Evolution theory

From junkyard jet engine to information theory

We now live in an age where the gap between what is taught in university curricula and what really is the limit of the knowledge envelope pushed by scientists is growing day by day. It sounds like a benign phenomenon but in the context of biology, and more specifically of theory or rather theories of evolution, it has massive implications for all of us.

As I had the pleasure of entering the classes where the young and brilliant Indian minds live, I know that even today if we discuss the theory of evolution with the students, the same old Darwinian ideas fossilized in young minds thanks to MCQ-based examinations resurface with the slogan of “survival of the fittest” regurgitated as gospel truth.

If we look at the Darwinian theory of evolution in a book, it sounds like a wonderfully logical explanation of the natural world around us, but the minute we look at the real world, especially with a microscope, things start to seem extremely strange because the complexity we see in a piece of elephant dung containing seventy different types of dung beetles begins to sound like simple arithmetic compared to the calculus-like complexity our minds get confused with when we are studying a simple biological event like blood clotting.

Although brilliant (until he began to apply his mind to religion), people like Richard Dawkins fought and came up with some pretty convincing Quasi-Darwinian explanations for many seemingly insurmountable biological phenomena we now know that it is a losing battle as it seems to be. a completely different force in action that is at the root of much of evolution that we have overlooked.

As we are part of “life” it is natural that we relate to “life” as a tangible entity that interacts with real reality and takes shape, but there is another frightening but intellectually awesome possibility that life (and probably even the universe) is nothing but a sea of ​​chains of information interacting with each other, and there is no better place to look for this than the theory of l ‘evolution.

The most common cliché that Darwin supporters face is the jet engine in junkyard argument. As the complexity displayed by “life” is so great that Darwinian evolution is often described metaphorically as a cyclone hitting a junkyard full of jet engine parts and “assembling” a fully functioning jet engine by placing them in the correct one. order. Although the probability does not rule out such an event, all the more so when we look at a massive time span of almost 15-20 billion years and an astronomical number of stars and planets, but it still seems to be an order of magnitude.

But, when we look at the above from the perspective of life built from genes and genes built from smaller protein chains and so on down to the four bases adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine (this could also be reduced further according to the laws of physics which govern all chemistry), it seems that it is our comfort with the “tangible” which could mislead us into making us see a complexity which is not there.

It can be difficult for a cyclone to put together parts of a jet engine, it is not that difficult if it is the permutation and combinations of the information of life i.e. the codes genetics to lead to the formation of a jet engine by simply mixing up the bits of “information” that they are.

When we think of life as nothing but information, we also need an engine that transforms that information into a newer and / or more complex order and for that we have a big competitor in the form of a virus.

Viruses are nothing more than small pieces of information that interact with reality and with each other and also replicate. What they offer is the number scale so that significant events appear even in a random process, and as information with meaning (what is “significant” in this context needs a forum with much more room than a blog post to discuss) has a better chance of continuing, they can explain all the complexity we see as an order emerging from apparent chaos thanks to a few basic rules of physics and of chemistry.

While the biological research community is already there, what is important to the layman like you and me is the role that the theory of evolution has played in our lives as humans and in how whose societies have evolved in recent times.

The birth of the Darwinian theory of evolution was a game-changer for humans, as its most famous saying of “survival of the fittest” is nothing more than a coated version of ” force is just ”.

The birth of capitalism (in a world that was previously ruled by religious morality) became possible mainly because of the new justification for a “natural” world order offered by Darwin’s theory.

In short, the latest explanation on the order of life has completely changed the human social order, so what about the next change looming on the horizon?

If the entire universe is nothing but a cauldron where information interacts, does it have any idea how a human, a complex conglomerate of information, should “live”?

Finding the answer to this question could take eons; but, at this point, we have a learning to offer and it is a need to doubt the world order that power-is-right has created.

If only we could do this, we could survive long enough to understand the deeper nuances of life as we explore the rules that govern information.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.