Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 12:38 (860 days ago) @ David Turell

Fungi helped plants
DAVID: God's epigenetic mechanisms allow for simple adaptations that allow for cooperative solutions.

dhw: You will have to forgive me for my denseness, but I find the switch from “intelligent information” to “epigenetic mechanisms”, and from “instructs” to “allows for”, slightly bewildering when my first question could easily be answered by “yes” or “no”. Let me try again, but this time I’ll be more direct. Disregarding the autonomy of human free will, do you believe that your God either preprogrammed or dabbled all instances of cooperation and all solutions to all problems throughout life’s history? If not, do you believe that he gave organisms the autonomous ability to cooperate and solve problems? If it’s the latter, but you want to limit this ability to “simple adaptations”, do you then agree that this ability denotes a “simple” form of autonomous intelligence?

DAVID: My statement is quite clear. The way organisms make simple adaptations is through epigenetic mechanisms. Part of God's design. Those adaptations are therefore independent of God.

But that is not what I asked. You’ve opted for autonomous “simple adaptations”. As I understand it, “epigenetic mechanisms” relate to the manner in which cells respond to the organism’s behaviour or its environment. To do so, they will have to process information from inside and outside their own communities (of which the organism is made), communicate with one another, and decide what changes need to be made in their own behaviour. If these actions are performed independently of your God, do they or do they not denote a degree of autonomous intelligence? I am quite happy for you to say this is “part of God’s design”. We are not discussing God’s existence, but the way evolution works.

Some extremophiles use radioactivity
DAVID: Back to the same concept. Life must have a continuous energy supply to survive. Further this system may be the way life started.

dhw: I don’t think anyone would deny that life needs energy. And we are certainly back to the same concept: that these micro-organisms appear to have the wherewithal to survive by changing those parts of themselves that need to be changed in order to meet different requirements. This, I suggest, may have set the pattern for the whole of evolution, and I agree that it may be the way life started.

DAVID: They do it through God's designed mechanisms.

Again, I don’t have a problem with your belief that God designed the mechanisms. Our discussion concerns the nature of the mechanisms. As above, if these micro-organisms can autonomously change themselves in order to meet different environmental requirements, does that not mean that (theistic version) your God gave them a form of autonomous intelligence? The only alternative I can see is your God preprogramming or dabbling every single change.

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