Re: Fw: Fw: economic irreducible complexity

Brian D. Harper (
Mon, 02 Dec 1996 10:03:05 -0500

At 08:31 AM 11/29/96 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
>Terry M. Gray wrote:
>> Let's not defeat a straw man here. Gradualism is out in the complexity
>> field. These people talk about emergence, systems reaching a critical
>> point before the new complex thing suddenly appearing, etc.
>> Class 2 does not equal design. It simply equals a non gradualistic origin
>> of complexity. Identifying something in class 2 does not mean that it is
>> unexplainable in "naturalistic" terms. In other words a methodological
>> naturalist coiuld be completely comfortable with class 2 phenomena.
> Teilhard de Chardin's analogy of a "phase change" for
>evolutionary "jumps" is interesting. You change the energy of a system
>as gradually as you wish, & at some points, Bang, there's a sudden
>change in macroscopic properties.

This is interesting, I'm not too familiar with Teilhard de Chardin's
writings, would you happen to know offhand where he discusses
this analogy? This is very much like what happens in Per Bak's
sand pile illustration of self-organized criticality.

To re-inforce Terry's earlier points, Per Bak, in his new book
<How Nature Works>, scolds Dawkins a little along the
same lines that an ID'er might scold him. I don't have the book
with me so I can't quote him directly, but it was something like
"how can you say that the origin of all of biological complexity
is understood and is due natural selection? Where's your
evidence for such a grand claim?".

Brian Harper | "If you don't understand
Associate Professor | something and want to
Applied Mechanics | sound profound, use the
The Ohio State University | word 'entropy'"
| -- Morrowitz
Bastion for the naturalistic |
rulers of science |