Natures wonders: making spider silk (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, August 15, 2014, 09:20 (1712 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Now you see the light. A little bit of God in every cell allows Him to control evolution. That makes sense.
dhw: Then you can no longer claim that cells must be automata, since each one contains its own share of your God's intelligence.
DAVID: Now, now, let's not stetch too much. Shapiro's cells have simple automatic reactions with controlled choices. One has to add God's intelligence above and beyond the cell to make the complex advances of the Cambrian.

Firstly, Shapiro and others explicitly attribute “sentience, subjectivity, cognition, communication and intelligence” to cells. It is you who insist that they are automatons. Do by all means question the degree of their intelligence, but don't tell me that these are the attributes of preprogrammed robots. Secondly, “a little bit of God in every cell” has suddenly changed to “above and beyond the cell”. Having conceded that your universal intelligence may indeed be within all things, you have scurried back to the idea of a single mind above and beyond (instead of inside) cells controlling their behaviour by preprogramming them or dabbling with them.

dhw: If you can believe that a little bit of your universal intelligence is in every cell, you can believe that lots of little bits of it can plan and coordinate.

DAVID: There has to be an overall universal consciousness doing the planning and coordination, not litle bits superficially connected with their automatic biochemical responses. You have it backwards to avoid God.

“Has to be”? You have already strongly defended the idea that certain cell communities can think, invent, and take autonomous decisions without having your God doing the planning and coordination for them, or is it now your contention that he also preprogrammed every human invention into the first living cells, or dabbles whenever we come up with something new, or guides every intelligent action performed by so many of our fellow animals? Of course not. But the smaller the organism, and the less like us, the more certain you are that it must be an automaton. So let's try phrasing things slightly differently. You wrote: “A little bit of God in every cell allows Him to control evolution. That makes sense.” You frequently use the term “universal intelligence” for God. Then try it here: “A little bit of universal intelligence in every cell allows it to control evolution. That makes sense.” It does, doesn't it? And universal intelligence is intelligence. Once again, you are happy to accept the principle that cells may have intelligence of their own inside them, controlling evolution, so long as we call that intelligence God.

NB A reminder: I am not asking you to believe this alternative scenario, but only to keep an open mind. We do not know what cells and cell communities are capable of under conditions we have not experienced.

PS Yep, the sea bass was delicious. I'm grateful to my cell communities for helping me choose, cook and enjoy it.


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