

SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS

One of the most fundamental laws of science which essentially states that nothing can increase in order, complexity, or information but rather everything form the universe to the one-horse shay will in time fall apart (not assemble). We may be sure, however, that the mind-boggling increase in order, complexity and information accomplished by the evolution of chemicals to man in no way violates this law or it wouldn't have happened.

SELECTIVE PRESSURE

That natural and highly selective pressure that actually forces particularly useful structures such as brains, eyes, legs, wings and long necks on giraffes to evolve by random mutations. Unnecessary structures such as eyelids on your navel fail to evolve by chance because there is no selective pressure for this.

SPECULATION

The single most powerful tool in the hands of the evolutionists.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

The most important contribution of Darwin to biological thought which states that only those organisms which are fit survive, or in other words, survival is the result of being fit. By this kind of logic it can also be proven that loss of vision is a principal cause of blindness.

THEISTIC EVOLUTION

The belief that the evolutionary account of origins (where everything ascends from a very imperfect state to a more nearly perfect state) and the Biblical account of origins (where everything descends from a perfect state to a very imperfect state) are both true.

TIME

That miracle ingredient which in sufficient quantity can give scientific credibility to any hypothesis no matter how improbable. It is a well- known axiom of science for example, that given enough time virtually anything is possible - indeed you might even say it has to happen.

TREE

That which only evolution can make. (see Phylogenetic Tree).

VESTIGIAL ORGANS

Organs or other body parts, left over from evolutionary ancestors, which are no longer used or needed by an organism that has become more highly evolved by abandoning organs and getting simpler. Seventy years ago man had nearly one hundred vestigial organs such as the parathyroid, tonsils, coccyx, etc., but today he has very few vestigial organs because a good use has been discovered for most of these organs.

XERDEMA PIGMENTOSA

A disease of man in which certain enzymes which normally repair mutations of DNA fail to do so resulting in malignant tumors of the skin which are often fatal. Since it is well known that mutations were essential for the evolution of man from primitive cells, we must assume that too much of even a good thing like mutations is bad for us.


390 posted on 06/11/2003 12:49 AM PDT by razorbak


34 posted on 06/15/2003 1:50:31 PM PDT by f.Christian (( I'm going to rechristen evolution, in honor of f.Christian, "shlockology"... HumanaeVitae ))
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To: Alamo-Girl
According to Sir Karl Popper, when given two theories an experiment will decide one true and one false.

Pardon me, but depending on the question, both theories about whatever it is could very well be wrong, or both could be partially right. Life is very rarely so neat and clean as to present you with exactly two possible answers, one absolutely right, and the other absolutely wrong. ;)

35 posted on 06/15/2003 1:55:42 PM PDT by general_re (ABSURDITY, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.)
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To: Alamo-Girl; MHGinTN
I tend to agree with MHGinTN; ( I think ;0P )

As an agnostic, (NOT "Atheist", PLEASE!) I believe in God, but do not believe science will ever produce a proof or disproof of God's existence.
It is something we as human beings will never comprehend, so we just accept it on Faith.
So much for "causality". ( Wasn't my fault mom, God did it. )

Since God created this universe in which we live, God also created the physical laws under which it operates.
This not only encompasses the laws of mass, energy, space-time, motion, gravity, etc., but the laws concerning the formation of life.

I therefore have no problem with evolution as an explanation of how life exists, and how human beings came to be.
That is the way God decided to make the rules, and so it is.
We are continually learning new things about this universe which we live in and we may some day find some of our "assumptions" are incorrect.
( Hey! It could happen! )
It wouldn't be the first time someone's mathematical / physical laws were found to need adjustment.
Newton had to put up with Einstein being closer to the truth than he was. ( actually not, he was already dead. )
Likewise, Einstein couldn't accept the idea that God would "throw dice", but, (for the meantime) has been proven wrong.

Getting back to the point, God is incomprehensible. Get used to it.
God created the universe, and life, and the rules.
We live in the universe God created, and we are life, we just haven't figured out the rules yet, and may continue to struggle with understanding our ONE universe until humanity's demise.
Two out of three ain't bad.

I can imagine the last humans standing on a distant planet at the edge of the universe.
They are praying to a God they believe exists, even though they have not been able to prove it, mathematically or scientifically.
They are asking God to grant them more time, they are sure they can figure it out, if they just could have some more time...

36 posted on 06/15/2003 2:22:37 PM PDT by Drammach
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To: dark_lord; Alamo-Girl
Strictly speaking, these experiments "prove" is that what they are seeing is neither a particle nor a wave. Which of course physicists have known for a while. They know that using the concepts of "particles" and "waves" are just that -- concepts.

While I would concede the point concerning "concepts", I always thought the explanation was that light was a particle that traversed space-time in the form of a wave.
Am I incorrect in this assumption? ( All these years? )

37 posted on 06/15/2003 2:29:39 PM PDT by Drammach
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To: Alamo-Girl
Of course, human consciousness seems to carry with it strong impulse to ideological belief, which may in fact be the impetus to symbolic representation.

Mathematics is certainly more apt to provide useful description of extra-dimensional "realities" BUT we're still discovering mis- and reinterpretations of the particle trails of atom-smashers. Not to mention the new stuff.

Your links are excellent, thank you.

Seems were all sitting around waiting for proof of the Higgs Boson, right? LOL

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/06/05/universe.origins.reut/
38 posted on 06/15/2003 2:56:12 PM PDT by JmyBryan
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To: f.Christian
[Second Law Of Thermodynamics] We may be sure, however, that the mind-boggling increase in order, complexity and information accomplished by the evolution of chemicals to man in no way violates this law or it wouldn't have happened. That is a rather circular argument which assumes the law to be totally valid while at the same time excluding the notion of design on a higher scale in operation. Biological entities, for a time, appear to overcome entropy, on the scale of their existence and the existence of their offspring.

"Phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny" ... lost in the grudging acceptance of facts.

39 posted on 06/15/2003 3:37:15 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
Have you ever been struck by the notion that an individual alive organism is a simile of the 'collapse of the wave function' while its 'soul' (aliveness')is bussing about in spacetime, only to be released back to the wave function upon death of the bus?
40 posted on 06/15/2003 3:40:01 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: MHGinTN
I'll scurry back to my safe perch on the porch now ...
41 posted on 06/15/2003 3:40:45 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
I'd greatly appreciate your input

In the discussion of Platonism over Aristotelian 'realism' it seemed to me that the Platonist side was left a bit weak. For example, our senses only see points of light, particular sound frequencies, etc. Is this reality? Does this tell us anything useful? It certainly is some sort of information, however it seems to me that unordered information is not useful. A single frequency of sound has little meaning, however when ordered in a time wise fashion, it will have meaning. Same for sight, a single bit of light has little meaning but when ordered by the concept of space, it gains meaning. Thus these 'concepts' seem to be what give order to reality and give us the ability to function within it.

42 posted on 06/15/2003 4:05:17 PM PDT by gore3000 (Intelligent people do not believe in evolution.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
Entry Word: impressive
Function: adjective
Text: 1
Synonyms MOVING 2, affecting, poignant, touching
Related Word august, grand, imposing, majestic, noble; splendid, superb; arresting, notable, striking
Antonyms unimpressive
2
Synonyms GRAND 2, gorgeous, lavish, luxurious, splendid, sumptuous
43 posted on 06/15/2003 4:59:49 PM PDT by ALS ("No, I'm NOT a Professor. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!")
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To: Drammach; Alamo-Girl
...I always thought the explanation was that light was a particle that traversed space-time in the form of a wave.

Which is just playing with words. A "particle" that can travel in the "form of a wave" is not, after all, a particle. It is something else entirely.

44 posted on 06/15/2003 6:23:55 PM PDT by dark_lord (The Statue of Liberty now holds a baseball bat and she's yelling 'You want a piece of me?')
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To: Old Professer
Thank you so much for your suggestions and encouragements! Indeed, the answer by Nicolo Dallaporta was startling to me - so I researched it a bit further and, sure enough, there was much evidence to support his view.
45 posted on 06/15/2003 8:45:47 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
After the blackout placemarker
46 posted on 06/15/2003 8:51:27 PM PDT by js1138
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To: general_re
Thank you so much for your post!

Life is very rarely so neat and clean as to present you with exactly two possible answers, one absolutely right, and the other absolutely wrong.

Indeed, but in the context of science, a theory has value precisely because it can be falsified, according to Popper:

Sir Karl Popper "Science as Falsification," 1963

I found that those of my friends who were admirers of Marx, Freud, and Adler, were impressed by a number of points common to these theories, and especially by their apparent explanatory power. These theories appear to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, open your eyes to a new truth hidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirmed instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refuse to see it, either because it was against their class interest, or because of their repressions which were still "un-analyzed" and crying aloud for treatment.

The most characteristic element in this situation seemed to me the incessant stream of confirmations, of observations which "verified" the theories in question; and this point was constantly emphasize by their adherents. A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation — which revealed the class bias of the paper — and especially of course what the paper did not say. The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their "clinical observations." …

These considerations led me in the winter of 1919-20 to conclusions which I may now reformulate as follows.

1. It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory — if we look for confirmations.

2. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.

3. Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

4. A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice.

5. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability: some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

6. Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence.")

7. Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.")

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.


47 posted on 06/15/2003 8:51:32 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Drammach
Thank you so much for sharing your views from the agnostic corner!!!
48 posted on 06/15/2003 8:55:55 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Drammach
While I would concede the point concerning "concepts", I always thought the explanation was that light was a particle that traversed space-time in the form of a wave. Am I incorrect in this assumption? ( All these years? )

That's not exactly correct. The sad fact is that what we can know about subatomic particles is very dependant on the questions we are asking. When we look for wavelike behavior (wavelength, interference patterns), we will see it. When we look for particle behaviors (photons, particle interactions), we will see it. There is NO good definition of a subatomic particle like the one you posted, because what it is changes depending on the questions we ask.

Take an electron, for example. If you fire an electron or other negatively charged particle at a hydrogen atom, it will bounce away from a spot we might say is where the electron in the atom is orbiting. But why is the electron orbiting there instead of lower/closer to the nucleus? Because its wavelength is such that it cannot fit perfectly within a circle of smaller radius (ie. it can't orbit any closer). So is it a particle or a wave?

49 posted on 06/15/2003 9:06:26 PM PDT by Charles H. (The_r0nin) (Physicists do it with force and energy!)
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To: Alamo-Girl
For one thing, to a mathematician the "absence of evidence IS evidence of absence."

Not in mathematics. "Absence of evidence" is only "absence of evidence." In forensics, the quoted statement is true.

50 posted on 06/15/2003 9:19:00 PM PDT by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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