Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reductio ad Absurdum

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin for reduction to absurdity) is a method of argument that refutes a proposition by showing that it implies an absurdity, or proves a proposition by showing that its negation implies an absurdity. This method of argument can be used to cast doubt on the Big Bang theory and on the evolutionary theory of origins.

The Big Bang theory has a fundamental problem arising from its assertion that extremely compact energy expanded and cooled, converting to matter. We know from experimental physics that energy can be converted to matter and vice versa; but whenever energy is converted to ordinary matter, an equal amount is converted to anti-matter. (See my blog on the unity of matter, energy, space, and time.)

Simply put, antimatter is a 'mirror-image' form of matter. For example, a positron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. The electron has negative charge, but the positron has positive charge.

The antiparticles are a minority, and in a short time collide with ordinary matter, converting back to energy. For example, a positron will collide with an electron, converting to gamma rays (electromagnetic energy).

So the Big Bang theory implies that half the universe should be antimatter; but we observe that practically 100% of the universe is ordinary matter, and that antimatter exists only for fleeting moments.

The evolutionary theory of origins has an analogous problem. Most organic molecules (the building-blocks of living things) are chiral: that is, having an asymmetry such as gloves, shoes, and screws, which have either a left-handed or right-handed form. In the laboratory, scientists can make both left-handed and right-handed forms of any sugar or amino acid molecule. But plants and animals nearly always use right-handed sugars and left-handed amino acids. Mirror-image life ought to function just as well. But why this 'single-minded', arbitrary choice if the origin of life was accidental? Why don't we observe both forms of life?

Of course, life is more than organic molecules, just as a LegoRobot is more than a pile of Lego parts. To be functional, the organic molecules need to be organized according to some design, which is generally encoded in DNA, the universal language for expressing the design information. (See my previous blog post.)