bacterial (cellular) intelligence shown to be DNA driven (Animals)

by dhw, Sunday, December 03, 2017, 13:23 (137 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: That IS my answer to the point. Scientists change the behaviour of a single cell by messing about with its DNA. According to you, that proves the single cell is an automaton. By the same logic, if they messed about with your DNA, they would change your behaviour, and so you must be an automaton. I don’t accept either conclusion. You have the same double standards here as with your belief in dualism. According to you, humans – and other animals – do not need brains to think autonomously (they have souls that survive death), but bacteria can’t think autonomously because they haven’t got brains.

I need to qualify all this, as I have done before, by emphasizing that much of cellular behaviour obviously IS automatic. If the cells did not automatically perform their given functions, things would go wrong. The intelligence of bacteria and cell communities, however, is shown by their ability to adjust to new circumstances, e.g. by adaptation or, as you have pointed out yourself in the case of immune cells, “learning by experience” and changing their structure according to new demands. It is this ability that underpins my hypothesis that they may be able to change their structure to the extent of innovating as well as adapting, and that would explain speciation.

DAVID: It is exactly the immune system tht makes my point. The newborn mammal is born with antibodies to protect him from his Mother's milk, since he has none of his own. His own cells must be able to learn about infectious elements as they are encountered. His immune cells come with that ability, designed that way. That is how vaccines work as an obvious example. The whole immune system is a perfect example of design.

It is exactly the immune system that makes my point. If the cells must be able to “learn about infectious elements as they are encountered”, they clearly have the ability to learn and to make adjustments according to what they have learned. That is a fundamental feature of autonomous intelligence. I have never dismissed the case for design. It is your suggestion that the cells are automatons that I oppose. Interfering with DNA does not prove that cells/humans are automatons, and learning by experience suggests that they are endowed with an autonomous (possibly God-given) intelligence.

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