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Rob Sheldon on why a “bottom up” cosmos just doesn’t work

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Dr Sheldon
Rob Sheldon

Rob Sheldon kindly writes to say:

The bottom-up view has been heavily researched. We have learned a few things about it. I’ll make a quick list just to show that we can say a lot more about bottom-up than simply “it doesn’t work.”

1. Random searches

Dembski’s “no free lunch” algorithm shows we can’t get information by random searches. There just isn’t any better way to do random.

a) Gaussian distributions are the fingerprints of random.

b) Diffusive transport is the footprint of random search

c) Diffusion velocity goes as v = x/sqrt(t), so in 4 times the time, you have gone twice the distance. Not a speedy way to get somewhere!

d) Entropy is maximized (Info is minimized) at constant Energy (system adiabatic and closed) for a Gaussian. Think, sodas in the cooler.

2. Non-random searches

Actual observations of, say, grazing bacteria show they do not follow a random pattern.

a) “Fat tails” on the distribution are the fingerprints of non-random.
Entropy is maximized at constant Energy FLOW.

b) “Superdiffusive” transport is the footprint of non-random search

c) Levy-flight (infinite diffusion velocity) v = x / t^n where n > 1/2 and < 1. Not quite as good as knowing where you are going, v=x/t, but still better than diffusion. Especially when working in multiple dimensions.

d) Entropy growth is maximized at constant Energy FLOW. (system not adiabatic, but isothermal and open) The distribution has a fat tail. Think water boiling on the stove.

So Darwin, and most of the 20th century, was looking at closed systems with finite amount of energy. These systems are classic thermodynamics obeying the 2nd law, and never showing spontaneous information conversion.

The latter half of the 20th century, and 21st century have been looking at systems with energy flow, where the fastest growing mode is the one that makes the most entropy. This field is called MEPP “maximum entropy production principle”. Prigogine got a Nobel Prize for this, in part, because people thought it would lead to information creation. You can google it and see just how many people are betting the farm that this will solve the bottom-up problem.

It is true that a MEPP system–open, energy flowing through–does produce structure and structure does encode information. Benard convection cells form if you put a thin layer of fluid between two plates and heat the bottom one, and soon a hexagonal honey comb forms spontaneously. One might imagine another system that draws energy from the honeycomb cells to form its own structure within each cell, and hence a massively cascading complexity that erupts from heating a fluid between two plates. These fevered dreams go under several names–one was called hypercycles, and posited that order could emerge from chaos if the right starting materials were used. The greatest “hypercycle” of all, of course, was the Big Bang, where temperature and gravity gradients generated stars, galaxies and the complexity we see around us today. We even have “models” of various parts of this cosmic hypercycle, though we have to fine tune the dials of “gravity” “density” and “explosive energy” to get the hypercycle to start, and then we have to add in “anti-gravity” and “dark matter” to get it looking like our universe.

Now this is pure physics, of course, and you are right to object that this says nothing about “Origin of Life” or biology. It is admittedly a big stretch to go from cosmology to biology, but if you are a reductionist enough to love physics, then biology just reduces to physics at some microscopic level. Or to say it the other way, biology *emerges* from physics at some macroscopic level, the way galaxies emerge from the Big Bang.

“Emergence” is the mantra of the bottom-up school. The Santa Fe Institute was founded to study this, and has spent 30 years on it, Stuart Kauffman being the most famous name from there.

Did it work?

Not really. It stalled out on the same reasons the cosmology stalled out–all the information was encoded in the fine tuning of the starting conditions. The behavior you wanted to see emerge had to be encoded into the start-up sequence. This would be a version of Dembski’s “No Free Lunch” or “Being as Communion” thesis.

Well, can that fine tuning arise from a Monte-Carlo probability, a Quantum-Mechanical casino? This has been the recourse of the “multiverse” bunch, and they wouldn’t be going there if they had any other answer.

But even QM and even multiverse can’t give us those boundary conditions. The reason goes back to the physics of “fat-tail” distributions above. They are not simply the result of energy flows, they are the result of global coherence. Mathematician Mittag-Leffler back in the 19th century showed that
fat tails occur when diffusion is fractal, when the dimension isn’t integer (1, 2 or 3), but something like 2.375. For example, you are travelling along the coast of Maine to get to Boston, and the journey takes longer the shorter your boat, (because the coast twists more). The coastline is fractal, and transport is not 1-D, but something approaching 1.5D. (If that explanation didn’t help, you can google fractals to see some pretty pictures.) The net result is that the transport equation isn’t a simple derivative, its a *fractional* derivative, and the fractional derivative is both an integral and a derivative, its an integro-differential equation. You have to know what is going on everywhere, in order to know what is going on locally.

That’s a big deal. You can’t do a random search if you have to have a map before you take your first step. Because that map is teleology, it is purpose, it is global information. And that is the one thing random searches and Darwin exclude. In other words, all those cosmology models, all those Stuart Kauffman “emergent” physics models, all those sand piles (in my grad school days, we discussed piling sand into pyramids and how big avalanches would occur so as to keep the sand pile pyramidal shaped, calling it “self-organizing criticality”) had to have GLOBAL boundary conditions if any fine-tuned excitement is going to occur.

So sure, let there be a billion multiverses, but the ones that are exciting have finely tuned global boundary conditions so that they can never be modelled as a random system. You might argue that the Random God made them, but you cannot argue that they evolve randomly, because they don’t, they emerge globally.

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OT: The War that Never Was: Exploding the Myth of the Historical Conflict Between Christianity and Science - video https://vimeo.com/41224717 bornagain77
Querius, Yes John Lennox has a gift for cutting though to the deeper issues. Always a pleasure to listen to him.,, I think this particular presentation of his was a great improvement over his original '7 Days That Divide The World' presentation that he delivered a few years ago at Eric Metaxas's 'Socrates In The City'. As to his focus on the 'And God said' texts within Genesis, particularly at the 54:59 minute mark,,,
"Have you ever noticed that there are two days in which God speaks more than once in Genesis1 ? Day 3 and Day 6. And in Day 3 its making the distinction between the inorganic, the non-living, and the living. And in day 6 what's it doing? Making the difference between animals and human beings. So let me express myself very carefully.,,, According to Genesis you do not get from the non-living to the living without the words 'And God said'. According to Genesis you do not get from the animal to the human without the words 'And God said'. John Lennox - 54:59 minute mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rWUNbNsa-yA#t=3290
,,, As to 'sound' in biology that Lennox referred to, i.e. God speaking life into being, I think this recent paper gives us a very suggestive clue that the Genesis account is correct,,,
Proteins ‘ring like bells’ - June 2014 As far back as 1948, Erwin Schrödinger—the inventor of modern quantum mechanics—published the book “What is life?” In it, he suggested that quantum mechanics and coherent ringing might be at the basis of all biochemical reactions. At the time, this idea never found wide acceptance because it was generally assumed that vibrations in protein molecules would be too rapidly damped. Now, scientists at the University of Glasgow have proven he was on the right track after all. Using modern laser spectroscopy, the scientists have been able to measure the vibrational spectrum of the enzyme lysozyme, a protein that fights off bacteria. They discovered that this enzyme rings like a bell with a frequency of a few terahertz or a million-million hertz. Most remarkably, the ringing involves the entire protein, meaning the ringing motion could be responsible for the transfer of energy across proteins. The experiments show that the ringing motion lasts for only a picosecond or one millionth of a millionth of a second. Biochemical reactions take place on a picosecond timescale and the scientists believe that evolution has optimised enzymes to ring for just the right amount of time. Any shorter, and biochemical reactions would become inefficient as energy is drained from the system too quickly. Any longer and the enzyme would simple oscillate forever: react, unreact, react, unreact, etc. The picosecond ringing time is just perfect for the most efficient reaction. These tiny motions enable proteins to morph quickly so they can readily bind with other molecules, a process that is necessary for life to perform critical biological functions like absorbing oxygen and repairing cells. The findings have been published in Nature Communications. Klaas Wynne, Chair in Chemical Physics at the University of Glasgow said: “This research shows us that proteins have mechanical properties that are highly unexpected and geared towards maximising efficiency. Future work will show whether these mechanical properties can be used to understand the function of complex living systems.” http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_334344_en.html
A few related notes: The following video and articles are very suggestive as to providing almost tangible proof for God 'speaking' reality into existence:
The Deep Connection Between Sound & Reality - Evan Grant - Allosphere - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4672092 Amazing Resonance Experiment! - video (varying geometric patterns correlate to changing frequencies) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvJAgrUBF4w Photons and Phonons Excerpt: You see, the primary Planck-Law (E=hf) is metaphysical and independent on the inertia distribution of the solid states.,,, Both, photon and phonon carry massequivalent energy m=E/c2=hf/c2. The matter-light interaction so is rendered electromagnetically noninertial for the photon and becomes acoustically inertial for the phonons; both however subject to Bose-Einstein stochastic wave mechanics incorporative the Planck-Law.,, Where, how and why does E=hf correctly and experimentally verifiably describe the quantum mechanics of energy propagation?,,, http://www.tonyb.freeyellow.com/id135.html Phonon Excerpt: In physics, a phonon,, represents an excited state in the quantum mechanical quantization of the modes of vibrations,, The name phonon,, translates as sound or voice because long-wavelength phonons give rise to sound. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonon Big Bang Sound Recording 'Remix' Created By Physicist - 04/04/2013 Excerpt: While you might think that because space is a vacuum the explosion of a singularity wouldn't make any sound at all, Cramer told QMI that "the Big Bang is the exception to this, because the medium that pervaded the universe in the first 100,000 years or so was far more dense than the atmosphere of the Earth." In other words, matter was so dense in the early Universe that it carried sounds waves in much the same way air does on Earth. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/04/big-bang-sound-recording-john-cramer_n_3007975.html Music of the sun recorded by scientists - June 2010 Excerpt: The sun has been the inspiration for hundreds of songs, but now scientists have discovered that the star at the centre of our solar system produces its own music. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7840201/Music-of-the-sun-recorded-by-scientists.html
Genesis 1:3 Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. Hillsong - Here I am To Worship lyric: "light of the world you stepped down into darkness" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqEM3iyIAuQ
Thank you for the link, bornagain77. Wow, how profoundly powerful! Genesis is one of my favorite books. Lennox really has thought things through! No wonder Dawkins often seems so intimidated and whiney when they debate. -Q Querius
OT: The Meaning and Purpose of Creation - John Lennox - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWUNbNsa-yA John Lennox's second plenary session at the 2014 Faith & Science Conference bornagain77
This whole thing sorta reminds me of a hilarious TV comedy sketch that I once saw many, many years ago. In it, a British officer is debriefing a pilot rescued from an ice flow. After the pilot would answer a question, the officer would reveal some new information that would cast doubt on the pilot's story. For example, after the pilot explains that he was able to survive as long as he did by carefully rationing his supplies and eating snow, the officer would note that the pilot actually gained weight during his stay. The pilot then claimed that he caught some fish, to which the officer asked him why he didn't have any fishing gear. After claiming that the fishing gear was lost the day before the rescue, the officer asked, "Didn't you have a copilot with you?" You can see where this is going . . . -Q Querius
OT: Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations - Sept. 1, 2014 Excerpt: Neurons in human skin perform advanced calculations, previously believed that only the brain could perform.,,, - Perhaps the most surprising result of our study is that these peripheral neurons, which are engaged when a fingertip examines an object, perform the same type of calculations done by neurons in the cerebral cortex. Somewhat simplified, it means that our touch experiences are already processed by neurons in the skin before they reach the brain for further processing, says Andrew Pruszynski. http://www.medfak.umu.se/english/about-the-faculty/news/newsdetailpage/neurons-in-human-skin-perform-advanced-calculations.cid238881 bornagain77
In a single word, all bottom up scenarios fail because of a lack of 'context' bornagain77

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