chapter Six: The Operating System
When I first read Darwin’s book, ‘The Origin of Species,’ I was amazed that anyone could possibly dispute its findings. Everything in it seems ironclad, with arguments totally locked up and all possible counterarguments showed to be invalid. Darwin starts by presenting some extremely convincing arguments to support his theory that species evolved from other, less capable species, through the process of natural selection. Then, after he presents these arguments, he approaches the issue from an entirely different perspective. He then shows that this brings up an entirely different body of evidence and this evidence also points to the same conclusion. Then, he ends that chapter and opens a new chapter, looking it from a third point of view. He keeps adding proof after proof, one on top of the other, to create an ironclad argument. No matter how you look at the issue, all signs point the same way.
When Darwin published his book, he was highly criticized. In fact, he was attacked with such ferocity that he actually wrote that he wished he had never started the project. You might be able to understand why he attacks came: He was basically presenting evidence to show that the foundational premises that supported all studies in the field of biology were wrong. Large numbers of people made their living through their claims to understand this field. Darwin was basically taking away the foundation of their field. Once the foundation was gone, everything that foundation supported collapsed.
If Darwin was right, the many people who claimed to understand biology did not have even the most basic understanding of the things that have to be understood to really know what they were doing. The people in this category included a lot of professional who need respect to do their work. Many of the people who attacked Darwin were medical doctors. They had gotten a lot of money from a lot of people for procedures based on nonsense ideas. Darwin’s scientific approach basically revealed them to be charlatans.
Standard medical practice:
If life has a divine origin, diseases are caused by interference of evil entities. The evil entities were messy and were thought to be attracted to messy things like the blood. A standard treatment was to remove these evil entities by attaching leaches or cutting open the veins to remove the blood. Of course, most of the people treated this way did not survive: they were already sick; removing their blood only made them weaker and less able to fight the disease. Many millions of people died totally unnecessarily by this treatment (George Washington was one of them).
Of course, they didn’t want the information Darwin presented to be known. In many countries, Darwin’s book was banned. Some countries passed laws that made it a crime to even let vulnerable people know that the book existed at all. Darwin had anticipated this reaction. People don’t like to have the foundation for their understanding of key aspects of existence pulled away from them. They want to keep believing the things that people before they had believed. Darwin was trying to redo the way people look at the world.
I think this is the reason for the approach in his book. He starts with one ironclad argument that seems to totally prove his point. It is proven. Normally, a scientist would prove a point, consider it proven, and go on. But Darwin doesn’t do this. He then proves it again, by another perspective. He then provides more proof, all of which seems so convincing that most people would think he is being ridiculous: he has already proven it three ways. Even the most resistant skeptics would have to accept, if they were willing to accept the evidence of their own eyes. But this isn’t enough. He goes on and on, with each argument adding to the one before it.
I don’t think that Darwin’s arguments really convinced most of the people the people who had been raised and educated with the former beliefs. They only felt hatred and saw Darwin as an enemy. He was taking money out of their pockets and turning their customers against time. These critics didn’t stop resisting because they were convinced, but because they died. Younger people saw the different approaches that could be taken to solving problems. Darwin’s approaches led to understanding. The standard approach wasn’t helpful to solve problems. Just as people didn’t start accepting the ideas of Galileo until long after he was dead, people don’t seem to have started accepting Darwin’s ideas until after he was dead.
When I went to school, in the 1960s, the laws that allowed teachers to be arrested for teaching Darwin had been repealed. But the mindset hadn’t really changed. A lot of teachers seemed to want to explain this new approach. But the school boards would have to change their policies for this to happen. Although teachers couldn’t be arrested for teaching Darwin in class, they could still be fired. I did not learn about Darwin in class. I learned about his ideas by outside reading. I remember that I had to sneak the book out of a section of the library that was restricted, with no children allowed.
Times have changed. Now, teachers openly teach Darwin’s ideas in school. Nearly all students, at least in developed countries, consider Darwin’s premise to be the foundation of our understanding. I have to wonder if his ideas would have become accepted so fast if he hadn’t been so fastidious in his proof. (It only took about 150 years.)
Why This Matters
I believe that a lot of the problems of the world exist because of the way we look at certain key aspects of our existence. We accept the idea of dividing the world into the strange entities called ‘nations’ for some reason, even though we know that wars between nations can destroy the world at any time and will destroy the world if the nations continue to make the claims they make long enough. Why? Part of the reason appears to be our beliefs about the way life came to exist. Religious texts claim that we were created by a deity that ordered us to treat the world a certain way: we were to (These words are from God’s first speech to the newly created humans in Genesis.)
The same deity that created us then created Nations.
They exist because they are supposed to exist.
The creator sanctions wars. They couldn’t exist if the creator didn’t want them to exist. We aren’t even supposed to question them. To do so questions the will of the creator.
We are threatened with extinction because people are not willing to ask certain questions. We accept war because we accept the foundation for understanding ‘why we are here’ that people have accepted for thousands of years. The idea of nations, wars, destruction, inhumanity to man by man, and endless misery for large percentages of the population; we accept these things because we were raised to believe that everything works as it does because that is the way things are supposed to work. We are not supposed to question all come from this foundational understanding. If you listen to the officials of the governments of nations, you will realize they accept that things work as they are supposed to work. Nations are supposed to have sovereignty (absolute rights) over a certain part of the world. They are not supposed to allow any interference in this. If others try to interfere, they are supposed to use weapons or whatever is necessary to prevent the interference. The politicians were elected on the promise that they would do the things they are supposed to be doing. They are totally vested in the existing system, in the same way that the doctors of the eighteenth century were vested in blood letting, exorcism, and cutting of limbs after the slightest injury. They have reputations that are based on their claims of expertise. They want people to accept and believe that they know what they are doing.
The system they are operating is based on the premise that we are here to serve the needs of a system that is supposed to work as it does.
What if we find this is not true?
What if we find that there is no mandate from higher powers that dictates that we divide the world into nations with imaginary lines and fight each other over the locations of these lines? What if this was just a bunch of foolishness that, once it becomes a part of history, people will look back at and laugh, in the same way the now laugh at the idea of people who claimed to be doctors attaching leaches to people to cure everything from tuberculosis to back pain?
The idea that everything works as it does because it is supposed to work that way, and we aren’t supposed to change it, is based on guesses about the origins of the human race, the origins of the world, the origins of life, and the implications that come from these guesses. If we find evidence that they are wrong, we will be basically forced to step back and build a new foundation for understanding the basic realities of existence. In this book, I am trying to present evidence to show you that the standard accepted ideas that form the very foundation of our organized way of living needs to be reexamined.
I propose that it is possible that DNA-based life originated somewhere other than Earth and was sent here intentionally.
So far, we have seen that two of the four things that are necessary for life to survive on this world after having been sent from another world are here and are in a form that is consistent with this premise. The hardware—the DNA, the ribosomes, and the more than 100,000 specialized proteins needed for life exist. We know that the genetic code is the same today as it was for the life forms who lived on Earth while the planet was so hot that most of its crust was still molten lava. The proteins existed, the DNA existed, and the ribosomes existed. All the hardware needed was there when the first known life forms were on this world.
The power system was there. It is an incredible power system; it is the same system that runs our bodies.
Two more things would be needed: The operating system and the bootstrap.
The Operating System
If you wanted to send life to another world, sending some the hardware discussed above to that world wouldn’t do any good if there was no way for this hardware to reproduce and do the other things needed for them to be ‘alive.’ Ribosomes are amazing proteins with incredible capabilities. They do things that include rebuilding the DNA ladders to reading the codons (the triplets of DNA rungs) of the messenger RNA to determine which amino acid they represent, finding that amino acid, attaching it to a chain of acids in a particular way, ‘walking’ down three rungs of the RNA ladder to the next codon, and doing the same thing again. They use electricity to do these things. Cut off the electricity that holds their instruction set for even a microsecond, and they become nothing but a mass of goo, unable to do anything. (Cyanide interferes in the Krebs cycle, preventing ATP replication. As a result, cyanide causes virtually instant death of any cells exposed. Once any stored ATP is used up, the power is turned off as if turning off a switch.)
There is clearly an instruction set.
How Do Operating Systems Work
Before the computer age, not many people would have understood exactly what is needed to make non-living things (like the silicon that is in rocks) actually do things in an organized way.
Now that we have computers, and a large percentage of the world’s people have been raised with them and learned to use them, a great many people understand the concept of ‘hardware’ and ‘software.’
The hardware is the physical computer itself. The main working parts of the computer are made of silicon, which is the same thing sand and rocks are made of. (About 87% of the part of the world we know about is silicon dioxide; this is the main component of sand and rocks.) In other words, the working parts of the machine (the silicon ‘chips’) are basically ordinary earth; if you if you break them with hammers, you will end up with sand, the same thing they are made of. Before being processed, powered, and organized with the operating system, sand is incapable of doing any of the things that computers do. In fact, even after sand has been processed into a fully assembled computer and the power is hooked up, the computer won’t do anything at all unless you get the instruction set called the ‘operating system’ into the computer, in the proper way.
I find an interesting example of the things that no one seemed to understand only a short time ago that nearly everyone seems to know now in Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001, A Space Odyssey. In that movie, a tiny defect in the operating instructions on the computer on board the space craft (called the HAL 9000) caused ever-increasing difficulty with the computer. Eventually, the computer couldn’t resolve the problems with its operating system and went crazy. Now, nearly everyone knows what to do if your computer starts to go crazy: at the first sign of problems, you turn it off. Then you turn it back on and it reloads the entire operating system again. It becomes a brand new computer. It still has all of its ‘memory banks’ intact: all the information on the hard drive and cloud is still there. But the defect in the operating program of the computer has no chance to grow because it has been installed fresh. Kubrick clearly did a lot of research for his movie and it is a brilliant movie. But he clearly didn’t understand the fundamental difference between the hardware and the software. He thought that a defect in the software could grow and there wouldn’t be any way to fix it without erasing everything in the memory and starting fresh. We all have electronics that get glitches. We turn them off and they become nothing but a bunch of silicon. Then, reload the operating system, and they start to work again. (In severe cases, there are problems with the operating system instructions themselves. In these cases, the solution is the same, except that a new copy of the operating system has to be reloaded on the computer and then installed.)
The same is true for the hardware of life, including the DNA, ribosomes, ATP, glucose, proteins, and other parts. If you have a bucket of mixed coal (carbon) water (hydrogen and oxygen), and rocks that contain iron, phosphorous, nitrogen, and a few other trace elements that are needed for life, you can strip some wires from a cord and put them into the bucket, then plug it in to provide electricity, and it won’t somehow come to life and start reproducing. It needs to know what to do.
What is an Operating System?
If you buy your computing devices with pre-installed operating systems, you probably don’t have any real idea exactly what the operating system is or how it differs from the computer itself. If you have ever bought a computer without an OS, and put it on the computer, you will know that the OS normally comes on some sort of media (a CD, DVD, flash drive, hard drive, or ‘floppies’) but the actual physical item with the operating system on it is NOT the operating system. The OS is nothing physical, it is a set of instructions that tell the transistors (switches) on the computer chip when to open and close, allowing electricity to pass through the switches or stopping the electricity.
The OS is information.
Computer operating systems started out very small. The first operating system in use for microchip-based computers (personal computers) was CP/M, created to allow the Intel 8080 chip to process basic information. The entire instruction set for this operating system consisted of 27,880 ‘bits’ of information, where each ‘bit’ was a character of either 1 or 0. (The ‘bits’ were arranged in sets of 8 which were processed together as something called a ‘byte,’ each of which could be thought of as a ‘word.’ The entire operating system was in 3,584 ‘bytes’ or ‘words.’ This works out to about 7 pages of typed words.) These ‘words’ basically tell the microprocessor how to set its switches (each ‘transistor’ in the circuit is one switch that allows information to either pass or not pass) so it can process information.
As time passed, people built larger and larger instruction sets for operating systems, and compiled them into larger and larger operating systems. The operating system most commonly installed on most new personal computers as I write this is Windows 10, with an instruction set that includes 36,960,000,000 (36.9 billion) bits of information, or 1,289,062,500 times more information than was in the instruction set installed on the first microchip-based computers.
How Many Operating Systems Were Needed?
If the DNA were sent intentionally to Earth, the people who sent it would have had to include at least three separate operating systems.
Lets look at them one at a time:
The first operating system would run the cyanobacteria that would reduce the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere to make the planet habitable. The cyanobacteria’s main function would be to produce the oxygen that would be needed for the more advanced life. Although the operational details of cyanobacteria are simple compared to those of other life forms on Earth (humans, for example), they are incredibly complex relative to the operating systems of microchip-based computers.
Cyanobacteria have to be able to operate their own life functions. They have to be able to manufacture all of the parts their bodies need to operate. This includes all 20 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Other animals, including humans, don’t need to be able to make all 20 of them; they can get some from their food. But there is nothing else for cyanobacteria to eat. They have to make all of these amino acids themselves. After they make the amino acids, they need to make many thousands of proteins out of these raw materials. This requires ribosomes (the ‘worker’ proteins that manufacture other proteins). They also have to be able to extract carbon dioxide from the air, dismantle the molecules into carbon and oxygen (this requires energy, which comes from the sun but must be directed in some way to the process), take water from the environment around them, dismantle the molecules to get the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, reassemble the carbon and hydrogen into carbohydrates, and release the oxygen into the air. They must be able to make ATP to run the electrical processes of the cell, which include the electrolysis of both carbon dioxide and water, amino acid. manufacture, and protein synthesis. Not even the most capable computer on Earth today can come close to doing anything like this.
The operating system for this simple life form is incredibly complex.
If the people on the other world who were sending life to Earth only wanted ‘some kind of life’ they would only have to send down the hardware and software for cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria reproduce asexually. This means that every ‘offspring’ cell is identical to its ‘parent’ cell. Such a system is not going to produce mutations. If they wanted life that would eventually evolve, they would have to send down at least two more pieces of hardware together with the operating systems to make them work.
The Mitochondrial Operating System
As we have seen, mitochondria are living things with their own DNA. Your own body has many trillions of these living things. They are never really ‘born’ as you and I were born; they are the byproducts of mitosis, the splitting of one living cell into two living cells. The mitochondria in your body were alive long before you were alive. It was a live long before the first human lived, long before the first animal lived, long before the first plant lived.
Mitochondria absolutely need ‘free’ oxygen in order to sustain their own life processes (produce the ATP they need to operate) and to produce the ATP needed to support YOUR life processes. Before about 541 million years ago, oxygen levels were very low and we have no evidence of aerobic (mitochondria based) life forms existing on Earth. At a certain point, oxygen levels were high enough to support these living things and, somehow, they simply appeared. Almost certainly, they were here all along. Almost certainly, they had arrived some 3 billion years earlier, in the same craft that held the cyanobacteria and other essentials for life. They were just turned off. Most likely, some sort of bootstrap system was set to monitor the oxygen levels of the planet. When oxygen levels got high enough, the mitochondria got ‘turned on.’ The spark of life was somehow infused into them and they began to grow, operate their life processes, and reproduce.
Remember that even the anaerobic life forms, like cyanobacteria, use ATP for electricity. They couldn’t sustain very vigorous or complex life processes because their bodies simply couldn’t make enough ATP to provide the amount of electricity that vigorous or complex living things would need. Once the mitochondria existed, however, ATP was suddenly very plentiful. Mitochondria can produce far, far, more ATP than they need. Remember, ATP is essentially electricity in a liquid form. Living things suddenly have all of the electricity they need.
The third operating system operate the far more vigorous and complex advanced life forms that would be able to exist once the atmosphere had sufficient oxygen and the power systems: mitochondria. These advanced life forms would be entirely different in character than the cyanobacteria that terraformed the Earth, so they would require their own operating system. They would have ‘cells’ with many different internal structures; all of these structures would have to work together, sustain each other, and operating in sync with each other, for the cells to remain alive and reproduce. Clearly, the operating system for these advanced living things would have to be far larger and more complex than the operating systems for the cyanobacteria and mitochondria.
Since the advanced life forms would reproduce in a way that led to genetic diversity, they would ‘evolve’ over time.
The diversity would create some organisms that were better suited to survival than others; these ‘better suited’ organisms would survive to sexual maturity and reproduce, while less suited organisms would perish before they reproduced. The organisms would change. As the cells (and eventually multi-cellular organisms) developed new structures, the operating system would have to be able to deal with them without crashing. This means it would have to be ready for structures that did not yet exist. (Modern operating systems are built to be ready for physical components of computers that don’t yet exist: they have interfaces (USB ports, for example) that can be ‘configured’ with ‘drivers’ to interact with memory chips, video chips, sound chips, peripherals (printers, for example, cameras, and scanners) that have not yet been invented. When they are invented, the operating system is already able to deal with them, through instruction sets that are built in to the operating system.
The operating system that ran the first advanced life on Earth would have had to have had the same capabilities, or it would not have been able to accommodate evolution. Since we know evolution took place, we can infer that the operating system has been able to adapt as necessary to power the life forms.
This is unlikely to have happened by pure chance. If the operating system were preinstalled, it would have to have the ability to adapt to change, while not changing its basic instruction set (necessary for DNA to use the power of ATP to manufacture amino acids and proteins, and reassemble them into new beings, under the rules of sexual reproduction). Once more, the basic realities of existence give us evidence to support the premise of intelligent design.
Advanced life on Earth requires three separate operating systems that operate independently of each other. One operating system operates the cyanobacteria that made and keeps the planet habitable by advanced life. One operating system runs the mitochondria that create the ATP that powers all life on Earth and must be produced in enormous quantities for advanced life to function, and the third operating system powers the advanced life.
The two more advanced operating systems could not have evolved from the simpler one, for a very simple reason: the oxygen needed for these operating systems to function did not exist until the first operating system created it. Although there are synergies between the two beings that are needed for advanced life (mitochondria and cellular life), the operating systems work entirely independent of each other. In fact, this is a general characteristic of all advanced Earth life (everything other than cyanobacteria): it has many structures that work independently of each other to allow complex life forms to exist and reproduce. This feature of Earth life can’t be explained by evolution through random processes: for this to have happened, evolution had to have been planned, at least to some extent, with an operating system designed to create certain structures (when cellular processes were advanced enough to accommodate them) and put them into use. Then, eventually, the system would have to start producing specialized ‘cells’ to do separate things that would work together (in the same basic way that internal cellular structures work together to keep cells alive), to create a ‘body’ of a being that was far more advanced than any single-celled being cold be.
For DNA to appear at all on this world by random chance—with the entire correct configuration of hundreds of billions of atoms—seems to stretch the limits of probability. How can a random chance event arrange anything with such incredible precision? For the DNA to begin ‘operating’ at all, and doing anything whatever, stretches out probability much farther. For it to ‘operate’ as it does operate, creating all of the essential molecules needed to reproduce itself, and then assembling these molecules into copies of itself, all through random chance, is hard to imagine ever happening even once in all of time in any place at all. For it to then operate in a way that positively reeks of intent, with the new DNA-based life rearranging the environment, changing the atmosphere, altering the climate, all of which led to a world where liquid water was common and the oxygen needed for complex life existed—and then accept that this all happened by chance—would require that we throw the laws of probability out the window and disregard it all.
Then, once this happened, for an entirely new form of life to come to exist, one that somehow sensed that oxygen was now available and took advantage of that oxygen, by random chance? No sane person would speculate on something so remote. Then, for the new living things to be organized in ways that utilize the energy with so close to the maximum efficiency that, for all intents and purposes, it is perfectly efficient? (The ATP/Krebs cycle is 98% efficient; perfect efficiency is 100%.) Finally, for the new living things to start reproducing in ways that appear to be designed to lead to evolution, all by random chance? It makes more sense to simply fall back on the primitive modes of thought that have been dominant for millions of years in human communities, and call it all magic.
If we are to be true scientists, we must discard these two possibilities for the origin of life on Earth, and the origin of humans:
1. It is magic.
2. It random chance.
We need to discard the first option because it is not scientific to claim something you don’t understand happened by magic. Saying it is ‘magic’ is essentially the same as saying ‘it happened in ways that aren’t subject to analysis by science and explanation by scientific laws.’ It is unscientific to skip over the hard parts of our scientific analysis, or skip over things that are inconsistent with the simple scientific laws now in place (‘simple’ in a relative sense; they are simple relative to the scientific laws we will understand in the future) by saying ‘and then something magic happened and now we can get back to our science.’ To be scientific, we can say ‘at this point something happened that we don’t yet understand’ but not ‘at this point, something magic happened.’
What about random chance?
We can calculate the probabilities of random things happening. We can then compare the probabilities generated by analysis of truly random variables with the things we observe. If we could show that one out of every hundred universes would generate the kind of life we see on Earth one time through random processes in the first sixteen billion years of its existence (the time since the big bang), we would say the odds against random chance being responsible were 1:100. If the odds were in this range, we might say that it is reasonable to accept random chance as a possible explanation for what we see. But the odds against even the simplest life form on Earth—cyanobacteria—coming to exist by random chance are so high that we wouldn’t have numbers enough to write them out. Not only would this ‘hardware’ have to materialize, it would require its operating system to be there and ready to be loaded. It would have to somehow have a force that would load the operating system into the hardware. Although this ‘loading mechanism’ wouldn’t necessarily have to be complex, it would have to work perfectly to get the operating system into the hardware. The odds of all even the bare essentials needed for cyanobacteria materializing and coming together at the same time, and then turning into a living thing, are so remote it is impossible for the human mind to imagine them. Even if this did happen, it wouldn’t explain us. It wouldn’t explain the far more complex beings we call ‘plants.’ It wouldn’t explain animals. And it wouldn’t explain humans.
At least three operating systems would be needed to explain what we see around us on Earth. The incredible diversity of life on Earth tells us there are likely to have been many more operating systems.
For example, chloroplasts also have their own DNA and reproduce themselves. The chloroplasts are a lot like cyanobacteria mitochondria in that they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates. But they are far more vigorous than cyanobacteria and produce oxygen at a much faster rate. How is this possible? They work in concert with mitochondria and can therefore use the far more efficient electricity production method that became possible once the oxygen levels on Earth got high enough. It would seem logical for a group of intelligent beings on another world sending life to seed a planet to send both: the cyanobacteria would work to create the oxygen needed for mitochondria to produce the ATP; once the ATP existed, the plant-based life forms (those using chloroplasts) would take over oxygen production, leaving cyanobacteria to a subsidiary role.
It would also make sense to send two kinds of ‘cells.’ One kind of ‘cell’ would have no nucleus and the other would have a nucleus. Biologists have a very hard time explaining how cells with nuclei could suddenly materialize at the beginning of the Cambrian era, when no such cells had ever existed before. The common explanation is that a cell without a nucleus somehow swallowed another cell and this ‘swallowed cell’ became an essential part of the life forces of its swallowed. This really is a pretty silly explanation; it only tells us how genetic material got inside of another cell and says nothing about how the two components began to operate together. It would be like speculating that a whale could swallow a human and the human would then somehow prosper inside of the whale, reproduce there, and become symbiotic to the whale, all by some sort of random process. It is much more likely that cells with nuclei and cells without were sent together, each with their own operating system.
Another difficulty that people who propose the random chance theory of existence have involves explaining the idea of multi-cellular beings somehow evolving out of single-celled beings. The operating systems of multi-cellular systems seem able to manufacture many different components, all of which work together to make a complex being. How could this have happened? There are many theories, most of which don’t really make any scientific sense. Yet, multi-cellular beings clearly exist. They got here somehow. How? It would be hard to explain if we were trying to put together some sort of theory that they came to exist as a result of random chance. But it would be easy to explain if they were sent together and had their own operating system.
One final problem with the random chance theory of existence involves sex. How did two sexes come to exist? How is it that two beings that operate in different ways come together to mix their genetic material? This seems critical to evolution. It seems that if we ever wanted to seed life onto other worlds, and had a limited payload so we couldn’t send a fully functioning and living ecosystems, we would have to make sure that, at some point, two sexes existed, operating much as the two sexes on Earth operate. If a group of intelligent beings wanted life to exist on other worlds, and they wanted this life to evolve to eventually gain the abilities that humans now have, it makes sense for them to send down the operating instructions for many different stages of beings. Obviously, if you want to have the greatest chance of ending up with intelligent beings with the same capabilities of current humans, you would want to send as many operating systems as possible to the other world. But of course, it is very hard to send a great deal of material through the remoteness of space to another world. The more material you send, the harder it would be. You may want to send more, but you would have to send at least three:
1. The operating system for cyanobacteria
2. The operating system for mitochondria
3. The operating system for aerobic (vigorous and complex) life.
If you had a very good design team, they may be able to make the third operating system dynamic to adapt to the capabilities of the evolving living things, making use of new hardware as the processes of evolution created it.