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

by dhw, Monday, February 11, 2019, 10:21 (10 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: You will change your “library” view, for which there is not one jot of factual evidence, only if factual evidence is found for a different view. This might be seen as the epitome of dogmatism. Nobody is denying the complexity of living biochemistry. That does not mean your “library” is more likely than a brain equivalent.

DAVID: How life works is still a black box. I'll wait patiently for more research.

dhw: But you are not waiting patiently. You have a fixed belief in your library and/or dabbling, and you reject the third hypothesis.

DAVID: All hypotheses are possibilities but I am not a picket fence sitter, and based on all the evidence available pick one which is my current preference for belief. Starting with if there is overwhelming evidence of design, there must be designer.

In our discussions I have always expressly allowed for the existence of a designer. And although my own credulity is stretched beyond its limits when you claim that the very first cells contained a library of information and instructions to cover the whole of evolution, you are of course entitled to believe whatever you want to believe. My objection is to your outright rejection of the alternative hypothesis I have proposed. But I quite like the moderate tone of “current preference for belief”!

dhw: The greater the complexity, the more intelligence needed to run the show. If single cells can work out their own solutions to their problems, why do you think cell communities can’t do the same? Ever heard of cooperation?

DAVID: Again your nebulous committee of cells illusion. In multicellular organs cells have strictly bound fixed roles. Legs do not know how to become flippers. That change requires design from an outside designer.

dhw: Of course cells have fixed roles once speciation has taken place. Otherwise the new species would not survive! The question (your “black box”) is how legs became flippers in the first place. There is nothing nebulous about cell cooperation. We KNOW cells cooperate. What we don’t know is whether their cooperation can produce the innovations which result in speciation. Nor do we know that your 3.8-billion-year-old library exists, or that your God popped in to perform leg amputations and flipper grafts.

DAVID: Cell cooperation is REQUIRED in organs. You just noted the fixed roles. The cells have a fixed set of requirements, which tells us they cannot change! You want them to think. That is the designer's role.

Of course it’s required, so why do you keep pooh-poohing it as “cell committees”? I have answered this in the passage you have quoted, but I’d better repeat it: once an innovation has proved successful (and we have a new species), the cells MUST continue to play their fixed roles. Otherwise, the species won’t survive. “Thinking” comes into play when there are new problems or conditions to cope with. But you prefer to believe in your library and/or direct divine surgery.

Information as the source of life
DAVID: As in my entry just a few minutes ago, where does the information come from? Life must have its own operating system to interpreting the code and acting on the information contained in it.

dhw: Absolutely, but I would slightly change your wording: living organisms (= cell communities) must have their own (i.e. autonomous) operating system. I find it hard to believe that they are all mere automatons, obeying instructions issued 3.8 billion years ago, and without a clue as to what they are interpreting and what actions they should take.

DAVID: I know that is your view, just as I view all the enormous number of automatic biochemical processes of living forms coordinate their resulting outputs to have life emerge. All designed.

I changed your wording because “life” doesn’t interpret or act. Organisms do that. You had switched from the source of life to what living organisms do, and your wording – “own operating system” to interpret and act – sounds more convincing to me than your belief that your God preprogrammed or dabbled every innovation etc. in the history of life.

James Tour: " We synthetic chemists should state the obvious. The appearance of life on earth is a mystery. We are nowhere near solving this problem. The proposals offered thus far to explain life’s origin make no scientific sense.

dhw: Ditto the mysteries of consciousness and speciation. Great article, which should be compulsory reading for all theists and atheists!

DAVID: Dr. Tour is in Houston at Rice University. He is a Jewish believer.

No problem, so long as he acknowledges that his own explanation of life’s origin makes no scientific sense either. I don’t object to faith. I object to people who have faith in God or in chance denigrating one another’s faith and pretending they know better.


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