Friday, January 30, 2009

Origins 8, Second Orders

I first titled the last entry "Chemistry is not Biology." However, I realized that it might sound like I'm trying to say that chemistry doesn't work at the biological level, which is not true. The atoms and molecules in our bodies definitely work according to the rules of chemistry, physics and biology. I changed the post name to "Chemistry is not Selection." Natural selection is a property of groups of organisms, which is not the same as groups of atoms and molecules. The mathematical laws are worked out for each situation and are different.

Though Intelligent Design Theory (ID) is lumped with other Creationist theories in the minds of many detractors, ID tries to strictly follow scientific fact. The advocates are sometimes accused of not knowing the Earth is round, or that gravity is a physical law. But the point is that ID advocates know physics and chemistry very well, and there is a discontinuity between the physics and chemistry of non-living matter and that of life. The origin of biological organisms is not explained by chemical and physical laws alone.

The accusation that non-naturalistic articles concerning biological origins and evolution have not been published is untrue. One of the first articles was "Life Transcending Chemistry and Physics," by Michael Polanyi in the Chemical and Engineering News of the American Chemical Society in 1967, 45:35 pp54-66. I can't find a link to it on the Internet and ordered my copy through inter-library loan. I have a link to a commentary by Colin Duriez in the Journal of the ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) which explains Polanyi's position. He talks about "orders" of physics and chemistry. Machines, for example, are not explained by the physics and chemistry of nature alone and therefore have a second order above the movement of atoms and molecules. In this way, he believes DNA, with its informational functions, has this second order.

Next post, I want to give the definition of "Horizontal Gene Transfer," and the propositions being made as to some of the amazing findings coming out of the whole-genome sequencing that has been done for the last dozen years and will continue well into the future.

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