Random: n. without direction, pattern or method adj. left to chance
The more we grasp the concepts of wholeness and interconnectedness, the more we find that our concept of randomness is also in need of some revision. Without pattern or method is really just the opposite of the ordered universe modeled after an information processing system.
From our individual point of view, the events that swirl around us seem to have no rhyme or reason. Our inflated ego considers anything it doesn’t understand as just another accident of blind nature. Of course, the more we learn about the environment and how it behaves, the more obvious it becomes that Nature is not blind, but all knowing.
All events have a string of events leading up to them and a flock of events surrounding them in time. It is our mind that assigns a single name to events for ease of discussion. Close inspection has revealed that all events are controlled by their relationship to all other past and current events. No event stands alone and therefore only exists as a participant in the system or process.
These concepts of wholeness and interconnectedness mean that nothing happens by accident. The concept of a structured universe precludes randomness altogether. The concept that the universe is managed by information leaves no room for random acts. What appear to be random events are those whose information channels have not yet been discovered.
Computers cannot generate truly random numbers on their own. The reason is that a computer is an extremely precise machine. It operates by making very small and precise mathematical computations. Modern home computers can make billions of precise computations per second, without errors. When an error is encountered, the machine turns this impressive computational power loose on the problem. It employs highly sophisticated error correction routines that restore order to the system by finding and correcting those pesky errors. The computer thrives on precision and accuracy. A random number is an error by definition. There is really no way for a computer to select anything, but a precisely described number.
So programmers have had to use “pseudo-random” number generator scripts to fake it. What most of them do is record the time the function is called as a random event. Then they use its numerical value as input to precisely calculate a number within the range specified. It will only accept one input per time slot, so by the time the second input gets in, the “seed” numbers have changed and they can meet the existing criteria for randomness, but a truly random number it is not. Triggered at a specific time, it will always generate the same “random” number. If scientists want what they consider truly random numbers, they use something like the decay of radioactive materials to generate them.
The only thing random in a computer system is the occurrence of errors. So called random events can be devastating to important computer programs and modern computer technologies would not be possible without highly developed error correction routines.
A close look at biological information processing systems reveals that they suffer from the same deficiency. Random events are errors to be corrected. Each cell performs only highly precise chemical operations dictated by highly robust and efficient coded instructions. Errors in the process itself are all but non existent.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Damage to organisms is not caused by random events, but by broken and damaged input. Just as in a computer system, errors seem random to the system, but have a very real cause, such as scratches or dust on the media surface. Errors in biological systems come from damage to the information being fed to the organism. When fed the proper information, biological systems just do not fail. Errors do occur, but the immune system is very efficient in finding and eliminating damaged cells, while natural selection is equally efficient at eliminating damaged creatures.
Randomness is just not a functional part of such a system. Randomness equals error. Every action within a biological system, is the result of “direction, pattern and method”. Nothing is left to chance. Looking at life from this point of view, the probability that random mutation controls the advance of evolution in biological systems is remote, indeed.
Chosen at Random
Here is a term that shows our confusion with the concept of randomness. To choose is to select according to some criteria, while random means left to chance. To pull a number out of a hat can be random, but to choose an object over others is never random. Choosing is the exercise of free will and the very opposite of randomness. The process of choosing at random means that there are no criteria involved and all options have an equal opportunity of being selected.
In discussions and writings of evolutionary theory there is a term i’ve come across a few times that points out more confusion. The term is “random mating”, and is used regarding transfer of genetic traits within a population. There is really nothing random about mating. All creatures that do it require very specific criteria be met before it takes place. The more complex the creature, the more complex is the mating ritual. Female birds, insects and animals of all kinds require their prospective mate to know how to sing and dance as well as protect her and her young from danger. She watches carefully as the male struts his stuff and chooses the one that best meets her criteria.
Natural selection certainly plays a role in survival of genetic information, but selection by the female is far more important. The female is selecting for the future. She uses species specific markers to assess the male’s health, vitality and ability to protect her from her perceived threats and enemies. She is judging using criteria that have a connection to the male’s genetic information. She is only thinking of which suitor is the best choice, however, the result of all the female choices made over time produce a stronger species.
Another advantage is that subtle and intricate behavior makes it possible for the species to isolate any deviates from the main colony.
There was some landmark research done in the 70s with fruit flies that really needs to be looked at in the light of recent DNA discoveries. Back in those days, their criteria for a new species was whether or not it could mate with the old one. In the experiment, fruit fly populations were raised until there were 2500 individuals descendant from a single mating pair. At that time, another mating pair was selected and the remaining flies were destroyed. The new pair were parents to a new 2500 fruit fly family tree. They continued that cycle until the selected flies would no longer mate with the original population. According to the prevailing understanding of “species”, the researchers claimed success: they had caused mutations that produced a new species of fruit fly.
Now we know that there were no changes in the DNA of the fruit flies, they were still exactly the same species. This new subspecies was isolated from the original colony, not by genetic mutation, but because of its behavior. This is a far better way to deal with adversity than risking it all by messing with the code. Instead of mutating DNA to find the solution to a serious problem, (the unexpected and repeated death of 99% of a population by an unknown cause), adjusting behavior is a rational first step in the search for an answer. By isolating the group with the mystery condition from the rest of the colony, the species protects itself while maintaining a possibly advantageous strain. This is the same first step we would take if an unknown agent was suddenly killing off large percentages of human families. We would quarantine them. The fact that biological systems also take this first step towards solution of the problem is lost on neodarwinists.
The question is: how does the species “know” anything at all, and specifically, how does it know that 99% of this population has expired?
The surviving pairs of fruit flies had no direct knowledge of the demise of the unchosen, as they were removed before the rest of the population was destroyed. However, they were connected holographically by virtue of their identical portions of DNA. When the 99% were gassed it caused a major disturbance in their shared coherent electromagnetic field. The surviving pair, as well as the rest of the species had a sudden emotional response, that terrible sinking feeling of dread, that coincided with the death of their comrades. This causes a rise in the anxiety level of surviving pair. It eventually makes them too nervous to mate with the rest of the colony, seeking out those with the same anxieties.
The flatworms showed they could remember a direct trauma and pass the information around within their population. The fruit flies show that they can remember indirect trauma; that experienced by the species, but not the individual.