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Truly Natural Selection (Part 2)

SERIES: Truly Natural Selection
AUTHOR: Jim Schofield


This series of papers extends Natural Selection beyond the Living World into Reality in general. It sees all “complication” not just as a summation of Parts, or even laws, but as a necessary development of things, involving the emergence of wholly new features, when it is usually, and correctly, encapsulated by the term Evolution.

Where with Life we have the mechanisms of qualitative change as variation based on mutation, plus selection via competition, this more general form drives change via selection between competing chemical processes, and the transformation of both context and potentiality.

Fitness to survive, reproduce and prosper in the form which drives Evolution, is replaced in the more basic form by advantage to conducive, complementary processes and the successive transformation of the underlying situations entirely without Life being either present or necessary.

This view of Reality runs entirely counter to the famed Second Law of Thermodynamics, and therefore, of course, requires justification. It is explained in terms of context, wherein the Second Law is a product of interludes of maximally constrained stability, while competitive advances in order occur in quite different situations of unconstrained, maximum opportunities for change. And these alternating phases turn out to be natural features of systems driven in cycles of any kind. The pattern involving longer periods of relative stability, interspersed with short interludes of radical, qualitative change, is, in fact, the norm in the trajectories of change in such systems.

And the Key Events in these processes are the eruptions into revolutionary episodes, which we call Emergences. Clearly, the most significant and undeniable of these has to be that which produced the very first Living Things. And this Event alone confirms that Selection in some form must have preceded Life! It was, in fact, the Source of Life on Earth.

Many important fallacies are addressed in these papers, including the usual mathematical definition of Probability, and its false use as a Cause(?) of Life. And, most crucially, we address the concept of Competition involving mutually conducive and mutually contending chemical processes, which are the necessary agents of Selection in these circumstances. The crux has to be the revolutionary Events called Emergences, which had clearly already occurred many times throughout the long history of Reality, prior to the Emergence of Life, and which are generally ignored by most current Science.

1. Now, the central concept, and indeed “barrier”, in our dealings with the unlikely Emergence of Life from inanimate matter has to be our idea of Probabilities. The origin of these ideas and their subsequent use in various areas of Science has to be understood before we can assess the value, or otherwise, of their use in this crucial area.

2. The main assumptions on which Probability is based are that all options are equally likely, and any process of selection would have to be entirely random and undirected. Games were, of course, the ground for these ideas whether they were involving either dice or cards.

3. The whole methodology then required the count-ability of all the possible cases – giving, say, n possible states. Then the probability of any particular state would be a 1 in n chance.

4. Now, scientists had managed to successfully use this idea in circumstances where the number and nature of contributory factors were so large and contrary that a totally random result could be assumed, and by averaging, laws could be devised which were reliable (most of the time).

5. The impulse was then to apply such ideas to the Emergence of Life, by getting some idea of the vast numbers of things that could happen (our n), and setting them against the necessary single requirement that would be an essential step on the road to Life, therefore stating the probability of that given happening as a chance of 1 to n. It was, of course, predicated upon the necessity of completely equally likely alternatives, and totally random selection from the options.

6. But, those assumptions do not pertain in what we are addressing here. Selecting a die and then throwing it does NOT change probabilities involved. But when a process happens in Reality, it always changes the situation to some extent, and avalanches of such occurrences contribute to changing it a great deal!

7. Now with the occurrence of mutually conducive pairs, sequences and even cycles of processes, the probabilities of particular happenings can rise dramatically, and even inexorably. Indeed, in a given locality dominated by a handful of processes with conducive relations, a given possibility can become absolutely certain, when at the start it was almost impossible.

8. The difference with a pedestrian Probability Theory is striking! Whereas a given occurrence in perfectly random conditions of states and selection will be unchanging, in Reality where selections constantly change the current state, which will always change – at first slowly, but then increasingly rapidly. The unlikely will become likely, and the almost impossible will become inevitable.

9. The role that this form of selection played in the Origin of Life is proved by the case of the Metabolic Pathways, where a tiny sub-set of sequences and cycles becomes inevitable within living matter from an almost infinite number of possible organic processes.

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