Big brain evolution: our special gene is identified (Evolution)

by dhw, Sunday, January 13, 2019, 14:36 (647 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Shapiro concludes that the ability of bacteria to solve problems indicates intelligence. As a doctor, you know it takes generations of bacteria to solve some problems, and millions die before they work out ways of countering measures devised to kill them. This is not “high speed”. Meanwhile, what happened to your God’s instructions?

DAVID: Missed my point: I was referring to immediate stimuli of daily living. The antibiotic appears, and if it is totally effective, all bacteria die. But there will always be a small group with enough immunity to survive and adapt to the antibiotic by adopting an existing metabolic path answer or using gene transfer. Bacteria do this automatically, God's instructions used.

Initially you repeat what I wrote: There is no totally effective antibiotic and so all bacteria don’t die. A small group finds a remedy and passes it on. “Adopting an existing metabolic path answer” is a fine sounding phrase which apparently means that God’s automatic survival programme failed miserably at first, but then clicked in later. It apparently takes time for your God’s “high speed” technology to work. Alternatively, perhaps some bacteria use their intelligence to find a suitable means of solving a new problem which some of their less intelligent buddies were unable to solve.

DAVID: The deletion idea from Behe is simply the reserve [dhw: reverse?] of that possibility, in that info is simply taken out of the process. One or the other is very likely a correct analysis.

dhw: “Simply”? It means that the first cells contained the DNA for every single life form in history – insects, birds, reptiles, mammals – not to mention all the bits that got discarded during speciation: teeth, sexual organs, spikes, fins, legs, trunks, human pelvises, whale pelvises….You call that simple?

DAVID: Simple for God.

Any reason why he couldn’t "simply" have invented a single mechanism (the intelligent cell combining with other intelligent cells) capable of inventing all the above? Too difficult?

DAVID: Again avoiding the point of small group size. To go from ape to erectus takes massive mutational changes. If as suspected 10,000 erectus existed and previous antecedent hominins were in similar amounts, and if we use the known helpful mutations rates which are slow, and if we assume a new generation every 18-20 years how did erectus and sapiens appear so quickly in geologic time of six-eight million years?

dhw: Once again, nothing to do with group size, and everything to do with speed. 6 million divided by 20 = 300,000 generations. I am not talking about helpful chance mutations but about the ability of cell communities described above, so how the heck would anyone know how many generations are needed? There is no precedent.

DAVID: The precedent is the human rate of mutations is known and is slow and less than 20 % cause an advance.

"The team at the Sanger Institute have now accurately calculated the mutation rate. They sequenced the same piece of DNA - just over 10,000,000 letters from the Y chromosome - from two men separated by 13 generations, whose common ancestor lived 200 years ago. They counted the difference between the two sequences and found only four mutations. From their data they were able to calculate the mutation rate.
''These four mutations gave us the exact mutation rate - one in 30 million nucleotide each generation - that we had expected', says Dr Tyler-Smith."

And do you really think that 200 years and 13 separate generations under stable conditions provide an accurate guide to a process that went on under ever changing conditions for 6-8 million years and 300-400,000 generations?

dhw: You agree that the groups were small, and I proposed that they were localized, probably because of changes to local conditions, whereas the rest of the ape family were not affected. Why do you think this hypothesis is less likely than your God fiddling with the anatomy of a few apes and then telling them to go and live on the ground even though they would have been happy to stay in the trees?

DAVID: Again avoiding the speed of the change. It has to be by design.

Speed dealt with above. So why do you think localized response to changing conditions is less likely than your God fiddling with the anatomy of a few apes and making them abandon their happy life in the trees?

dhw: […] please tell us which half of the “semi-autonomous” evolutionary process was autonomous. i.e. was the independent, intelligent decision-making of the organisms concerned.

DAVID: It is a concept. You, in a silly way, want exactitude. Semi-autonomous means within prescribed limits of design.

“Prescribed limits” restrict what can and can’t be done. A man in prison can’t autonomously decide to go for a walk in the country. I never imagined that a prototype ant could turn itself into an eagle or an elephant. But I can imagine cell communities over billions of years using their perhaps God-given intelligence to invent new ways of coping with or exploiting new conditions. And so I’m quite happy to accept the idea that cell communities autonomously restructure themselves, independently designing their own adaptations and innovations within limits prescribed by the environment and their own capabilities. Did you have any other “prescribed limits” in mind?

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