Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Friday, May 14, 2021, 09:28 (461 days ago) @ David Turell

QUOTE: "I am not a multiverse denier, any more than I am a God denier. Science cannot resolve the existence of either God or the multiverse, making agnosticism the only sensible position. I see some value in multiverse theories. Particularly when presented by a writer as gifted as Sean Carroll, they goad our imaginations and give us intimations of infinity. They make us feel really, really small—in a good way.

DAVID: I'm with Horgan. Multiverse discussion is entertaining fluff, nothing more.

I'm also with Horgan, my fellow agnostic, and I’m delighted that you are too! I might add that I also see some value in God theories…..they goad our imaginations and give us intimations of infinity and even immortality. They make us feel really, really, small – sometimes in a good way. And one of them may even be true.

Elephant seals
DAVID: The complex physiological requirements for these female seals not breathing for 1.5 hours, little sleep when most mammals require much more, raises the issue as to how these animals might have naturally evolved? I suspect it is one of God's designs for a special ecosystem.

As always, thank you for yet another fascinating insight into the wonderful ways in which our fellow animals have learned to survive in all kinds of environments. And as always, I would suggest that these animals evolved through the possibly God-given invention of the flexible, intelligent cell, which responds to new needs and/or opportunities presented by changing conditions. What I cannot understand in your own arguments – you may have heard this before – is why you think your God would have specially designed vast numbers of special ecosystems in the past that had no connection with humans, although you insist that they were all “part of the goal of evolving [= specially designing] humans”.

dhw: You raised the subject of whales, and my answer is the same for the Cambrian. It began approx. 550 million years ago and lasted approx. 56 million years. Every fossil is a miracle in itself, and if you substitute cellular intelligence for random mutations, who can possibly say that this vast period of time was not enough for new organisms to evolve in response to new conditions?

DAVID: Where did your "cellular intelligence" naturally come from?

You know perfectly well that I have always said that it may have come from your God. The theory does not deal with the origin (Chapter One of life) but with the mechanisms that drive evolution (Chapter Two).

New forms require new genes
dhw: This article provides a logical explanation of the Cambrian transitions which, over 56 million years, could have led to all the new species that appeared in response to the new conditions that would have arisen during that long period of time.

DAVID: But in the beginning of the Cambrian many new forms appeared de novo and lasted 56 million years, not your supposition.

Thank you for your correction. According to several websites, what you call the beginning (the Cambrian Explosion) lasted 13-25 million years. Please substitute that figure for the 56 above. The argument is still the same. Apparently a lot of the new species actually went extinct during the remaining millions of years. Makes you wonder why your God would have designed them in the first place, and in what way they could have been “part of the goal of evolving [= specially designing] humans.”

The obstetric dilemma
dhw: I propose that problems arise before solutions are found. In this case, the enlarged brain was the problem which the pelvis had to solve.

DAVID: And I'm sure solved only by God's new designs

dhw: Or possibly by God’s old design, giving all organisms the wherewithal to adapt to new conditions and to solve new problems.

DAVID: Instant solutions don't happen. Each new species follows a gap in time with no intermediates. remember Gould's comments about all the gaps.

Our heading is the “obstetric dilemma”, and according to you, instant solutions do happen! I thought this was the nub of your theory – that your God specially designed the pelvis in anticipation of the problem, and it was an instant success. I am the one proposing solutions over time, with many Lucy-mothers dying in childbirth before the expanded pelvis became the norm. Please stick to the subject.

dhw: You say God does the tinkering. I say the cell communities that form living organisms may have a tool (intelligence) which they use “opportunistically” (= innovation) or out of necessity (adaptation) – though it’s frequently hard to distinguish between the two. We have no idea how this tool may have originated, but your God is one possibility. “You” certainly didn’t give it to “evolution” – the phrasing is an obvious dodge, for which I don’t really blame the speaker, who is only concerned with the mechanism itself and not the origin.

DAVID: I see God as the only possible source for the apparent presence of cell intelligence.

No problem. I have always allowed for that possibility.

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