Signs of Life
A Semantic Critique of Evolutionary Theory
The critiques of evolution based on the issue of transitional forms, whether the theory can describe the origin of life besides its evolution, and if genetic information sufficiently describes all biological properties, are well-known. This book critiques evolution from a completely different angle—it brings ideas well-known in mathematics, physics, computing theory, game theory, and non-linear system theory to bear upon evolution in a way that has never been done before.
The crux of the argument is that the theory of biological evolution is based on notions of space-time, matter, and causality that were regarded true in Darwin’s time but are now false. A deep understanding of atoms had then not been developed, and consequently the problems of atomic theory and their implications for biology were unknown. Mathematics was supposed to be logically complete and consistent, and its struggle in dealing with meanings was not known. Computing theory did not exist and its problems of program semantics were unknown. Game theory had not yet been invented, and its implications for competitive behaviors were not known. Over the last century, much has happened outside biology, but, unfortunately, the developments in the other areas—and their implications for evolution—are still not well understood. Biology still lives in a relative time-warp of philosophical presuppositions that were acceptable in Darwin’s time but are now false.
This book explores the consequences of the conceptual problems in physics, mathematics, computing, game theory, and non-linear system dynamics for biology. The conceptual problems, it shows, exist in biology as well, and they undermine the theory of evolution. Specifically, these problems imply that the theory of Neo-Darwinian evolution can either be consistent or complete, but not both. If both random mutation and natural selection are used, then the theory is inconsistent. Separately, each of these ideas is incomplete. The choice between incompleteness and inconsistency pervades all of modern science, although these problems are not well-known in biological circles. Under the premise that the fundamental theories of nature are already consistent and complete, biologists hope to find answers to the question of life. However, the problems of mathematics and computing are not limited to those areas; they apply to biology, too. Similarly, the problems of physics are not unique to non-living things; they apply even to the living beings. A deeper understanding of these problems and how they appear in evolution is imperative to understanding the logical structure of the theory and where it actually fails.
The book traces these problems to a fundamental inability in modern science to incorporate meanings in matter, and shows how all problems of indeterminism and incompleteness in science are resolved through a new conception that treats matter as symbols of meaning rather than meaningless things. The book summarizes the author’s previous work in this area, illustrating the idea of hierarchical space-time in which objects are not just things but also different types of things. Some of these types are more abstract than others and cannot be perceived by the senses, although they can be perceived by the mind. This allows us to distinguish between abstract and contingent things; the objects that can be perceived are contingent while those that cannot be sensually perceived are abstract. In this view of nature, objects evolve due to the fundamental structure of space-time rather than due to forces of nature.
Space is, in this view, organized into hierarchically larger closed domains like a house is inside a city and a city is inside a country, etc. Time, similarly, is hierarchical and cyclic like a second is inside an hour, and an hour is inside a day. Nature in hierarchical space-time evolves cyclically at multiple levels of abstraction. This view, however, alters the nature of evolution and our conception of species. Species too are ideas and their appearance and disappearance is governed by the cyclic evolution of ideas. The book contrasts this view of evolution with other alternatives to evolution such as Intelligent Design, Morphic Resonance, and Punctuated Equilibrium, discussing their problems and how the semantic evolutionary view overcomes these problems without rejecting evolution itself.