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#115616 - 12/09/2002 00:52 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3137
Loc: Portland, OR
My problem with all theological arguments is that the believers often fall back on this as an axiom, as he does:

Because if it turns out to be a 0, then we really are the slaves of our selfish genes, and there's no basis for morality other than various forms of tribalism.


Having read, and re-read what Larry wrote there, I don't think he's falling back on that as being axiomatic. Looking at the statement in the greater context (the paragraph above), I think he was pointing out that a-religious (i.e. agnostic) people are unwilling to examine their faith because the possibility that morality may not be derived from some god is unpalatable, yet if there is a god, then they think they have to accept all the crap that comes along with "religion" -- crap which is just as unpalatable.

B doesn't have anything to do with morality -- it has to do with God taking care of those who search Him out. Thus, when you say "drop morality from the argument", that doesn't just leave A -- it leaves A and B, since B isn't about morality to start with. If A is 0, then B is meaningless. If A is 1, then B can be either 1 or 0. B is meaningless only in the absence of A.

Anyway, his point wasn't to argue about whether God exists, but to a) get an admission that the idea of God is conceivable, and that b) his concept of God is of one who desires creativity.

Just a thought...

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#115617 - 12/09/2002 03:50 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: eternalsun]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
Do you agree that evolution is capable of being directed?

No, not in the sense of being remotely directed by the sheer will-force of some unseen being. Evolution occurs via well-documented, observable, natural processes.

Exhibit A: Geneticists and genetic engineering, monsanto, etc.
Exhibit B: Sexual reproduction, breeding, etc.


Those require direct physical interaction with the life forms. A breeder or a genetic engineer can't direct a mutation by wishing for it, he's got to actively do something physical to the life form to bring about the change. And it's a lot of work, as anyone in the field will tell you, and it leaves evidence in its wake.

Do you agree there are mechanisms of evolution that is very suspicious?

No, I do not agree. I don't see anything suspicious about the mechanisms of evolution. Most of it is very amazing and quite awe-inspiring, but not suspicious. And none of it requires remote-control influence by a supreme being in order to be possible.

I hadn't heard of some of the specific "suspicious" examples you cited. Can you provide links to information on these? I will also dig around the talkorigins site to see if any of them are mentioned there.

But to say it's self-defeating to theorize a control entity is just as well as pointing to a text that says the world was created 6000 years ago and accepting it as such.

Right, my point is that the two are equal. Theorizing a subtle "control entity" is just as farfetched as the 6000-years-ago "poof".

As for Option 3: I think you'll find there is a very wide and varied number of philosophies all bound up here.

Right, and I consider them all to be equal, regardless of how far they lean towards theology or towards science. If a supreme being can willfully alter a single DNA molecule, then all of science becomes pointless because all of the things we've discovered about physics, chemistry, and biology can be ripped right out from under our feet at any time.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#115618 - 12/09/2002 04:39 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5562
Loc: London, UK
...because all of the things we've discovered ... can be ripped right out from under our feet at any time.

Yeah, and the scientists can rearrange the maze at will, without letting the mice know. It's still valid for the mice to know where the cheese is in the maze's current configuration, though.
_________________________
-- roger

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#115619 - 12/09/2002 06:38 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
ShadowMan
addict

Registered: 09/06/1999
Posts: 544
Loc: Newfoundland, Canada
You guys have it all wrong, we are descendant from the survivors of some 15,000,000 people who were brought to this planet around 2,000,000 years ago.

_________________________
12 gig empeg Mark II, SN: 080000101 30 gig RioCar SN: 30103114 My blog

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#115620 - 12/09/2002 09:55 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: ShadowMan]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
The ones exploded by a nuclear weapon in a volcano?
_________________________
Bitt Faulk

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#115621 - 12/09/2002 09:58 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: wfaulk]
ShadowMan
addict

Registered: 09/06/1999
Posts: 544
Loc: Newfoundland, Canada
If so, then I haven't gotten that far yet... shhhh...

/me walks away sobbing
_________________________
12 gig empeg Mark II, SN: 080000101 30 gig RioCar SN: 30103114 My blog

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#115622 - 12/09/2002 09:59 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: ShadowMan]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
See, I thought you were making a Scientology reference. Whatever you're reading, that's probably not it. Unless you're working on your OTs.
_________________________
Bitt Faulk

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#115623 - 12/09/2002 10:02 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: wfaulk]
ShadowMan
addict

Registered: 09/06/1999
Posts: 544
Loc: Newfoundland, Canada
I know nothing about Scientology... being somewhat of an Athiest myself. So no, that's not it.
_________________________
12 gig empeg Mark II, SN: 080000101 30 gig RioCar SN: 30103114 My blog

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#115624 - 12/09/2002 10:28 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: wfaulk]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
I thought his response ("haven't gotten that far yet") was a perfect Scientology joke response. Figured you two were just having fun with the same topic.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#115625 - 12/09/2002 21:24 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: ShadowMan]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3137
Loc: Portland, OR
Well, if you don't know anything about Scientology, then this is the best place to start

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#115626 - 13/09/2002 14:26 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: canuckInOR]
ninti
old hand

Registered: 28/12/2001
Posts: 868
Loc: Los Angeles
> Well, if you don't know anything about Scientology, then this is the best place to start

If you don't know anything about Scientology...consider yourself lucky.
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Ninti - MK IIa 60GB Smoke, 30GB, 10GB

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#115627 - 13/09/2002 14:28 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: ninti]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
Heh, yeah. Of course, if you don't know anything about it, then you're rather ripe for the picking, aren't you? Education is a good thing, then.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#115628 - 13/09/2002 14:55 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Would you like a free personality profile?
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Bitt Faulk

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#115629 - 15/09/2002 12:19 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: ninti]
revlmwest
addict

Registered: 05/06/2002
Posts: 497
Loc: Hartsville, South Carolina for...
When I was in college the German government had written off Scientology as scam. Which is made even more interesting by the fact that Germany helps support all religion much more openly that other countries (cough, U.S.) Is there anyone from Germany who can comment about the present situation?
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Michael West

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#115630 - 15/09/2002 12:27 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: revlmwest]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
Yeah, hasn't Amway also been outlawed in Germany for pretty much the same reasons?

I like a government that doesn't put up with bullshit.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#115631 - 15/09/2002 12:36 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: revlmwest]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
The last thing I heard in relation to this was a year or so ago when the German government required Microsoft to remove a piece of software from the basic Windows distribution (I believe it was the defrag utility, but I could be wrong) because it had been written by a Scientology-based contractor for Microsoft. So I'd say that they're still quite hard on them. Here's an article on it.

_________________________
Bitt Faulk

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#115632 - 18/09/2002 01:01 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
eternalsun
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/09/1999
Posts: 1721
Loc: San Jose, CA
As far as I know, Amway is a legitimate company.

How do you explain http://www.amway.de/default.asp?lan=de ?

Calvin

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#115633 - 18/09/2002 01:02 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: ninti]
eternalsun
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/09/1999
Posts: 1721
Loc: San Jose, CA
I tried to follow the whole forest of links related to Scientology and it just made my head hurt. Ugh. Get away...

Calvin

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#115634 - 18/09/2002 01:31 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
eternalsun
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/09/1999
Posts: 1721
Loc: San Jose, CA
Let me reword the question. Do you agree there are functions and mechanisms built into the process of evolution that *allow* external influence and direction of the outcome of evolution? My answer to this is a definite *yes*. Evolution by definition is a mathematic function peak finder based on an externalized solution set. The various functions so far discovered in both artificial, electronic and biological evolution are all "natural" functions that allow better solution finding.

Every living creature might be considered as an "island" of a particular instance of dna, so to throw in the idea that each of these islands can be directed to change from one or more, known and unknown places is a real shocker. It's as if each living creature is networked to each other. Speculation aside, one of the fundamental tenets that allows evolution to operate is the random walk. I won't go into in depth explanations of random walk solution finding, but the gist of it is the dependence on a random variable. The interesting thing about randomness, is nobody knows what randomness really is. You might say that evolution is wrapped up in observable repeatable science, which for the most part is true, but deep down inside, it requires this element of randomness. Randomness, the more you think about it, is like magic. You harder you try to explain it, the farther away the explanation is. Perhaps what we perceive as randomness is something external?

I really doubt you'll find much in-depth knowledge on evolution on any theological site. They tend to point their noses away and wag their fingers at the stuff.

The ability of bacterial dna to reprogram the bacterial dna in other bacteria is well documented since the 1960s. You can find lots of stuff anywhere as far as I know. I think the earliest experiment was with e coli. Somebody engineered a strain of e coli that is incapable of digesting sugar by damaging the b-galactosidase mechanism. They then introduced a strain of normal e coli into the dish, and within minutes, the normal e coli transmited data to the damaged e coli, causing their dna to instantly upgrade and gain access to the b-galactosidase function. the broken e coli compiled this live, that means the evolutionary jump occured in the live organism. Neat eh? And there are *many* other mechanisms for doing this. These functions form the basis for modern genetic engineering -- that is to say, scientists now piggyback their code on top of these mechanisms to reprogram and remake their own versions of anything. This is why genetically engineered crops and germs are so frightening to ecologists, because mechanisms of a trans-species nature exist, that allow "innovative" functions to appear outside the original species, even without reproduction, then they should be worried.

The recent news is simply that apparantly higher order organisms (plants, animals, humans) are capable of transmitting innovation as well. Rare as this may be, it happens. The speculation is that such transmission functions form the basis of the concept of evolutionary leaps and the explanation of why missing links exist. (The archeological record shows that evolution occurs all at once, across the entire species). Even in computer simulations, evolution looks like a step function. Here is a far fetched example: As weird as it may seem, if one dude in Arkansas is born with say, X-ray vision, in a matter of a couple of generations everybody else will have the ability. Yet, on the other hand, if another dude is born slightly taller, or as a faster runner, there is no evolutionary leap. When an innovative function is "discovered" during evolution, who decides that this function is useful for the species as a whole, in such a manner that the code for it is transmitted out? Who knows?

By the way, the funny thing about Science, is the hidden understanding that when the next best explanation is discovered, it will out of necessity supplant and rip out by the roots the old way. Perhaps nothing in Science can explain what came before the big bang, but not knowing does not cause the current explanation of things to poof away either.

Calvin

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#115635 - 18/09/2002 10:31 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: eternalsun]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
Wow, that's a lot of links. I haven't followed all of them yet, but I will as soon as I get some time. I'm ripping through the BBS in "quick" mode this morning and don't have a lot of time to reply, but let me respond quickly to one or two small points.

Do you agree there are functions and mechanisms built into the process of evolution that *allow* external influence and direction of the outcome of evolution?

Although I understand what you're trying to say, you're using metaphorical words such as "built into" that don't apply to evolution (it wasn't built). I agree that external environmental factors can influence the development of a species, that's the definition of evolution.

It's as if each living creature is networked to each other.

Only indirectly, in the sense that each living creature on this planet affects its environment, and that the environment affect the evolution of all species.

Speculation aside, one of the fundamental tenets that allows evolution to operate is the random walk.

But evolution isn't random at all. Assuming that randomness is the root cause of evolution is missing the point.

Somebody engineered a strain of e coli that is incapable of digesting sugar by damaging the b-galactosidase mechanism. They then introduced a strain of normal e coli into the dish, and within minutes, the normal e coli transmited data to the damaged e coli

Very interesting! Of course, this was with observed mechanisms, not through the external mind control of an unseen entity. I will try to read up more on this experiment. Fascinating.

The speculation is that such transmission functions form the basis of the concept of evolutionary leaps and the explanation of why missing links exist. (The archeological record shows that evolution occurs all at once, across the entire species).

Sorry, you can't start pulling out those old chestnuts when they've already been argued to death. I could get into a complete discusison about the fossil record, missing links, punctuated equilibrium, etc., but I'd just be re-hashing a bunch of old arguments. Suffice it to say that I don't subscribe to the idea that evolutionary leaps happen in a single, or even a few, generations. Nor do I think that any major trait can be naturally transmitted among higher life forms by DNA-carrying bacteria. I don't think I'm going to inhale the fallout from my neighbor's sneeze and my eyes will miraculously change color (and the color of my children's eyes). The observed evolutionary changes to which your refer were not caused by the kind of DNA programming you cited in the e.coli experiment. There are plenty more mundane explanations for those.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#115636 - 18/09/2002 10:38 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: eternalsun]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
Oh, forgot to reply to one more point...

By the way, the funny thing about Science, is the hidden understanding that when the next best explanation is discovered, it will out of necessity supplant and rip out by the roots the old way.

This is not a hidden understanding. It is the most basic tenet of science itself. Science is constantly searching for better answers. Provided that there's testable evidence and that the questions are empirical ones.

Perhaps nothing in Science can explain what came before the big bang, but not knowing does not cause the current explanation of things to poof away either.

And just for the record, I'm not completely down with the whole Big Bang thing anyway. That's a pretty shaky one if you ask me. Our evidence about of the origins of the universe is sketchy at best. That's one of those areas of science where I expect to see changes in CW as time goes by.
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Tony Fabris

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#115637 - 18/09/2002 12:39 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3443
Loc: Guadalajara, MX
I dunno...the whole thing smacks of intelligent design to me. If we were to remove the encumberances of religion and society and take a non-biased look at things, it is much more reasonable to attribute the highly complex interactions in nature to design than to random chance.

But then again, that would make us accountable to the designer, and we can't have that, can we....
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~ John

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#115638 - 18/09/2002 12:59 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: JBjorgen]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
I dunno...the whole thing smacks of intelligent design to me.

Which is one valid point of view. I will concede that the universe could have been designed and created by a hyper-intelligent being who defined all of the natural laws that we currently observe, and then set things in motion trillions of years ago.

However, there is no evidence to indicate that such a being is currently influencing events in real-time. The universe continues to function as if it is not being controlled from outside.

it is much more reasonable to attribute the highly complex interactions in nature to design than to random chance.

Again, making the mistake that nature as we observe it, and the evolution that created it, was somehow random. It wasn't. Evolution is not random, it is quite selective.

If you don't understand the mechanisms behind evolution, you might think that this is contradictory and therefore indicates intelligent design. It doesn't. In fact, the more that you understand about how natural selection works, the more that you realize that ID is an unnecessary hypothesis.
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Tony Fabris

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#115639 - 29/09/2002 00:50 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
eternalsun
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/09/1999
Posts: 1721
Loc: San Jose, CA
I was out for a week, and just as I entered this forum, my browser crashed so I'm now hand-sifting through posts. Sad aint it?

My way of thinking is this, many of the basic processes of evolution is well understood enough such that they can be functionalized and described algorithmically. In fact, this is done by GA (genetic algorithm) researchers all the time. It's known that not all the functions of evolution has been discovered, and often times biological discovery feeds computational GA work, and vica versa. That said, when I say some function is part of the evolutionary process, I speak algorithmically, not metaphorically. Now, where it gets semi-mystical is *all genetic algorithms* are non-deterministic. That means if you execute the same process, with the same conditions, you will never get the same path to the answer. Sometimes you do not get an "answer" in that sense of it.

Reason for this, is the random walk. Random, and the random-walk is not the same thing. Evolution is not "random numbers" it is more like a random walk. I'm going to have to call bullshit on the claim that the evolutionary-mechanism-of-gradual-change-such-that-eventual-discovereries-for-environmental-problems-are-kept is *not* based on a random walk. Note, I did not say the evolutionary process is random. (see link in previous message describing random walk).

You'd think that each living creature is only "indirectly" networked to each other, but if you think about it, it's another way of saying that the environment is the network! :-) I'm not saying dna is connected to other dna by 802.11b, but suffice to say not all the mechanisms for cross-dna communications have been discovered. I heard that only recently were prion-like molecules, sub viral in size, have been found delivering "packets" :-). But for the most part, the standard mechanisms of code transfer (plasmids, viral agents, etc) are old hat. Some theorists have gone as far to say that perhaps these cross-dna communication systems over time have unintentionally taken on a life of their own. For example, viruses may have been a chain-letter style messaging system that allows innovation to be passed onto a species as a whole no matter where they are physically, but over time has been damaged and converted into self-perpetuating code. We've all seen it on the Internet, but evidence to this effect lies in the so-called "unused" portion of dna. We've all heard of large sections of dna that supposedly does "nothing" -- and analysis of the inactive dna shows ancestral viral code, viruses built into the human dna that resemble wild viruses out there today. This inactive code is theorized to be inactive communications code, perhaps waiting to be called() by some unknown source.

Tony, how can you believe in evolution, and not believe in evolutionary leaps? Do you not believe the archeological record and the computational evidence to this? One of the basic experiments in computational genetic algorithms is evolution of quicksort. You have a population of N algorithms that you breed with the hope that they will be capable of sorting a string of letters. Some of the individuals in the population evolve into non-optimal sorting algorithms, and many thousands of generations later, the funniest thing happens is quicksort appears out of literally nowhere. It just appears. If you graph this, it looks exactly like a step function. Evolutionary leaps. It does not always happen, and there are theories to explain why this happens. And when it happens it happens in a single generation. Richard Dawkins claims it is because several independent algorithms develop gradually, and then when they accidentally fit together in one generation it pops into place. (e.g. development of the human eye, flowers that look like bees, etc). There are mathematic explanations (structure of the underlying solution leads to quantum leaps in the fitness function due to natural peaks and plateaus) and network theory (part of a problem solved in several places, is synthesized into a complete solution by way of communications, and so on. I will readily acknowledge there are many known and unknown mechanisms behind evolutionary leaps (or quantum jumps or whatever), with the most rare type in higher-order creatures being evolution within the same generation, followed by evolution in a single generation. But for lower-order creatures this is much more common. My theory is just that higher order creatures have more safety/stability cushions to overcome. Anyway, while you might not subscribe to the concept of evolutionary jumps, they happen, it's well documented, and in many cases explanable. Without bringing a "god" into the equation at all, consider that a mechanism for sudden change in the same or next generation is an incredibly beneficial survival tool eh? Who is to say the process for activating it isn't scientifically explanable? Personally I don't care either way, since I'm agnostic about it all, but I do know there is a big fat hole in our knowledge regarding this part of evolution, and if there's ever a God playing the species for suckers he would be right there. :-p

Calvin

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#115640 - 29/09/2002 15:35 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: eternalsun]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31064
Loc: Seattle, WA
Tony, how can you believe in evolution, and not believe in evolutionary leaps?

I know that there can be rapid changes in a given species, these are seen in the fossil record. I just don't think that they are due to an outside influence tweaking their genes by remote control or viral reprogramming, I think they evolved through normal processes. Some traits faster than others, I just don't think that an entire species simultaneously starts giving birth to a radically different set of offspring all at once. (Although a friend told me about a sci-fi story on that subject once... )
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Tony Fabris

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#115641 - 29/09/2002 19:41 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: tfabris]
eternalsun
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/09/1999
Posts: 1721
Loc: San Jose, CA
But that's the crux of it --> to have some outside "force" or "being" (say, from outer space) manipulating the outcomes of evolutionary processes is like you say, unlikely. However, the setup is clear, the evolutionary process has mechanisms to induce and propogate innovation, and the *signal* to store or forward such changes comes from within. Like I said, God is just as likely to be directing the action from below as he is from above, as he is the God of all small things as well. The impetus or command does not have to originate from "above" and can as easily originate from "within." And since this particular area of evolution is particularly sketchy, there is no proof for or against.

It's really amazing actually, that probably a few decades ago evolution was thought to occur by small point mutations, possibly induced by environmental (chemical, radiation, food) factors. Today we know "random" point mutations have little to no overall effect in the big picture. Cross-over and transmitted code have larger effects on the other hand.

I think darwinists in general have polarized into two camps, the gradualists (evolution is slow and steady...) and the rest of the folks who think it comes in spurts and spats. I personally think that gradual change can happen, but is actually the rarer of the two types. Evolution is a survialist technique, and if something awful happens, say, a meteor strike, that alters the environmental conditions enough, survival of the fittest is moot, because there is no way to cause several thousand generations to occur really...

Calvin

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#115642 - 30/09/2002 05:30 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: eternalsun]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
I'm not an evolutionary expert by any means, but I don't think that the two theories you present are at odds.

Consider that random genetic mutations occur. In salad days, everything is going well, and there's not much impetus for one mutant to be better off than any other, but since the mutations are still randomly occurant, as long as they don't cause any harm, they continue happening. Then, all of a sudden, something bad happens, as it is wont to do. Suddenly, those thousands of years of mutations have something to do, and vast changes seem to happen all at once, because only one set of mutations help survive that crisis, whereas there's just been slow genetic mutation that generates a diverse population that is suddenly culled to a great extent down to only one specific population.

Just my two cents, and it's probably got a major flaw in it, anyway.
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Bitt Faulk

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#115643 - 03/10/2002 00:24 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: wfaulk]
eternalsun
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/09/1999
Posts: 1721
Loc: San Jose, CA
Some more rambles:

The old school of evolution theorized that change occurs via point mutations over a long period of time. All the good stuff collects and the bad stuff doesn't. Simulations and papers show that point mutation is more likely to cause a point of failure than something good. Picture:

A stretched rubber sheet, with peaks, probably caused by poking broomsticks from underneath. Imaginary plants are allowed to grow, and their genetics are very simple: the dna describes their x,y position on the sheet, and they are more likely to reproduce if at a higher elevation. If they are too low, they die quickly. If they are high they live long enough to reproduce. If the descendents of these plants changed only via point mutations, what you end up with is a semi-evenly spread out population of plants. If they reproduced by breeding, then very quickly you end up with clumps of plants around the peaks. Sometimes a plant will appear on the very peak, but its offspring will be downslope for sure. (ever notice how an Einstein only appears rarely, and offspring of geniuses are not necessarily geniuses?). Evolution it seems can do just fine without random mutations mucking things over. If you combine the two in certain ratios you have the effect of producing a more dynamic bell curve around the base of the peak, you get more smarties, and more fools too. The fools will appear far away and will quickly die. Some papers I've read explain that the evolutionary functions in our genes allow a certain amount of mutation in certain cases. Reason seems to be that breeding causes a population to quickly coalesce around a peak, or evolutionary niche, and if the environment significantly changes the whole population dies.... unless there's a bunch of farther ranging individuals... or if an evolutionary leap occurs .

To illustrate the rarity of mutations... DNA is like plain-text source code. Each gene or dna fragment is a separate source file intended to do a certain thing. RNA is like a run-time compiler. It reads the DNA and produces run-time code. Proteins are like executing threads. The RNA, being the compiler, has a complex system for verifying the validity of the code, and ensuring the integrity of the code. If a checksum fails, then a self destruct sequence can and often is initiated to destroy the cell. The dead cell is returned to the heap and a known working cell is forked off to replace the dead one. Also, many, maybe all, functions have redundancies on top of redundancies by way of competing variants of code. If there is an attribute (e.g. skin color) it is often encoded 10 different ways and ten different shades, and they are all "executing" simultaneously. This is like reading the same file using several methods and averaging the results and discarding bad values. A point mutation in any one place has neglible effects. Hence, mendelian genetics or the binary theory of genetics is insufficient to explain why a dark person + a fair skin person does not produce either/or. So when a point mutation occurs, not only does it have to be beneficial, it also has to pass the checksums, compete against existing code, beat the averages, *and* occur in a gamete cell to produce the offspring. So...very rare.

Not only that, there exists genetic code that does nothing but prevent the compilation of other fragments of code. If it does compile, then it's the equivalent of a kill thread script, effectively suppressing the appearance of another fragment of code. My theory is evolution is equally, if not more, likely to occur by deletion rather than addition. If humans originally had gills (as evidenced by vestigial gills in fetuses), and an evolutionary advantage occured in a code fragment that suppressed the gill gene, then this says two things.... 1) sometimes things get better by removing bored code and 2) dna must look exactly like my hard drive-- i don't have a use for that anymore, uninstalled but will keep the original somewhere in C:\temp, maybe i'll need it someday... That means dna is not only current source code, it is it's own historical archive of previous known good code with a crazy system of preventing code from running. (hey! linux and windows xp both have lots of extra stuff installed, most of which never run).

So if dna is saddled with its own storage system (genetic memory), then it is not a big jump to state machine, and from state machine to computer. DNA is shown to be able to talk to other DNA so it is networked. If it has current stable code, a library of other code, ability to communicate, ability to compile and execute, ability to checksum and all sorts of neat stuff like that.... (this part is not proven, and hence, it is as likely to be God pushing bits around as any) it's not a huge jump to theorize:

1) since genes can be downloaded, why can't genes be downloaded all the time and stored.

2) why not analyze the current environmental conditions and pass such state around on a species basis. if the environment is gradually changing, insert snippet of code into offspring. if the offspring dies, oops, don't do that again. Since the systems are redundant, an extra gene to encode for skin color, e.g. (ability to tan darker) will average in. Since there seems to be a handful of code fragments for every function, it may be evidence of a parental program developing possibilities (e.g. why children are so different from parents sometimes?)

3) if environmental conditions *suddenly* change, look for an appropriate peice of code to answer the environmental conditions, e.g., does such code already exist in the dormant area? if so, activate it immediately. if the current individual doesn't die, transmit the discovery to the species and initiate an evolutionary leap.

Calvin

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#115644 - 03/10/2002 05:59 Re: Larry Wall mini-treatise [Re: eternalsun]
Anonymous
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Programming DNA would take some mad coding skills.

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