Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Monday, March 22, 2021, 12:20 (257 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: Pete started it. The little genius lay there till the coast was clear (maybe he opened his left eye and peeped to see if the eagle had flown away), and told his family and mates, who passed it on to their family and mates, and it was passed on to generation after generation, just as all organisms pass on information concerning strategies and lifestyles and most of the natural wonders you tell us about. Why are you suddenly convinced that our fellow creatures are incapable of communication? This is “large organisms chauvinism” run riot.

DAVID: The bold still has possums talking. Dead possum trick still has to be taught by demonstration.

dhw: You continue, quite absurdly, to deny that our fellow animals communicate. Do you honestly think I meant that Pete used human language?

DAVID: A non-answer. Obviously possums must demonstrate what they do to fool predators. Please answer.

I don’t see how the ability of animals to communicate constitutes a non-answer, but I’m quite happy to include demonstration as a means of communication. We use it ourselves. What’s the problem? We know that modern possums perform the trick, though we have no idea how long or how many dead possums it took for the modern possum to make it a set piece in the great struggle for survival. Why does this have to mean that your God preprogrammed the first cells with possums and with their play-dead strategy, or that he popped in to give possums play-dead instructions which presumably they would have passed on just as my possums did?

Bird migration
QUOTE: "Many birds routinely migrate across half the globe or more. Godwits, for instance, can fly up to 7,200 miles nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand."

DAVID: The full article is not fully on line, so I cannot copy some of the other journeys described, but the problem for me remains, how do birds learn how to do this? The first bird to try any of this had no idea of his destination if nature is the only source of guidance. I would offer God's instructions.

dhw: Thank you for more truly amazing wonders. I would suggest that the first birds to do it would have been trying to escape from inhospitable conditions. Of course they wouldn’t have known where they were heading. But eventually they found a suitable place, and the information was passed on to other birds and later generations. I reckon if your God had planned anything, he’d have directed them to somewhere closer, but if that is indeed where he told the first birds to go, what happened later? If they were incapable of passing on the information, is he still giving them all instructions, or are you saying that in order to design humans, he had to insert a flight schedule and route map into the genes of every individual migrating bird to be passed on to subsequent generations? [David's bold]

DAVID: Still obsessed with human specialness.

That is your obsession. My comment merely highlights your insistence that every life form, lifestyle, strategy etc. is/was “part of the goal of evolving [= designing] humans.”

DAVID: How was the information for a 7,000 miles flight told to the other birds back home, if the first bird found his way back somehow? Flapping his wings in code? Your usual suppositions with a usual non-answer result. God implants these instincts.

How? Please answer my bolded questions. And yes, you may be surprised to hear that migrating birds do indeed find their way back, year after year. And they give birth to new generations, and no doubt teach them the route and the stopping places and how to find food on the way. As to the details of how our fellow organisms communicate, you are asking me to write a book! You know as well as I do that they communicate at all levels, using their voices (didn’t you know that birds had voices and their different calls are known to have different meanings?), bodies, gestures, chemicals, smells etc.

Spider hearing and net slinging

DAVID: The same old problem, how did this behaviour evolve? It is a neat trick. The prey sneaks up in back not realizing the spider hears them. I believe God gave them the trick and dhw will claim one of them figured it out and 'told' the others, when like the possum it requires demonstrations to the species of the nets construction and the special backward thrust at the right moment to create the right technique. At the human level we coach to teach others. Do spiders?

It seems that this particular trick is performed in Florida. Nobody knows how this behaviour originated, though why your God should have popped into Florida and given courses in net slinging to whole groups of spiders when all he ever wanted to do was design H. sapiens and his food supply, is beyond my understanding. However, I really don’t have a problem with your proposal that the inventor demonstrated it and it got passed on by others who also demonstrated it. Demonstration is just one of many forms of communication used by us and our fellow organisms. Spiders have offspring, you know, and they’ve been around for well over 300 million years, so who knows how many other tricks they might have invented and passed on?

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