Intelligent Design

Life Exists Only Because of Embedded Intelligence


This site presents concepts based on an electro/mechanical, process control engineering background that amplifies and adds to existing Intelligent Design (ID) arguments. A “top-down, bottom-up” analysis is expounded here compared to a “top-down” approach that dominates current thinking about the origins of life (see figure)1. Top-down arguments such as “where does the information come from,” and “irreducible complexity” are valid and compelling. However, there is no means of falsifying these arguments. Focusing on the “bottom-up” portion of the top-down, bottom-up argument, challenges the ability of natural causes to create life even if all of the information and complexity are in place.  Analysis of the work required to assemble, set initial conditions and start the process of life or any machine reveals that it is work beyond the capability of natural causes. One could falsify natural causes starting the life process if it was true.

The engineering experience of creating machines makes one keenly aware of the difficulties of starting processes and making them function successfully. Creating and starting a machine is a far more significant challenge than creating a static entity. A mind experiment illustrates this problem.  Imagine that Richard Dawkins is right, the “blind watchmaker” successfully creates a watch.  Let’s say the watchmaker makes trillions of watches and they are put in every place on earth such that the watches are exposed to every possible environment and natural events that earth has to offer.  Then ask these questions: “would any of these watches end up keeping time?  What conceivable natural events could wind a watch and set the time?  “Assuming that it did happen, could this process repeat each time the watch wound down?”

Analysis of machines reveals that there are two different types of processes; natural processes and intelligent processes.  There are many such distinctions: natural work vs. intelligent work, Shannon information vs. specified information, embedded information vs. embedded intelligence.  One might also say that there is natural entropy vs. intelligent (or specified) entropy.

Trying to explain all this is like putting together a crossword puzzle – there is no natural, linear pathway to solve it.  The starting point and ending point can be anywhere.  The same is true with the ideas presented here – the ideas are interrelated with no natural beginning or end.

The first observation was that machines, when running, are matter and energy conducting a process. In engineering terms, the state variables of the system are constantly changing.  In this sense, machines are “alive”, like life.  Man-made machines are designed to be started and stopped. The state variables of a machine are fixed when the machine is stopped, which provides the information needed to build the machine. The same is not true of life. One life form starts its life process; the process does not stop until that life form is extinct. There is no way to know what the state variables would be for originating that life form. Nor, if these variables were known, how to start the life process.

Creating machines is a different and far more complex process than creating static entities. The machine, before its process is started, is a static entity with the ability to execute a process that performs a function. This machine action requires the ability to sense conditions and external information, to process this information logically, to control an energy source to perform a needed action, and signaling means between each of these functional elements of the machine.  There are many technical issues involved to make a machine work, but also the specificity of its construction, setup of initial conditions, and the action needed to start the machine running.

    o What Imean about this statement comes from my experience designing new entities.  It starts with ideas, concepts, block diagrams, flow diagrams, a list of the functioning parts involved, and so on. In other words, the design part of the effort is mental.  But experience shows that the hard part is the actual building of the entity and the activity involved in making it work.

These ideas are presented in a downloadable paper entitled “Life, Natural Causes vs. Intelligent Causes.” The current version was published on 8/1/2018.  This site has materials that expand upon the paper by way of posts.

In retrospect, the paper presents three, albeit related, ideas that need to be reviewed and evaluated separately.  They are:

  1. The Limits of Natural Causes.
    Premise:  Natural causes cannot achieve all outcomes that do not violate the laws of physics. All outcomes are the result of natural processes resulting from initial conditions, free energy, and the laws of physics. The initial conditions and available free energy are logical constraints to the possible outcomes. Machines can expand the outcome possibilities because they can execute what I call intelligent work.
  2. Machines and Intelligent Work.
    Premise: Machines are capable of intelligent work because they run a process that obtains and processes information, and performs specified work based on logical conclusions. This is beyond the reach of natural causes due to logical constraints, including the ability to perform logical functions. The ability to do intelligent work in our universe requires embedded intelligence.
  3. Life is an Intelligent Process.
    Premise: From observation, we know that life is a process using molecular machines. Life would be pure chemistry (no intelligence involved) if it was possible. But many machines, which are beyond the reach of natural causes, are required. In addition, processes add more constraints; they must be designed, built, preconditions set, and started by intelligent action.  Since life must reproduce, the process for the creation of life is different from the reproduction process. Existing beginning life theories do not take this constraint into consideration, and it is a means of falsification.

Since writing the paper, I made a video of a PowerPoint presentation that covers all of these topics and more.  It is long and meant to be the “notes” for those who saw the presentation in person.  I am in the process of preparing better presentation materials.


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© 2018 Mike Van Schoiack

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  1. This link is a more detailed machine/process creation diagram
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