Blind chance or something more?


The theory of evolution continues to challenge many writers, sometimes with the focus on the perceived conflict with creationism, ie the religious ideas about the origin of the natural world.

The role of religion is, among other things, to create harmony in troubled minds and it doesn't even have to be entirely logical for that purpose. Therefore religion cannot be argued away by any reductionistic scientific argument.

Presently reductionistic science is the only kind.

Reductionistic science doesn't provide much comfort to unfortunate people, be it for the loss of some dear one or because they have had a serious accident.

Like religion music doesn't need to make sense outside of its proper context.

Very often the theory of evolution is put forward in an unreflecting manner by science writers who without any quantitative proof interpret the available data in terms of that theory. Without explaining that it is an essentially unproven working hypothesis.

Why is it that many scientists are so convinced about the validity of the theory?

Let us first improvise a definition of the theory.

All plants and animals have evolved over billions of years and the changes are completely explicable through known natural laws such as random microscopic events. There is no need for any creating agent such as God.

Natural selection is here not considered to be an issue, i e we consider as selfevident that such a mechanism is operating in all corners of life, albeit sometimes in extremely complex and roundabout manners.

Neither is time assumed to need any qualification, something that might be meaningful in a more sophisticated scheme of things. If one insists on the world being, say 10000 years old, some entirely different time concept than that assumed in established science would be necessary or some type of reinterpretational symbolism outside of present science.
Such a reinterpretation seems pretty farfetched, but anyone is free to have try.

Further we adhere to the established view that properties are transferred between generations through genetic inheritance.

Do note that we have only included known natural laws, the complement of which is all conceivable types of metaphysical ideas that cannot be refuted by present science.

Next, let us pick an example of something that might appeal to the scientific mind.

Namely the case of butterflies, whose colored wings have undergone changes in polluted environments where there was a differential advantage for butterflies with other colors than those that made sense before the pollution came about.

In such studies, there are normally no accurate estimates of the type and frequency of mutations assumed responsible for the new genes coming into prominence through natural selection. In popular accounts there is normally not a shred of quantitative evidence to prove that the necessary mutations exist and neither that the whole set of expected mutations exist.
None missing.

If accurate quantitative data exist it has at least not reached the popular writers or science programs in the media.

One unavoidable aspect of life is that you need to make priorities. Most scientific observers confronted with the butterfly probably assume that those mutations would work out correctly if anybody took the trouble to make the measurements. Such measurements would probably take many man-years in order to get a precise result. Since mutations are rare, relatively speaking, it would be necessary to process a very large number of individual insects.

As the speed and cost-efficiency of DNA analysis continues to improve such mass measurements may come within reach.

It would be advantageous if the mutations could be precisely correlated with their cause, such as with cosmic radiation. Maybe other sources of mutations would need to be studied separately to arrive at precise quantitative estimates of the probabilities.

If such accurate measurements are made and entered into the theoretical model, things must match, otherwise the theory is incomplete.

The expected ratio of unfavorable mutations must match the observed ratio.

We might refer to the example as a microevolutionary process.

For more complicated processes, such as the assumed evolutionary changes connecting chimpanzees and humans, experiments are not practical even disregarding ethical issues. This doesn't outrule the possibility of proving or disproving the matter scentifically.

In order to do that a very refined theoretical model would be needed. It is reasonable to demand that critical steps of the assumed evolutionary path could be shown to be compatible with existing types of favorable and unfavorable mutations.

As science progresses we will eventually know whether the changes seem to happen by blind chance or whether the quantitative data force us to accept that some kind of fine tuning incompletely understood by science is taking place.

At the present this is an undecided problem.

Let us look at the world of humanly made artifacts.

Example 1:Cars of two different models. Their DNA 'is' in the form of blueprints and other data stored in computers. The mutations take place in the constructors minds.

The reproduction from the blueprint takes place in plants designed for massproduction of clones. Maybe a little bit like bee-hives...?.

As a new model supersedes an old model the old blueprints are still saved and the computer memories still contain lots of data redundant to the user of a newer car model.

Example 2:Computer software. The DNA is the software

A large software project that has evolved over a long time usually contains old and unused parts. The mutations take place in the constructors minds. Reproduction by cloning.

It is conceivable that as computer programming evolves, random or environmentally driven changes of the actual software may become commonplace to improve the adaptability of the system.

Cars bear clear signs of the creator. Computer programs too but maybe a little less so.

Robot technology may gradually become less car-like and more life like.

Some branches of nanotechnology are predicted to result in self-reproducing mechanical but logically entirely lifelike forms.

Such lifeforms would have options appart from random mutations and would probably benefit from environmentally driven changes not completely analogous with biological evolution in the way it is presently understood. There would be an additional intelligence factor involved in this kind of environmentally driven evolution. Initially this intelligence might derive back to the creator of the nanotechnological system. Maybe later on it would have evolved so much that it would be impossible to know what the original intelligence was like or whether it existed at all.

At the present, mainstream science considers human beings to represent the latter kind of intelligence, assumed to have evolved by blind chance from inorganic matter billions of years ago and eventually evolving into selfreproducing macromolecules in some kind of primeval soup.

If it turns out that biological evolution seems to imply the existence of some kind of fine tuning in addition to blind chance one might see an analogy with the former type of system having some kind of intelligence factor built-in.

Such a mechanism could be non-local. That is it would not be some kind of previously unnoticed building-block of living matter or unnoticed function of previously known building blocks. Rather it would derive from global boundary conditions and maybe modifying the frequency distribution of mutations in a seemingly strange/intelligent manner.

If teleological mechanisms play a role it would almost certainly have a non-local type of influence.

Such phenomena belong to some kind of holistic science, presently out of reach, but possibly partially implied in quantum theory.

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