Monday, 19 March 2012

In Defense of Vitalism

I believe ... in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life...
from Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, AD 325-381.

St Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon
(Byzantine icon, beginning of the 13th century)

Recent biochemical research demonstrates the implausibility of a spontaneous origin of life [Abel, Axe, Behe]. It is clear that biological systems exhibit irreducible complexity of their functional core [Behe] irrespective of the dispute about its origin. 

Evolutionists usually claim that the irreducible complexity of the functional core of biosystems that are available today, is not due to their being intelligently designed but may be a result of the initial spontaneous redundancy of proto-biosystems coupled with the gradualism of natural selection. However, this claim does not stand a complexity analysis of functional information necessary to organise and replicate biofunctional structures given the terrestrial probabilistic resources. Indeed, the hypothesis of the spontaneous formation of the irreducibly complex core of a proto-biosystem is credibly below the terrestrial plausibility threshold for any thinkable physico-chemical interaction driven by chance and necessity only [Abel]. Even more so are hypothetical redundantly complex precursors of contemporary irreducibly complex biosystems. Any suggested hypothetical evolutionary path to what we know today to be irreducibly complex involves multiple steps each of which is associated with an incredibly low probability. Liberal estimates of these probabilities are operationally zero [Behe]. 

On the other hand, contemporary self-organisation theories [Prigogine, Kauffman, Eigen] fail to acknowledge the simple fact that organisation from non-function to function has never been observed to emerge spontaneously - to say nothing of it being persistent - in contrast to the readily observable spontaneous generation of  low-informational regularity of matter.

When biochemical/genetic evidence is analysed objectively, it appears that: 
  • Life was started off via intelligent agency. 
  • Its functioning was engineered to be autonomous and persistent from the start by making sure the ensemble of its functional parameters was "tuned away" to a small isolated target zone to disallow uncontrolled dissipation of energy. This agrees with the objections of Ikeda and Jefferis to the naive hypothesis of fine-tuning of the universe. 
  • Life's built-in evolutionary tolerances allowing it to adapt to varying environments are quite tight in practice. Even if they were not, the spontaneous unguided formation of new taxa would require the gradual accumulation of new functional information which, in turn, would take orders of magnitude more time than what the currently accepted bounds on the age of the universe allow.
This brings us to the conclusion that life is special: it cannot be reduced to chemistry alone but requires the purposive execution of control over its initial parameter settings, recordation of these settings in genetic instructions and processing those instructions during replication. However, inanimate nature being inherently inert to control, is blind to the choice of means to pursue a goal, which is necessary to produce functional persistent systems.


1. David Abel, The First Gene.
2. Douglas Axe, Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds.
3. Michael Behe, Darwin's Blackbox.
4. Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution.
5. M. Eigen, P. Schuster, The Hypercycle: A principle of natural self-organization, Springer, Berlin, 1979.
6. I. Prigogine, I. Stangers, Order out of Chaos.
7. Stuart Kauffman, Origins of Order: Self-Organisation and Selection in Evolution.

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