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Chaos and Evolution

  1. Jan 29, 2004 #1
    I've been thinking about the development of life on this planet as seen by the scientific community vs. biblical creationist accounts, specifically Intelligent Design or Creator theories.

    Upon reading the book Chaos, by James Gleick, and other books, it has become apparent to me that chaotic processes are everywhere. Simply looking out the window, everything you lay eyes on exhibits fractal patterns, the signiture of the chaotic process. Even man-made objects, when viewed from certain microscopic frames of reference exhibit fractal patterns. (i.e., the hood of a car looks smooth, but on a microscopic level it is bumpy and fractal)

    It seems plausible to me that at some point in the earth's history, some chemical reaction occurred, and formed simple amino acids. These simple amino acids began to reproduce, or reiterate upon themselves over and over. Very small differences in any of these iterations would eventually lead to divergent strains of the amino acids.

    Some of those strains' structures would be well suited to their enviornment and would continue reproducing, and others would not, and would die out.

    Over a period of billions of years, as the reiterative process has continued to evolve, these amino acids have developed into cellular organisms with greater and greater complexity. So today, you can look out the window and be astounded by the vast complexity of the world outside.

    To me this is a much more plausible and defensible history of life than the absurd, contradiction-riddled biblical scriptures.

    Are there any serious scientific inquiries into this line of thinking? I know that Chaos theory is often viewed as a red-headed stepchild by classical physicists and other scientists. Yet this idea seems so powerful. What do you think?

    btw I hope this is in the right forum.
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  3. Jan 29, 2004 #2


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    I certainly think that the part of Chais described by "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" has played its part in evolution, and O believe that work has been done on that.

    A quick google on chaos and evolution found a bunch of musings and a couple of technical papers of which this one on virus evolution looked interesting.
  4. Jan 29, 2004 #3
    I'm not quite sure what you're asking. You describe natural selection, and then you ask if there are any scientific inquiries into it? Or are you really asking how chaos theory relates to the theory of evolution?

    Fractals rule! Does anyone here like Fractint but me?

    on another note -
    Call me ignorant - but I've never found any contradictions in the Bible. If it's not too much trouble, could you list maybe 5 or so?
  5. Jan 29, 2004 #4
    Yes, I was asking about the role of Chaos in the process of evolution.

    Contradictions? How about 1,119:

    Contradictions in the Bible
  6. Jan 29, 2004 #5


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    Googling unveils as an example:

    http://www.santafe.edu/~jpc/EvDynAbstracts.html [Broken]
    Ok, rather jargon heavy, but...

    Biblical contradictions? Depends on your reading of it. I listed over 400 independently once.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  7. Jan 29, 2004 #6
    So when you were thinking about how life evolved on this planet, your choices were current natural selection theories intermingled with chaos theory VS. bible stories?

    Doesn't seem like a real honest inquiry to me.
  8. Jan 29, 2004 #7
    I never claimed that those were the only possible choices, just that I was thinking particularly about those. If you have other plausible theories I'm open.
  9. Jan 29, 2004 #8
    Oh Ok. Your posts seemed as if it was either one or the other.

    Unfortunately, I don't have any pet theories per se, but I know that there are many people who look at the world they exist in and cannot fathom it originating from mindless physical laws. These people may or may not have anything to do with the bible.
  10. Jan 30, 2004 #9
    I must commend you for taking the time to examine something before writing it off as nonsense. However, I hope your list is more compelling than the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, whose link was provided by scott. The only thing compelling about their 'contradictions' is the sheer number of them. When I began to look closer, I found that they showed no professionalism in reading the Bible. They ignored basic principles of literary interpretation, forgetting the existence of idiom, hyperbole, symbolism, etc. One sentence or even half a sentence read without looking at the author or speaker's intent was seen as enough to justify a 'contradiction'. I don't want to hog the forum, so if you're interested, look at the attached text file, in which I think I've done a halfway decent job of refuting the first 25 'contradictions' they list.

    The Bible must be read as you would read any work of literature.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2007
  11. Jan 30, 2004 #10
    The following article is put out by a Christian research group, and I'd like to know where the flaw is in their reasoning.

    Probability of Protein Synthesis
  12. Jan 30, 2004 #11
    Ok, I will admit that a lot of those "contradictions" are taken out of context and even I don't agree with many of them. However, Pseudonym, your explanations in refuting bring up a point.

    Presumably, its important to God that we read His scriptures, as they contain basically instructions for us on how to live and behave, what to believe, etc .. and its very important to God that we follow Him and His word. Why then did he make the Bible so that it had to be "interpreted"? The very fact that we have to argue over what biblical words and sentences mean shows how unclear it is. And if you need proof that its unclear, simply look at the plethora of Christian sects. Their brands of Christianity all have different central themes and different rules by which members are to follow. I'm quite sure they all can recite biblical passages in support of their particluar claims. They can't all be right. Was God trying to confuse us?

    Any technical writer will tell you if you write a set of instructions, for say, a toy train, you have to make them as simple and clear as possible so that the widest possible audience will understand their meaning. And yet the Bible, the most important set of instructions of all is so vague and ambigous, that we argue over what particular words and passages mean. Why? If God really wanted everyone to understand what the Bible was trying to say he certainly could have made it more clear. He can do anything he wants after all.
    Some people have trouble reading a stop sign. Why did God make the Bible so that its lessons have to be "interpreted" and understood from reading between the lines?

    Then you have things like physics equations.

    If I give you a set of facts, say a ball, of a certain weight, a certain diameter is thrown into the air, at a certain velocity, in a certain direction, etc .. ask any physicist exactly where and when it will land, and you will get the same answer within a significant number of digits every time.

    So God made physics so we can easily reduce it to equations and agree on simple equations and what they mean. But the lessons in the Bible, which I'd wager God sees as more important are as clear as mud. Ask 100 people what a Bible passage means and you'll get 100 different answers. Pseudonym, your refutations are a perfect example of that.

    Anyway I've rambled on long enough. Thanks for the replies.
  13. Jan 30, 2004 #12

    "All balk when asked to reverse-engineer a cell in the laboratory in spite of the fact that laboratories rival nature and reverse engineering is orders of magnitude easier than engineering an original design."

    Chaotic processes cannot be "reverse engineered" you don't know where the process was when it started, you don't know where its going to end up. There is no "smooth curve" to follow backwards or forwards.

    As for the statistical arguments, This is statistical foolishness, you cannot use probability to argue backwards. The probability that a student in a classroom has a particular birthday is 1/365; arguing this way, the probability that everyone in a class of 50 would have the birthdays they do is (1/365)50, and yet there the class sits.
  14. Jan 30, 2004 #13


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    Tick the typical errors:

    1. Forgets whole concept of evolution by assuming a specific goal to attain. Evolution is not trying to make an exact item, but the general tendency of things to move along the survivaliablility gradient.

    2. Uses an absolutely spurious example with the ink. Why not talk of polymerisation, for example?

    3. Assumes amino acids join randomly. They do not, and certain conditions are known to aid their synthesis into certain types. Evolution is driven by chance yes, as life is driven by random reactions in the sun. But it is not random.

    4. Misquotes Dawkins. Also tries to misrepresent the biological majority by characterising them as Dawkinists.

    5. Does not realise possibilities of additional forms of life, and possibility of additional universes etc.

    6. Failed to note that Dawkins immediately followed up that statement with the proposition that biological proteins do not spontaneously form, but undergoes chemical evolution. No minimal cell.

    7. The entire thing is refuted, because proteins DO evolve and have been observed to evolve.
  15. Jan 30, 2004 #14
    regarding God - If God is infinite, who are we, finite and corrupt, to try to guess His motives? However, I will say this. The world is not a perfect, Euclidean type of place. The Bible provides basic principles for life, example cases, and tips for application. What more could you want?

    Man is corrupt, so he will put a spin on things to suit his own purposes. But I think the main reason there are so many interpretations of Scripture is that people aren't actually sitting down and READING it. One man takes one verse, puts his own perspective on it, frames the universe by it, people follow him, and wham! you've got a cult or sect or whatever you want to call it.

    Also I might suggest that the Bible isn't as complicated as you make it sound. Part of the problem comes when people assume that an Old English translation of it is somehow more holy. A more modern translation is easier to read and understand. but anyway. . .
  16. Jan 30, 2004 #15
    As for the typical birthday example: You are correct that the probability of any configuration of birthdays occurring is 1. But a protein is not just atoms in any configuration. Look at this rendering of hemoglobin - http://www.math.smith.edu/~vvouille/GAL/1vhbsol.gif [Broken]
    A protein is a complex structure optimized to perform a task. It is dynamic. Its structure may change when it is involved in some operation. It seems implausible to me that the first proteins would randomly spring from a mixture of the right molecules. However, if 'chemical evolution' takes place. . .

    On protein evolution -
    I looked for online examples of protein evolution. I came across the outline for a lecture at Duke on molecular evolution. It provided one example of molecular evolution at the top of the page.
    Molecular Evolution
    The example given, however, did not show that molecular evolution had actually been observed. One enzyme with different amino acid configurations across species was taken as enough to prove that molecular evolution had, in fact, taken place. If someone could enlighten me by providing an observed example I would appreciate it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  17. Jan 30, 2004 #16


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    Proteins are, in the first instance, produced by RNA, which in turn is produced by DNA. So if you want protein to evolve, you have to have RNA and DNA evolve. By the same token you don't have to have hemoglobin create itself out of nothing, since its amino acid backbone is specified at the DNA level, and the cell has machinery for assembling the molecule..
  18. Jan 31, 2004 #17
    I used to be in exactly the same position you're in, Pseudonym, and I, too, scoffed at Biblical "Contradictions." The problem is simple: Most atheists don't know jack about religion. There are contradictions in the Bible, but you have to have a thorough and open mind to actually find them, or, better, start off as a Christian to begin with.

    Here is one of the important contradictions that I am aware of. I am quoting it from Hawk's Book of Millennium, and I personally checked it (and all the others he reports) while I was still a Christian. Hawk writes using the NIV.

    Consider first the genealogy of Jesus which is given in the gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1, verses 6 through 16:

    1. Jesus
    2. Joseph
    3. Jacob
    4. Matthan
    5. Eleazar
    6. Eluid
    7. Akim
    8. Zadok
    9. Azor
    10. Eliakim
    11. Abuid
    12. Zerubbabel
    13. Shealtiel
    14. Jeconiah
    15. Josiah
    16. Amon
    17. Manasseh
    18. Hezekiah
    19. Ahaz
    20. Jotham
    21. Uzziah
    22. Jehoram
    23. Jehosephat
    24. Asa
    25. Abijah
    26. Rehoboam
    27. Solomon
    28. David

    Matthew is very specific about the precise number of generations from Jesus to David and Abraham, saying in verse 17 "Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to Christ." Now consider the genealogy given in Luke chapter 3, from verse 23 to verse 31:

    1. Jesus
    2. Joseph
    3. Heli
    4. Matthat
    5. Levi
    6. Melki
    7. Jannai
    8. Joseph
    9. Mattathia
    10. Amos
    11. Nahum
    12. Esli
    13. Naggai
    14. Maath
    15. Mattathias
    16. Semein
    17. Josech
    18. Joda
    19. Joanan
    20. Rhesa
    21. Zerubbabel
    22. Shealtiel
    23. Neri
    24. Melki
    25. Addi
    26. Cosam
    27. Elmadam
    28. Er
    29. Joshua
    30. Eliezer
    31. Jorim
    32. Matthat
    33. Levvi
    34. Simeon
    35. Judah
    36. Joseph
    37. Jonam
    38. Eliakim
    39. Melea
    40. Menna
    41. Mattatha
    42. Nathan
    43. David

    The two lists diverge immediately upon leaving Joseph. Each traces a completely different set of ancestors who differ from each other not only in their names, but in their numbers.

    This is clearly not a problem of literary interpretation. These lists are not idiomatic. They are obviously not examples of hyperbole or symbolism. Bear in mind that if there were any way this contradiction, and the others in the Bible of which I am now aware, could be resolved, I would still be a Christian right now.

    What you choose to do with this information is entirely up to you. If you would like to see more contradictions, I will provide them for you.

  19. Jan 31, 2004 #18
    I'd be interested to know whether anyone has analysed the current scientific model for contradictions. It certainly isn't free of them.

    There doesn't seem to be any argument that biological/evolutionary systems are dynamic, even non-linear. The question is why are they dynamic. It's not as obvious as it seems.

    “There’s a price top pay in becoming more complex; the system is more likely to break, for instance. We need a reason why biological systems become more complex through time. It must be very simple and it must be very deep.” Stuart Kauffman
  20. Jan 31, 2004 #19
    I see this response alot and I don't understand why people can't see the obvious. The best example is a lottery. Whether something is statistically significant depends on the question you ask. The question "What is the chance that I will win the lottery?" has an answer of 1 in 75,000,000. Not very good odds. BUT.... if we ask the question "What is the chance that someone will win the lottery?" the answer is closer to 100%. Because of this fact, no one that wins the lottery can claim a miracle based on the 1 in 75M odds.

    The birthday example is just like this. These 50 students all must have a birthday. There's 100% chance of that.

    None of these examples resemble the topic of abiogensis.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2004
  21. Jan 31, 2004 #20
    why is it so important to debate how we got here?

    we ARE here.

    traditional religious groups have an economic and power base to protect. science has it's need to break everthing down. when these arguments are viewed from that perspective they lose any value within 'philosophy'.

    let's use modern science to understand and prepare for tomorrow. sorry, the bible isn't very useful. just a work of literature and should be put on the book shelf. god doesn't care. he just wants us to be the best we can be in the present moment.

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