Explaining natural wonders: bacterial intelligence (Animals)

by dhw, Friday, June 02, 2017, 20:24 (716 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I fully accept that God gave bacteria alternative metabolic pathways which they can turn on.
dhw: Tantalisingly unfinished, but I suspect it won’t answer my question. So I’ll try again. Why does it make no sense for God to give bacteria the intelligence to solve their problems?
DAVID: Finished. Because they have nothing which can contain that capacity. See Tony's quote from Shapiro.

QUOTE: "James Shapiro’s talk, clearly one of the most interesting of the conference, highlighted this difficulty in its most fundamental form. Shapiro presented fascinating evidence showing, contra neo-Darwinism, the non-random nature of many mutational processes – processes that allow organisms to respond to various environmental challenges or stresses. The evidence he presented suggests that many organisms possess a kind of pre-programmed adaptive capacity – a capacity that Shapiro has elsewhere described as operating under “algorithmic control.” Yet, neither Shapiro, nor anyone else at the conference, attempted to explain how the information inherent in such algorithmic control or pre-programmed capacity might have originated."

dhw: Shapiro is a champion of cellular intelligence, and so I don’t know why he doesn’t go the whole hog and offer it as an explanation for innovation. Perhaps, though, it’s a bit too radical to present to the Royal Society, and it would probably be far too radical for them to countenance anyone allowing for the existence of God as the possible originator of cellular intelligence or a “pre-programmed capacity”.

DAVID: Your paragraph above is an interesting and incorrect interpretation of the quote. What it states is Algorithmic control runs bacteria, and that is exactly my point about bacteria. They contain information to run the algorithms and are preprogrammed. They contain programs to turn on re-writes of their DNA and respond in that way.

I did not interpret the quote. I was referring to the fact that Shapiro is a champion of cellular/bacterial intelligence, despite the fact that bacteria do not have a brain. I don’t know why he didn’t emphasize this extremely important point in his talk to the Royal Society. However, on a second reading, I realize that it is the reporter who is making the reference to Shapiro’s “algorithmic control”, and as we don’t have a transcript of the talk, it’s possible that he might also have brought in the cognitive powers of bacteria (intelligence). You will recall that when asked why these were a matter of controversy, he responded: Large organisms chauvinism, so we like to think that only we can do things in a cognitive way.

dhw: let us not get distracted from our latest developments: God may not have geared the whole of evolution to the production of humans, and evolution advanced because organisms have an in-built (perhaps God-given) drive for improvement or complexity, which…according to me…enables them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by environmental change, whereas according to you God likes to transform them before the environment changes.
Yes, God transforms them, and environment may or may not play a role.

Don’t forget that according to you God transforms them before the environment changes - or is it before he himself changes the environment? I never quite know how much control you assign to your God.

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