Logic and evolution (Introduction)

by dhw, Thursday, June 30, 2016, 13:28 (566 days ago)

Once more I am telescoping threads to keep the forum tidier.

DAVID: (under “Why sex evolved”): None of my hypotheses are illogical, because logic does not explain God's intentions or plans.

I'm afraid I cannot follow the logic of this sentence.

David's comment (Under “Beyond Higgs; final proof difficult”): dhw and I spend much time debating the complexities of evolution which defy logic. Note here the complexities of the zoo of the underlying particles of our reality. I could ask dhw the same question he always poses about God's possible actions and motives in living evolution as too complex, too cumbersome, and therefore not reasonable. dhw, how reasonable do you find the particle zoo complexity which is well known, well described, and will probably find the missing bottom quarks? We have described these arrangements perfectly, but no one can give a reason for this arrangement. As in evolution we have no explanation as to why God did it this way. We must just accept it.

I cannot follow your logic here either. I am not aware of you having offered any theory concerning "particle zoo complexity", and I certainly haven't. It is not the complexities of evolution that defy logic; it is your interpretation of how and why those complexities have been produced that I find “too complex, too cumbersome and therefore not reasonable”. Even you are clearly beginning to find the notion of a 3.8-billion-year computer programme for innovations and natural wonders too unreasonable to swallow, but now that you are favouring continuous dabbling, you will find that just as hard going. On the wonderful ant article (for which many thanks) you comment:

DAVID: A logical adaptation. As with bacterial extremophiles living creatures are built to adapt to all environments. The usual issue is how does God help?

Without your 3.8-billion-year programme for ant adaptation, you are left with divine dabbling, or "helping", because you take it for granted that he controls every evolutionary step these organisms take. The issue is not only how but also why does God help (since you insist that his aim is to produce homo sapiens)? But there are no such issues if you simply accept that your God (my theistic version) does not NEED to help if he has given organisms the intelligence to work out their own lifestyles and ways of adapting, and ultimately - the logical extension of this intelligence - to invent. Similarly with bacteria. I said I found it difficult to believe that your dabbling God went rushing round the world to teach bacteria how to resist antibiotics (I should also have asked why he would do so). Your response is:

David: I'm the guy who has presented extremophiles! These are not simple adaptations. For me it must be saltations, or dabbles, because at this level we are talking about the intricacies of metabolism, not simple living reactions. This is species creation. You are the one who is not seeing the difference clearly.

It is not species creation (broad sense), since they remain bacteria, but that is beside the point. What reason is there to assume that your God must have “helped” bacteria to resist antibiotics (though you don't know how or why)? Our best brains are trying to find ways to defeat noxious bacteria. Do you really believe they are fighting against your dabbling God? You do in fact offer a nebulously phrased concession on the “giraffe” thread:

DAVID: I can accept God designing a planning process for speciation within organisms. The problem is,for me, no evidence so far. There is no discovered speciation mechanism, only Darwin theory which we have abandoned.

But what you apparently cannot accept is that your God might deliberately have designed a planning process that works independently of his direct control! Even though that does away with the problems of how and why he has instructed bacteria on how to resist antibiotics, or weaverbirds to build their complicated nests. You also tie yourself in weaverbirdlike knots trying to link the dabbles and computer programmes to the production of homo sapiens. All the illogicalities are totally unnecessary if you accept the hypothesis that your God set the whole process in motion to see what his autonomous inventive mechanism could produce. Of course he could also dabble sometimes, which leaves room for homo sapiens to have a special place, but why must he dabble bacteria and weaverbirds as well? You say above: “As in evolution we have no explanation as to why God did it this way. We must just accept it.” Which way? Your preprogramming/dabbling way, which makes no sense, or my (perhaps God-given) autonomous intelligence way, which logically explains the higgledy-piggledy bush and dispenses with the questions of how and why God “helps”. If one theistic explanation of the bush is logical, and the other is not, why should we turn our backs on logic?

As for no evidence, of course there is nothing conclusive or we wouldn't be having this discussion. But the astonishingly intelligent (though always limited) behaviour of all organisms in finding ways to survive and to adapt might just possibly be an indication that your God (theistic version) actually made them intelligent (in their own particular, limited way) and they are not merely obeying his personal instructions.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Thursday, June 30, 2016, 18:21 (566 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: (under “Why sex evolved”): None of my hypotheses are illogical, because logic does not explain God's intentions or plans.

dhw:I'm afraid I cannot follow the logic of this sentence.

David's comment (Under “Beyond Higgs; final proof difficult”): dhw and I spend much time debating the complexities of evolution which defy logic. Note here the complexities of the zoo of the underlying particles of our reality.

I cannot follow your logic here either. I am not aware of you having offered any theory concerning "particle zoo complexity", and I certainly haven't.

My point is quite clear. We have a particle zoo that can be logically predicted from the arrangements that have been found, but we don't know why the particles have to exist the way they do to create the universe. This is a black box of theory, just as Darwin's evolution is a black box. We have accepted common descent, but we don't know how it works or why it seems to work the way it does. I think it requires a planning mind to create the enormous complexities. It is a conclusion based on the complexities of living organisms. The methodology is pure guess work.

dhw: It is not the complexities of evolution that defy logic; it is your interpretation of how and why those complexities have been produced that I find “too complex, too cumbersome and therefore not reasonable”.

I've concluded the process needs God. You don't, but have to flail around for reasonable answers. That is our difference. I have various theories about God, but I have no idea which if any are correct.

dhw: I said I found it difficult to believe that your dabbling God went rushing round the world to teach bacteria how to resist antibiotics (I should also have asked why he would do so). Your response is:

David: I'm the guy who has presented extremophiles! These are not simple adaptations. For me it must be saltations, or dabbles, because at this level we are talking about the intricacies of metabolism, not simple living reactions. This is species creation. You are the one who is not seeing the difference clearly.

dhw: It is not species creation (broad sense), since they remain bacteria, but that is beside the point.

Yes it is species creation: saltations reek of God's activity.

dhw: What reason is there to assume that your God must have “helped” bacteria to resist antibiotics (though you don't know how or why)?

Why do you think God helped in antibiotic resistance? Bacteria have been given their own horizontal DNA transfer mechanism. Bacteria need no help.

dhw: You do in fact offer a nebulously phrased concession on the “giraffe” thread:

DAVID: I can accept God designing a planning process for speciation within organisms. The problem is,for me, no evidence so far. There is no discovered speciation mechanism, only Darwin theory which we have abandoned.

Exactly the point given above: saltation =s God.


dhw:Your preprogramming/dabbling way, which makes no sense, or my (perhaps God-given) autonomous intelligence way, which logically explains the higgledy-piggledy bush and dispenses with the questions of how and why God “helps”. If one theistic explanation of the bush is logical, and the other is not, why should we turn our backs on logic?

Your answers are no more logical than mine. Either God pre-programs or He dabbles or He gives organisms a species planning mechanism, the latter no yet found. You will win the argument only if and when such mechanism is found, with no evidence so far. Speciation is totally unexplained.


dhw: As for no evidence, of course there is nothing conclusive or we wouldn't be having this discussion. But the astonishingly intelligent (though always limited) behaviour of all organisms in finding ways to survive and to adapt might just possibly be an indication that your God (theistic version) actually made them intelligent (in their own particular, limited way) and they are not merely obeying his personal instructions.

Or just as logically, He helps them.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Friday, July 01, 2016, 12:20 (565 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: It is not the complexities of evolution that defy logic; it is your interpretation of how and why those complexities have been produced that I find “too complex, too cumbersome and therefore not reasonable”.
DAVID: I've concluded the process needs God. You don't, but have to flail around for reasonable answers. That is our difference. I have various theories about God, but I have no idea which if any are correct.

This has been your constant get-out whenever we discuss the illogicality (which you have admitted) of your theory of evolution, although you know perfectly well that my alternative theory does not exclude God. Autonomous, inventive intelligence is a theistic alternative to your two explanations of the higgledy-piggledy bush (a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme or direct dabbling).

DAVID: … saltations reek of God's activity.

Saltations reek of intelligence, as opposed to Darwin's chance-propelled mutations followed by natural selection. The difference between your theory and mine is that you insist on your God preprogramming or controlling every saltation, whereas I suggest that he has given organisms the intelligence to do their own designing. This is not God versus no-God, but an attempt to find a logical explanation for the higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution.

dhw: What reason is there to assume that your God must have “helped” bacteria to resist antibiotics (though you don't know how or why)?
DAVID: Why do you think God helped in antibiotic resistance? Bacteria have been given their own horizontal DNA transfer mechanism. Bacteria need no help.

In direct response to my scepticism concerning God preprogramming bacteria to resist antibiotics or rushing round the world to teach them how, you wrote: " I'm the guy who has presented extremophiles! These are not simple adaptations. For me it must be saltations, or dabbles, because at this level we are talking about the intricacies of metabolism, not simple living reactions. This is species creation." I naturally assumed you were responding to what I had written, though I must confess I wasn't sure why you would class such bacteria as extremophiles. Nevertheless, we are still talking about the intricacies of metabolism, which you believe require God's dabbles. You also wrote: “As with bacterial extremophiles living creatures are built to adapt to all environments. The usual issue is how does God help?” (My bold.) It would seem that "bacteria need no help", but the issue is "how God helps them". I find all this rather confusing.

dhw: Your preprogramming/dabbling way, which makes no sense, or my (perhaps God-given) autonomous intelligence way, which logically explains the higgledy-piggledy bush and dispenses with the questions of how and why God “helps”. If one theistic explanation of the bush is logical, and the other is not, why should we turn our backs on logic?
DAVID: Your answers are no more logical than mine. Either God pre-programs or He dabbles or He gives organisms a species planning mechanism, the latter no yet found. You will win the argument only if and when such mechanism is found, with no evidence so far. Speciation is totally unexplained.

You have already acknowledged the illogicality of your own hypothesis. The logic of mine is that it explains the higgledy-piggledy bush, which is caused by organisms independently pursuing their own means of survival and improvement, succeeding or failing as conditions change. Once again, that does not preclude your God, who may have given them the intelligent, inventive mechanism that drives innovation, and it does not preclude his dabbling. It simply dispenses with the illogicality of your God preprogramming or dabbling every innovation and natural wonder, extant and extinct, in order to produce humans. But I have said all along that it is a hypothesis, and I only ask that you should accept the possibility instead of dogmatically asserting that your God is always in control and therefore cannot have given organisms the intelligence to do their own inventing.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Friday, July 01, 2016, 18:52 (565 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:Autonomous, inventive intelligence is a theistic alternative to your two explanations of the higgledy-piggledy bush (a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme or direct dabbling).

DAVID: … saltations reek of God's activity.

dhw; Saltations reek of intelligence, as opposed to Darwin's chance-propelled mutations followed by natural selection. The difference between your theory and mine is that you insist on your God preprogramming or controlling every saltation, whereas I suggest that he has given organisms the intelligence to do their own designing. This is not God versus no-God, but an attempt to find a logical explanation for the higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution.

Our difference is I believe God is in full control. Your proposal does not keep Him in full control. I have suggested that He has created an IM that produced complexity for the sake of complexity and then natural selection sorts out the survivors, resulting in the h-p bush.

dhw: You also wrote: “As with bacterial extremophiles living creatures are built to adapt to all environments. The usual issue is how does God help?” (My bold.) It would seem that "bacteria need no help", but the issue is "how God helps them". I find all this rather confusing.

I'm not confused. Bacteria have been around since the beginning and have the ability to react to all environments and become extremophiles. That had to be built in from the beginning of life. My God did that.


dhw: The logic of mine is that it explains the higgledy-piggledy bush, which is caused by organisms independently pursuing their own means of survival and improvement, succeeding or failing as conditions change. Once again, that does not preclude your God, who may have given them the intelligent, inventive mechanism that drives innovation, and it does not preclude his dabbling. It simply dispenses with the illogicality of your God preprogramming or dabbling every innovation and natural wonder, extant and extinct, in order to produce humans. But I have said all along that it is a hypothesis, and I only ask that you should accept the possibility instead of dogmatically asserting that your God is always in control and therefore cannot have given organisms the intelligence to do their own inventing.

Why should I give up the thought that God always maintains control of all processes. I'm a believer. You are not. I've commented on complexity above which answers your questions about my approach.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Saturday, July 02, 2016, 11:38 (564 days ago) @ David Turell

Dhw: The difference between your theory and mine is that you insist on your God preprogramming or controlling every saltation, whereas I suggest that he has given organisms the intelligence to do their own designing. This is not God versus no-God, but an attempt to find a logical explanation for the higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution.
DAVID: Our difference is I believe God is in full control. Your proposal does not keep Him in full control. I have suggested that He has created an IM that produced complexity for the sake of complexity and then natural selection sorts out the survivors, resulting in the h-p bush.

Then let me once more try to summarize the Turellian view of evolution. 1) God's purpose in creating life was to produce homo sapiens. 2) Since God is in full control, he has either preprogrammed or dabbled every single innovation and natural wonder. There is therefore no such thing as an autonomous inventive mechanism. 3) God designed all the innovations and natural wonders as “complexities for the sake of complexity”, but we mustn't ask what is the purpose of that because we can't read God's mind. 4) If God is in full control, nothing is left to chance, so he also controls every environmental change that leads to innovation, extinction or survival. Natural selection therefore means whatever God has preprogrammed to survive (or rescues ad hoc with a dabble), survives. 5) Put 1, 2, 3 & 4 together: God wanted to produce homo sapiens, and so he deliberately created every tendril of the higgledy-piggledy bush, extant and extinct, for the sake of complexity. And 6) we must not question the logic of this hypothesis because humans cannot understand God. Fair summary?

dhw: You also wrote: “As with bacterial extremophiles living creatures are built to adapt to all environments. The usual issue is how does God help?” (My bold.) It would seem that "bacteria need no help", but the issue is "how God helps them". I find all this rather confusing.
DAVID: I'm not confused. Bacteria have been around since the beginning and have the ability to react to all environments and become extremophiles. That had to be built in from the beginning of life. My God did that.

Another summary, then: in the case of bacteria, we jettison the new favourite ”dabble” and revert to the old favourite, the 3.8-billion-year programme to cover every single problem bacteria have faced since life began. When it comes to new organs and natural wonders, God intervenes and “helps” or ”guides” each individual organism to create the first kidney and the first weaverbird nest/camouflaged cuttlefish/amphibious centipede for the sake of complexity, because he wants to produce homo sapiens.

DAVID: Why should I give up the thought that God always maintains control of all processes. I'm a believer. You are not. I've commented on complexity above which answers your questions about my approach.

I have commented on your comment on complexity in my summary above. In the context of evolution, your being a believer is irrelevant, since my alternative hypothesis allows for belief. Creationists are also believers, but you reject their belief. There are countless theories about how we got here, and that is the whole point of this forum - we discuss the pros and cons of the different hypotheses.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 02, 2016, 15:08 (564 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I have commented on your comment on complexity in my summary above. In the context of evolution, your being a believer is irrelevant, since my alternative hypothesis allows for belief. Creationists are also believers, but you reject their belief. There are countless theories about how we got here, and that is the whole point of this forum - we discuss the pros and cons of the different hypotheses.

My belief is not irrelevant. God is in control, and my venturing into debate with you has been to tease out possible explanations of God's way of doing things. You have a theistic approach in your agnosticism that tries to introduce a degree of independence from God in the mechanisms at work, but initiated by God. How much control does God give up, if any? My view still is not much, if any. Since you seem to have rejected chance development from inorganic Earth to living creatures and plants on Earth, how can you reject the need for a planning mind to create the design we see? That was the step I took to assume my current stance as I left agnosticism. I cannot see a third way. Do you?

Logic and evolution

by BBella @, Saturday, July 02, 2016, 16:26 (564 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I have commented on your comment on complexity in my summary above. In the context of evolution, your being a believer is irrelevant, since my alternative hypothesis allows for belief. Creationists are also believers, but you reject their belief. There are countless theories about how we got here, and that is the whole point of this forum - we discuss the pros and cons of the different hypotheses.


My belief is not irrelevant. God is in control, and my venturing into debate with you has been to tease out possible explanations of God's way of doing things. You have a theistic approach in your agnosticism that tries to introduce a degree of independence from God in the mechanisms at work, but initiated by God. How much control does God give up, if any? My view still is not much, if any. Since you seem to have rejected chance development from inorganic Earth to living creatures and plants on Earth, how can you reject the need for a planning mind to create the design we see? That was the step I took to assume my current stance as I left agnosticism. I cannot see a third way. Do you?

David, even if you are completely correct about there being an all powerful, planning mind (God) that has created all we see, why assume that anything is ever out of his/it's control? Couldn't another possible explanation for saltation be, that it too is part of the plan?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 02, 2016, 19:52 (564 days ago) @ BBella


Bbella: David, even if you are completely correct about there being an all powerful, planning mind (God) that has created all we see, why assume that anything is ever out of his/it's control? Couldn't another possible explanation for saltation be, that it too is part of the plan?

Briefly, yes. I don't know that God programmed everything from the beginning. I believe He may step in from time to time to correct the course. The understanding that everything is seen to evolve, i.e. both the universe and life, means to me that evolution is the process God uses, which means he has to keep an eye on what is evolving.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Sunday, July 03, 2016, 11:50 (563 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I have commented on your comment on complexity in my summary above. In the context of evolution, your being a believer is irrelevant, since my alternative hypothesis allows for belief. Creationists are also believers, but you reject their belief. There are countless theories about how we got here, and that is the whole point of this forum - we discuss the pros and cons of the different hypotheses.DAVID: My belief is not irrelevant.

I am talking about your belief in God. This discussion concerns different interpretations of how your God works with evolution.

DAVID: God is in control, and my venturing into debate with you has been to tease out possible explanations of God's way of doing things. You have a theistic approach in your agnosticism that tries to introduce a degree of independence from God in the mechanisms at work, but initiated by God. How much control does God give up, if any? My view still is not much, if any. Since you seem to have rejected chance development from inorganic Earth to living creatures and plants on Earth, how can you reject the need for a planning mind to create the design we see? That was the step I took to assume my current stance as I left agnosticism. I cannot see a third way. Do you?

You begin by correctly identifying the difference in our theistic evolutionary hypotheses (i.e. the degree of God's control), but then suddenly you shift the focus from how God works to whether he exists, as if somehow this justifies your belief in his total control of the process! Our discussion on how evolution works allows for the existence of a “planning mind” and revolves around different interpretations of its plans.

Bbella: David, even if you are completely correct about there being an all powerful, planning mind (God) that has created all we see, why assume that anything is ever out of his/it's control? Couldn't another possible explanation for saltation be, that it too is part of the plan?
DAVID: Briefly, yes. I don't know that God programmed everything from the beginning. I believe He may step in from time to time to correct the course. The understanding that everything is seen to evolve, i.e. both the universe and life, means to me that evolution is the process God uses, which means he has to keep an eye on what is evolving.

If God exists, and if you believe in evolution, then obviously you believe that evolution is the process that God uses. That does not mean that God chooses to control every step of evolution. It may be that God has chosen to give his organisms the means to organize their own evolution, through adaptation and innovation in accordance with changing conditions, though he can still “keep an eye on what is evolving”. You believe that God has given up control of how humans conduct their lives (free will), but all other organisms have apparently been either preprogrammed or divinely “guided” or “helped” (i.e. dabbled with) to work out their lifestyles and perform their wonders. If he is prepared to give up control in the one context, why should he not be prepared to give up control in the other? In both cases, he might do so out of curiosity - to see what these autonomous mechanisms will produce. That is another way in which he can “keep an eye on what is evolving”.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 03, 2016, 15:23 (563 days ago) @ dhw

David: Since you seem to have rejected chance development from inorganic Earth to living creatures and plants on Earth, how can you reject the need for a planning mind to create the design we see? That was the step I took to assume my current stance as I left agnosticism. I cannot see a third way. Do you?[/i]

dhw: Our discussion on how evolution works allows for the existence of a “planning mind” and revolves around different interpretations of its plans.

I presume you do not see a third way. You are willing to discuss God's methodology, but as a true agnostic will not accept God exists. To me that is a mental disconnect, but it leads us to discuss God's capabilities. Is He truly all knowing, all powerful as religions say, or is He limited? Truly, we have no why of knowing, so we have to revert to what has been produced in our reality. That is the approach I take after accepting there MUST be a planning mind behind everything. I come down on the conclusion that God controls. You like a more liaise faire God, but you come from a non-god position, a shaky way to think about Him.


dhw: If God exists, and if you believe in evolution, then obviously you believe that evolution is the process that God uses. That does not mean that God chooses to control every step of evolution. It may be that God has chosen to give his organisms the means to organize their own evolution, through adaptation and innovation in accordance with changing conditions, though he can still “keep an eye on what is evolving”.

Yes, liaise faire again. I've given the thought that complexity for complexity's sake is possible with survival shaking out the best.

dhw: You believe that God has given up control of how humans conduct their lives (free will), but all other organisms have apparently been either preprogrammed or divinely “guided” or “helped”

You ignore the great differences: Only humans have reflective self-aware consciousness. 'Different in kind' is the reason for my position.

If he is prepared to give up control in the one context, why should he not be prepared to give up control in the other? In both cases, he might do so out of curiosity - to see what these autonomous mechanisms will produce. That is another way in which he can “keep an eye on what is evolving”.

Humanizing God again. Curiosity? Free-floating theorizing. Any evidence?

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Monday, July 04, 2016, 12:47 (562 days ago) @ David Turell

David: Since you seem to have rejected chance development from inorganic Earth to living creatures and plants on Earth, how can you reject the need for a planning mind to create the design we see? That was the step I took to assume my current stance as I left agnosticism. I cannot see a third way. Do you?
dhw: Our discussion on how evolution works allows for the existence of a “planning mind” and revolves around different interpretations of its plans.

DAVID: I presume you do not see a third way.

We have discussed a possible panpsychist “third way” over and over again, and I see as many flaws in it as I do in the other two ways - hence my agnosticism.

DAVID: You are willing to discuss God's methodology, but as a true agnostic will not accept God exists. To me that is a mental disconnect, but it leads us to discuss God's capabilities. Is He truly all knowing, all powerful as religions say, or is He limited? Truly, we have no why of knowing, so we have to revert to what has been produced in our reality. That is the approach I take after accepting there MUST be a planning mind behind everything. I come down on the conclusion that God controls. You like a more liaise faire God, but you come from a non-god position, a shaky way to think about Him.

We all revert to what has been produced in our reality. The suggestion that a laissez-faire concept of God is shakier than a controlling concept of God because I am an agnostic is an absurd non sequitur. What makes you think that an agnostic is less able to discuss the nature of God than you are? Deists are also believers, and they think God initiated creation and then allowed it to pursue its own course (laissez-faire). Why is theirs a shakier way than yours?

DAVID: I've given the thought that complexity for complexity's sake is possible with survival shaking out the best.

You have given us the thought that your God controls everything. He therefore instructed the weaverbird how to build its complex nest because he wanted complexity for complexity's sake, which was his way of producing homo sapiens. Anyone who questions the logic of this is on shaky ground, especially if they are an agnostic. Natural selection decides what survives and what doesn't survive, but your God controls everything, so in fact God decides what survives and what doesn't survive.

dhw: You believe that God has given up control of how humans conduct their lives (free will), but all other organisms have apparently been either preprogrammed or divinely “guided” or “helped” …
DAVID: You ignore the great differences: Only humans have reflective self-aware consciousness. 'Different in kind' is the reason for my position.

You have taken that sentence out of context. This was an analogy concerning God's control. I went on: “If he is prepared to give up control in the one context, why should he not be prepared to give up control in the other? In both cases, he might do so out of curiosity - to see what these autonomous mechanisms will produce. That is another way in which he can “keep an eye on what is evolving”.
DAVID: Humanizing God again. Curiosity? Free-floating theorizing. Any evidence?

The image of God as a control freak is every bit as humanizing as that of a laissez-faire God. Evidence? The higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution. Where is the evidence of God's 3.8-billion-year programme or his personal dabbling for all innovations and natural wonders, which doesn't even make sense if his aim was always to produce homo sapiens. And you frequently tell us that God deliberately hides himself. Do you regard that as evidence of his presence? Ah, David, can a god-position get any shakier than this?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Monday, July 04, 2016, 16:37 (562 days ago) @ dhw

David: You like a more liaise faire God, but you come from a non-god position, a shaky way to think about Him.[/i]

We all revert to what has been produced in our reality. The suggestion that a laissez-faire concept of God is shakier than a controlling concept of God because I am an agnostic is an absurd non sequitur.

No it is not. Each of us puts together evidence with very different weights for each part. We each come up with very different interpretations and conclusions from our basic starting points. I started as a "soft" agnostic, not having given much thought to such a position. As I read ( in my 50's) my position rapidly crumbled.

dhw: What makes you think that an agnostic is less able to discuss the nature of God than you are? Deists are also believers, and they think God initiated creation and then allowed it to pursue its own course (laissez-faire). Why is theirs a shakier way than yours?

Because in each case the proponents come from a different background of thought. Each view is colored by previous thought and rationale personal for that individual. This is why there are different groups of thought. Obviously we do not think like each other or there would be no debate between us.


DAVID: I've given the thought that complexity for complexity's sake is possible with survival shaking out the best.

You have given us the thought that your God controls everything.. Natural selection decides what survives and what doesn't survive, but your God controls everything, so in fact God decides what survives and what doesn't survive.

Not so. Natural selection by definition is competition, not controlled by God.


dhw: The image of God as a control freak is every bit as humanizing as that of a laissez-faire God. Evidence? The higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution. Where is the evidence of God's 3.8-billion-year programme or his personal dabbling for all innovations and natural wonders, which doesn't even make sense if his aim was always to produce homo sapiens.

Explained in my balance of nature theory in which each microcosm is balanced to provide food, as life must have continuous energy supply for evolution to progress. If God took 3.8 billion years of evolution of the living to produce humans it makes perfect sense to me. That you can't see thins is a perfect example of our difference in thought patterns.

dhw: And you frequently tell us that God deliberately hides himself. Do you regard that as evidence of his presence? Ah, David, can a god-position get any shakier than this?

Obviously God wants a requirement of thought to reach faith. Reliance by some religions on miracles (magic display) or heaven and hell (reward or punishment) is a childish religious control mechanism. God must want more than that.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Tuesday, July 05, 2016, 13:48 (561 days ago) @ David Turell

David: You like a more liaise faire God, but you come from a non-god position, a shaky way to think about Him.
Dhw: We all revert to what has been produced in our reality. The suggestion that a laissez-faire concept of God is shakier than a controlling concept of God because I am an agnostic is an absurd non sequitur.
DAVID: No it is not. Each of us puts together evidence with very different weights for each part. We each come up with very different interpretations and conclusions from our basic starting points. I started as a "soft" agnostic, not having given much thought to such a position. As I read ( in my 50's) my position rapidly crumbled.

Of course we come from different starting points. Why does that make your interpretation of God's intentions less “shaky” than mine?

dhw: What makes you think that an agnostic is less able to discuss the nature of God than you are? Deists are also believers, and they think God initiated creation and then allowed it to pursue its own course (laissez-faire). Why is theirs a shakier way than yours?
DAVID: Because in each case the proponents come from a different background of thought. Each view is colored by previous thought and rationale personal for that individual. This is why there are different groups of thought. Obviously we do not think like each other or there would be no debate between us.

Of course. Why does that make your interpretation of God's intentions less “shaky” than mine, or that of the deists?

DAVID: I've given the thought that complexity for complexity's sake is possible with survival shaking out the best.
Dhw: You have given us the thought that your God controls everything.. Natural selection decides what survives and what doesn't survive, but your God controls everything, so in fact God decides what survives and what doesn't survive.
DAVID: Not so. Natural selection by definition is competition, not controlled by God.

I agree. It is you who keep insisting that "God is in full control". So God preprogrammes the different innovations and natural wonders, or dabbles in order to design them personally, because he wants to produce homo sapiens, and then he does what? Sits back and watches his robots fight it out? Does he know which ones will win? If he does, he has obviously preprogrammed them to win (or he intervenes to make sure his favourites win). If he doesn't, he is not in full control.

dhw: The image of God as a control freak is every bit as humanizing as that of a laissez-faire God. Evidence? The higgledy-piggledy bush of evolution. Where is the evidence of God's 3.8-billion-year programme or his personal dabbling for all innovations and natural wonders, which doesn't even make sense if his aim was always to produce homo sapiens.
DAVID: Explained in my balance of nature theory in which each microcosm is balanced to provide food, as life must have continuous energy supply for evolution to progress. If God took 3.8 billion years of evolution of the living to produce humans it makes perfect sense to me. That you can't see thins is a perfect example of our difference in thought patterns.

I don't think anyone will disagree that without food, life cannot continue, which means evolution cannot continue either. What does this have to do with God needing 3.8 billion years to produce the goal of his work: homo sapiens? That you can't see the logical dislocation between all the different species and natural wonders, extant and extinct, and the specific aim to produce homo sapiens, is a perfect example of our difference in thought patterns.

dhw: And you frequently tell us that God deliberately hides himself. Do you regard that as evidence of his presence? Ah, David, can a god-position get any shakier than this?
DAVID: Obviously God wants a requirement of thought to reach faith. Reliance by some religions on miracles (magic display) or heaven and hell (reward or punishment) is a childish religious control mechanism. God must want more than that.

“God wants a requirement…faith”…. “God must want more than that…” And you accuse me of humanizing God, and you tell me not to try and read God's mind. Why is it less “shaky” to say he hides himself in order to make people reach faith through thinking than to say he is hidden because he just wants to watch the spectacle, or he is “hidden” because he's gone away?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 05, 2016, 15:47 (561 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Of course we come from different starting points. Why does that make your interpretation of God's intentions less “shaky” than mine?

Because my mindset as I explored the possibility of God was open to Him as an explanation, therefore a probabililty. I view your mindset as 'God is possible but highly improbable".


dhw: It is you who keep insisting that "God is in full control". So God preprogrammes the different innovations and natural wonders, or dabbles in order to design them personally, because he wants to produce homo sapiens, and then he does what? Sits back and watches his robots fight it out? Does he know which ones will win? If he does, he has obviously preprogrammed them to win (or he intervenes to make sure his favourites win). If he doesn't, he is not in full control.

I agree with your analysis, all proper probabilities.


dhw: I don't think anyone will disagree that without food, life cannot continue, which means evolution cannot continue either. What does this have to do with God needing 3.8 billion years to produce the goal of his work: homo sapiens? That you can't see the logical dislocation between all the different species and natural wonders, extant and extinct, and the specific aim to produce homo sapiens, is a perfect example of our difference in thought patterns.

I don't analyze 3.8 billion years for humans to appear. That is what happened, just as the Earth did not appear until 4.5 billion years ago, 11.3 billion years after the Big Bang. You don't complain about that delay. It is simple. God uses evolutionary processes


dhw: And you frequently tell us that God deliberately hides himself. Do you regard that as evidence of his presence? Ah, David, can a god-position get any shakier than this?

DAVID: Obviously God wants a requirement of thought to reach faith. Reliance by some religions on miracles (magic display) or heaven and hell (reward or punishment) is a childish religious control mechanism. God must want more than that.

dhw: “God wants a requirement…faith”…. “God must want more than that…” And you accuse me of humanizing God, and you tell me not to try and read God's mind. Why is it less “shaky” to say he hides himself in order to make people reach faith through thinking than to say he is hidden because he just wants to watch the spectacle, or he is “hidden” because he's gone away?

If I view God is a requirement to create the universe, start life, and produce humans who can think about Him, then my explanation of His hidden state and requirement of faith all fit together. Your suggestion that He is just watching the spectacle or He left is possible. One would think after all His efforts He'd hang around.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Wednesday, July 06, 2016, 13:21 (560 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Of course we come from different starting points. Why does that make your interpretation of God's intentions less “shaky” than mine?
DAVID: Because my mindset as I explored the possibility of God was open to Him as an explanation, therefore a probabililty. I view your mindset as 'God is possible but highly improbable".

I don't know how being open to a possibility makes it a probability. My own mindset is “God is as possible as no-God”. And you still haven't explained why your belief makes your interpretation of God's intentions less shaky than mine. Perhaps you would like to withdraw this non sequitur instead of talking round it!

Dhw (on God and Natural Selection): Does he know which ones will win? If he does, he has obviously preprogrammed them to win (or he intervenes to make sure his favourites win). If he doesn't, he is not in full control.
DAVID: I agree with your analysis, all proper probabilities.

Excellent. Then we now have your agreement that God may have CHOSEN not to be in full control of evolution after all. And so he might also have CHOSEN to give organisms the freedom to work out their own means of survival/improvement. If not a “proper probability”, at the very least a “proper possibility”.

DAVID: I don't analyze 3.8 billion years for humans to appear. That is what happened, just as the Earth did not appear until 4.5 billion years ago, 11.3 billion years after the Big Bang. You don't complain about that delay. It is simple. God uses evolutionary processes.

Yes, if God exists and if we believe in evolution, then God uses evolutionary processes. That doesn't mean he uses them to design every innovation and natural wonder, extant and extinct, in order to produce homo sapiens. I don't complain about the supposed facts. I only complain about your dislocated interpretation of them and your refusal to accept the possibility that your God may have used evolutionary processes to allow organisms to pursue their own means of survival/improvement (with the reservation that he could also dabble).

Dhw: Why is it less “shaky” to say he hides himself in order to make people reach faith through thinking than to say he is hidden because he just wants to watch the spectacle, or he is “hidden” because he's gone away?
DAVID: If I view God is a requirement to create the universe, start life, and produce humans who can think about Him, then my explanation of His hidden state and requirement of faith all fit together. Your suggestion that He is just watching the spectacle or He left is possible. One would think after all His efforts He'd hang around.

I agree with all of this. What doesn't fit is the higgledy-piggledy bush. The possibility that God is just watching the spectacle - apart perhaps from the odd dabble - is crucial to the theistic version of my alternative to your scenario, in which God is (or was, as there are signs of concession above) in total control.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 06, 2016, 18:19 (560 days ago) @ dhw

dhw; I don't know how being open to a possibility makes it a probability. My own mindset is “God is as possible as no-God”. And you still haven't explained why your belief makes your interpretation of God's intentions less shaky than mine. Perhaps you would like to withdraw this non sequitur instead of talking round it!

I'm not talking, around it. We never get past the point of chance vs. design. You have not really offered a third way for designed organisms to appear, but have proposed that God might have given organisms a way to do it. So really for a proposed designer we both always come back to God. Which means you have a mental road block in fully accepting the idea that God can exist.

Dhw (on God and Natural Selection): Does he know which ones will win? If he does, he has obviously preprogrammed them to win (or he intervenes to make sure his favourites win). If he doesn't, he is not in full control.
DAVID: I agree with your analysis, all proper probabilities.

dhw: Excellent. Then we now have your agreement that God may have CHOSEN not to be in full control of evolution after all. And so he might also have CHOSEN to give organisms the freedom to work out their own means of survival/improvement. If not a “proper probability”, at the very least a “proper possibility”.

Note you've come back to God granting designer ability to organisms. That does not free you from realizing that God is in design control, because you allow God to dabble for evolutionary course correction.

dhw: Yes, if God exists and if we believe in evolution, then God uses evolutionary processes. That doesn't mean he uses them to design every innovation and natural wonder, extant and extinct, in order to produce homo sapiens. I don't complain about the supposed facts. I only complain about your dislocated interpretation of them and your refusal to accept the possibility that your God may have used evolutionary processes to allow organisms to pursue their own means of survival/improvement (with the reservation that he could also dabble).

A proposal just as I've described above. You really can't get rid of God, but won't accept Him.

David: Your suggestion that He is just watching the spectacle or He left is possible. One would think after all His efforts He'd hang around.[/i]

dhw: I agree with all of this. What doesn't fit is the higgledy-piggledy bush. The possibility that God is just watching the spectacle - apart perhaps from the odd dabble - is crucial to the theistic version of my alternative to your scenario, in which God is (or was, as there are signs of concession above) in total control.

Of course the h-p bush fits. It is the balance of nature which provides energy for evolution. Very obvious to me. Dabbling means God controls. No third way.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Thursday, July 07, 2016, 12:35 (559 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw; I don't know how being open to a possibility makes it a probability. My own mindset is “God is as possible as no-God”. And you still haven't explained why your belief makes your interpretation of God's intentions less shaky than mine. Perhaps you would like to withdraw this non sequitur instead of talking round it!
DAVID: I'm not talking, around it. We never get past the point of chance vs. design. You have not really offered a third way for designed organisms to appear, but have proposed that God might have given organisms a way to do it. So really for a proposed designer we both always come back to God. Which means you have a mental road block in fully accepting the idea that God can exist.

I fully accept the idea that God CAN exist, but not that he DOES exist. That would constitute belief. I am trying to find a logical explanation for the higgledy-piggledy course of evolution. If God exists, I can envisage him designing a mechanism which enables organisms to pursue their own path to survival and/or improvement (but occasionally dabbling). I do not see why my agnosticism makes this a more shaky hypothesis than yours, which entails God preprogramming or personally directing every innovation and natural wonder, extant and extinct, in the history of life on Earth in order to produce homo sapiens.

If God - a sourceless conscious mind - does not exist, at some stage matter must have developed some form of consciousness. You say later: “You really can't get rid of God, but won't accept Him.” Not quite. I can't get rid of consciousness, because I truly believe that the complexities of life and evolution are too great to have come about by chance. But what you call the ”mental road block” is due to the fact that a sourceless consciousness (God), lots of lucky breaks (chance), and an evolved panpsychist consciousness (also reliant initially on chance) are all beyond my credulity, and so I remain agnostic. This does not make my evolutionary hypothesis shakier than yours.

David's comment (Under “octopus”): Mother Nature is the best inventor, but who is the real inventor? If we have chance or design, who is the designer? If not God, who?

This is where we have to make distinctions: in my hypothesis concerning how evolution works, the real inventor of all these natural wonders is the intelligent organism itself (design). Then we have to ask what is the source of the intelligence of the inventive organism, chance or design? If not God, it's chance. And for reasons given above, I cannot give credence to either.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 07, 2016, 20:23 (559 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:But what you call the ”mental road block” is due to the fact that a sourceless consciousness (God), lots of lucky breaks (chance), and an evolved panpsychist consciousness (also reliant initially on chance) are all beyond my credulity, and so I remain agnostic. This does not make my evolutionary hypothesis shakier than yours.

David's comment (Under “octopus”): Mother Nature is the best inventor, but who is the real inventor? If we have chance or design, who is the designer? If not God, who?

This is where we have to make distinctions: in my hypothesis concerning how evolution works, the real inventor of all these natural wonders is the intelligent organism itself (design). Then we have to ask what is the source of the intelligence of the inventive organism, chance or design? If not God, it's chance. And for reasons given above, I cannot give credence to either.

What I can't seem to get you to accept is the issue of biologic complexity and the appearance of such giant-stepwise complexity that a planning mind must exists to create such leaps in complexity. If life arose from inorganic matter on its own (chance) where does the intelligence for such planning come from?

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Friday, July 08, 2016, 13:04 (558 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: But what you call the ”mental road block” is due to the fact that a sourceless consciousness (God), lots of lucky breaks (chance), and an evolved panpsychist consciousness (also reliant initially on chance) are all beyond my credulity, and so I remain agnostic. This does not make my evolutionary hypothesis shakier than yours.

David's comment (Under “octopus”): Mother Nature is the best inventor, but who is the real inventor? If we have chance or design, who is the designer? If not God, who?
dhw: This is where we have to make distinctions: in my hypothesis concerning how evolution works, the real inventor of all these natural wonders is the intelligent organism itself (design). Then we have to ask what is the source of the intelligence of the inventive organism, chance or design? If not God, it's chance. And for reasons given above, I cannot give credence to either.

DAVID: What I can't seem to get you to accept is the issue of biologic complexity and the appearance of such giant-stepwise complexity that a planning mind must exists to create such leaps in complexity. If life arose from inorganic matter on its own (chance) where does the intelligence for such planning come from?

The issue of biologic complexity was one of the major factors that turned me away from atheism to agnosticism. One thing I can't seem to get you to accept is that there may be TWO kinds of planning mind. One is your God's, who may have planned the inventive mechanism, and the other is the inventive mechanism itself. The next thing I can't seem to get you to accept is that there are different theories about where intelligence might have come from originally (see above) and I am unable to accept ANY of them.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Friday, July 08, 2016, 19:43 (558 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: What I can't seem to get you to accept is the issue of biologic complexity and the appearance of such giant-stepwise complexity that a planning mind must exists to create such leaps in complexity. If life arose from inorganic matter on its own (chance) where does the intelligence for such planning come from?

dhw:The issue of biologic complexity was one of the major factors that turned me away from atheism to agnosticism. One thing I can't seem to get you to accept is that there may be TWO kinds of planning mind. One is your God's, who may have planned the inventive mechanism, and the other is the inventive mechanism itself.

Please tell me how the IM appeared, if not through God?

dhw: The next thing I can't seem to get you to accept is that there are different theories about where intelligence might have come from originally (see above) and I am unable to accept ANY of them.

But we see the evidence of intelligence, and I know you are unable to accept the logic that a planning mind is necessary to create the complexity in evidence.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Saturday, July 09, 2016, 12:39 (557 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: What I can't seem to get you to accept is the issue of biologic complexity and the appearance of such giant-stepwise complexity that a planning mind must exists to create such leaps in complexity. If life arose from inorganic matter on its own (chance) where does the intelligence for such planning come from?

dhw:The issue of biologic complexity was one of the major factors that turned me away from atheism to agnosticism. One thing I can't seem to get you to accept is that there may be TWO kinds of planning mind. One is your God's, who may have planned the inventive mechanism, and the other is the inventive mechanism itself.

DAVID: Please tell me how the IM appeared, if not through God?

Already answered dozens of times, including the quote below: three hypotheses (top-down God, chance, bottom-up panpsychism), none of which I can accept.

dhw: The next thing I can't seem to get you to accept is that there are different theories about where intelligence might have come from originally [...] and I am unable to accept ANY of them.
DAVID: But we see the evidence of intelligence, and I know you are unable to accept the logic that a planning mind is necessary to create the complexity in evidence.

Once again: I have accepted that logic for evolution, and have pointed out that there are TWO kinds of planning mind - God's and that of the organisms themselves. And there are three hypotheses for the origin of intelligence...see above.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 10, 2016, 00:04 (557 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Please tell me how the IM appeared, if not through God?

dhw: Already answered dozens of times, including the quote below: three hypotheses (top-down God, chance, bottom-up panpsychism), none of which I can accept.

Is there anything you can accept?

DAVID: But we see the evidence of intelligence, and I know you are unable to accept the logic that a planning mind is necessary to create the complexity in evidence.

dhw: Once again: I have accepted that logic for evolution, and have pointed out that there are TWO kinds of planning mind - God's and that of the organisms themselves.

Did the very first cell have a planning mind?

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Sunday, July 10, 2016, 13:22 (556 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Please tell me how the IM appeared, if not through God?

dhw: Already answered dozens of times, including the quote below: three hypotheses (top-down God, chance, bottom-up panpsychism), none of which I can accept.

DAVID: Is there anything you can accept?

Currently, I accept that there are different hypotheses concerning the origin of consciousness, and none of them are convincing enough for me to believe.

DAVID: But we see the evidence of intelligence, and I know you are unable to accept the logic that a planning mind is necessary to create the complexity in evidence.
dhw: Once again: I have accepted that logic for evolution, and have pointed out that there are TWO kinds of planning mind - God's and that of the organisms themselves.
DAVID: Did the very first cell have a planning mind?

If you believe the very first cell contained computer programmes to be passed on for every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life (apart from those which your God dabbled), I'm surprised you can't believe that it might have contained a rudimentary form of intelligence. In my hypothesis, that intelligence evolved from the rudimentary to the complex as cells joined together, pooling information.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 10, 2016, 20:06 (556 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Did the very first cell have a planning mind?

dhw: If you believe the very first cell contained computer programmes to be passed on for every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life (apart from those which your God dabbled), I'm surprised you can't believe that it might have contained a rudimentary form of intelligence. In my hypothesis, that intelligence evolved from the rudimentary to the complex as cells joined together, pooling information.

And how did single cells store information to pass on to groups of cells?

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Monday, July 11, 2016, 13:10 (555 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Did the very first cell have a planning mind?

dhw: If you believe the very first cell contained computer programmes to be passed on for every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life (apart from those which your God dabbled), I'm surprised you can't believe that it might have contained a rudimentary form of intelligence. In my hypothesis, that intelligence evolved from the rudimentary to the complex as cells joined together, pooling information.

DAVID: And how did single cells store information to pass on to groups of cells?

I don't understand the point of your question. All cells store information, and cells communicate. If you are asking me where the ability to store information and to communicate came from, my answer is that I don't know, but it may have been your God.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Monday, July 11, 2016, 14:49 (555 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: And how did single cells store information to pass on to groups of cells?

dhw: I don't understand the point of your question. All cells store information, and cells communicate. If you are asking me where the ability to store information and to communicate came from, my answer is that I don't know, but it may have been your God.

Thank you. Cells can modify their DNA as Shapiro shows, which changes the use of information and this suggests that all the information needed for evolution may have been present from the beginning.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 10:50 (554 days ago) @ David Turell

Once again I am telescoping threads, as they all relate to logic and evolution.

Dhw (under “Naledi”): I am delighted that at long last we are in agreement about possibilities. You don't need to remind me about single cells, since I have been arguing for several years now that instead of the first cells containing programmes for every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life (your hypothesis, plus dabbling), they may have contained an autonomous inventive mechanism for life and evolution. And I have conceded that the autonomous inventive mechanism may have been designed by your God.

DAVID: We still have a smidgen of difference: my version of the autonomous IM has more God controls than yours, in which it is set totally free to perform by God, and mine which follows guidelines of complexity steering evolution toward humans.

It is the autonomy of the IM that is essential for my hypothesis. Complexity for its own sake fits in with the idea of God enjoying the pretty patterns produced by the IM, but “guidelines” that produce the weaverbird's nest as a "complexity steering evolution toward humans" make no sense at all to me. “Steering evolution toward humans” could be done by dabbling, and this would allow for the combination of what you call “hands off” (complete autonomy) and “control” (God dabbling for his own purposes). Then we wouldn't have to wonder why he is so concerned about the weaverbird's nest that he has to design it himself - as if life could not go on without it! But that is the “possibility” you seem unable to accept: that organisms such as insects and weaverbirds may be capable of intelligent design without your God's guidance.

dhw: (under “insects”) However, if you truly believe that your God inserted programmes into the first amoeba and the first bacteria to provide solutions to every problem that life would throw at them over the next umpteen billion years - or alternatively he pops in to give them further instructions as and when new problems arise - so be it.

DAVID: Even Darwin scientists point out that advancing mutations actually involve loss of initial information in DNA. Working that backward as in the Big Bang theory approach, how much more information was in the initial DNA of life? Perhaps all programmed from the beginning!

I can understand how an “advancing” mutation might jettison inherited information that is no longer necessary. But please explain why saltations that introduce new inventions such as kidneys, brains, sex, the senses etc. would require or result in a loss rather than a gain of information.

DAVID: And how did single cells store information to pass on to groups of cells?

dhw: I don't understand the point of your question. All cells store information, and cells communicate. If you are asking me where the ability to store information and to communicate came from, my answer is that I don't know, but it may have been your God.
DAVID: Thank you. Cells can modify their DNA as Shapiro shows, which changes the use of information and this suggests that all the information needed for evolution may have been present from the beginning.

Once again, I cannot follow your logic. The ability of cells to modify their DNA is essential for evolution to advance. And so the potential for acquiring information from outside and for changing information inside must indeed have been present from the beginning if we believe in common descent. But that potential is what I call the autonomous, intelligent, inventive mechanism, which has the power to process the ever changing information (conditions) from outside and to adjust its own information (structure) from inside. That does not mean that every possible response (adaptive and innovative) to every future environmental change was “present from the beginning”. So please explain precisely what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution” in this context.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 00:01 (554 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: “Steering evolution toward humans” could be done by dabbling, and this would allow for the combination of what you call “hands off” (complete autonomy) and “control” (God dabbling for his own purposes). Then we wouldn't have to wonder why he is so concerned about the weaverbird's nest that he has to design it himself - as if life could not go on without it!

You keep making a nest a major issue, but I don't see it that way. It is part of a micro niche in the balance of nature. It is part of the enormous variety presented by life styles and life forms. All on the way to reach humans. Are not the humans the pinnacles of complexity? To the point that I presented today the comment today that many scientists think evolution is over.

dhw: But that is the “possibility” you seem unable to accept: that organisms such as insects and weaverbirds may be capable of intelligent design without your God's guidance.

Minor adaptations, yes, speciation, no.

dhw: I can understand how an “advancing” mutation might jettison inherited information that is no longer necessary. But please explain why saltations that introduce new inventions such as kidneys, brains, sex, the senses etc. would require or result in a loss rather than a gain of information.

They referring to adaptations, not species changes in the loss of info. No one knows how species appear and what happens with info. It is a black box so far.


DAVID: Thank you. Cells can modify their DNA as Shapiro shows, which changes the use of information and this suggests that all the information needed for evolution may have been present from the beginning.

dhw: Once again, I cannot follow your logic. The ability of cells to modify their DNA is essential for evolution to advance. And so the potential for acquiring information from outside and for changing information inside must indeed have been present from the beginning if we believe in common descent.


Of course.

dhw: ....That does not mean that every possible response (adaptive and innovative) to every future environmental change was “present from the beginning”. So please explain precisely what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution” in this context.

The only evidence we have so far is adaptations result from a loss of information. If one extrapolates this finding to the process of speciation, it is a possible speciation occurs solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.

Logic and evolution: a complete species with lost genes

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 02:10 (554 days ago) @ David Turell

Just as we are discussing lost info here is an organism which is without the organizing genes usually running the show:

http://phys.org/news/2016-07-telltale-heart-chordate-evolution.html

The planktonic organism Oikopleura dioica, an animal model in the study of evolution and embryonic development in vertebrates (the taxonomic phylum known as chordates), has lost most of the genes related to retinoic acid metabolism—-a molecule thought to be vital to vertebrate physiology and embryonic development.

***

"Retinoic acid (RA) is a molecule derived from vitamin A (retinol), which is fundamental in the physiology and embryonic development of chordates, including humans. Retinoic acid (RA) is an essential factor in chordates to regulate the expression of genes involved in processes of cell proliferation and differentiation, like those occurring during the embryonic development of organs and systems, or during body patterning.


"The chordate O. dioica is an organism evolutionary close to vertebrates. They both share a similar body plan and some organs or homologue structures like heart, brain or skeleton musculature, which have a RA-dependent development. A big challenge of this study has been to prove that these organs develop in O. dioica without RA due to the massive loss of genes involved in its synthesis and to demonstrate the absence of alternative pathways.

***

"Gene loss would have enabled O. dioica to develop without vitamin A, which would be a new example of how gene loss can be an evolutionary strategy that allows the adaption of species to biological situations in a beneficial way.

"'Our results are compatible with the loss of genes related to RA in Oikopleura dioica happened in an scenario of regressive evolution, in which the lost functions were not essential for the organism," said professor Ricard Albalat.

***

"In humans, as in the rest of the chordate species, there are multiple enzymes that regulate the synthesis and degradation of RA. Understanding how these enzymes are regulated is important for our health. Everything points to the RA metabolic machinery as a genetically robust system, forming a pathway which is hard to modify in which several enzymes encoded by multiple genes can do the same function in a redundant way. Moreover, to discover that RA was also important for non-vertebrate animals means that RA metabolic machinery could be ancient, early originated during animal evolution."

***

"Biological innovation is not necessarily linked to an increase of functional complexity or number of genes, according to the authors. Genomic rearrangements, changes in epigenetics mechanisms, loss of light-receptor organs, decrease of body complexity and size, or increase of the speed of embryonic development and life cycle of O. dioica are some situations that might have allowed the evolution of new ways to create a heart without the requirement of RA.

"According to co-author Cristian Cañestro, "these results show an example of what has been called the 'reverse paradox' of evolutionary and developmental biology (evo-devo), in which morphologically similar structures differ in the genes responsible for their development."

"'The heart is another paradigmatic example we try to understand: how is it possible that O. dioica generates a heart without RA, whereas RA is essential to create this organ in all other chordates?"

Comment: this is a more complex organism than an amoeba, so we can say that evolution generally produces complexity, but at times information can be reduced and an intact complex organism can still be produced. We are still facing the confusion around speciation, and we can see loss of information can still be very productive. it is a confusing area of research.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 12:11 (553 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: “Steering evolution toward humans” could be done by dabbling, and this would allow for the combination of what you call “hands off” (complete autonomy) and “control” (God dabbling for his own purposes). Then we wouldn't have to wonder why he is so concerned about the weaverbird's nest that he has to design it himself - as if life could not go on without it!
DAVID: You keep making a nest a major issue, but I don't see it that way. It is part of a micro niche in the balance of nature. It is part of the enormous variety presented by life styles and life forms. All on the way to reach humans. Are not the humans the pinnacles of complexity? To the point that I presented today the comment today that many scientists think evolution is over.

The nest is a major issue because it epitomizes the lack of logic in your evolutionary scenario. Your insistence that the bird is incapable of designing it leaves you floundering to explain why your God would do the designing. It has nothing to do with the ”balance of nature” (= organisms need food to survive), or with the production of humans, “pinnacle” or not. The implications are enormous. If organisms are incapable of intelligent design, your God has to do it all. Your more recent theory - “God's liking of complexity and creating patterns of complexity” - echoes the anthropomorphic view you dismissed when I suggested that he might enjoy watching the unpredictable products of an autonomous inventive mechanism. That's fine with me, but it has no connection with the claim that God set out to produce homo sapiens! Undirected autonomy explains the whole higgledy-piggledy bush (possibly punctuated by dabbling, including for humans), but…
dhw: …that is the “possibility” you seem unable to accept: that organisms such as insects and weaverbirds may be capable of intelligent design without your God's guidance.
DAVID: Minor adaptations, yes, speciation, no.

And you also say no to the weaverbird's nest and innumerable other natural wonders, all apparently handmade or preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago by God, whose purpose was to produce homo sapiens. Where is the logic?

dhw: … please explain why saltations that introduce new inventions such as kidneys, brains, sex, the senses etc. would require or result in a loss rather than a gain of information.
DAVID: They referring to adaptations, not species changes in the loss of info. No one knows how species appear and what happens with info. It is a black box so far

Exit the theory that all the information needed for evolution was present from the beginning. But even with adaptation, I cannot see the logic. An organism only adapts if there is new external information that needs to be processed and adjusted to internally. This does not mean loss of information, though it might mean jettisoning information that is no longer required (see below).

DAVID: Cells can modify their DNA as Shapiro shows, which changes the use of information and this suggests that all the information needed for evolution may have been present from the beginning.
dhw: Once again, I cannot follow your logic. The ability of cells to modify their DNA is essential for evolution to advance. And so the potential for acquiring information from outside and for changing information inside must indeed have been present from the beginning if we believe in common descent.[...]That does not mean that every possible response (adaptive and innovative) to every future environmental change was “present from the beginning”. So please explain precisely what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution” in this context.

DAVID: The only evidence we have so far is adaptations result from a loss of information. If one extrapolates this finding to the process of speciation, it is possible speciation occurs solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.

See above re adaptation. You have not explained what you mean by “all the information”. What information? External conditions? Internal restructuring? Your latest post on the subject illustrates my point regarding adaptation:

QUOTE: "'Our results are compatible with the loss of genes related to RA in Oikopleura dioica happened in an scenario of regressive evolution, in which the lost functions were not essential for the organism," said professor Ricard Albalat." (My bold)

The article does not claim that innovation or even adaptation is caused by a loss of information, and your own comment has now become considerably more measured:

David's comment: this is a more complex organism than an amoeba, so we can say that evolution generally produces complexity, but at times information can be reduced and an intact complex organism can still be produced. We are still facing the confusion around speciation, and we can see loss of information can still be very productive. it is a confusing area of research.

A very far cry from speciation occurring “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.” There is no evidence that loss of information is even a contributory factor to speciation, let alone being the sole cause, and so there is no support for the claim that all the info for evolution (which you have avoided defining) was present from the beginning.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, 15:38 (553 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: The nest is a major issue because it epitomizes the lack of logic in your evolutionary scenario. Your insistence that the bird is incapable of designing it leaves you floundering to explain why your God would do the designing.

I'm not floundering. If it appears too complex for a bird to design, why not expect God to help? You and I have two very different views of God. I think He can do anything He wants. As in my other answer to you today, I assume God takes an active role in his creation.

dhw: If organisms are incapable of intelligent design, your God has to do it all. Your more recent theory - “God's liking of complexity and creating patterns of complexity” - echoes the anthropomorphic view you dismissed when I suggested that he might enjoy watching the unpredictable products of an autonomous inventive mechanism.

Yes, God might have to do it all. And always working backward from what we observe, God must like complexity

dhw: That's fine with me, but it has no connection with the claim that God set out to produce homo sapiens!

Again working backward from what we see happening, humans are here, descended from unchanged apes, and we see no requirement from the pressures of environmental challenges to change apes. Why us unless pushed by some force? Try asking why, not how which is your favored approach.

dhw: Exit the theory that all the information needed for evolution was present from the beginning. But even with adaptation, I cannot see the logic. An organism only adapts if there is new external information that needs to be processed and adjusted to internally. This does not mean loss of information, though it might mean jettisoning information that is no longer required (see below)

Advances in evolution result from loss of genetic information. That is an accepted fact. Externally experienced stress information received by the organisms is not the same information.


David's comment: this is a more complex organism than an amoeba, so we can say that evolution generally produces complexity, but at times information can be reduced and an intact complex organism can still be produced. We are still facing the confusion around speciation, and we can see loss of information can still be very productive. it is a confusing area of research.

dhw: A very far cry from speciation occurring “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.” There is no evidence that loss of information is even a contributory factor to speciation, let alone being the sole cause, and so there is no support for the claim that all the info for evolution (which you have avoided defining) was present from the beginning.

I repeat, loss of genetic information can advance a new adaptation.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Thursday, July 14, 2016, 12:19 (552 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: The nest is a major issue because it epitomizes the lack of logic in your evolutionary scenario. Your insistence that the bird is incapable of designing it leaves you floundering to explain why your God would do the designing.
DAVID: I'm not floundering. If it appears too complex for a bird to design, why not expect God to help? You and I have two very different views of God. I think He can do anything He wants. As in my other answer to you today, I assume God takes an active role in his creation.

It only appears “too complex” if you do not believe organisms have the intelligence to work out their own designs, strategies and lifestyles for themselves. You flounder in your attempts to explain why God, whose purpose was to create homo sapiens, should take all the trouble to design a particular nest. Of course God can do anything you or I think he wants to do. Giving the weaverbird enough intelligence to design its own nest gets rid of your impossible task of explaining why God should create millions of such natural wonders when his aim is to produce homo sapiens.

dhw: If organisms are incapable of intelligent design, your God has to do it all. Your more recent theory - “God's liking of complexity and creating patterns of complexity” - echoes the anthropomorphic view you dismissed when I suggested that he might enjoy watching the unpredictable products of an autonomous inventive mechanism.

DAVID: Yes, God might have to do it all. And always working backward from what we observe, God must like complexity.

Working backward from what we observe, there is a free-for-all, and God is capable of creating an autonomous mechanism that would produce such a free-for-all, and God may well like watching such a mechanism doing its own thing.

dhw: That's fine with me, but it has no connection with the claim that God set out to produce homo sapiens!
DAVID: Again working backward from what we see happening, humans are here, descended from unchanged apes, and we see no requirement from the pressures of environmental challenges to change apes. Why us unless pushed by some force? Try asking why, not how which is your favored approach.

Working backwards, there was no requirement from the environmental pressures to change single-celled organisms to multicelled organisms, and there was no pressure to produce the weaverbird's nest, or the duck-billed platypus. And I keep asking WHY your God needed to produce all these things if his aim was to produce homo sapiens. By all means cling to the specialness of humans (who might have been “dabbled”), but don't insist that this has any connection with the higgledy-piggledy bush that preceded and still accompanies the existence of humans. Try asking WHY God had to design the weaverbird's nest rather than giving such organisms the intelligence to do their own designing.

dhw: An organism only adapts if there is new external information that needs to be processed and adjusted to internally. This does not mean loss of information, though it might mean jettisoning information that is no longer required.
DAVID: Advances in evolution result from loss of genetic information. That is an accepted fact. Externally experienced stress information received by the organisms is not the same information.

It is not an accepted fact. You have said yourself that the only evidence concerns adaptation, not innovation, and you have agreed that advances in evolution depend on innovation. See below for “loss of information”.

David's comment: this is a more complex organism than an amoeba, so we can say that evolution generally produces complexity, but at times information can be reduced and an intact complex organism can still be produced. We are still facing the confusion around speciation, and we can see loss of information can still be very productive. it is a confusing area of research.
dhw: A very far cry from speciation occurring “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.” There is no evidence that loss of information is even a contributory factor to speciation, let alone being the sole cause, and so there is no support for the claim that all the info for evolution (which you have avoided defining) was present from the beginning.
DAVID: I repeat, loss of genetic information can advance a new adaptation

Can advance a new adaptation” is a million miles away from speciation occurring “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.” (My bold) If an organism adapts, the “genetic information” may have to change, and change “can” (your verb) entail loss as well as gain. I have asked you to define “the information for evolution”: as I see it, the information needed for evolution relates to external conditions and the internal means of processing the external information and changing the structure of the organism accordingly. Any such change “can” result in both loss and gain. Neither of these is the CAUSE of advances: they are both the result of the process of change.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 14, 2016, 20:18 (552 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: It only appears “too complex” if you do not believe organisms have the intelligence to work out their own designs, strategies and lifestyles for themselves. You flounder in your attempts to explain why God, whose purpose was to create homo sapiens, should take all the trouble to design a particular nest. Of course God can do anything you or I think he wants to do.

I'm not floundering, I repeat. I feel my theory that microcosms of environmental balance provide the energy for evolutionary processes to advance is right on, and complexity in design appears to be God's choice. Original life had a 'drive to complexity' written in. Very obvious to me from the evidence. That you are repeating yourself ("floundering")indicates you really have no good answers for my observations

dhw: Giving the weaverbird enough intelligence to design its own nest gets rid of your impossible task of explaining why God should create millions of such natural wonders when his aim is to produce homo sapiens.

Balance of nature to provide food for all.

DAVID: Yes, God might have to do it all. And always working backward from what we observe, God must like complexity.

dhw: Working backward from what we observe, there is a free-for-all, and God is capable of creating an autonomous mechanism that would produce such a free-for-all, and God may well like watching such a mechanism doing its own thing.

I agree that is all possible with the dabble theory in action. We still get to the endpoint, humans. God watches and makes sure the course corrections are made if needed.

DAVID: Again working backward from what we see happening, humans are here, descended from unchanged apes, and we see no requirement from the pressures of environmental challenges to change apes. Why us unless pushed by some force? Try asking why, not how which is your favored approach.

dhw: Working backwards, there was no requirement from the environmental pressures to change single-celled organisms to multicelled organisms, and there was no pressure to produce the weaverbird's nest, or the duck-billed platypus.

Exactly!!! But all those odd things happened. Not required, so there must be an underlying drive for complexity for complexity's sake.

dhw: And I keep asking WHY your God needed to produce all these things if his aim was to produce homo sapiens. By all means cling to the specialness of humans (who might have been “dabbled”), but don't insist that this has any connection with the higgledy-piggledy bush that preceded and still accompanies the existence of humans.

Humans were never required. See the comments above. All occurred without environmental stress. That is fact. The only requirement for the h-p bush is to recognize that complexity rules, therefore is driven in the programming of evolution.

DAVID: Advances in evolution result from loss of genetic information. That is an accepted fact. Externally experienced stress information received by the organisms is not the same information.


dhw: It is not an accepted fact. You have said yourself that the only evidence concerns adaptation, not innovation, and you have agreed that advances in evolution depend on innovation.

But is accepted for mutational changes for adaptations. Since this is the only change mechanism we know, it may well be a part of speciation.

dhw: “Can advance a new adaptation” is a million miles away from speciation occurring “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.” (My bold) If an organism adapts, the “genetic information” may have to change, and change “can” (your verb) entail loss as well as gain. I have asked you to define “the information for evolution”: as I see it, the information needed for evolution relates to external conditions and the internal means of processing the external information and changing the structure of the organism accordingly. Any such change “can” result in both loss and gain. Neither of these is the CAUSE of advances: they are both the result of the process of change.

The problem in your discussion is that the only advances we see are adaptations in existing species, and each time genes are removed! Removal of genes in DNA is removal of information. Stimuli from the environment are forms of external information. Only coding in DNA can respond with epigenetic methylation or gene removal, and that is all internal to the organism.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Friday, July 15, 2016, 12:43 (551 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You flounder in your attempts to explain why God, whose purpose was to create homo sapiens, should take all the trouble to design a particular nest. DAVID: I'm not floundering, I repeat. I feel my theory that microcosms of environmental balance provide the energy for evolutionary processes to advance is right on, and complexity in design appears to be God's choice. Original life had a 'drive to complexity' written in. Very obvious to me from the evidence.

No disagreement here. Life and evolution cannot proceed without food. If God exists, he would have created the original mechanism that has led from comparatively simple to complex. But this does not explain why he needed to design the weaverbird's nest in order to fulfil his purpose of producing homo sapiens. See below as regards your various dislocated arguments.

dhw: Working backward from what we observe, there is a free-for-all, and God is capable of creating an autonomous mechanism that would produce such a free-for-all, and God may well like watching such a mechanism doing its own thing.
DAVID: I agree that is all possible with the dabble theory in action. We still get to the endpoint, humans. God watches and makes sure the course corrections are made if needed.

All I ask is that you acknowledge the possibility that the inventive mechanism is autonomous, and so it is possible that God DID give the weaverbird the intelligence to design its own nest. Thank you. Humans as an endpoint is a separate issue, and in my theistic version of the hypothesis, I have accepted the dabble theory.

DAVID: Again working backward from what we see happening, humans are here, descended from unchanged apes, and we see no requirement from the pressures of environmental challenges to change apes. Why us unless pushed by some force? dhw: Working backwards, there was no requirement from the environmental pressures to change single-celled organisms to multicelled organisms, and there was no pressure to produce the weaverbird's nest, or the duck-billed platypus.

DAVID: Exactly!!! But all those odd things happened. Not required, so there must be an underlying drive for complexity for complexity's sake.

You keep switching your focus from humans as God's purpose to complexity for its own sake. Yes, the evolutionary mechanism, whatever may be its nature and source, entails a drive from simple to complex, which explains the existence of every single multicellular creature that ever lived: there was no requirement for ANY of them, so there is no point in saying there was no requirement for humans as if that supported your anthropocentric interpretation of evolution.

DAVID: Advances in evolution result from loss of genetic information. That is an accepted fact
dhw: It is not an accepted fact. You have said yourself that the only evidence concerns adaptation, not innovation, and you have agreed that advances in evolution depend on innovation.
DAVID: But is accepted for mutational changes for adaptations. Since this is the only change mechanism we know, it may well be a part of speciation.

“It may well be a part of…” is not the same as an “accepted fact”.

dhw: “Can advance a new adaptation” is a million miles away from speciation occurring “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning.” (My bold) If an organism adapts, the “genetic information” may have to change, and change “can” (your verb) entail loss as well as gain etc., etc.
DAVID: The problem in your discussion is that the only advances we see are adaptations in existing species…

In the context of your claims re speciation, that is your problem, not mine.

DAVID …and each time genes are removed!

You wrote: “…we can say that evolution generally produces complexity, but at times information can be reduced and an intact complex organism can still be produced.” Please tell us which is true: “each time” or “at times”.

DAVID: Removal of genes in DNA is removal of information. Stimuli from the environment are forms of external information. Only coding in DNA can respond with epigenetic methylation or gene removal, and that is all internal to the organism.

I find it perfectly logical that if conditions change, any adaptation will entail internal incorporation of and adjustment to the new external information, and so what would be the point of retaining the old, out-of-date internal information? I find it perfectly conceivable that the same process might occur when there is innovation (essential for speciation) - there have to be gains for the organism to perpetuate the new structure, but there may well be losses as parts of the old structure become redundant. This would be the RESULT of the changes, and not the cause.

You still have no evidence whatsoever for your claim that speciation may occur “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning,” (my bold) and you still haven't explained what you mean by “all the info”. External info is info, and some of the new internal info required for innovation may eventually become old info that can be discarded when organisms need to adapt.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Friday, July 15, 2016, 23:26 (551 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:But this does not explain why he needed to design the weaverbird's nest in order to fulfil his purpose of producing homo sapiens. See below as regards your various dislocated arguments.

You keep equating two facts that are not necessarily related to any great degree. Complexity for complexity's sake may be a method God used to drive evolutionary complexity so that it reached the end result of humans.


dhw: All I ask is that you acknowledge the possibility that the inventive mechanism is autonomous, and so it is possible that God DID give the weaverbird the intelligence to design its own nest. Thank you.

Not at all likely in my view.

dhw: You keep switching your focus from humans as God's purpose to complexity for its own sake. Yes, the evolutionary mechanism, whatever may be its nature and source, entails a drive from simple to complex, which explains the existence of every single multicellular creature that ever lived: there was no requirement for ANY of them, so there is no point in saying there was no requirement for humans as if that supported your anthropocentric interpretation of evolution.

But you are basically agreeing with me in the beginning of your comment. Humans are logical endpoint of the drive to complexity.


dhw: I find it perfectly logical that if conditions change, any adaptation will entail internal incorporation of and adjustment to the new external information, and so what would be the point of retaining the old, out-of-date internal information? I find it perfectly conceivable that the same process might occur when there is innovation (essential for speciation) - there have to be gains for the organism to perpetuate the new structure, but there may well be losses as parts of the old structure become redundant. This would be the RESULT of the changes, and not the cause.

You still have no evidence whatsoever for your claim that speciation may occur “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning,” (my bold) and you still haven't explained what you mean by “all the info”. External info is info, and some of the new internal info required for innovation may eventually become old info that can be discarded when organisms need to adapt.

The evidence I have is that I read over and over again from all researchers, Darwin-types and ID folks that innovation is the result of a loss of genes. If I run into another article I'll give its source.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Saturday, July 16, 2016, 10:20 (550 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: But this does not explain why he needed to design the weaverbird's nest in order to fulfil his purpose of producing homo sapiens. See below as regards your various dislocated arguments.
DAVID: You keep equating two facts that are not necessarily related to any great degree. Complexity for complexity's sake may be a method God used to drive evolutionary complexity so that it reached the end result of humans.

It is you who keep linking the two ideas, as if somehow the vast array of life forms and natural wonders, extinct and extant, was designed to produce humans. At least you are now qualifying this with “not necessarily”…”to any great degree”. Perhaps eventually you will even acknowledge that the “balance of nature” and your God's enjoyment of creating pretty patterns for their own sake - or in my hypothesis his enjoyment of watching the autonomous inventive mechanism at work - offer no support for your claim that evolution was geared to the purpose of producing homo sapiens. (That does not preclude the possibility that your God later dabbled.)

dhw: All I ask is that you acknowledge the possibility that the inventive mechanism is autonomous, and so it is possible that God DID give the weaverbird the intelligence to design its own nest. Thank you.
DAVID: Not at all likely in my view.

You have every right to believe that 3.8 billion years ago your God preprogrammed the very first cells to pass on the design for the nest, along with all the other millions of natural wonders and innovations, or that he popped in to give the bird lessons in nest-building, and that this has some vague connection with his method of producing homo sapiens. But I have to echo your words: “not at all likely in my view”.

dhw: You keep switching your focus from humans as God's purpose to complexity for its own sake. Yes, the evolutionary mechanism, whatever may be its nature and source, entails a drive from simple to complex, which explains the existence of every single multicellular creature that ever lived: there was no requirement for ANY of them, so there is no point in saying there was no requirement for humans as if that supported your anthropocentric interpretation of evolution.
DAVID: But you are basically agreeing with me in the beginning of your comment. Humans are logical endpoint of the drive to complexity.

I am pointing out to you that the non-requirement for humans applies to all multicellular organisms, and is therefore no justification for your belief that humans were the reason for your God's creation of all the life forms and natural wonders in the history of evolution. I have no idea what evolution will produce in the next 3.8 billion years, but I agree with you that humans are the most complex organisms so far. That does not mean we are the logical endpoint or that your God started out with us in mind (he might have hit on the idea later, and dabbled), and it certainly doesn't mean that he preprogrammed or dabbled every life form and natural wonder for our sake.

dhw: You still have no evidence whatsoever for your claim that speciation may occur “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning,” (my bold) and you still haven't explained what you mean by “all the info”.
DAVID: The evidence I have is that I read over and over again from all researchers, Darwin-types and ID folks that innovation is the result of a loss of genes. If I run into another article I'll give its source.

“Another” article? The article you gave us did not present any such argument: “gene loss can be an evolutionary strategy that allows the adaptation of species to biological situations in a beneficial way…”; “a scenario of regressive evolution, in which the lost functions were not essential for the organism” (my bold). The only mention of innovation is: “Biological innovation is not necessarily linked to an increase of functional complexity or number of genes”, and it goes on to mention other possible means. Even you said that the argument only applied to adaptation, not innovation (which remains a mystery). Why do you continually refuse to define what you mean by “all the info needed for evolution”? And why do you not respond to the logical argument that adaptations and innovations will inevitably involve the gain of new information both external and internal - bearing in mind that external information is likely to be the trigger for both adaptation and innovation - and this may well be accompanied by the loss of old internal information that is now redundant?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 16, 2016, 19:29 (550 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: You keep equating two facts that are not necessarily related to any great degree. Complexity for complexity's sake may be a method God used to drive evolutionary complexity so that it reached the end result of humans.

dhw: It is you who keep linking the two ideas, as if somehow the vast array of life forms and natural wonders, extinct and extant, was designed to produce humans.

I base my theory on the fact that the arrival of humans is a most unlikely result, unless guided. I know you don't follow the inference of purpose as I do.

DAVID: But you are basically agreeing with me in the beginning of your comment. Humans are logical endpoint of the drive to complexity.

dhw: I am pointing out to you that the non-requirement for humans applies to all multicellular organisms, and is therefore no justification for your belief that humans were the reason for your God's creation of all the life forms and natural wonders in the history of evolution. I have no idea what evolution will produce in the next 3.8 billion years, but I agree with you that humans are the most complex organisms so far.

I've presented to you recently that many scientists think we are the end point. Again, I look at purpose as a driving factor and you do not.


dhw: You still have no evidence whatsoever for your claim that speciation may occur “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning,” (my bold) and you still haven't explained what you mean by “all the info”.

DAVID: The evidence I have is that I read over and over again from all researchers, Darwin-types and ID folks that innovation is the result of a loss of genes. If I run into another article I'll give its source.

I was working from a memory impression: here are two articles I read in the past and they describe that one of the ways adaptations occur is with loss of genes (i.e. information)

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/08/a_leaky_faucet098751.html

"What does Behe's first rule of adaptive evolution say about evolution in general? If most "beneficial" mutations are due to the loss of something rather than a gain of something, we are losing information when most adaptations occur, sometimes irreversibly. Let me give an example.

"Microbiologist Ralph Seelke and I published a paper in 2010 where we demonstrated that cells always, or nearly always, take the easiest road to success......In fact, that is what we observed. Nearly all the cells inactivated the genes (only one out of a trillion didn't).

Behe's paper: http://www.lehigh.edu/bio/Faculty/Behe/PDF/QRB_paper.pdf

"In this paper, I review molecular changes underlying some adaptations, with a particular emphasis on evolutionary experiments with microbes conducted over the past four decades. I show that by far the most common adaptive changes seen in those examples are due to the loss or modification of a pre-existing molecular function, and I discuss the possible reasons for the prominence of such mutations.

"The results of decades of experi-mental laboratory evolution studies strongly suggest that, at the molecular level, loss-of-FCT and diminishing modification-of-function adaptive mutations predominate."

dhw: And why do you not respond to the logical argument that adaptations and innovations will inevitably involve the gain of new information both external and internal - bearing in mind that external information is likely to be the trigger for both adaptation and innovation - and this may well be accompanied by the loss of old internal information that is now redundant?

In review I apologize. I was too forceful about only loss of information being the only important step. Reduplication of genes is another way. As for adding external information we know of methylation to modify gene function as a response to stimuli. When I have time I will try to unearth other articles on this subject. Still nothing explains speciation.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 16, 2016, 20:16 (550 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by David Turell, Saturday, July 16, 2016, 20:29

To continue my research on information and adaptation, I've looked into Spetner's book, The Evolution Revolution, and on page 74, after discussing a lizard adaptation, he concludes: "Evolution through a built-in response to an environmental input does not generate new information. The built-in mechanism was already in the lizards but it was latent."

Further on page 110 he states: "The scientific literature records no example of even one random mutation that adds heritable information to the genome." And follows with examples. One is antibiotic resistance: "No example of antibiotic resistance in bacteria adds information to the biosphere. To become resistant, the bacteria either pick up ready-made resistance genes from other bacteria [from me: horizontal transfer] or they undergo a mutation that destroys information."

Obviously I have developed an overall impression about genetic information. Spetner is obviously under the opinion that evolution started with all the information needed.

What information an organism picks up from the external environment is only stimuli and then epigenetic modifications of existing DNA occurs. We know what genes do by learning what they control, but no one has shown how they exert that control.

It may be logical to you that organisms can add info to their genes from the external stimuli, but that has not been shown. Methylation only modifies existing function.

So I am changing my claim about genetic information, to this: that it is either modified or destroyed with adaptation, not added. Not knowing how speciation occurs, I cannot comment on how information might be added.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Sunday, July 17, 2016, 11:06 (549 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: It is you who keep linking the two ideas, as if somehow the vast array of life forms and natural wonders, extinct and extant, was designed to produce humans.

DAVID: I base my theory on the fact that the arrival of humans is a most unlikely result, unless guided. I know you don't follow the inference of purpose as I do.

If God exists, he would have created life with a purpose. That does not mean all forms of life came into being for the sake of humans! You have at last begun to accept this, with your theory that God likes creating pretty patterns for their own sake (similar to my theistic alternative that he likes watching the autonomous inventive mechanism create its own pretty patterns). We both leave room for him to dabble, and so humans may have come much later in his thought processes. My objection has always been to your insistence that all of evolution was geared to the production of homo sapiens, which not even you can reconcile with his personal design of the weaverbird's nest and millions of other natural wonders.

DAVID: I've presented to you recently that many scientists think we are the end point. Again, I look at purpose as a driving factor and you do not.

Scientists are no more qualified than philosophers, priests or soothsayers to say whether we are the end point or not. I do look at purpose as a driving factor, but I do not accept that the production of humans is THE purpose. I think evolution is driven by the purpose of survival and/or improvement. Your God's purpose may be to enjoy the show he has sparked off.

dhw: You still have no evidence whatsoever for your claim that speciation may occur “solely from a loss of information, which means all the info needed for evolution was present from the beginning,” (my bold) and you still haven't explained what you mean by “all the info”.

DAVID: I was working from a memory impression: here are two articles I read in the past and they describe that one of the ways adaptations occur is with loss of genes (i.e. information)
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/08/a_leaky_faucet098751.html

I don't have any trouble believing that “one of the ways adaptation occurs is with loss of genes”. I have a great deal of trouble accepting that speciation may occur “solely from a loss of information”. (My bold) You have graciously apologized for this. However, your second post again deals exclusively with adaptation. I will only comment on snippets:

DAVID: …after discussing a lizard adaptation, he [Spetner]concludes: "Evolution through a built-in response to an environmental input does not generate new information. The built-in mechanism was already in the lizards but it was latent."

Again, adaptation does not explain evolution, which requires innovation. However, I also try to link the two with my suggestion that the same mechanism is responsible: namely, the autonomous intelligence of organisms that enables them to build new structures (not just adapt existing structures). How a new structure can be created without adding new “information” is beyond my comprehension, but perhaps you will enlighten me by at last defining what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”.

DAVID: Further on page 110 he [Spetner] states: "The scientific literature records no example of even one random mutation that adds heritable information to the genome." And follows with examples. One is antibiotic resistance: "No example of antibiotic resistance in bacteria adds information to the biosphere. To become resistant, the bacteria either pick up ready-made resistance genes from other bacteria [from me: horizontal transfer] or they undergo a mutation that destroys information."

You and I have long since abandoned Darwin's random mutations as an explanation for innovation. Since bacteria remain bacteria, this is of no help in understanding innovation. However, if Bobby Bacterium picks up ready-made resistance genes from Billy Bacterium, although he is not adding information to the biosphere, at some stage or the other the invention of antibiotics and BILLY'S ability to resist them must have added information of some kind!

DAVID: It may be logical to you that organisms can add info to their genes from the external stimuli, but that has not been shown. Methylation only modifies existing function.

That is not my argument, but the whole issue is clouded by this constant reference to “information” without any clear definition of what it means. It is not the info from external stimuli that is added - that is just the trigger. It is the innovation itself that requires new info: how to create a functioning kidney/penis/eye/wing/ brain.

DAVID: So I am changing my claim about genetic information, to this: that it is either modified or destroyed with adaptation, not added. Not knowing how speciation occurs, I cannot comment on how information might be added.

This whole discussion centres on how evolution works. Adaptation is only relevant as a possible clue: in my hypothesis, the cooperative intelligences (perhaps God-given) of the cell communities are responsible for both processes; in yours, God has preprogrammed everything in the very first cells, or personally intervenes. These have always been your two comments on “how information might be added” (whatever “information” means).

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 17, 2016, 16:00 (549 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Scientists are no more qualified than philosophers, priests or soothsayers to say whether we are the end point or not. I do look at purpose as a driving factor, but I do not accept that the production of humans is THE purpose. I think evolution is driven by the purpose of survival and/or improvement.

Evolution has shown that it is not naturally driven by survival or improvement. Any advance beyond unicellulars was never required.

dhw: How a new structure can be created without adding new “information” is beyond my comprehension,

But that is what research has found. Accept it if you believe science can advance our knowledge.

dhw; However, if Bobby Bacterium picks up ready-made resistance genes from Billy Bacterium, although he is not adding information to the biosphere, at some stage or the other the invention of antibiotics and BILLY'S ability to resist them must have added information of some kind!

Not necessarily. Antibiotics attack either a physical part of a bacteria, how a membrane functions or a metabolic process itself. In resistance what the bacteria does is choose another way a membrane functions from its group of available functions or it changes the aspect of metabolism to another form from an arsenal of methods it has in reserve. Living biochemistry is that complex.


dhw; That is not my argument, but the whole issue is clouded by this constant reference to “information” without any clear definition of what it means. It is not the info from external stimuli that is added - that is just the trigger. It is the innovation itself that requires new info: how to create a functioning kidney/penis/eye/wing/ brain.

You stay hung up on the meaning of the word information. Does DNA supply plans to run life? Yes. That set of plans is information. What else could it be? Yes innovation seems to require now plans (information), but we don't know how speciation occurs. It is possible that all the info was there from the beginning. If added, how did that happen? That is why my God has to dabble. We have not seen an example yet of external stimuli (info) being added to internal info (DNA)except in the epigenetic sense in which methylation of existing DNA (info) modifies a response.


DAVID: So I am changing my claim about genetic information, to this: that it is either modified or destroyed with adaptation, not added. Not knowing how speciation occurs, I cannot comment on how information might be added.

dhw: This whole discussion centres on how evolution works. Adaptation is only relevant as a possible clue: in my hypothesis, the cooperative intelligences (perhaps God-given) of the cell communities are responsible for both processes; in yours, God has preprogrammed everything in the very first cells, or personally intervenes. These have always been your two comments on “how information might be added” (whatever “information” means).

An architects plans are information. What is your definition of information? I'm not a scholar of English language so I don't follow your confusion. Please expound.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Monday, July 18, 2016, 13:45 (548 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I do look at purpose as a driving factor, but I do not accept that the production of humans is THE purpose. I think evolution is driven by the purpose of survival and/or improvement.
DAVID: Evolution has shown that it is not naturally driven by survival or improvement. Any advance beyond unicellulars was never required.

Evolution does not “show” anything. People interpret what is “shown”. I don't think you'll disagree that eyes and brains are an improvement over eyelessness and brainlessness, and I see evolution as a history of improvements and their variations. All organisms “naturally” strive to survive, and I don't know what authority you have for assuming that the quest for improvement is unnatural.

dhw: How a new structure can be created without adding new “information” is beyond my comprehension.
DAVID: But that is what research has found. Accept it if you believe science can advance our knowledge.

Research has not explained innovation, so how can you possibly make such a claim? Every invention by definition produces something that never existed before. In my view, if X and Y are existing information and nobody has ever combined the two before, XY = new information. And if a kidney never existed before, the inventor of the kidney has created new information.

dhw: However, if Bobby Bacterium picks up ready-made resistance genes from Billy Bacterium, although he is not adding information to the biosphere, at some stage or the other the invention of antibiotics and BILLY'S ability to resist them must have added information of some kind!
DAVID: Not necessarily. Antibiotics attack either a physical part of a bacteria, how a membrane functions or a metabolic process itself. In resistance what the bacteria does is choose another way a membrane functions from its group of available functions or it changes the aspect of metabolism to another form from an arsenal of methods it has in reserve. Living biochemistry is that complex.

According to your expert, Bobby picked up ready-made resistance genes from Billy, because he didn't have them himself. How did Billy get them? According to you, 3.8 billion years ago, God gave the first cells a vast number of “available functions” and “methods” to pass on to Billy, who would activate them when humans invented antibiotics - or God popped in to supply Billy with the necessary "information". Unfortunately, this particular function/method didn't make it through to poor old Bobby, so he had to get it from Billy. Do you really believe that? My alternative: Billy used his (God-given?) intelligence to work out how to resist the new invention, and he passed the info on to Bobby.

Dhw: …the whole issue is clouded by this constant reference to “information” without any clear definition of what it means. It is not the info from external stimuli that is added - that is just the trigger. It is the innovation itself that requires new info: how to create a functioning kidney/penis/eye/wing/ brain. DAVID: You stay hung up on the meaning of the word information… And later: What is your definition of information? I'm not a scholar of English language so I don't follow your confusion. Please expound.

I have repeatedly asked you to explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution was present from the beginning”, and your response is to ask me what I mean by “information”! I mean facts concerning a particular subject. The information needed for evolution will entail facts from outside and from inside the organism. Information is information, whether external or internal. Evolution could not happen if the changes did not enable organisms to cope with their environment. So firstly, if all the information needed for evolution was present from the beginning, then every environmental change in the history of life on earth was present from the beginning. Believe that if you will. Secondly, you quite rightly say: “Does DNA supply plans to run life? Yes. That set of plans is information.” Also “an architect's plans are information”. And under “brain complexity” you give another example: instructions on how to make insulin. Agreed. Whatever causes an organ or organism to “run” is internal information. But if an organism produces a new organ, it will logically require new information to enable the organ to run. You even recognize this yourself: “Yes innovation seems to require new plans (information)…but we don't know how speciation occurs.” Why “seems to”? Our ignorance about the “how” does not mean that innovation does NOT require new information! Your answer is: “It is possible that all the info was there from the beginning. If added, how did that happen? That is why my God has to dabble.” But strangely, in your post below, you have suddenly become very coy about how it might happen:

DAVID: Not knowing how speciation occurs, I cannot comment on how information might be added.

Until now, you have always “commented” that information is added (= innovation) by God's 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme or dabbling. I suggest that it may be supplied by the autonomous intelligence of the organisms themselves. However, at least you now concede that all the information needed for evolution may NOT have been present from the beginning. And of course there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that it was.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Monday, July 18, 2016, 15:43 (548 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: I don't think you'll disagree that eyes and brains are an improvement over eyelessness and brainlessness, and I see evolution as a history of improvements and their variations. All organisms “naturally” strive to survive, and I don't know what authority you have for assuming that the quest for improvement is unnatural.

Bacteria were/are perfectly happy for 3.6 billion years. Why the improvement/advance? There is no natural answer.

dhw: Research has not explained innovation, so how can you possibly make such a claim? Every invention by definition produces something that never existed before. In my view, if X and Y are existing information and nobody has ever combined the two before, XY = new information. And if a kidney never existed before, the inventor of the kidney has created new information.

We need to backtrack. The research does not cover kidneys, only the structural changes of adaptations which do not show additional information, but often subtraction. You may be correct about a kidney invention, which is my God dabble. You are right. We may not be able to extrapolate from adaptation to innovation from current research, but adaptation is all we have to look at so far.


dhw; According to your expert, Bobby picked up ready-made resistance genes from Billy, because he didn't have them himself. How did Billy get them? According to you, 3.8 billion years ago, God gave the first cells a vast number of “available functions” and “methods” to pass on to Billy, who would activate them when humans invented antibiotics - or God popped in to supply Billy with the necessary "information". Unfortunately, this particular function/method didn't make it through to poor old Bobby, so he had to get it from Billy. Do you really believe that? My alternative: Billy used his (God-given?) intelligence to work out how to resist the new invention, and he passed the info on to Bobby.

My only response is to repeat that antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria alter a metabolic activity with another route they have. Some of the guys don't have that alternative and pick up resistance by horizontal transfer, all current science.


dhw: So firstly, if all the information needed for evolution was present from the beginning, then every environmental change in the history of life on earth was present from the beginning. Believe that if you will. Secondly, you quite rightly say: “Does DNA supply plans to run life? Yes. That set of plans is information.” Also “an architect's plans are information”. And under “brain complexity” you give another example: instructions on how to make insulin. Agreed. Whatever causes an organ or organism to “run” is internal information. But if an organism produces a new organ, it will logically require new information to enable the organ to run. You even recognize this yourself: “Yes innovation seems to require new plans (information)…but we don't know how speciation occurs.”

As I've discussed above, The only evidence we have is from adaptations which do not show additional information. We do not know how genes exert their controls. It is therefore possible that recombination of existing genes may produce the new information required for a kidney.

dhw: Why “seems to”? Our ignorance about the “how” does not mean that innovation does NOT require new information! Your answer is: “It is possible that all the info was there from the beginning. If added, how did that happen? That is why my God has to dabble.” But strangely, in your post below, you have suddenly become very coy about how it might happen:

DAVID: Not knowing how speciation occurs, I cannot comment on how information might be added.

dhw: Until now, you have always “commented” that information is added (= innovation) by God's 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme or dabbling. I suggest that it may be supplied by the autonomous intelligence of the organisms themselves. However, at least you now concede that all the information needed for evolution may NOT have been present from the beginning. And of course there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that it was.

My 'coyness' was due to the fact I was trying to comment only from a scientific standpoint. My theistic viewpoint you know well. Either all the info was present from the beginning or God adds it. Genetic studies of adaptations suggests all the info could have been present in the beginning. No more.

Logic and evolution

by BBella @, Monday, July 18, 2016, 17:10 (548 days ago) @ David Turell


As I've discussed above, The only evidence we have is from adaptations which do not show additional information. We do not know how genes exert their controls. It is therefore possible that recombination of existing genes may produce the new information required for a kidney.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me, all matter is just matter. So wouldnt that make all information no more than differing combinations of matter? Meaning: there is no such thing as "new information" just new combinations of matter?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Monday, July 18, 2016, 18:01 (548 days ago) @ BBella


David: As I've discussed above, The only evidence we have is from adaptations which do not show additional information. We do not know how genes exert their controls. It is therefore possible that recombination of existing genes may produce the new information required for a kidney.


BBella: Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me, all matter is just matter. So wouldnt that make all information no more than differing combinations of matter? Meaning: there is no such thing as "new information" just new combinations of matter?

Information is conceptual, not material. The code itself is material, not its instructions.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 13:02 (547 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: As I've discussed above, The only evidence we have is from adaptations which do not show additional information. We do not know how genes exert their controls. It is therefore possible that recombination of existing genes may produce the new information required for a kidney.

BBELLA: Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me, all matter is just matter. So wouldn't that make all information no more than differing combinations of matter? Meaning: there is no such thing as "new information" just new combinations of matter?

DAVID: Information is conceptual, not material. The code itself is material, not its instructions.

For a change, I agree with David! It is the new combinations of matter that provide new information. But that is why I consider it absurd to suggest that a new invention can occur without there being new information, and I would even extend that to adaptation, since that always entails organisms changing their internal information in order to cope with the new external information coming from changed conditions (see the discussion on bacterial resistance to antibiotics).

Logic and evolution

by BBella @, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 21:00 (547 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: As I've discussed above, The only evidence we have is from adaptations which do not show additional information. We do not know how genes exert their controls. It is therefore possible that recombination of existing genes may produce the new information required for a kidney.

BBELLA: Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me, all matter is just matter. So wouldn't that make all information no more than differing combinations of matter? Meaning: there is no such thing as "new information" just new combinations of matter?

DAVID: Information is conceptual, not material. The code itself is material, not its instructions.

For a change, I agree with David! It is the new combinations of matter that provide new information. But that is why I consider it absurd to suggest that a new invention can occur without there being new information, and I would even extend that to adaptation, since that always entails organisms changing their internal information in order to cope with the new external information coming from changed conditions (see the discussion on bacterial resistance to antibiotics).

After researching a bit, I finally wrapped my mind around where you both are coming from and can now see the term "new information" from your perspective. A certain combination of matter may have never existed before in certain combinations so holds new information about that new combination. Example: Genetically modified plants.

I was thinking more from the perspective of matter and energy combinations still being matter and energy - nothing new there! But I now see what you mean by new info.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 12:31 (546 days ago) @ BBella

BBELLA: Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me, all matter is just matter. So wouldn't that make all information no more than differing combinations of matter? Meaning: there is no such thing as "new information" just new combinations of matter?

Dhw: It is the new combinations of matter that provide new information. But that is why I consider it absurd to suggest that a new invention can occur without there being new information, and I would even extend that to adaptation, since that always entails organisms changing their internal information in order to cope with the new external information coming from changed conditions (see the discussion on bacterial resistance to antibiotics).

BBELLA: After researching a bit, I finally wrapped my mind around where you both are coming from and can now see the term "new information" from your perspective. A certain combination of matter may have never existed before in certain combinations so holds new information about that new combination. Example: Genetically modified plants.
I was thinking more from the perspective of matter and energy combinations still being matter and energy - nothing new there! But I now see what you mean by new info.

Thank you. Unfortunately, David still disagrees:

DAVID: Why do you resist the scientific information which tells us that many adaptations are shown to occur with a loss of information? Yes loss is a change, and a new arrangement of the existing information, but not 'new' information. I agree with you that new species may require new information which is why I suggest that God dabbles.

I do not resist it at all. Some adaptations do incur loss of information and some do not. So what? Until you explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”, I will go on pointing out that even adaptation requires adjustment to new external information, and external information is information. And just as a new arrangement of existing matter provides new information, the new instructions required to deal with it (a new “arrangement of existing information”) constitute new information. Whether this is also accompanied by (see my other post) a loss of non-relevant information makes no difference.

I agree with the rest of your post.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 14:09 (546 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Why do you resist the scientific information which tells us that many adaptations are shown to occur with a loss of information? Yes loss is a change, and a new arrangement of the existing information, but not 'new' information. I agree with you that new species may require new information which is why I suggest that God dabbles.

dhw: I do not resist it at all. Some adaptations do incur loss of information and some do not. So what? Until you explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”, I will go on pointing out that even adaptation requires adjustment to new external information, and external information is information. And just as a new arrangement of existing matter provides new information, the new instructions required to deal with it (a new “arrangement of existing information”) constitute new information.
I agree with the rest of your post.

Under the dabble theory I agree with you. See my entry today in the Oxygen note. It is very possible that dabble and deletion both exist to advance evolution.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Thursday, July 21, 2016, 13:03 (545 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Why do you resist the scientific information which tells us that many adaptations are shown to occur with a loss of information? Yes loss is a change, and a new arrangement of the existing information, but not 'new' information. I agree with you that new species may require new information which is why I suggest that God dabbles.

dhw: I do not resist it at all. Some adaptations do incur loss of information and some do not. So what? Until you explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”, I will go on pointing out that even adaptation requires adjustment to new external information, and external information is information. And just as a new arrangement of existing matter provides new information, the new instructions required to deal with it (a new “arrangement of existing information”) constitute new information.
I agree with the rest of your post
.

DAVID: Under the dabble theory I agree with you. See my entry today in the Oxygen note. It is very possible that dabble and deletion both exist to advance evolution.

I can't see anything in the entry about deletion. At least you now seem to have abandoned the claim that innovation is possible without additional information. However, I remain bewildered by your belief that loss of information might be RESPONSIBLE for (as opposed to accompanying) evolutionary advances/innovations. This flies in the face of all logic. (See my second post.)

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 21, 2016, 16:03 (545 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Under the dabble theory I agree with you. See my entry today in the Oxygen note. It is very possible that dabble and deletion both exist to advance evolution.

dhw:I can't see anything in the entry about deletion. At least you now seem to have abandoned the claim that innovation is possible without additional information. However, I remain bewildered by your belief that loss of information might be RESPONSIBLE for (as opposed to accompanying) evolutionary advances/innovations. This flies in the face of all logic. (See my second post.)

In regard to adaptations it is exactly what the literature reports in many but not all adaptations. No, it is not logical, but cells have the ability to reduplicate genes, to have them jump around, to delete them, to modify them by methylation, as championed by Shapiro. Cells do have control over their genes, without any sense of thought.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Friday, July 22, 2016, 10:13 (544 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Under the dabble theory I agree with you. See my entry today in the Oxygen note. It is very possible that dabble and deletion both exist to advance evolution.

dhw:I can't see anything in the entry about deletion. At least you now seem to have abandoned the claim that innovation is possible without additional information. However, I remain bewildered by your belief that loss of information might be RESPONSIBLE for (as opposed to accompanying) evolutionary advances/innovations. This flies in the face of all logic. (See my second post.)

DAVID: In regard to adaptations it is exactly what the literature reports in many but not all adaptations. No, it is not logical, but cells have the ability to reduplicate genes, to have them jump around, to delete them, to modify them by methylation, as championed by Shapiro. Cells do have control over their genes, without any sense of thought.

Adaptations may sometimes be accompanied by loss of information. That does not and cannot mean that loss of information is RESPONSIBLE for innovation. Yes, cells have all these abilities, as championed by Shapiro. And they may well have a “sense of thought”, as championed by Shapiro.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Friday, July 22, 2016, 15:01 (544 days ago) @ dhw

David: Cells do have control over their genes, without any sense of thought[/i].

dhw: Adaptations may sometimes be accompanied by loss of information. That does not and cannot mean that loss of information is RESPONSIBLE for innovation. Yes, cells have all these abilities, as championed by Shapiro. And they may well have a “sense of thought”, as championed by Shapiro.

All Shapiro really says is that they have the ability to rewrite their genome when necessary. That these processes are fully regulated is stated on page 69 of his book. He discusses 'genome shock' and gives several pages of known examples ( I estimate about 100). He never mentions the cells are thinking, only reacting in their genomes.

I would note that cells can only react with their available molecular reactions that are onboard, which in your view may well be God given, and I agree.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 10:24 (543 days ago) @ David Turell

David: Cells do have control over their genes, without any sense of thought.
dhw: Adaptations may sometimes be accompanied by loss of information. That does not and cannot mean that loss of information is RESPONSIBLE for innovation. Yes, cells have all these abilities, as championed by Shapiro. And they may well have a “sense of thought”, as championed by Shapiro.

DAVID: All Shapiro really says is that they have the ability to rewrite their genome when necessary. That these processes are fully regulated is stated on page 69 of his book. He discusses 'genome shock' and gives several pages of known examples ( I estimate about 100). He never mentions the cells are thinking, only reacting in their genomes.

You seem to think that Shapiro only ever said one thing about cells. Here for the umpteenth time is something else he says about cells: “Living cells and organisms are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully to ensure survival, growth and proliferation. They possess corresponding sensory, communication, information-processing, and decision-making capabilities.” (p. 143, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century). Please don't tell me that by cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making etc., he actually means automatically obeying God's instructions. And as I have reminded you umpteen plus a hundred times, when asked in an interview why the concept of the intelligent cell is controversial, he responded: “Large organisms chauvinism.”

DAVID: I would note that cells can only react with their available molecular reactions that are onboard, which in your view may well be God given, and I agree.

My view is that their autonomous intelligence may well be God-given (50/50), and I would not define intelligence as “their available molecular reactions”.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 14:56 (543 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: You seem to think that Shapiro only ever said one thing about cells. Here for the umpteenth time is something else he says about cells: “Living cells and organisms are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully to ensure survival, growth and proliferation. They possess corresponding sensory, communication, information-processing, and decision-making capabilities.” (p. 143, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century).

Remember I have the right to reach my own interpretations of his statements. He follows that sentence with : "cells are built to evolve; they have the ability to alter their hereditary characteristics through well-described natural genetic engineering and epigenetic processes as well as by cell mergers." This is my 'built-in drive to complexity. Only a planning mind could have created what he is describing.

dhw: Please don't tell me that by cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making etc., he actually means automatically obeying God's instructions.

Just following God's implanted instructions.


DAVID: I would note that cells can only react with their available molecular reactions that are onboard, which in your view may well be God given, and I agree.

dhw: My view is that their autonomous intelligence may well be God-given (50/50), and I would not define intelligence as “their available molecular reactions”.

But that is the only evidence we have from protein analysis of cells. Are you invoking panpsychism again?

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Sunday, July 24, 2016, 18:15 (542 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You seem to think that Shapiro only ever said one thing about cells. Here for the umpteenth time is something else he says about cells: “Living cells and organisms are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully to ensure survival, growth and proliferation. They possess corresponding sensory, communication, information-processing, and decision-making capabilities.” (p. 143, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century).

DAVID: Remember I have the right to reach my own interpretations of his statements. He follows that sentence with : "cells are built to evolve; they have the ability to alter their hereditary characteristics through well-described natural genetic engineering and epigenetic processes as well as by cell mergers." This is my 'built-in drive to complexity. Only a planning mind could have created what he is describing.

Being sentient and cognitive, they clearly have the ability to alter their characteristics autonomously, using the processes he describes. Yes, “a built-in drive to complexity” if that's what you want to call it, but a drive that is implemented by their intelligence. You are perfectly entitled to argue that only a planning mind could have created that intelligence - but:

dhw: Please don't tell me that by cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making etc., he actually means automatically obeying God's instructions.
DAVID: Just following God's implanted instructions.

That is your belief, and you are entitled to disagree with Shapiro, but please don't tell me Shapiro agrees with you.

DAVID: I would note that cells can only react with their available molecular reactions that are onboard, which in your view may well be God given, and I agree.

dhw: My view is that their autonomous intelligence may well be God-given (50/50), and I would not define intelligence as “their available molecular reactions”.

DAVID: But that is the only evidence we have from protein analysis of cells. Are you invoking panpsychism again?

Protein analysis of cells will not explain how cell communities reach their decisions. Panpsychism is a very broad term, but I certainly do invoke the idea that all living organisms have some form of consciousness (not to be confused with human levels of self-awareness).

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 24, 2016, 19:30 (542 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Please don't tell me that by cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making etc., he actually means automatically obeying God's instructions.
DAVID: Just following God's implanted instructions.

dhw: That is your belief, and you are entitled to disagree with Shapiro, but please don't tell me Shapiro agrees with you.

I can guess he does in his private, non-scientific light. He was president of his Jewish Temple.


DAVID: But that is the only evidence we have from protein analysis of cells. Are you invoking panpsychism again?

dhw: Protein analysis of cells will not explain how cell communities reach their decisions. Panpsychism is a very broad term, but I certainly do invoke the idea that all living organisms have some form of consciousness (not to be confused with human levels of self-awareness).

But all that is found in a complete biochemical analysis of cells is molecular reactions and wondrous molecules which deliver the goods by walking along biological ropes. Where is this consciousness located, if no part can be identified with it? Bacteria don't have neurons, and at a cellular level only neurons are neurons. That cells can re-write their genome is a mechanism that was present as part of the origin of cells. In my view origin of life is a God-given miracle, nothing less than that.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Monday, July 25, 2016, 22:28 (541 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Please don't tell me that by cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making etc., he actually means automatically obeying God's instructions.
DAVID: Just following God's implanted instructions.
dhw: That is your belief, and you are entitled to disagree with Shapiro, but please don't tell me Shapiro agrees with you.

DAVID: I can guess he does in his private, non-scientific light. He was president of his Jewish Temple.

It is perfectly possible to believe in God and at the same to believe that cells are cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making beings whom God has provided with their intelligence. It is not, in my view possible to believe that a being can be cognitive, sentient, purposeful, decision-making and intelligent, and at the same time to believe that it is only capable of automatically obeying instructions.

DAVID: But that is the only evidence we have from protein analysis of cells. Are you invoking panpsychism again?
dhw: Protein analysis of cells will not explain how cell communities reach their decisions. Panpsychism is a very broad term, but I certainly do invoke the idea that all living organisms have some form of consciousness (not to be confused with human levels of self-awareness).

DAVID: But all that is found in a complete biochemical analysis of cells is molecular reactions and wondrous molecules which deliver the goods by walking along biological ropes. Where is this consciousness located, if no part can be identified with it?

If you analyse biochemicals in any organism, you will see molecular reactions and wondrous molecules delivering the goods, but they will not explain consciousness. “Consciousness” at ALL levels is a mystery, from your God (if he exists) down to humans down to animals down to insects, and I am more and more inclined also to say down to bacteria and to plants.

DAVID: Bacteria don't have neurons, and at a cellular level only neurons are neurons. That cells can re-write their genome is a mechanism that was present as part of the origin of cells. In my view origin of life is a God-given miracle, nothing less than that.

We are not talking about origin of life or about origin of consciousness. We know that bacteria have life, but you insist that they do not have any form of consciousness. If they do have it, your God may have given it to them. I agree that the ability to rewrite the genome must have been present at the beginning - otherwise evolution could not have taken place. For you, however, that ability (disregarding your God's later dabbles) is not an ability at all, but a computer programme containing every single genome change in the history of evolution, allowing for every single environmental change in the history of evolution. You'll need a truly wondrous molecule of faith to swallow that.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 01:00 (541 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: If you analyse biochemicals in any organism, you will see molecular reactions and wondrous molecules delivering the goods, but they will not explain consciousness. “Consciousness” at ALL levels is a mystery, from your God (if he exists) down to humans down to animals down to insects, and I am more and more inclined also to say down to bacteria and to plants.

The only consciousness we know requires neurons. Shapiro's sentient bacteria are only sentient in that they can receive stimuli and have responses to those stimuli.

dhw: We are not talking about origin of life or about origin of consciousness. We know that bacteria have life, but you insist that they do not have any form of consciousness. If they do have it, your God may have given it to them. I agree that the ability to rewrite the genome must have been present at the beginning - otherwise evolution could not have taken place. For you, however, that ability (disregarding your God's later dabbles) is not an ability at all, but a computer programme containing every single genome change in the history of evolution, allowing for every single environmental change in the history of evolution. You'll need a truly wondrous molecule of faith to swallow that.

It may be wondrous to you but I have faith in God, and you have trouble swallowing that faith.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 11:42 (540 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: If you analyse biochemicals in any organism, you will see molecular reactions and wondrous molecules delivering the goods, but they will not explain consciousness. “Consciousness” at ALL levels is a mystery, from your God (if he exists) down to humans down to animals down to insects, and I am more and more inclined also to say down to bacteria and to plants.

DAVID: The only consciousness we know requires neurons. Shapiro's sentient bacteria are only sentient in that they can receive stimuli and have responses to those stimuli.

I admit that's a bit of a problem when someone tells me that first cause pure energy must have been conscious. However, back to Earth: what do you think Shapiro means by cognitive and decision-making? Unconscious and obeying instructions?

dhw: We are not talking about origin of life or about origin of consciousness. We know that bacteria have life, but you insist that they do not have any form of consciousness. If they do have it, your God may have given it to them. I agree that the ability to rewrite the genome must have been present at the beginning - otherwise evolution could not have taken place. For you, however, that ability (disregarding your God's later dabbles) is not an ability at all, but a computer programme containing every single genome change in the history of evolution, allowing for every single environmental change in the history of evolution. You'll need a truly wondrous molecule of faith to swallow that.

DAVID: It may be wondrous to you but I have faith in God, and you have trouble swallowing that faith.

No, I have trouble swallowing your belief that your God programmed or personally dabbled every innovation and natural wonder in the history of life, and that somehow it's all linked to “balance of nature” and the production of humans. One could still have faith in a God who endowed organisms with the intelligence to do their own thing. You should not conflate faith in God with faith in a particular interpretation of God's methods and intentions.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 15:11 (540 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: The only consciousness we know requires neurons. Shapiro's sentient bacteria are only sentient in that they can receive stimuli and have responses to those stimuli.

dhw: I admit that's a bit of a problem when someone tells me that first cause pure energy must have been conscious. However, back to Earth: what do you think Shapiro means by cognitive and decision-making? Unconscious and obeying instructions?

Yes.


DAVID: It may be wondrous to you but I have faith in God, and you have trouble swallowing that faith.

dhw: No, I have trouble swallowing your belief that your God programmed or personally dabbled every innovation and natural wonder in the history of life, and that somehow it's all linked to “balance of nature” and the production of humans. One could still have faith in a God who endowed organisms with the intelligence to do their own thing. You should not conflate faith in God with faith in a particular interpretation of God's methods and intentions.

No, but I pick what seems most logical to me, based on reasonable assumptions about God's mental power.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 11:48 (540 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: If adaptation is related to loss of genetic information, and it represents something new, why do you think it is logical that loss of information means it was no longer necessary?
dhw: If the information was necessary, it would have had to survive!

DAVID: The requirement could be that genes had to be rearranged with deletion of some portions, resulting in a code for new information developed from most of what existed, and that a discard of info was necessary to create the new code. The deletion and rearrangement may well have been the necessary step, a slightly different way of looking at the process.

A very different way of looking at the process. We now have a code for new information, as opposed to the claim that all the information was already present. “Most of what existed” is fair enough - an organism that comes up with a new organ is not going to change absolutely everything, but what is new is the bit that did not exist! Neither of us knows why a discard might have been necessary, but it is obvious why a discard might happen when the new code takes over (why hold onto irrelevant information?). And none of this explains how the loss of internal information PRODUCED the new internal information that enabled the organism to cope with or exploit the new external information (environmental change), or how the latter can have been present at the beginning. Hence my plea:

dhw: ….please give me a concrete example of what you mean by speciation being caused by loss of information which was present at the beginning.

DAVID: We know how DNA codes for protein molecules. It also controls forms of areas and organs of organisms (phenotypes). We have no idea how DNA exerts those controls. We also don't know if there is a hidden code to manage those controls, or possibly a trick of coding which allows DNA to contain information by subtraction. This is what adaptive changes have suggested. See my comment above.

The “hidden code” would presumably be your God's computer programme for every change (please correct me if I'm wrong). No, we don't know if that exists. I don't understand “contain information by subtraction”. If something is contained it is there. How can it be contained by being taken away? Adaptive changes suggest there is a mechanism which enables cells to change their structure (internal information) in order to cope with new external information. That has nothing to do with the invention of new organs. I don't know why you are so reluctant to give a concrete example of how speciation can be caused by loss of information which was present at the beginning. I can only assume that you agree with my own example: the platypus could only become a platypus by discarding all the information that would otherwise have made it an elephant or a human. Is that what you mean, and do you find it feasible?
The rest of your post revolves around the same obfuscations, except for this:

dhw: ….the original DNA would have had to include ALL the info needed about ALL the environmental changes that organisms would cope with or exploit for the next 3.8 billion years (other than the external and internal changes resulting from God's dabbling). So now you have your God either preprogramming or directly producing every environmental change.

DAVID: The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine.

Life is believed to have begun 3.8 billion years ago. If you claim that all the information was present at the beginning, then it was present 3.8 billion years ago. Just as information is information, the beginning is the beginning.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 15:33 (540 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: A very different way of looking at the process. We now have a code for new information, as opposed to the claim that all the information was already present. ..... And none of this explains how the loss of internal information PRODUCED the new internal information that enabled the organism to cope with or exploit the new external information (environmental change), or how the latter can have been present at the beginning. Hence my plea:

dhw: ….please give me a concrete example of what you mean by speciation being caused by loss of information which was present at the beginning.

You can't push the discussion of possible mechanisms too far. All we know is what I've presented. Adaptation is often seen with loss of information, and this means loss of information might be part of the speciation process. The rest is guessing how speciation occurs. You logically want more info for a new species, but I warn you speciation might defy logic, just as quantum mechanics does.


DAVID: We know how DNA codes for protein molecules. It also controls forms of areas and organs of organisms (phenotypes). We have no idea how DNA exerts those controls. We also don't know if there is a hidden code to manage those controls, or possibly a trick of coding which allows DNA to contain information by subtraction. This is what adaptive changes have suggested. See my comment above.

dhw:I can only assume that you agree with my own example: the platypus could only become a platypus by discarding all the information that would otherwise have made it an elephant or a human. Is that what you mean, and do you find it feasible?

No. I can imagine a recombination of genes made the branch leading to platypus, is not the recombination that lead to elephants. As with chimp and human, a simple population number says the DNAs in both are 98% of each other, but internal analysis of DNA arrangement and expression says we are 78% similar. This is how differentiation is made.


DAVID: The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine.

dhw: Life is believed to have begun 3.8 billion years ago. If you claim that all the information was present at the beginning, then it was present 3.8 billion years ago. Just as information is information, the beginning is the beginning.

But what was implied, as you know, is that I also favor dabbling with info added.

Logic and evolution; an addendum

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 18:35 (540 days ago) @ David Turell

More thoughts about this issue:

I believe humans are different in kind, both in body form upright posture, and in their giant brain, which is as different from other brains as any other difference we can find. As an example look at the hyrax and the elephant. They are close relatives genetically, but that's hard to believe, and I've seen both. The percentages I've given re' the DNA in chimps and humans, 98% similar populations of bases, but only 78% practical applications, shows us how that works in mixing and matching bases to change the expression of information. Genes contain different information when they are transposed, reduplicated, or how much they are allowed to be expressed. The source of speciation has to lie in more fully understanding these mechanisms. My theories must use what we know, which I have presented.

Logic and evolution; an addendum

by dhw, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 16:09 (539 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: More thoughts about this issue:

I believe humans are different in kind, both in body form upright posture, and in their giant brain, which is as different from other brains as any other difference we can find. As an example look at the hyrax and the elephant. They are close relatives genetically, but that's hard to believe, and I've seen both. The percentages I've given re' the DNA in chimps and humans, 98% similar populations of bases, but only 78% practical applications, shows us how that works in mixing and matching bases to change the expression of information. Genes contain different information when they are transposed, reduplicated, or how much they are allowed to be expressed. The source of speciation has to lie in more fully understanding these mechanisms. My theories must use what we know, which I have presented.

I agree that we need to understand these mechanisms more fully in order to find the source of speciation. But how on earth can “what we know” be said to provide any sort of basis for the theory that all the information needed for evolution was present at the beginning, and speciation is caused by loss of information? All we know in that context is that adaptation can be accompanied by loss of information. We also know that cell communities can change their structure when their existing internal information makes adjustments in order to cope with NEW external information. If loss of information ACCOMPANIES adaptation and this allows you to theorize that loss of information CAUSES innovation, I can certainly theorize that whatever mechanism enables cell communities to adapt to new information might also enable them to exploit that information in order to innovate.

xxxx

DAVID: I have a new study that defines these molecular and gene controls over cell division. Note the headline which uses the word 'decision' and feedback loop:

http://phys.org/news/2016-07-nota-cellular-feedback-loop-enables.html

David's comment: This all sounds very automatic and controlled to me. The only part of the reactions that might fit the issue of conscious action or 'thought' is the role of the genes in these reactions, what proteins they code for, and whether the gene is repressed in transcription or increased in expression by these molecular relationships. We know genes code for protein production, but how they might be exerting other influences is not yet discovered. Note that the molecules themselves increase or decrease gene function!

As always, you focus on systems that are already functional and established. You and I are full of functional, established systems that work automatically. Only when something goes wrong or when there is a change in conditions is there the possibility that what works automatically will have to change. Nobody as far as I know claims that all cells are constantly thinking about what they do! There are two approaches here. Firstly, scientists set problems which take organisms out of their known environment, to see if they have the “intelligence” to solve those problems. You accept such tests when they are carried out with our fellow animals and birds, but the lower down the scale we go (e.g. to ants to bacteria to plants), the less prepared you are to acknowledge the results. Secondly, we are trying to identify the possible mechanism that leads to evolutionary innovation - i.e. all those individual physical elements which at one time never existed before and which in the course of time accumulate to produce all the different species. This is not a matter of WHAT the genes do, but a matter of what makes them do it, i.e. what guides the physical mechanisms to create the new organ. Your theory is that God has preprogrammed the mechanism or operates it through personal intervention. Mine is that they operate the mechanism themselves. An analysis of all the chemical processes will not give you a clue as to how cell communities (organisms) are able to solve new problems and to create new structures.

Logic and evolution; an addendum

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 17:39 (539 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: If loss of information ACCOMPANIES adaptation and this allows you to theorize that loss of information CAUSES innovation, I can certainly theorize that whatever mechanism enables cell communities to adapt to new information might also enable them to exploit that information in order to innovate.

True innovation requires advanced planning to coordinate call the new parts, as in the new Cambrian organisms. IMHO, your cell committees cannot do that. What is your answer for the Cambrian? Even Darwin was afraid of it unless intermediates were found, and they are not there.


dhw: As always, you focus on systems that are already functional and established. You and I are full of functional, established systems that work automatically. Only when something goes wrong or when there is a change in conditions is there the possibility that what works automatically will have to change.

But this is the evidence living organisms present us, how they work, and how hey respond to stimuli. And we know they can adapt by influencing the gene functionality. We don't how they might be able to invent totally new structures as in the Cambrian.

dhw: Nobody as far as I know claims that all cells are constantly thinking about what they do! There are two approaches here. Firstly, scientists set problems which take organisms out of their known environment, to see if they have the “intelligence” to solve those problems. You accept such tests when they are carried out with our fellow animals and birds, but the lower down the scale we go (e.g. to ants to bacteria to plants), the less prepared you are to acknowledge the results.

But what you want is single cells to be equivalent to complex organisms. No way. ?They are automatic.

dhw: This is not a matter of WHAT the genes do, but a matter of what makes them do it, i.e. what guides the physical mechanisms to create the new organ. Your theory is that God has preprogrammed the mechanism or operates it through personal intervention. Mine is that they operate the mechanism themselves. An analysis of all the chemical processes will not give you a clue as to how cell communities (organisms) are able to solve new problems and to create new structures.

I know that! Which is why my current proposals are as you outline. I can go no further because we don't understand speciation, and if we can never find a mechanism, God must be the agent.

Logic and evolution; an addendum

by dhw, Thursday, July 28, 2016, 12:21 (538 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: True innovation requires advanced planning to coordinate call the new parts, as in the new Cambrian organisms. IMHO, your cell committees cannot do that. What is your answer for the Cambrian? Even Darwin was afraid of it unless intermediates were found, and they are not there.

IMHO my cell committees (possibly set up by your God in the first instance) are at least as likely as your 3.8-billion-year computer programme, or your God personally fiddling around with every single organism that sprouted a new organ. But these are all hypotheses, and it is no defence of your own to tell me that you don't believe mine!

dhw: As always, you focus on systems that are already functional and established. You and I are full of functional, established systems that work automatically. Only when something goes wrong or when there is a change in conditions is there the possibility that what works automatically will have to change.
DAVID: But this is the evidence living organisms present us, how they work, and how they respond to stimuli. And we know they can adapt by influencing the gene functionality. We don't how they might be able to invent totally new structures as in the Cambrian.Agreed.

That is why it is pointless for you to go on describing automatic activities, as if they somehow proved that cells are not capable of non-automatic activities.

DAVID: But what you want is single cells to be equivalent to complex organisms. No way. They are automatic.

My hypothesis does not regard bacteria as “equivalent” to complex organisms, but as organisms in their own right, and many scientists believe they are cognitive, intelligent, decision-making beings. You can state as often as you like that they are “automatic”, but that is your opinion, which is as impossible to justify objectively as that of the scientists with whom you disagree.

dhw: This is not a matter of WHAT the genes do, but a matter of what makes them do it, i.e. what guides the physical mechanisms to create the new organ. Your theory is that God has preprogrammed the mechanism or operates it through personal intervention. Mine is that they operate the mechanism themselves. An analysis of all the chemical processes will not give you a clue as to how cell communities (organisms) are able to solve new problems and to create new structures.
DAVID: I know that! Which is why my current proposals are as you outline. I can go no further because we don't understand speciation, and if we can never find a mechanism, God must be the agent.

There must be a mechanism, unless you now insist that your God personally fiddles with every single organism that does something new. (In which case, exit the whole of your preprogramming, it-was-all-there-at-the-beginning hypothesis.) The mechanism may have been designed by your God, and it may be autonomous. You have failed to find any logical flaws in such a hypothesis, in stark contrast to your own “current proposals”.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 16:03 (539 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: ….please give me a concrete example of what you mean by speciation being caused by loss of information which was present at the beginning.
DAVID: You can't push the discussion of possible mechanisms too far. All we know is what I've presented. Adaptation is often seen with loss of information, and this means loss of information might be part of the speciation process. The rest is guessing how speciation occurs. You logically want more info for a new species, but I warn you speciation might defy logic, just as quantum mechanics does.

I keep agreeing with you that loss of information might be part of the speciation process (organisms discarding what is no longer needed). That is a million miles away from saying that loss of information CAUSES the speciation process. You have presented a hypothesis concerning how speciation takes place, and I have pointed out some glaring logical flaws in it (see below for another example). What would you say are the logical flaws in the hypothesis that your God might have created an autonomous mechanism that enables organisms to acquire and process new information with which to create the innovations that lead to speciation?

dhw:I can only assume that you agree with my own example: the platypus could only become a platypus by discarding all the information that would otherwise have made it an elephant or a human. Is that what you mean, and do you find it feasible?

DAVID: No. I can imagine a recombination of genes made the branch leading to platypus, is not the recombination that lead to elephants. As with chimp and human, a simple population number says the DNAs in both are 98% of each other, but internal analysis of DNA arrangement and expression says we are 78% similar. This is how differentiation is made.

Of course the genetic combination is different. Any innovation will require a recombination/rearrangement of some sort, if only to accommodate all the new information. How does that mean that the LUCA contained all the information, internal and external, necessary for the platypus and elephant, and the platypus had to lose the elephant information in order to become a platypus?

DAVID: The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine.
dhw: Life is believed to have begun 3.8 billion years ago. If you claim that all the information was present at the beginning, then it was present 3.8 billion years ago. Just as information is information, the beginning is the beginning.
DAVID: But what was implied, as you know, is that I also favor dabbling with info added.

The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine, and if information has to be added by a dabble, it cannot all have been present at the beginning of evolution. Your different theories contradict each other, and your warning that “speciation might defy logic” is not much help! Maybe it only defies your logic.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 17:24 (539 days ago) @ dhw

dhw:What would you say are the logical flaws in the hypothesis that your God might have created an autonomous mechanism that enables organisms to acquire and process new information with which to create the innovations that lead to speciation?

As I've noted before, perfectly logical if it is semiautomatic with limits set by God.


DAVID: No. I can imagine a recombination of genes made the branch leading to platypus, is not the recombination that lead to elephants. As with chimp and human, a simple population number says the DNAs in both are 98% of each other, but internal analysis of DNA arrangement and expression says we are 78% similar. This is how differentiation is made.

dhw: Of course the genetic combination is different. Any innovation will require a recombination/rearrangement of some sort, if only to accommodate all the new information. How does that mean that the LUCA contained all the information, internal and external, necessary for the platypus and elephant, and the platypus had to lose the elephant information in order to become a platypus?

Same repeat: the only advances we know are adaptations and many of them lose information. ?this is the ONLY evidence we have.


DAVID: The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine.
dhw: Life is believed to have begun 3.8 billion years ago. If you claim that all the information was present at the beginning, then it was present 3.8 billion years ago. Just as information is information, the beginning is the beginning.

DAVID: But what was implied, as you know, is that I also favor dabbling with info added.

dhw: The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine, and if information has to be added by a dabble, it cannot all have been present at the beginning of evolution. Your different theories contradict each other,

Of course they contradict. I've always said one or the other, since there is no way of knowing at this point in our knowledge.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Thursday, July 28, 2016, 12:16 (538 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw:What would you say are the logical flaws in the hypothesis that your God might have created an autonomous mechanism that enables organisms to acquire and process new information with which to create the innovations that lead to speciation?

DAVID: As I've noted before, perfectly logical if it is semiautomatic with limits set by God.

I said “autonomous”, and your personal “ifs” do not constitute a logical flaw in my hypothesis. You clearly can't find any, whereas even you have acknowledged that your own defies logic. Doesn't that suggest that mine must at least be worth consideration?

dhw: Any innovation will require a recombination/rearrangement of some sort, if only to accommodate all the new information. How does that mean that the LUCA contained all the information, internal and external, necessary for the platypus and elephant, and the platypus had to lose the elephant information in order to become a platypus?

DAVID: Same repeat: the only advances we know are adaptations and many of them lose information. This is the ONLY evidence we have.

Not much of a basis for your theory, is it? Many adaptations lose unnecessary information, and that suggests that innovations are caused by loss of information? Logic suggests to me that innovations can only come about through the acquisition of new information. Why turn your back on logic?

dhw: …if information has to be added by a dabble, it cannot all have been present at the beginning of evolution. Your different theories contradict each other. DAVID: Of course they contradict. I've always said one or the other, since there is no way of knowing at this point in our knowledge.

Your new “loss of information causes innovation” hypothesis was meant to bolster your preprogramming hypothesis, which in the past had indeed been supplemented by dabbling - a bit of both. But the new hypothesis led you to the idea that ALL the information needed for evolution was already present at the beginning, and that is how you lost hold of your dabbling lifeline and landed in this particular logical quicksand.

Logic and evolution

by BBella @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 22:23 (540 days ago) @ dhw


DAVID: Bacteria don't have neurons, and at a cellular level only neurons are neurons. That cells can re-write their genome is a mechanism that was present as part of the origin of cells. In my view origin of life is a God-given miracle, nothing less than that.

We are not talking about origin of life or about origin of consciousness. We know that bacteria have life, but you insist that they do not have any form of consciousness. If they do have it, your God may have given it to them. I agree that the ability to rewrite the genome must have been present at the beginning - otherwise evolution could not have taken place. For you, however, that ability (disregarding your God's later dabbles) is not an ability at all, but a computer programme containing every single genome [possibility] change in the history of evolution, allowing for every single environmental [possibility] change in the history of evolution. You'll need a truly wondrous molecule of faith to swallow that.

[/b]

The description above in bold with my [possibility] added could be describing quantum possibility at the quantum level. All That Is, is made up of the fabric of Quantum possibility.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 22:58 (540 days ago) @ BBella


DAVID: Bacteria don't have neurons, and at a cellular level only neurons are neurons. That cells can re-write their genome is a mechanism that was present as part of the origin of cells. In my view origin of life is a God-given miracle, nothing less than that.

dhw:We are not talking about origin of life or about origin of consciousness. We know that bacteria have life, but you insist that they do not have any form of consciousness. If they do have it, your God may have given it to them. I agree that the ability to rewrite the genome must have been present at the beginning - otherwise evolution could not have taken place. For you, however, that ability (disregarding your God's later dabbles) is not an ability at all, but a computer programme containing every single genome [possibility] change in the history of evolution, allowing for every single environmental [possibility] change in the history of evolution. You'll need a truly wondrous molecule of faith to swallow that.

[/b]

BBella: The description above in bold with my [possibility] added could be describing quantum possibility at the quantum level. All That Is, is made up of the fabric of Quantum possibility.

I agree with you. And God uses quantum mechanics with all its possibilities as the basis of All That Is, our reality.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 16:14 (539 days ago) @ David Turell


DAVID: Bacteria don't have neurons, and at a cellular level only neurons are neurons. That cells can re-write their genome is a mechanism that was present as part of the origin of cells. In my view origin of life is a God-given miracle, nothing less than that.

dhw:We are not talking about origin of life or about origin of consciousness. We know that bacteria have life, but you insist that they do not have any form of consciousness. If they do have it, your God may have given it to them. I agree that the ability to rewrite the genome must have been present at the beginning - otherwise evolution could not have taken place. For you, however, that ability (disregarding your God's later dabbles) is not an ability at all, but a computer programme containing every single genome [possibility] change in the history of evolution, allowing for every single environmental [possibility] change in the history of evolution. You'll need a truly wondrous molecule of faith to swallow that.

[/b]

BBella: The description above in bold with my [possibility] added could be describing quantum possibility at the quantum level. All That Is, is made up of the fabric of Quantum possibility.


I agree with you. And God uses quantum mechanics with all its possibilities as the basis of All That Is, our reality.

“Quantum” seems to be the password to all explanations. Let me switch this “possibility” concept around. Whatever exists must be possible. Therefore you can argue that the possibility for whatever exists must always have existed. And since we have no idea what else is possible, nothing stops us from saying that anything is possible. You can't prove a negative, and so at the quantum level (which nobody understands and which is therefore full of infinite possibilities) it is perfectly possible that tomorrow I will turn into a piano-playing giraffe with wings and a bushy tail. Or, to come back to the field of evolution, I can argue that at the quantum level, instead of a possible God possibly preprogramming and/or dabbling every possible change in the history of evolution, he possibly created a possible autonomous inventive mechanism with which organisms were able to adapt or innovate according to random changes in environmental conditions. Why should that not be part of the All That Is, or the quantum fabric of reality? Or why should the quantum fabric of reality not be such that life and evolution and consciousness were inevitable, and there is no single mind controlling it all? Or life, evolution and consciousness are a quantum fluctuation?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 17:46 (539 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: “Quantum” seems to be the password to all explanations. Let me switch this “possibility” concept around. Whatever exists must be possible. Therefore you can argue that the possibility for whatever exists must always have existed. And since we have no idea what else is possible, nothing stops us from saying that anything is possible. You can't prove a negative, and so at the quantum level (which nobody understands and which is therefore full of infinite possibilities) it is perfectly possible that tomorrow I will turn into a piano-playing giraffe with wings and a bushy tail. Or, to come back to the field of evolution, I can argue that at the quantum level, instead of a possible God possibly preprogramming and/or dabbling every possible change in the history of evolution, he possibly created a possible autonomous inventive mechanism with which organisms were able to adapt or innovate according to random changes in environmental conditions. Why should that not be part of the All That Is, or the quantum fabric of reality? Or why should the quantum fabric of reality not be such that life and evolution and consciousness were inevitable, and there is no single mind controlling it all? Or life, evolution and consciousness are a quantum fluctuation?

Wonderful flight of fancy. All we know is the quantum level of reality exists as the basis of our reality. It is counterintuitive but all the formulas we use work! We don't understand it, but it is/was used to create the universe, and it conducts or is used by many of the living mechanisms (photosynthesis, as one example). How did quanta get so smart? A guiding mind is needed.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Thursday, July 28, 2016, 12:24 (538 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: “Quantum” seems to be the password to all explanations. Let me switch this “possibility” concept around. Whatever exists must be possible. Therefore you can argue that the possibility for whatever exists must always have existed. And since we have no idea what else is possible, nothing stops us from saying that anything is possible. You can't prove a negative, and so at the quantum level (which nobody understands and which is therefore full of infinite possibilities) it is perfectly possible that tomorrow I will turn into a piano-playing giraffe with wings and a bushy tail. Or, to come back to the field of evolution, I can argue that at the quantum level, instead of a possible God possibly preprogramming and/or dabbling every possible change in the history of evolution, he possibly created a possible autonomous inventive mechanism with which organisms were able to adapt or innovate according to random changes in environmental conditions. Why should that not be part of the All That Is, or the quantum fabric of reality? Or why should the quantum fabric of reality not be such that life and evolution and consciousness were inevitable, and there is no single mind controlling it all? Or life, evolution and consciousness are a quantum fluctuation?

DAVID: Wonderful flight of fancy. All we know is the quantum level of reality exists as the basis of our reality. It is counterintuitive but all the formulas we use work! We don't understand it, but it is/was used to create the universe, and it conducts or is used by many of the living mechanisms (photosynthesis, as one example). How did quanta get so smart? A guiding mind is needed.

I don't know why an autonomous inventive mechanism should be regarded as more of a flight of fancy than a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme detailing every single innovation and natural wonder in the history of life, or an unknown sourceless universe-creating, universe-encompassing mind personally giving lessons to the weaverbird on how to build its nest.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 23:23 (540 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: I would note that cells can only react with their available molecular reactions that are onboard, which in your view may well be God given, and I agree.

dhw: My view is that their autonomous intelligence may well be God-given (50/50), and I would not define intelligence as “their available molecular reactions”.


I have a new study that defines these molecular and gene controls over cell division. Note the headline which uses the word 'decision' and feedback loop:

http://phys.org/news/2016-07-nota-cellular-feedback-loop-enables.html

"New research from the laboratory of Professor Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), sheds light on a critical decision that every newly born cell makes: whether to continue to proliferate or to exit the cell-division cycle.

" The decision to stop proliferating depends on delaying the expression of a protein called Cyclin E. Cyclin E and its partner, protein kinase CDK2, are key regulators of the decision of whether a cell will commit to a new round of cell division or remain in a non-proliferative state. Stillman and postdoctoral investigator Manzar Hossain, Ph.D., today publish in eLife the results of experiments demonstrating precisely how Cyclin E expression is kept in balance in normal cells by the opposing actions of two proteins.

"The two proteins are called ORC1 and CDC6. As Stillman's lab showed last year, during mitosis, when two daughter cells separate, each inherits chromosomes to which ORC1 is bound. Thus it is inherited into the new cells and can immediately act to control Cyclin E levels. Previously, the lab had shown that when ORC1 is missing, Cyclin E levels rise.

"Now, Stillman and Hossain have discovered that ORC1 represses the activation of the gene (called CCNE1) that encodes instructions for manufacturing Cyclin E. This means that as the next cell cycle begins—a phase biologists call G1—Cyclin E initially is not expressed because ORC1 blocks the CCNE1 gene.

"The new research reveals how ORC1's anti-proliferative role early in the life of a new cell is part of a feedback loop whose pro-proliferation member is the ORC1-related protein CDC6, another important DNA replication factor.

"'If cells integrate signals from their environment that promote another round of cell division, a pathway is engaged, in which a complex formed by Cyclin D and CDK4 (a cyclin-dependent protein kinase) triggers a cascade of effects that culminate in amplification of the cell's commitment to cell division," Hossain explains. The mechanism behind this amplification involves an interaction between Cyclin E-CDK2 and CDC6. Their level in the cell, in turn, is regulated by a transcription factor called E2F, which itself is controlled by a tumor suppressor protein called RB and an enzyme that adds methyl groups to histone proteins, called SUV39H1.

"Hossain and Stillman report that early in the newly born cells, ORC1 is present at the promoter element of the gene that encodes Cyclin E, at which position it interacts with the RB protein and SUV39H1. The interaction results in repression of E2F-dependent transcription of the Cyclin E-encoding gene. Later in the G1 phase of the cell-division cycle, as cells receive signals that they should proliferate, CDC6 cooperates with Cyclin E and its protein kinase partner CDK2, to biochemically counter this repression, thus acting to dramatically increase the expression of the gene that encodes Cyclin E. This amplification process contributes to committing the cell to a new round of DNA duplication and chromosome segregation. Thus a feedback loop is established in which one DNA replication protein, CDC6, antagonizes the repressive action of another DNA replication protein, ORC1. (my bolds)

***

"The opposing effects of ORC1 and CDC6 in controlling the level of Cyclin E thus contributes to the stability of the genome," Stillman says. "It is a mechanism for directly linking the process of DNA replication with a cell's commitment to divide.'"

Comment: This all sounds very automatic and controlled to me. The only part of the reactions that might fit the issue of conscious action or 'thought' is the role of the genes in these reactions, what proteins they code for, and whether the gene is repressed in transcription or increased in expression by these molecular relationships. We know genes code for protein production, but how they might be exerting other influences is not yet discovered. Note that the molecules themselves increase or decrease gene function!

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 00:44 (547 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Information is conceptual, not material. The code itself is material, not its instructions.

dhw: For a change, I agree with David! It is the new combinations of matter that provide new information. But that is why I consider it absurd to suggest that a new invention can occur without there being new information, and I would even extend that to adaptation, since that always entails organisms changing their internal information...

Why do you resist the scientific information which tells us that many adaptations are shown to occur with a loss of information? Yes loss is a change, and a new arrangement of the existing information, but not 'new' information. I agree with you that new species may require new information which is why I suggest that God dabbles.

How do we know that a gene controls a part of an organisms? By deletion of genes to see loss of a part or loss of function. How does the gene exert its control? We have no idea. My point is that all of genetic study is in its infancy. We are nibbling at the edges of a vast wilderness of knowledge about genetic function. Darwin's flights of fancy are no worse than our current efforts to understand evolution from what has been learned. But we must accurately use what is known. Much adaptation is related to loss of genetic material. Genetic material contains information. Period.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 12:58 (547 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: All organisms “naturally” strive to survive, and I don't know what authority you have for assuming that the quest for improvement is unnatural.
DAVID: Bacteria were/are perfectly happy for 3.6 billion years. Why the improvement/advance? There is no natural answer.

A natural answer: Single cells merged (perhaps by luck) and found that the merger led to some kind of improvement. So some single cells went on being single cells, but others went on merging and cooperating. In the course of time, cell communities went on creating improvement after improvement. And now here we are! (NB It may be your God who gave cells/cell communities the intelligence to know what is good for them, and to know how to make use of new opportunities.)

dhw: Research has not explained innovation, so how can you possibly make such a claim?
DAVID: We need to backtrack. The research does not cover kidneys, only the structural changes of adaptations which do not show additional information, but often subtraction. You may be correct about a kidney invention, which is my God dabble. You are right. We may not be able to extrapolate from adaptation to innovation from current research, but adaptation is all we have to look at so far.

Thank you for telling me that I may be right and I am right: research has NOT found that new structures can be created without adding new “information”. But please note that in my hypothesis, I also use adaptation as a possible pointer to an autonomous inventive mechanism: unless you believe that your God preprogrammes or directs every single adaptation, that ability requires some kind of autonomous intelligence.

dhw; According to your expert, Bobby picked up ready-made resistance genes from Billy, because he didn't have them himself. How did Billy get them? […] My alternative: Billy used his (God-given?) intelligence to work out how to resist the new invention, and he passed the info on to Bobby.
DAVID: My only response is to repeat that antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria alter a metabolic activity with another route they have. Some of the guys don't have that alternative and pick up resistance by horizontal transfer, all current science.

Totally accepted, but why is that the only response you can make? You still haven't told us how some of the guys managed to work out ways to resist the new invention of antibiotics. Once more: do you really believe that your God preprogrammed the ancestors of those guys 3.8 billion years before antibiotics were invented, or personally intervened to give them a quick lesson?

dhw: I mean facts concerning a particular subject. The information needed for evolution will entail facts from outside and inside the organism. Information is information, whether external or internal. […] So firstly, if all the information needed for evolution was present from the beginning, then every environmental change in the history of life on earth was present from the beginning. Believe that if you will. Secondly, you quite rightly say: “Does DNA supply plans to run life? Yes. That set of plans is information.” […] Agreed. Whatever causes an organ or organism to “run” is internal information. But if an organism produces a new organ, it will logically require new information to enable the organ to run. You even recognize this yourself: “Yes innovation seems to require new plans (information)…but we don't know how speciation occurs.”
DAVID: As I've discussed above, The only evidence we have is from adaptations which do not show additional information.

How does a bacterium adapt in order to create resistance to a new invention without “additional information”? (Please define information if you disagree with what I wrote above.)

dhw: Why “seems to”? Our ignorance about the “how” does not mean that innovation does NOT require new information! Your answer is: “It is possible that all the info was there from the beginning. If added, how did that happen? That is why my God has to dabble.” But strangely, in your post below, you have suddenly become very coy about how it might happen:

DAVID: Not knowing how speciation occurs, I cannot comment on how information might be added.
dhw: Until now, you have always “commented” that information is added (= innovation) by God's 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme or dabbling. […] However, at least you now concede that all the information needed for evolution may NOT have been present from the beginning. And of course there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that it was.

DAVID: My 'coyness' was due to the fact I was trying to comment only from a scientific standpoint. My theistic viewpoint you know well. Either all the info was present from the beginning or God adds it. Genetic studies of adaptations suggests all the info could have been present in the beginning. No more.

And how right you are to be coy. Once again, you talk about “all the info”. Do genetic studies of adaptations "suggest" that every environmental change (= external information) and every innovation (e.g. the internal information on how to create a kidney) and every natural wonder (e.g. the information on how a weaverbird should build its nest) was preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago? If it doesn't, there is no way you can claim that science suggests that “all the info could have been present at the beginning.”

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 00:29 (547 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Bacteria were/are perfectly happy for 3.6 billion years. Why the improvement/advance? There is no natural answer.

dhw: A natural answer: Single cells merged (perhaps by luck) and found that the merger led to some kind of improvement. So some single cells went on being single cells, but others went on merging and cooperating. In the course of time, cell communities went on creating improvement after improvement. And now here we are! (NB It may be your God who gave cells/cell communities the intelligence to know what is good for them, and to know how to make use of new opportunities.)

I would remind you luck is the same as chance which you have rejected. Any other approach?


dhw; research has NOT found that new structures can be created without adding new “information”.

You are presenting a negative. We have no research on new organs or new species development. we don't know how that happens. All we have found is gene changes in adaptations of existing organisms in which information is often removed.

DAVID: My only response is to repeat that antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria alter a metabolic activity with another route they have. Some of the guys don't have that alternative and pick up resistance by horizontal transfer, all current science.

dhw: Totally accepted, but why is that the only response you can make? You still haven't told us how some of the guys managed to work out ways to resist the new invention of antibiotics.

Did you read what I wrote or wasn't it clear? Bacteria can use alternate existing metabolic pathways to get around antibiotic blockades or use horizontal transfers.


dhw: How does a bacterium adapt in order to create resistance to a new invention without “additional information”? (Please define information if you disagree with what I wrote above.)

Explained above


DAVID: My 'coyness' was due to the fact I was trying to comment only from a scientific standpoint. My theistic viewpoint you know well. Either all the info was present from the beginning or God adds it. Genetic studies of adaptations suggests all the info could have been present in the beginning. No more.

dhw: And how right you are to be coy. Once again, you talk about “all the info”. Do genetic studies of adaptations "suggest" that every environmental change (= external information) and every innovation (e.g. the internal information on how to create a kidney) and every natural wonder (e.g. the information on how a weaverbird should build its nest) was preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago? If it doesn't, there is no way you can claim that science suggests that “all the info could have been present at the beginning.”

Since many adaptations are accompanied by information loss, it is possible to infer that much of evolution is due to loss of initial information, since adaptation is the only examples we have that are well studied.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 12:47 (546 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Bacteria were/are perfectly happy for 3.6 billion years. Why the improvement/advance? There is no natural answer.
dhw: A natural answer: Single cells merged (perhaps by luck) and found that the merger led to some kind of improvement. So some single cells went on being single cells, but others went on merging and cooperating. In the course of time, cell communities went on creating improvement after improvement. And now here we are! (NB It may be your God who gave cells/cell communities the intelligence to know what is good for them, and to know how to make use of new opportunities.)

DAVID: I would remind you luck is the same as chance which you have rejected. Any other approach?

I said “perhaps by luck”. I have always argued against luck/chance in the context of how evolution progresses (= Darwin's random mutations). But that does not preclude chance at the beginning of the process, as a no more improbable starting point than an eternal and sourceless inventive mind deciding to introduce Cell A to Cell B. Nobody knows how it all began. But you claimed there was no natural answer to the question of improvement/advance. Once the first merger took place, I have offered you a natural explanation. Why do you consider the above scenario to be unnatural?

Dhw: …research has NOT found that new structures can be created without adding new “information”.
DAVID: You are presenting a negative. We have no research on new organs or new species development. we don't know how that happens. All we have found is gene changes in adaptations of existing organisms in which information is often removed.

I was responding to the following exchange:
ME: How a new structure can be created without adding new “information” is beyond my comprehension.
YOU: But that is what research has found. Accept it if you believe science can advance our knowledge. (My bold)

No, research has not found that, and so I will not accept it! But thank you for proving my point for me.

dhw: You still haven't told us how some of the guys managed to work out ways to resist the new invention of antibiotics.
DAVID: Did you read what I wrote or wasn't it clear? Bacteria can use alternate existing metabolic pathways to get around antibiotic blockades or use horizontal transfers.

But you believe bacteria to be automatons. This can only mean your God must have dabbled, or preprogrammed the first cells to provide some bacteria with special metabolic pathways to deal with the invention of antibiotics 3.8 billion years later, and those bacteria passed on (horizontal transfer) the metabolic pathways to other bacteria who had not been provided with them. Or could it be that some bacteria were able to work out for themselves how to deal with the new threat, and passed the information on to others?

dhw: How does a bacterium adapt in order to create resistance to a new invention without “additional information”? (Please define information if you disagree with what I wrote above.)
DAVID: Explained above.

Not explained above. Antibiotics were a new invention. An invention by definition will contain new information. You said that an organism's internal information is the instructions or plans it uses to “run life” (your words). How, then, is it logically possible to say that a new threat (new information) does not require new instructions/plans (new information)?

DAVID: My 'coyness' was due to the fact I was trying to comment only from a scientific standpoint. My theistic viewpoint you know well. Either all the info was present from the beginning or God adds it. Genetic studies of adaptations suggests all the info could have been present in the beginning. No more.
dhw: And how right you are to be coy. Once again, you talk about “all the info”. Do genetic studies of adaptations "suggest" that every environmental change (= external information) and every innovation (e.g. the internal information on how to create a kidney) and every natural wonder (e.g. the information on how a weaverbird should build its nest) was preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago? If it doesn't, there is no way you can claim that science suggests that “all the info could have been present at the beginning.”

DAVID: Since many adaptations are accompanied by information loss, it is possible to infer that much of evolution is due to loss of initial information, since adaptation is the only examples we have that are well studied.

“Accompanied by” is hugely different from “due to”, but at least you are now qualifying your observations with “many adaptations” and “much of evolution”. Why “initial information”? Adaptations take place in existing organisms, most of which have added masses of information since the beginning. It stands to reason that if conditions change, some existing information will no longer be relevant, and so the adaptive changes may indeed be “accompanied by” information loss. All totally irrelevant to the problem of innovation, which by my definition is completely impossible without new information. But your argument might become clearer if only you would explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 21:59 (546 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: But you claimed there was no natural answer to the question of improvement/advance. Once the first merger took place, I have offered you a natural explanation. Why do you consider the above scenario to be unnatural?

Just as Darwin skipped origin of life you've skipped how he first combination took place. Remember it is all a continuum from start of lie to now.

dhw: I was responding to the following exchange:
ME: How a new structure can be created without adding new “information” is beyond my comprehension.
YOU: But that is what research has found. Accept it if you believe science can advance our knowledge. (My bold)

No, research has not found that, and so I will not accept it! But thank you for proving my point for me.

I have always said either evolutionary advances were coded from the beginning or God dabbles. God dabbling is adding new information. But adaptations, which are minor advances, may often lose information.


dhw: But you believe bacteria to be automatons. This can only mean your God must have dabbled, or preprogrammed the first cells to provide some bacteria with special metabolic pathways to deal with the invention of antibiotics 3.8 billion years later, and those bacteria passed on (horizontal transfer) the metabolic pathways to other bacteria who had not been provided with them. Or could it be that some bacteria were able to work out for themselves how to deal with the new threat, and passed the information on to others?

I'll try again. Many bacteria have a multiple choice on board for metabolic processes that antibiotics might interfere with. In fact some antibiotics are tailored to do just that. If A won't work anymore, they simply shift to B. Research shows this. Nylon use was simply an adaptation of an existing pathway, as an example. Otherwise resistance is naturally present in an alternative available pathway, or horizontal transfer takes place.


dhw: Not explained above. Antibiotics were a new invention. An invention by definition will contain new information. You said that an organism's internal information is the instructions or plans it uses to “run life” (your words). How, then, is it logically possible to say that a new threat (new information) does not require new instructions/plans (new information)?

Because of a fact of nature. Antibiotics have been around forever, in some organisms, in soil, etc. Bacteria have been battling them forever. Antibiotics are a new human discovery, not an a new invention, and bacteria are naturally resistant to some of them.


dhw: But your argument might become clearer if only you would explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”.

I did above, but repeating, dabbling is new information. Since we don't understand speciation pre-programming or dabbling is all I have to suggest.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Thursday, July 21, 2016, 13:19 (545 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: But you claimed there was no natural answer to the question of improvement/advance. Once the first merger took place, I have offered you a natural explanation. Why do you consider the above scenario to be unnatural?
DAVID: Just as Darwin skipped origin of life you've skipped how the first combination took place. Remember it is all a continuum from start of life to now.

I didn't skip it. I said it might be due to a stroke of luck, and when you objected, I said chance was no more improbable than a sourceless inventive mind introducing Cell A to Cell B. Once again: you claimed there was no natural explanation for improvement/advance - which means what happened AFTER the origin of life. So why you do consider the scenario I offered to be unnatural?

dhw: I was responding to the following exchange:
ME: How a new structure can be created without adding new “information” is beyond my comprehension.
YOU: But that is what research has found. Accept it if you believe science can advance our knowledge. (My bold)
dhw: No, research has not found that, and so I will not accept it! But thank you for proving my point for me.
DAVID: I have always said either evolutionary advances were coded from the beginning or God dabbles. God dabbling is adding new information. But adaptations, which are minor advances, may often lose information.

So when you said that research has found that a new structure can be created without adding “new information”, you actually meant science has found that some adaptations lose information. There is a difference.

DAVID: Many bacteria have a multiple choice on board for metabolic processes that antibiotics might interfere with. In fact some antibiotics are tailored to do just that. If A won't work anymore, they simply shift to B. Research shows this. Nylon use was simply an adaptation of an existing pathway, as an example. Otherwise resistance is naturally present in an alternative available pathway, or horizontal transfer takes place.
dhw: Antibiotics were a new invention. An invention by definition will contain new information. You said that an organism's internal information is the instructions or plans it uses to “run life” (your words). How, then, is it logically possible to say that a new threat (new information) does not require new instructions/plans (new information)?
DAVID: Because of a fact of nature. Antibiotics have been around forever, in some organisms, in soil, etc. Bacteria have been battling them forever. Antibiotics are a new human discovery, not a new invention, and bacteria are naturally resistant to some of them.

Let me see if I can understand how it all works. Humans newly discovered a means of killing harmful bacteria, and for many years it worked, and millions of harmful bacteria died, but then some found they already had multiple choices and existing pathways or natural resistance which your God had built into the first living cells to be passed on 3.8 billion years later. And the bacteria that newly discovered the right multiple choice or existing pathway passed on the information via horizontal transfer to those that didn't realize they had it, or actually didn't have it. And all this happened automatically, because bacteria haven't a clue what they are doing. I must say, the range of programmes to be passed on by the first living cells gets wider and wider with every subject we discuss. The alternative to your 3.8-billion-year programme is God dabbling - i.e. kindly intervening to teach bacteria how to counter man's attempts to combat the diseases they cause. How much simpler it would all have been if only God had given organisms the wherewithal to do their own adapting and inventing!

dhw: But your argument might become clearer if only you would explain what you mean by “all the information needed for evolution”.
DAVID: I did above, but repeating, dabbling is new information. Since we don't understand speciation pre-programming or dabbling is all I have to suggest.

I know you can only think in terms of a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme plus dabbling, but I am querying your statement that “genetic studies of adaptations suggest all the info [needed for evolution] could have been present at the beginning.” Let me repeat: by “all the information needed for evolution” I understand firstly, external environmental conditions, which are the trigger for all adaptations and probably for most innovations. This new information has to be processed before any advance can take place, and all advances must cope with the new conditions. How could this information have been present at the beginning? Secondly, internal information is what you call the plans or instructions issued from within the organism to enable it to adapt its existing structure to the new conditions or, with innovation, to create a new structure. How could these plans and instructions have been present at the very beginning if the external information requiring adaptation or allowing for innovation was not present? If you now accept that all the information could NOT have been present at the beginning, and so your God had to dabble, we shall have cleared up that particular issue, and I hope we can also forget about the illogical hypothesis that evolutionary advances are CAUSED by loss of information.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Thursday, July 21, 2016, 18:53 (545 days ago) @ dhw
edited by David Turell, Thursday, July 21, 2016, 19:07

dhw: Once again: you claimed there was no natural explanation for improvement/advance - which means what happened AFTER the origin of life. So why you do consider the scenario I offered to be unnatural?

By inference. Bacteria are still here unchanged. Obviously some became eukaryotes with nuclei and some then joined up as multicellular sheets which then further differentiated into specialized areas. I have presented this article previously. (Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 14:03) It encompasses my thinking completely:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-highly-engineered-transition-to-v...

The advances are totally unexplained, not understood and require mental planning to coordinate all the new parts.


dhw: So when you said that research has found that a new structure can be created without adding “new information”, you actually meant science has found that some adaptations lose information. There is a difference.

I agree. But these adaptations are the only advances that we have to study. They contain the suggestion that possibly speciation may involve loss of information. The article noted above feels new information is added for major advances. Seems reasonable so I am left with pre-planning and dabbling.

DAVID: Because of a fact of nature. Antibiotics have been around forever, in some organisms, in soil, etc. Bacteria have been battling them forever. Antibiotics are a new human discovery, not a new invention, and bacteria are naturally resistant to some of them.

dhw; How much simpler it would all have been if only God had given organisms the wherewithal to do their own adapting and inventing!

But He did give them alternate pathways to choose from! You seem to want simplicity. The h-p bush is not simple. You don't like my explanation, but complexity seems the rule. The particle zoo is complex. Quantum mechanics is very complex. But you want simplicity and we are surrounded by things we cannot explain. How about accepting what you see as the normal result of complex planning?


dhw: I know you can only think in terms of a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme plus dabbling, but I am querying your statement that “genetic studies of adaptations suggest all the info [needed for evolution] could have been present at the beginning.” ...... How could these plans and instructions have been present at the very beginning if the external information requiring adaptation or allowing for innovation was not present? If you now accept that all the information could NOT have been present at the beginning, and so your God had to dabble, we shall have cleared up that particular issue, and I hope we can also forget about the illogical hypothesis that evolutionary advances are CAUSED by loss of information.

I'm still stuck with what is known: adaptations do/can result from loss of information. With that fact inevidence, it is still possible that God pre-loaded all the information in the beginning, and since He also was running the evolution of the universe He knew what environmental pressures would be brought to bear on developing organisms and set up preparatory changes for them. That or He dabbled. I'm stuck.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Friday, July 22, 2016, 10:36 (544 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Once again: you claimed there was no natural explanation for improvement/advance - which means what happened AFTER the origin of life. So why you do consider the scenario I offered to be unnatural?

DAVID: By inference. Bacteria are still here unchanged. Obviously some became eukaryotes with nuclei and some then joined up as multicellular sheets which then further differentiated into specialized areas. I have presented this article previously. (Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 14:03) It encompasses my thinking completely:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-highly-engineered-transition-to-v...
QUOTE: I will state now in advance the point that I am trying to make here: each of the transitions described requires tons and tons of new, original, highly specific functional information.

Exit your theory that innovation is caused by loss of information.

DAVID: The advances are totally unexplained, not understood and require mental planning to coordinate all the new parts.

So why would it be unnatural for sentient, cognitive, decision-making beings to design and coordinate their new parts (allowing for your God giving them these powers)? You asked for a “natural” explanation and I gave you one. The fact that you prefer to believe in preprogramming/ dabbling does not make my hypothesis “unnatural”.

dhw: So when you said that research has found that a new structure can be created without adding “new information”, you actually meant science has found that some adaptations lose information. There is a difference.
DAVID: I agree. But these adaptations are the only advances that we have to study. They contain the suggestion that possibly speciation may involve loss of information.

Possibly involving loss of information is far, far away from the suggestion that speciation can occur without additional information, let alone that it is CAUSED by loss of information.

DAVID: Antibiotics have been around forever, in some organisms, in soil, etc. Bacteria have been battling them forever. Antibiotics are a new human discovery, not a new invention, and bacteria are naturally resistant to some of them.
dhw; How much simpler it would all have been if only God had given organisms the wherewithal to do their own adapting and inventing!
DAVID: But He did give them alternate pathways to choose from! You seem to want simplicity. The h-p bush is not simple. You don't like my explanation, but complexity seems the rule. The particle zoo is complex. Quantum mechanics is very complex. But you want simplicity and we are surrounded by things we cannot explain. How about accepting what you see as the normal result of complex planning?

You are playing games. You know perfectly well that my hypothesis does not deny the complexities of life! It does away with the complexities of your God having to preprogramme the first cells with billions of adaptations, innovations and natural wonders to create a bush to balance nature - or satisfy his liking for complexity - while being geared to producing human beings. My hypothesis offers the simpler explanation that organisms have an autonomous ability (possibly designed by your God) to do their own “complex planning”, of which the higgledy-piggledy bush is the “normal result”.

dhw: I know you can only think in terms of a 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme plus dabbling, but I am querying your statement that “genetic studies of adaptations suggest all the info [needed for evolution] could have been present at the beginning.” ...... How could these plans and instructions have been present at the very beginning if the external information requiring adaptation or allowing for innovation was not present? If you now accept that all the information could NOT have been present at the beginning, and so your God had to dabble, we shall have cleared up that particular issue, and I hope we can also forget about the illogical hypothesis that evolutionary advances are CAUSED by loss of information.

DAVID: I'm still stuck with what is known: adaptations do/can result from loss of information. With that fact inevidence, it is still possible that God pre-loaded all the information in the beginning, and since He also was running the evolution of the universe He knew what environmental pressures would be brought to bear on developing organisms and set up preparatory changes for them. That or He dabbled. I'm stuck.

So he wasn't in control of all the environmental pressures - he merely gazed into his crystal ball, and provided the first cells with every single adaptation and innovation to cope with or exploit every single change. Alternatively, when the crystal ball got it wrong, he intervened to help some lucky critters to cope, or create new organs, while the rest went extinct. With preprogrammed loss-of-info, human beings were present in the first cells, along with the duck-billed platypus and the elephant, and as evolution proceeded, all the other different species dropped their platypusness, elephantnesss, humanness etc. - no, that would be too much even for you, I think. So you must go back to speciation being the result of your God dabbling, i .e. adding rather than subtracting information. Therefore all the information required for evolution cannot have been present at the beginning, and evolutionary advances cannot have been caused by loss of information. Agreed?

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Friday, July 22, 2016, 15:34 (544 days ago) @ dhw

David: I have presented this article previously. (Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 14:03) It encompasses my thinking completely[/i]:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-highly-engineered-transition-to-v...
QUOTE: I will state now in advance the point that I am trying to make here: each of the transitions described requires tons and tons of new, original, highly specific functional information.

dhw: Exit your theory that innovation is caused by loss of information.

Not entirely. Since adaptation often is accompanied by loss of info, it is very possible some degree of innovation may result from loss of info.


DAVID: The advances are totally unexplained, not understood and require mental planning to coordinate all the new parts.

dhw; So why would it be unnatural for sentient, cognitive, decision-making beings to design and coordinate their new parts (allowing for your God giving them these powers)? You asked for a “natural” explanation and I gave you one. The fact that you prefer to believe in preprogramming/ dabbling does not make my hypothesis “unnatural”.

As long as they are God-given, your theory can be accepted. What is the agnostic theory?


dhw: So when you said that research has found that a new structure can be created without adding “new information”, you actually meant science has found that some adaptations lose information. There is a difference.
DAVID: I agree. But these adaptations are the only advances that we have to study. They contain the suggestion that possibly speciation may involve loss of information.

DAVID: But He did give them alternate pathways to choose from! You seem to want simplicity. The h-p bush is not simple. You don't like my explanation, but complexity seems the rule. The particle zoo is complex. Quantum mechanics is very complex. But you want simplicity and we are surrounded by things we cannot explain. How about accepting what you see as the normal result of complex planning?

dhw: You are playing games. You know perfectly well that my hypothesis does not deny the complexities of life! It does away with the complexities of your God having to preprogramme the first cells with billions of adaptations, innovations and natural wonders to create a bush to balance nature - or satisfy his liking for complexity - while being geared to producing human beings. My hypothesis offers the simpler explanation that organisms have an autonomous ability (possibly designed by your God) to do their own “complex planning”, of which the higgledy-piggledy bush is the “normal result”.

Again, granting a God-given ability for cells doing their own complex planning can fit my theistic thinking, how does an agnostic thinks it works without any God help?

David: it is still possible that God pre-loaded all the information in the beginning, and since He also was running the evolution of the universe He knew what environmental pressures would be brought to bear on developing organisms and set up preparatory changes for them. That or He dabbled. I'm stuck.

dhw: So you must go back to speciation being the result of your God dabbling, i .e. adding rather than subtracting information. Therefore all the information required for evolution cannot have been present at the beginning, and evolutionary advances cannot have been caused by loss of information. Agreed?

With the evidence that adaptation can be due to loss of info, I cannot accept your dogmatic statement. I want to keep all possibilities: preplanning with some loss possible, and dabbling.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 10:30 (543 days ago) @ David Turell

David: I have presented this article previously. (Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 14:03) It encompasses my thinking completely[/i:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-highly-engineered-transition-to-v...
QUOTE: [i]I will state now in advance the point that I am trying to make here: each of the transitions described requires tons and tons of new, original, highly specific functional information.

dhw: Exit your theory that innovation is caused by loss of information.
DAVID: Not entirely. Since adaptation often is accompanied by loss of info, it is very possible some degree of innovation may result from loss of info.

Once again: “accompanied by” does not mean “caused by”. There is no evidence and no logical reason for the argument that INNOVATION can be CAUSED (as opposed to accompanied) by loss of information.

DAVID: The advances are totally unexplained, not understood and require mental planning to coordinate all the new parts.
dhw; So why would it be unnatural for sentient, cognitive, decision-making beings to design and coordinate their new parts (allowing for your God giving them these powers)? You asked for a “natural” explanation and I gave you one. The fact that you prefer to believe in preprogramming/ dabbling does not make my hypothesis “unnatural”.
DAVID: As long as they are God-given, your theory can be accepted. What is the agnostic theory?

Thank you, but in discussions on how evolution works, the question is not whether those powers are God-given, but whether those powers actually exist. (I accept that they are hypothetical.) It is as illogical to say that those powers only exist if God designed them as it would be to say those innovations only took place if God designed them. There is no such thing as “the” agnostic theory. My hypothesis is that cell communities may have their own inventive powers, and I do not know how they arose, but there are two hypotheses regarding their origin (God and chance), neither of which I can accept.

DAVID: ...it is still possible that God pre-loaded all the information in the beginning, and since He also was running the evolution of the universe He knew what environmental pressures would be brought to bear on developing organisms and set up preparatory changes for them. That or He dabbled. I'm stuck.
dhw: So you must go back to speciation being the result of your God dabbling, i .e. adding rather than subtracting information. Therefore all the information required for evolution cannot have been present at the beginning, and evolutionary advances cannot have been caused by loss of information. Agreed?

DAVID: With the evidence that adaptation can be due to loss of info, I cannot accept your dogmatic statement. I want to keep all possibilities: preplanning with some loss possible, and dabbling.

I am talking about “all the information being present at the beginning”, and loss of information being responsible for innovation (not for adaptation). You have totally ignored the argument that led up to the paragraph you have quoted! The beginning means the first cells. So please say if you truly believe that the first cells contained all the information needed for every species that ever existed, and so each species had to lose the information required for every other species (e.g. the platypus had to lose all the information required to make a human and an elephant so that it could be left with nothing but its platypusness). Conversely, if information had to be added (God dabbling), then all the information cannot have been present at the beginning. That is not dogma, that is logic.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 15:11 (543 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: Not entirely. Since adaptation often is accompanied by loss of info, it is very possible some degree of innovation may result from loss of info.

dhw: Once again: “accompanied by” does not mean “caused by”. There is no evidence and no logical reason for the argument that INNOVATION can be CAUSED (as opposed to accompanied) by loss of information.

If adaptation is not a form of innovation, what is? Loss occurs with adaptations, a well-observed discovery. I agree that major new-species innovation should have new information as its cause, but some loss might still be occurring during the process of speciation as parts of a body plan are adapted and altered.


DAVID: With the evidence that adaptation can be due to loss of info, I cannot accept your dogmatic statement. I want to keep all possibilities: preplanning with some loss possible, and dabbling.

dhw: I am talking about “all the information being present at the beginning”, and loss of information being responsible for innovation (not for adaptation). .... So please say if you truly believe that the first cells contained all the information needed for every species that ever existed, and so each species had to lose the information required for every other species. Conversely, if information had to be added (God dabbling), then all the information cannot have been present at the beginning. That is not dogma, that is logic.

You are absolutely logical, which is why I continue with my dilemma. And one has to consider that new species might come from a rearrangement of existing information. so I can still consider that all the info is present in the beginning, some is lost and some is rearranged through dabbling.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Sunday, July 24, 2016, 18:18 (542 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Not entirely. Since adaptation often is accompanied by loss of info, it is very possible some degree of innovation may result from loss of info.
dhw: Once again: “accompanied by” does not mean “caused by”. There is no evidence and no logical reason for the argument that INNOVATION can be CAUSED (as opposed to accompanied) by loss of information.
DAVID: If adaptation is not a form of innovation, what is? Loss occurs with adaptations, a well-observed discovery. I agree that major new-species innovation should have new information as its cause, but some loss might still be occurring during the process of speciation as parts of a body plan are adapted and altered.

I keep agreeing with you that loss occurs in adaptation and is almost certain to occur in innovation. Whatever information is no longer required by the new organ will be jettisoned. That would make loss of information a result, but not the cause.

DAVID: With the evidence that adaptation can be due to loss of info, I cannot accept your dogmatic statement. I want to keep all possibilities: preplanning with some loss possible, and dabbling.
dhw: I am talking about “all the information being present at the beginning”, and loss of information being responsible for innovation (not for adaptation). .... So please say if you truly believe that the first cells contained all the information needed for every species that ever existed, and so each species had to lose the information required for every other species. Conversely, if information had to be added (God dabbling), then all the information cannot have been present at the beginning. That is not dogma, that is logic.

DAVID: You are absolutely logical, which is why I continue with my dilemma. And one has to consider that new species might come from a rearrangement of existing information. so I can still consider that all the info is present in the beginning, some is lost and some is rearranged through dabbling.

You continue to ignore the details of the logical argument. Once again: firstly, adaptation is a direct response to changes in the environment (= external information), and I think it most likely that innovation is also triggered by environmental changes. Those changes constitute new information which has to be processed, and new external information is information. How can those changes be present at the beginning? Secondly, preprogramming all species via loss of information can only mean that all the information, external and internal, was contained within the first cells, and so each species had to lose all the information that produced every other species. The arrival of the duck-billed platypus could only take place if it lost the information that would have made it an elephant or a human being. Please tell me if that is what you truly believe. Alternatively, God personally used the new external information (environmental change) to create something that had never existed before (kidney, liver, brain). If it had never existed before, logically, as you have agreed, it must have acquired new information. But yes, this may well have been ACCOMPANIED by the loss of whatever information was no longer relevant to its survival. But no, if you accept the logic of the above, all the info cannot have been present at the beginning.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Sunday, July 24, 2016, 19:46 (542 days ago) @ dhw

[/i]

dhw: I keep agreeing with you that loss occurs in adaptation and is almost certain to occur in innovation. Whatever information is no longer required by the new organ will be jettisoned. That would make loss of information a result, but not the cause.

If adaptation is related to loss of genetic information, and it represents something new, why do you think it is logical that loss of information means it was no longer necessary? Isn't it possible that recombination of genes is a subtraction that does produce new hidden information with the new DNA structure? We only know that DNA codes for protein. We have no idea how it create forms or function.


DAVID: You are absolutely logical, which is why I continue with my dilemma. And one has to consider that new species might come from a rearrangement of existing information. so I can still consider that all the info is present in the beginning, some is lost and some is rearranged through dabbling.

dhw: Once again: firstly, adaptation is a direct response to changes in the environment (= external information), and I think it most likely that innovation is also triggered by environmental changes. Those changes constitute new information which has to be processed, and new external information is information.

This is external stimuli information, which does cause the organism to modify DNA which contains internal information that can be modified. not the same information which results in DNA.

dhw: How can those changes be present at the beginning?

I can conceive of the original DNA containing all the info needed, and by recombination and loss allows for the coding of new forms and functions.

Secondly, preprogramming all species via loss of information can only mean that all the information, external and internal, was contained within the first cells, and so each species had to lose all the information that produced every other species.

You are forgetting recombination transposition, reduplication as well as loss producing new hidden information.

dhw: if you accept the logic of the above, all the info cannot have been present at the beginning.

No I don't accept your logic as it leaves out the genetic possibilities that do exist to change and activate hidden information.

Logic and evolution

by dhw, Monday, July 25, 2016, 22:39 (541 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: I keep agreeing with you that loss occurs in adaptation and is almost certain to occur in innovation. Whatever information is no longer required by the new organ will be jettisoned. That would make loss of information a result, but not the cause.
DAVID: If adaptation is related to loss of genetic information, and it represents something new, why do you think it is logical that loss of information means it was no longer necessary?

If the information was necessary, it would have had to survive!

DAVID: Isn't it possible that recombination of genes is a subtraction that does produce new hidden information with the new DNA structure? We only know that DNA codes for protein. We have no idea how it create forms or function.

A recombination of genes may well entail a subtraction (= loss of information) - but I don't understand how a loss of information can “produce” new information. And what do you mean by “hidden” information: hidden from what or who? Once more: in the context of speciation, are you saying that the pre-duck-billed platypus contained all the information necessary for every species on the planet, but only when it lost all that other information could its platypusness emerge from hiding? If not, please give me a concrete example of what you mean by speciation being caused by loss of information which was present at the beginning.

dhw: Once again: firstly, adaptation is a direct response to changes in the environment (= external information), and I think it most likely that innovation is also triggered by environmental changes. Those changes constitute new information which has to be processed, and new external information is information.
DAVID: This is external stimuli information, which does cause the organism to modify DNA which contains internal information that can be modified. not the same information which results in DNA.

Once again: external information is information, and in my hypothesis it triggers changes to internal information (the instructions and decisions that control and adapt structures and produce new ones), which needs to process the new external information and then ensure that any changes in the cell communities will cope with (adaptation) or efficiently exploit (innovation) those changes. These forms of information are interdependent - hence my next question:

dhw: How can those changes be present at the beginning?
DAVID: I can conceive of the original DNA containing all the info needed, and by recombination and loss allows for the coding of new forms and functions.

Recombination would be part of the process of producing new forms and functions, but loss “allowing for” is not the same as loss “producing”! Once more, what do you mean by ALL THE INFO NEEDED? There is no way a new organism could be created without consideration of the environment it would be living in. Therefore the original DNA would have had to include ALL the info needed about ALL the environmental changes that organisms would cope with or exploit for the next 3.8 billion years (other than the external and internal changes resulting from God's dabbling). So now you have your God either preprogramming or directly producing every environmental change.

Dhw: Secondly, preprogramming all species via loss of information can only mean that all the information, external and internal, was contained within the first cells, and so each species had to lose all the information that produced every other species.

DAVID: You are forgetting recombination transposition, reduplication as well as loss producing new hidden information.

I can understand how genetic recombination, transposition or reduplication can be part of the process of innovation and can also entail loss of information, but I can't understand how the LOSS of information can PRODUCE NEW information leading to the existence of an organ which never existed before. But perhaps your explanation of “hidden” plus the concrete example I have asked you for will make it all clearer.

Logic and evolution

by David Turell @, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 01:33 (541 days ago) @ dhw

DAVID: If adaptation is related to loss of genetic information, and it represents something new, why do you think it is logical that loss of information means it was no longer necessary?

dhw: If the information was necessary, it would have had to survive!

The requirement could be that genes had to be rearranged with deletion of some portions, resulting in a code for new information developed from most of what existed, and that a discard of info was necessary to create the new code. The deletion and rearrangement may well have been the necessary step, a slightly different way of looking at the process.


DAVID: Isn't it possible that recombination of genes is a subtraction that does produce new hidden information with the new DNA structure? We only know that DNA codes for protein. We have no idea how it create forms or function.

dhw: A recombination of genes may well entail a subtraction (= loss of information) - but I don't understand how a loss of information can “produce” new information.....If not, please give me a concrete example of what you mean by speciation being caused by loss of information which was present at the beginning.

We know how DNA codes for protein molecules. It also controls forms of areas and organs of organisms (phenotypes). We have no idea how DNA exerts those controls. We also don't know if there is a hidden code to manage those controls, or possibly a trick of coding which allows DNA to contain information by subtraction. This is what adaptive changes have suggested. See my comment above.


dhw: Once again: external information is information, and in my hypothesis it triggers changes to internal information .... These forms of information are interdependent - hence my next question:

dhw: How can those changes be present at the beginning?

The two types of info are related, but are separate. External info triggers internal reaction and internal info responds. We know single celled animals can re-write DNA at least in the epigenetic ways Shapiro has found. Speciation must involve larger re-writes. That must have coded controls, and I think from the beginning, George's LUCA.


dhw: Recombination would be part of the process of producing new forms and functions, but loss “allowing for” is not the same as loss “producing”! Once more, what do you mean by ALL THE INFO NEEDED? There is no way a new organism could be created without consideration of the environment it would be living in. Therefore the original DNA would have had to include ALL the info needed about ALL the environmental changes that organisms would cope with or exploit for the next 3.8 billion years (other than the external and internal changes resulting from God's dabbling). So now you have your God either preprogramming or directly producing every environmental change.

The 3.8 billion years of info is your assumption, not mine. As above, I can conceive of another layer of coding in DNA which appears with deletion.

dhw:I can understand how genetic recombination, transposition or reduplication can be part of the process of innovation and can also entail loss of information, but I can't understand how the LOSS of information can PRODUCE NEW information leading to the existence of an organ which never existed before. But perhaps your explanation of “hidden” plus the concrete example I have asked you for will make it all clearer.

Again, stated above. We are missing a great area of understanding in phenotype control and in how an organism runs its biological processes Again we know somewhat which gene controls which area or process. There has to be hidden coding yet to be discovered. and it may involve deletion of DNA to bring it out.

Logic and evolution: making vertebrate eyes

by David Turell @, Thursday, February 16, 2017, 19:59 (335 days ago) @ David Turell

The following illustrates that evolution is incapable of making vertebrate eyes, although complex eyes go back to the Trilobites with crystal bifocal lenses:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/02/eye_evolution_a103490.html

"two biologists created a computer simulation, demonstrating, in their view, the incremental evolution of an eye in fewer than 400,000 generations.

"This often-repeated tale sounds impressive at first, but it is not unlike most supposed explanations of the evolution of complex features. It scores high on imagination and flare but low on empirical evidence and thoughtful analysis. It most certainly does not represent a "detailed hypothesis."....In particular, it ignores the details of how a real eye functions and how it forms developmentally. When these issues are examined, the story completely collapses.

***

" During development, cells divide, migrate, and differentiate into a wide variety of types. Throughout this process, the cells send chemical signals to their neighbors, and these signals cause proteins known as transcription factors (TF) to bind to genes in regulatory regions, which control the corresponding genes' activity. The TFs bind to what are called transcription factor binding sites (TFBS), and the correct binding enables the genes to produce their proteins in the right cells at the right time in the right amount.

"The evolution of additional components in the vertebrate eye requires that this network of intercellular signals, TFs, TFBS, chromatin remodeling, as well as many other details be dramatically altered, so that each developmental stage can progress correctly. For instance, the seemingly simple addition of a marginally focusing lens -- that is to say, a lens that directs slightly more light onto a retina -- requires a host of alterations.

***

"The challenge to evolution is that, short of completion, most of these changes are disadvantageous. A lens that has not fully evolved through the third step noted above would either scatter light away from the retina or completely block it. Any initial mutations would then be lost, and the process would have to start again from scratch. In the context of fitness terrains, an organism lacking a lens resides near the top of a local peak. The steps required to gain a functional lens correspond to traveling downhill, crossing a vast canyon of visually impaired or blind intermediates, until eventually climbing back up a new peak corresponding to lens-enhanced vision.

" Once an organism has a functional lens, natural selection could then potentially make gradual improvements. However, moving from a reasonably functional lens to one that produces a high-resolution image is rather complex. In particular, the refractive index (i.e., crystalline concentration) has to be adjusted throughout the lens to vary according to a precise mathematical relationship. A gradual decrease from the inside to the outside is needed to prevent spherical aberrations blurring the image.

***

"Feedback circuitry must be added to allow the lens to automatically refocus on images at different distances.

"The retina has to be completely reengineered to process high-resolution images, including the addition of circuits to enable edge and motion detection.

"The neural networks in the brain have to be rewired to properly interpret the pre-processed high-resolution images from the retina.

"Higher-level brain functions must be enabled to identify different objects, i.e., dangerous ones such as a shark, and properly respond to them.
Until steps 2 through 4 are completed, a high-resolution image would likely prove disadvantageous, since most of the light would be focused on fewer photoreceptors.

***

"For any species, upgrading to high-resolution vision requires massive reengineering in a single step. Such radical innovation, coordinated to achieve a distant goal, is only possible with intelligent design. "

Comment: Eyes are highly complex, and the interpretive areas in the brain are similarly very complex. As the article points out there can be no intermediate forms, as they would not give any form of satisfactory vision. Only a fully formed system must appear, by saltation, i.e., design. Trilobite eyes appeared de novo with no precursors supporting the saltation theory. Bit by bit evolutionary change will not work.

Logic and evolution: a theory in flux

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 17:54 (26 minutes ago) @ David Turell

Epigenetic discoveries among others are upsetting current Darwin extended theories. Is a new set of theories needed?:

https://aeon.co/essays/science-in-flux-is-a-revolution-brewing-in-evolutionary-theory?u...

"Some evolutionary biologists, myself included, are calling for a broader characterisation of evolutionary theory, known as the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES). A central issue is whether what happens to organisms during their lifetime – their development – can play important and previously unanticipated roles in evolution. The orthodox view has been that developmental processes are largely irrelevant to evolution, but the EES views them as pivotal...Some people are even starting to wonder if a revolution is on the cards.

***

"Take the idea that new features acquired by an organism during its life can be passed on to the next generation. This hypothesis was brought to prominence in the early 1800s by the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who used it to explain how species evolved. However, it has long been regarded as discredited by experiment.

***

"Except they do. The way that genes are expressed to produce an organism’s phenotype – the actual characteristics it ends up with – is affected by chemicals that attach to them. Everything from diet to air pollution to parental behaviour can influence the addition or removal of these chemical marks, which switches genes on or off. Usually these so-called ‘epigenetic’ attachments are removed during the production of sperm and eggs cells, but it turns out that some escape the resetting process and are passed on to the next generation, along with the genes. This is known as ‘epigenetic inheritance’, and more and more studies are confirming that it really happens.

***

"There are now hundreds of such studies, many published in the most prominent and prestigious journals. Biologists dispute whether epigenetic inheritance is truly Lamarckian or only superficially resembles it, but there is no getting away from the fact that the inheritance of acquired characteristics really does happen.

***

"There’s no longer any doubt that epigenetic inheritance pushes us to think about evolution in a different way.

"Epigenetics is only part of the story. Through culture and society, all of us inherit knowledge and skills acquired by our parents. Evolutionary biologists have accepted this for at least a century, but until recently it was considered to be restricted to humans. That’s no longer tenable: creatures across the animal kingdom learn socially about diet, feeding techniques, predator avoidance, communication, migration, and mate and breeding-site choices. Hundreds of experimental studies have demonstrated social learning in mammals, birds, fish and insects.

***

"Even Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection took approximately 70 years to become widely accepted by the scientific community, and at the turn of the 20th century was viewed with considerable skepticism. Over the following decades, new ideas appeared, they were critically evaluated by the scientific community, and gradually became integrated with pre-existing knowledge. By and large, evolutionary biology was updated without experiencing great periods of ‘crisis’.

"The same holds for the present. Epigenetic inheritance does not disprove genetic inheritance, but shows it to be just one of several mechanisms through which traits are inherited. I know of no biologist who wants to rip up the textbooks, or throw out natural selection.

***

"The EES, at least as my collaborators and I frame it, is best viewed as an alternative research programme for evolutionary biology. Inspired by recent findings emerging within evolutionary biology and adjacent fields, the EES starts from the assumption that developmental processes play important roles as causes of novel (and potentially beneficial) phenotypic variation, causes of differences in fitness of those variants, and causes of inheritance. In contrast to how evolution has traditionally been conceived, in the EES the burden of creativity in evolution does not rest on natural selection alone.

***

"If evolution is not to be explained solely in terms of changes in gene frequencies; if previously rejected mechanisms such as the inheritance of acquired characteristics turn out to be important after all; and if organisms are acknowledged to bias evolution through development, learning and other forms of plasticity – does all this mean a radically different and profoundly richer account of evolution is emerging? No one knows: but from the perspective of our adapting dog-walker, evolution is looking less like a gentle genetic stroll, and more like a frantic struggle by genes to keep up with strident developmental processes."

Comment: Still not recognizing design. Giant article worth reading.

Logic and evolution: Plantinga tries theistic evolution

by David Turell @, Monday, January 09, 2017, 01:37 (374 days ago) @ dhw

And as this critical essay shows he fails, because he comes from a supernatural standpoint as a leading Christian theologian:

https://shadowofoz.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/the-dragon-in-plantingas-garage/

"I am not overly familiar with Plantinga’s work (and I should be, given that he is one of the most highly esteemed Christian philosophers alive today). I have some passing familiarity with his defense of rational Christian belief as “properly basic,” and I’ve read his work on the issue of science and faith (dealing with naturalism broadly, and more specifically, biological evolution). While Dennett seems to do his best to destroy any chance of serious discussion in these essays, my impression is that Plantinga comes off looking much the loser of this “debate.” As I will attempt to briefly demonstrate here, Plantinga makes, what are in my estimation, several blatant false steps in logic…something surprising for a seasoned philosopher from Notre Dame.

***

“'Theistic religion endorses special divine action in the world—miracles, for example—but such action would contravene the laws promulgated by science. There is such a thing as the scientific worldview, and it is incompatible with theistic religion.” If it were true that “science” as a practice rightly conforms to this “scientific worldview” (read: naturalism), then I suppose we could stop here (on page two of the essay) and say that Plantinga has just given the game to Dennett. The two are incompatible. Thus, it is Plantinga’s main intent to create a space between naturalism and science, where religion can get along.

***

"Plantinga then focuses his gaze upon contemporary evolutionary theory. He seeks to diffuse the idea that evolution, “implies that neither God nor anyone else has designed, planned or intended human beings come to be.” If science held this, then it would be incompatible with Christian theism.

"Plantinga then hones in even tighter on what he perceives to be the apparent point of conflict. He sees four major claims in evolutionary theory: 1) the planet is very ancient 2) there is descent with modification 3) universal common ancestry unites all life 4) the Darwinian mechanism is random mutation winnowed by natural selection. Of these, only the fourth registers as a concern for Plantinga theologically.

***

"Instead, he argues that “God could have caused the right mutations to arise at the right time, he could have preserved populations from perils of various sorts, and so on.” [It’s worth noting that this essentially confines Plantinga’s argument for the compatibility of science and theism to a discussion of genetic mutation].

***

“'You might be wondering whether genetic mutations could be both random and intended and caused by God: If these mutations are random, aren’t they just a matter of chance, blind chance? But it is no part of current evolutionary theory to say that these mutations are random in the a sense implying that they are uncaused. . . still less that they occur just by chance.”

"Plantinga goes on to cite the late Ernst Mayr in pointing out that “random mutation” must be taken as meaning that mutations occur without regard to their effect on the recipient organism. That is, neither the organism or the environment can force a particular mutation that would be advantageous (or otherwise). The machine of mutation runs, and the organism gets what it gets.

***

"Essentially, all Plantinga is demonstrating is that there are no uncaused effects. An introductory philosophy course teaches us this. But does it help the situation? Does the fact that all effects (in this case, mutations) have causes and are potentially determinate really make Darwinian evolution compatible with Christian theology? The answer is no.

***

"At the end of the day, Plantinga has decided that the debate over the compatibility of science and faith rests on the topic of biological evolution. But, Plantinga ascribes to a risen Jesus, the Son of God, born of a virgin, working miracles, dying and rising from the dead. How on earth could he say that this is compatible with scientific descriptions of reality? Surely, at some point, for as long as science describes things naturalistically, some aspect of Christianity must be at odds with it. No?

"In summary, I have provided several good reasons for doubting the efficacy of Plantinga’s argument. He attempts to make God the author of random events by arguing that science can’t really equate “random” with “unintended.” But, on many levels, this argument fails to be persuasive. As many have been arguing for a long time, if the creation of biological diversity (and our species in particular) came about by eons of mutations acted on by natural selection, then there’s no reason to think God was steering creation towards any particular end."

Comment: Plantinga's approach to use Darwin theory (chance mutation and natural selection) and apply religious concepts cannot succeed. This very long review of his argument makes that clear. This is why my approach is very different: no religious precepts and I don't think most of Darwin's theory is correct as I have shown previously. We have no valid scientific description of how speciation occurs. I suggest reading the entire essay which makes excellent points reflecting dhw's point of view.

Logic and evolution: Plantinga tries theistic evolution

by dhw, Monday, January 09, 2017, 12:32 (373 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: And as this critical essay shows he fails, because he comes from a supernatural standpoint as a leading Christian theologian:
https://shadowofoz.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/the-dragon-in-plantingas-garage/

David’s comment: Plantinga's approach to use Darwin theory (chance mutation and natural selection) and apply religious concepts cannot succeed. This very long review of his argument makes that clear. This is why my approach is very different: no religious precepts and I don't think most of Darwin's theory is correct as I have shown previously. We have no valid scientific description of how speciation occurs. I suggest reading the entire essay which makes excellent points reflecting dhw's point of view.

Since you and I both reject Darwin’s random mutations, we really don’t need Plantinga’s equivocations or this long-winded rebuttal of his argument. It is perfectly possible to reconcile theism and evolution in the various ways you and I have spent years arguing about, and in any case Darwin himself was at pains to point out that his theory was not atheistic.

Logic and evolution: Plantinga tries theistic evolution

by David Turell @, Monday, January 09, 2017, 14:48 (373 days ago) @ dhw


dhw: Since you and I both reject Darwin’s random mutations, we really don’t need Plantinga’s equivocations or this long-winded rebuttal of his argument. It is perfectly possible to reconcile theism and evolution in the various ways you and I have spent years arguing about, and in any case Darwin himself was at pains to point out that his theory was not atheistic.

Since we are light years ahead of Planting's reasoning, perhaps we should publish more than this site and become as famous as he is.;-)

Logic and evolution: How speciation might occur

by David Turell @, Friday, March 24, 2017, 13:41 (299 days ago) @ dhw

A return to direct macroevolution as a possibility is debated versus microevolution leading to new species:

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/macro-or-micro-fight-looms-over-evolution-s-essence?...

"Carl Simpson, a researcher in palaeobiology at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, has revived the controversial idea of ‘species selection’: that selective forces in nature operate on whole species at a macroevolutionary scale, rather than on individuals at the microevolutionary level.

"Macroevolution, mostly concerned with extinct species, is the study of large-scale evolutionary phenomena across vast time spans. By contrast, microevolution focusses on evolution in individuals and species over shorter periods, and is the realm of biologists concerned with living organisms, sometimes called neontologists.

"Neontologists, overall, maintain that all evolutionary phenomena can be explained in microevolutionary terms. Macroevolutionists often disagree.

"In a paper, yet to be peer-reviewed, on the biological pre-print repository bioRxiv, Simpson has outlined a renewed case for species selection, using recent research and new insights, both scientific and philosophical. And this might be too much for the biological community to swallow.

"The debate over levels of selection dates to Charles Darwin himself and concerns the question of what the ‘unit of selection’ is in evolutionary biology.

"The default assumption is that the individual organism is the unit of selection. If individuals of a particular species possess a trait that gives them reproductive advantage over others, then these individuals will have more offspring.

"If this trait is heritable, the offspring too will reproduce at a higher rate than other members of the species. With time, this leads to the advantageous trait becoming species-typical.

"Here, selection is operating on individuals, and this percolates up to cause species-level characteristics.

"While Darwin favoured this model, he recognised that certain biological phenomena, such as the sterility of workers in eusocial insects such as bees and ants, could best be explained if selection operated at a group level.

***

"Simpson’s argument hinges on the kind of macroevolutionary phenomena common in palaeontology: speciation and extinction over deep-time. Species selection is real, he says, and is defined as, “a macroevolutionary analogue of natural selection, with species playing an analogous part akin to that played by organisms in microevolution”.

"Simpson takes issue with the argument that microevolutionary processes such as individual selection percolate up to cause macroevolutionary phenomena.

"He presents evidence contradicting the idea, and concludes that the “macroevolutionary patterns we actually observe are not simply the accumulation of microevolutionary change… macroevolution occurs by changes within a population of species.'”

Comment: Lots of theories, no answers as usual.

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