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    • Relationships that lend themselves to coherence in the context of the environment tend to cohere. A simple statement that masks an otherwise profound point. We see certain properties in any stable entity, from atoms, to molecules, planets, stars, galaxies as well as biology. When we see coherent structures we see collections of perception and response traits among the structural parts that are aligned around the task of nourishing and defending coherence over time.

      It would seem to me that stable entities in nature would have to have these organized perception and response traits by necessity since they have the net result of forging a hedge - a selective membrane - as an interface to an otherwise less coherent natural background that would dissolve it if not for those self maintaining traits. This would also mean that this tendency toward organized adaptive systems may be a natural flow of the relationships we see in nature, and as a consequence, complex organized adaptive structures would be likely to repeat. There may be something to this "anthropic principle" that proposes that the universe must, by necessity, be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it in order for that conscious and sapient life to exist at all.

      I could be missing something(s)

      Aliens in our midst: The ctenophore’s brain suggests that, if evolution began again, intelligence would re-emerge because nature repeats itself

    • The anthropic principle has always struck me as a tautology that explains nothing. Since a lot of smart people have discussed it, I suppose I'm missing something. Sure, if it were not for the precise values of a few dozen constants in nature, our universe would not be recognizable. So? If the multiverse hypothesis is true, then there's nothing remarkable here--on the contrary, our universe is inevitable, as are countless others that don't resemble ours in the least. If the hypothesis is false, then nothing impossible has occurred, though we do have a challenge to explain those constants from first principles.

      @JoeCarter: Are you familiar with the work of Jeremy England? He takes some of the ideas you have discussed to an even more fundamental level and claims that the origin of self-organizing molecules (and hence, life) is a predictable result of the laws of thermodynamics. I don't begin to know enough to say how plausible his claims are, but they certainly are intriguing.

    • I am familiar with Jeremy. Some interesting perspective there.

      On tautology. (Assuming a ruby is red) Saying "The ruby is red" is a tautology but just because a piece of information is self referential, that does not make it valueless as far as I can tell. It is descriptive, and as an isolated point may have no predictive value, but predictive models are typically built on an inferential model that stems from a collection of tautological data points. For instance; I said "Relationships that lend themselves to coherence in the context of the environment tend to cohere." that is arguably a tautology, but it can also be a kernel on which we can explore why coherent complex dynamic adaptive systems such as ourselves exist in nature. With that focus we can begin to look at the nature of coherent systems, which perceive and respond with some degree of intention toward nourishing and defending coherence over time, and with that we can then begin to make predictions about what would happen in different scenarios, such as what if we dialed up (or ignorantly engaged in) antagonistic behaviors for instance. We could expect an immune response type push back from other systems to which we were being antagonized.

      My point is I would agree tautological points are limited in their value, but by no means valueless, and in certain contexts, they can be the cornerstone that could get neglected due to its unrecognized value, not necessarily due to its lack of it.

      I could be missing something.

    • I have heard biology described as a natural dissipative structure that congealed as a function of more efficiently aiding in the journey toward equilibrium, (entropy) since we actively consume energy and dissipate it more efficiently than say an unorganized blob of the same elements from which we are composed.

    • It sounds very interesting however in my mind it suggests that it was created for that purpose. It's sounding very creationist and directed. Life has no purpose and was the result of random events that created things that make copies of themselves. So while life may help entropy in the long term, it isn't a result of the need to more efficiently aid in the entropy of this universe. I'm not saying what you passed on is your belief but rather commenting on what you had heard.

    • Richard, if Jeremy England is right then there should and may be a heck of a lot of alien species out there. Maybe one day we will find out :) I'm no expert on England's work but I suspect he is at least partly true. My feeling may be partly a bias of my strong desire and belief that there is alien life out there somewhere. Though I do not think we have any credible evidence yet of any alien life.