As a general rule, whenever the title of a news article is a question the answer to it is ‘no’. Or, at the very least, that’s the answer they intend to give, whether or not that’s actually it. Case in point: Does Radical New Theory Explain the Existence of Everything?
Said ‘theory,’ of course, is that detailed in Erik Andrulis’ 100-page Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life, which was attacked mercilessly in the blogosphere around a month or so ago. You may be aware of PZ Myers’ post The comparison to jabberwocky is inevitable; while on the other side of the fence at Evolution News and Views was Life: Explained. Oh, Now We Understand. If you actually want anything close to a refutation I suggest you go to the former source: the EN&V article is merely snarky and a little ironic, as is Mr Thomas’ for that matter.
What can explain all the circumstances of the cosmos—why small changes happen, why big changes happen, how life supposedly evolved from non-life, and the fundamental structure of chemicals and atoms? According to microbiologist Erik Andrulis of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, the key to the universe is the gyre.
A gyre, as B.T. never really botheres to explain, is a vortex. One criticism launched, albeit only really by implication, at Andrulis that is somewhat unjustified is that he is making up his terminology from whole cloth. Gyre’s are a thing. As is chirality, for that matter, and as such out of the now-famous quote “The levorafocagyre, in turn, is antichiral to the dextrasupragyre” only the second and last words appear to be entirely made up. (For chirality, consider spiral pasta – here we have a container of the stuff where all the pieces turn in the same direction. If some of them were ‘antichiral’, that is the other way up, they would have to be packed differently. But I digress.)
Publishing in the online journal Life, Andrulis used over 100 pages to define dozens of newly invented words and to describe how atoms, molecules, cell systems, ecosystems, and the solar system are made of shape-shifting circular vortices called gyres.
Supposedly, when smaller gyres collapsed in synchrony with other gyres long ago, they naturally formed larger and more complex systems. Andrulis called this process “complexifying,” and he claimed that simple chemicals coalesced in just the right way to form life when collapsing gyres formed gyres-within-gyres.
That, at least, may be theoretically possible – although that doesn’t mean that the universe is made from his gyres, nor that his theory isn’t BS. Interestingly, Mr Thomas does not attack this on the grounds of thermodynamics:
His bold break with standard thinking may spur some of his readers to approach old problems in new, refreshing ways. However, the author’s claims far surpass his theory’s actual explanatory power.
Here’s where things begin to get a little hypocritical:
Perhaps atoms are made of some kind of gyre-like, rotating, ring-shape energy. And planets certainly do revolve around the sun in the solar system. But similar behaviors between different systems is not to be confused with similar, naturally caused origins of those systems. Bicycles and cars both use rotating wheels, but intelligent people invented them, not gyres.
The device takes clever advantage of the tendency for acid to neutralize itself. ATP synthase harnesses the pressure of concentrated protons and converts it to mechanical energy as a spinning rotor and axle. It then immediately converts that to chemical energy in ATP. The full assembly includes the asymmetrical axle, six rocking cams, two stators, a bushing, a 12-part rotor, and two half-stroke cylinders.
“[S]imilar behaviors between different systems is not to be confused with similar, naturally caused origins of those systems” indeed. I shall remember that.
Andrulis mixed scientific-sounding concepts with Eastern religion, and he even credited sages for inspiration. In a description strongly reminiscent of the yin and yang of Asian philosophy, he wrote:
What’s Mr Thomas trying to say? Eastern religion + (pseudo)science = bad, but Christianity + (pseudo)science = good?
All natural gyres harbor two countervailing forces: attraction and repulsion. Paradoxically, the gyre singularity both attracts and repels energy and matter and thus is “attractorepulsive.” These unified yet contradictorily dual (diune) forces exert paradoxical effects.
But calling a contradiction “diune” no more validates it than calling a round square a “squound.” Squounds and attractorepulsive forces are terms that do not correspond to anything actual, rational, or even possible.
This Andrulis guy does love his neologisms, doesn’t he? But it should be pointed out that unequal opposing forces also exist, though they are not ‘ unified’, and this whole ‘dual is not a weird-sounding enough adjective so I have to use a different one’ business is simply pointless. While we’re here, I wonder where this leaves the ICR’s ‘Triune Universe‘ concept?
In the process of presenting his universe of gyres, Andrulis commendably confronted failures of modern thought, such as the failure of natural selection to explain diversity of forms. But his brave attempt to model the structure of all things ultimately failed to model the origin of all things.
The link for the “failure of natural selection to explain diversity of forms” claim is Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion That Natural Selection Operates on Organisms which I went over at the time.
For example, his model cannot explain itself. If everything is really just gyres, then where did the gyres come from?
If the model ‘explained itself’, wouldn’t that be a circular argument? And where did God come from, Brian?
Andrulis’ report went on to refute panspermia, the idea that life was seeded on earth from elsewhere in the universe, because it “avoids the issue in need of solution” by merely pushing the question of the origin of life farther away.
Ah, but if the solution needed is merely the improbability, allowing it to happen anywhere else in the universe makes it more likely as there is the potential for more trials. But that is still a fairly good attack on the concept, though by no means a new one.
Ironically, however, the same argument applies to his gyres, since he did not explain gyre origins but merely posited their existence.
You don’t actually need to explain the origins of something that you posit the existence of. I can posit the existence of there actually being an Institute for Creation research on the basis of the evidence without having to explain how it got there.
He also wrote, “Life as I know it evolved on Earth and thus Earthly life is what I model.” So his conceptual system thoroughly denies a Creator and puts nature in His place. And in what sounds like a page out of a nature worship manual, Andrulis wrote, “Unexpectedly, then, this theory reveals that Earth—or, for that matter, any celestial, physical, chemical, and molecular system—is alive, that is, synonymous with life.”
Do “nature worship manuals” exist? I don’t know, but this is indeed very Gaia hypothesis-like.
Such an approach ignores the obvious ultimate Source of all things. The “simplest and most economical” connection is from creation to a Creator. None of the biblical creation account—which reveals that God created atoms, chemicals, the solar system, and life—is seriously challenged by this religiously toned, pseudoscientific treatise.
It would be rather damning for them if it was threatened by this BS. The whole ‘creator’ thing isn’t very ‘simple’ when it ideologically must include a Flood, it should be pointed out.
If it sounds like I’m being supportive of Andrulis, I’m not – he seems to be spouting nonsense. But despite the seemingly easy target that his work provides, Mr Thomas still manages to muck up. I supposed I should have expected it.