An Alternative to Evolution: Expounded Upon (Introduction)

by dhw, Saturday, August 11, 2018, 09:23 (691 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

DAVID: Quoting Shapiro, whose work I applaud, proves nothing.

dhw: Dismissals as “hyperbole”, “no way”, “no thought involved”, “just receiving a stimulus and automatically responding” also prove nothing. If you admire Shapiro’s work, then perhaps you should take it seriously, bearing in mind that he is not alone in drawing his conclusions.

TONY: We don't have to dismiss it. We can test it in the lab by seeing if it only happens 50% of the time, as you suggest. If it happens 100% of the time, as long as conditions are met, then it is not thought based, but entirely chemical reactivity. If it happens along some other distribution, and no other explanation fits, then we could consider it a 'choice' in the classical sense, and postulate that they had to think in order to make that choice.

You have misunderstood the 50/50, which refers to David’s odds on bacteria being automatons or being intelligent, not on their survival. On 17 April this year I reproduced the following examples:

Microbial intelligence

Microbial intelligence (popularly known as bacterial intelligence) is the intelligence shown by microorganisms. The concept encompasses complex adaptive behaviour shown by single cells, and altruistic or cooperative behavior in populations of like or unlike cells mediated by chemical signalling that induces physiological or behavioral changes in cells and influences colony structures.
• The formation of biofilms requires joint decision by the whole colony.
• Biofilm of Bacillus subtilis can use electric signals (ion transmission) to synchronize growth so that the innermost cells of the biofilm do not starve.[3]
• Under nutritional stress bacterial colonies can organise themselves in such a way so as to maximise nutrient availability.
• Bacteria reorganise themselves under antibiotic stress.
• Bacteria can swap genes (such as genes coding antibiotic resistance) between members of mixed species colonies.
• Individual cells of myxobacteria and cellular slime moulds coordinate to produce complex structures or move as multicellular entities.
• Populations of bacteria use quorum sensing to judge their own densities and change their behaviors accordingly. This occurs in the formation of biofilms, infectious disease processes, and the light organs of bobtail squid.
• For any bacterium to enter a host's cell, the cell must display receptors to which bacteria can adhere and be able to enter the cell. Some strains of E. coli are able to internalize themselves into a host's cell even without the presence of specific receptors as they bring their own receptor to which they then attach and enter the cell.
• Under rough circumstances, some bacteria transform into endospores to resist heat and dehydration.
• A huge array of microorganisms have the ability to overcome being recognized by the immune system as they change their surface antigens so that any defense mechanisms directed against previously present antigens are now useless with the newly expressed ones.

As regards your point relating to survival, we know from the antibiotics example that these are successful for a while, but eventually bacteria devise a way of resisting them.

TONY: Definition of intelligence
1 a (1) : the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : reason; also : the skilled use of reason (2) : the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria
Notice that is says to 'reason', 'manipulate', and 'think abstractly'. That implies choice. 100% reaction does not imply choice, but compulsion.

There are degrees of intelligence. Not even McClintock, Margulis, Shapiro or Buehler suggest that cells/cell communities are capable of abstract reasoning. But their lifetime study of cellular behaviour has brought them to the conclusion that cells do have “the ability to learn or understand or deal with new or trying situations”, and that they are sentient, cognitive, decision-making beings. These are all attributes of intelligence.


GATEKEEPER: Maybe its a bit of both.
There are volumes of the universe that are processing and learning. Isn't the universe quantum computing right now?
Its the "aliveness" of me that creates the proteins in me. I, indeed all humans, are just complex proteins. I know I can learn and apply knowledge but I have very little control of the cells life cycle in my body past eating right and exercising.

Welcome back! The heading of this thread derived from an attack on Darwin’s theory of randomness. David and Tony are theists and believe in divine design. I am an agnostic, but I also reject randomness. The context of this particular discussion is my hypothesis that cellular intelligence (source unknown, but obviously designed by their God if their God exists) is the driving force behind evolution, i.e. that the known ability of some cell communities to adapt to changing environments may even extend so far as to exploitation of the changes by the innovations Darwin attributes to chance. It would be interesting to get your views on this.

Meanwhile, your reference to “volumes of the universe that are processing and learning” suggests some kind of panpsychism, which is another of the subjects we have been discussing.

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