July 28, 2022•1,077 words
I have come upon a functional synthesis of life that seems to do a good job of resolving the million factors and objections swirling about my mind.
The Darwinian (or more accurately neo-Darwinian) view of life has never fully felt at home in my mind. I accepted it reluctantly but kept one eye open.
I crossed paths with a book titled Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer who compellingly argues against Darwinism. He is not the first to do so, but is part of a collection of biologists and academics that has been growing in size since the 70’s who assess that the Darwinist mechanism cannot be sufficient to generate new body forms.
In a word, Meyer argues that new body plans in evolution (i.e large jumps in function and form) cannot arise gradually through random mutation and natural selection because, amongst other things, the problem space of searching randomness is too incredibly vast. Life is composed of sequences of information stored genetically and epigenetically. If attempting to mutate and searching near infinite space, you’re infinitely more likely to happen upon a mutation that would make the resulting information sequence either completely illegible, nonviable, or deleterious.
To arrive through random searching where life is at today would require unspeakably more time, if at all, than four billion years.
Meyer argues that whenever new information is produced or found, invariably there is a mind at work who created that information. He would say, “random mutations cannot explain leaps of new meaningful information, but which process do we know for certain is capable of generating new information? Minds. Therefore, new body plans and thus information in evolution come from a mind.” His would be an argument for intelligent design, in the literal and not cultural sense of the term. Simply “intelligently designed” with no other connotations as to how or why.
I really like this view. It’s a functional form of logic that works well with my brain. “If we don’t know what causes new information in biology, let’s simplify to what we know to be able to generate new information in general—that would be no other than intelligence itself, as evidenced by humans’ likewise ability to generate new information.” Profoundly and mathematically unsatisfied with natural selection through random mutation, I’m happy to quickly replace my previous dogma with this one.
But I couldn’t just stop there.
Here is my own very nascent synthesis on the how part of intelligent design: how does the intelligent entity interject its code or information into our systems?
I wouldn’t have a hard time believing that the intelligence which drives evolution is our own mind’s intelligent processes. Essentially, we know that intelligence can create new information. And new information is required for major and non-gradual changes in organisms. What we don’t know is the where’s or what about this intelligence.
But using Meyer’s own method of reasoning, where do we empirically know intelligence exists? In biological minds. That’s the only known place in the universe we know intelligence to exist. So if intelligent evolution requires intelligence, and our minds posses intelligence, then why couldn’t our reproductive system coordinate with its direct access to that intelligence, and decide on how to shape the next generation?
The reproductive system literally has a hard line connection to an intelligent agent. Think about it like this: if evolution were to ask you, what could you use more of in your life? How’s your experience so far?—don’t you think your consciousness and experience could offer the asking agent some practical tips and insights “from the field” that could help you (or your progeny) survive better in your environment?
I find it very materially plausible that the reproductive system (sperm, embryonic development, etc.) relies on intelligent computation from its own host to dictate information flow for subsequent generations.
The gods that created humans were…human.
But I’ll go further, even though I’ve probably already gone too far. How does your intelligence provide the computing resources and runtime necessary for intelligent evolution to get the information it needs to carry out its processes? Here’s where a little wandering could help.
Dreams could help facilitate the process of accessing an intelligent runtime for evolution. Dreams seem to be your consciousness and intelligence at play in wildly varying situations. Almost like a diagnostic tool that asks your intelligent agent, “how would your intelligence react when placed into this or that circumstance?” Your dream when played out is then the mapping of that useful information that is subsequently imprinted in your biological seed.
New, meaningful information could certainly be generated through a process like this. Your intelligence lives out a physical life, and is probed every night how it’s faring in its environment. It’s worth noting that the intelligence runtime your dreams have access to is likely very different than, or has no obligation to be similar to, our waking conscious experience of intelligence.
We can have some fun with this: imagine if this process had you imagine how your intelligence—in its purest, inaccessible form—would respond if applied to existing as a single physically dense particle that when exploded would give rise to varying amounts of materials such as iron, mercury, helium, oxygen, and hundreds of other elements. Your intelligence is then tasked with: create intelligence in this playground. You would then begin dreaming of watching your intelligence spend billions of years designing a universe in which intelligence is reproduced with set materials and physical constants.
Our existence could then be such dream of another intelligent agent being probed in a dream how to create conscious entities via other arbitrary parameters. Another dream or dream of a dream could be asking intelligence to arrive at intelligence in a universe where there is 1/3 less iron and the speed of light is 2x faster.
Of course recursion cannot be avoided in theories like this so you start to wonder, how many levels does this dreaming go up?
There we arrive at the great limitation of our own intelligence, that takes us to an answer of one. Just one root node that is dreaming a nested web of dreams, where every dream, from the bottom to the very top, dreams of only one thing: life.
Some resources for the curious reader: