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Wandering Drunks and General Lawlessness in Biology: Lindell Bromham - - Biology and Philosophy 26 6: McShea and Robert N. Millstein - - Science Leonore Fleming - - Evolutionary Biology 39 1: Review of Daniel W. Brandon, Biology's First Law. Systems Biology Reveals Biology of Systems. Turner - - Biology and Philosophy 24 3: Gray - - Biology and Philosophy 20 Introduction to Complexity and Complex Systems.

Siegal - - Biological Theory 10 1: Increases in Environmental Entropy Demand Evolution. A Comparison of the Immune and Neural Systems. Silverstein - - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 57 4: Added to PP index Total downloads 1 1,, of 2,, Recent downloads 6 months 1 , of 2,, How can I increase my downloads? Creationists and advocates of intelligent design think that God did it. While there is evidence that God exists free will, finite beings , there is little evidence supporting this theory.

There is no evidence supporting the theory of natural selection. This theory only explains how giraffes got long necks, not how giraffes evolved from bacteria. The reason is that a giraffe is so much more complex than a bacterium and 3. Not enough is known about the innovations natural selection acts upon for humans to understand how evolution occurred in so short a time.

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Evolutionary biologists generally speak of "adaptive evolution" in connection with natural selection. Atheists, creationists, and advocates of intelligent design are responsible for the misinformation that natural selection is intended as an explanation for the complexity of life.

Artificial Life, Open-Ended Evolution, and the Origins of Biological Complexity

The author of the following quote has a Ph. Pinker is Steve Pinker Ph. Notice that Charles Darwin Ph. Indeed, it was the enormous complexity of language that made is hard to imagine not merely how it had evolved but that it had evolved at all. The little organ is composed of many specialized parts, each delicately calibrated to perform its role in conjunction with the others.

It includes the cornea, Even Darwin said that it was hard to imagine how the eye could have evolved. Over the eons, those small changes accreted and eventually resulted in the eye as we know it. One is adaptation, the marvelous fit between organism and environment.

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The other two are diversity and complexity, the huge variety of living forms today and the enormous complexity of their internal structure. In November, , the American Journal of Physics published an article "Entropy and evolution" that includes an absurd equation combining thermodynamics and probability theory to prove that evolution does NOT violate the second law of thermodynamics. The article was probably written in good faith because there are a lot of books and articles about evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. According to the second law of thermodynamics, a gas will fill up the entire container it is in because this is the most probable distribution of non-interacting molecules.

In other words, nature goes from knowledge to lack of knowledge about the location of molecules, order to disorder, complexity to simplicity, or low entropy to high entropy. When shuffling a deck of playing cards the chance of the deck getting back into its original factory order is about one in 10, vigintillion 67 zeros. I mention cards because physicists label the molecules in a gas No. Notice that there are almost four times as many zeros in this number as in the time for evolution.

In trying to understand evolution, biologists use as a model for a protein, not a deck of playing cards, but the English sonnet. A protein has four levels of complexity, but the primary structure has hundreds of amino acids and each amino acid has to be in exactly the right location for the protein to work. As there are 20 amino acids and 26 letters, biologists calculate how long it would take a computer to generate a sonnet by the random selection of letters. Resolving Darwin's Dilemma , pages Kirschner and Gerhart only report a calculation simulating natural selection for a the phrase "to be or not to be.

The primary structure of a protein doesn't even begin to describe the complexity of life. The dozens of proteins that make the flagellum of a bacterium rotate is a static kind of complexity, like the primary structure of a protein. By contrast, genetic engineering is the ability of cells to detect changes in the environment and create new proteins in response to the change.

The ability of a fertilized animal egg to develop into a multicellular animal is another example of complexity.


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The instinctual behavior of animals and the knowledge of grammar that human infants are born with are other "sources of wonder," as the authors express it. The only connection between evolution and the second law of thermodynamics is that evolutionary biologists and physicists both perform probability calculations. The AJP article singles out for criticism the creationist Henry Morris for saying evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. The article argues that the second law only applies to closed systems without mentioning the criterion that it only applies to non-interacting particles.

The second law of thermodynamics does not apply to very large numbers of hydrogen atoms in outer space because the force of gravity causes stars to be formed from these atoms. A living organism is anything but a system of non-interacting particles. This is the real reason evolution does not violate the second law. With the goal of understanding evolution, the earth is a closed system.

It is true that the sun bathes the earth with its energy. But energy from the sun generally heats things up and makes them more disordered, not less disordered. This is the way the McShae and Brandon explain that the complexity of life has nothing to do with the second law of thermodynamics: We advise readers against this, for their own safety. We are concerned that on the other side of that leap there may be no firm footing. Indeed, there may be an abyss. First, we think the foundation of the ZFEL [zero-force evolutionary law] lies in probability theory, not in the second law or any other law of physics.

And second, our notions of diversity and complexity differ fundamentally from entropy, in that entropy, unlike diversity and complexity is not a level-related concept.

One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I found this book to present an interesting argument, but I was continually bothered by one of their basic conclusions related to the implications of random variation among independent groups. The authors assert that among two different groups whose components vary randomly and independently from each other, the two groups will be become more and more distinct from each other, on average, over time. I don't believe statistical theory supports this assertion. For example, two piles of leaves a favorite analogy of the authors are ft.

Random wind patterns may distribute the leaves in each pile randomly and the variation in the leaf movements are independent between the two piles. Over time, the both piles will be obliterated but if the wind patterns are truly random than the leaves in the first pile will, on average, still be ft. If the authors do not consider average distinctness of one group of leaves or cells from another to be measured in this way, they do not explicitly describe how they would propose to measure it differently.

I believe the issue would remain nonetheless. The book is not long, but it is dense, and the authors are what an old professor of mine would call "good philosophers" -- they tell you what they are doing as they do it. The lines of reasoning are easy to follow, and examples, objections, and distinctions are offered in due course to make sure readers keep the discussion well sorted in their minds. The ZFEL, briefly put, is a hierachical and probabilistic explanation for the widespread observation that organisms tend to diversify and become more complex over time.

The authors argue the ZFEL is the best null hypothesis in biological situations, and they point to a change in how we formulate biological explanation. They discuss both relevant empirical and philosophical points in a wide-ranging but deceptively simple book.

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Considering, as Dobzhansky put it, that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, it will come as no surprise that "biology's first law" is an evolutionary law. It may come as a somewhat greater surprise that the ZFEL is distinct from natural selection.

Here is how the authors articulate the ZFEL: As paint flakes off, lichen appears, etc. Typically, we speak of complexity when examining "down" to a smaller scale, such as cellular machinery, whereas we speak of diversity when looking "up" to a wider scale, such as an ecosystem. Both, however, refer to the number of constituents of some entity -- both are hierarchical. And anyone who's ever seen or made a phylogeny should recognize that evolution is manifestly hierarchical. Thus the authors point to evidence for the ZFEL, arguing "[t]he ZFEL is supported by an enormous amount of evidence, at every temporal and physical scale, at every level of organization, across biology.

It is helpful to contrast the zero-force expectation of the ZFEL against the Newtonian zero-force expectation. The nature of inertia dictates that an unperturbed object maintains its trajectory -- that, absent some additional force, an entity at rest remains the same. The ZFEL says that we should expect an entity to be different or differentiated at some later time, as a null expectation, in the absence of any intervening forces. It is also helpful to contrast the ZFEL against a pair of well regarded biological mechanisms: The ZFEL subsumes these mechanisms with an important hierachical and probabilistic notion of respective randomness.

The Tendency for Diversity and Complexity to Increase in Evolutionary Systems

Here is how the authors explain their position: Take a snapshot of all of the people on a crowded city street corner at some moment in the middle of the day. Then find these same people 10 minutes later. Find them again 20 minutes later, and then 30 minutes later. With the passage of time, they will become increasingly dispersed, or in other words, the variance in their locations will increase.

And this is true even if the trajectory of each person is the deterministic outcome of his or her plans for that afternoon. One is on her way to her office. Another is walking his dog. A third is going grocery shopping. To the extent those motivations and plans are different from and independent of each other, the individuals movements are random with respect to each other.

And dispersion at the higher level - the greater variance in location of the group - is the expected outcome of randomness in the with-respect-to sense at the lower level. This is the principle underlying the ZFEL. Thus although the ZFEL is a formalization of conventional data, the novelty of the ZFEL is in interpreting biological causation as essentially probabilistic and hierachical. Now, to be sure, biology has long grappled with both hierarchy and probability.