Sex, Evolution and Everything

Questions from Tabassum:
1. Things are existing around us. Why do they exist? Someone once answered that things exist because they just have to. But why do they HAVE to? How do I answer this without metaphysical ideas?

2. Evolution.
How did genders arise? People usually answer by giving some of the benefits of sexual reproduction but I am asking the how not the why. I mean how can we believe that genetic mutations led to perfectly complementary organisms when the two organisms (male and female) are separated in space and time? Or do I have the concept wrong here?

3. Evolution.
Evolution does not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, as I was taught. This is because there is energy continually being supplied to the organism so it can have the opportunity to become more sophisticated. Overall, the universe becomes more complex because the energy released from the sun increases the randomness of the overall system of the universe.

My query is:
If energy is being made available to the organism constantly, how would the organism use that energy. Shouldn’t there be a system to consume and use that energy in a useful way in the first place? So there needs to have evolved a system to use the energy, but it could only have evolved if it was able to use energy. Or maybe it can evolve without consuming energy? Answers?

Answer by SmartLX:
1. The short answer is that we don’t know, but that’s not a good reason to assert any particular explanation.

Matter exists right now either because it has always existed or because it came into existence at some point. If it always existed in some form, then like most people’s concept of a god it has no need of an origin. If it came into existence, not only do we not know how but we don’t know if it needed a cause at all. We’ve never seen anything come into existence from nothingness, so for all we know it could be entirely spontaneous, though very rare. The exception is in quantum mechanics where current theory suggests that (and of course this is a gross oversimplification) small particles are regularly winking in and out of existence, without any known cause or even much of an effect. This hardly supports the idea of deliberate creation of matter.

2. The most popular hypothesis is that gender and sexual reproduction began as a simple transfer of DNA material between two almost identical entities. We know it evolved extremely early in eukaryotic single-celled organisms, and for such creatures an exchange like this could be as simple as pushing material through their cell walls while in contact. Even if this happened regularly but by accident, it would have altered the population’s overall genome much more quickly than cell division alone. That would have meant disaster for many individual cells that got the short end of the helix, but overall it meant more unique material for natural selection, faster evolution and better survival prospects. The organisms that won out and continued to reproduce would have been the ones that made this exchange a hard-wired part of their life cycle. After that, all that was required to achieve genders as we understand them today was the emergence of a DNA structure with a switch, or a split probability of going one way or the other – in other words, a chromosome.

3. Living organisms have evolved very efficient means of harnessing energy from outside themselves, like photosynthesis and digestive systems, but while such complex mechanisms are useful they are not essential. There are chemical reactions caused by light, water, oxygen and especially heat which have nothing to do with life at all. Molecules break down and recombine, elements move between states of matter and so on. For a crude thought experiment, imagine a variety of inorganic objects and what happens to them in a pot of boiling water, or on a stove, or when left in the sun all day.

The very first living organisms simply needed to include substances within their membranes that could absorb heat, light and maybe bits of other organisms, and use the material to do something chemically interesting enough to keep the whole thing running for another few seconds until it happened again.

Death, Energy and Reincarnation

Question from Nathan:
Hi I was asked a good question about Atheism the other day can you answer this. What happens to Our Energy when we die? because if energy doesn’t die where does it go? my friend was trying to ask if I believe in Reincarnation which sounds ridiculous to me because I don’t believe in that shit can you expain?

Answer by SmartLX:
The human body’s energy consists of a certain amount of heat energy, some electrical energy in the brain and nervous system and a few different types of chemical potential energy in the various bodily fluids (stomach acid, for example). When a human dies and the body decays, that energy escapes into the world around the remains of the body. It might be consumed and carried away by worms and other creatures, seep into the earth and feed plants or be released into the atmosphere by cremation.

This fact is not conducive to reincarnation, because once the energy from your body is dispersed it cannot be reassembled in any form which can be thought of as you. Reincarnation would require all of the energy which comprises your identity to leave the body in a single package, which could in principle be re-inserted in another body – in other words, a soul. There is currently no evidence for such an entity in any of the life-related energies we’ve ever been able to measure. (There was one scientist who figured from his experiments that the body decreased in weight by 21 grams upon death as the soul left it, but his own results varied widely and have not been duplicated since.) If your friend is trying to support the idea of reincarnation, he or she will need better material than general scientific concepts of energy.