Genome complexity: what genes do and don't do (Introduction)

by dhw, Friday, February 01, 2019, 13:53 (231 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Of course there are instructions in the information. The cell must activate those instructions and follow them as the cells react to a stimulus.

dhw: Why “of course”, when you have already agreed that the information cannot possibly serve as instructions (= what genes DON'T do), and have stated explicitly that “the information just lying there is inactive, of course, but the cells are totally aware of it and use it in various required actions”?

DAVID: You still seem totally confused about the issue of information in the genome. I see the cells as actively entering their genome for instructions to be activated. The information is always available, just as you enter a library to review a subject from inactive books. As Davies points out life runs on information.

The genome is part of the cell, so you now have the cell consciously entering part of itself to look for instructions to tell it how to use the part of itself which it has entered. You also have a fixed belief that 3.8 billion years ago, your God provided the original cells with instructions for every undabbled innovation, lifestyle and natural wonder. I wonder how your researching cell knows which of the billions of instructions it’s supposed to use. And you have now gone back on your original agreement that information (a passive data base) “cannot possibly serve as instructions”. You also agreed when I wrote: “I would say, then, that life “runs on” cells being aware of and actively using the passive information that is lying there inactive.” Life does not run on information, it runs on the active use of passive information. But you think I’m confused.

DAVID: Remember your concept is based on Shapiro who studied all-in-one bacteria who carry a different set of responsibilities. I do not think Shapiro generally carries over to multicellular organisms.

dhw: His concept of “natural genetic engineering” refers to all organisms, and since he believes in cellular intelligence, I really can’t imagine that he believes single cells are intelligent but cell communities aren’t.

DAVID: We really need to ask Shapiro. I can't see the jump since I know all human organs act automatically. See my entry on skin color for adaptation.

You needn’t ask Shapiro. I propose that since several prominent scientists believe that cells are intelligent, it is possible that cellular intelligence is responsible for the innovations that result in speciation. You do not “know” that cells are not intelligent, and neither of us “knows” whether this proposal is true. Ditto your own library proposal above. Re skin colour, see “Little foot”.

From the thread on Paul Davies:
dhw: I would like to know what Davies believes actually does the information processing, i.e. what it is that chunters away inside living cells and “manipulates” or “exploits” information. (“Life” doesn’t exploit anything – that is done by living organisms.)

DAVID: This is all concepts about the use of information in the genome. Obviously the information in the genome is available for the cells to use. We still don't have a laid-bare description of how it works.

No, we haven’t. But you think your cells enter their genome to look for one set of instructions out of billions passed down through 3.8 billion years. I suggest that cells actively use passive information to work out the best way to deal with new conditions.***

DAVID: When I first introduced the concept of information running life to you, you were startled and resisted the idea. I won't bother looking for quotes.

I am still startled, and I still resist it. Once more: information is passive, and it is the use of information that runs life, but we don't know how cells are able to use the information. You agreed when I said so, but now you disagree.

DAVID: ...this is not descriptive information. it is instructional information both as to structure and appropriate reactions to stimuli. Without this onboard information life would cease to exist. And what created this information? My answer is God. Information without a source is impossible.

dhw: Where have you found “instructional information”, and why can’t you just call it “instructions”? In this article we are simply not told what processes or manipulates or exploits information (but maybe he makes it clear elsewhere). It’s as if you and he both think the word itself has magic explanatory properties. Of course all information has a source: you can’t have facts and details about a subject without having a subject. We humans extract the passive information from everything we can set our eyes and minds on, then we actively use it. And in certain contexts we even create information that isn’t there!

DAVID: Yes, exactly. The genome creates the structure of organisms and offers ways for appropriate responses to stimuli.

I did not say the genome offers ways to respond! The genome, as you agreed earlier, offers nothing but passive information which “cannot possibly serve as instructions”. The genome can be restructured, but we do not know what organizes the restructuring. See above*** for two unproven hypotheses.

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