Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 11:54 (195 days ago) @ David Turell

Survival
dhw: Survival of what must be guaranteed? Obviously evolution can’t continue if every single life form is dead. Is that what you mean? Even if it is, how can you say that the purpose of each and every new design is to guarantee survival but the purpose of each and every life form is not to fulfil the quest for survival?

DAVID: Just opposite: species survive because of God's designs. Survival struggles do not drive evolution.

It is not the opposite! It is purpose and result: according to your theory, your God wanted organisms to survive, and so he designed ways in which they could survive, and so they survived because of his designs. The purpose of the evolutionary innovations was to enable organisms to survive – totally in keeping with Darwin’s theory.

Cambrian
DAVID: You've skipped over the gap in complexity, and it is a short time when the whole history of evolution is reviewed. Of course God did it.

dhw: I haven’t skipped over it. I’m saying I don’t see why thousands of generations of intelligent organisms (with God as the possible source of their intelligence) should not be able to develop the new organs required or made possible by new conditions. Do you think your God is incapable of inventing cellular intelligence?

DAVID: Cellular intelligence is represented by the instructions God gave to cells so they will function in a way that creates life.

I’m not sure what “represented by the instructions” means. Intelligence is intelligence. It manifests itself by performing actions that indicate sentience and cognition. And so the theistic version of my theory would be that your God designed cells’ ability to live, to reproduce, and autonomously to vary their own structures when adapting to or exploiting new conditions.

Monkey ‘talk’
DAVID: Not at all surprising. Even very early erectus 'language' was much more nuanced than that.

dhw: Of course it’s not surprising. What is surprising is that anyone should even think that any life form could exist without having some form of communication, and that anyone should even think that our ancestors did not use sounds to convey meanings which would eventually develop into our own modern languages.

DAVID: Agreed, but only we have true complex language.

No need for “true”. You’d then have to define how complex a language has to be in order to be called “complex”. We can assume that our human language is immeasurably more complex than the languages of our ancestors and of our fellow creatures.

Xenobots
QUOTES: "Normally, hairlike structures called cilia on frog skin repel pathogens and spread mucus around. But on the xenobots, cilia allowed them to motor around. That surprising development “is a great example of life reusing what’s at hand,” says study coauthor Michael Levin, a biologist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

Xenobots have no nerve cells and no brains. Yet xenobots — each about half a millimeter wide — can swim through very thin tubes and traverse curvy mazes. When put into an arena littered with small particles of iron oxide, the xenobots can sweep the debris into piles. Xenobots can even heal themselves; after being cut, the bots zipper themselves back into their spherical shapes.

DAVID: This is not puzzling to me. The clumps of skin cells are simply following the instructions they have in their DNA.

I’m surprised their DNA tells them to accomplish tasks in a way that surprises the researchers. It all sounds to me very much like the form of intelligence exhibited by bacteria and viruses, which also have no brains and yet all too frequently manage to outsmart us by intelligently “re-using what’s at hand”.


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