Research on Intelligent Design

To put together scientific advances from the perspective of Intelligent Design.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Biological Function and the Genetic Code are Interdependent

Oyvind Albert Voie. Biological function and the genetic code are interdependent. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, 2005.

For strictly educational purposes we present the next excerpts:

From the Abstract:
"... Due to the abstract realm of function and sign systems, life is not a subsystem of natural laws. This suggests that our reason is limited in respect to solve the problem of the origin of life and that we are left taking life as an axiom."

Key words: Self-reproduction, origin of life, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, emergence, irreducible complexity.

From the Full Text:

1. Gödel formulas are subsystems of the mind

"... Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem. Somewhat simplified... states:
"In any consistent formalization of mathematics that is sufficiently strong to axiomatize the natural numbers -- that is, sufficiently strong to define the operations that collectively define the natural numbers -- one can construct a true (!) statement that can be neither proved nor disproved within that system itself [1]."

"...related theorems [are] such as Turing’s “Halting problem” [3] and Chaitin’s constant W, which is the halting probability [4]."

"Turing’s halting problem parallels essential incompleteness as formulated by Nagel and Newman [5],
“Gödel showed that Principia, or any other system within which arithmetic can be developed, is essentially incomplete. In other words, given any consistent set of arithmetical axioms, there are true mathematical statements that cannot be derived from the set...”

"A more down to earth formulation is that it is always possible to construct or design such statements..."

"... That the rules of inference, like the laws of motion and the rules of mathematics, are larger than Homo sapiens, and we just progressively discovered them..."

"...Another interesting example of “stand-alone formulas” is something called “fixed point” (a function that yields itself). This self-reproducing function cannot copy itself directly (because it cannot read itself), but needs to be given a passive copy of it [7]."

2. Computer programs and machines are subsystems of the mind

"... a presentation of time, can be realized by different physical processes, such as, atomic, electronic, mechanical or water movement [1]."

... Polanyi writes:

"Machines can go wrong and break down - something that does not happen to laws of physics and chemistry. In fact, a machine can be smashed and the laws of physics and chemistry will go on... Physics and chemistry cannot reveal the practical principles of design or co-ordination which are the structure of the machine [10]."

"... the structure of the machine, which harnesses the laws of physics and chemistry for the purposes the machine is designed to serve. The cause to a machine’s functionality is found in the mind of the engineer and nowhere else."

3. The interdependency of biological function and sign systems

"In life there is interdependency between biological function and sign systems. To secure the transmission of biological function through time, biological function must be stored in a “time-independent” sign system [11]. Only an abstract sign based language can store the abstract information necessary to build functional biomolecules. In the same manner the very definition of the genetic code depends upon biological function. This is the origin of life problem and it penetrates deeper than just the fact that organisms observed today have such a design."

"The replication of machines seemed for many years an unsolvable task due to the problem of “self-insight”. Von Neumann believed that life was ultimately based on logic, and so there should be a logic construct that should be able to support the reproduction as observed in life."

"... to employ representations or names of objects, which code can be smaller than the objects themselves and can indeed be contained in that object. Von Neumann’s abstract machine consisted of two central elements: a Universal Computer and a Universal Constructor [12]. The Universal Constructor builds another Universal Constructor based on the directions contained in the Universal Computer."

"When finished, the Universal Constructor copies the Universal Computer and hands the copy to its descendant. As a model of a self-replicating system it has its counterpart in life where the Universal Computer is represented by the instructions contained in the genes, while the Universal Constructor is represented by the cell and its machinery. In order to replicate, the necessity of a symbolic self-reference is a general premise in logic."

"The function of biological bodies is determined by their three-dimensional structure and how this structure relates to a whole."

"These constraints [to organize biological systems] require the categorical distinction between the machine that reads the instructions and the description of the machine [the instructions themselves] [13]."

"Von Neumann observes that there is a parallel to this logically necessary distinction between symbol and dynamics in measurement processes in physics. Here the function of measurement is necessarily irreducible to the dynamics of the measuring device."

"... measurement and control are inverse processes. In other words measurement transforms physical states to symbols in memory, while memory-stored controls transform symbols to physical states [14]."

"Von Neumann made no suggestion as to how these symbolic and material functions in life could have originated. He felt, "That they should occur in the world at all is a miracle of the first magnitude." [The Axiom of Life] [13]."

4. Life is not a subsystem of the laws of nature

"Functional parts are only meaningful under a whole, in other words it is the whole that gives meaning to its parts."

"... This recursive dependency really seals off the system from a deterministic bottom up causation. The top down causation constitutes an irreducible structure."

"In algorithmic information theory there is another concept of irreducible structures. If some phenomena X (such as life) follows from laws there should be a compression algorithm H(X) with much less information content in bits than X [17]."

"Biological function and sign systems, resemble the complexity of computer programs..."

"... a real law should be something with much less information than the data it is intended to predict [18, 17]. This shows that Mechanism cannot explain symbol grounding, but the best it can do is to make representations of representations ad infinitum."

"Polanyi argued that;
“since the structure of life is a set of boundary conditions that harness the laws of physics and chemistry their (the boundary condition's) structure cannot be defined in terms of the laws that they harness. Nor can a vocabulary determine the content of a text (a boundary condition on the vocabulary), and so on” [20].

"Since biological function or “boundary conditions” are crucial also in replication, life seems not to have evolved from inanimate matter."

"It is interesting to see how widespread the belief in randomness is as a scientific explanation among scientists. When it comes to the origin of life many have settled with a theory that goes something like this: "Isn't a cell just a cluster of molecules organized in a specific way? Given enough time or "trials" it should be possible for a pond of random chemical reactions and polymerizations to end up with something that reproduce." Some scientists have also done some efforts to calculate the probability for the event [21, 19]."

"The truth is that randomness is used in a manipulative way to a problem where it doesn’t even apply. It is important that we do not throw away logic and the laws of physics even though we introduce randomness. Randomness is not equivalent with miracle, but must take place in some organized manner."

"Consider our model for life consisting of symbols (genes) and the cell machinery (proteins and ribozymes). As mentioned above, there is no information without an interpreter suggesting that there is no message coming from the genes without the cell machinery in place that interprets the genes."

"... In addition there are control mechanisms for protein folding. The production of proteins presupposes a control mechanism involving the genes that secures the entire sequence of amino acids before the folding takes place."

"Random polymerization may at best produce small peptides before the folding would interfere with further elongation."

"This leaves us with two mutually dependent categories of chemical structures or events (symbols and cell machinery), which does not fit with the axioms of probability that only consider one-way dependency. Thus, the [unguided random] structure of life has probability zero."

"... the problem of quantum measurements could indeed be related to the same kind of logic as in the origin of life; the problem of “self measurement” [25]."

6. Conclusion

"Life express both function and sign systems, which indicates that it is not a subsystem of the universe, since chance and necessity cannot explain sign systems, meaning, purpose, and goals [26]."

"... to record into physicality the nonphysical choices of mind."

"It is therefore very natural that many scientists believe that life is rather a subsystem of some Mind greater than humans ..."

"... we are left taking life as an axiom..."

"... Bohr suggested in a lecture published in Nature [27] “life is consistent with, but undecidable from physics and chemistry” [19]."


At ARN Albert Voie wrote New article on the origin of life

One reader declared,

"I would call this an Irreducible Complexity argument for life's structure. Would you agree?"

Dr. Voie's response,

"It is indeed Irreducible Complexity. It is irreducible complexity of a kind that cannot be easily met with ad hoc Darwinian intermediates. It is also an established formal irreducible complexity."

Salvador Cordova stated, regarding Dr. Voie's work,

"... is some of the most sensible offerings on the origin of life that I've read in a long time."

Dr. Voie's reply,

"I would not have written it if Steve Meyer had not encouraged me to do so. Dave Abel further encouraged me to submit it to a scientific journal."

Salvador's further comment,

"I understand Dave Abel was a reviewer of Yockey's book, and I very much enjoyed Trevors and Abel's work. I'm glad he was of encouragement to you."

"I have for two years lobbied on these discussion boards that the architecture of Turing Machines and von Neumann automata are among the most important considerations to the problem of life's origin. Few people appreciated, nor understood what was evident to individuals like yourself.

With Harvard anticipated to spend $50,000,000 (the average american family makes around $75,000 a year), it seems the world of OOL continues to go down the route of finding the answer to life's origin through chemistry and physics. Your paper should give them pause...."

"I very much appreciated your points here, "life is consistent with, but undecidable from physics and chemistry” (N. Bohr) and "Von Neumann made no suggestion as to how these symbolic and material functions in life could have originated. He felt, "That they should occur in the world at all is a miracle of the first magnitude." "

Other researcher declared,

"Albert, it looks like we use the same kind of reasoning, only from a different perspective. But I (AdR) uses it to conclude that the current approach should therefore be replaced with another one, I suggest engineering principles.

You seem to conclude from the irreducibly complex explanation of current sciencific theories that Life is inherently irreducible complex. A little bit preliminary maybe."

Before, Dr. Voie commented to him,

"You should have a look at Von Neumann's calculations regarding the minimal complexity of a reproducing system. I did not do it myself, but it would be of relevance if your starting point is a very simple system."

Stay tuned at ARN for such interesting topic, live from Oslo, Norway!


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