Our reality keeps evolving (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, May 20, 2016, 15:04 (607 days ago)

Stuart Kaufmann believes in emergence as a principle of nature. In this essay he describes his concept that the universe is still evolving and we are part of it:

https://aeon.co/opinions/why-science-needs-to-break-the-spell-of-reductive-materialism?...

"At the centre of my argument is a vexing question: since the Big Bang, why has the Universe become complex? I claim that at least part of the answer is that, as more complex things and linked processes are created, and can combine with one another to make yet more complex amalgams of things and processes, the space of possible things and linked processes becomes vastly larger, and the Universe has not had time to make all the possibilities.

"Consider just carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur (CHNOPS), the atoms of organic chemistry. Now consider all possible molecules made of CHNOPS with, say, 100,000 atoms or fewer per molecule....We do not even know how to count the number of possible molecules containing CHNOPS with up to 100,000 atoms per molecule. But it is easy to see that the Universe cannot have had enough time to make them all.

"... A typical protein is perhaps 300 amino acids long, and some are several thousand amino acids long. How many possible proteins are there with 200 amino acids? Well, there are 20 choices for each of the 200 positions, so 20^200 or 10^260 possible proteins with the length of 200 amino acids. This is a tiny subset of the molecular species of CHNOPS with 100,000 atoms per molecule.

***

"What I have just said is, I think, of the deepest importance. As we consider proteins the length of 200 amino acids and all possible CHNOPS molecules with 100,000 atoms or fewer per molecule, it is obvious that the Universe will never make them all. History enters when the space of what is possible is vastly larger than what can actually happen.

"A next point is simple and clear: consider all the CHNOPS molecules that can be made with one, with two, with three, with four, with n, with 100,000 atoms per molecule. The space of possible molecules grows rapidly with the number of atoms per molecule. Call the space of possible molecules with n atoms of CHNOPS the phase space for CHNOPS molecules of n atoms. That phase space increases enormously as n increases. Consequently, in the lifetime of the Universe, as n increases, that phase space will be sampled ever more sparsely. The Universe will make all CHNOPS molecules with two atoms, but not all with 100,000.

***

"Our guide can be a new founding mythic structure that reflects our full enlivenment: humanity in a creative universe, biosphere and human individual, and social lives that are fully lived and that keep becoming. The dream is diversity, more ways of being human as our 30 or so civilisations across the globe weave together gently enough to honour their roots and allow change to unfold gracefully. Our global woven civilisation is ours to create, ever-unknowing, facing, as Immanuel Kant said, the crooked timber of our humanity."

Comment: Supports my point that the universe evolves, life evolves, and in my view God uses an evolving process for all of reality. Also note that the search space to find the proper useful organic molecules is enormous. Organic chemistry starts out as having the ability to create endless possibilities, but without guidance how are useful new molecules found by chance? As for cell communities, they can only make the molecules they are programmed to make. All of this suggests advanced planning is required.

Our reality keeps evolving

by dhw, Sunday, May 22, 2016, 18:03 (605 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Stuart Kaufmann believes in emergence as a principle of nature. In this essay he describes his concept that the universe is still evolving and we are part of it:

https://aeon.co/opinions/why-science-needs-to-break-the-spell-of-reductive-materialism?...
QUOTE: "At the centre of my argument is a vexing question: since the Big Bang, why has the Universe become complex? I claim that at least part of the answer is that, as more complex things and linked processes are created, and can combine with one another to make yet more complex amalgams of things and processes, the space of possible things and linked processes becomes vastly larger, and the Universe has not had time to make all the possibilities.

This is precisely the interpretation of biological evolution that I keep proposing: that cells/cell communities combine with one another to make yet more complex organisms. Whether this applies to the universe itself, I have no idea. We apparently know nothing about 90% of the universe anyway, and the fact that we humans are discovering more and more complexities doesn't mean they were not there all the time, during the continuous process of cosmic comings and goings.

David's comment: Supports my point that the universe evolves, life evolves, and in my view God uses an evolving process for all of reality. Also note that the search space to find the proper useful organic molecules is enormous. Organic chemistry starts out as having the ability to create endless possibilities, but without guidance how are useful new molecules found by chance? As for cell communities, they can only make the molecules they are programmed to make. All of this suggests advanced planning is required.

A strange progression of thought. Yes, the universe and life evolve. Yes, organic chemistry has endless possibilities. Yes, chance seems an unlikely originator of the mechanisms for life and evolution. But once a mechanism for life and evolution is functioning, how do you know what it is capable of, and how do you know where (theistic version)your God's advanced planning ends and his mechanism takes over?

You wrote under “Methane”: “Again enormous complexity. Enzymes are huge molecules and how did cell communities know to use a nickel atom? Note my bold. Maybe someday we'll be as smart as nature (or God).”

Cell communities are “natural”. As plants and other living organisms, they do things you and I cannot do. In certain respects, they are smarter than us. So maybe your God made them that way. Not as machines but as living intelligences.

Our reality keeps evolving

by David Turell @, Sunday, May 22, 2016, 22:02 (605 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: This is precisely the interpretation of biological evolution that I keep proposing: that cells/cell communities combine with one another to make yet more complex organisms. Whether this applies to the universe itself, I have no idea. We apparently know nothing about 90% of the universe anyway, and the fact that we humans are discovering more and more complexities doesn't mean they were not there all the time, during the continuous process of cosmic comings and goings.

Yes, Kaufmann believes things automatically emerge due to the laws of nature and in his books describes computer programs that show just that, not proof of course, but an approach he prefers. As for his comments abut the evolving universe, the standard theory in cosmology shows exactly the evolution he alludes to from big bang, plasma phase, development of CMB and how the galaxies form, the development of elements, etc.

dhw: But once a mechanism for life and evolution is functioning, how do you know what it is capable of, and how do you know where (theistic version)your God's advanced planning ends and his mechanism takes over?

Once again you have skipped over origin of life, but at the origin certain properties of function are available to life to enhance survival. You want it self-developed by early life. I think those properties came from God who started life. Still the same continuum concept. You can't divorce origin from evolution


dhw: Cell communities are “natural”. As plants and other living organisms, they do things you and I cannot do. In certain respects, they are smarter than us. So maybe your God made them that way. Not as machines but as living intelligences.

Cells are the way they are as the result of intelligent instructions they follow.

Our reality keeps evolving

by dhw, Monday, May 23, 2016, 13:01 (604 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: This is precisely the interpretation of biological evolution that I keep proposing: that cells/cell communities combine with one another to make yet more complex organisms. Whether this applies to the universe itself, I have no idea. We apparently know nothing about 90% of the universe anyway, and the fact that we humans are discovering more and more complexities doesn't mean they were not there all the time, during the continuous process of cosmic comings and goings.

DAVID: Yes, Kaufmann believes things automatically emerge due to the laws of nature and in his books describes computer programs that show just that, not proof of course, but an approach he prefers. As for his comments about the evolving universe, the standard theory in cosmology shows exactly the evolution he alludes to from big bang, plasma phase, development of CMB and how the galaxies form, the development of elements, etc.

Fair enough. If the universe really did have a beginning ex nihilo, it must have evolved as you say. Whether it is still evolving or simply repeating itself is another matter. As I said, I have no idea.

dhw: But once a mechanism for life and evolution is functioning, how do you know what it is capable of, and how do you know where (theistic version) your God's advanced planning ends and his mechanism takes over?
DAVID: Once again you have skipped over origin of life, but at the origin certain properties of function are available to life to enhance survival. You want it self-developed by early life. I think those properties came from God who started life. Still the same continuum concept. You can't divorce origin from evolution.

You have ignored my agreement with you in the sentence before the quote: “Yes, chance seems an unlikely originator of the mechanisms for life and evolution.” Hardly “skipping”. In this discussion, I have always stuck to the theistic version, so perhaps now you could answer the questions you have quoted.

dhw: Cell communities are “natural”. As plants and other living organisms, they do things you and I cannot do. In certain respects, they are smarter than us. So maybe your God made them that way. Not as machines but as living intelligences.

DAVID: Cells are the way they are as the result of intelligent instructions they follow.

As usual, you repeat your belief as if it were a fact. My hypothesis is a maybe, and so is yours.

Our reality keeps evolving

by David Turell @, Monday, May 23, 2016, 14:57 (604 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Fair enough. If the universe really did have a beginning ex nihilo, it must have evolved as you say. Whether it is still evolving or simply repeating itself is another matter. As I said, I have no idea.

The experts say it evolved and is still evolving.


dhw: But once a mechanism for life and evolution is functioning, how do you know what it is capable of, and how do you know where (theistic version) your God's advanced planning ends and his mechanism takes over?

I have no way of knowing. All of evolution shows organisms of increasing complexity in form and lifestyle. So I propose an internal drive to complexity in the mechanism, which as I have pointed out is not necessarily improvement.


dhw: Cell communities are “natural”. As plants and other living organisms, they do things you and I cannot do. In certain respects, they are smarter than us. So maybe your God made them that way. Not as machines but as living intelligences.

DAVID: Cells are the way they are as the result of intelligent instructions they follow.

dhw: As usual, you repeat your belief as if it were a fact. My hypothesis is a maybe, and so is yours.

I regard it as more than a maybe.

Our reality keeps evolving

by dhw, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 13:58 (603 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: But once a mechanism for life and evolution is functioning, how do you know what it is capable of, and how do you know where (theistic version) your God's advanced planning ends and his mechanism takes over?

DAVID: I have no way of knowing. All of evolution shows organisms of increasing complexity in form and lifestyle. So I propose an internal drive to complexity in the mechanism, which as I have pointed out is not necessarily improvement.

Complexity for the sake of complexity seems to me to be pointless, but the critical issue is the degree of autonomy enjoyed by the mechanism itself. If you accept that your God may have given organisms the freedom to complexify without his "guidance" (= instructions and/or intervention to create the new complexity) - though reserving the right to dabble - I shall sing another hallelujah!

Our reality keeps evolving

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 20:32 (603 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: But once a mechanism for life and evolution is functioning, how do you know what it is capable of, and how do you know where (theistic version) your God's advanced planning ends and his mechanism takes over?

DAVID: I have no way of knowing. All of evolution shows organisms of increasing complexity in form and lifestyle. So I propose an internal drive to complexity in the mechanism, which as I have pointed out is not necessarily improvement.

dhw: Complexity for the sake of complexity seems to me to be pointless, but the critical issue is the degree of autonomy enjoyed by the mechanism itself. If you accept that your God may have given organisms the freedom to complexify without his "guidance" (= instructions and/or intervention to create the new complexity) - though reserving the right to dabble - I shall sing another hallelujah!

You keep wondering about the bushiness of the bush. This is what complexity for the sake of complexity brings. It also brings the most complex of all, humans, in phenotype and in consciousness. If we could find the mechanism for complexification, perhaps then we would know how much freedom God gave it. Now it is guesswork.

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