|J. G. Cox
Joined: Dec. 2005
For the benefit of any lurkers, I would like to expand somewhat on Lenny's answer to scordova's demand for a derivation of the theory of evolution from (the first principles of?) physics.
Lenny's answer seemed to me to be basically 'that's a ridiculous demand.' He's right, for several reasons. First, though theoretically you could boil the workings of the entire universe down to subatomic forces (as far as science is concerned), it is impossible that we humans would ever have the computing power, let alone the brainpower, to do so. Scaling highly reductionist physics principles up to the level of organization studied in evolutionary biology is impossible. (Note: would anyone with a background in physics like to challenge scordova's use of quantum theory?)
Second,there are many theories that focus on higher levels of organization for which we have no explicit tie to fundamental physics in psychology, ecology, sociology, economics, etc. Yet, any demand for such a derivation applied to these would seem absurd.
Third, for the theists among you, ID itself would fail any such demand for a derivation because God (or the Designer, or the Designer of the Designer, ad nauseum), is by definition not subject to the laws of physics. Thus, this diversionary attack is equally well applied to ID
As I write this, however, I wonder if one *could* derive evolutionary theory from physics and math. One component is that of heredity (genetics) and mutation therein, which boils down to chemistry and eventually physics. As for factors such as natural selection and drift, those derive inevitably from basic probability theory and are not explicit functions of physical laws.