The Creative Potential of Randomness and Chaos?

by: Sean Pitman
.

The following discussion is from a Spectrum article by Dr. Mailen Kootsey.  Dr. Kootsey is a physicist who has “multidisciplinary expertise”, to include appointments in departments of Physics, Physiology, Computer Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Biology.

His article is entitled, “Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Randomness and Chaos“.  In this article he tries to explain how complex biosystems can be produced by both random and chaotic interactions within complex biological systems.  Kootsey argues that it is simply irrational to believe that the millions of animal species that exist today could have been preserved on a small little Ark just a few thousand years ago.  Such diversity as exists around us can only be explained by vast ages of randomness and chaos acting in fantastically creative ways.

 

 

A system does not have to be complex in order to demonstrate chaos. Chaos is simply a behavioral characteristic of some systems of mathematical equations (as well as the real physical systems the equations represent). The classic example is the set of three relatively simple ordinary differential equations in three variables named for discoverer Edward Lorenz [3]. Complex systems can also exhibit chaos, of course, as illustrated by the recent models of weather that have hundreds of thousands of variables. While chaos may produce some apparently random results, chaos is completely unrelated to randomness in its origins, i.e. a system does not have to contain any random mechanisms in order to demonstrate chaos.

In biology, the mechanism of chaos can produce behavioral differences between individuals of a single generation or in a single individual at different times. However, chaos does not necessarily produce any inherited changes in following generations. So, if chaos is invoked to account for the development of new species, it would also be necessary to hypothesize a link between changes due to chaos in the system and genetic change.

I fail to see how randomness or chaos theories (both concepts are based on information that is too limited to precisely predict the future, which makes the future significantly less and less knowable over time) can explain the origin of qualitatively novel biological systems beyond very low levels of functional complexity – systems that require a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid parts.

Certainly randomness and chaos can produce unpredictable events – such as an unexpected “tornado in Texas” that resulted from a butterfly flapping its wings in the Bahamas ten years ago.  However, neither randomness nor chaos, acting alone in an undirected manner, can explain how a Boeing 747 can be produced by a tornado in a junkyard – regardless of how many butterflies were flapping their wings in the Bahamas over trillions of years.

This is where natural selection is supposed to come to the rescue.  Natural selection is supposed to add some guidance to the randomness and the chaos in order to allow for the development or evolution of higher levels of functional complexity.  However, while natural selection is pretty good at preserving functional elements, it isn’t the creative force that Darwinists have made it out to be.  While it does work at very low levels of functional complexity, it just doesn’t work beyond the level of systems that require more than a few hundred specifically arranged amino acid residues working together at the same time.

The fact is, there simply are no real-time examples, documented in scientific literature, of random mutations or chaotic interactions, combined with any kind of function-based selection or guidance mechanism, producing a qualitatively novel system of function that requires more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues (or any other type of functional sequence comprise of a specific set of characters in any type of language system – English, French, Latin, computer code, etc.).  Why not?  Because, at this level of functional complexity, the odds of successfully modifying and concatenating pre-existing subsystems, randomly, to work together in  new ways to produce qualitatively novel interactions at this level of functional complexity or beyond are extremely unlikely this side of trillions of years of time.

Consider also that functional complexity isn’t the same thing as chaotic complexity or random complexity.  Not at all.  Randomness and chaos are more closely related to Shannon information – not functional or meaningful information.

For further discussion of this topic see:

http://www.detectingdesign.com/meaningfulinformation.html

 

Leave a Reply