Bare Bones Biology 349 – In the Beginning

In the beginning was the big bang, and immediately was our universe born.

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the Word was God.” The Holy Bible, John I:1

 

Our primeval system in its most primitive state of random uniformity, lacking structure, composed of matter, energy, and formless entropy was nascent information.

 

161218r-christmas-_dsc0741sIn the next instant came random variations in the distribution of the formlessness. A bit more density here, a bit less there, and the forces of gravity and self-assembly grew the first cold aggregations of matter, and the force of natural selection favored one growing system more than another, and the formlessness of entropy began to take on the forms of information, that is, structures, behaviors, interactions, processes, integration.

 

And as the pressure of its own mass increased, and bore down upon its central core, the first star burst into flame.

 

“And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”   The Holy Bible, Genesis.

 

And many more stars burst into flame until there were galaxies and solar systems, and the earth swung around the sun, and the moon around the earth, and when the conditions became right, it rained upon the earth for 10,000 years, until there was water upon the land.

 

“And God said: ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.” (Genesis)

 

And the earth gave birth to its own new cycles as the energy and information/entropy interacted among themselves according to the exponentially increasing numbers of possibilities inherent in the factual information generated by its increasing numbers of integrated complex adaptive systems during its incredible history, based on the multitude of ways in which its subsystems could (or could not) interact among themselves in every possible manner – natural selection, symbioysis, emergent properties, even catastrophe — to generate higher and broader levels of complexity that then acted again upon each other to select/maintain those subsystems that contributed to their common evolution and further refinement the available information upon which evolution is based.

 

161224r-christmas-_dsc0743sAnd about four billion years ago the Lord said: Let there be Life.

 

“We have seen how, when complex adaptive systems establish themselves, they operate through the cycle of variable schemata, accidental circumstances, phenotypic consequences, and feedback of selection pressures to the competition among schemata. They tend to explore a huge space of possibilities, with openings to higher levels of complexity and to the generation of new types of complex adaptive system. Over long periods of time, they distill out of their experience remarkable amounts of information, characterized by both complexity and depth.” (Gell-Mann)

 

And a cell was born, and the Earth gave birth to Life.

 

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis)

 

“The information stored in such a system at any one time includes contributions from its entire history. That is true of biological evolution, which has been going on for four billion years or so, and also of the cultural evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens, for which the time span is more like a hundred thousand years.” (Gell-Mann)

 

And the information that has survived this entire history is embedded in the functions of our physiology, the processes of our modern corposystem, and the world views of our incredible brains that we could be using to survive our current malaise if we would only get it into our heads that the behaviors (including human behaviors) that ARE CAPABLE OF SURVIVAL are not those that dominate the works of God, but those that contribute to the ongoing welfare of the miracle of Life within which we are embedded and integrated, and these behaviors are very well described and explained in the very heart and soul of all our major religions that tell us how to survive the millennia by partnering with the rest of the creation, rather than trying to dominate it.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.

For a copy of the podcast go to:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_349F2.mp3

 

© 2017, M. Lynn Lamoreux PhD

Photos by Lynn

MLLamoreux@Hotmail.com

 

References:

 

The Old Testament and the New Testament, Revised Standard Version. I could take similar supporting evidence from any of the major religions, but the Holy Bible happens to be more readily available in this community. And indeed – elegant.

 

Gell-Mann, Murray. (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics). 1994. The Quark and the Jaguar. W. H. Freeman & Co.

 

With great appreciation for discussion with and contribution by several people from Santa Fe Institute, this is my interpretation – not theirs.

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Bare Bones Biology 266F – Holons, Levels, Systems, Emergent Properties

It’s the words that push us apart. There are a lot more words than there are important ideas. Listen to the ideas.

 “Following Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilber, I use the term holon to refer to the nested nature of the universe. A holon is a whole that is also part of a larger whole and is itself composed of smaller wholes. Everything is part of something bigger and is made of smaller components nested within it. Each of those wholes/parts, or holons is creative. So the Universe is made of creative holons.”    Micheal Dowd, Thank God for Evolution.

I have talked about this very important idea more times, in my 266 blogs, than any other idea or fact. I have never used the term holon, because it is a new term coined to represent a reality that humans have known from nearly our beginning. It doesn’t matter what words we used, so long as we can understand each oher. The Reality is what it is, and anyone can understand it who cares to.

 

150626-canyon-ASC_7565RLSs copy The following is more like what I have been saying. A holon is a whole system that is part of a larger whole system and is itself composed of smaller whole systems. Every kind of holon is a unit that has unique “emergent properties,” that is, it creates its emergent “phenotype” or emergent properties by means of the laws of nature, or what I have referred to as the “Law of Life.” So, the universe is made of and generated by creative, naturally evolved systems in response to the most basic natural law that we know about. More basic, I believe, than the recently confirmed Higgs-Boson because what I have been referring to as the “Law of Life” is not imaginable as a THING, but is THE creative process, of which we are a part. So the universe is made of creative holons/evolved systems. No disagreement there, just different words.

On the other hand, if you think deeply about your own world view in relation to the above, you will probably find that the basic flaw in your world view (don’t fuss, everyone has basic flaws in their world views) is your imprinted belief that natural systems, processes and values are linear. This belief is as false as the older belief in a flat earth around which the sun orbits, and for similar reasons. It is homocentric and linear. The universe is not.

If we want to survive in this whole universe system that is composed of interconnected subsystems, we must change our own thinking to conform with the reality of the cosmos, because there is no way that we can continue to defeat or defy the power of the cosmos as we have been trying to do, for the last couple of millennia.

The universe is NOT a m150704-train-ASC_7962RLSsachine that we can control. It is a creative principle that we try to describe by defining the laws of nature.

 

Here’s another one.

What is a black hole? Astronomically? I do not know, and I hope the answer is not relevant to our survival, but I do know a different idea that is attached to that phrase that is relevant.

Many recognize the experience and Joseph Campbell reported it as part of a Native American growing-up ceremony for young men. Those of you who have stood on the edge of your own “black hole” will recognize it, and those who have not – you had to be there.   You have a choice, when you get to the black hole. You can let go and jump right into that black hole of fear. Fear of the reality of life that is not at all what you were taught; fear of the future that is not at all what you had planned. The other option is to turn back — to cling to the comfort and safety of the world view that was your birthrite.

The psychological black hole is the place of growing up within a new creation – a new and more realistic world view. Not that “aha” moment when everything comes together to make sense, but the eventual realization that we are not the everything that makes sense, nor can we control it. It is the time when we choose to let go our efforts to control that which is not really under our control and recognize that we are part of a whole – a holon with unique emergent properties that the living Earth can discard at any time these properties become a threat to its own holistic self. It’s a time of fear, but it could be the time when we reach out and touch the face of our Creator and begin to live within a true faith grounded in the wisdom of reality.

Homo sapiens teeters today at the brink of the black hole. The only control we have over the future is the choice that we make right now.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, TX.

A copy of the podcast can be obtained at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_266F_-_Holons.mp3

 

 

References

Michael Dowd. 2009. Thank God for Evolution. Plume

Bare Bones Biology 056 – Levels and Population I

Bare Bones Biology 057-Levels and Population II

Bare Bones Biology 070 – Levels of Organization Again

Bare Bones Biology 008B – Balance

I just spent nearly a whole year writing a book that explains that the earth ecosystem is alive and what it requires to stay alive (just like every other living thing) is balance. Balance between hot and cold and balance between birth and death, but that’s our human simplification. Balance among all of the cycles of life.

130702-MillerCanyon-asc_4565RSsAnd now someone has redefined the word balance. So let’s be clear. What I mean is sustainable balance. Balance is when things stay where they are – because all the cycles keep on interacting with each other as they evolved to do — without anybody pushing.

If someone pushes, what you get is an unbalance, and the amazing thing about life forms is that they then usually can rebalance themselves – if it’s not too hard of a push. But after they rebalance – they are different. The best example right now is climate change.

Balance through time. Like the teeter-totter that sits gently on the midpoint, or if you don’t know teeter-totter, think of the scales of liberty. That woman is holding the scales away from her body and they are completely free to move, one side down or the other side down. They don’t move, of course, because she’s only a statue — or a picture — but if those scales were real and they stayed even, through all of time, that is balance. Or maybe I will refine my definition, since the business folk have undefined it, by saying sustainable balance. Balance means balance — sustainably. Two ounces of gold at sea level at a certain temperature is perfectly balanced by two ounces of gold at sea level at a certain temperature, or by anything else that has exactlt the same weight. Or we could do as Rob Hopkins has done and change the words. He likes to talk about resilience, which is a very important and related concept, but not quite the same thing as balance, and balance is what I mean, so I’ll stick with it. Sustainable balance.

A primary function of the ecosystem is to sustain a balance among all the things that are part of the ecosystem, including:
Carbon dioxide
Oxygen
Carbon compounds
Mice
Elephants
Palm trees
Water
Dandelions
Us
Energy
Information
Slugs, and
Fire ants,

And a million million other things that are made inside the ecosystem and all are a part of how she stays alive.

How she does this is too complicated for humans to understand. I’m sure if we could make life, we could make our own ecosystem and the moon would be blooming with life. But in spite of what you may have heard, humans cannot make life. We can change it but we can’t make it, because the ecosystem is so much bigger and more complicated than we are that we can’t even think of all those parameters, even with computers, and basically there is no life outside of the ecosystem. At least none that we know about. So, how can we humans claim to understand something that is more complicated than the number of nerve endings in our brains? And if that is true, how come I claim to understand it?

earth.jpg-sizedI do not claim to understand all of it. However, the living earth ecosystem runs by natural laws that do not change; these include the law of gravity and the laws of thermodynamics. Humans did not make these laws; humans just gave them names. The problem for anyone who wants to understand the ecosystem is to clear away the clutter of all the details, to see what is consistent, as we did very successfully before there was science — or better use all the details in a repeatable, measurable way to understand the basic laws of nature as they apply to life. That would be what we do in the science of biology – which is the scientific study of life. Or better yet, use both approaches to understand the ecosystem, and doing that we know all that we need to know to begin giving the ecosystem what she needs to survive in balance. Sustainable balance, not some idiot corporation’s idea of sustainable growth, which is often Ponzi economics, and which always crashes.

There is no such thing as sustainable growth. You know that as well as I do. Everyone does. You can’t raise ten horses on one acre of land unless your neighbor raises hay. You can’t grow sustainably without resources, and sooner or later you run out of resources.

Look out there. Post up that lovely picture taken from the moon of the beautiful living earth. There aren’t any neighbors raising hay, and no human technology can change that fact, no more than airplanes modify gravity or no more than our prayers can change the way God made the universe to function. So, if we want to do something that really will help human kind to survive into the generations with some kind of reasonable quality of life we will have to stop pretending that we can tell God how the world should be, and start changing our behaviors to conform with how the world really is.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of KEOS radio, 89.1, Bryan, Texas, and http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com. To download a copy of this program go to: http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/BBB-008-Balance.mp3

Communities and Evolution

Happy Days Folks,

This week I will refer you to a blog post from last year at about this time. It is even more relevant today.

https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/

Bare Bones Biology 088 – Evolution and Creation
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download is available at the below link.

122012-Xmas-ASC_1523LSs

Bare Bones Biology 128 ¬ Community

Life, the living earth, has been created within the universe.

We humans are only one species out of a multitude that are parts of the sustainable phenomenon of Life; we are the “temporary living,” but we are not Life itself. To emphasize the difference between temporary organisms and sustainable Life, I capitalize Life. This distinction is more fully discussed in Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook, which is freely downloadable from the right side of my blog under the heading of “Chapters.”

The primary function of Life is to nourish and support the ongoing process of Life.

That’s why every part of life, whether or not it is aware, supports every other part. The output of one part of life is the input of others. Around and around, the process of Life functions sustainably, for its cycles never run down. They can be modified, according to the conditions of the internal or external environments, but Life itself never runs down because the cycles of which it is composed are all balanced. Each material is available when needed to maintain the balance, and every bit that is not needed at that time and place is mopped up and carried away to where it is needed.

Oxygen, for example, and carbon, and hydrogen are cycled and recycled, together and separately. The organisms, in their variety, serve as catalysts for all the processes that nurture Life. They capture the necessary energy and carry the information to operate the cycles of Life.

Life is a unique, integrated, interconnected process that humans, in spite of all our technologies, cannot emulate. Or maybe we could emulate it if we were trying, but we don’t try to support the processes that are necessary for Life. What we do try is to conquer, to win, to defeat, to subdue life using the power of our will and our magnificent brain.

We are an amazing species with a nervous system that ties us to each other and to all of Life through our emotions, our social interactions, our capacity for reason and manipulation and compassion, that have been created by the God-imposed process of evolution as a part of the living earth. The process of Life, moving through time carries us along as an integral, living, supportive part of Itself, but only so long as we accept what we are and enhance our position as a component of Life.

Our job on earth is to support Life.

Life and living organisms uniquely carry the code for their own replication. One might say that God bestowed upon matter and energy the code of Life, which gives Life the ability to sustain Itself by responding to the changing environment within which It exists. Life exists at the confluence of evolution, time, energy and the natural law of cause and effect. We humans are living organisms, subunits of the process of Life. That is, we are not Life itself; we are only temporary manifestations of the process of life, and we therefore cannot exist in the absence of the orderly and balanced processes that operate together to maintain Life itself. Life itself, so far as we know, is uniquely the living planet earth. We are not It.

But we are a powerfully endowed species that could easily destroy Life as it is now manifested (Life as we know it) if we continue to believe that we must fight for dominance over life in order to survive. Perhaps that was true in some distant past time, but in our present evolution our own lives and perhaps Life itself on earth depend on our ability to understand how to live in accord with the laws of the universe as they are manifested in the unitary Life, rather than trying to change the laws of nature and bring them to heel like a conquered enemy.

To do this, to understand how to live in accord with the laws of the universe, we need to grow an intimate understanding of our power as communities.

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded at
http://www.BareBonesBiology.com
(Thanks to Joe Smith for editing and feedback)

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook – freely downloadable, no strings
https://factfictionfancy.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/pages_std-portrait-barebonesecology100627-finalfinalprinter.pdf

Bare Bones Biology 096 – Climate Change V

We can not help the earth maintain a habitable climate by growth, either of the corposystem or of the population because it is not possible to cure any problem by doing more of what caused the problem in the first place. You cannot cure alcoholism with more alcohol. You cannot cure the biological reaction to too much growth by growing more.

The whole of life and all its parts consists of processes that work together to form networks of cycles. The most amazing thing about life is the way all these interacting networks stay balanced. Well, most of the time they stay balanced. If they aren’t balanced the result is sickness or some sort or death. Mostly the balance is maintained quite literally by the availability of the resources. Does that sound familiar? Yes indeed, it sounds just a little bit like classical economics. Not the modern Ponzi economics, but the old fashioned kind where – if you didn’t have carrots, you didn’t sell carrots, and you didn’t eat carrots.

If you don’t have enough resources, for example, if the earth is not capable of making enough food energy to feed all the people – then the delicate balance among all the networks becomes unbalanced. If there is not enough to eat, then people die. If that unbalance leads to shortages, climate change, economic downturns, war, any kind of difficulty – then you can not cure the difficulty by doing more of what caused the unbalance. You can’t cure Ponzi economics by more Ponzi economics because sooner or later you run out of the resources that are necessary to keep the whole scheme growing

You can’t cure climate change by pouring more toxic compounds into the climate, either from people eating and breathing or from corporations and other machines eating and breathing the products of the earth until there are not enough resources left to provide the food energy to drive the interacting networks of nature that keep us alive.

We know these things are facts. And yet we have come to the point where our knowledge about genuinely omnipotent realities is no more respected than your next-door-neighbor’s uninformed opinion. This is too bad, because the technologies to prevent a dreadful end are now available while we are fiddling around with the same technologies that have been causing our problems in the first place.

And while we are talking about these things, let’s consider a couple of more false assumptions that run along the same lines.

1. That there is no climate change, but there are too many people in some other parts of the world, and so if we build a fence around the United States and keep everyone else out we will be OK. This one boggles the mind. You can’t fence out climate change. The earth’s climate goes all the way around the earth from the top to the bottom and all around the middle parts. No fences will stop air.

2. That overpopulation doesn’t exist, apparently it can’t exist (how do they prove that?), and we would be better off to save every human cell. Then, every person will have a better life. We have measured the facts (for example), and they tell us that the earth is losing both its resilience (because of species extinctions) and its sustainability (by what I will refer to as overgrazing). From here on out, if we continue to grow, the more people we have on earth, the more people will suffer starvation and genocide and war and similar fates as the economy crashes because we are running out of resources. Bottom line, if there is not enough to eat, then we cannot provide the good life for more people, and we need to find a solution that will work before more people are victimized by our growth ethic.

3. Then the other side of the coin is the phrase I just heard yesterday again, that there is plenty of food on earth to feed everyone, it’s a re-distribution problem. You know I have heard that old saw my whole long life, and we have more than doubled in numbers of people during that time. Furthermore, every time we destroy another species in our efforts to feed humans – every lost species is a broken link in one of those networks that function to keep the earth alive and healthy.

Bare Bones Biology 096 – Climate Change V
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended References: Post Carbon Reader, PCI.org; Networks, by Barabashi; Beyond Ethics by HH The Dalai Lama; Bare Bones Ecology free download on my blog.

BBB088 – Evolution and Creation https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/
BBB022 – Population https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2010/09/19
Earth Policy – http:// http://www.earth-policy.org/

Bare Bones Biology 095 – Climate Change IV

We can think of the climate as part of the physiology of the earth very similar to our own physiology that requires us to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Except that’s only half of our cycle and the rest of our breathing cycle happens outside of our bodies as part of the whole living earth. The whole of the creation is made of networks connected to networks inter-connected with more networks. It’s too complicated to understand, and so I don’t, but I’ll tell you some important facts.

First there is physiology – networks of molecules and water and hydrogen and carbon in your cells and your organs and your bodies, and also in the whole earth, all of them interacting. And they keep cycling because of energy. Human physiology and the physiology of the whole earth and all its parts are all connected. They all use food energy to do all the work of continuing the cycles of life.

Every living thing uses energy to stay alive. In all our cells, all the time, energy is released by burning sugars and other carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are made up of carbon and oxygen and hydrogen. The energy to stay alive, food energy comes from burning the carbohydrates. Your body uses the energy and discards the carbon and hydrogen and oxygen in the form of carbon dioxide and water. These are released into the air or possibly the toilet.

Plants breathe in the carbon dioxide. They use the carbon, and then they take energy from the sun, and some water, and they put it all together to make carbohydrates. The plants breathe OUT a lot of oxygen that is left over from the process.

The plants get the water and the carbon dioxide from the air – the water comes from the earth and the clouds. The carbon comes from the carbon dioxide that we all breathed into the air.

These cycles and networks of cycles of animals and plants, and the whole earth physiology, have been going around and around and around for millions of years. They are perfectly balanced for us to live in – air, water, soil, plants and temperature. It is these networks that make our clean air, water, rich soil, and they can adapt to changes – the water and the carbon dioxide and the carbohydrates and the oxygen and hydrogen are all balanced. Sometimes they cycle together, sometimes separately, so when one bit changes the other bits also must change to maintain a viable balance. If you think of an old-fashioned watch, cycles are connected to cycles, but in living things the cycles can change themselves to adjust to changes outside themselves. Changes in the carbon cycle or the oxygen cycle or the hydrogen or water cycles must affect our climate because they make up our air, and the air interacts with the sun and the plants and animals in many different ways.

Energy is released by burning, using oxygen, like a fire in your yard, or burning in engines — burning any kind of energy source – anything that burns with oxygen produces carbon dioxide and water that go into the air and become part of our climate.

So, when we are burning and burning and burning carbohydrates from fossil fuels and also from 7 billion humans breathing out – and from coal, oil, gas, wood, dead bodies, incense, cigarettes — and at the same time we cut down the trees that breath IN the carbon dioxide – the whole vast cycle of life on earth must change or die. We don’t exactly know how it will change, and we want to know more. That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in climate change.

Bare Bones Biology 095 – Climate Change
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at http://BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended Readings: Post Carbon Reader, PCI.org; Networks, by Barabashi; Beyond Ethics by HH The Dalai Lama; Bare Bones Ecology free download on my blog.