Horizontal gene transfer: DNA transfer mechanisms (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, June 22, 2018, 13:04 (657 days ago) @ David Turell

AM: Can you explain how you view bacteria as being intelligent?

LM [Lynn Margulis]: If you look up consciousness in the dictionary, it says, "awareness of the world around you," and that’s because you lose it somehow when you become unconscious, right? Well, you can show that microorganisms, or bacteria, are certainly conscious. They will orient themselves, they will work together to make structures. They’ll do a lot of things. This ability to respond specifically to the environment and to act creatively, in the sense that that precise action has never been taken before, is a property of life. Of course, it has to be moving life, or you can’t tell. You can’t tell if a plant is thinking, but in organisms that move, you can tell their intelligence.

David: From the Britannica:
Consciousness, a psychological condition defined by the English philosopher John Locke as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.”
It depends on the authority you quote. I'm referring to human consciousness, and no other organism has it!

dhw; Of course no organism other than humans has human consciousness! And of course the meaning of the word depends on which authority you quote. But you understand perfectly well what Margulis means by the term. There is no need to argue about definitions. The question is whether other organisms have a degree of awareness/intelligence – not whether they have the same thoughts as humans!

DAVID: Awareness is not equal to intelligence. Plants react intelligently to noxious events. That can simply be an intelligently designed programmed event as with other organisms without brains. Brained organisms obviously have awareness and intelligence.

You have echoed the Margulis quote above, except that her criterion is movement, not brains. “Of course it has to be moving life, or you can’t tell. You can’t tell if a plant is thinking, but in organisms that move, you can tell their intelligence.” And that includes bacteria. I know you don’t agree, but the fact of the matter is that even when organisms have brains, you refuse to believe that they are capable of intelligently working out their own natural wonders. Your God has to dabble or design a special programme for every one, including my favourite example: the weaverbird’s nest.


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