The simplest explanation? (Evolution)

by dhw, Thursday, October 01, 2020, 11:47 (24 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: The cells are programmed to follow mechanical and chemical signals.

dhw: Of course they act as we do through mechanical and chemical signals, but that is the result of cells “extracting information” and knowing what to communicate.

DAVID: Yes, the cells can translate from instructional information they contain.

dhw: Or the cells can autonomously process information both from inside and from outside their community, autonomously communicate with one another and with other cell communities (“coordinated behaviour”) and autonomously take decisions on what to do next.

DAVID: Cells certainly process information and act on it, following directive information to do so.

“Directive information” is a substitute for your normal word “instructions”, and that means God either preprogrammed every solution to every problem and every innovation 3.8 billion years ago, or he directly dabbled them. Why is that more likely than him designing cellular intelligence to adapt and innovate for the rest of time?

DAVID: I accept Shapiro's theoretical attempts, but have seen no progress on that score.

dhw: What progress has been made on the theory that 3.8 billion years ago God provided all cells/cell communities with instructions on how to respond to all situations for the rest of time except for those which required his direct intervention (dabbling)?

DAVID: Apples and oranges. Shapiro is a science theory, not a theological discussion.

How cells function is not a theological subject. If you claim that apart from what your God dabbled, right from the beginning the very first cells already contained instructions (“directive information”) on how to solve all problems and to turn into every single species and to design every single natural wonder in the whole history of life, there must be somewhere in the cell for those instructions to be stored – just as there must be somewhere in the cells where decisions are taken. Other than finding the relevant mechanism, what other kind of “progress” do you expect either theory to make?

QUOTE (under “Biological complexity”): "Cell plasticity is a property by which a cell can take on different and reversible identities. Cell plasticity is also essential for embryo development and for the correct function of the immune system. This property is also crucial in cancer as many cancer cells use it to gain resistance to chemotherapy and invade and colonize distant parts of the body.

dhw: And so perhaps this is the key to evolution and to all your problems about “errors” and diseases and theodicy and so many of the issues that we keep discussing: cells that are free to take on different identities. And for theists no problem at all: God designed them, and they gave him precisely what he wanted - the great and ever changing bush of life.

DAVID: The bold is your interpretation. The cells follow instructions and stimuli to become changed.

dhw: See above re instructions, but what a shame that you can’t see all the other advantages of this simple explanation of evolution.
I shan’t repeat the rest of my paragraph, since your answer focuses only on one point. It’s dealt with under “corrections”, but we can expand on it a little here.

DAVID: I agree this is the world He designed/wanted. He got here by tight design control. The freedom of molecular action is a requirement of God's design. He wanted it because it is the only way it can work under optimal design.

The question is how far that freedom might extend. And “tight design” raises the horrible problem of theodicy. If your God created this good and bad world by “tight design”, it can only mean that apart from the disease-causing “errors” in your theory (which were unavoidable and which he tried in vain to eradicate), everything else, including bad viruses and bacteria and meat-eating and possibly also natural catastrophes (as opposed to man-made) was directly designed. Maybe it was, but you can’t believe your God would deliberately want to harm us, can you? Nasty problem for you. Easily solved by my “simplest explanation”!


I'm out of time. I'll tackle the Davies post tomorrow.

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