PERMACULTURE: Life After Peak Oil

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I have read that there are approximately 3 billion sequences in the human genome. Personally, I find the number quite irrational when compared to the estimated age of the earth. If the sequence count is reasonably close, and a previous estimate of the earth’s age is about 3 billion years old dates change weekly is seems, then there had to be about one evolutionary development per year of the earth’s existence. Adding in the three catastrophes, Darwinian-like evolution would have had to evolve perhaps 10 or more genome sequences per year to create humans, which does not appear rational since we would be observing evolutionary steps during one person’s life.

That's a nice idea but pretty much nonsense as far as genetics goes, I'm afraid. You can't just divide the number of base pairs in a genome by the age of the Earth to arrive at a meaningful figure in "base pairs per year", let alone "evolutionary changes per year" (however you'd quantify that). I mean, I'm 28 and I have 10 fingers - that doesn't mean I've grown 0.357 (=10/28) fingers per year over the course of my life.

And evolutionary change has been seen more or less over the course of one human lifetime: for example, urban foxes in Britain have a noticeably different-shaped jaws from country foxes, because they scavange food from bins instead of catching prey animals. This has happened very recently, in the past few decades. Then there's the famous moths that changed colour (as a species, I mean) as a response to air pollution during the industrial revolution. I'm sure a biologist could give you many more examples.

(I don't know what you're getting at with the bit I've emboldened - 4.5 bn years has been the widely accepted age of the solar system for quite some time now.)

Stefan’s post is excellent. The chance for life to occur according to popular evolutionary methods is all but zero.

This is absolutely untrue. It's pretty easy to get simple molecules like water, methane and nitrous oxide to form complex amino acids just by zapping them with electrical discharges or UV light, for one thing. I think most biologists would lean more towards saying that, under the right circumstances, life is almost inevitable, rather than unlikely.

To my current way of thinking, life on earth had help from a source that is not visible today. Was the earth seeded as Stefan said? Perhaps. Was life created by spirit entities as Edgar Cayce said? Perhaps. Was life created as a natural rhythmic development of natural laws as sacred geometry? Perhaps. Was this 3D created by non-dimensional entities as like a game? Perhaps. Was life an evolutionary hit-and-miss-chance creation as modern theories say? I strongly doubt it.

You seem to be arguing from the position that a lot of IDers take, which is to assume - perhaps intuitively but fallaciously - that it's not possible for highly complex, self-organising systems to arise from a very simple set of natural laws. This is beautifully illustrated by John Horton Conway's Game Of Life. Or just think about snowflakes, and the amazing variety of complex shapes they form, arising simply from the atomic numbers of hydrogen and oxygen and the laws of quantum electrodynamics (which can be summarised in a few fairly simple equations). Or the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, which has persisted for hundreds of years.

On the whole, though, you seem to be arguing from a very confused position, whereby you're putting your points forward with supposed scientific evidence one minute but talking about 'spirits' and 'sacred geometry' the next, which just seems very inconsistent.

Edit: sorry if that seemed a rather hostile response to a first post - hi and welcome to Dissensus! :)
 
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massrock

Well-known member
You seem to be arguing from the position that a lot of IDers take, which is to assume - perhaps intuitively but fallaciously - that it's not possible for highly complex, self-organising systems to arise from a very simple set of natural laws.
unpardag73 said:
Was life created as a natural rhythmic development of natural laws as sacred geometry? Perhaps.
These don't seem to be so different as propositions to me necessarily. Actually they may be identical.

You could consider the rules of Life sacred in that they work in a specific way to produce complex results. Change the rules even slightly and the game may not generate any interesting forms.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
These don't seem to be so different as propositions to me necessarily. Actually they may be identical.

Weeell, call me an old kill-joy but it's the word 'sacred' that puts me off most about that sentence. ;) I do see where you're coming from, though, in fact if it weren't for that one word I could more or less endorse the whole idea. The laws of physics and cosmology are intimately linked to geometry, that's certainly true.

You could consider the rules of Life sacred in that they work in a specific way to produce complex results. Change the rules even slightly and the game may not generate any interesting forms.

Hmm. "[T]hey work in a specific way to produce complex results" is starting to sound teleological, inasmuch as it sounds like the laws of nature are working in some specific and deliberate way so as to produce intentional results - in which case we're back to ID, clearly. It's true that many physical parameters have to have the exact values they do in order to produce a universe that can support life (this is called 'fine-tuning' in cosmology) and it's not a trivial issue in modern physics, granted. But it's quite plausible that laws that seem arbitrary now will turn out to be the way they are because they could not be any other way, when we have a better understanding of them - perhaps because they turn out to be epiphenomena or special cases of more fundamental laws. For example, someone might remark that water has certain very special properties that make it seem like it's been "designed" to support life, given the huge range of properties it could have had; but of course the properties of water (and every other substance besides) are inevitable once you have laws that determine the properties of electrons and atomic nuclei.

Another argument is that there may well be many universes (or at least causally disconnected parts of a single universe), perhaps an infinite number of them, where the laws of physics are different from ours, and that we happen to live in a universe conducive to our kind of life, by definition of course, while there are any number of "barren" universes out there with no life because they have no stable nuclei, the wrong number of dimensions or whatever.

Ultimately I have to disagree with unpardag because he rejects life as a chance occurrence, and the only logical alternative is some form of intelligent design - willful act by a sentient Creator.

Anyway, the other day I patched a pair of old Levis that had a huge rip in them. Hurrah for permaculture! :cool:
 
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massrock

Well-known member
Weeell, call me an old kill-joy but it's the word 'sacred' that puts me off most about that sentence. ;) I do see where you're coming from, though, in fact if it weren't for that one word I could more or less endorse the whole idea. The laws of physics and cosmology are intimately linked to geometry, that's certainly true.
Where I'm coming from is that you specifically opined that unpardag73's post did not recognise that it is "possible for highly complex, self-organising systems to arise from a very simple set of natural laws.", and to be fair, I think it does.

Your reaction to the word sacred being 100% predictable I went on to suggest that the rules of Life (notice the capital L) can be considered sacred, change them and it's not the same, a delicate balance. So there are different ways of thinking about what that means. You may have misunderstood.
Hmm. "[T]hey work in a specific way to produce complex results" is starting to sound teleological, inasmuch as it sounds like the laws of nature are working in some specific and deliberate way so as to produce intentional results - in which case we're back to ID, clearly.
I like how you inserted "deliberate" and "intentional results" in there. :D

While it's not exactly teleological it is sort of ID in that John f'ing Conway D'd it and he's probably at least a bit I. :p
Another argument is that there may well be many universes (or at least causally disconnected parts of a single universe), perhaps an infinite number of them, where the laws of physics are different from ours, and that we happen to live in a universe conducive to our kind of life, by definition of course, while there are any number of "barren" universes out there with no life because they have no stable nuclei, the wrong number of dimensions or whatever.
Another definition of sacred.
 

massrock

Well-known member
For example, someone might remark that water has certain very special properties that make it seem like it's been "designed" to support life, given the huge range of properties it could have had; but of course the properties of water (and every other substance besides) are inevitable once you have laws that determine the properties of electrons and atomic nuclei.
If they were so inclined then presumably that same someone would then remark that the laws that determine the properties of atomic nuclei seem "designed" to create water and by extension to support (this kind of) life? I realise you were replying to something somebody didn't say but it's not much use as an argument in that form.
Ultimately I have to disagree with unpardag because he rejects life as a chance occurrence, and the only logical alternative is some form of intelligent design - willful act by a sentient Creator.
Not sure if that's a fair summation. Rejects or considers unlikely? Only logical alternative according to you or unpardag? And perhaps more importantly, all life or this life?

Anyway hopefully unpardag73 can reply for themselves. Interesting first post, perhaps you can elaborate. Don't let the poetically challenged get you down. ;)

But who is Stefan?
 
the only logical alternative is some form of intelligent design - willful act by a sentient Creator.
i thought s/he was arguing more for alien intervention than sentient creator? if life is a chance occurrence then it possibly occurred somewhere else as well and way before us. the classic scenario of selectively breeding us for parts to prop up a dying alien race springs to mind.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Where I'm coming from is that you specifically opined that unpardag73's post did not recognise that it is "possible for highly complex, self-organising systems to arise from a very simple set of natural laws.", and to be fair, I think it does.

Your reaction to the word sacred being 100% predictable I went on to suggest that the rules of Life (notice the capital L) can be considered sacred, change them and it's not the same, a delicate balance. So there are different ways of thinking about what that means. You may have misunderstood.

Hmm, maybe I have. What I really should have used in that sentence is the word "spontaneously" - I mean, of course a beautiful and complex tapestry can 'arise' from a piece of canvas and some bits of coloured thread, but it takes a conscious and intentional act on the part of a creative agent to make it happen.

Then there's still the word 'sacred'...maybe I'm reading too much into it, and being as you put it "poetically challenged" ;) but this would seem to imply (to me) some divine agency, namely a supernatural principle as opposed to a natural one.

While it's not exactly teleological it is sort of ID in that John f'ing Conway D'd it and he's probably at least a bit I. :p

Well the big difference here is that Conway merely set up some very simple "natural" laws for his "universe" and then let it evolve deterministically; he didn't write in the complexity from the start. I don't think even he was prepared for the degree of complexity that arose - I mean, what would be the point of fine-tuning the laws of his universe so as to create complex systems? That's like the tapestry weaver using complex, intentional methods to produce a complex, intentional result: what would it prove?

I think I'm taking what you might see as a fundamentalist position here because as I see it, a process is either accidental/random or it's not - and if it's not, it must be intentional or somehow willful. It's an exhaustive dichotomy; what other option is there? So if the universe isn't accidental and natural, the only alternative is to invoke some kind (inherently supernatural) ID. I appreciate the appeal in trying to forge a synthesis between these two views, but they seem mutually exclusive to me.
 

massrock

Well-known member
Mr. Tea said:
Hmm, maybe I have. What I really should have used in that sentence is the word "spontaneously" - I mean, of course a beautiful and complex tapestry can 'arise' from a piece of canvas and some bits of coloured thread, but it takes a conscious and intentional act on the part of a creative agent to make it happen.

Then there's still the word 'sacred'...maybe I'm reading too much into it, and being as you put it "poetically challenged" but this would seem to imply (to me) some divine agency, namely a supernatural principle as opposed to a natural one.
You do realise I was referring to Conway's Life there don't you? :slanted:
Mr. Tea said:
Well the big difference here is that Conway merely set up some very simple "natural" laws for his "universe" and then let it evolve deterministically; he didn't write in the complexity from the start. I don't think even he was prepared for the degree of complexity that arose - I mean, what would be the point of fine-tuning the laws of his universe so as to create complex systems?
See above.

He did try out lots of variations of the rules, they were fine-tuned (by trial and error mostly I guess) to produce interesting results. The point was about language though really, that those particular rules can be considered sacred for that universe.
It's an exhaustive dichotomy; what other option is there? So if the universe isn't accidental and natural, the only alternative is to invoke some kind (inherently supernatural) ID.
Well for a start it's not about the Universe is it, it's about life as we know it. One possibility as suggested by unpar, Rwav and myself just now is that life may have arisen by "chance" somewhere and been "designed" elsewhere.
 

massrock

Well-known member
LOL, if this thread ever makes it's way back to permaculture this interlude is going to look kind of weird.
 

version

Well-known member
Someone sent me this recently,
Oil pervades our civilization; it is all around you. The shell for your computer is made from it. Your food comes wrapped in it. You brush your hair and teeth with it. There’s probably some in your shampoo, and most certainly its container. Your children’s toys are made from it. You take your trash out in it. It makes your clothes soft in the dryer. As you change the channels with the TV remote you hold it in your hands. Some of your furniture is probably made with it. It is everywhere inside your car. It is used in both the asphalt you drive on and the tires that meet the road. It probably covers the windows in your home. When you have surgery, the anesthesiologist slides it down your trachea. Your prescription medicine is contained in it. Your bartender sprays the mixer for your drink through it. Oh yes, and the healthy water you carry around with you comes packaged in it Be careful. If you decide that you want to throw this book out, your trashcan is probably made from it. And if you want to call and tell me what a scaremonger I am, you will be holding it in your hands as you dial. And if you wear corrective lenses, you will probably be looking through it as you write down a number with a pen that is made from it. Plastic is a petroleum product, and its price is every bit as sensitive to supply shortages as gasoline. Oil companies do not charge a significantly different price for oil they sell to a plastics company than they charge a gas station owner. If the wellhead price goes up, then every downstream use is affected.
Oil and gas are irreplaceable if the world is to continue pumping out enough food to feed 6.5 billion people. And that says nothing about the additional 2.5 billion that are projected to be here before the middle of this century. Organic farming or permaculture is responsible and respectful of nature and may ultimately be nearly as productive as hydrocarbon-based agriculture. But the infrastructure is not in place to implement it. You could ask several billion people to stop eating for a year or two while we switch over and work out the bugs. Do you want to volunteer? Would you volunteer your children?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
Some sound points but it's a bit out of date ("6.5 billion people" is a giveaway) and the truth is there's more oil than we know what to do with. The Saudis were literally paying people to take it off them at one point last year.
 
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