God and Evolution (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, August 31, 2018, 13:29 (101 days ago) @ Balance_Maintained

DHW: I wanted to know what mechanism you envisaged that enabled organisms to vary, but you have answered this now on the pointy egg thread.

TONY: Epigenetics was the inspiration for the idea that our genes are like functions in programming that can produce different outputs when given different inputs. It would allow for variation without changing the underlying genome. Thus, an identical gene in two variants could produce different results, and I suspect these different results most likely come in the way the proteins are folded. The resulting proteins could be chemically identical, but the difference in the folded structure could produce different results when used. That is only a guess, though, and I fully admit I do not have enough information to state it with any degree of certainty.

I could not even begin to speculate on how it all works, but thank you for your own speculations! In my own simple way, and in the wider context of “God and Evolution”, I was actually trying to find out whether you believed in divine programming, divine dabbling, or autonomous (cellular) intelligence, possibly designed by your God. This statement and others under “pointy eggs” confirm that you favour programming.

dhw: As regards Darwinian evolution, I continue to believe in common descent, natural selection as a useful term to describe certain obvious processes, and the interplay between evolution and environment. I do not accept the theory of random mutations, and I do not accept Darwin’s rigid adherence to gradualism. Nor do I accept attempts by both theists and atheists to twist Darwin's theory to suit their own agendas.

TONY: I'm not trying to twist Darwin.

By this I meant that some atheists twist the theory to suggest that it explains the whole of life (which it doesn’t), thereby excluding the need for a designer; some theists twist the theory to suggest that it CLAIMS to explain the whole of life (which it doesn’t), thereby excluding the need for a designer, and therefore the whole theory can be dismissed.

TONY: He was doing the same thing we are doing, but with less information, and in my own way, I admire him just as I admire you, David, Bella, Matt, and George. I think if he had known about epigenetics, or about how similar genes are found in species in which it is virtually impossible for them to be related through descent, he would have proposed a different hypothesis.

I don’t know why you think epigenetics runs counter to the theory of common descent, since it only explains how existing organs can make changes to themselves. As regards genes, I’m surprised that similar (or the same) genes preclude relationship. Why? I’d have thought it was the similarity or the sameness that supported common descent.

TONY: I don't think he had enough information to realize that common descent does not have enough explanatory power, nor enough to realize that natural selection is a tautology.

Power to explain what? We humans long to know our origins. I see common descent as explaining the history of life as we know it so far: a development from relatively simple (though still complex) forms to the extraordinarily complex (the human brain) - which incidentally has major ramifications for our understanding of ourselves and also of our fellow creatures. We are still struggling to understand the mechanisms that made this possible, but whatever they may be, they do not preclude the existence of a designer. I agree about natural selection, but it is a very useful term to sum up the process whereby what is useful survives and is passed on.

DHW: We agree on design of some kind. I do not believe that your God changed organismal structures in advance of the environmental changes those structures would be used for. I’d be interested to know if Tony thinks his God controls the environment, and if he specially created root types in advance of or in response to environmental change.

TONY: first, imagine each environmental state of the Earth as a stage in Earth's development. I believe he created organisms that could exist in the initial environment to change the environment to a new state, the next stage in Earth's development…

So did he control the environment or not? It’s true that organisms can change an environment, but so can other factors like catastrophes (e.g. Chixculub), movements in the earth’s crust, floods, desertification...Some of these may also have been due to organismal activity, but what about those that were not?

TONY: ...and then repeated this process at each new stage, driving the development of the environment using the organisms natural biological processes….

Does this mean he programmed organisms to create new environments, then created and programmed new root types to change environments again, then created and programmed new root types to change environments again, and so on? Just checking.

dhw: I’d be interested to know if Tony thinks his God controls the environment, and if he specially created root types in advance of or in response to environmental change.

DAVID: If by environmental change you mean entering water, that is different than climate change or Chixculub.

Of course it’s different. There are all kinds of environmental changes, global and local, and in my view they could have created the need or the opportunity for organismal change.


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