Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Monday, August 30, 2021, 11:21 (55 days ago) @ David Turell

Part One

Antibodies
dhw: […] Autonomy apparently means obeying instructions.

DAVID: Final sentence is exactly my meaning. Proviso, either instructions in the first bacterial genome, or more likely dabbled instructions added all along the way.

dhw: Here is one definition of autonomy: “the ability or opportunity to make your own decisions without being controlled by anyone else” (Longman). Your definition of autonomy: “Obeying God’s instructions”. You are making a mockery of language.

DAVID: So I'll change it to they act as if autonomous.

On 4th August I wrote: “Do you mean that your God planted instructions on how to create each new antibody for each new future threat? Or do you mean that he [God] gave our cells the ABILITY to recognize each new threat and to respond to it by creating new antibodies de novo without him having to intervene”?
You replied: “You’ve got it!!! The latter portion of your comment is exactly what God did!

And so now you are saying, no, that is not what he did. He planted instructions on how to create each new antibody for each new future threat (the first “portion”, which you had emphatically rejected). You are making a mockery not only of language but also of your own arguments, as you have done in the sections on time and on evolution.

Rethinking brain organization
DAVID: As a living organ the neurons of a specific area can recruit any and all of the brain as required when the neurons recognize the current task at hand. That has to be seen as superb design.

dhw: Yes, it’s just like a colony of ants recognizing new tasks and responding by taking on different roles. Yet more evidence of the (perhaps God-given) intelligence of cells.

DAVID: Our brain neurons have marvelous instructions in their genomes to produce this result.

Marvellous indeed if the way to deal with every single new task was either preprogrammed 3.8 billion years ago or entailed God having to pop in every time to issue new instructions. How about considering the possibility that he gave cells the ability/intelligence to tackle each task autonomously – as you agreed so emphatically a few weeks ago?

Retinal design
DAVID: Each fully new species involved redesign at that new stage. Think of whale series.

dhw: I think of whale series as each species adapting its organs to the new environment, as opposed to your God creating each one from scratch. This is admirably illustrated by the latest discovery:

New amphibious whale

DAVID: But note the rapid jaw changes in advance of actually hunting on land. Doesn't that suggest purposeful planning from a theistic viewpoint?

dhw: I think that is highly misleading. The transitional period would have entailed an initial combination of eating in the water and on land, but once the tetrapod started spending more of its time on land, the evolution of its jaws would have accelerated very quickly in order to improve the new method of survival. Surely if your God had done it, there would have been no need for jaws to evolve “faster than the rest of the body” – he would have simply performed the whole "redesigning" operation in one go. Or do you think he kept popping in to make improvements?

DAVID: What made your bolded statement work naturally quickly? We don't have any intermediates to show us how, just an existing fossil of a transitional form with the usual gaps in form. I turn to God as the driver of change and you to nature. Since intense design is required, I'll stick with God.

It’s a miracle that even this transitional form has been found, but you seem to think that there should be a fossil for every single change in every single organ in every single organism! The alternatives you have given – God versus nature – are misleading. You know perfectly well that my alternative to your God’s 3.8-billion-year-old programme for whale changes, or his regular visits to perform one operation after another, is intelligent cells (possibly designed by your God) responding to the needs of the moment. Once the animal had settled on land, of course the relevant cells would have made the relevant and rapid adjustments to its eating mechanisms. These were essential for its survival.


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