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 How does a life come to manifest? 
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Joined: April 15th, 2009, 11:29 pm
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I was watching a program on Nat Geo recently about some people with extremely rare, almost freakish, distortions in their bodies. For example the boy with the tail, the girl with 4 arms, etc. Somewhere along the line during pregnancy the growing fetus had gone in a 'wrong' direction which led to the distortion.

This set me thinking more about the process of the development of the fetus. How does the developing fetus know what to do, how to multiply, how to manifest, and what to manifest as? For example, they say that at some point during the early stages there is no difference between a fetus of a fish or that of a human. So how does the fetus know what it has to do and how it has to develop? I guess this is close to the discussion on evolution.

Another question that comes to mind is where does all the physical material to form a baby come from?

I'd like to elicit your perceptions on the above questions. I am not sure our scientists know it as yet. The other day I was watching a program on Nat Geo/Discovery where they were explaining that we know how the cells form and develop but we don't know where and how they get/have the info required to perform the various actions, as in how the blood cell knows that it has to develop to this shape and form and have these ingredients, how does a brain cell know the same?


July 5th, 2010, 6:19 pm
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I don't know very much about this, but it's certainly a very interesting question!

Proteins are made up of long strings of amino acids, and the way the are made and respond to each other affects the shapes they form into. If there is a mistake and an amino acid gets into the wrong place, the protein can form into the wrong shape. This is what happens in sickle cell disease, where the red blood cells form into the wrong shape. However, the fact that it works out right so much of the time is quite remarkable really. I would think that other types of material in the body would form into shapes in a similar way.

The physical material to form a baby, well protein is used to form a lot of bodily tissues. In humans at least, the digestive system can break down the proteins into their amino acids, and then collect all the amino acids and put them all back together again to make a different type of protein. A baby who is growing very quickly needs a lot of protein to make all the new material in its growing body, and also plenty of energy-rich foods to enable to body to make the proteins.

I wish I knew more. It's a topic I find very interesting and feel compelled to learn more about.


July 5th, 2010, 7:31 pm
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJxobgkPEAoIs part of the story.

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July 5th, 2010, 8:03 pm
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:pointlaugh:
I'm sure Paolo, our distinguished biologist, will answer this.
Paolo, Paolo don't you think time is ripe for your come back?!!! :happyclappy:

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July 5th, 2010, 8:09 pm
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I was called?

Ah, yes - developmental biology. Not my strongest point, but hopefully I can help clarify a bit.

There is actually quite a lot known about development in certain model organisms (Drosophila and C. elegans are good examples) and the same sets of rules seem to apply to all other groups, they're just not as well studied.

Development is a cascading process, with the initial stage being a single fertilised egg cell. This cell undergoes duplication of its DNA in a process called mitosis - during which the cell doubles and then each new cell doubles and so on - creating very rapid growth as long as sufficient resources are provided to keep the process running (often provided by a fat and protein reservoir in the initial cell). These early cells are known as 'stem' cells because any kind of other cell can stem from them. A variety of feedback mechanisms informed by proteins coded by the information from DNA 'switch' development of particular sections of cells so that they change their properties. Birth defects are often caused by problems at this point, where the information gets muddled. In model organisms the information is deliberately altered (genes are switched 'on' or 'off') at particular points in development to see what difference it makes to the overall development of the study organism. Because animals share sections of DNA due to their common ancestry this process allows developmental biologists to work out which sections of genes (and which protein signals) cause some birth defects.

If there is a mutation that is negative then usually it will muddle the information cascade irreparably, so the developing embryo stops development and dies. This is why we don't see more mutant forms of animals - the vast majority aren't born. Those mutations that are not so severe as to cause a collapse of the cascade are the ones that survive to give us the variation between individuals in a population that drives evolution.

The key is the cascade. If step 1 doesn't happen then step 2 won't happen, because step 2 cannot happen without step 1, and so on. This is why a dog embryo, a dolphin embryo and a human embryo all look very similar at similar stages of development and it also explains why some ancestral characteristics (like gill slits in humans or hind leg buds in dolphins) emerge during development - they are related to important timing and signalling stages that further development is dependent upon.

I hope this makes sense, as I said, it's not really my specialism, so I'm not sure if this is as clear (or accurate) as it could be!

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July 5th, 2010, 11:01 pm
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That's a clear and interesting explanation, Paolo. Thanks.

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July 5th, 2010, 11:17 pm
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Thanks Paolo!

Your post describes how things progress within the process, the process being the 'growth of fetus inside womb'. My question is related to the director and inventor of the process (I am deliberately not using the word 'creator' since that would trigger natural psychological inertia within us guys). To explain my question further let me give you an analogous example:

Scientists do cloning. Cloning is a process. A process is something that takes an/many inputs, do some hush-mush-gush-push, and delivers an/many outputs. But when we use the term 'process' in day-to-day language we basically refer to input-process-output i.e. 'ipo'. Now, in the case of cloning the scientists have provided the input, ensure the actions and tasks after inputs have been received are done efficiently and effectively and then the scientists also receive the output. Of course 'cloning' itself is not an invention/creation of the scientist...basically scientists have reverse-engineered the process by observing how it works in reality/nature. So we can say that the 'directing' entity of this process is somehow coded within the process itself.....(I have one question at the end related to this).

Now consider any artificial process not related to life generation. Let's say manufacturing an automobile. Again its a process as in ipo. "Actors" within the process i.e. the machines and humans do their tasks so that the car is manufactured....(another question on this at the end). However, some 'thing' has designed this ipo of car manufacturing. In other words the intelligence that is built into the process plus the intelligence required to create/invent the process in the first place comes from an entity which is not part of the process. This entity is humans coz we designed the system called car and the process of manufacturing them.

So, my basic question and other questions:
a. where is the intelligence of this process? a.1. Intelligence of progressing thru the ipo as in the micro-level intelligence, in other words the decisions made by each step in the ipo. a.2. Intelligence of the ipo itself as in macro-level, in other words the over-all design of the process (folks, please don't say "evolution" as the answer for these questions coz it would be just like the pseudo 'placebo' which, stripped of all the terminology basically means "We don't know how it happened"..like 'singularity'. Besides, evolution at max can tell us that a particular mutation happened but it cannot tell us the memory held within the process.)
b. (question from 2nd para) Let's go to the micro-level of our specific ipo. As mentioned its a cascading effect, so let's go to the first 'decision' made when the fetus is at a level which is similar to fish fetus. Lemme call it pre-fetus. Now since it is a cascading effect, the pre-fetus would have different possible directions to progress i.e. one direction would lead to it becoming a fish, one a snake, one an ape, one an alien, one a human, one a me :D. How does the pre-fetus decide at this particular time and space in its existence which direction to take (to remember here it has multiple options)? Now add to this the decision the fetus has to take in step two (which mammal?), then step 3 - which phylum(?), and go on till finally which part of which blood cell.
c. (question from 3rd para) Are there any logical equivalents to the "actors" of an artificial ipo in our specific ipo?

Given the above questions I suggested in the first post that we still haven't figured out the intelligence that designed the system level (growth ipo) to the lowest level (step 1 decisions)..the entire architecture of the systemic process..Hence I elicited your thoughts and opinions.


July 6th, 2010, 8:59 pm
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It's all the processes of chemistry. There is no "spark" or "intelligence" in the process. Nothing "decides" anything. The chemical systems of life are very complex and inefficient, and a lot of energy and materials are used up in the process.


July 7th, 2010, 9:02 am
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Nirvanam wrote:
a. where is the intelligence of this process?

I fail to see why a process needs an intelligence. The formation of ozone in the atmosphere involves an input (3O2 + UV energy) a process (breaking of O=O bonds, then formation of O-O-O bonds) and an output (2O3). None of these require anything more than the right local conditions and the intrinsic chemical and physical properties of oxygen. Crystal growth is another example. Complex and geometrically exact crystals can grow quite naturally simply as a result of the right local conditions and the intrinsic chemical and physical properties of the substance - be it salt, quartz, diamond or even water (think of snowflakes). Processes can and do occur without the need for intelligence, they simply require a set of local conditions and intrinsic physical and chemical properties of substances specific to the process in question.

Life is the exact same, it just has lots of processes running concurrently and sequentially. It is the nano level chemical and physical structures of DNA, RNA, water, lipids, proteins etc. that determine the development of an organism under certain conditions. Timing of each step in development is dependent on the previous step, because the previous step lays the physical and chemical foundations for the next step. The complexity of the overall process arises from a vast number of very simple processes that are mutually dependent. The simpler the organism the fewer processes.

Track it back and it all starts with very basic building blocks (Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Sulphur, etc.) coming together as a result of having particular local conditions and thereby producing new products (amino acids for example), which then respond to local conditions in a different way and give rise to a different process that is more complex because bigger molecules behave in more complex ways as a result of their more complex shapes and combinations of bonds.

Keep this chain of processes going and eventually you reach a point where something very complex is happening. All it takes is for just one of these more complex processes to form a stable chain that can act as a template that allows self-replication - which is actually pretty straight-forward, it just requires molecules with +ve and –ve sections specific to locations on their shape, which will orientate other similar molecules in the right relative position to allow preferential catalysis with neighbouring molecules. Given time and enough of these sorts of processes it’s quite likely that you’ll end up with something that can be called life. Development is a continuation of a refined version of that process, with accessory external structures which facilitate the continuation of the process (bodies).

Evolution is not just about mutations. It’s about selection and inheritance too. It is the inherited information of DNA that allows the entire developmental process to take place. The chemicals that make up DNA are not just ‘information’ in the same way as numbers and letters are, they have physical properties that directly change the nature of the proteins they code for by physical and chemical interaction (back to those +ve and –ve areas on molecules again). The reason a human embryo doesn’t go off down the fish or snake line is because the information needed to make a complete fish or snake is simply not available in human DNA – it has been altered by a range of evolutionary processes. This is a key thing to understand – evolution is a convenient name for a vast suite of processes that function at a range of levels, so although you are right in saying that evolution as an answer doesn’t explain much, it is convenient way of summing up a range of non-intelligent processes that would be too complicated to go into detail about every time biologists wanted to have a conversation.

Of course, evolution has other connotations to non-biologists, particularly the idea of ‘progressive change’. But evolution is a process that takes an input (organism) and generates an output (an altered organism). Organisms do tend to get more complex through time, but they are not trying to become more complex, it’s simply that the input organism provides the foundation of the output organism and the process will more often add something, since taking something away usually results in a disadvantage to the output organism that makes it less able to compete with the input organism (which isn’t used up by the process, so is still around in the original form or an alternate output form).

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July 7th, 2010, 12:59 pm
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In short, the answer is DNA, RNA, ribosomes and proteins. Simple chemical reactions, just lots of them.

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July 7th, 2010, 1:05 pm
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Writing this without including quotes to make it less cluttered...

So finally we are saying that life is thru DNA, RNA, ribosomes and proteins. And the ipo itself is quite by chance (yes it does form a template to act in a way based on certain conditions). However, this does not explain how the first instance of the process (from which the template arose) got done. I am assuming here that the popular explanation is "chance". So Hydrogen combining with Oxygen and forming water molecule is a chance event when it happened the very first time.

The chance can be explained by referring to internal conditions: that of ions, geometrical structure, etc. This gives rise to another conundrum

How do you explain the geometrical structure? They have perfect shapes. Why would they have perfect shapes?

Also theorists say that the first atom was Hydrogen and that came into existence as the universe was born. Why was Hydrogen a positive ion? Did it go through a series of infinite chance events before it forming as a positive ion before the birth of the universe (or even more chancey is if it formed the way it did in the very first instance! now that would be freaky and the easiest explanation would be intelligence)? Theoretically (i.e. if we believe all these evolved thru chance) then Hydrogen atom would have an infinite range of possibilities before it came to existence i.e. it could have been positively charged, negatively charged, neutral (no elements are neutral i.e. another conundrum) and an infinite degrees of manifestation between a perfect positive and a perfect negative polarity.

Another question: we say it progresses the way it does because the actors (i.e. DNA, RNA, etc) in this ipo are coded to behave that way given appropriate conditions. How are they coded? Where is the code? How do they "remember" the code? Possibly we can explain this by saying that their structure itself is the code. Then this again brings us back to the original conundrum of infinite chances of the very first particle evolving. If we find an explanation to the 'matter' end of this conundrum as 'just a chance event' then we have the next level conundrum.

For matter there has to be those 4 forces (earth,wind,water,fire...lol just kidding, it is electromagnetic, gravitational, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear). How do those force fields develop and remain so to create an atom of Hydrogen? The field is not matter yet it influences and basically is the parent of matter. So it would have also tried out (in case it was a chance event) an infinite number of intensities of vibration in order to figure out how to coalesce to form a perfect Hydrogen atom? One more conundrum here.

If it figures a perfect intensity level to form a Hydrogen atom then what did it form with the other infinite - 1 intensities? To believe that all these infinite intensities led to nothing except one perfectly working Hydrogen atom, is a mighty mighty, mighty leap of faith. Further conundrum.

The intensity of one particular force was given above. There are 4 forces so the actual "population space", if you will, is the permutation and combination of these 4 forces * their individual infinities. Are our minds understanding the vastness of the infinity involved here? Another conundrum.

The 4 forces have to act in one particular way to form a Hydrogen atom? it is reasonable to believe that if they coalesced with other intensities then they would form something else, and hence there would be infinite something else's. Why don't we see them? These are not other elements as in Helium, Oxygen, etc. The elements we know are all somehow coming from Hydrogen. We have already finished that stage. This particular conundrum is even before Hydrogen...i.e. if there are infinite such possibilities then there could be at least a decent number of such "original atoms" or brothers/sisters of Hydrogen? anti-Hydrogen (as in anti-matter) is one that our scientists say. But that makes it two out of an infinite of infinities. Its reasonable to expect more than 2...where are they?

Do you see the amount of "chance" and pure "luck" involved here?


July 7th, 2010, 5:10 pm
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At the end of the day explaining it all off as "chance" is similar to other pseudos like placebo...we have no clue how it happened. The order of infinity here is unimaginable. Chance has to be the most irrational explanation to say that the universe and further down, growth of the fetus, is the way it is.

I believe that our mind is the intelligence that runs the process of the fetus growth. My belief is just as ridiculous as the chance event belief...probably a little lesser in order of its infinity than the chance theory. Or let me put it this way, the "mind" is my pseudo.


July 7th, 2010, 5:23 pm
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Nirvanam wrote:
At the end of the day explaining it all off as "chance" is similar to other pseudos like placebo...we have no clue how it happened. The order of infinity here is unimaginable. Chance has to be the most irrational explanation to say that the universe and further down, growth of the fetus, is the way it is.

I believe that our mind is the intelligence that runs the process of the fetus growth. My belief is just as ridiculous as the chance event belief...probably a little lesser in order of its infinity than the chance theory. Or let me put it this way, the "mind" is my pseudo.

Nirvanam, you don’t seem to understand what chance is. Chance deals not with impossibilities but with possibilities. If there is a chance of something happening then it can happen. If the thing that can happen has sufficient opportunity to happen then the chance of it happening goes from being small to high. Having the right conditions and lots of time creates sufficient opportunity.

But of course, the issue is not just about chance, it's also about stability. If something that happens by chance results in a stable product, that product (let's say Hydrogen) will persist. If it results in something unstable it will not exist. It's that simple. In an infinite universe with infinite amounts of stuff happening it is unlikely that some stable products won't come into being. If those stable products are only competing with unstable products for existence then it's pretty obvious which will come to dominate - the stable products, since they will accumulate over time, whilst unstable products cannot.

As soon as you have a stable product that can form new composite stable/semi-stable products you open up new possibilities. If stable/semi-stable products arise that catalyse the production of other stable products you have an even greater quantity of such stable products. Life is just an extension of this process, although it creates semi-stable products that act as catalysts for the duplication of more semi-stable products (each composed of accumulations of stable products). We are each just one of the semi-stable products generated, but our self-interest limits our perspective and we find it hard to separate the notion of what has happened from what might happen.

We look at our universe the way it is and then compare it to our guesses about how the universe as it might have been. This gives us the false impression that something special has made the universe choose the route that has led to us. The fact is that the universe went down a route that led to us and if it hadn’t we wouldn’t be here to ask these questions. Rather like the coin-toss competition winner (see the previous example I’ve given in a different thread of the way in which selection influences chance) who considers that they must have a real gift for coin tossing, despite the fact that it was all down to chance and they just happened to be the winner. The fact that there would be a winner was certain, but who that winner would be is chance. We are able to ask these questions because, by chance, we’re winners in a chance competition. Yet we try to claim that winning was down to something more than chance - you suggest that reason is intelligence, I suggest that it’s dumb-luck and most people are scared by that, because they are uncomfortable to acknowledge that they’re not special in some way.

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July 8th, 2010, 1:32 pm
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By the way, there has been recent evidence to support the idea of chance and stability explaining the transition from the quantum to the classical universe. This is called quantum Darwinism.

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July 8th, 2010, 1:38 pm
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Paolo wrote:
Nirvanam, you don’t seem to understand what chance is. Chance deals not with impossibilities but with possibilities. If there is a chance of something happening then it can happen. If the thing that can happen has sufficient opportunity to happen then the chance of it happening goes from being small to high. Having the right conditions and lots of time creates sufficient opportunity.
Paolo, I understand what chance means...I deal with statistics and the modern scientific methodologies to test hypothesis day in day out. So just presume that I understand these terminologies. I also deal with system theories and innovations in systems on a daily basis, so the things related to cascading effect and such - just presume I understand it, and let's get into the details.

When you refer to the term 'opportunity' above, I am trying to get you to understand the kind of infinity we are dealing with...the 'opportunity space', out of which one particular event helps form the Hydrogen atom. Once you start objectively quantifying these things, you'll be able to appreciate the amount of chance we are dealing with.

Paolo wrote:
But of course, the issue is not just about chance, it's also about stability. If something that happens by chance results in a stable product, that product (let's say Hydrogen) will persist. If it results in something unstable it will not exist. It's that simple. In an infinite universe with infinite amounts of stuff happening it is unlikely that some stable products won't come into being. If those stable products are only competing with unstable products for existence then it's pretty obvious which will come to dominate - the stable products, since they will accumulate over time, whilst unstable products cannot.
I may give this chance theory a benefit of doubt only up to a certain level. For stability to occur, the probability starts to get infinitesimally fractional as you "hope" that the chance-mechanism goes right step after step. Again, unless you actually put objectively quantifiable premises you will not be able to appreciate the kind of probability we are dealing with.

Paolo wrote:
As soon as you have a stable product that can form new composite stable/semi-stable products you open up new possibilities. If stable/semi-stable products arise that catalyse the production of other stable products you have an even greater quantity of such stable products. Life is just an extension of this process, although it creates semi-stable products that act as catalysts for the duplication of more semi-stable products (each composed of accumulations of stable products). We are each just one of the semi-stable products generated, but our self-interest limits our perspective and we find it hard to separate the notion of what has happened from what might happen.
All this follows only if we can first prove that the very first item that was born along with the universe were those 4 forces, and that their birth was chancey...the cascading effect can be examined later, let's first prove the creation of these 4 forces.

Paolo wrote:
We look at our universe the way it is and then compare it to our guesses about how the universe as it might have been.
That is exactly what I am saying that we, as in the "educated rational logical thinkers" are using our glasses (in this case it is chance-theory) to interpret the universe.
Paolo wrote:
This gives us the false impression that something special has made the universe choose the route that has led to us.
The chance theory holds that that special thing is luck whereas other people hold that that special thing is god. Neither can prove it right now. Acknowledging that helps us question further...we may never be able to find the answer but we will progress further.
Paolo wrote:
The fact is that the universe went down a route that led to us and if it hadn’t we wouldn’t be here to ask these questions. Rather like the coin-toss competition winner (see the previous example I’ve given in a different thread of the way in which selection influences chance) who considers that they must have a real gift for coin tossing, despite the fact that it was all down to chance and they just happened to be the winner. The fact that there would be a winner was certain, but who that winner would be is chance. We are able to ask these questions because, by chance, we’re winners in a chance competition. Yet we try to claim that winning was down to something more than chance - you suggest that reason is intelligence, I suggest that it’s dumb-luck and most people are scared by that, because they are uncomfortable to acknowledge that they’re not special in some way.
I don't think its a relevant example. Let me explain: in the coin competition there HAS to be a winner. In the Universe there DOES NOT HAVE TO BE a human civilization. Hence the mechanism and associated probabilities differ. If we are saying that the universe has to turn out like this then it is like saying, the the final manifestation is pre-destined...who argues that way? Proponents of god theory.

See, let me give you a perspective to think from...
I think the moment we come across the word 'intelligence' in a discussion like this, our psychological inertia immediately associates the point made by the opposite person as one which believes there is a white old man with a white beard in the sky who can do "super natural" things.
Now, dissociate the word, intelligence, from the concept of god that you have stored in your mind. It is difficult to do that but we all have the ability to do that.
Once you dissociate it, then just work out some simple numerical stuff to understand the probability we are dealing with. It will blow you out. I am sure we haven't thought about it or tried to quantify the actual chance involved. Coz if we had then it would put at least a small seed of doubt. The best part is the theorists who discovered all these big bang stuff themselves find it very difficult to attribute it all to chance. I have not heard or read about any of them claim it.

So here is the process of questioning: first we need to go into the belly of the big bang: determine why and how did there arise 4 forces. What was the amount of chance involved there (quantify it)? Can we do that? I wont say we cannot...all I can say is we HAVEN'T. So now you will be able to appreciate that "chance" is a pseudo, strip it of all the cascading effects and all the terminology used by the theorists it basically means "I don't know how or why it happened". So, you see, at the end of the day my guess is as good as yours. My guess is that there is intelligence involved (not the bible god...resist the psychological inertia here).


July 8th, 2010, 6:00 pm
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Paolo wrote:
By the way, there has been recent evidence to support the idea of chance and stability explaining the transition from the quantum to the classical universe. This is called quantum Darwinism.
I just read that. I notice that they are explaining how the manifestation happened...not what drove it to that or why it happened that way ONLY. They are also not showing what would manifest if the eco-system of the process was different.

Recently I was watching a program on Nat Geo / History channel. You know the theorists there (I only remember two names but I can recognize the others by face) which included Michio Kaku(?...the Japanese guy with a proper American accent), and Stephen Hawking himself were kind of adamant that the way the universe formed is definitely not a chance occurrence. They said, "does it mean that this opens the door for a god? I don't know." They are able to say that because they have dissociated the word god from a psychological image of the bible god.

They are not saying that some god is involved. No. They are only saying that they don't believe it is by chance, and that we don't have the insight right now to claim one over the other.

I also see Carl Sagan, of late, not being too comfortable with the idea of chance driving the whole thing (my awareness of their viewpoints is only through these Nat Geo/History/Discovery shows so I acknowledge that their views are under certain context). One thing to be aware of is that these guys are not limited in their understanding of theology...their understanding of theology is not the christian god. They know a lot more about various cultures and their traditions than we know here. So their psychological inertia of the word "god" is very different from what may exist in this forum.


July 8th, 2010, 6:13 pm
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When it comes to this bible god, it helps to be aware that the early christians themselves did not have this image of god that medieval, modern christians believe, and indeed how most Humanists understand it. Their descriptions of this god thing comes from Judeo tradition. The Judeo tradition itself comes from Egyptian tradition (yes yes the Egyptians drove the jews out which may be true yet it does not mean the jews did not carry over some traditional understandings). Now the Egyptian traditions arise from Sumerian traditions. The Sumerian traditions describe the "god" very differently. The concept is not of a super natural creator of the universe. It is very different than that. There is hardly any creator of the universe stuff here.


July 8th, 2010, 6:27 pm
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AAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I sometimes think you are being willfully difficult. Someone mentions 'chance' amongst other things and you only look at the issues relating to chance - not those relating to the other issues and how these will influence and be influenced by chance. This is exactly what happened in the discussions about evolution.

Chance alone is not an explanation for anything much, because the chances of something happening are altered by circumstance. Things go from being unlikely to very likely as soon as a stabilising force emerges. However, the emerging structure does not need to be guided by anything more than chance - it is because that's the way it happened. Rewind and try it again with one variable being different and it will form a different structure.

It just so happens that the structure that has been formed in our universe has ended up with us. If one thing had been different we would not exist, but that is irrelevant, because if it had happened we wouldn't be here to ask the questions about what happened. We are a result of a process, not a goal that has been achieved.

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July 9th, 2010, 3:32 pm
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Think of it another way, there is a kid in Germany who was hit by a meteorite. What are the chances of that particular kid being hit by that particular piece of space rock? Of all the infinite pieces of space debris in the Universe, of all the places that bit of space debris could travel, of all the people that are in the world and all the time that the bit of rock has been in existence, yet there was one piece that hit one kid at one time and place.

Of course, a combination of circumstances made it possible for the boy to be hit - and those circumstances were down to chance, although the chance was created because of non-intelligent influences, like Earth's gravity, the fact the kid was outdoors, the proximity of the meteor to Earth, the angle of entry, the size of the rock (if it was slightly smaller it may have burned up completely in the atmosphere, any bigger and it may have been broken up and the pieces would burn up), etc. So depite chance being responsible there are non-chance factors that have an influence.

From the point of view of the kid he was lucky to be hit and not killed. He feels special. To the rest of the universe it matters not a jot - it's just one event among billions that happen all the time. Not entirely chance, but not guided by intent either.

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July 9th, 2010, 3:49 pm
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Paolo wrote:
AAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I sometimes think you are being willfully difficult.
LOL! No Paolo, its not like that. The moment I find your argument convincing I'll be the first one to accept it and change my viewpoint accordingly.
Paolo wrote:
Someone mentions 'chance' amongst other things and you only look at the issues relating to chance - not those relating to the other issues and how these will influence and be influenced by chance.
That is my psychological inertia....lol

Paolo wrote:
Chance alone is not an explanation for anything much, because the chances of something happening are altered by circumstance.
Isn't altered by circumstance itself chancey?
Paolo wrote:
Things go from being unlikely to very likely as soon as a stabilising force emerges.
This is where I give the benefit of doubt, like I did in my previous post. I have no problem with this to a certain extent. You'd agree there would need to be multiple stabilizing forces involved to ensure that chance turns to likely? Did each of those forces themselves emerged through chance?
Paolo wrote:
However, the emerging structure does not need to be guided by anything more than chance - it is because that's the way it happened.
It depends on which step we are in the process. If we are closer to the end then it may hold good. However, at the very beginning there is still a huge amount of chance involved. Because it happened the first time it does not mean it has to happen again. For it to happen again in the same way, there has to be some natural code embedded into it. Where is the code coming from? The structure of an atom itself is the code is not even tested I guess. But that's a creative way of theorizing and I have no problem with that. Just that I choose to believe that 'the structure itself being the code' was through external intelligence not chance. And here, do you agree neither of us can claim to be right? There is no scientific studies done which have established either of these theories as true, right?
Paolo wrote:
Rewind and try it again with one variable being different and it will form a different structure.
Yes, yes, this is where I was hoping to get your attention to. Now let's go back to the stage when Hydrogen was being born. Four forces existed at that time, and let me just use some arbitrary values for Hydrogen to form:
So, at the birth of the universe, the first element to be formed was Hydrogen. We can explain this by the regular Y = F(x). In other words, One Hydrogen atom = F(emforce, gforce, snforce, wnforce). Let's just assign some values to this: 1H = A*gmf + B*gf + C*snf + D*wnf (pls ignore the mathematical operators here...they are not imp).
If we look at all systems around us, you'd know that a change in one or two variables will give rise to 'something' which is not the product we want. But the main point is that it will give rise to 'something'.

So at the birth of the universe (now let's traverse from cause to effect) A*gmf + B*gf + C*snf + D*wnf = 1H. A,B,C,D could take infinite values. Yet only when they take those specific values does 1H form. Now, are you saying that the rest of the 4 infinities - 1 chances all went wasted...nothing came out of them? If they did, what and where are they? (these are not other elements like He...the other elements will come into picture after H has formed).

Is the chance theory arguing that those 4 forces having infinite opportunities each will end up with only one amazingly perfect precision totally by chance in forming the first element? If this is so, then you are necessarily arguing that, (A-1)*gmf + B*gmf + C*snf + D*wnf = nothing at all...in fact no matter what values A, B, C, D take every interaction will yield nothing except in just one interaction which then leads to a Hydrogen atom?

Paolo wrote:
It just so happens that the structure that has been formed in our universe has ended up with us. If one thing had been different we would not exist, but that is irrelevant, because if it had happened we wouldn't be here to ask the questions about what happened. We are a result of a process, not a goal that has been achieved.
That's where I am finding it very very difficult to imagine that a very slight difference at the early stages (or for that matter even further down the line) would not have any output. If that is true why do you see common ancestors for many creatures? Some slight change occurred in creature X which led to a different path and to creature Y. Another small change occurred in creature X which led to a different path and to creature Z. Often these changes so minute. If such minute changes can create many different variations of creatures, why should the first process of Hydrogen formation not lead to infinite brothers and sisters of Hydrogen? (again, they are not other elements).

In your meteor example, if the meteor missed the boy by an inch, the boy is alive, no doubt. However, the meteor has left a mark on the ground or whatever was next to him. Where is such an effect of slight variations of the first 4 forces forming Hydrogen? Surely you aren't gonna argue that one and only one impossibly precise condition (interaction of those 4 forces) could create something, and all the other infinities - 1 conditions created nothing.


July 9th, 2010, 4:47 pm
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