Friday, July 17, 2015

The Origins of Life: What is Life?

Lecture three goes over the difficulties of coming up with a clean definition of "Life" that separates the living from the non-living, while keeping in mind that there is the formerly living category or images of the formerly living as would be the case of fossils.  This is one area where all parties can agree there is a problem.  Helpfully, one of the definitions includes a notion of life being "that which can undergo Darwinian Evolution", which tries to achieve a definition of life by invoking a term which intentionally isn't defined.

Professor Hazen reiterated the method he intends to employ as he considers origins.  He intends to proceed step by step identifying the various parts of life and then considering how they might come about.  My reaction is that this is exactly the method that I use for doing complex engineering software projects.  Initially I can't see my way to the goal, so I start out by identifying a few steps that I deem necessary and program them.  A method for testing the subsystem is devised, then I find another step that takes me towards to final product and repeat.  Eventually a path clears through the fog and I have a few dozen algorithms strung together over thousands of lines of code that solves a difficult problem, although some rework and false starts are usually part of the process.

So the problem that I have with professor Hazen's proposed approach is that it doesn't appear to be in any way distinct from intelligent design as I do day by day in my engineering work.  From the other direction, it is also not distinct from the rhetoric of "Darwinian Evolution", since this is exactly the same process that Darwinists use.  All this brings me back to one of my assertions:  The human mind is wired such that it is only capable of thinking in Intelligent Design paradigms.  Even if Darwinian Evolution existed as a distinct mode of explanation, I do not believe that any professor could find a way to employ his mental faculties in a way that wasn't overwhelmingly based on Intelligent Design.

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