Natures wonders: Plant defense (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, December 13, 2013, 13:20 (2187 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: How plants defend themselves from disease. It is all biochemical reactions to recognition of disease, also done biochemically. dhw, do plants think? This is automatic:

http://phys.org/news/2013-12-molecular-snapshot-immune.html

As always, you prefer to ask whether plants "think" rather than whether plants are "intelligent". No, I don't believe plants gaze up at the sky and in best American ask themselves how they got here, what life is all about, and when the hell is it gonna rain? Nor do I believe that they have intelligence remotely like that of a corvid or your dog, and if they do have intelligence (this is, after all, only a hypothesis) it must be almost infinitely far removed from our own. But I do not define intelligence as self-awareness, or the ability to think abstractly, or to speak fluent American, or even to communicate with us humans. Flora and fauna are all cell communities, and I remain sceptical that your God would have preprogrammed the first living cells eventually to have produced not only these particular plants but also their response to every single disease that might strike them during the next few billion years. I am also sceptical that if he didn't preprogramme their responses, he will step in and dabble with the cells to help them through the crisis.

My alternative (theistic version) to these two hypotheses is that he provided the cells with a form of intelligence that would enable them to work out their own response, through some central, intelligent control system (analogous to the human brain). We are told that "the infected cells make very specific decisions about the actions actually required." Decision-making, based on the processing of information, is an attribute of intelligence.

QUOTE: "We would like to know how the plant resistance signalling system works and makes decisions in a dynamic way to confer resistance. Handling pathogen stress likely involves exquisite communication between different pathways." says Jane Parker, explaining her interest in the three proteins."

That is what we would all like to know. You insist that God has worked every detail out in advance, so no decisions are necessary ... the plant merely follows God's 10,954th set of inherited instructions (or he pops in to dabble). I am suggesting that the plant cells work it out for themselves, using biochemistry to do the job. As Woese says: "If they are not machines, then what are organisms?" Maybe plants too are intelligent beings.


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