William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Fermi’s Paradox & Gaian Bottlenecks

9455540502_b24f69cf66_k

Democracy (the system) is enough to account for the seeming alien life-form which is Hillary and for whatever that thing is on Trump’s head. But as queer as Democracy is as a political organization, it cannot explain why we don’t see ETs zipping to and fro throughout the cosmos.

After all, the universe, scientists say, is several billion years old, containing lots of stars with planets similar to earth. Evolution, scientists promise to show some day but haven’t yet, accounts for the origin of life and for its non-progression to biological forms such as we (the obvious progression in the complexity of life that is observed is, some scientists say, only an artifact, because the observation of increasing complexity does not accord with some theories).

Anyway, by “such as” I mean capable of creating websites like this. As Enrico Fermi famously asked, “Where are the Martian bloggers?”

They are not here, they are not there. They appear to be nowhere. They appear not to exist. Yet theory says they should. Which should we believe? Observation or theory?

Fermi’s question isn’t a paradox unless you accept certain premises, and among those premises is the unconfirmed-by-any-observation theory that solely natural processes produced life on our planet, and thus should also produce life on other planets similar to ours. Well, and maybe this is a true theory. I certainly don’t know, and neither do you, because, as said, natural biogenesis hasn’t been observed. It is only a surmise.

If it is a true theory—which, again, nobody knows—then Fermi was right to ask his question, for something must then account for the lack of life. If instead the theory is false, there is no paradox and all is right with the worlds.

Incidentally, science deals only with that which can be observed; that which cannot be observed falls under religion or metaphysics. Such that if you accept or deny the a theory in the absence of observation you are doing so on faith—not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Suppose, then, natural biogenesis is a true theory, for supposing it is false answers our main question and we are done.

We next need to assume another premise, which is that evolution invariably, or largely, or even only sometimes, produces life-forms capable of blogging. Nobody knows if this premise, or rather theory, is true, either. We only have ourselves to go by, and perhaps there was some event which makes us unique. You can’t tell by the single observation that is we. The evidence of us supports equally the theory’s truth and its falsity (and that we’re sui generis). But we may as well assume it’s true, because without it we again have our answer that there is no paradox.

Enter Aditya Chopra and Charles H. Lineweaver and their paper “The Case for a Gaian Bottleneck: The Biology of Habitability” in Astrobiology (which, given the absence of actual observations, you’d guess is a thin journal; a simpler summary is here). These authors answer the paradox by invoking planetary agency, pace, “If life emerges on a planet, it only rarely evolves quickly enough to regulate greenhouse gases and albedo, thereby maintaining surface temperatures compatible with liquid water and habitability” and as such extinction of nascent life-forms is the norm.

Life, under the Gaian theory, provides its own means of living. Unanswered is how life originates at all, since without the Gaian goddess imparting the necessary initial spark, life can’t massage an atmosphere or terrain into regimes more comfortable for itself.

But we assumed life “got going” via some as-yet undiscovered mechanism. We also assumed that it got going in the same way as on earth, and did not get going such that, say, uranium and not carbon was the basic building block, an option considered by the authors.

There is no proof either for non-carbon life-forms, of course, only surmises, wishes, and guesses.

The authors speak of various kinds of Gaian bottlenecks and the difficulties life has bootstrapping itself under various other unknown and theories. These are of minor interest. What is more to the point is that all of the theories are observation-free. There is no confirmation, or disconfirmation, of any of them. And there are more theories than these the authors show. Heck, every working scientist probably has at least one.

In order to confirm or disconfirm any of the theories we’ve used so far—from life’s start, to evolution of bloggers, to Gaian control of other planets—requires that which we do not have, observations. To say we will have observations is (again) mere faith. I certainly don’t know if we will, and neither do you.

Lastly, the authors admit “The Universe does not seem to be teeming with life. This could be an observational selection effect: it is teeming with life, but we just have not been able to detect it yet.”

Yes, true: it could be teeming. Or it could be deader than a bureaucrat’s sympathy. The observations we have are consistent with both.

57 Comments

  1. I have a theory: Aditya Chopra is related to Deepak.

    “If life emerges on a planet, it only rarely evolves quickly enough to regulate greenhouse gases and albedo, thereby maintaining surface temperatures compatible with liquid water and habitability”

    Seriously? I believe Deepak has written stuff that makes more sense.

  2. Why isn’t life spontaneously generating on earth all the time?

    http://skellmeyer.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-theory-of-life.html

  3. It is the earth’s unprecedented CO2 levels that are causing alien civilizations to fail. We need to spend more money on big government and climate scientists. Give all you have – save the universe!

  4. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 9, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Assorted Answers to the Paradox. There are only three, but with a variety of subanswers. A few examples are:
    I. They aren’t there.
    a. They aren’t there, full stop. We’re it. We’re alone. Not even cricket chirps.
    b. They aren’t there yet. We are the Elder Race of the Galaxy. Someone had to be.
    c. They aren’t there any more.
    i) They failed to control their CO2 and baked.
    ii) They eliminated their greenhouse gasses and froze in an ice age.
    iii) They bankrupted their civilization trying to do either one.
    (There are a variety of further possibilities ranging from birth control to warfare to plague.)

    II. They are There, but Not Here.
    a. It’s a long way to Tipperary.
    b. It’s cloudy There. They don’t know about stars, so they never tried to communicate.
    c. They’re aquatic. Ditto. Sonar is hard to broadcast through a vacuum.
    d. The Endless Sumer. They managed adobe villages but never got beyond that.
    e. They’re not Here yet. Keep watching the skies.

    III. They’re Here.
    a. They’re hiding
    i) They’re clandestine observers for the Galactic Federation.
    ii) They’re an invasion fleet deploying out by Titan
    iii) They’re refugees afraid we’ll build a space wall to keep them out.
    iv) There is a vast game of Galactic Hide and Seek. We’re It.
    b. They’re quarantine officers.
    i) We got cooties.
    ii) They got cooties.
    c. They’re disguised
    i) as cooties
    ii) as women.
    iii) as cats
    d. They were here once upon a time, but they left.
    i) Because the Devonian age was really boring and there was nothing to do.
    ii) Because the dinosaurs honked them off and they threw an asteroid at them and left. Remember to smile if they ever come back.
    iii) They had places to go and promises to keep and miles to go before they sleep. They couldn’t wait around for people to evolve.
    iv) They came, they saw, they had standards. We are the hillbillies of the Galaxy.

  5. YOS:

    They’re here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAO4q2gkKCs

    …and “We … Are … Groot”

    … Or maybe THEY got eaten by a Grue

  6. John B () Grues don’t eat people! It can’t be true.

  7. Why does the other planet have to be similar to ours? Why does it require water and greenhouse gases and albedo? There is nothing in the theory of evolution that would require that—just chance over billions of years. Chance could have made any type of life. It does not have to be like ours. Not being like ours may keep us from actually finding it, but that does not means it isn’t possible.

    Why are there no Martian bloggers? Maybe they have other things to do. 🙂

    Never point out there are no observations. Scientists don’t like that. Nor do they ever admit the theory cannot be shown to be true in the same sense that mixing certain chemicals will result in an explosion. The past can never be observed, which means we can never know. But don’t say that around scientists.

  8. Joy:

    You believe you’ve found the Martian Blogger.
    As you approach to confirm his identification…”Plover”…

    You find yourself in Steven’s Point Wisconsin
    holding a cold Point beer.

    (Probably from a HotPoint Refrigerator)

  9. Reading the blurb in the http://www.deepstuff.org/rip-e-t-aliens-will-die-young/ link vaguely reminds me the The Cyberiad of Stanislaw Lem.

    Perhaps not unimportant that while the Lem stories are witty and LOL, the diarrhea of the mouth in the link is not.
    Read Lem, it is more rewarding.

  10. @Sheri: “Why does the other planet have to be similar to ours? Why does it require water and greenhouse gases and albedo? There is nothing in the theory of evolution that would require that—just chance over billions of years. Chance could have made any type of life. It does not have to be like ours. Not being like ours may keep us from actually finding it, but that does not means it isn’t possible.

    Why are there no Martian bloggers? Maybe they have other things to do. ?

    Never point out there are no observations. Scientists don’t like that. Nor do they ever admit the theory cannot be shown to be true in the same sense that mixing certain chemicals will result in an explosion. The past can never be observed, which means we can never know. But don’t say that around scientists.”

    In this case, because of chemistry for your first paragraph. On the other hand, there is the premise that the chemistry we have observed here applies elsewhere. Lacking necessary and sufficient observations of that, we have two conclusions that we can make, at least. The first is that our premise of chemistry being elsewhere and elsewhen as we see it here (a form of unifomitarianism?) is true. We can take this as given by faith, for it is certainly conditionally true. Another one is that the chemistry isn’t the same but we can’t observe it because our senses work by our chemistry and the chemistry and physics that we use to extend our senses are limited to what we know.

    Dang, I think it was Isaac Asimov (trained Chemist, if I am remembering correctly) that wrote short stories where this kind of speculation was given some elaboration. I also want to say that his Foundation Series explored this as well.

    Since you brought up chemistry (I have that training), mixing chemicals that may have an explosive reaction will not do so if the other necessary and sufficient conditions that are required for the explosion are not present. Often the trick in chemistry is considering those and confirming them, particularly when you want a useful product but don’t want the explosion.

  11. YOS,

    II.f. They just don’t care if they have neighbors.
    i) they’re hermits
    ii) misanthropes
    iii) preoccupied with other things

  12. Oh, yes, Sheri, I forgot something.

    Being a chemist, I have a hard time accepting that Evolution (nota bene how you put it), if we are talking about (blind) descent with modification. First, there cannot be any descent without an original or more than one original form. How did that form get here, especially if any thing cannot come from no thing, or any existence from no/non existence? The chemistry that I know evolves toward the most disordered state. To get an ordered state requires work (thought?) to be done at some point.

    As our host points out, Chance (as you put it) is not a cause. Chance can’t make anything happen. We invoke chance when we don’t know who, what, how, when, or why an event happens in our existence.

  13. Why care what might be so far away that it cannot have any direct or practical relevance on anything here?

  14. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 9, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Why does the other planet have to be similar to ours? Why does it require water and greenhouse gases and albedo? There is nothing in the theory of evolution that would require that

    It might be physics and chemistry sets the boundary conditions, not natural selection. Not everything imaginable is possible.

    Besides, natural selection is not random. It preferentially eliminates the less fit.

  15. 1) Dr Briggs: You wrote “Fermi’s question isn’t a paradox unless you accept certain premises, and among those premises is the unconfirmed-by-any-observation theory that solely natural processes produced life on our planet, and thus should also produce life on other planets similar to ours.”

    There is no reason to think that whatever process generated life on earth could not have generated life elsewhere. i.e. whether that process requires a creating intelligence or a series of happy accidents does not matter. Whatever happened somewhere once can (or must?) happen elsewhere and elsewhen too.

    2) ye Olde: ha, the right answer is that civilization breeds a large population and large populations inevitably give rise to politicians who then kill off the civilization.

    an engineer and a politician are discussing the oldest profession. The Engineer claims engineering as the oldest profession because the creation of the universe from primordial chaos took engineering skill. The politician shakes his head sadly, “and which profession”, he asks, “do you think created the chaos?”

    3) the obvious hypothesis is that only aggressive, socially organized, societies like ours can marshall the resources needed to get off their planets – so the most effective survival strategy for us and everybody else is to keep quiet and hope to go unnoticed by the hungry already out there and the most likely ET event a seti program is likely to pick up is the death throes of a culture found by one just a little bit better at war than it is.

  16. cdquarles: I’m thinking chemistry and physics can remain the same, but life does not have to be carbon based.
    Knowing which chemicals that may have an explosive reaction when combined with other materials is very important in chem lab, especially to the lab supervisor, and very cool for experimenting in one’s back yard. (I have chemistry training, too—I use it only for fun! 🙂 )
    Points on evolution I am in agreement with. Chance is not a cause, but sometimes it gets used that way. It’s also a blanket term for what we don’t know.

    YOS: I disagree that natural selection is not random. Yes, it preferentially eliminates the less fit, but what is the less fit is dependent on many, many things. Elephants may survive in area A but die out in area B. Why? Because of where they happened to be and how well they could adapt. Both of those things seem fairly random.

  17. YOS extension –
    IV. We’re them.

  18. Evolution occurs in all systems that persist over sufficient time. There is a basic law of physics that guides it. See: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/physics-evolution-life-constructal-law-bejan-ngbooktalk/ for a brief introduction. Allow for some imprecision of terminology in the article. Engineers say things a little differently than biologists would.

  19. First, there cannot be any descent without an original or more than one original form

    Where do sand dunes come from? They grow and change over time. Where was the original form?

  20. Sander van der Wal

    June 9, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    If humans had starships they would immediately move away from Earth as fast as those star ships could go.

    Now, if you are an Alien, why visit a planet that would be abandoned by its inhabitants as soon as they got the chance? After all, they know the place.

  21. DAV:
    But have you ever seen sand turn into this:
    https://thepreachersword.com/2012/09/06/the-sandcastles-of-life/
    and for the same reason chemicals do not magically turn into live cells.

  22. YOS,
    III d v They’re still waiting for intelligent life to evolve on Earth.

  23. That’s right Don, no ‘magic’ involved or necessary. So glad you agree.

  24. Of course, it is not to surmise to start from the position that life arose on Earth from natural processes. You could say it in the simplest answer. Even if you think a comet seeded us (sexy!), or some cool aliens left a little bacteria behind on them hundreds of millions of years ago, or even if you think God did it.

    It’s a good place to start because we are all made of the same stuff, our arrangements vary, but the substances, forms and functions are all basically the same. The Earth nourishes us and allows us a place to be. It makes perfect sense that we came from here. It should come as little wonder that we are unique, at least in this neck of the universe, and for that we should all the more appreciate this place where we come from, that nourishes us. There’s no need to assume magic is involved in any of this. We have plenty of evidence of evolution, and none of magic.

    JMJ

  25. “There’s no need to assume magic is involved in any of this. We have plenty of evidence of evolution, and none of magic.
    JMJ”
    I think that there’s far more anecdotal “evidence” for magic of the Voodoo kind than there is for the magic of the “Evolution” kind.

  26. and for the same reason chemicals do not magically turn into live cells.

    This is essentially the same argument used by the Intelligent Design folk moved to the cellular level. Evidently it happened at least once. At some point, life (whatever that really is) came into existence. There’s no reason to not suppose it couldn’t happen by accumulation in some environments given a lot time and that survival of the fittest wouldn’t work at the molecular level. I don’t claim to know how life came about but apparently you do — with certainty even.

    From http://www.intelligentdesign.org/

    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    andyd said it best and with a tweet no less. HT

  27. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 5:27 am

    I disagree that natural selection is not random. Yes, it preferentially eliminates the less fit, but what is the less fit is dependent on many, many things.

    But that Y depends on many Xs does not make Y “random.” It makes Y “caused” by the many Xs.

    Elephants may survive in area A but die out in area B. Why? Because of where they happened to be and how well they could adapt. Both of those things seem fairly random.

    But then conditions in area A are causal, not random. More likely, however, is that elephants in area B migrate into area A. Life is tenacious and does not like to die out. Brown bears finding themselves in the polar region became white bears rather than do so. (Unless of course it was vice versa.) Grizz and polars to this day are somewhat interfertile when they chance to overlap. Then too there are epigenetic factors. Mediterranean wall lizards on a barren island were carnivores and occasionally cannibals; but when some were transferred to a pristine vegetated island, within twenty years they had become vegetarians and had developed a new internal organ to digest plant matter — all due to environmental cues that triggered different genes to express themselves. This is a very different sort of evolution than that envisioned by Mr. Darwin.

  28. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Where do sand dunes come from? They grow and change over time. Where was the original form?

    But they don’t have “descent.” They are not “things,” only “heaps.” Everything in the material world changes. That’s the nature of material things.

  29. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 5:43 am

    an undirected process such as natural selection

    Why do they always say this? Natural selection is directed toward greater fitness in a niche. Otherwise, no evolutions take place.

    (Probably, being unschooled, they expect a generic cause [natural selection] to have a specific effect [the elephant’s trunk]. But generic causes have generic effects. Specific effects require specific causes.)

  30. There is no paradox. Evolution of the eukaryotic cell itself is supposed to be result of a series of highly improbable events. Evolution of intelligent life again is highly improbable. Biologists know this very well and do not consider the Fermi paradox as a threat to their world view.
    The view
    “that solely natural processes produced life on our planet, and thus should also produce life on other planets similar to ours. ”
    does not reflect current scientific opinion.

  31. “But generic causes have generic effects. Specific effects require specific causes.)’
    This is vague.

    A.
    Silicon is said by some to be the most likely other ‘life base’ element due to it’s valency.
    Some animals such as sea sponges and diatoms use it and excrete it but are still carbon based. It seems to me that carbon is the most likely and only really viable element.

    B.
    Sand dunes come from Land Rovers left in the desert.
    (or from marram grass!) Those are the two causes of sand dunes.

  32. John B()
    I could tell you but he would have to kill me.

  33. I find it interesting that people here equate God and magic. Does that mean magicians are the holders of God, or maybe the only ones that work directly with Him?

    Evolution is based on eons of time—like monkeys typing Shakespeare. It’s hard to see that as a “cause”. Or an explanation for that matter. NOTE: Saying evolution does not work as a cause is NOT saying God is the cause. It’s saying we do not really know—our theory is lacking. God is a separate issue.

    YOS: Okay, what caused elephant A to be in the areas where they lived and elephant B to live in the area that died out? In my example, I didn’t have elephant B moving to a new area. They die out. I’m sure that happens. Thrown in a mile crevice 300 feet deep that keeps them from migrating, so they die. That looks like random to me—okay, I agree something caused the crevice, etc, but in the end, it still is just a throw of dice which elephants live and which die.
    Your parenthetical comment is interesting—Specific effects require specific causes. I like that.

  34. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 11:56 am

    “But generic causes have generic effects. Specific effects require specific causes.)’
    This is vague.

    No, it’s generic! (LOL)

    Silicon is said by some to be the most likely other ‘life base’ element due to it’s valency.

    This is because, like carbon, it is capable of forming “long chain” and “ring” molecules like the hydrocarbons. However, these are not so many or so supple as the carbon based ones. Perhaps once we are “carbon-free” and life as we know it is fined into extinction, sili-life will emerge from the magical process. I am told that it requires far higher temperatures to be “viable” so perhaps we should welcome global warming as preparing the way for the Other.

    Or you could look for the rest of this story:
    https://www.analogsf.com/0910/wind.shtml
    mwahhaha

  35. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Thrown in a mile crevice 300 feet deep that keeps them from migrating, so they die. That looks like random to me

    You would have to be more specific as to why they died out. Obviously, various conditions can be fatal to various individuals and even to entire populations. But what are those conditions? Those are the causes, not “random chance.”

    Consider the man who is brained by a hammer while walking below a housing construction site. He was not killed by chance. He was killed by a hammer. Or better yet, consider Kamraj, a bus driver who died on 7 Feb 2016 on the campus of Bharathidasan Engineering College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu State. He was not killed by mere chance. He was killed by a meteorite.

  36. Isn’t the problem that science has still not determined how non-living matter becomes living. They have created proteins in extremely delicate controlled conditions, but these certainly bear no reflection on the primordial seas. As such, it is not impossible for life to thrive on other planets, such places do exist if current astronomy is accurate, however without the hand setting it into motion, life just does not come about spontaneously.

  37. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Part of the problem too is that we have no good scientific definition of ‘life’. Like ‘motion’ and ‘existence’ and so on, it eludes the metric mind. We have waves but no medium in which they wave. We can measure how gravity behaves but have no good way of saying what gravity is. (In seeing this clearly, Newton was wiser than many of his epigones.) That which is not measurable lies beyond the boundary values of physical science, and those aspects of it that are measurable are often but a shadow of the thing entire.

  38. 1. No good scientific definition of life?
    It is not required. Can you not identify the specimen once it is discovered?

    For all those geeks programming their robots to know what to look for yawn:
    It is organic in nature (organic has a definition)
    It is able to replicate itself it uses oxygen to respire or it uses a system of controlled energy uptake and release to carry out the functions that occur within it’s cell or cells. Replication is common to all life. some take up small mollecules and build them up into macromollecules others take in large mollecules and break them into small ones in order to carry out the functions of the cell/s.
    An organic compound no matter how complex on it’s own does none of those things. If, robot, while browsing planets you discover that an thing can do all of those things you may declare it alive.
    In short, life is easy to spot.
    2.
    “it’s generic!” precisely so.
    3.
    We are alone. That’s my impression.
    4.
    I’ve got no time for aliens. They are ugly fairies.

  39. @Sheri, per this: “cdquarles: I’m thinking chemistry and physics can remain the same, but life does not have to be carbon based.”, well, I don’t think so. Carbon is the only element that we know of that can form long and complicated chains with itself and other elements and still have the requisite energetics and other necessary and sufficient properties as material objects. Now, sure, life does not have to be limited to a chemical body; but then, consider the implications. That also raises the philosophical question of why the chemical elements we know of have the properties that they have and not others.

    Silicon can’t form chains longer than 20 with itself, if I am remembering correctly; tempered by the fact that I’ve not kept up with this. Carbon can make essentially infinite chains with itself and with repeating units containing many other chemical elements, as we know them. Carbon chemistry is exceedingly fascinating.

  40. @YOS, “Why do they always say this? Natural selection is directed toward greater fitness in a niche. Otherwise, no evolutions take place.”, well maybe; but maybe natural selection is simply maintaining fitness, however that’s defined, within niches. We should also be mindful that fruitful and multiplying living things alter their niches.

  41. @DAV: “Where do sand dunes come from? They grow and change over time. Where was the original form?”, well sand dunes are piles of sand. That’s your original form.

  42. I still cannot see why life has to be made of long chains in order to exist. It seems to me to be a circular argument: Life on earth evolved to long carbon chains which proves long carbon chains are necessary for life, or at least for the theory of evolution to be correct. While carbon on Earth forms such compounds and is very versatile, what if the atmospheric composition or pressure is changed, what if the heat is turned up or down? When looking for aliens, the logical thing to look for is something similar to ourselves, yes. But there are other possibilities that do not include carbon. People right now seem to be unable to imagine such a thing, but in the past people couldn’t imagine space flight or a Mars rover.

  43. well sand dunes are piles of sand. That’s your original form.

    Yes, and DNA is a pile of alleles. Stand the string on end if you are having trouble seeing it as a pile (pretty much like a pile of blocks). If the original form of a dune is a single grain and the dune is a clump of them then the allele is the original form with a clump of them (joined as a string) being the DNA polymer. Put two alleles together and you have the beginning of a DNA chain.

  44. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    “…sand dunes are piles of sand. That’s your original form.

    Yes, and DNA is a pile of alleles.

    No, actually they are not. There is a difference between a heap and a thing. As von Hayek put it in his Nobel laureate speech:

    [Organized complexity] means that the character of the structures showing it depends not only on the properties of the individual elements of which they are composed, and the relative frequency with which they occur, but also on the manner in which the individual elements are connected with each other. In the explanation of the working of such structures we can for this reason not replace the information about the individual elements by statistical information, but require full information about each element if from our theory we are to derive specific predictions about individual events. Without such specific information about the individual elements we shall be confined to what on another occasion I have called mere pattern predictions – predictions of some of the general attributes of the structures that will form themselves, but not containing specific statements about the individual elements of which the structures will be made up. [Emph. added]
    — Friedrich August von Hayek, “The Pretence of Knowledge”

    See also, here: http://people.physics.anu.edu.au/~tas110/Teaching/Lectures/L1/Material/WEAVER1947.pdf — Warren Weaver, “Science and Complexity” American Scientist 36: 536 (1948)

    The difference between the alleles and the sand grains is that the sand grains are essentially alike and have no particular relationship one to another, whereas the alleles differ and a great deal depends on how they interact with one another.

    The perceptive will recognize that Weaver and von Hayek (as well as Heisenberg) were groping their way back to an Aristotelian understanding of matter (sand grains, alleles) and form (their accidental or essential arrangements)/

  45. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I should add that the difference between unorganized complexity and organized complexity marks the boundary between the Late Modern resort to statistics in place of mathematics and the Post Modern resort to modelling in place of statistics in the grinding of science.

  46. The difference between the alleles and the sand grains is that the sand grains are essentially alike and have no particular relationship one to another, whereas the alleles differ and a great deal depends on how they interact with one another.

    So that’s where the analogy breaks down. A dun still a collection of sand particles and DNA is a collection of alleles. The idea is that both could arise from accumulation. It’s entirely irrelevant that the accumulations react differently or that they have different internal connections. And that’s all that I ever said.

    You really should stop thinking within narrow definitions and concentrate on what is being said. We aren’t writing papers here. Stop being pedantic.

    I should add that the difference between unorganized complexity and organized complexity marks the boundary between the Late Modern resort to statistics in place of mathematics and the Post Modern resort to modelling in place of statistics in the grinding of science.

    So what?

  47. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    So what?

    So a sand dune and an allele are very different critters. One is simply a collection of units, the other is a connection of units. One may as well say that a 747 is a collection of metal just like a junkyard.

  48. In the beastly, intractable, non-compliant stuff we call reality there are a great many things that can’t be manipulated or measured or observed with any kind of physical tools. We only know that they exist because of what they do. Gravity, magnetism, electrostatics, thought, consciousness, life…. the list is practically endless. Such things exist all right even though they elude calipers, vision, and other tangible assessments. Empiricism is the pile of sand human ostriches put their head in to imagine that reality is only what they want it to be.

    Life is a metaphysical stuff that, among other things, organises chemistry into the processes of a physical live thing… a chemistry that never ever occurs other than in an organism that got its life from another live organism. Perfectly easily demonstrable in every observation of live organisms.

    The fantastically idiotic assumption that life spontaneously arises from a fortuitous accidental arrangement of chemicals is always and everywhere shown to not ever occur. Take any recently dead organism. It consists of all the enormous concert of chemistry of the live thing only the thing that makes it all work is missing.

    Even with all the chemical infrastructure assembled and in place it does not spontaneously become a new life form. All that wonderful chemistry immediately begins to decay into its simplest components. Never ever do the simplest components become “life”. The metaphysical stuff called life always precedes the physical processes of organic life.

    Even if there is “life on Mars” the Martians got their life from a pre-existent Life.

  49. So a sand dune and an allele are very different critters.</i<

    I didn't say they were the same.

    I should add that the difference between unorganized complexity and organized complexity marks the boundary between the Late Modern

    Which has nothing to do with the idea of a collection forming through accumulation. Organized or otherwise. That DNA has constraints on the how the collection forms is irrelevant detail to the idea of building the collection by adding parts.

    You keep seeing leaves and are blind to the forest. Worse, you insist on talking about leaf minutia and post long tracts on what others have said about them and how their schools of thought differ.

  50. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 10, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    You keep seeing leaves and are blind to the forest.

    I suppose it is much easier to wave one’s hands and say, “Then magic happens.”

  51. If magic doesn’t happen then contemporary scientism is the King with no clothes.

  52. Magicians and God. Fascinating that connection…….

  53. “There is no reason to think that whatever process generated life on earth could not have generated life elsewhere. i.e. whether that process requires a creating intelligence or a series of happy accidents does not matter. ”

    Indeed. The best argument I ever heard for this was from a movie and went like this:
    “So there are aliens who look exactly like us?” [this was a premise of the movie]
    “Yes!”
    “What are the odds of that?”
    “Do you you believe in God?”
    “Yes”
    “Do you believe that man was made in God’s image?”
    “Yes”
    “How many images do you think He made?”

    Now THAT is a truly “makes you wonder” argument for those who would suggest we are alone because the Bible, eh?

  54. “III d v They’re still waiting for intelligent life to evolve on Earth.”

    Or, as Monty Python put it:

    And pray that there’s intelligent life
    somewhere out in space
    ’cause there’s bugger-all
    down here on Earth

  55. Ye Olde Statistician

    June 12, 2016 at 7:48 am

    those who would suggest we are alone because the Bible, eh?

    Hunh? Where does the Bible say this?

    And the ‘image’ is not a physical one, either. God is not a biped or a mammal. The image is that of a rational being, and this would be so (as Augustine wrote in The City of God) regardless what shape, color, or powers such a creature might have.

  56. Kneel,
    If I told you I made you a cake, would you say,
    “How many cakes?” and be amazed by your question?

    What Christians should remember is that even those of a different religious persuasion or political viewpoint are made in God’s image….oh, save it for a Sunday.

  57. 1. Life arises all over the Universe whenever a handful of basic conditions are met.
    2. The universe as we known it is teeming with life (as we know it).
    3. After life arises, Intelligent life is a given and not a special case.
    4. Evolution by natural selection is UNIVERSAL !
    5. Civilizations arise naturally when individual Intelligence has passed a certain threshold.
    6. Because of the astronomical distances involved (time and space) and the exponential increase in development, almost all civilizations will proceed to some ‘next level’ before they are able to notice one another. From their point of view, when a civilization is at about our level of development, the universe seems to be there “just for them”.

    http://my-cell-blog.blogspot.co.za/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2016 William M. Briggs

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑