Design inference

The hidden power laws of life

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From Nautilus:

As nature scales, complexity gives way to universal law.

Why shouldn’t an ecosystem be just as beautifully perfect as an ideal gas, and why can’t ecologists have as much predicting power as a physicist? The answers to these questions just might be “it is,” and “they can.” But only when viewed from a particular perspective.

When we plotted average evolutionary distance against species number, we found the power law lurking in yet another dimension of ecology: The distance increased rapidly at first, then began to slow in the same manner as the species-area curve.3 The reasons for this behavior are not clear at the moment. One possibility is that both spatial and temporal scaling behaviors are affected by a “burstiness,” in which periods of stasis are punctuated by rapid periods of diversification. In our bacterial trees we found that these bursty expansions have a fractal distribution, also described by a power law, and they could point to radiations of species through both time and space.

The power laws we see for evolutionary distance and diversification point once again to a simple, mechanistic, and relatively detail-free view of ecology at the biggest scales. They’re just not quite as simple as what has been proposed for spatial patterns. They take at least one step back down the spectrum toward needing real ecological and evolutionary mechanisms to explain macroecological patterns.More.

Rob Sheldon writes to say,

I ran into power-laws when we analyzed particle spectra (plasma distribution functions) both near the earth and far away in the solar wind. It turned out that regular (integer power) diffusion equations don’t give power laws, but “fractional diffusion” equations do. The difference is that differential equations with integer powers are local, only affecting by things nearby, but fractional differential equations are “non-local”, affected by global changes.

Global spatial effects are the bane of materialism, Einstein called them “spooky action-at-a-distance” and in his famous EPR paper, attempted to disprove them. Global temporal effects are likewise troublesome to materialists.

It is as if one can predict the future and adjust one’s behavior accordingly. In psychology we call that ability “consciousness”. In physics we call that a non-causal relationship, “a spacelike” separation in spacetime. In philosophy we call it teleology.

In this article, ecology seems to show lots of power laws, and nobody is sure how to explain it. Their explanation of “maximum entropy” might as well be “maximum teleology”, since it is a global property being described.

Yet another proof that materialism is not just misguided, but wrong.

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13 Replies to “The hidden power laws of life

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    Very interesting article.

    I don’t see how it is any threat to materialism, however.

  2. 2
    bornagain says:

    as to:

    The difference is that differential equations with integer powers are local, only affecting by things nearby, but fractional differential equations are “non-local”, affected by global changes.
    Global spatial effects are the bane of materialism, Einstein called them “spooky action-at-a-distance” and in his famous EPR paper,

    daveS states

    I don’t see how it is any threat to materialism, however.

    You don’t see how non-local effects are incompatible with materialism?

    That is funny since Quantum non-locality debunked materialism!

    “[while a number of philosophical ideas] may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics, …materialism is not.”
    Eugene Wigner
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video playlist
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL1mr9ZTZb3TViAqtowpvZy5PZpn-MoSK_&v=4C5pq7W5yRM

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism By Bruce L Gordon, Ph.D
    Excerpt: The underlying problem is this: there are correlations in nature that require a causal explanation but for which no physical explanation is in principle possible. Furthermore, the nonlocalizability of field quanta entails that these entities, whatever they are, fail the criterion of material individuality. So, paradoxically and ironically, the most fundamental constituents and relations of the material world cannot, in principle, be understood in terms of material substances. Since there must be some explanation for these things, the correct explanation will have to be one which is non-physical – and this is plainly incompatible with any and all varieties of materialism.
    http://www.4truth.net/fourtrut.....8589952939

    Of related note, besides being experimentally debunked by quantum mechanics, materialism is philosophically bankrupt as well:

    The Waning of Materialism Edited by Robert C. Koons and George Bealer
    Description: Twenty-three philosophers examine the doctrine of materialism and find it wanting. The case against materialism comprises arguments from conscious experience, from the unity and identity of the person, from intentionality, mental causation, and knowledge. The contributors include leaders in the fields of philosophy of mind, metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, who respond ably to the most recent versions and defenses of materialism. The modal arguments of Kripke and Chalmers, Jackson’s knowledge argument, Kim’s exclusion problem, and Burge’s anti-individualism all play a part in the building of a powerful cumulative case against the materialist research program. Several papers address the implications of contemporary brain and cognitive research (the psychophysics of color perception, blindsight, and the effects of commissurotomies), adding a posteriori arguments to the classical a priori critique of reductionism. All of the current versions of materialism–reductive and non-reductive, functionalist, eliminativist, and new wave materialism–come under sustained and trenchant attack.
    http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/.....0199556199

    Dr.Robert C. Koons — “The Waning of Materialism” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZLHKlwue20

    Here is another interesting article from Dr. Koons:

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    You don’t see how non-local effects are incompatible with materialism?

    There’s no proof of any spooky, action-at-a-distance effects here, despite what Dr Sheldon says about differential equations.

    If you think otherwise, you are invited to give a mathematical proof of why this graph implies such effects.

  4. 4
    bornagain says:

    daveS, despite not dealing directly with quantum non-locality, Dr. Sheldon’s criticism is correct in that materialists have no ‘design plan’ to appeal to explain the ‘non-local’ global pattern.

    For example, this inability to explain ‘global patterns’ is the major failing in materialistic inflationary models that try to explain the overall geometric structure of the universe.
    Simply put, reductive materialism has no way to account for the given ‘context’, or design plan, of a situation.

    Around the 13:20 minute mark of the following video Pastor Joe Boot comments on the self-defeating nature of the atheistic/materialistic worldview in regards to providing an overarching ‘design plan’

    Defending the Christian Faith – Pastor Joe Boot – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqE5_ZOAnKo

    “If you have no God, then you have no design plan for the universe. You have no prexisting structure to the universe.,, As the ancient Greeks held, like Democritus and others, the universe is flux. It’s just matter in motion. Now on that basis all you are confronted with is innumerable brute facts that are unrelated pieces of data. They have no meaningful connection to each other because there is no overall structure. There’s no design plan. It’s like my kids do ‘join the dots’ puzzles. It’s just dots, but when you join the dots there is a structure, and a picture emerges. Well, the atheists is without that (final picture). There is no preestablished pattern (to connect the facts given atheism).”
    Pastor Joe Boot

    “Our monotheistic traditions reinforce the assumption that the universe is at root a unity, that is not governed by different legislation in different places.”
    John D. Barrow

  5. 5
    daveS says:

    daveS, despite not dealing directly with quantum non-locality, Dr. Sheldon’s criticism is correct in that materialists have no ‘design plan’ to appeal to explain the ‘non-local’ global pattern.

    Well, this is a totally different question then. In fact, researchers have proposed and studied numerous “material” factors thought to be related to the parameters in the species-area curve.

    What’s the non-materialist explanation for the species-area curve? Can it be derived from non-materialist principles?

  6. 6
    bornagain says:

    daveS,

    “researchers have proposed and studied numerous “material” factors thought to be related to the parameters in the species-area curve.”

    That’s nice that they follow this global pattern, but how did the global mathematical pattern itself come about? Was it just a lucky coincidence?

    Mathematics and Physics – A Happy Coincidence? – William Lane Craig – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BF25AA4dgGg

    1. If God did not exist the applicability of mathematics would be a happy coincidence.
    2. The applicability of mathematics is not a happy coincidence.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    Moreover, how is it that the mind of man can understand these universal mathematical truths?

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way .. the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”
    Albert Einstein – Letters to Solovine – New York, Philosophical Library, 1987

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    Alfred Russell Wallace, New Thoughts on Evolution, 1910

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals – Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.,,,

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....00661.html

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    “A number of hominid crania are known from sites in eastern and southern Africa in the 400- to 200-thousand-year range, but none of them looks like a close antecedent of the anatomically distinctive Homo sapiens…Even allowing for the poor record we have of our close extinct kin, Homo sapiens appears as distinctive and unprecedented…there is certainly no evidence to support the notion that we gradually became who we inherently are over an extended period, in either the physical or the intellectual sense.
    Dr. Ian Tattersall: – paleoanthropologist – emeritus curator of the American Museum of Natural History – (Masters of the Planet, 2012)

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Ian Tattersall, Jeffrey H. Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Unusual though Homo sapiens may be morphologically, it is undoubtedly our remarkable cognitive qualities that most strikingly demarcate us from all other extant species. They are certainly what give us our strong subjective sense of being qualitatively different. And they are all ultimately traceable to our symbolic capacity. Human beings alone, it seems, mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities. When exactly Homo sapiens acquired this unusual ability is the subject of debate.”
    http://www.annualreviews.org/d.....208.100202

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    Two more very broad questions, different from the one I raised.

    Anyway, I haven’t seen any evidence that the species-area curves falsify materialism, nor any evidence that non-materialists have a superior explanation for these relations.

  8. 8
    bornagain says:

    daveS, since quantum mechanics itself falsifies materialism, just how many falsifications of materialism do you require before your, ahem, ‘non-partial’ judgement will allow that materialism just may be falsified?

    Moreover, it is interesting that you just take for granted that material particles should obey global mathematical patterns without ever questioning what it is that compels them to follow that particular pattern rather than ‘randomly’ doing their own individual particle thing.

    Why not question why they do so?

  9. 9
    daveS says:

    daveS, since quantum mechanics itself falsifies materialism, just how many falsifications of materialism do you require before your, ahem, ‘non-partial’ judgement will allow that materialism just may be falsified?

    I do allow that materialism may have been falsified. I just don’t believe this power law/differential equations argument does so.

    Moreover, it is interesting that you just take for granted that material particles should obey global mathematical patterns without ever questioning what it is that compels them to follow that particular pattern rather than ‘randomly’ doing their own individual particle thing.

    How do you know this? I don’t take such for granted. If you can give a detailed, step-by-step, falsifiable explanation why material particles behave this way, I’d like to hear it. Choose any one of these global mathematical patterns and fill us in.

  10. 10
    bornagain says:

    daveS, you ask me to fill you in on the details, but it is you that is claiming that material particles following such global patterns are non-problematic for reductive materialism? Huh??

    Since you are now basically nonsensical, even contradictory, you know the rest,,,

    my hand, your mouth, yak away.

  11. 11
    daveS says:

    daveS, you ask me to fill you in on the details, but it is you that is claiming that material particles following such global patterns are non-problematic for reductive materialism? Huh??

    No, I made no such claim.

    Still waiting for the non-materialist derivation of the species-area curve.

  12. 12
    Bob O'H says:

    Still waiting for the non-materialist derivation of the species-area curve.

    It’s something drawn by ecologists, and ecologists are intelligent. Intelligence is non-material. Checkmate.

  13. 13
    daveS says:

    D’oh! Back to the drawing board …

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