Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Monday, September 13, 2021, 12:39 (40 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I don't know from the evidence. There is co-evolution occurring with the Earth changing from 3.8 bya and evolutionary forms changing, all under His control. Did He follow a plan or set up an overall plan? I can't 'know' the answer.

dhw: You don’t ‘know’ if it was a 3.8-billion-year-old programme for all changes, or ad hoc dabbling, and although you won’t admit it, you don’t know if it was all under his control, and you don’t know that his ‘plan’ was not to give free rein to his invention. Nor, in passing, do you know that he designed every life form, or that every life form was part of a plan to produce humans, even though the vast majority of extinct life forms had no connection with humans.

DAVID: I know what I believe. I know your views are amorphous.

Congratulations on your knowledge of what you believe, even though you’re not sure what was planned 3.8 billion years ago, and what was dabbled. The alternative views that I present are absolutely not amorphous – they are very precise and, as you agree, totally logical. But I don’t believe or disbelieve any of them, just as I don’t believe or disbelieve in God.


Cellular intelligence
DAVID: Whoa!!! Organisms make small epigenetic adaptations.

dhw: Yes, we know that. And there is a theory that they may also be capable of large adaptations and even innovations, but you just happen to know that they can’t – hence your authoritative statements, even though you sometimes offer odds of 50/50.

DAVID: The 50/50 only applies to the probability of cells functioning by following instructions.

So it’s 50 in favour of instructions. What’s the other 50 in favour of?

Function in cells
QUOTE: “...the same protein can exert distinct functions depending on the effector it binds to. At the molecular level, protein functions thus translate into protein dynamics, which is key for the development of all cellular processes, from cell division to energy provision and cell fate determination.

dhw: In the quote, they say that the molecular changes are key to all cellular processes, including cell “fate determination”, which I take to mean “function”. If the article does describe how cells change their function, that would surely help us enormously in our efforts to understand how evolution happens.

DAVID: This is within single cells.

dhw: But single cells form combinations.

DAVID: Not covered in this paper.

Worth exploring, then?

DAVID: 'Fate determination' involves how embryology works with cells following signals to arrive at given places and function.

dhw: But still using the same processes, some cells can change their function. That would surely be highly relevant to our understanding of how evolution works.

DAVID: Cells are fixed in their functions, but second by second processes vary to slight degrees as in kidney cells altering function to change sodium levels slightly. Living biochemistry produces homeostasis by constant slight changes in cell function.

But stem cells are not fixed. They can develop into different types and different organs. That is why I am suggesting that the process described above may be highly relevant to the manner in which evolution works.

Covid and politics
FESER: Each side is, in my view, largely reacting in kneejerk fashion to the other. This is no more rational or defensible when right-wingers do it than when left-wingers do. However, it is the Left that dominates the commanding heights in academia, journalism, and popular culture. When the left politicizes science, as it manifestly has done through the course of the pandemic, it has itself to blame for sparking a reaction and generating the skepticism about science that it decries.

DAVID: The politicization of climate science is just the same.

I’ve struggled through the whole article, but as is so often the case with Feser, I have difficulty putting all the bits and pieces together. There is no fixed knowledge on the best way to tackle Covid. Scientists themselves are divided. Whatever methods are used will create problems for some members of the community. It’s politicians that have to take the decisions, so of course the issues are politicized, and if scientists and politicians disagree among themselves as well as with one another, of course there is scepticism towards all of them. And that’s without even considering the rival but perfectly legitimate concerns of the economists, sociologists, educationalists and health services. It’s the usual problem: your left-wingers and your right-wingers, your believers and your unbelievers, all think they know best, and they just cannot see that there is more than one point of view on any issue that has not been definitively settled by a known truth.


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