The constructor theory (Life without design), here.
Okay, it’s Saturday in much of the world and you were out doing chores; not to worry:
Given that life isn’t the output of an intentional design process, but evolved, how could living things have evolved given these design-free laws of physics? Darwin’s theory addresses this problem, explaining that variation and natural selection bring about the appearance of design. But this in itself doesn’t close the explanatory gap, as we can see especially clearly in the modern version of Darwin’s theory – neo-Darwinism. At its heart are the replicators, or genes – bits of DNA that are transmitted, by replication, to the next generation. Moreover, for replication to be as accurate as it is in living things, accurate self-reproduction of the cell is also required. In short, the theory presupposes the possibility of certain accurate physical transformations, and these are just what no-design laws of physics fail to provide in their starter kit.
Make a note of that, reader, when your local third-rate Darwin blowhard (that guy who didn’t get hired in science and is now “teaching” in a union-run public school) insists that Darwin explained it all.
The early history of evolution is, in constructor-theoretic terms, a lengthy, highly inaccurate, non-purposive construction that eventually produced knowledge-bearing recipes out of elementary things containing none. These elementary things are simple chemicals such as short RNA strands, which can perform only low-fidelity replication, and so do not bear the appearance of design, and are therefore allowed to exist in a pre-biotic environment governed by no-design laws.
Wonder how that’d work out in real life.
Thus the constructor theory of life shows explicitly that natural selection does not need to assume the existence of any initial recipe, containing knowledge, to get started. It shows that, whatever recipes we might find in living things, they do not require ad-hoc, biocentric or mysterious laws of physics in order to come into existence from elementary initial components. They need only the laws of physics to permit the existence of digital information, plus sufficient time and energy, which are non-specific to life.
Okay, so that’s why I have disembodied space brains (Boltzmann brains) popping up in my back yard! (Oh, wait…):
It may seem impossible for a brain to blink into existence, but the laws of physics don’t rule it out entirely. All it requires is a vast amount of time. Eventually, a random chunk of matter and energy will happen to come together in the form of a working mind. It’s the same logic that says a million monkeys working on a million typewriters will replicate the complete works of Shakespeare, if you leave them long enough. More.
Never mind. New Scientist says Darwin will save us from a plague of disembodied space brains.
Friend Jorge Fernandez writes to say,
I was put into a sort of hypnotic trance by this “Constructor Theory” article in the same way as people can’t stop staring at a horrific car wreck with dead bodies. After having read the article, I tried to imagine myself standing in front of a committee while trying to defend this “theory”. My imagination failed me. “Not even wrong” are the only words that come to mind.
No theory will get anywhere with origin of life if it does not deal with information realistically.
See also: A serious and non-magical look at The Science Fictions series at your origin of life research
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