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Pigeons, for instance—when understood as marvels of engineering—are flying remote sensors: they have wideband acoustical receivers, hi-res optics, magnetic sensing, and celestial navigation. Albatrosses expend little energy while traveling across vast southern oceans, by exploiting a technique known to glider pilots as dynamic soaring. Among insects, one species of fly can locate the source of a sound precisely, even though the fly itself is much smaller than the wavelength of the sound it hears. And that big-brained, upright Great Ape?

Evolution has equipped us to figure out an important fact about the natural world: that there is more to life than engineering, but no life at all without it. In The Number of the Heavens , Tom Siegfried, the award-winning former editor of Science News , shows that one of the most fascinating and controversial ideas in contemporary cosmology—the existence of multiple parallel universes—has a long and divisive history that continues to this day.

Life works only if it is robustly flexible via self-maintenance and repair to survive in this generation, and can reproduce itself in continuously variable forms to provide adaptability amongst its descendants. This condition is universal across the whole spectrum of life.

How Life Works (Proverbs) - Voices From St Vladimir's Seminary | Ancient Faith Ministries

Not so. This law applies to how the Creator made the original baramins , and not necessarily to the remnant populations we see today that have had their built-in original stores of variation exhausted by selection and depleted by mutation. Life, by and large, is beautiful and inspiring and wonderfully adapted to seemingly endless ways of making a living.

There are some ghastly forms—parasites can do terrible things to the living bodies of their hosts. Neo-Darwinists attributed all of this functional beauty to mutations and natural selection. But it has long been known that mutations produce defects and monsters, not beautifully functional adaptations to different ways of life.

Organisms have a built-in capability for variation which facilitates changes via an integrated modular structure that is able to maintain functionality in the face of internal and external challenges. Species survival requires a balance between variation and stasis. To create life, there would be no point putting together a molecular machine that reproduced perfect copies of itself.

It could not adapt to changing conditions, either in the current generation, or amongst its descendants. There is also no point putting together a machine that continually varies itself, because its variations would escalate into error catastrophe. Continuous variation has to be achieved in a manner that is compatible with—and thus limited by—the necessity for continuous function.

This principle is illustrated in games of chance with tossed coins or dice, or a spinning roulette wheel figure 1. A continuously variable outcome depends upon maintaining the rigid mechanical structure and continuous functional performance of the mechanism. The law of facilitated variation turns causality on its head and takes us out of the realm of physics and chemistry. To understanding this crucial statement, we need to look at the law of cause and effect. The law of cause and effect is one of the most fundamental in all of science. Every scientific experiment is based upon the assumption that the result of the experiment will be caused by something that happens during the experiment.

Now a naturalistic origin-of-life scenario must explain life in terms of a series of naturalistic causes. The first cause must produce the second step, which then causes the third step, and so on. The logic must be in the following order:. All naturalistic theories are bound by this principle of causality because they do not admit any purpose in the process that could manipulate the steps towards a predetermined goal, nor is any intelligent agent able to help. But according to the law of facilitated variation we have to rule out such a scenario because none of the steps A to Z have the necessary properties to survive.

However, we now know too much to allow such a thing. Because we now know the laws of survival and facilitated variation , an intelligent designer would have to begin with that end in sight. To have anything less in mind would be to decide upon failure. To have a particular end-product in mind is a case of inverse causality. In normal causality, the cause always comes before the effect. In biology however, we see the universal occurrence of inverse causality , recently acknowledged by Darwinian philosopher of science Michael Ruse.

This is why the ability to survive takes us out of the realm of physics and chemistry—and into the realm of intelligent design. In physics and chemistry, normal causality rules. In life, inverse causality rules. Although life uses the normal causality of physics and chemistry, it is not bound by its rules.

This characteristic is universal in all forms of life, so it constitutes a law of inverse causality —the Kirschner—Gerhart properties inversely cause the development of the adult from the zygote and they produce the adaptive variety necessary for survival. Since all this must be present at the beginning for species to survive, intelligent design is the only possible explanation. How does life manage to transcend normal causality and move into inverse causality?

The answer is coded information! It is through the coded information in our genomes that inverse causality rules biology. The genome guides the zygote to fulfil a destiny that was written down before the event occurred. It could be no other way, because life that lacked the Kirschner—Gerhart properties could not survive. This leads us to another universal law. Life does its own natural genetic engineering , 10 illustrated most clearly in the fact that all our tools for genetic engineering have come from living organisms. A number of other enzyme-mediated changes can also occur—deletions, insertions, inversions, duplications, transpositions and retro-transpositions.

The eukaryote single-celled ciliate Oxytricha trifallax , displays an extraordinary talent for natural genetic engineering. It has two nuclei in its single cell, one large and one small.

The large nucleus carries out the everyday activities of life, and the small nucleus remains quiet until it is time to reproduce. At reproduction, the small nucleus undergoes meiosis, but the chromosomes in the large nucleus are chopped up into hundreds of thousands of separate pieces.

How Life Works

In the new daughter cells, all these fragments are then re-assembled into chromosomes in a new large nucleus. Development of the zygote into an adult is organized by the use of compartments, modules and signals of different kinds, and these can operate independently, yet in a cooperative manner so as to produce a functional whole organism.

We can illustrate the basic principles in both plant and animal development with two simple experiments. Figure 3. A plananrian flatworm is a free-living freshwater creature with two eyespots at one end and a feeding tube at the other end A. When cut in half, each of the two halves normally regenerates a complete organism B. However, when the beta-catenin signaling system is blocked, the head end regenerates another head and the tail end regenerates another tail C. Many plants are easily grown in cell culture by taking some stem cells from a growing tip of a root or shoot, and placing them on a sterile growth medium figure 2.

After a few days, they will multiply and produce a mass of undifferentiated cells. If a drop of cytokinin is then added, the cells will begin to organize into a shoot, with stem and leaves, but with no root. If the half-plant is then transferred to a new growth medium with auxin in it, a root system will develop and we will soon have a whole plant with both roots and shoots. A comparable system in animals is seen in the planarian flatworm.

Planarians are free-living freshwater animals that have the remarkable ability to regenerate themselves after being cut in half! The signaling system that controls head and tail regeneration was recently identified by experimentally interfering with signals to see what would happen figure 3. They do not carry any coded instructions like RNA or DNA, so they are unable to tell the cells what to do or how to do it. The plant cells already have the built-in ability to produce a whole plant—it only needs to be switched ON.

But notice that the top part of the plant can develop quite independently of the bottom part. Likewise in the planarian flatworm, the head end and the tail end can develop independently of one another. This is compartmentation.

Book Review: How Life Works, by Andrew Matthews

Organisms are arranged into compartments so that development can proceed in one compartment independently of what happens in an adjoining compartment. But notice also that adjoining compartments cooperate at the joining edges so that the development in each compartment is smoothly integrated with its neighbours.

Compartments also exist at smaller scales, for example leaves, stems, flowers, etc. The human embryo contains about different compartments.

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Within each compartment there are numerous modules that carry out specific tasks. For example, energy supply is universally provided in all forms of life by ATP adenosine tri-phosphate 13 via a proton-driven molecular motor. So there will be modules that contain the information to make ATP motors and modules that contain the information to make mitochondrial powerhouses.

The universal rule governing cell signaling is that they are permissive and not instructive. The modules in the cell must therefore already possess the information for what to do and how to do it , and further possess the information required to interpret what the GO signal is and what the STOP signal is. All that the signal network needs to do is to send the right sequence of GO and STOP signals for development to proceed from zygote to adult. This law of signals is that signaling networks are permissive and not instructive. A crucial consequence of this law is that modules must contain, and maintain, certain basic properties, which are the subject of the law of modules.

A module in engineering is a unit that has a stable internal structure and function such that it can be connected to a number of different other systems and can interact with them, but without the interaction interfering with its own internal structure or function.

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  5. Modularity in the regulatory domain is concerned with information content. This is a fundamental point that is entirely lost upon those who use Shannon theory to study biological information, and who rely upon neo-Darwinian accidents mutations to drive the course of evolution.

    In neo-Darwinian theory, the only relevant information in DNA was thought to be that which codes for proteins genes. But when we look beyond the Shannon definition of information and begin to see the other four dimensions of meaning, we come across an entirely different kind of information that is called meta-information. Meta-information is information about information; akin to metadata in the computer world.

    Meta-information in biology is information about how to use the information passed on to the zygote from the parents. A living organism needs to have the following kinds of meta-information :. There are two crucial features of meta-information that confound all naturalistic explanations for the origin of new biological information. First, it cannot come into existence by a spontaneous random process. A random event is, by definition, one that occurs independently of other such events.

    But meta-information is, by definition, entirely dependent upon the information that it relates to. That is, it has no meaning or purpose apart from the information that it relates to. It therefore cannot come into existence by any kind of independent process.

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    Second, without it, the basic information is of no use. For example, a zygote could have all the genes required to turn it into a human being, but without the necessary meta-information to instruct the cell in how and when to use which genes, the genes themselves would be useless. Information and meta-information are mutually inter-dependent—each is useless without the other.

    Meta-information is the information you need to have in order to use the information you want to have to provide you with the capacity for your survival and the survival of your descendants and your species. We now have two more universals that constitute laws of life. First, conserved core functional machinery must be coded in two different kinds of functional information—the primary functional information mostly genes , and the meta-information needed to implement the primary information mostly regulatory information.

    Second, in order to maintain the functional integrity of life, the conserved core information must be kept together in modules that are difficult to break apart, but whose signal circuit connections can be pulled apart and put together again in different ways to produce a built-in system of variation. The law of modules is that the basic module of information has to contain functionally integrated primary information plus the necessary meta-information to implement the primary information. This information is not necessarily in coded form—it may be designed into a mechanism that has the required properties.