Explaining natural wonders: bacterial intelligence (Animals)

by dhw, Saturday, May 20, 2017, 10:30 (458 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Just like all other organisms, including humans, bacteria use biochemicals and feedback loops in their processes of perception, communication and action. We do not know if their memory of past stimuli is their “only” mentation. As you keep saying, no-one outside can tell the difference between mentation and automaticity. [..]
DAVID: What you have not mentioned is that bacteria are blessed with existing alternative pathways of metabolism, and they can automatically shift to that alternative when the primary quits working.

All adaptation and innovation must entail “alternative pathways”. And when under threat from new conditions, organisms that can’t find or devise “alternative pathways” will die. How do you know that they are “blessed” with a given programme of alternatives (= your God preprogramming them) which automatically does (or doesn’t switch) itself on at the required moment? How do you know they are not “blessed” with a (perhaps God-given) means of working out their own alternatives?

dhw: …since bacteria have remained bacteria, I would assume that they do not have the mental abilities to invent. That is where multicellularity comes in: communities that combine their intelligences can go far beyond the limited powers of individual cells.
DAVID: In view of your 'non-invent' view above, how did multicellularity appear?

I would win the Nobel Prize if I could answer that question. But our ignorance of the origin does not invalidate the obvious fact that multicellularity has created intelligences far in excess of single cells – the community can achieve a great deal more than the individual. Maybe going as far as inventing new lifestyles and natural wonders or even - who knows? - speciation. (But that does not exclude your God as the original provider of life and of the intelligence to run evolution.)

DAVID: Automatic relationships of cells are illustrated by my entry on zebrafish. In all organs the cells are automatically organized to cooperate, as in pre-Cambrian simplistic forms, and Cambrian forms. The mentation is in the planning of those organisms and the required cooperative automatic relationships.

Yes, we know, you think your God preprogrammed the zebrafish 3.8 billion years ago as part of his great plan to keep life going until humans could evolve. You always slip in “automatic” as if somehow it proved your point. Once a system is established, of course it will be repeated automatically, or every species, lifestyle and natural wonder would be changing every five minutes. The question is how they all originated, and one possible clue is the fact that when an established system comes under threat from a changed environment, some cell communities cease to act automatically, and make changes to themselves in order to counter the threat. (Others don’t, and perish.) This departure from automaticity opens up the possibility that they may also be able to change themselves in order to exploit the opportunities offered by a new environment.

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