Logic and evolution (Introduction)

by dhw, Monday, July 18, 2016, 13:45 (581 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.

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