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Calle Perez, Guayacan, Coquimbo, Chile 1990s Artist Sonia Rivera

entropy: precarious life and big idea

My big idea was conceived in a shanty town in Chile in the 1990s.

Guayacan had been a thriving part of the north Chilean town of Coquimbo at one time.  British people had gone there too in the 1890s.  Guayacan was built around a copper foundry in the 19th century.  The foundry owners lived in big houses built of high-quality mud-brick, while the workers of the foundry inhabited wattle and daub houses although with big gardens at the back.  While the copper foundry furnace burned night and day, there was money.  But when I went there a hundred years later the foundry was gone and only clinker on the beach remained as evidence of its former existence.

The little fishing port with its old houses was now a crumbling shanty part of town.  Faded glory gave it quaintness, but each earth quake took its toll and many houses now leaned precariously.  One big house had a preservation order on it, but the earth quakes had taken no notice of this – they had shaken the front off it.  The house stood with no front so you could see into the rooms with their outdated wallpaper.  It made you feel uncomfortable looking into the private space now exposed.

I spent a lot of time doing work on my old house that in the 19th century had been the post office.  I liked living there, but as I observed the old houses, I came to realize that termites would eventually eat all the new beams I’d had put in, and all my renovation work would return to dust.

Of course doing up houses has an immediate benefit in providing a place to live, and places to rent out and so have an income.  But ultimately the whole shanty town would be swept away by modernity, and be no more.

My efforts in the shanty town were destined to return to dust, and I would also return to dust maybe in the English cemetery close by.  I expected to be immortalized as the ‘Gringa of Guayacan’ one day since I expected to remain living in Chile.  What I realized, however, is that the written word has an efficacy that other creative efforts do not have.  The written word is not swept away; it does not turn to dust.  So it is that I started writing.

It was here in the shanty town that I conceived my big idea – the idea that would direct my life and become the fire of my soul.  I started writing every day except Sundays.  I’ve done this for 26 years now.  Even while everything was collapsing around me, and earth tremors shook the house, I could still write.

I’ve expected to become famous since age five.  Five decades have passed, that is half a century.  I’m now on this side of the hill, not the other side, the slope going down bit.  I’ve exchanged the pinkness of youth for increasing serenity.  Though I’m still remarkably fit in many ways – but I put this down to poverty and having worked as a cleaner lady.  I did this when I got back to England.  Anyway aging was never going to happen to me, so this is quite surprising.  It does not seem to be avoidable.

Instead of remaining the Gringa of Guayacan, I came back to England and became an office cleaner for Derby City Council.  I fought dust and disorder in Derby’s offices for nine years, but every day I was writing.  I regarded pushing a vacuum cleaner round an office as a work out, for which I was paid, rather than having to pay to keep fit.  I always felt sorry for the people working in the offices, condemned to sit at desks and sort out other people’s (stupid) problems, while I only had my own problems to sort out.  It was my job to smile as I went round emptying bins.  My appearance in the office meant that the others could go home, so they looked happy too.

I finally found an empty office in Derby going cheap.  I bought it, moved there, converted it back into a house and rented out rooms to lodgers.  This allowed me to give up the cleaning job.

So I now live in the multicultural part of Derby and rent rooms to lodgers who come from all over the world – from crumbling shanty towns – young people who seek work in Britain since they have no work in their own countries.

I and my five lodgers share a back yard with the house next door where there are 13 rooms rented out.  There’s also a cat with one ear that jumped over the back fence and moved in.

Our street has constant visits from the police and ambulances, and there are always beer cans thrown in the front garden.  I’ve become Tess of the Wheelie Bins trying to cope with the neighbour’s inability to recycle and put their bins out on the right day.

I feel at home here, surrounded by people; it’s like living in a shanty town.  I know a lot about disorder, nonsense and things that are run down.

Finally, my dream came true and my book The Steps of Creation was published in July 2016.  No one has yet opened the book, except for two people.  One got really excited and said it contained the most original ideas he’d ever read, but then forgot what they were.  The other was still trying to read it last time I heard.  I just keep on writing, when I’m not cleaning my own house occupied by six people or fixing things that break.

I think I’m nearly ready to present my big idea to the world.  This is it:

That, in essence, evolution is based on increasing disorder, a running down.  At the genetic level dysfunction increases over time.  The reason for this is that mutations are errors in the replication of DNA.  These errors cause genes to become switched off.  This represents a loss of information carried by the genetic code.

However, and this is a very big however, switched-off genes can be useful in that they can give rise to modifications in traits that bring about adaptation to new environments.  When switched-off genes are useful because the modifications they produce are beneficial, they are positively selected by natural selection.

There are hundreds of examples of plants and animals that have modifications such as reduction in structures and organs that are missing such as moles which have no eyes.  All these examples are underpinned by mutation causing genes to cease to function.  There are also all sorts of modifications that have led to the evolution of a great diversity of species.

This is the grand principle of evolution that sprang from the dust of a shanty town.  Error causes loss of information in the genetic code and this is passed on. 

I conceived this principle in my mind, but I had no name for it.  Then, one day I read the appendix of a book that spoke of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  I realized that the name for my principle was entropy.  But this is not entropy involving the running down of energy, but the running down of information in a code that is a transmitted message.  I now name this Error Entropy (this notion of entropy is different to Shannon Entropy).  It gave the name to my theory: Entropic Evolution.

Here is the bigger idea:  if Entropic Evolution in essence runs down, then there must a proceeding phase when it is ‘wound up’.

Increasing disorder shows that order was the initial state.  Loss of function shows that function preceded dysfunction.  Reduction in parts shows that wholeness came first.  Entropic Evolution presupposes complexity in the basic kinds of life.  These then evolved over time essentially in a downwards direction.

These scientific observations are attuned with the belief that God created life, and that He created complex life.  God did not create every species, but a certain number of basic types or kinds.  It is the complexity of the basic original types that has allowed them to evolve.  Evolution has been free to take many different directions, bringing about a multitude of adaptations to many different environments for the various forms of life.

I have called this Nanocreation because it is the creation of life through creation of the DNA code.  God conferred upon life the possibility of evolution by the operation of natural selection.

In the shanty town as I saw the houses around me visibly sink into the ground. I knew that these houses had once been newly built, maybe even luxury houses of the 19th century.  The poverty-stricken shanty town had once been a thriving economic concern when the copper foundry was there. But 150 years later disintegration had set in, and the houses were clinging precariously onto verticality.

I lived a life in a place that may have had a profound subconscious influence on my writing. But I also had contact with the world of science via books and scientific journals. Molecular biology was advancing during the 1990s as my theory took shape.  Many details about DNA were confirming my innovative concepts which were written on bits of paper.

Research into the origin of things also gave me an inner life.  I have never got bored or given up hope.  The well-spring of inspiration wells up each day and is always new.  The God who created life gives life to the soul, and the soul, at least, never grows old.

One day people will listen.  Maybe after I have returned to dust I will have my say.  My words will live on. 

Out of the precariousness of human life sprang an idea – if it is truth, it will outlast the vagaries of time.  It will build up.  These written words will not pass away as everything around us is lost.  What is old will be renovated, and made new.

Clare Merry written in May 2018

Termite damage to a house in Guayacan, Coquimbo, Chile

an evolving creationist

On a bus between Coquimbo and La Serena in the north of Chile it came to me that the answer is genetics.

And the question?  Well, it’s a long story, but I had come to believe both in evolution and creation.  Most people would say these are totally contradictory beliefs; you opt for one or you opt for the other.  In 1992 I found myself in the very confusing and awkward position of believing in both.  So I had to sort it out, or I would no longer sleep at night.

Biology was my first love since as far back as I can remember.  I was fascinated with trying to understand plants and animals since maybe the age of five or even two when I’m said to have kept on pulling the peony buds off the plant that grew in our garden to gleefully present to my mother.

When I went to university aged 19, it was to study biology (though I finally graduated in anthropology and sociology with a modular degree course).  At this time in 1980 I became an Evangelical and this brought me into contact with Creationist books.  Sometime later I became a Catholic, though I retained many Evangelical beliefs and contacts.

In Chile searching for a means to understand evolution and creation as both representing the truth, I remembered something that I had read in a Creationist book some 12 years earlier in 1980.  I remembered the comment that the horse had ‘de-evolved’ not evolved.  In effect, the primitive horse possessed four toes on the front legs and three toes on the back legs.  Over time these had been reduced to one.  The modern horse runs on one hoof on each leg i.e. one toe on each leg.  This adapts it to fast running in grassland environments.  (Incidentally the evolution of the horses’ teeth actually created these grasslands).  This equine story is presented as a classic textbook proof of evolution.  I’d stored this insight I’d read about in the back of my mind.

1992 Chile: Loss of parts – that rang a bell.  I’d read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin aged 14 and again aged 19.  It was my favourite book.  Darwin based much of his argument for Natural Selection on the observation of rudimentary organs.  Many organisms have organs and parts that no longer serve a function, and yet are present in a very rudimentary way.  When, in new circumstances an organ is not useful, it is reduced by Natural Selection until it is hardly present in some species, although fully developed in others.

Darwin commented that if species were created, then the presence of reduced, dysfunctional organs and parts makes no sense.  Why would God create a form of life with dysfunctional parts?  The God proclaimed by the church is a God of purpose.  This is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the operation of Natural Selection, and thus the belief that species have evolved from previous ancestors.

And yet, is this not the seed of its own destruction?

The actual evidence of actual plants and animals shows that Natural Selection, far from building up complexity, actually reduces it.  Oh yes, Natural Selection most certainly brings about the adaptation of species to their environments; and modification in all sorts of directions.  Some modifications even bring about new functions to existing organs when species migrate to places with new conditions.

But what is the actual essence of evolution?  What is really happening?  How does it work in the real world, when all the evolutionist propagandists have gone home?

The answer is genetics.

I knew in the mists of my mind from A level biology that mutation consists of random errors in the replication of DNA.  Error?  What do my errors achieve?  Usually nothing good, unless I ‘land on my feet’.  How many times have I done that?  Many times.  The horse landed on its feet – or hooves which are modified central toe bones.

Yes, of course – reduced forms and there are many – are underpinned by mutations to their DNA.  These mutated genes have been selected by Natural Selection.

The genes in question, the mutated genes, are genes that have had their expression switched off by errors in the DNA code.  I realised that these genes do not produce gene products anymore.  The effect of non-expression in some genes can be genetic disease or it can be changes in development of the body.

I knew these genes existed – they are called pseudogenes.  Pseudogenes are not transcribed because they have been disabled through mutations.

Do you remember the monk and his crinkly peas – Gregor Mendel?  Why were his peas crinkly?  Or would you say wrinkly?  The wrinkly ones were the ones with recessive inheritance, the ones carrying two recessive genes.  The peas were wrinkly because they lacked a structural element that would make them normal and smooth-looking.

And then it occurred to me – recessive genes are blanks.  Mutation has made them into blanks by loss of function mutations that are errors in the code.

The material of evolution is genetic variation – this is the number of recessive genes in a gene pool that have evolved from wild type genes.  I now knew that a modification or so-called new trait could be encoded by blankety blank for that gene locus (a gene locus is the position of a gene on a chromosome).

Biologists say that Natural Selection positively selects advantageous genes, while eliminating genes that would lower fitness.  This sort of makes sense, but they have never stopped to reflect on what they actually mean by this, and what their words correspond to in real life.

I had seen the light, and I now knew that ‘advantageous’ is a qualification, not a thing.  Biologists think that advantageous mutations establish function, and deleterious mutations cause dysfunction.  They think in a good/bad dichotomy.  What they have not realised is that both types of mutation have the same basis – both are mutations causing dysfunction at the level of the genome.   A switched off gene can be advantageous in a new set of circumstances, and when this is the case, it is positively selected by Natural Selection.

Thus, it is manifestly clear that evolution does occur.  Hundreds if not thousands of examples have been documented.  But the operation of evolution, the way it works, actually indicates that complexity precedes loss of complexity; fully developed parts precede reduction of parts; and function precedes dysfunction.  Biology has now reached the bedrock which is the genetic system itself and how it brings about development in different organisms.  Examples of modification can be documented down to the last DNA detail, and what they show is that mutation has switched off certain genes or the regulatory elements that control them in each case.

The idea that was becoming clear in my mind was that evolution presupposes creation.  The original basic types were created with fully functional genomes and whole functional organs.  These basic types have evolved in many ways and to very high degrees.  While evolution has produced a great diversity of species here on Earth, creation was at the origin of complex life.

The exploration of this subject became the fire of my soul.

As a Creationist, I evolved so much over 20 years that I eventually wrote a new theory of evolution that I now call Entropic Evolution.  If Entropic Evolution is one side of the coin, then Nanocreation is the other side of the same coin.

In a nutshell the Theory of Nanocreation and Entropic Evolution is the view that God created matter and life at the microscopic nanoscale, and then allowed the macrostructures of the universe, including our own bodies, to evolve through natural processes.

God created complexity while natural processes of evolution produced diversity in the living world.

My whole life has been dedicated to answering the question: How did God create life?  And what part did evolution play in this?  The journey has been a long journey compared to the short bus journey where it all started, but it has been absolutely amazing, and my life has been truly blessed.

Clare V. Merry 1st June 2018 1354 words

Calle Perez, Guayacan, Coquimbo, Chile 1990s