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 The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.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.

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1,506 thoughts on “What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

  1. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: A lot of coordination is required in both space and time.

    Possibly, but what are minds made of?

    Minds need not be made of anything. A question along similar lines that might be asked is, what is matter made of? Mathematical probabilities?

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  2. Allan Miller: Ta-dah!

    Charlie: It comes from observation.

    Not of primordial life, it doesn’t. “In the beginning …” indeed.

    We have no evidence whatsoever of replicating life ever having existed without some sort of membrane within which the complex processes of replication can take place.

    We have no evidence whatsoever of disembodied minds. At a bit of an impasse then, aren’t we?

    So you have become the spokesperson as to what evidence is held by every other person on the planet?

    In the beginning was the cell or alternatively in the beginning was speculation.

    “In the beginning was the cell” is itself speculation.

    On the odd occasion you might have notices me using the phrase, ‘the whole reflected in the parts’ 🙂

    This is an observation of the holographic nature of reality. The development of the individual has an essential similarity to the evolutionary progression of its kind. The most fundamental state from which any living organism begins its life is in the form of a living cell. Life as we know it always begins with the cell. This is not speculation.

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  3. Allan Miller:

    Me: Nope. We’ve moved beyond that. Recognised by observing genetic commonality, a layer undreamt of by those stuck with deducing phenotypic commonalities.

    Charlie: The way that genes are used cannot be ignored.

    It absolutely can be ignored when talking of molecular phylogeny, which I believe I was (hard to be sure without wading back a week; it’s getting a bit like that Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch.)

    A lot of coordination is required in both space and time.

    All orchestrated by other gene products, ie, ultimately, by the genome. Which is the sensible way to do it, since the genome passes undiluted from cell to cell, and ultimately sources everything else.

    And do you think that cell membranes and organelles are ‘diluted’ when a cell divides, when one becomes two?

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  4. Corneel:

    CharlieM: I remember you gave spikelets in maize as an example. But a change in the number of spikelets could hardly be classed as novel features.

    If you insist on relying on “observation”, I recommend that you stop blinding yourself to inconvenient facts. The change was in the arrangement of spikelets, not their number. The spikelets appear in pairs in maize, which is a bona fide novel morphological feature as it is not observed in teosinte.

    Relevant quote:

    The ears of maize bear a pair of spikelets on each internode, one sessile and one pedicellate, while the ears of teosinte bear only single sessile spikelets on each internode since the teosinte pedicellate spikelet is aborted early in development (Figure1, B and C).

    Continuing:

    CharlieM: And the ears of modern maize compared to teosinthe are just as predicted by Goethe. Both are indivual expressions of the archetype, the former taken to the extreme. Just as many dog breeds are extreme forms of canid.

    What is “extreme form” but a thinly veiled attempt to avoid the word “new”?

    “Look at my new car”

    “Bah, it’s just an extreme form of your previous car”

    Can’t you see how you warp the meaning of words until novel forms no longer qualify as such?

    In my opinion three of the most notable novelties that have appeared during the evolution of life are, motility, internal thermal regulation and consciousness. These are not just variations on a theme such as the spikelet example.

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  5. CharlieM: In my opinion three of the most notable novelties that have appeared during the evolution of life are, motility, internal thermal regulation and consciousness. These are not just variations on a theme such as the spikelet example.

    LOL! “internal thermal regulation” is in your top three of most notable evolutionary novelties? Why didn’t you add opposable thumbs?

    No, Charlie. Evolutionary novelties outside of the human lineage count as well, regardless of whether Charlie deems them worthy enough to take note of.

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  6. Alan Fox: Well, fusion of hydrogen to helium is converting mass to energy!

    I admit this confuses me. After this conversion, there remain just as many protons and electrons as ever, just in a more efficient configuration. So if mass is converted to energy but no mass is lost, what exactly is going on? I guess if the resulting particles are less energetic, maybe they sacrificed part of their mass to produce energy, even if the individual particles are as energetic as all other protons and electrons. Very strange.

    ETA: Aha! the mass of the helium atom is 0.645% less than the mass of the two hydrogen atoms.

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  7. CharlieM: Their are individuals who claim to have personal knowledge of mind transcending time.

    I’d ask for details but what you are offering is not evidence. You might call it hearsay. Indulge me by contemplating the interface between the physical universe we bump up against and the non-physical minds you say (you are saying this?) exist. How do these interact with the physical universe. How can we tell true stories from vivid imagination?

    ETA and mescaline, LSD etc.

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  8. CharlieM,

    My list would be different:
    DNA, protein, sex, multicellularity, photosynthesis, eukaryotes, flowers, seeds, placentas, did I mention sex? I’m sure I’ve missed some.

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  9. CharlieM: Minds need not be made of anything.

    Agreed.

    Minds don’t actually exist, so they don’t need to be made of anything.

    The term “mind” is a metaphor. It’s a useful metaphor, which is why it is part of our language. But we take it too far when we ask what are minds made of.

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  10. Neil Rickert: Minds don’t actually exist, so they don’t need to be made of anything.

    The term “mind” is a metaphor. It’s a useful metaphor, …

    Minds exist. Otherwise psychology would not exist either. Psychology does not exist only for a radical denialist of reality.

    And you have little clue of what a metaphor is too.

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  11. Erik: Minds exist.

    Don’t think anyone is arguing against that. But minds don’t exist independently from organisms.

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  12. Alan Fox: Don’t think anyone is arguing against that.

    Of course Nick is arguing against that. To repeat, “Minds don’t actually exist, so they don’t need to be made of anything.” His point is literally that minds don’t exist. Literally because he made it clear that he thinks he recognises metaphors and avoids them.

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  13. Erik: Of course Nick is arguing against that.

    Neil, you mean? Well, I’m sure Neil will speak for himself. But let me make a guess. It’s the same as talking about information. That exists in some medium and not otherwise. Minds are brain activity. You could therefore argue semantically that minds don’t exist (except as brain activity).

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  14. Alan Fox: It’s the same as talking about information.

    Yes, quite right. And it’s the same as talking about numbers. They exist as useful fictions, which is to say that they don’t really exist but we want to be able to talk about them as if they existed.

    Minds are brain activity.

    Yes, pretty much that. But we talk about them as if they were things instead of talking about them as activity.

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  15. Neil Rickert: Minds don’t actually exist, so they don’t need to be made of anything.

    We know the agnostic/quasi-atheist Neil Rickert, moderator at TAMSZ (the atheist miserable skeptical zone), who actually spends more time at Peaceful Science, is mindless. Yes, and we now know that he wants us to believe that, so we therefore “know” that it is true that Neil Rickert is mindless, or speaks as if he is mindless. That explains a lot! We don’t even need to use our minds to know that. Why not? Because Neil doesn’t believe in minds, neither his nor other minds. And that’s supposed to count for something. Or not. = P

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  16. Alan Fox: Minds are brain activity. You could therefore argue semantically that minds don’t exist (except as brain activity).

    This is not how semantics works. If there is activity, then there is existence. Whatever is, might even exist without activity, but all the more so with activity.

    Neil Rickert: And it’s the same as talking about numbers. They exist as useful fictions, which is to say that they don’t really exist but we want to be able to talk about them as if they existed.

    Nah, the issue here is not that people want to talk about numbers as if they existed. We talk about numbers (and are not able to purge them from language no matter how we tried) exactly because they exist.

    The issue here is that you want to be able to talk about numbers as if they did not exist. Which is stupid, anti-scientific, anti-semantic, anti-realistic, and mindless. And a host of more bad things. If you think numbers don’t exist, then stop talking about them. See what you will get.

    Don’t invite others to go where you yourself cannot go because that’s hypocritical on top of all else.

    Neil Rickert: Yes, pretty much that. But we talk about them as if they were things instead of talking about them as activity.

    The false assumption in this statement is as if only “things” (as per your specific definition) existed. In actual human language, a number can be called a thing, an activity can be called a thing, any “something” is a thing (as there is “thing” in “something”).

    Ready to drop your false assumption? I say you are not. Care to prove me wrong?

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  17. Erik: This is not how semantics works. If there is activity, then there is existence. Whatever is, might even exist without activity, but all the more so with activity.

    I agree with that. My claim is there is no activity without a medium.

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  18. Alan Fox: My claim is there is no activity without a medium.

    And here is the funny thing – in CharlieM’s world (actually in Rudolf Steiner’s and other similar), the mind is the medium, while material particles and organisms are the condensed manifestation of it. The principle (no activity without a medium) remains the same.

    But Neil is a tough case of arbitrary lunacy. While apparently being a mathematician or such, he arbitrarily declares that numbers do not exist. Even while arbitrarily declaring that numbers do not exist, he still continues to use them in practical life, everyday discussions, and professionally at work. He fails to see any inconsistency because the power of arbitrariness is almighty.

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  19. Erik: But Neil is a tough case of arbitrary lunacy.

    We discourage personal attacks on other members’ mental capacity.

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  20. Erik: While apparently being a mathematician or such, he arbitrarily declares that numbers do not exist. Even while arbitrarily declaring that numbers do not exist, he still continues to use them in practical life, everyday discussions, and professionally at work.

    I don’t see a contradiction. Neil commented above agreeing that information can only exist in some medium and adding numbers as another example. It seems a perfectly reasonable stance to me.

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  21. PS if I google “math discovered or invented” I get many hits. Seems there’s an ongoing and unresolved discussion on the issue.

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  22. Corneel:

    CharlieM: As I see it the ability to fly is at the level of the individual, the passion for flying is at the level of the group.

    Bats versus other mammals?

    Bats are mammals with a shared passion for flying.

    Bats are very interesting animals. Because of their morphology they were thought to be closely related to primates. Genetics tells a different story. One thing is clear. In them the pentadactyl limb has become very specialised to allow for their preferred means of locomotion. This has severely curtailed any chance of them developing their limbs in a way that would further creativity.

    Nonono, let me guess. Extreme case, right?

    To varying degrees all specialists are extreme in their own way.

    ETA: perhaps you should also define “group”. I have a hunch that it is going to be fitted retroactively to match your story.

    I would describe a group as similar to species. Populations that can or do interbreed and can be recognised as belonging together.But in line with taxonomic classification there are groups within groups depending on the commonality under discussion.

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  23. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Minds are not physical objects.

    What are they then and how do you know?

    A mind is a lived experience. I know because I have one. It is not the physical body but it is formed by means of the body.

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  24. CharlieM: I know because I have one.

    I don’t think (heh) this is a reliable way of coming to any conclusion about how human brains work.

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  25. CharlieM: A mind is a lived experience.

    Poetical but what are you saying that gets us further to understanding how brains work?

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  26. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: The shared knowledge demonstrated by animals occurs by virtue of the group soul. Animals share a higher form of knowledge that is difficult to explain in physical terms.

    Possibly, but what is a group soul and what evidence is there that it is more than CharlieM’s imagination (vivid though that is, I admit)?

    I think of it as a collective mind. Instinctive knowledge and abilities that are shared by the group. If you think about the migration of monarch butterflies. No individual makes the whole journey, this is only achieved by the group.

    When it comes to imagination, rather than flights of fancy, I aspire to Goethe’s ‘exact sensorial imagination’.

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  27. Allan Miller: CharlieM,

    I was only joking! I appreciate what I write being read.

    Yes, I didn’t take it that seriously. By the way, are you still with us or have you gone off on another yomp?

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  28. CharlieM: If you think about the migration of monarch butterflies. No individual makes the whole journey, this is only achieved by the group.

    Um? All those individuals that succeed in making the migration make the whole journey. I would imagine a significant number who start out don’t make it. Your “No individual makes the whole journey” seems incorrect. Can you clarify?

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  29. CharlieM: I think of it as a collective mind. Instinctive knowledge and abilities that are shared by the group

    That’s a model you have created. Does it fit the facts and give us any explanatory insight? Herding, shoaling, flocking and other group behaviours can be modeled without postulating a hive mind.

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  30. Neil Rickert: Agreed.

    Minds don’t actually exist, so they don’t need to be made of anything.

    The term “mind” is a metaphor.It’s a useful metaphor, which is why it is part of our language.But we take it too far when we ask what are minds made of.

    This seems confused to me. There’s no reason why minds can’t exist in as literal a sense as one may wish without being “things” or “made out of” things. If minds are activities, then surely they exist!

    After all, no one would endorse the following line of thought

    1. Minds are not things.
    2. Only things exist.
    3. Therefore minds do not exist.

    While (1) is acceptable (though one needs an argument for it) I don’t see why one would accept (2).

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  31. Kantian Naturalist: This seems confused to me. There’s no reason why minds can’t exist in as literal a sense as one may wish without being “things” or “made out of” things. If minds are activities, then surely they exist!

    After all, no one would endorse the following line of thought

    1. Minds are not things.
    2. Only things exist.
    3. Therefore minds do not exist.

    While (1) is acceptable (though one needs an argument for it) I don’t see why one would accept (2).

    Well, what is meant by a mind. I think of it as what my brain does. There are analogies with software and hardware, planes and flying. Is flying a thing? It can’t happen without a medium, the thing flying (and the medium – the air – it flies in).

    What is meant by a thing. Something that exists? Bit circular.

    But the issue was whether minds can be immaterial and precede matter. And how we would know? Seems it is a matter of choice and belief.

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  32. Alan Fox,

    I don’t think that the idea of immaterial minds is a matter of choice or belief. I think it is something very close to nonsense. Not quite a square circle but similar.

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  33. I wouldn’t want to countenance an ontology so restrictive that actions, activities, and processes don’t exist. That seems to give more credit to nouns than to verbs, adjectives, and adverbs — and would justify that seemingly arbitrary choice?

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  34. Kantian Naturalist:
    I wouldn’t want to countenance an ontology so restrictive that actions, activities, and processes don’t exist. That seems to give more credit to nouns than to verbs, adjectives, and adverbs — and would justify that seemingly arbitrary choice?

    That restrictive approach would also entail that faith doesn’t exist – a position I think some here would dispute.

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  35. Erik: Ready to drop your false assumption?

    It is not a false assumption. It is a preferred way of speaking.

    Yes, you are entitled to have different preferences.

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  36. Kantian Naturalist: If minds are activities, then surely they exist!

    Minds are not activities. In ordinary speech, minds are the things that produce the activities. However, that ordinary speech leads to much confusion about minds, which is why I think it better to say that minds don’t really exist.

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  37. Neil Rickert: Minds are not activities. In ordinary speech, minds are the things that produce the activities. However, that ordinary speech leads to much confusion about minds, which is why I think it better to say that minds don’t really exist.

    I don’t think it’s at all obvious what “ordinary speech” shows or doesn’t show.

    Gilbert Ryle, in The Concept of Mind, argues that what we’re talking about when we talk about mental life include episodes or acts of perceiving, thinking, willing, imagining, etc and that these are expressed in sentences like “I just remembered I need to buy milk” or “I wish I were somewhere else right now”. Wittgenstein makes similar points in Investigations about the use of mental vocabulary.

    Ryle famously lampoons the Cartesian conception of mind as a “ghost in the machine”. I certainly don’t think that there are minds in that sense. But I also don’t think the Cartesian conception of mind is at all intuitive or conveys the ordinary-speech conception of mind — if it did, Descartes would be much easier to teach!

    Not probative but indicative: my students find Descartes very difficult, and I think this is precisely because he is revising a religious (in fact, Christian) conception of the soul — more specifically, he maintains that the nutritive and sensitive parts of the Thomistic soul can be eliminated in favor of a mechanistic conception of the body. My students find Descartes’s mind-body dualism perplexing and not at all obvious.

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  38. Kantian Naturalist,

    Your example sentences do not contain the word “mind”.

    I don’t have any problem discussing thinking, reasoning, etc. It’s when people specifically reference “the mind” that we see confusion.

    Often, it would be better to talk about “the person” rather than about “the mind”.

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  39. Neil Rickert: Your example sentences do not contain the word “mind”.

    I don’t have any problem discussing thinking, reasoning, etc. It’s when people specifically reference “the mind” that we see confusion.

    Often, it would be better to talk about “the person” rather than about “the mind”.

    Sometimes it would be, maybe. But not obviously so in every case. After all, we do talk (more or less coherently) about “mental disorders” and “mental illnesses”. I don’t see how one could gerrymander language so that “mental” is OK as an adjective but “mind” is prohibited as a noun.

    Alan Fox: Yes. But we have to allow freedom of thought and expression; the right to be wrong, surely?

    Of course!

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  40. Alan Fox:
    Flint,

    I rest my case.

    Uh, except there was no dispute about matter converting to energy. The question was, does energy ever convert to mass. I kind of gathered from some superficial reading that this may have occurred during the first 10^ -12 seconds after the big bang, but I didn’t understand the mechanism. Wikipedia says before that time, there was a quark-gluon plasma, and by 10^ -6 seconds quarks had glommed together to form baryons and leptons. So maybe quarks never actually formed, and all the universe’s matter was present from the instant of the bang.

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  41. Neil Rickert: It is not a false assumption.It is a preferred way of speaking.

    Yes, you are entitled to have different preferences.

    From your preferred way of speaking it follows that Neil Rickert is a fiction. Likely a useless fiction, but let’s allow you this preference.

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  42. Flint: Uh, except there was no dispute about matter converting to energy.

    Fair enough.

    The question was, does energy ever convert to mass. I kind of gathered from some superficial reading that this may have occurred during the first 10^ -12 seconds after the big bang, but I didn’t understand the mechanism. Wikipedia says before that time, there was a quark-gluon plasma, and by 10^ -6 seconds quarks had glommed together to form baryons and leptons. So maybe quarks never actually formed, and all the universe’s matter was present from the instant of the bang.

    If there was a big bang rather than big bounce. I was thinking that E=mc^2 might be like a chemical equation which will settle at an equilibrium at some pressure and temperature but can be driven in either direction by removal of products or reactants. Given an excess of energy contained in a small space, could matter be created and ejected. Any physicists lurking?

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  43. Allan Miller:

    Me: Jolly good. How does it get there?

    Charlie: This question shows that you are thinking in terms of Newtonian time and space. Minds are not physical objects.

    Declaring it so don’t make it so. But more than that, whatever minds are made of, their actions have physical consequences. So I don’t think a demand for causality at some point in the chain is inappropriate. Somehow, the mind of Bird X causes it to utter the same call as Bird Y, or build a similar nest or whatever. You reject (arbitrarily IMO) the possibility that their common activity derives from common genetics. So you appeal to something that sounds like telepathy

    You are imagining the mind to be embedded in the body. I would say that mind and body are two aspects of the same thing. As with thunder and lightning, neither is embedded in the other but they are two aspects within the one activity.

    There is no need to invoke telepathy between birds if they both express the same reality to which they belong. Darwin and Wallace or Newton and Leibniz did not require any telepathic connection to develop the same understanding. Opinions may differ but true thoughts unify and are a unity. True thoughts are singular no matter how many minds hold them.

    Truth is a unity and it is because of the way in which we are constituted that entities which are connected are at first perceived by us as separate. Knowledge is the process by which connections are made and unity is restored.

    Bird X and bird Y share habits because they partake of the one essential unity. And by unity I don’t mean unified sameness, I mean unified wholeness.

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  44. Allan Miller:

    Certain migratory habits spring to mind.

    Does migration provide a benefit to the organisms that do it, such that they pass on their genes more often than historic lineages that did not? If so, there is at least the potential fof a ‘Darwinian’ explanation. You seem to be drawing quite a sharp dichotomy between ‘behaviours’ and all other aspects of a species held in common: NO behaviour is genetic, so a brand new cause needs inventing.

    How far down does this prejudice reach? Earthworms? Flatworms? Nematodes?

    Where I live songbirds of the same species do not always have the same habits. Some overwinter here while other conspecific birds remain here. Having flexibility and ranges of behaviours within species is a wise move to ensure the continued survival of that species. Descent is not about abstract isolated genes, it is about the reality of whole organisms passing through the generations.

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