From Quarks to Human Communities, Towards the Triune God. A Transdisciplinary Integral Approach of the Evolutionary Creation

1.- Introduction

There are solid evidences of the way the Universe evolved from the initial Big Bang to human beings ruled by different physical laws and by natural selection of random mutations. Atheists are convinced that natural laws and chance are enough to explain our existence. On the contrary, believers are convinced that the Universe was created by God in an act of love, although there are different theological theories about the action of God after that initial moment. There is the question whether the Creator made an unique initial divine act, and after that the Universe is evolving by its own physical laws, as defended by deists, or, on the contrary, there is a continuous divine influence on it. Even more, Creationists will defend that not only there is a continuous influence, but also a direct interventions with definite purpose, but we scientist believe that the physical laws of nature are not violated by the Creator.

This question is difficult to explain and it is easy to fall into many difficulties. For instance, if God does not exert His action, there is no room for Divine Providence, and if we can not interact with Him, there is no way to express the reciprocal love between Creator and creatures.

On the other hand, if we accept a direct Divine intervention, the problem of evil arises. For example, if God is driving evolution through gene mutations, why He selected an eye with myopia instead of selecting a better one not needing glasses? or why He designed a genetic code prone to mutations that can cause cancer?

In this paper we will review different alternatives to these questions specially by three different authors (Karl Rahner, Karl Schmitz-Moormann, and Denis Edwards) always keeping in mind that God does not ordinarily violate the laws of the nature, and that evolution is perfectly compatible with creation. But first we will take a look at the way our cosmo-bio-evolution is happening.

2.- Scientific view of cosmo-bio-evolution

Only 50 years ago, it would be impossible to even pose fundamental questions that we are trying to answer now. Our knowledge about how are beings able of thinking in the universe is based on a limited amount of observational data, together with accurate enough theories, trying to explain them.

An enormous amount of work has been done in many different areas, as quantum and gravitational physics, biochemistry, biology, and mathematics, and new theories have been proposed. Different discoveries, as the inhomogeneities in the cosmic microwave background radiation or the DNA structure, are corroborating our theories. Also the development of mathematics and the use of powerful computing simulation programs are helping in obtaining models for the evolution from big-bang to humans. Nevertheless, there are still huge gaps that we can not explain. Of course, scientists are not still, and newer concepts have been developed, as chaos theory and emergence. Despite our ignorance in many aspects, there is also large consensus in a lot of them.

It is widely accepted that initially it was something like a big explosion and only pure energy existed. We do not know what happened in the initial point, we can not even ask about that moment, as there are no physical theories describing it. We can only explain from an initial time tp, called Plank's time that is in the order of 5´10-44 seconds.

After this initial moment, different structures began to appear. It is important to point out that in each step of evolution a higher degree of complexity emerged. In principle these complex states are not inferred from the elementary constituents. From the point of view of information, each new state can accommodate more information than the single constituents by themselves. Also, each state of complexity implements new ways of communication among the different elements, and again, this new ways of communication are not inferred from the single parts.

In short, the cosmo-bio-evolution is based in the standard Big Bang theory and in the Darwinian evolution theory, and we can distinguish the following steps:

1) Physics domain
Universe emerged from an extremely dense and hot singularity 1.37×1010 years ago. We do not have information about what was before Planck's time. From that moment space and time appeared and the universe started expanding at the speed of light. Only energy existed at the beginning, but soon quarks, that is, matter was originated from energy. Also gravitational force is differentiated from the rest of forces.

Later, at about 10-36 seconds, strong force is also decoupled. From 10-36 to 10-32 an extremely fast expansion, called inflation occurs, like a universe phase transition. At this moment it was only energy —that is, photons— quarks and antiquarks, and the exchange particles, named gluons. Due to the high energy density, quarks can not bind to form larger particles (baryons) and form what has been named quark-gluon plasma. Later, at about 10-12 seconds, weak and electromanectic forces are also separated, yielding to the final four forces, as we observe now.

As the universe continued growing in size, the temperature dropped, and quarks can combine to form protons and neutrons (baryons) at 10-5 seconds. All the different types of particles that are a part of the present universe were in existence, even though the temperature was still too much high for the formation of nuclei. At this point a not well understood symmetry breakdown occurs, and the equality between matter and antimatter is unbalanced. As a result of this process, a small excess of ordinary matter over antimatter remains, and it is the matter we are made of and we observe nowadays.

As the universe becomes colder, below 109 K, elements start to be formed. Initially only deuterium and helium in a process called primordial nucleosynthesis. Around 200,000 years, gravitation starts having importance, gas clouds, galaxies, stars, planets are formed. Later, heavier elements are formed inside stars: C, O, N, ... At 380,000 years, matter becomes neutral atoms and radiation is decoupled from matter, the Universe becomes transparent, leaving behind the cosmic microwave background radiation.

In summary, at this physics level, the only basic building blocks we can observe are the elementary particles. The information is identified with the support, and the only information is the particle itself.

A preliminary way of information exchange or interrelation can be identified in the four forces of the nature: gravitational, strong, weak and electromagnetic. These forces act by means of virtual boson exchange between particles. Table 1 shows the complete set of elementary particles and forces. There is also a complementary set of anti-particles, not present in nature, only observable in laboratories.

Particles

Leptons

Quarks

e- (electron)

ve (electron neutrino)

u (up)

d (down)

m (muon)

nm (muon neutrino)

c (charm)

s (strange)

t (tau)

nt (tau neutrino)

t (top)

b (bottom)

Forces

Force

Exchange bosons

gravitation

graviton

strong

gluons

weak

W+, W-, Z0

electromagnetic

photon

Table 1: types of elementary particles and forces

2) Chemistry domain
After the explosions of supernova, with the formation of secondary stars, with planets rich in bio-elements already formed and the temperature low enough it is possible to form complex entities by combining atoms. The earth was formed 4,600 million years ago. Then, during a phase of slow cooling of planets, with high pressures, and moderate temperatures, simple inorganic molecules, as silicates or carbonates appear by means of chemical bonds that are mediated by interchange of photons, electrons or protons (Hydrogen nucleus forming a hydrogen bridge). These primary molecules were necessary for the next evolutionary step, the formation of complex molecules.

At this level, there is a new source of information as in addition to the chemical formula, the spatial arrangement of atoms, driven by chemical bonds in molecular orbitals which is key for the chemical activity.

3) Biochemistry domain
Biomolecules are complex molecules composed primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen along with nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. Other elements also form part of biomolecules, but in very small proportions. This biomolecules are the chemical compounds that naturally occurs in living organisms The main classes are carbohydrates, amino acids and proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and nucleic acids, as shown in Table 2, and they are often long chains,

Small molecules

Monomers

  • Lipid, Phospholipid, Glycolipid, Sterol
  • Vitamin
  • Hormone, Neurotransmitter
  • Carbohydrate, Sugar
  • Disaccharide
  • Amino acid
  • Nucleotide
  • Phosphate
  • Monosaccharide

Polymers

Macromolecules

  • Peptide, Oligopeptide, Polypeptide, Protein
  • Nucleic acid, i.e. DNA, RNA
  • Oligosaccharide, Polysaccharide
  • Prion

Table 2: Types of biomolecules

The particular series of amino acids that form a protein is known as that protein's primary structure. Proteins have several, well-classified, elements of local structure and these are termed secondary structure. The overall 3D structure of a protein is termed its tertiary structure. Proteins often aggregate into macromolecular structures, or quaternary structure.

At this stage of complexity we can identify a new source of information in the folding of the macromolecules. For instance, in the case of proteins, the particular linear series of amino acids that form the proteins configures its primary structure. There is a secondary structures made by local amino acid arrangements (in helices or sheets). The overall 3D structure of a protein is the tertiary structure. And often there is a quaternary structure when proteins aggregate into macromolecular compounds.

This macromolecules interact and eventually replicate in adequate environments by means of chemical reactions.

4) Biology domain.
Biomolecules combine, and the structure of surface membrane is developed. From it, between 3,900 to 4,100 million years ago, a new structure appears: the cell with the genes. It has a very high complexity level, and has the capability of growth and self-reproduction. We can say that for the first time in the cosmo-bio-evolution history living organisms, with the capacity of reproduction, exist. Initially cells were simple prokaryotes, without nucleus.

In a simplistic way, a unicellular organism is a series of complex chemical reactions, nevertheless, to reduce life to mere chemistry is an error. It is the entire organism, as a whole that determine their adaptation to the environment and their survival.

Organisms are semi-closed chemical systems. Although they are individual units of life they are not closed to the environment around them. Each cell interact with to its neighbors by chemical interchange, and a new degree of relationship and complexity emerged.

1,400 million years ago, more sophisticated cells with a nucleus (eukaryotes) appear. And later, 700 million years ago, multi-cellular organisms emerged on the earth, starting cell specialization. A group of specialized cells form a tissue. Several types of tissue work together to form an organ to produce a particular function. Several organs functioning jointly conform an organ system. Finally, many organisms are composed of several organ systems which coordinate to allow for life.

Domains

Archaea

Bacteria

Eukaryota (divided in four Kingdoms)

 

Fungi

 

Plantae

 

Animalia

 

Protista

Table 3: Domains and Kingdoms of living organisms

The organism information is stored in DNA molecules located in cell nucleus, constituting the genome. This information is also transferred to descendents. The DNA information can mutate by influence of external media: temperature, chemicals or radiation, in a random process.

The information is written in an alphabet based on four different letters, that are nucleotide bases named: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). In RNA, thymine (T) is replaced by uracil (U).

A typical cell has about 10,000 different proteins, and it has about 1 million molecules of each kind in average (it can range from 10,000 to 10 millions), this means 1010 protein molecules.

The genetic information written in the DNA molecules of the cell genome is translated into proteins by means of a genetic code. Every set of three nucleotide bases (named codon) determines one of the 20 different amino acids that in long sequences form proteins. This genetic code is shown in table 4.

 

Amino acid code

Amino acid name

RNA codon

Ala

Alanine

GCU, GCC, GCA, GCG

Arg

Arginine

CGU, CGC, CGA, CGG, AGA, AGG

Asn

Asparagine

AAU, AAC

Asp

Aspartic acid

GAU, GAC

Cys

Cysteine

UGU, UGC

Gln

Glutamic acid

CAA, CAG

Glu

Glutamine

GAA, GAG

Gly

Glycine

GGU, GGC, GGA, GGG

His

Histidine

CAU, CAC

Ile

Isoleucine

AUU, AUC, AUA

Leu

Leucine

UUA, UUG, CUU, CUC, CUA, CUG

Lys

Lysine

AAA, AAG

Met

Methionine

AUG

Phe

Phenylalanine

UUU, UUC

Pro

Proline

CCU, CCC, CCA, CCG

Ser

Serine

UCU, UCC, UCA, UCG, AGU, AGC

Thr

Threonine

ACU, ACC, ACA, ACG

Trp

Tryptophan

UGG

Tyr

Tyrosine

UAU, UAC

Val

Valine

GUU, GUC, GUA, GUG

START

 

AUG

STOP

 

UAG, UGA, UAA

Table 4: The genetic code

All living organisms share the same cellular structure and genetic code, so there is a solid evidence that all living organisms share a common ancestor, from which all of them evolve.

5) Zoology domain
In further evolution steps, from chordates to vertebrates, animals with a true neural system and a brain appeared. Having a new complexity level, new ways of information appear, vertebrates manipulate information using neurotransmitters and electrical pulses inside the nervous central system. There is also communication between individuals by chemical compounds as pheromones.

6) Ethology domain
Primates. They have superior brain functions that are unveiled for example in their ability of self-recognition. For the first time in evolution there are entities that feel themselves as individuals. There are some polemics if other mammals as elephants or dauphins also can recognize themselves, but to fix from which degree of brain development this is true is not relevant. Primitive forms of culture also appear in apes, teaching and learning can be observed, that is, there are primitive ways of transmitting information between individuals. There are also primitive languages based on gestures.

7) Psychology domain
At the top of the evolution, the humans appear. The most relevant aspect is self-consciousness: for the first time the creation is thinking about itself. In terms of information, language means a breakthrough. Information is stored outside the living organisms in books or other physical supports, and information reaches a planetary scale.

8) Sociology domain
Humans are not fully developed unless they live in relationships with other people. Humans are social animals, and it is in communities where we reach the highest degree of development by means of interpersonal love. Civilizations are a higher degree of evolution. Humans are a symbiosis of genes and culture. But humans are something more. Already in very primitive humans (Homo neanderthalensis) we discover burials that denote an idea of transcendence and religious sense. We can say that humans are capable of God and are able to respond the initiative of the Creator.

9) Information domain
From the point of view of human development, certainly the previous step is the last one. Nevertheless, from the point of view of information maybe we can consider a new one in computers and Internet, although in my opinion this is arguable.

Even though it is not yet fully developed, Internet introduces ubiquity and immediacy. It is not difficult to imagine, in a not so distant future all the people, on Earth interconnected all the time and having access to huge amounts of information. But it is important to point out that the information has been created by humans. Computer can help humans, but not develop its own conscious.

Information in general, in contraposition as its support, has to be considered non material. In the history of evolution, we observe that information is step after step less material, more effective, more spiritual. With humans, new concepts as beauty, mysticism and religious beliefs appear.

3.- Scientific theories

The previously described cosmo-bio-evolution is based on well established theories, the main of them are:

1) Gravitation or general relativity
It describes the geometrical structure of space and time. With current physical instruments, the accuracy of the theory has been proven up to one part in 1014, which is really amazing. This theory is used to calculate gravitational attraction and trajectories of bodies for example. In principle it is a deterministic theory, but if a systems offers chaotic behavior it is impossible in practice to predict the evolution of it. Simplifying, chaotic systems are systems very sensitive to initial conditions and small changes on them yield big differences in the final state.

2) Quantum theory
It describes the behavior of elementary particles or very small bodies. The most relevant point is that it introduces the notions of uncertainty and probability. Instead of corpuscles with their observable physical magnitudes we consider systems with their states that are represented by a wave function. The wave function does not correspond to definite values for each of the observables, but to a probability distribution of them.

This uncertainty is ontic, and not due to our ignorance of the state of the system. When quantum systems interact in a way that a magnitude should be fixed, in a process called measure, one possible states is randomly fixed. We call this process wave function collapse.

The interpretation of this theory is not yet clear. Some scientists think that it is an incomplete theory, but all the experiments point in the direction that there is no a hidden mechanism, but pure randomness. The main consequence is that it is not possible to predict the future of quantum systems as they are randomness in the evolution of them.

Although these theories are able to describe with very high precision many aspects of the world, they still have many unknowns. Gravitation and quantum are not compatible among them, and there are no satisfactory ways to mix both in a unified Quantum Gravity.

For complex organisms it is not possible to apply quantum theory directly. If they are many different bodies the wave function is not useful as the total uncertainty is too big. Then we have to appeal to statistics. We can mention two theories based on statistics.

Statistical mechanics
On top of these two physical theories we also have a statistical theory named statistical mechanics that reinterprets thermodynamics. Is does not introduce new natural laws, but offers a mathematical description of the behavior of systems with an extremely large number of elements. The main prediction is that entropy, interpreted as improbability or disorder, always increases in closed systems (those that do not exchange energy, matter and entropy with the exterior). To increase the order (or decrease entropy) we have to expend some energy and also expulse some entropy to another place.

Usually statistical mechanics is limited to closed systems in equilibrium, but living organisms are open systems not in equilibrium, and therefore it can not be used to describe them. Nevertheless, there are attempts to extend the theory. Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003) proposed the dissipative system as an attempt to address the behavior of systems far from equilibrium. A dissipative system is an open system which is operating far from thermodynamic equilibrium. A dissipative system is characterized by the spontaneous appearance of symmetry breaking and the formation of complex, sometimes chaotic, effects.

Darwinian evolution theory
Is a biological theory proposed by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in 1859, which tries to explain how living organisms evolve from one species to another. It is based in species evolution by means of natural selection and random mutations through self-replication (inheritance). Evolution does not act in a linear direction towards a pre-defined target, it only responds to various types of adaptive changes.

Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975), in 1937 proposed the Synthetic evolution theory or neo-Darwinism, that is a combination of Darwin's concept of natural selection, Mendel's basic genetics, along with the facts and theories of population genetics. It was later modified with the discovery of DNA double helix and the ulterior studies of molecular biology and genetic code.

Nevertheless, it is a controversial theory, as it has several unclear points. Many people questions if only chance can produce the continuous progress in the speciation, as nature shows a clear but never explained tendency towards complexity. Also there is the problem of lack of continuous intermediate species.

Dobzhansky, in his book The Biological Basis of Human Freedom (p.68) in 1956 proposed the "genetically controlled adaptive plasticity of the phenotype" as a complement to Darwin's theory applicable to the evolution of superior primates to humans.

Another step towards the knowledge of speciation was the publishing of the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium en 1992 by the biologist Ste hen Jay Gould (1941-2

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