Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Sunday, January 17, 2021, 09:33 (569 days ago) @ David Turell

Magic embryology

dhw: I really don’t know how often you want me to acknowledge that nobody knows the cause of speciation. But adaptation gives us a clue, and you have not responded to my all-important point that the instructions in the genome are those that have been established when life forms have changed their structures – either through simple adaptations, complex adaptations or innovations. This process would have applied even if 3.8 billion years ago your God had provided the first cells with programmes for every innovation, life form, lifestyle, strategy, natural wonder etc., or had stepped in personally to dabble every one. Of course there are “instructions in the genome”. But my theistic alternative to your one-by-one preprogramming and dabbling theories is that your God gave cells the intelligence to work out their own instructions and to pass them on.

DAVID: In our discussions, I've come to realize that future change must account for future needs which in advance may not be apparent. Thus God has to do direct design at those times when eh new needs are extremely complicated, as in the whale series. Your theory seems as if organisms make it up as time goes along instead of precise designs for complex new needs.

Not instead of! Precise designs for complex new needs is exactly what I am proposing, and even in your vague description above, you have your God RESPONDING to new needs: he has to do direct design “when the new needs are extremely complicated”! But in your version, he improvises when he looks into his crystal ball and sees a new problem on the way: “I see that pre-whales are going to run short of food. I’d better step in and operate on them by turning their legs into flippers, and then tell them to start hunting in the water.” Your alternative to this takes place 3.8 billion years ago, when he is busily devising programmes for every undabbled life form, lifestyle, econiche, strategy and natural wonder for the whole of life’s history: “Ah, I see that my pre-whales are going to run short of food in Year X, so I’d better devise a programme for leg-to-flipper change.”

Snakes repel their own venom

DAVID: The obvious issue is timing of the development. What must happen is the toxin and the antidote mechanism both must be evolved simultaneously or snakes will commit suicide. Only a planned design fits this event. Never by chance.

dhw: Of course not by chance. However, yet again you jump in when the system is established. It doesn’t occur to you that initially snakes may well have “committed suicide”, and so an antidote had to be developed in order to stop this from happening. It is the same natural process that we are so desperately striving to accelerate in order to counter the Covid threat. Cells respond to threats. If they don’t, they die.

DAVID: The vaccines are a way of learning how to repel the virus without getting killed in the process. And they are not internal toxins the snakes constantly make and must make defenses for simultaneously. you example is apples and oranges.

They are not just internal toxins. Read the article:
"Even more bizarrely and wonderfully, this appeared to be a trait that was picked up in many different snakes in a case of convergent evolution – where species develop a shared trait that has nothing to do with their genetic ancestry.
“'We have shown that it has evolved independently on 10 separate occasions,” says Fry. “Eight times within different snakes that are prey for venomous snakes, and two times in venomous snakes as a form of resistance to their own venom.'”

The same process is used as a defence against threats from inside and outside. It’s common sense anyway that problems precede solutions, and I really don’t know why you think history tells us that the process is reversed (whales) or, at best, synchronized to originate simultaneously (snakes). If life forms don’t adapt to changing conditions or find ways of countering threats to their existence, they disappear, and that means RESPONSE to new needs.

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