Moore’s Law and Creation of Life
Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and his mate Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida have taken an interesting approach to creation of life. I can’t say I’ve reviewed their math, and I’m sure there’s wiggle room here that even they admit to, but they have taken Moore’s Law and applied it to development of life. In short, Moore’s Law is an exponential growth model – as you have more information, and more advancement, that rate of advancement increases faster and faster as there are more interactions and knowledge between the parts and the developers. Moore coined the term for development of computers, a Ray Kurzweil likes to talk about the “singularity” where man and machine merge because of such great advancements in our machines. (Ray Kurzweil, parenthetically, is Jewish with Orthodox Jewish cousins, one of whom I know and shares his last name.)
Moore’s Law / Linear Regression Applied to Evolution
The article is here:
Now, what’s interesting is that when applied to genetic development and the age when current scientific analysis believes that the world created, there’s a huge problem. Sharov and Gordon say as follows:
“Linear regression of genetic complexity (on a log scale) extrapolated back to just one base pair suggests the time of the origin of life = 9.7 ± 2.5 billion years ago,”
Translation: taking the data points we have for life’s development, and you get an age of life as somewhere between about 7 billion and 12 billion years old.
I’ll be the first to say that extrapolations of data to this extreme are absurd, just as are extrapolations about the age of the universe which assume such things as the speed of light remaining constant (actually, there are scientific theories today, to explain problems in the timeline that say the speed of light used to be much faster), and other properties of physics were always constant. We simply don’t know that. In a few thousand years of recorded history, of which very little even talks about the force and nature of gravity, let alone more ‘complex’ concepts, extrapolation to the 11th power on the timeline from this, is ridiculous.
Having given the above lengthy disclaimer, let’s delve into issues the article, itself (as opposed to a ‘biased’ Orthodox Jew) raises:
Admitted problem 1: earth itself is 4.5 billion years old.
Admitted problem 2: how did it begin?
Theory 1: spontaneous creation of complex life (with nod to Genesis and the biblical account of creation in the article).
Theory 2: life was preserved amongst gases during sun/earth formation. Life on earth is actually a continuation of alien life.
Personally, I find the second theory total absurdity, but I suppose if you really, really want to deny that there’s a Creator, direction, and purpose in life, you’ll come up with anything, no matter how far-fetched. More so, I’m simply amazed that an MIT scientific journal mentions the Bible. It wasn’t too long ago that the masses in the world (outside of those religious types…) believed that we had a ‘solid state’ universe – it just always was. This was Greek/Roman philosophy. Only in the 20th century did science suddenly say that yes, there was a point in time of creation of the universe. Now, to give a possibility that not only is the account of G_d’s creation of a world having a beginning as being correct, but also to say that life was created by G_d, and some un-directed processes? That’s an even bigger shift.
In jewish belief, in the era of the Moschiach, everyone believes that G_d created the world. There is no doubt. It doesn’t seem so far fetched these days.
In your list of “Proposed Answers” you are missing an important one:
Hypothesis 3: the premise or assumptions of these researchers is incorrect.
In actuality there are a continuum of possible hypotheses that could explain your stated “problems”: not just 2. By limiting yourself to two hypotheses, you are forcing the answer that you want.
It was a fun preprint and indeed an interesting premise. But, it is unpublished and unreviewed – and that is an important distinction. One should not be betting the farm on a pre-print. Rather, one should reserve judgement on an idea until it has gone through proper scientific due process.
Incidentally, I poked around and this arXiv pre-print succeeded in generating a lot of hype (because it was very headline friendly), but you could hear a pin drop in the academic world. This is usually (though not always) a sign of a study that isn’t ready for prime time. I did find a blog post by PZ Meyers pointing out that they cherry-picked the species in their plot:
I would be very skeptical.