Guest Blog: ORGANISM, A MATRIX FOR REALITY – PART II – by Barry Zern

(continued from 11/16/20)

There is a relationship between the cosmic unity and mortal organisms, a nexus between the two.  There is reason to believe that the nature of the universal organism, or cosmic unity, is consistent with and similar to mortal micro-organisms.  From this perspective we can examine certain aspects of the cosmic force, and how it relates to mortal organisms.

Existence is the primary statement of what an infinite reality implies, and survival follows from existence as the purpose of life.   In fact existence is the only thing that can follow from an infinite reality and therefore survival must become the driver of life, ultimately determining what is internalized as good.

All organisms have the ability to survive to varying degrees based on their development.  Their survival is based on the nature of the threats they face.  Their survival as individual organisms becomes a part of the enduring nature of the cosmic unity.

 

Survival is the guiding principle for activity of all organisms.  More highly developed organisms will adopt better behaviors  to promote survival.  These behaviors become codified and, internalized.  Organisms increase their survival  by developing more and better ways to respond to different situations.  This increased complexity is a byproduct of the organism’s increased ability to survive because it can respond  to a greater variety of situations.  We refer to the process of increasing complexity as evolution.

What promotes survival is moral or good, survival of the individual, survival of the group as a whole, and survival of that which is external to the group, its environment, on which it depends for its survival.  Self-survival is the most immediate with group survival longer term and sustainable environmental survival the most long term.  There is a natural harmony between pursuing survival of the self, survival of the group and survival of the external that the group depends on.  Though there is not always clarity on each individual option, over time the group will tend to apportion choices among the three alternatives most advantageously.

An overexpression of self-survival becomes bad behavior.  What is best is an equilibrium of self, group and environmental survival.  Placing too much emphasis on either group and/or environmental survival can lead to more occasional  mismatches of threat and response.   This is ultimately not good for self-survival.  Balancing the three is part of the art of being a higher organism.

Though we have opened this exploration with our conclusion that organism leads to an infinite universe and and a cosmic unity of will, matter and consciousness, there may be other ontological positions that are consistent with a philosophy based on empirical analysis of organism.  These ontologies may be associated with different empirical understandings derived from either biology or physics.

In some cases our empirical understanding points to different possible ages for the universe.  The level of probability for organisms to form from random process is inversely related to the time available for them to accomplish that goal, that is the minimum age for the universe that is required.   The longer the odds against life forming from random process, the older the age of the universe must be.

Physics has determined the currently accepted age of the universe.  Ontologies suggested by physics may not be consistent with ontologies suggested by biology or vice versa.  This disagreement though difficult to resolve, reduces  the possible ontological explanations for reality, which are explored here.

In the last half of the 20th century the double helix model of the DNA molecule was discovered.   If it were to be postulated that organisms could be created from simple matter, probabilities could then be calculated based on a pre organismic environment of what the chances were for creating the minimum DNA strand capable of supporting minimal life.  The probability of just producing a single strand of DNA by random process capable of sustaining life is so infinitesimally low that the universe would have to be orders of magnitude older than 14 billion years, the age currently calculated.   The very low probability of producing the other necessary precursors of life further lessen this probability.  This leaves us in the position of  looking for an explanation of organism that does not rest on the assumption that they can be created by random process of physical matter.

With respect to the divergence on the age of the universe between the methodology  of physics and the analysis  from biology, it is appropriate to suggest possible reasons in the currently accepted methodology of physics that could cause it to underestimate that age.

We know from physics the standard model does not account for all important interactions and incorporate the full theory of general relativity and gravitation or contain a dark matter particle  consistent with cosmological observations.  This is not a criticism of the model, just stating the obvious that physics is not settled science and that the ultimately determined age of the universe could be substantially different than the currently accepted 14 billion year age.  Though it can be said that the 14 billion year age of the universe is supported by science, the terribly long odds for the origin of life arguing against this age is also supported by science.

Further, unification of all four fundamental forces has not been accomplished for almost a century now.  None of this means they are in error, just that science operates within a process of self imposed continuous review and possible adjustment over time based on new data and methods from all reliable sources within physics, but not just within physics.

If we assume a different view of the universe for the moment other than a materialist one, an organismic cosmology may either be a better foundation for a unified theory of the four basic forces or offer an explanation for why unification has been so difficult.  It may be that all past present and future motions in an organismic universe may not be devoid of organismic novelty as amply displayed by organisms here on earth and that in an organismic universe on a cosmic scale, equations that rely on relationships holding across all variables at all values may be difficult to discern.

The argument for the very low probability of producing DNA by random process as a precursor of life is essentially quite simple.  There is a  very large number of possible arrangements of a single strand of DNA that can be produced by random process and a very small number of possible strands that would be capable of sustaining life.  Because the probability is so low it points to the need for a dramatically older universe, possibly trillions of years older or infinite.  If it can be shown that origin of life cannot follow from random process, then materialism would not be viable and some other ontology must better explain reality.  The odds are so long against materialism being possible they are essentially zero.  Such an old universe required to rule out materialism essentially leaves only those requiring a cosmic force, that is theist, deist, pantheistic or other similar ontologies.

It is not just the long odds against producing a viable DNA strand, but there are similar long odds for producing all the organelles necessary for life.  The ribosome organelle in particular presents perhaps the most difficult challenge.  How would random process even begin to produce a translation machine that transforms the nucleotide monomer arrangement into instructions to produce the appropriately necessary but completely unrelated proteins?  It would seem the odds of producing a ribosome would be of a similar order as the odds of producing a Boltzman Brain.  All the very low probabilities for each of the precursors would need to be multiplied together to calculate the odds against producing life.

Additionally, all this would have to take place in a primordial pool over such a long period of time that the time necessary for the completion of the precursors would far exceed the limits of how long the pools themselves could survive intact, based on chemical degradation of the pools, geological forces containing the pools and planetary forces that would compromise and destroy the pools on a regular basis.  Indeed the time period for random process is so long it would far exceed the lifespan of planets and their solar systems to exist for one such pool or a succession of them to be successful.

For life to be produced from random matter it would also have to be demonstrated in theory at least how thought could be accomplished.  What would the ontology and cosmology look like?  A specific analysis would have to be presented that shows how matter can create thought.  This has never been successfully accomplished.   It does not appear that accounting for life in this manner will work.

Demonstrating that one of a total of two possible alternatives is wrong is not as convincing a way to demonstrate the other is correct as demonstrating the viability of the other on its own.  It therefore must also be shown that the thought of an organism can physically direct the matter that is integrally part of that organism.  Thus it is necessary to show that organisms can function by explaining how thought can direct matter.  This was outlined earlier during the discussion of the electromagnetic prehension of data from outside the organism and how it is internalized.  The generalized and analogized ideas are then used to create electrochemical impulses to the matter of the organism to effect movement.

Some have suggested a more incremental approach to produce life from non-life random process, based on intermediate stages or partial life.  With this approach it makes perfect sense to look at either the first step away from random process towards life or the most immediate step to life.

Producing self-replicating organic chemicals has been a subject of this approach.  Producing them  is no different than producing anything else that is mechanistic. The problem of going to life from a non life mechanism still remains.  Proponents of this methodology rely on the plausibility of laboratory chemical reactions to make their case for random process as a causative agent of life.  This is not a difficult standard to reach and ultimately does not decide anything.  Plausibility is not a level of scientific certainty.  It can only be a suggestion for further experimentation at best.

It also would make sense to explore the last step or something close to it before our current DNA world.  Some consider an RNA world an important part of this approach.   Though simpler than DNA, RNA world offers nothing more than the very low probability of DNA.  Other problems presented by ribosomes and the synchronized origin of life are still there.  RNA is less stable per number of pairs than DNA and a much smaller strand would introduce new problems of post life sustainability.  RNA world is of course speculative where DNA world is real.   If RNA world existed and were alive the problem of getting to RNA world not be any easier than getting to DNA world from pre-life random process.

A 14 billion year old universe coupled with an extremely low probability of producing life from physical matter in that time frame implies a cosmic force is needed to account for life.  An intervening theistic God must be central to the ontology associated with this situation.  The cosmic force would be required to make up for the insufficient amount of time 14 billion years allows for producing life from inert matter with this set of conditions.  While an intervening God may have more than one option to reach that goal, a simple way it could produce life in such an attenuated time period, would be to suspend normal probability and just select the needed outcomes.

A finite but very old universe that is old enough to be functionally infinite, it could be argued, would not require altering the probabilities for random process to produce the required DNA strands.  Such an old universe relies on the proposition that  an infinite amount of time available for a finite process to reach completion can solve any problems.  But because of the serial destruction of the primordial pools before each one of the necessary intermediate steps can be completed within the time available, this cannot happen.

Materialism thus fails to provide a plausible explanation for how life arises from pre-life conditions, that is solely from the physical motion and properties of particles; and other difficulties including the eventual simultaneity needed for the start of life.

The other alternative is that the universe has always existed and always will exist as a unification of will, matter and consciousness.   In an infinitely old universe the cosmic force has existed with the physical universe as the universal organism coextensive with the universe.

In the early 1980’s Fred Hoyle expressed his views of how low the probabilities were of life arising  from random process of matter.  Research in biology since  has done little to change those odds.  Though Hoyle zeroed in on the probabilities of producing proteins from amino acids, as it turned out, one of the less effective ways of making his case, the odds of producing DNA with sequences capable of sustaining life would have been far more effective.  The simplest life forms require a DNA strand of about 160,000 -200,000 pairs.  Each pair has one of 4 possibilities, denoted by nucleotides A, C, G and T. Each specific pair has a probability of a particular monomer occurring of one in four.    So by random process (before the origin of life) the probability of producing the same DNA strand as one needed by a most basic life form with 160,000 DNA pairs would be 4^160,000, or  ~ 10^96,000.

Many DNA strands are much longer going into the millions, with higher organisms such as human beings in the billions.  Even allowing for the fact there may be many different sequences of DNA, capable of sustaining initial life, subtracting for these and for the so called “junk DNA” leaves a very low probability, one in 4^100,000 to produce a viable DNA strand, or one in ~10^60,000.  Even if a billion sustainable life forms could be formed by such a random process that would reduce the odds from one in 10^60,000 only slightly to one in 10^59,991.  To put 10^60,000 in perspective it is equivalent to the number 1 followed by 30 pages of zeros.  Extremely long odds to even comprehend.

Those odds grow still longer given the  average life of DNA before its chemical bonds begin to break down in a non-life environment.  This  degradation along with the continual degradation of the primordial pools containing the nucleotide monomers make already long odds impossible to overcome.  The other precursors, proteins, organelles, etc., are all subject to the degradation of their chemical bonds as well in the prelife environment    The odds become overwhelming in comparison to the 10^80 atoms believed to exist in the universe.  When we take into account life can only exist at or near the surface of select planets this number drops  below 10^70 vs a probability of 1 in 10^60,000 just for the DNA.  This forms the basis of argument that the universe must be orders of magnitudes older than physics calculates.

(to be concluded 11/20/20

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