Genome complexity: stem cell controls (Introduction)

by dhw, Tuesday, November 03, 2015, 08:53 (1546 days ago) @ David Turell
edited by dhw, Tuesday, November 03, 2015, 08:58

I have suggested that termites may provide an analogy to answer David's question of how we “get from stem cells in the pre-Cambrian producing two-three cell types to stem cells that produce 200 cell types?”

DAVID: Close study shows some of the termites have differing personalities and the colonies have some sort of group think:
http://www.livescience.com/52644-the-collective-mind-of-the-termite.html?cmpid=NL_LS_we...

dhw: Some scientists believe this is precisely how cell communities behave. One tiny quote will sum it up: "The collective intelligence of the colony is quite real, as real as our own intelligence, and we are far from comprehending either.”
DAVID: I believe in species consciousness just like Sheldrake, which explains this, but doesn't explain evolution.

No, species consciousness would be the product of evolution, as different cell communities over thousands of millions of years combined to create new cellular combinations (i.e. evolutionary innovations leading to new species).

dhw: Substitute cellular community for colony, and we are back to your 50/50 acceptance that cells are sentient, cognitive beings, which means they are intelligent and potentially just as capable of complex design as termites are.

DAVID: My 50/50 is that cells are not sentient, but surprise, you have faith in that concept!

No, I offer it as a hypothesis. It is you who have faith in your half of the 50/50. I am hamstrung by my uncertainty (a)over the source of life and intelligence, and (b) over the existence of a God. However, given the choice between your 3.8-billion-year computer programme for all innovations and the concept of the intelligent cell, and bearing in mind the higgledy-piggledy history of evolution, I certainly prefer my hypothesis to yours, on the understanding that it allows for the possibility of your God inventing the intelligent cell.

dhw: Individuality, sentience, cognition, decision-making, survival strategies, communication and in this particular context cooperation (as we find in “committees”) did not originate with humans, so if you believe in common descent reaching back to bacteria, why is it so difficult to accept that these characteristics and procedures may have been inherited from them?
DAVID: We think through the agency of neurons, and when were they invented? In the pre-Cambrian period about 600 mya, not 3.8 bya. Cells do not think, but react by using well-planned information.

You have agreed that there is a 50/50 chance of bacteria being individual, sentient, intelligent beings, so you should allow a 50/50 chance that we have inherited the same characteristics and are not anthropomorphizing them. Neurons and a brain may not be the only tools for “thought”.

What is “well-planned information”? We're off again! Your hypothesis: cells contain an incredibly well-planned 3.8-billion-year-old computer programme which automatically processes information. My hypothesis: cells contain an autonomous intelligence which processes information.


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