> Aine, I don't claim to have all the answers, but
> it's just too much of a stretch for me to have
> that much blind faith that the vast complexity of
> DNA is a product of random events that bucked the
> 2nd Law by inserting more energy and
> organization into the system. I'm having trouble
> reconciling the degree to which purely natural
> biological processes would allow entropy to take a
> back seat, especially if life is the "next step"
> in the "evolving universe". I'd like to hear more
> of what you're thinking regarding DNA precursors
> that still were able to sustain life.
I don't have all the answers either and I'm not a physicist. BUT...I don't understand how you come to the conclusion that DNA dumps more energy into the system. When the double strand is formed, heat is released as per Law 2. The heat released increases the entropy in the universe more than the decrease in the system.
Metabolism produces excess heat and excretion of high entropy packets. So we maintain our low entropy state through dumping high energy waste products into our environment.
As for DNA precursors, I'm sure you're familiar with the RNA World hypothesis? The interplay between DNA, RNA and proteins pretty much guarantees that life didn't start out using those three macromolecules, but started out based on a simpler, less complex system, one that was probably based on nucleotides. RNA can do all that DNA can and more--but DNA is more stable.
> And if life truly is the next step in the
> evolution of the universe, then we might expect
> more evidence of life out there that demonstrates
> that trend (the single data point of Earth can't
> be used to represent a statistical trend). I
> realize we've barely touched the surface of
> exploring that possibility, but we do not yet have
> evidence to support the notion that life is an
> immutable property of the universe. And if the Big
> Bang model is real, the universe appears to be in
> contraction mode which could arguably mean the
> universe is winding down ("in reversal"?) and not
> evolving further.
There's no evidence that the universe was created by an intelligent designer, but some people seem to accept that wholeheartedly.
It's probably more like the Big Inflation, but I don't see any evidence that the universe is in contraction mode. If it's contracting, how do you explain Hubble's red shifts? How do you explain the fact that every galaxy, with the exception of a few close to us, are moving away from us. And they're not just moving away. The further away they are, the faster they're moving.
How do you explain that?
> It's not that I believe life "must have been"
> created, it's that I can't fathom that such
> complexity and defiance of entropy could be a
> random process that established itself by pure
> coincidence...or by a deity without requiring any
> scientific principles to account for the cause and
> effect. To me, it's akin to claiming that a chimp
> will eventually write perfect Shakespeare if left
> in a room with enough time, pencils, and paper.
But it's not in defiance of the laws. That being said, it's not pure coincidence, either. The stuff of life is chemistry and physics. See RNA World above. Every interaction and evolution of pre-RNA World into DNA follows the laws of chemistry and physics. There's no getting around that.
> What seems contradictory to me is that the ID camp
> is trying to apply scientific principles to the
> process while the God camp is happy to simply have
> faith without the hard work of explaining how it
> all actually happened. So yes, attributing it all
> to an unknown Godly miracle is indeed passing the
> buck in the sense that God is not
> subject to the same burden of proof that the ID
> camp is attempting to invoke to explain those
> processes that rely so much on negative entropy.
The negentropy (negative entropy) in a biological context keeps the entropy of the organism low. As Brillouin says, a living system imports negentropy and stores it. Put another way, the order created by life as it undergoes metabolism (cell division, etc.) is more than compensated for in the heat (entropy) it releases. Don't forget, entropy can only increase or remain constant, never decrease. Organisms take in free energy in the form of nutrients (calories) or sunlight, and they return an equal amount of heat and therefore entropy.
Your dilemma is ultimately resolved by Nobel Peace Prize winning theoretical chemist John Scales Avery, who says that the paradox is resolved "in the information content of the Gibbs free energy that enters the biosphere from outside sources." (Information Theory and Evolution, 2012).
> That's news to me. What are the clearly delineated
> limitations of magic?
I was being sarcastic.
> Requiring rules or parameters for the intelligent
> designer but not for God is a double standard.
Ah, but ultimately, the designer is God. The ID crowd just won't come out and say it.
> And I'm not ignoring the dilemma of "who created
> the intelligent designer". I'm only trying to
> understand how such processes that we see all
> around us today could have been created. Sure,
> it's easy to just kick back and take the
> unfathomable complexity and organization of living
> systems and simply claim they appeared magically
> through divine intervention, but it's another
> thing to actually envision what that means in
> practical terms. Unless one believes Adam and Eve
> did simply suddenly appear one day, fully formed
> with all their organs and personality intact, and
> complete with their own portable ocean (blood) to
> supply them with proper nutrients and waste
> removal, and ready to self-maintain through
> procreative (with whom?!) and healing processes,
> then we need to account for how it all came about.
> I just think attributing it all to the magic hand
> of God is the lazy way out. I can't help but think
> that passing it all off to God is simply a ploy to
> relieve us from the hard work of understanding
> what actually happened.
Okay, but if God created the complexity that is the universe, how complex must he be himself? Surely nothing that complex could come about by random coincidence. Therefore, he must have been created.
> I may be wrong and may eventually come around, but
> I don't see a way to that path any time soon. The
> process is too enormous with profound consequences
> to handwave it all to an unidentified deity
> without understanding what's entailed in that
And that's just it. They haven't identified the designer. That's one of the shortcomings from a scientific standpoint.
> And by the way, this is not about whether you or I
> "believe in God". It's about what specific aspects
> of the universe are attributed to God. The claim
> that God just decided to create it all one day is
> extremely defeatist, and I believe it cuts short
> the true beauty and richness of the universe.
I get it, no offense taken.