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|My Faith Lies In Evolution... I Was A Horrible Physics Student, Though I'm Learning :o)
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Posted by S.H. Le on November 23, 1999 20:59:00 UTC
My, isn’t this exciting?
I was unsure about the 2nd law being applied to information systems, and it turns out, you were right. My mistake. So, I took time from my busy schedule (just cuz’ your so darn fun to argue with) to look this up in Encarta (I also glanced over Ton’s post - thanx for the info!!), to get a more detailed analysis.
"The term entropy has been borrowed from thermodynamics to denote the average information content of these messages. Entropy can be understood intuitively as the amount of ‘disorder’ in a system. In information theory the entropy of a message equals its average information content. If, in a set of messages, the probabilities are equal, the formula for the total entropy can be given as H = log2N, in which N is the number of possible messages in the set." Encarta Okay, this is an apparent violation to the 2nd law because information seems to need constant input to increase in order for the information to increase. You cited this as an example as to why evolution is an impossibility.
BUT this assumes that evolution is random (ie. each combination has an equal chance of forming, which simply isn’t true in evolution)...
"ENCODING & REDUNDANCY:If messages are transmitted consisting of random combinations of the 26 letters of the English alphabet, the space, and five punctuation marks, and if it is assumed that the probability of each message is the same, the entropy H = log232 = 5. This means that five bits are needed to encode each character, or message: 00000, 00001, 00010 … 11111. Efficient transmission and storage of information require the reduction of the number of bits used for encoding. This is possible when processing English texts because letters are far from being completely random." Encarta
Evolution, as I previously outlined is not random, few things in nature are. It occurs through natural selection, where individuals with the most suited characteristics will survive to procreate, thus passing their genes to their offspring. Not random.
Logical entropy seems to rely on randomness (each combination has the same probability of forming), in order for the given equation to work.
"The probability is extremely high, for example, that the letter following the sequence of letters INFORMATIO is an ‘n.’ It can be shown that the entropy of ordinary written English is about one bit per letter. This indicates that the English language (like every other language) has a large amount of redundancy incorporated in it, which is called natural redundancy." Encarta
So I’m asserting that this natural redundancy is also present in evolution, because certain patterns will be selected by natural means. Even more so in organic molecules.
The theory of abiogenesis, also proposes a mechanism that isn’t random (previous post), but follows predicted patterns from biochemistry. If you’ve ever studied organic chemistry, you’ll find that given a set of conditions necessary for a reaction to occur, you will find regioselectivity. This is the tendancy for only one type of product to be formed out of a variety of combinations or isomers. If the conditions were different, an entirely different molecule is formed. A very simple example is if I placed equal amounts of hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen in an air tight room, the products that result would not be randomly formed. Carbon might have a greater tendancy to react with oxygen, nitrogen with hydrogen, etc.
Thus, a molecule may form that seems to be organized all by it self, when in reality, the atoms form merely because of the conditions present due to physical laws (attraction between atoms and such). So given the precise conditions, it is conceivable how abiogenesis could occur. Remember, early organism were likely very different from those we see today, and much simpler. You might say that such an occurance has very minute possibility, but when one considers the vast quantity of all the organic molecules on the earth, life has a good chance of forming.
Furthermore, if you consider DNA to be information, you might as well consider organic molecules, atoms, and quarks to be information as well. So by your definition, information has probably always existed. So I guess in that sense information hasn’t really "sprung" out of no where, but is able to organize when it follows physical laws.
Finally, allow me to end with a question. You seem to be an individual who prizes himself in scientific knowledge. The story of genesis, if taken literally, violates many physical laws, including the second law of thermodynamics, that you’ve ascribed to be infallible. Why is God outside these laws?
P.S. I can't say it enough, evolution is separate from abiogenesis. It's possible that if we found out that God himself came down from his porcelain throne to create the 1st forms of life and then left things to go on their merry way, evolution would still be the mechanism used to explain how single celled life could have evolved into us. It is possible that abiogenesis be wrong, while evolution is simultaneously correct.
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