What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

This offers the simplest “neutral” colloquial mixture of “design” and “evolution” that I’ve seen in a long time. The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.

“As a designer it is important to understand where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution. The more exposure you have to past, current and future design trends, styles and designers, the larger your problem-solving toolkit. The larger your toolkit, the more effective of a designer you can be.” http://www.designishistory.com/this-site/

Here, the term “evolution” as used just meant “history”. The author was not indicating “design theory evolution”, but rather instead the “history of designs” themselves, which have been already instantiated.

The topic “design is history” nevertheless enables an obvious point of contact between “evolution” and “design”. They both have histories that can be studied. Present in the above meaning of “design” are the origin, processes and agent(s) involved in the “designing”. This differs significantly from the Discovery Institute’s version of “design theory”, when it comes to history, aim, structure and agency, since the DI’s version flat out avoids discussion of design processes and agent(s). The primary purpose of the DI’s “design theory”, meanwhile, is USAmerican religious apologetics and “theistic science”.

The quotation above likely didn’t come from an IDist, and it isn’t referencing “Intelligent Design” theory as a supposed “scientific theory”. The “designer” in the quotation above is a (more or less intelligent) human designer, not a Divine Designer. This fact distinguishes it “in principle” from the Discovery Institute’s ID theory, which is supposed to be (depends on who you’re speaking with in the IDM) about first biology, then informatics, and statistics. The DI’s ID theory is not actually focused on “designing by real designers”, but rather on apologetics using “design” and informational probabilism.

The Discovery Institute’s failure to distinguish or even highlight the differences and similarities between human design and Divine Design, and instead their engagement in active distortion, equivocation, double-talking, and obfuscation between them, are marks of its eventual downward trend to collapse.

0

826 thoughts on “What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

  1. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Human individuals can consciously decide on the future in a way that is not available to other animals. The ‘progress’ of individuation.

    Unless I am gravely mistaken, you were brought into the world carrying the family jewels. Can we agree on their purpose?

    It’s interesting how you keep emphasizing teleology, but squirm all you can whenever the most obvious goal shared by all lineages is brought up. Each and every organism alive today is the product of an ancient unbroken chain of succesful reproduction. I am pretty sure that won’t end soon, including for humans.

    I am not squirming. In fact I am very happy to agree that all life is related. We are all children of the same source.

    0

  2. Allan Miller: All of this is produced, howsoever indirectly, by the genome. Paste that inside your hat.

    And the lowest level of active life is the cell. The genome is a resource of the cell. Everything is produced by the use of the genome.

    0

  3. “My original point to Charlie ws that I don’t know who is supposed to be fearful of a Designer.”

    We all are, as creatures of a Creator. It makes sense & contains life meaning. Human being? That means You.

    Don’t like it? Boo hoo or cheer up. Remember when you were a child and it wasn’t the same Fear, but instead Wonder, Joy & Love. (If never brought up to experience that, sorry, it’s a different story.) That ‘Designer’ of Love (not scientistic ID theory, of course, no) behind the curtains has open arms for you too, even if you can’t “scientifically” notice.

    0

  4. If “design” just counts as a banned metaphor to the skeptics here, so be it. While I reject Dembski’s “design revolution!” social propaganda, I still actually designed something yesterday, but not (yet) today. Aside from the labels, in my heart I also believe in a Divine Creator, which is actually a commonly held belief across @85 % of human beings around the world today. Skepticism isn’t a functional living worldview itself as it is just doubtful. Otoh, theism lived and applied is what most people believe in one form or another, specifically in the religious theology or worldview of their ancestors. There is much lost memory to be accounted for, the absence of which harms this conversation space. On ID theory’s limits, however, there seems to be broad agreement across the spectrum, of course, outside of a small (largely fanatical) community of IDists themselves.

    This evening I’ll be watching a presentation about a very interesting new dynamic design system that was imagined and built by designers and software engineers who can all be accounted for (time sheets, pay stubs, etc.). One of the designers of the “technology” (cf. “applied science”) itself will be presenting about the design. She’s a world leader in the field. I’m excited to listen & learn since the previous one last year this time!

    Being a “world leader” immediately distinguishes her from anyone in the ID movement, which has no one fitting that category working on “ID theory” (there’s Schaefer III, who wasn’t awarded or promoted for anything to do with “ID theory”; Tour is pro-IDM as an evangelical USAmerican Christian, but can’t vouch for “ID theory as science”).

    The IDM also has very, very few women, and none among the leadership. Ann Gauger and Nancy Pearcey as scholars, Denyse O’Leary as propaganda journalist, plus staff & secretaries at the DI. Check the website: 65/67 Fellows at the DI are men. In “design thinking”, there is much more gender parity, and not such gender imbalance as in professional ID advocates at the DI. Why is that?

    0

  5. CharlieM:
    Yet it is in the somatic cells of individuals where we find the greatest stability of the genome.

    I don’t think that’s true, but it doesn’t matter anyway: somatic cell lines die with the individual.

    Over evolutionary succession genomes change markedly. Our genomes are vastly different from any prokaryote.

    I don’t think, per replication, that there is much difference between the error rate of somatic and germline replication, if we could just stick with one end of the evolutionary series rather than leaping madly about.

    We contain the genes that are required for the function of a single celled organism. a multicellular organism, a motile organism and a conscious organism.

    Sure. Sounds like you’re coming round to gene centrism … 🤣

    0

  6. Gregory: We all are, as creatures of a Creator. It makes sense & contains life meaning. Human being? That means You.

    Don’t like it? Boo hoo or cheer up.

    Not sure why it requires you to get pissy with me. I don’t believe in your Creator; it’s not there to be feared, so the idea I should ‘suck it up’ in some way simply does not compute.

    0

  7. CharlieM: Me: Must? Whence comes this dogmatism?

    Charlie: I say ‘must’ because an isolated genome is an abstraction. Put a e-coli in a petri dish with nutrients and it will thrive, but as Denis Noble said above, put its genome in a petri dish with nutrients and it will do nothing.

    I can only urge you to re-read this comment in which I address the vital distinction between the conditions for individual lives (complex phenotype extracted from genotype), and what persists through the generations (genotype). Recognising the second case – the evolutionary series – doesn’t stop Noble the physiologist from doing physiology however he pleases.

    Nor does recognising that a gamete is furnished with a few molecules of prior phenotype (extracted from a prior copy of current genotype) mean that genes are not at the centre – precisely because of the statement in italics.

    Take the seed of a plant sitting in a packet in a garden centre it is inert. It needs to be surrounded by the right environmental conditions to become active. You cannot isolate the genome from the context in which it exists. And of course the seed is not just a bare genome, but it is the minimum level of existence of the plant. It never is or was just a genome, and that is the reality.

    There you go. Repeat ad nauseam, ‘naked genomes don’t exist’, and you will not find me disagreeing with you. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a degree and everything; I did not just get off the boat. I’m probably more aware than you of the complex mechanisms of gene expression. But still I insist that genes lie at the head of the causal chain. And, when it comes to evolution, genes are all that persist. They recreate organismal instances pretty much from scratch.

    It simply doesn’t matter that one can trot out example after example of living states that aren’t naked genomes: that is not what gene-centrism is arguing.

    0

  8. CharlieM:
    The is a process in which the genome is manipulated. It sits within the cellular processes and so is not isolated.

    Over multiple generations, it is indeed isolated, even though it never appears naked at any moment. Given a replicative process, the things replicated increase or decrease in the population, and because of recombination they increase or decrease at a subgenome level. This is what I mean by ‘isolation’. You don’t need to study ‘the system’ – you can just look at the genes. They travel through the generations independently – granted that they never do so unlinked for more than a moment.

    0

  9. Alan Fox: Has anyone (I won’t be impressed with any more walls of text from Rudolf Steiner) supplied an explanation of what they think “teleology” is and how the concept has any relevance to biological phenomena?

    I’d be happy to take up this particular challenge. The only walls of text will be my own, promise!

    2+
    avatar
  10. Mung: Neither then is “Gravity” or “Natural Selection.”

    Not a physicist but I can grasp the Newtonian model that predicts trajectories well enough to be useful.

    I understand and can explain the mechanism of biological selection.

    Teleology?

    0

  11. Is “design” a more “teleological” concept than “evolution”, are they equally teleological or is either non-teleological or ateleological?

    The term “evolution” as used in the OP seems to be a synonym of “history”.

    It addresses “where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution.” Here there is no naturalistic godless, unguided “selectionistic”, struggle for life, survival of the fittest, civilisational racism, hyper-competitive, zero-sum-game logic required or implied in the meaning of “evolution”. That’s just a completely different meaning of “evolution” that is used for atheistic science apologetics.

    In such cases, where ideological naivety is assumed, evolution and design can co-exist happily to simply describe “action in history”. Would anyone disagree with that minimal shared meaning as those terms are used above in the OP by the author (not saying I agree with the author, just that the way the author uses the terms requires no controversy).

    0

  12. Allan Miller,

    There’s nothing “pissy” in what I wrote that you didn’t read into it yourself.

    “Remember when you were a child and it wasn’t the same Fear, but instead Wonder, Joy & Love.”

    Somehow, atheists & agnostics closed to a non-physical, non-material, non-natural understanding of reality & human existence, simply either don’t see, or don’t comment on the “opposite to pissy” parts, which are meant as shared uplift, not as scornful down-push.

    G.K. Chesterton’s “Ethics of Elfland” gets at what I’m trying to say better than I can (http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/orthodoxy/ch4.html). Some of Chesterton’s basic practical wisdom of course applies well to our time of pandemic: “we should thank God for beer and Burgundy by not drinking too much of them.” As well, least the “skeptic” forget that this isn’t aggressive “evangelical” US apologetics, with Chesterton, “And all this time I had not even thought of Christian theology.” Just elvish ethics.

    0

  13. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Me: If you can’t detail the specifics of consciousness in your view either, this is a pointless rhetorical device. I was talking much more generally, about the causal relationship between genotype and phenotype, which is well established, ‘explain X then’ challenges nothwithstanding.
    Charlie: I don’t have to look for anything outside of my consciousness to explain my consciousness. I cause my own consciousness. Neurons are not conscious, my brain is not conscious. I am conscious. Consciousness is the property of the whole which is me.

    That’s detailing specifics, is it? I think you’ve missed out a couple of steps, there. Your consciousness is self-created, hanging by its own bootstraps? Nothing to do with that thing sitting on your neck?

    We are discussing consciousness with respect to cause and effect.

    In order to become conscious human beings we need sense organs and a central nervous system. Either of these on their own would not suffice. I am writing the following, not to educate anyone about these things, we all know this stuff. It is my attempt to clarify my position.

    The physical systems required for consciousness are composed of cells, and the genomes lie within the cells. These organs are built up gradually by processes of cell division and differentiation. The same genome is used in different ways by the various cells. So the genome alone cannot be responsible for the complexity.

    In order to allow for specific genes to be expressed the few meters of DNA packed into a cell a few microns across must be manipulated in such a way as to allow the specific strings involved to be made available and brought into alignment and juxtaposition to allow for transcription. This is a highly coordinated activity taking place constantly throughout all the cells of the body and it is happening below the level of consciousness.

    Try to imagine all the activity and processes that need to be in operation so I can read and be aware of the meaning of just one word of what you write .

    If you are determined to reduce all of this activity to a natural starting point from which it all began then the furthest you can take it is to the zygote that instigated my development. The zygote contained not just my genome but all the cellular material that was transferred with it; the plasma membranes, the cytoplasm, the proteins, the microRNAs and every other organelle and complex required for the further development of the body which I now find myself in. I inherited a complete system, not just a genome.

    Hopefully my next obvious developmental change will be a haircut. This will not have been caused by some genes in my neurons, it will be because I have consciously made a decision to make an appointment. Although my decision will instigate a vast amount of activity around various genes.

    And let’s not forget that in order to understand anything about genomes and evolution and all the rest, the first thing that is required is consciousness. Human consciousness is the way in which life comes to understand itself. This is not a trivial byproduct of evolution and it should not be marginalised.

    0

  14. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    I’m not looking for a non-genetic rationale. My rationale includes the genome, it includes the epigenetic markers, it includes the cells and it includes the organisms, it includes the environment, it includes the processes. All of these things in combination having their role and their place.

    Epigenetic marks, cells, organisms, detection of environmental stimulus, interlocking ‘process’ – all comes from the genome. None of the things you invoke as separate from the genome has any presence except through genomically-derived operations.

    I do not exclude the genome. It is a vital part of the whole system. But there are also other just as vital parts which cannot be ignored.

    0

  15. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    By the cells, the organs, the organisms.

    Which owe their entirety to genetic sequence.

    They owe their entirety to the activity that takes place around and within the genome. The genetic sequence is like a book sitting on a library shelf. If nobody has ever taken it out and read it then it may be of value to bookworms but that is about it.

    0

  16. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    The same genome used in various ways as required.

    As required by the genome

    As required by the cell in which the genome sits.

    0

  17. Allan Miller:

    Me:
    Organisms can be said to have goals (the most pressing, funnily enough, being to get their genomes replicated), but this does not make them the product of anything with higher goals.

    Charlie:
    I have many friends and acquaintances who do not wish to get their genomes replicated. In fact they go to great lengths not to.

    Good for them. Can we therefore conclude that the reproductive imperative is not, after all, a thing in biology?

    I does not have to be a thing in biology. But if evolution is to continue then procreation is necessary.

    But evolution has progressed. In some organisms urges must be fulfilled and they have no knowledge of the consequences of fulfilment, Whereas for some individual organisms, they can make conscious decisions about how or if these urges are fulfilled taking possible consequences into account. They can take measures to try to ensure they get the outcome they desire. Deciding the direction of further evolution is slowly being passed into the hands of the creatures that are evolving.

    0

  18. CharlieM: They can take measures to try to ensure they get the outcome they desire. Deciding the direction of further evolution is slowly being passed into the hands of the creatures that are evolving.

    How are creatures that decide not to reproduce going to carry their lineage into the future? All further evolution exclusively belongs to the offspring of those organisms that procreate, consciously or not.

    0

  19. Corneel: How are creatures that decide not to reproduce going to carry their lineage into the future?

    I’m going to have my genome sequenced and stored in a database so that at some time in the future, when science actually demonstrates that it’s all in the genes, I can be reconstructed and cloned.

    0

  20. Mung: I can be reconstructed and cloned.

    And the fact that you will start over with the mind of a baby won’t actually make all that much difference in your case!

    0

  21. OMagain:

    Mung: I can be reconstructed and cloned.

    And the fact that you will start over with the mind of a baby won’t actually make all that much difference in your case!

    I take you are referring to the fact that Mung’s mind is as pure as the driven snow 🙂

    In fact, to be serious, each night when we enter dreamless sleep, every one of us has a mind that is little different from that of a new born baby.

    0

  22. Allan Miller: Allan Miller,

    I let a confusion slide by there – the reproductive urge, even in humans, does not simply manifest itself in a ‘desire to have children’. In other animals, probably even less so.

    I don’t think any other animal has the forethought to link the sexual urge with the production of offspring. I don’t believe that animals engage in such teleological thinking.

    0

  23. Allan Miller: So it is with (say) birds. The urge to start singing in spring, susceptibility to that song, to display, nest building, feeding, protection … what’s all that about? Why do all organisms possess this generalised urge: those without nervous systems as much as those with?

    Do you believe that plants have urges?

    Why is the result reduced to single cells, possessed of little more than a genome, each turn of the cycle?

    A zygote is much more than a genome.

    0

  24. Gregory,

    There’s nothing “pissy” in what I wrote that you didn’t read into it yourself.

    “Don’t like it? Boo hoo or cheer up” is not pissy? Yeah, OK.

    0

  25. CharlieM: In fact, to be serious, each night when we enter dreamless sleep, every one of us has a mind that is little different from that of a new born baby.

    Evidence? What do we know of the minds of new born babies? Come to that, what do we know about adult minds?

    1+
    avatar
  26. CharlieM
    Charlie: We are discussing consciousness with respect to cause and effect.

    And your “I create consciousness” response was just waffle: the cause is “I”.

    If you are determined to reduce all of this activity to a natural starting point from which it all began then the furthest you can take it is to the zygote that instigated my development.

    And the zygote contains no ‘consciousness’. That emerges, in certain species, from a developmental process of multicellular repetition, with epigenetic variation, that, in other species, produces trees, or beehives with their sundry bees.

    The zygote contained not just my genome but all the cellular material that was transferred with it; the plasma membranes, the cytoplasm, the proteins, the microRNAs and every other organelle and complex required for the further development of the body which I now find myself in. I inherited a complete system, not just a genome.

    There you go again. I KNOW. Can we just take it as read that I know a little about biology? Nonetheless, all of this content is simply parental phenotype extracted from parental genotype. That starts the ball rolling. Phenotype from then on is extracted from current genotype.

    What it doesn’t contain is a shred of ‘consciousness’, or any genome-independent means to make a heart or a hair follicle.

    You are treating phenotype in a very slack, imprecise way. Because a zygote contains a bit of phenotype, and sometimes phenotype has a nucleic acid substrate, and multicellular bodies are also a phenotype, suddenly, by sleight of hand, “phenotype uses genotype”. But whence comes that phenotype? Genotype. In every case.

    The proteins and RNAs that extract proteins and RNAs from genotype, the ones upon which genotype now depend, have a sequence that is specified by genotype. Inter alia, they extract themselves. Likewise the proteins that replicate the genome. Self-replicating systems are unique, in that regard.

    0

  27. CharlieM: I don’t think any other animal has the forethought to link the sexual urge with the production of offspring. I don’t believe that animals engage in such teleological thinking.

    Indeed. This is why it is rather unhelpful to slip from my general talk of the universality of reproductive mechanism in biology to the lack of parental desire among certain of your mates.

    1+

  28. CharlieM: Do you believe that plants have urges?

    What do you think? 🤣 Nonetheless, they are as doggedly engaged in gamete generation as I am. They use different mechanisms to get them out …

    0

  29. Mung: And a genome is much more than a collection of genes.

    Very true. The ‘but epigenetics’ crowd seems not to appreciate that epigenetics is controlled by genetics.

    0

  30. CharlieM:
    A zygote is much more than a genome.

    I was actually referring to gametes. In the male, gametes are little more than genome injection vehicles. Their phenotype remains outside the egg. One might plead that the egg is ‘so much more’, but still, in any sexual species, the extreme reduction to male gametes occurs every second generation, on the average, for any set of autosomal or X genes. Throughout the natural world. This is only rendered possible by the existence of female gametes, but these are not part of ‘the system’ at the moment of male-gamete expulsion. A new ‘system’ forms on fertilisation.

    Even the egg’s initial phenotype rapidly disappears. At the 4 cell stage, the mother’s ‘starter’ phenotype has been diluted by a factor of 4 by zygote-sourced phenotype, even without turnover. Cell replication and gene expression – and everything else – are soon the sole result of phenotype extracted from the zygote’s genome.

    0

  31. Allan Miller,

    Yeah, ok. Is this pissy in your vocab too: “Remember when you were a child and it wasn’t the same Fear, but instead Wonder, Joy & Love”? Some people just have nothing positive to answer. And that’s on them, not the person asking.

    0

  32. I don’t have time today to reply to all that I was wanting to, hopefully tomorrow. But one thing caught my eye:

    Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    A zygote is much more than a genome.

    I was actually referring to gametes. In the male, gametes are little more than genome injection vehicles. Their phenotype remains outside the egg

    And you will notice that while eggs have within them the necessary complexes and processes to give rise to a further generation, sperm do not. They are little more than motile viruses in that respect. Life is a process whereby like produces like. New life begins with the zygote not the gamete. Feel free to distribute your gametes wherever you wish, new life will not spring from it unless it unites with the egg of a woman. There is a good reason why the process of IVF must begin with an egg.

    It is not just the physical substance that gets passed on from generation to generation, it is also the activities and processes that are required for its continuation that are passed on.

    0

  33. Alan Fox:
    Kantian Naturalist,

    Looking forward to it. An OP maybe?

    I gave it serious thought but decided (for personal reasons) not to do so at this time.

    What I would have said — and the OP would dig through the details — is that we can vindicate Kant’s idea of “intrinsic teleology” or “purposiveness without purpose” using concepts like biological autonomy, homeostasis, and allostasis.

    Making the case would be a lot of work, though. For that kind of effort I’d rather work on my book (which will have a chapter on teleology and cybernetics) or prepare my classes for the fall.

    0

  34. CharlieM: Do you believe that plants have urges?

    If you look at a video of plants speeded up it’s hard not to come to that conclusion, in some cases.

    0

  35. Gregory:
    Allan Miller,
    Yeah, ok. Is this pissy in your vocab too: “Remember when you were a child and it wasn’t the same Fear, but instead Wonder, Joy & Love”?

    No, that’s not pissy, the phrase I quoted was.

    0

  36. CharlieM,

    But you miss the point. Sperm squeeze the entire ‘system’ into something that is not even a ‘system’ at all, in the sense you are trying to advocate. This is true of eggs as well, in relation to the body from which they came, but is particularly laid bare in sperm, pollen and haploid spores. They are simply mobile haploid genomes. And this reduction takes place every other generation, on average. The fact that, in an egg, they may land on metaphorical fertile ground is neither here nor there in terms of evading this extreme reduction to a genome. “Half the time, they don’t” still means that half the time, they do.

    0

  37. CharlieM: Life is a process whereby like produces like.

    Genomes replicate, you mean? 🤣. And from them, a new instance of a cell, or an organism made of cells, emerges. The ‘like’ is produced by the near-perfect replication of genomes, not the copying of systems. You don’t copy yourself into your sperm. And certainly not into your wife’s eggs.

    New life begins with the zygote not the gamete.

    That’s a little arbitrary, and diplocentric. Haploid cells have rights too. Indeed, multicellular haploid forms exist, as do isogamous organisms where the haploid state has some independence.

    Feel free to distribute your gametes wherever you wish, new life will not spring from it unless it unites with the egg of a woman. There is a good reason why the process of IVF must begin with an egg.

    Sure, in obligately sexual anisogamous forms. Your familiarity with a particularly asymmetric organism blinds you to the fundamentals.

    It is not just the physical substance that gets passed on from generation to generation, it is also the activities and processes that are required for its continuation that are passed on.

    All of which – I may have mentioned this once or twice – are derived from the genome; some initially from the parental copies, later all from the new ‘individual’. But since, in either case, it is often an identical sequence either way, that distinction is not vital.

    0

  38. Mung: I’m going to have my genome sequenced and stored in a database so that at some time in the future, when science actually demonstrates that it’s all in the genes, I can be reconstructed and cloned.

    Why would future scientists want to reconstruct an outdated model? Your time is now, Mung. Enjoy it!

    0

  39. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Alan Fox?

    Where on Earth did you get that idea?

    When you make statements like this!:

    No it’s a word that doesn’t explain anything biological.

    You read more into that sentence than is there. “Teleology” is not an explanation. Saying the word explains nothing. It could be the heading to a text that gives a teleological explanation, I suppose. Has anyone (I won’t be impressed with any more walls of text from Rudolf Steiner) supplied an explanation of what they think “teleology” is and how the concept has any relevance to biological phenomena?

    I admit that ‘teleology’ is a bit of a slippery concept and so when it is used it needs to be put into context.

    There are some relevant writings that I think are probably worth reading. One is by Asa Gray who you probably know Darwin was in correspondence with. It’s an essay on Evolutionary Teleology

    Rather than God bringing each species into being by special creation he favours the Darwinian account. But he sees them as both teleological in their own way.

    By the adoption of the Darwinian hypothesis, or something like it, which we incline to favor, many of the difficulties are obviated, and others diminished. In the comprehensive and far-reaching teleology which may take the place of the former narrow conceptions, organs and even faculties, useless to the individual, find their explanation and reason of being. Either they have done service in the past, or they may do service in the future. They may have been essentially useful in one way in a past species, and, though now functionless, they may be turned to useful account in some very different way hereafter. In botany several cases come to our mind which suggest such interpretation…

    … it would appear that in Darwinian evolution we may have a theory that accords with if it does not explain the principal facts, and a teleology that is free from the common objections.

    But is it a teleology, or rather–to use the new-fangled term–a dysteleology? That depends upon how it is held. Darwinian evolution (whatever may be said of other kinds) is neither theistical nor nontheistical. Its relations to the question of design belong to the natural theologian, or, in the larger sense, to the philosopher. So long as the world lasts it will probably be open to any one to hold consistently, in the last resort, either of the two hypotheses, that of a divine mind, or that of no divine mind. There is no way that we know of C by which the alternative may be excluded. Viewed philosophically, the question only is, Which is the better supported hypothesis of the two?

    Another article Darwin teleologist? Design in the Orchids by Thierry Hoquet, is an attempt to do the following:

    Focusing on the Orchids, this article aims at disentangling the concepts of teleology, design and natural theology.

    I haven’t read it all yet so I cannot say how successful it is.

    But I do think it is important and necessary to understand what others have said about, and what people mean by, teleology and design before we make any statements, one way or the other, about their presence in biology.

    0

  40. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    Genes are real and are similar to the components of a nest. Most songbirds build their nests out of twigs, moss, feathers and items such as these that they find scattered around. They arrange them into a structure that is suitable for their needs. The body uses genes in a similar manner. It uses the genes to arrange structures suitable for its needs.

    No. It absolutely doesn’t. This really is squarely in the realm of “bad analogy”. The nest is not sequentially replicated, nor is anything specified in its sequence. It doesn’t even have a sequence; it is not an informatic construct.

    Analogies are never perfect and should not be taken too far.

    Of course if the nest of the average songbird was taken apart and analysed the DNA extracted would have originated in a very wide range of animaland plant types.

    You misunderstand. The nest is a phenotype of genes in the bird. All birds of a given species build nests of a similar type, typically different from those of other species, or at least consistent within a given clade. This is as legitimate a phenotype as the colouration or shape of their eggs. It might not be commonly constructed due to commonly-possessed genes. But you can’t dismiss the possibility that it is with an airy wave of your hand – especially if your alternative appears to involve some kind of telepathy.

    I didn’t misunderstand. I was just making the point that the activity of organisms involves using material from many sources. In order for them to use their own genomes they must supply the cells with nutrients and a means of disposing of waste products. You say the source of their behaviour in doing this is in the genes. I say the source is in an orchestrated use of the inner processes which obviously necessitates the manipulation of genes. Isolated genes are an abstraction.

    To think that there is a homuncular genome sitting deep within the cells of every creature directing affairs is an abstraction too far for me to find credible.

    Good job I am advocating nothing of the sort

    Good! Life is distinguished from non-life through its inherent activity. Activity does not happen without the interaction of the necessary components which include genomes, protein complexes, a suitable medium, some form of containment, etc.

    Life cannot begin without these features. And this is why the origin of life is so difficult to fathom from the perspective of the chance coming together of the necessary components.

    0

  41. Allan Miller: You even tell us above, ways in which genes are manipulated.

    Gosh, do I? There must be some reason I don’t think that an issue for gene-centrism, don’t you think? And there is: genes are ‘manipulated’ (which boils down to being transcribed, translated and/or turned on/off) by the products of other genes. So this is no escape from the genotype being the upstream component.

    And there you have it. Whether it is regarded as upstream, downstream or midstream it is but a component. But living entities are whole. They are the whole stream. They always were and they will always be that way.

    Separating living beings into their components involves killing them.

    0

  42. Allan Miller:

    I would replace your ‘controlled by genes’ to ‘controlled by the coordinated expression and suppression of genes’.

    Strange how that co-ordination is consistent among members of a given species, isn’t it? The reason being, of course, that it is achieved by the operation of other genes that they all share. Epigenetic states are set and reset by genes. Promoters and repressors are produced by genes, and their binding regions are also genetic. Gross developmental determinants, such as testosterone, produced by … genes. Differential expression in the presence of testosterone … encoded within the genome.

    Can you pick one specific example of an epigenetic marker being set by a gene from start to finish? Or pick any other process you mention and sketch the details for us.

    0

  43. CharlieM: Analogies are never perfect and should not be taken too far.

    You are a prime example of someone taking them too far. They illustrate little more than your own misunderstanding. Why not talk about the actual phenomena? Why muddy the waters with bad analogies?

    I didn’t misunderstand. I was just making the point that the activity of organisms involves using material from many sources.

    Compounding the misunderstanding. What’s important about nests for birds is not that they ‘utilise materials’ – everything about the bird utilises materials. It is that their construction is every bit as much a part of the phenotype of genes as any more directly organismal feature, and hence, a strong candidate for a genetic basis. Better and worse nests have a clear capacity to impact fecundity, and hence be under Natural Selection.

    In order for them to use their own genomes they must supply the cells with nutrients and a means of disposing of waste products. You say the source of their behaviour in doing this is in the genes.

    Name a part of metabolism that is not genetically derived or controlled.

    Isolated genes are an abstraction.

    Oh, for goodness’ sake! I know! I’ve said “I know” several dozen times. You seem to think the architects of gene centrism – amateurish punters like Crick, Maynard Smith, Williams, Hamilton, Trivers – know no biology. You only have to say ‘there are no naked genes’ or something similar and they are supposed to slap their heads: “Of course! How could we be so foolish! Turns out genomes don’t just replicate without making products. To the library!.”.

    Me: Good job I am advocating nothing of the sort

    Charlie: Good! Life is distinguished from non-life through its inherent activity. Activity does not happen without the interaction of the necessary components which include genomes, protein complexes, a suitable medium, some form of containment, etc.

    All of which derive from the genome. All of it. How many times do we need to spin this record?

    Life cannot begin without these features. And this is why the origin of life is so difficult to fathom from the perspective of the chance coming together of the necessary components.

    Ah, the origin. We always end up there. You are making a bold statement that, because modern replication is wrapped in complexity, it must always have been thus. This is not necessarily so. Modern replicators have wrapped complex shells around themselves – made of or from their own productions – but 3.8 billion years of evolution have rather helped there. You can’t declare this the minimal possible system.

    0

  44. CharlieM: Can you pick one specific example of an epigenetic marker being set by a gene from start to finish? Or pick any other process you mention and sketch the details for us.

    Genomic imprinting

    0

  45. CharlieM: And there you have it. Whether it is regarded as upstream, downstream or midstream it is but a component.

    It is a fundamental principle of biology – a dogma, almost! – that the sequence information for phenotype resides in genotype. You seek to obscure this by vague terms such as ‘component’.

    eg: Sequence cannot be extracted without RNA polymerase, that is a given. But the sequence of RNA polymerase itself is in the genome, therefore the genome is definitively upstream: a source. Better and worse variants of that genetic sequence are marked by the production of better and worse RNA polymerases. The polymerase enzyme is not passed on. The gene is.

    Now, you can add any ‘component’ you like, you will find that exactly the same relationship holds. The sequence is in the genome, never the other way around. And because only genes are passed on, over the longer term (‘the system’ is not passed on, but is continually refreshed from genotype), then those, subsections of genotype, are the ultimate beneficiaries of the differentiating process of Natural Selection. It is they that increase or decrease in the population, even though their products inevitably do as well.

    But living entities are whole. They are the whole stream. They always were and they will always be that way.

    Separating living beings into their components involves killing them.

    Indeed. Many organisms have died during the elucidation of the funmdamental structure of living things. Have they died in vain, that you endlessly insist that Holism is the Only Way To Comprehend?

    0

  46. Allan Miller: A zygote is provisioned with a trivial amount of its parents’ phenotype – a few proteins from the mother that permit the extract of the current zygote’s genotype – always under the control of other parts of the current zygote’s genotype.

    Do you think that centrioles are trivial structures?

    Men may contribute to infertility through newly discovered part of sperm, University of Toledo 06-07-2018

    Life doesn’t begin the way we thought it did. A new study at The University of Toledo shows that a father donates not one, but two centrioles through the sperm during fertilization, and the newly discovered sperm structure may contribute to infertility, miscarriages and birth defects.

    The newly discovered centriole functions similarly and along with the known centriole. However, it is structured differently.

    That is just one example of vital components that accompany the genetic material. I might post other examples of your ‘trivial amount’ of extra genomic material, there are many of them in the research literature.

    0

  47. Kantian Naturalist: Making the case would be a lot of work, though. For that kind of effort I’d rather work on my book (which will have a chapter on teleology and cybernetics) or prepare my classes for the fall.

    Well, there you are! An OP could be a first draft of that chapter and the feedback from our erudite clientele could be useful input. Anyway, I’ll buy the book! 😉

    0

  48. CharlieM: I might post other examples of your ‘trivial amount’ of extra genomic material, there are many of them in the research literature.

    Is that a threat or a promise? I’m sorry if this seems harsh but the more you post the less I feel you have any real grasp on biology.

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.