Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Thursday, April 22, 2021, 09:00 (22 days ago) @ David Turell

INFORMATION
DAVID: Take off the constant blinkers. God taught the cells how to read the instructions. I love teasing you about information, because DNA is filled with it and it constantly obviously bothers you. Why? All life runs on it, by interpreting and following what is present for it to read. Without it life would not have appeared.

dhw: It bothers me because you and others use the word so indiscriminately, as in the absurd statement that information is the source of life.

DAVID: Initial life used information to run itself.

Initial life means living organisms. And I’m delighted to hear that living organisms used information to run themselves. Welcome to the Land of Shapiro.

DAVID: Where did it cone from? OOL research assumes when RNA world assembled itself, the information it carried simply appeared. Totally stupid. The information life uses to produce its reactions and processes exits. Why dos it frighten you so much? Because it implies a mind designing life?

I am not in the least frightened of the word information, and frequently use it myself. I simply object when people use it indiscriminately and confusingly. There is no question that living organisms use information to produce their reactions and processes. How else could they respond to the world they live in? But information is passive. It produces nothing. It can only be used by a living organism. And so when someone says that information is the source of life, or information is intelligent, or information tells organisms what to do when they are confronted by information that requires a decision, I object to what I see as an unnecessarily confusing use of language.

Photosynthesis.
dhw: [Darwin] was not talking about photosynthesis but about speciation. Why do you think photosynthesis should have taken longer than it did?

DAVID: Only under Darwin chance mutation theory. Why must I repeat the point.

I didn’t know that Darwin attributed photosynthesis to chance mutations. I thought he was concerned with speciation. But I’m happy with your response. We can drop the subject since there is no reason at all to suppose that photosynthesis should have taken longer than it did.

Gradualism in evolution
dhw: This is confusing. If they originated earlier, the rarity simply suggests that they did not become dominant until millions of years later. Nothing to do with speciation, then, or with gradualism.

DAVID: This is one prime example Bechly mentioned. Evolution runs in spirts, never slow and steady.

dhw: "Spurts" relate to what Gould meant by “punctuated equilibrium”, which fits in perfectly with the theory that speciation takes place when new conditions either demand or allow it.

DAVID: The spurts also produced Gould's gaps which Darwin does not explain. Remember?

Yes. I think it’s a very convincing explanation, and I reckon Darwin would have approved. I note that you have not responded to the point that if dinosaurs already existed millions of years before they became dominant, Bechly’s example has nothing to do with speciation or with gradualism.

Little Foot
DAVID: The conclusion is obvious: first down from the trees, then later arm and hand dexterity development, and finally brain enlargement followed by brain complexity, driven by what natural force, if any? Noting chimps remained essentially unchanged, why did we bother to keep changing. I will always believe God did it.

dhw: The natural force would be the drive to improve chances of survival. Chimps didn’t need to change, as they were able to survive perfectly well with what they had. Once our ancestors had descended from the trees, for whatever reason, they learned/developed new skills to enable them to cope ever more efficiently with the new conditions. I don’t have a problem with the proposal that the mechanism which enabled all organisms to develop new methods of coping with new conditions may have been invented by your God. But I do have a problem with the idea that every branch of the vast bush of life was divinely preprogrammed or dabbled for the sole purpose of producing H. sapiens’ brain.

DAVID: I know your problem.

And you have never solved it!:-(

Homo luzonensis
DAVID: our evolution is convoluted and obviously our ancestors wandered all over the place, even across oceans. But the main line is still erectus to sapiens.

And this compounds the problem I have with your fixed beliefs. Why all the different lines, not only of the millions of organisms and lifestyles and econiches and natural wonders that had nothing to do with humans, but even of hominins and homos? Could all of them really have been necessary for God to specially design before he specially designed H. sapiens?

Corpse flower gene loss

DAVID: If the host plant is doing most of the work, shucking unneeded genes is a logical result.

Yes, the principle can be applied to all forms of evolution: once the “work” can be done efficiently by a new combination of “workers”, some of the old workers can be made redundant. This applies to speciation in general and to the human brain in particular.


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