A Challenge to both Evolution and Intelligent Design

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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mark black
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Post by mark black » Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:02 am

Psychonaut,

Okay, I accept what you're saying, there are different levels of explanation. I am unapologetically anthropocentric. I think what matters is what makes sense to us. In those terms, I consider myself an individual organism. I don't deny that I'm a collection of cells, and in turn a collection of atoms, and in turn a collection of neutrons, protons and electorns, and maybe I'm a collection of vibrating strings - but does explanation in these terms explicate what matters to me?
Now maybe, on the atomic level - there is no essential distinction between me and the world around me, but there is - isn't there?

mb.

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Psychonaut
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Post by Psychonaut » Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:40 am

There is certainly a distiction made.

Our mind has been produced by evolution as a means for guiding the body based on data garnered from our surroundings by our senses. As a reproducing entity we generally make the distinctions which suit our survival and reproduction; not doing so means we cease being around, as do our flawed distinctions.
We distinguish between good food and bad food, rotten food disgusts us for a reason.
We distinguish between good sexual partners and bad sexual partners, by means of our sense of smell we lean towards divergent immune system genes.
Equally, we distinguish between the entity which, as a mind, we are responsible for the survival and reproduction of, and that which we are not.

Morpheus
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Post by Morpheus » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:20 am

Listen up lads: what is this argument about? As I stated way back, both aspects of this argument are correct. Mark is correct, Psychonaut is correct. It all depends on one's relative position to the subject. From the position of the senses, we can assess 'animate' and 'inanimate'. But when we zoom in or zoom out to the infinitely small (subatomic realms) or the infinitely large (the Cosmos), we reach a point where there is no distinction, for all is ONE. Whether this ONE lives or doesn't live is arbitrary at this level of realisation.
Last edited by Morpheus on Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

Morpheus
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Post by Morpheus » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:25 am

I can't see how there was ever an origin of anything. It's always been and always will be, albeit constantly changing, expanding and contracting through eternity. The reason we believe in beginnings and endings is because that's all we know as human beings. We can't imagine the infinite. Einstein gave up trying to imagine the infinite too. Instead he decided to sit back and enjoy the mystery of it!

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Post by bus2bondi » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:36 am

exactly. philosophy has always been dead.

mark black
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Post by mark black » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:44 am

Morpheus,

I think that's the point I'm trying to come to. There's a sort of psuedo-religious superlativism in all Nikolai's threads, that he wants to construe everything in terms of the absolute. What I'm saying is that, when we do so, everthing disappears and becomes meaningless. That fills me with despair - and some frustration that it's not easier to accord correct levels of explanation.

mb.

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Post by Morpheus » Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:59 pm

By the way, there was rhyme and reason for my posting the Tasmanian Devil link earlier. The reason these creatures are dying of cancer is not entirely due to their habit of biting each other with their cavernous jaws. Rather, the species has become weakened due to loss of habitat. Loss of habitat has caused loss of many of these marsupials, along with their genetic diversity. Loss of genetic diversity within species is not disimilar to the detrimental effects of inbreeding: any existing genetic weaknesses (i.e. suseptibility to cancer) are perpetutated, eventually leading to extinction of the species.

Genetic diversity is essential for the survival of all species, whether flora or fauna. Loss of biodiversity and genetic diversity, due to our environmentally destructive habits, signals ecosystem breakdown. As we all know, unless this pattern is halted, ecological breakdown will eventually inhibit functioning of the entire Earth system.

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:01 pm

MB,
mark black wrote:...Entropy is not merely a measure of the heat loss from a closed system.
Yes it is as the Wikki shows. It also shows what can happen when technical terms are imported from other disciplines to explain that disciplines phenomena.
I already gave you definitions and references to demonstrate that point. Did you not look at them?
I did and think they demonstrate my point.
It's incorrect of you to suggest that entropy is appropriated and incorrectly applied in evolution. Entropy is part of the Second Law of Thermodynaimcs - and applies to everything in the universe.
You are proving my point. You can use concepts from other fields in your domain but what you should not do is to try and disprove them whilist at the same time relying upon them.
Look at what you've written, "Entropy is part of the Second Law of Thermodynaimcs - and applies to everything in the universe". If this is the case then it applies to both your living and non-living things, so it cannot be used to make the distinction!? This is what Nikolai meant by you not taking a Philosophical enough view with respect to what the Scientists are saying.

The current discussion about Entropy, Negentropy, etc.. and their role in identifiying what is living and not-living is very muddled. The question appears to be "What is Life?" and the answer is "Its anything that has DNA". So Rock, Earth, Water and Air are not living and, so far, 99% of evrything else we've tested is. This is not an arbitrary mental distinction as before its discovery the categories were just created but now we know better. There are a couple of little 'beasties' that use something like the DNA replication processes but their existence will only prove that it is 'livings' and 'non-livings'.
What you say above is utterly confused, and I cannot begin to unscramble it. All I can do is suggest you study the wiki entry - I think it quite correct and clear on the matter, and surely there you will find the source of your confusion.
Its simple, there is no Life that disobeys the Laws of Thermodynamics and to import terms from other disciplines only to create new definitions with which to disprove the first is shoddy epistemology.

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:35 pm

hi Nikolai,
I can't belive you're going along with this.
Nikolai wrote:The association between life and negentropy (NE) is yet another of the circular arguments that are so characterictic of science.
As far as I can understand there is no such association. As "negentropy", in the sense that it is being applied in this discussion, does not exist. As if it did many Physicists would be out of work and we might have solved our energy problems for a very long time.
It would be easy to call lots of phenomena in nature as utilising NE, the only reason we don't do so is because these phenomena happen not to be conventional examples of life.
No it wouldn't. It would just be wrong.

Below, to me, proves why terms should not be imported. I don't doubt your logical 'proofs' based upon the ideas of 'NE', etc as created by the Biologists but think they are fundamentally wrong.
Take a glacier for example. Our systemic approach to our understanding of the material world means that we do not take a glacier as being a discrete phenomena but rather an aspect of a complex meterological/topographical system...
No, we first encounter it as an inescapable bloody great, big, white, slippery cold discrete phenomena. Later we create a 'complex meterological/topographical system' that includes this phenomenon.
...If however we decided to ignore the wider system and focus on the glacier alone. In other words, if we were to arbitrarily impose boundaries around the glacier which divorce it from is surroundings (as we do when we distinguish life from non-life), we could say that, by any acceptable definition, the glacier demonstrates negative entropy during the winter and entropy in the summer. Even if we took a 'three score and ten' perspective' we would see this fluctuation, even though we might see an average entropy or NE over the period.
No we can't. What we can do using the Physics concept of Entropy is describe this system as a 'heat sink' and as such the flow of Energy is 'reversed'. The fluctuations you see are the differences in state due to fluctuations in the Energy source affecting how much Work can be done. Whether in Summer or Winter the system will be losing Work to Entropy its just that its less in Winter compared to Summer as the Energy source is stronger. You cannot 'see' an 'average'. You can create one by recording individual states over time.
A glacier is by no means unique. Cyclones, anticyclones, whirlpools could also demonstrate NE if we were able to distinguish them from their surroundings. It is a mere artefact of our perceptual organs that we do not see the clear boundaries of a whirlpool as we do with glaciers or trees or parrots.
So I think you can guess my thoughts about this.
So what happens when we choose to overlook the apparant boundaries between life and non-life? The NE disappears and the life form becomes as continuous with non-life as a glacier does with the falling snow.
You can ignore the boundries if you wish but my guess is that you'd have to make up some extraneous entity to explain some of its more puzzling attributes.
We therefore cannot maintain the boundaries of life and non-life without a belief in the life force - that unseen spark, that metaphysical substance: the Holy Spirit in nature.
Ta! Da!
You apparently do not believe that Darwins biological hypothesis has been proved by the discoveries of Franklin, Wilkins, Watson & Crick? All Life, so far, has been proved to be DNA based. All things, on this planet, without DNA, are not living.

There are ways that the Entropy from Physics should be used in Biology. By ensuring that the things described in Biology meet the Laws of Thermodynamics, or, if you find they don't, let the Physicists know but more realistically re-examine your assumptions. Philosophically there is a link between living and non-living things and that is, that they BOTH obey the Laws of Thermodynamics and are hence Entropic systems.

Yours,
a_uk
p.s.
Apologies for the stridentness of my tone in this post. I was tired and gumpy, age I suppose. I still stand by what I'm saying but admit that my data may be out-of-date so look forward to being updated.
Last edited by Arising_uk on Mon Dec 22, 2008 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mark black
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Post by mark black » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:47 pm

a_uk,

I'm sorry if the simplicity of this explanation seems condescending. It's not intended. But I'm not sure what it is you don't seem to understand. To begin at the beginning:

If you build a barn - and do nothing else to it, it will slowly fall apart. That's entropy. If you wish to maintain the order inherent in the structure of the barn, then you need to expend energy. If you want a barn with a hay loft - a more complex structure, you have to expend more energy. In this way, energy is related to order in systems.

This principle applies to everything in the know universe - including life. However, life internalizes energy from the environment, by eating, or by photosythesis in order to maintian order, and even reverse entropy. That's negative entropy. Also, when we consider the evolutionary nature of organisms, as species, we see an increase in complexity over time. That's negative entropy.

This doesn't inavlidate the entropic principle - but does distinguish the animate from the inanimate. In much the same way as not maitianing the barn will cause it to collapse, if the organism doesn't eat, entropy takes over, and eventually the organism will die.

mb.

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:58 am

mb,
mark black wrote:a_uk,
I'm sorry if the simplicity of this explanation seems condescending. It's not intended. But I'm not sure what it is you don't seem to understand. To begin at the beginning:
No apologies necessary. What I don't understand is how you do not understand that you are guilty of what philosophers call 'reifying' Entropy. Entropy is a concept an abstract, it is not a 'thing' or object in the world.
If you build a barn - and do nothing else to it, it will slowly fall apart. That's entropy. If you wish to maintain the order inherent in the structure of the barn, then you need to expend energy. If you want a barn with a hay loft - a more complex structure, you have to expend more energy. In this way, energy is related to order in systems.
Fine, lets 'barn-build'.
This 'order' you talk about, what is it? My guess is you're now importing the concepts from Physics that were developed to deal with with the statistical approach to measuring and explaining the process of Entropy.
But I think I understand your analogy. So, 'the barn' and 'the maintenance person' are the two Energy 'sources'. As you say, the barn, to maintain 'its' structure, must import Energy and in this case its the human's. If we ignore the fact that the human is also involved in its own exhange system, we can understand this as a two Energy exchange system. In this case the Barn 'draws' its Energy from the human and uses it to maintain its struture so in a sense holds Entropy 'at bay' but the process of the interaction between the human expending its Energy upon the object involves wastage to the 'outside' and hence Entropy occurs, as not ALL of the human Energy can be exhanged to produce the Work that the barn 'needs', in general it is 'wasted' as Heat. So the combined system is Entropic, i.e. if before the maintainence started you got a number by measuring and adding up the separate energy stores and at the 'end' of the process you measure the combined result, this number would be less than the former, i.e. you would have less Energy available for Work in the 'completed' system(this barn/human is not the easiest of analogies) than you had at the beginning. What I mean is the 'end' point would be the exhaustion to death of the human and the structure of the barn at that moment, i.e. the human would be dead so no Energy, add that to the Energy in the barn and the result will still be less than the potential Energy that existed in the separate systems before the process started. This is called Entropy. Does this make sense to you?

Say the barn just stood there. The system then is still a two-way Energy exhange system between the barn and the environment. In this case its a flow from the barn to the 'enviroment', (although I admit this is vague and I can understand huge philosophical issues here), hence the barn 'decays', although as Lavoisier proved in the 18th century this is a relative description as no matter actually disappears, but to all intents and purposes the barn and the 'environment' make up an Entropic system, as the Energy exchange between the barn and environment will not be 100% efficient. Any clearer?
This principle applies to everything in the know universe - including life. However, life internalizes energy from the environment, by eating, or by photosythesis in order to maintian order, and even reverse entropy. That's negative entropy. Also, when we consider the evolutionary nature of organisms, as species, we see an increase in complexity over time. That's negative entropy.
So far the Laws of Thermodynamics do appear to apply to the whole Universe. If you want to ask a Physicist a philosophical question about these issues my best one is "How do you know if the Universe is a perfectly closed-system or not?".
"Life internalizes energy", what does this mean? Eating and breathing are how we produce the energy needed to maintain our systems but because we are an Entropic system, no matter how much we eat we will not live forever because the Energy exchange system we have is not 100% efficient in this matter. Physics says that no such system can exist. There is no such thing as "reverse entropy", there may be 'reversed' Energy systems and they are called 'Heat sinks'.
This doesn't inavlidate the entropic principle - but does distinguish the animate from the inanimate. In much the same way as not maitianing the barn will cause it to collapse, if the organism doesn't eat, entropy takes over, and eventually the organism will die.
Nothing, so far, has invalidated the "entropic principle" and it in no way distinguishes between what I assume you mean to be living and non-living objects. Its what they have in common.
a_uk
p.s.
I admire the sincerity and earnestness with which you approach your cause but think that because, at times, you show that you do not understand the scientific concepts that you are applying, I'm loathe to allow your cause to decide which scientists are worth listening to and which aren't to address our undoubted predicament.

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Psychonaut
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Post by Psychonaut » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:37 am

You apparently do not believe that Darwins biological hypothesis has been proved by the discoveries of Franklin, Wilkins, Watson & Crick? All Life, so far, has been proved to be DNA based. All things, on this planet, without DNA, are not living.
Woah woah woah!
This is circular and a half!
You propose as a definition of life that it be all things are DNA based, and then say that this definition has been proved by the fact that all life so far discovered is DNA based... well if you're using the definition of life that its DNA based OFCOURSE everything you find to be life will be DNA based!

Many viruses are in fact based on RNA, not DNA, so assumedly these viruses are not life under your definition?
What about other reproductive phenomenon such as Prions?

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:42 am

Did I not say "livings and non-livings"? Will rocks, earth, air and water prove to have RNA type systems? I think not.
Last edited by Arising_uk on Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Psychonaut
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Post by Psychonaut » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:46 am

What?
I'm guessing you're tired...

You said that all living things have DNA, I have stated that some candidates for living things do not have DNA; namely RNA-based viruses.

I am not trying to claim that rocks etc. may be life.

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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk » Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:54 am

Psychonaut wrote:What?
I'm guessing you're tired...

You said that all living things have DNA, I have stated that some candidates for living things do not have DNA; namely RNA-based viruses.

I am not trying to claim that rocks etc. may be life.
My apologies,
It was in another thread so yes I accept your objection based upon this post alone. Hope this will clear it up.
"The question appears to be "What is Life?" and the answer is "Its anything that has DNA". So Rock, Earth, Water and Air are not living and, so far, 99% of evrything else we've tested is. This is not an arbitrary mental distinction as before its discovery the categories were just created but now we know better. There are a couple of little 'beasties' that use something like the DNA replication processes but their existence will only prove that it is 'livings' and 'non-livings' "

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