The Forum is provided for both SIS members and non-members to discuss topics relevant to the Society's work. It also provides the opportunity for non-members to ask questions about the Society’s work and/or published material.
All posts are moderated before inclusion. No attachments are permitted.


Postby John » Wed 17 Feb 2016 3:40 pm

John Kalber 19-6-2014
In discussing evolution I believe there are varying interpretations as to how and why species change and in particular why these changes seem to be guided - in the view of some - by the hand of God. I will make plain as I can my own interpretation.

For me, the concept of some super intelligence lurking somewhere in the universe does not arise. But, it is plain as a pikestaff that some guiding factor is most definitely at work! That guiding factor lies at the heart of the entirely natural process of evolution.

But, you may say, if the acts of Nature are blind, entirely without external guidance, how can they act intelligently?

My answer is: They don't! But in any living organism there are functions that are responsible for reproduction. In animals and plants these are the genes. These genes have, encoded in their makeup, the instructions that direct the cells, etc, in the body building process. These codes are generated in behaviours that are not fully understood, but they detail to the finest degree the part cells will play in body building.

From moment to moment the parent genes are approached by or exposed to the very simplest possible additional structures than can add to or alter the parent existing structure. This is because only the very simplest structures can form without some external input. Aside from effects generated by some entirely blind natural force or forces, (probably in the course of catastrophic happenings) no such external input exists. This process I refer to, is defended and controlled always by the nature of its presently existing internal mechanism, and conforms to the rules and accommodations that allow its parts to function as a whole. If absorption of a new structure creates an unacceptable conflict it will be rejected.

If a new addition is actually made, it must have conformed to the 'rules' and - almost certainly - caused a tiny additional adjustment that means that those rules are now slightly more complicated, (a process that might be thought of as a form of defensive behaviour).
With more complicated creatures this behaviour means that it becomes less and less likely that an 'addition' can be made. This explains why some creatures have such a long evolutionary history and why others have evolved in relatively minor ways over even millions of years. This is an ongoing process and can eventually result in the death of any animal or plant that has failed to make changes in its makeup to contend with contemporary conditions. Or, perhaps more likely, to achieve the kind of mutation that can enhance the opportunities of subsequent 'additions' being of a kind that will eventually add new, beneficial features to the whole creature. The creature is quite unknowing of this problem and may simply fail to survive the existing conditions. In this way, as the only 'additions' allowed are almost bound to be beneficial, the progress made will be mainly 'positive', causing some observers to think that an external guiding intelligence is at work.

My Theory

I believe that quite early in the process of evolution, a discrete and particular, probably chemical, sense of awareness developed in reproductive systems and does indeed act, to a limited extent, in the manner of a guide If this is so, it is particularly apparent in cases of otherwise inexplicable species survival, where extremely rapid but essential change has been seen and noted but presently lacks an explanation. The usual genetic adaption in successful offspring that allows their survival, does not normally occur at once, as it were in one generation. Such adaptation can evolve from scratch only in small preparatory steps over time (generations). The astonishing changes I refer to, have however occured, in one or at most, very few swiftly produced generations - otherwise the species would have died out.

I have such an explanation. It entails a totally natural methodology, which may perhaps be best thought of as a 'a library, a reference system' which is engaged only in response to a particular type of signal. I think it a thoroughly reasonable proposition, but its 'justification' is limited presently simply to the fact that it certainly happens. This being so, 'it' being a natural event, there must be a natural explanation. By its very nature, this 'explanation ' must be open to logical deductive reasoning and analogy with other known factors. Of course I may have failed to deduce it. Probably in common with many others I have had this 'idea' for many decades now, but only recently has biological science accepted the essential first condition for its actual possibility.

That 'first condition' is that at least some genes may be capable of storing a vast amount of information. We now know that there may be many thousands of genes in living systems. I believe this was not seriously considered as possible by the 'experts' until relatively recently.

It has for a very long time now, been my belief that every acceptable, viable genetic change put forward by nature, whether actually used or not, is encoded and sorted, by the species concerned, in its own genetic history. I think it highly probable that in all genetic events the encoding takes place first and only afterwards does what passes for a choice get made. Those records could by now be huge! This is startlingly true in the way reproductive cells of any life form can and will act so faithfully to reproduce its progenitor when creating offspring. How this information is actually recorded is quite beyond my imagining but well within my understanding!

In explaining the relatively occasional incidence of rapid mutation by a threatened species, I think that all genetic systems - including plant life - may respond to 'signals' that indicate the nature of a problem. In these cases, the information regarding the setting in motion of some necessary alternative structural change must be already present and complete in the genetic memory and then goes to form an integral part of the new offspring's makeup. Thus the species survives!

For example: it may happen that certain leaves that constitute the staple diet of a consumer species are subject to a period of disease, threatening the further existence of the plant and consequently, of any dependant consumer. This may, relatively rapidly, bring the consumer species to the point of extinction. Yet - in some cases - just as the consumer species nears the point of extinction, it transpires that it's (possibly final) offspring has developed the capacity to live on another leaf (or whatever) that earlier generations could not usefully digest.

This is a phenomenal development! A landmark, a lifesaving change in the consumers' biology, that quite coincidentally, presents as a form of foresight. It is positive in seeming to impose guidance on the whole genetic function. Evolution can, by virtue of the way it functions, continually seem to act as a guiding intelligence, but it is not. It's behaviour is a purely reactive and unthinking process, controlled in a virtually automatic manner by whatever environmental conditions act upon it. Nothing else. The thing that some people have failed to realise is that as only viable modifications are employed by the genetic systems, they can be only forward steps - successful or not, there is no way back!

It would appear most likely, even certain, that this change can occur so rapidly only where the genetic memory bank has detailed information about an earlier possible change (one that would have accommodated the other leaf) that was not implemented, even though it would have been acceptable to the genetic system. This might imply that when making its 'arrangements' the gene sometimes faces an either/or choice and will store unused information concerning an acceptable alternative, possibly because it cannot physically implement it at the time. There would be a form of pressure here in that perhaps the gene system has no method for rejecting the acceptable and is forced to compromise by 'filing it'!
It may well be that only some genetic systems work in this way and that is why relatively few such amazing, 'next generation' evolutions occur.

So, at this later extremely critical survival point, some 'needs must' action then triggers a substitution in favour of the bypassed system and institutes it as the dominant (or perhaps parallel) digestive process in offspring conceived after the incidence of the problem. There will probably be alternative mutations, but of course only the successful will survive. Mutations in already living creatures may, sadly, only be deleterious, even fatal, as any necessary enabling pre-conditions are not present in the body proper. This leaves to one side any coincident illness or injury that may be suffered.

Genes have no way of consciously knowing one thing from another when mutating to a more or less advantageous state. I feel sure that this process can therefore only be an ongoing, constant, never stopping action. So why are such mutations not more frequent? Whether the gene reacts to any such signals must depend on some presently unknown system of urgency or priority and, crucially, in its capacity to actually make the adjustments to its reproductive code before the species dies out.

As I have mentioned here (and in earlier essays), the evolutionary process, though blind, can accept only such new or changed processes that conform to the integral 'rules' that govern its already existing structure. Non conforming processes just cannot stick. The more the processes are successful the more complex and successful the recipient! And, consequently, the more restrictive its 'acceptance rules' become. Again, this makes it look as though it is benefitting from some exterior guidance, but these simple and inevitable logical processes do the job brilliantly!

With regard to changes brought on by disastrous events, a directed study of genetic changes found in the genes of such affected species (if possible) may prove quite interesting.

To make my ideas credible to the reader, not as simply possible, but as actually probable, I think it would be useful to justify the assumptions I make by setting out my grounds for them.

The first ground is that nothing exists or can exist outside the boundaries of natural law. There is no, nor can there be, any supernatural force whatever. This does not mean that the full extent and powers of known forces are as yet properly known or understood.

The second premise is that evolution is the blind action of genetic processes, one upon the other, and that by virtue of their composition and in accord with natural law, will from time to time act, or perhaps react, so as to produce an 'adjustment' that can work with that particular genetic process. Such 'adjustments' will only impart such a 'benefit' if the 'workings' of the 'addition' do not conflict with the already existing genetic structure. Over time a structure may embrace a huge variety of additional structures and become complex. This does not necessarily mean that the additional feature(s) themselves will prove to be in any way advantageous - they may be the opposite! If so, they and the host will very soon die. The advantageous may perhaps thrive, some will, as is demonstrated by every living creature, but there are no guarantees in natural existence.

Here it is important to pause and consider the nature of such complexity. How does an unthinking, unaware genetic process produce complexity. No unthinking process can cope with the choices involved in that second equation because it cannot make choices! It can accept only an already 'workable' very small whole. In evolution, the presently existing process, no matter how complex its current 'state', is a working whole. Only the very simplest 'additional' process that is compatible with the existing complex state of that genetic structure can be admitted entry. To be compatible it must itself be crudely simple, else its own complexity will deny it admittance.

This is why complex genetic features have taken so very long to form and often exhibit such wide disparity in their formation. There is no single directed selection system. Slight changes here and there that are unacceptable to one genetic system will probably be acceptable in other genetic systems. As was once commonly said, "There are more ways than one to skin a cat... And of course there are many similarly complex genes in other animals.

This almost timeless acquisition of very simple, often tiny - but acceptable - modifications to the genetic process is evidenced by the incredible, but very real human race! Everything in nature started out as basically dead simple and its complexity is the result of effectively automatic chemical and atomic processes piling each simple structure one upon another.

Mother nature offers a lesson to all thinkers. When researching a problem, find the simplest. most obvious, hopefully unarguable, basic facts without which the problem would not exist, then try to build in the most simple steps towards the actual outcome.

In my own case, this has meant training my mind to look only for basic, purely natural behaviours that achieve automatic results and do not engage multiple choices.

Purely natural problems: They are those whose actions stem from causes and behaviours that are totally unguided by any intellectual input and whose actions are determined by automatic responses to environmental conditions. Those conditions may well be affected by some kind of external intelligent influence from advanced animals such as Homo Sapiens! In those cases it is more difficult to be absolutely sure of how much of it is the purely natural behaviour of the 'Problem'.

When considering this aspect of evolution. it occurred to me that the amazing propensity displayed by some plants animals when threatened with extinction, to mutate within a generation or two into a more viable form, must surely relate to some pre-existing data held in the gene pool. As data, (or whatever) is normally built up over generations through tiny simple additions, a completed mutation in one generation would seem impossible without their being access to quite a lot of pre-existing usable information.

This phenomenon is real, so it is quite certain that this needed information must be available somewhere. That somewhere must be in the gene bank. We already know that the gene bank, or some related part of it, contains the information necessary to completely reproduce its mature kind, first in juvenile form and later into the mature being. God knows how many books this information would fill! On this scale, storing the knowledge of what has been on offer in the past may seem small beer.

Remember, ejaculated male spermatozoa number many millions and each one, assuming they are in a healthy condition, could if correctly 'engaged' reproduce a human being. If we say that such information would fill just one encyclopedia, the male houses millions and millions of such books, so simply storing potentially useful genetic possibilities would seem to represent no difficulty (at least to our understanding).

The next step, implementing the stored information, must entail the reproductive machinery receiving some message that triggers its behaviour. The only way such messages can be sent is by some chemical and/or electrical means. Whichever - I do not know - but my prejudice favours a chemical signal. This, with its implications, goes beyond what I can imagine. This type of 'limited' availability is quite a common feature in even similar flora and fauna and explains why some 'can' and others 'cannot', behave in certain ways.

I feel sure that in the past there have been rare mutations that in one generation present some viable and distinct new features, even new species, with very few or even no intermediary stages. These variations in genetic behaviour seem beyond the action of established DNA and will have been caused by some force exerted in catastrophic events that caused some genetic rearrangement to any affected creatures genes. This latter feature associated with catastrophic events is (sadly) generally ignored by 'scientists' yet provides the only logical explanation of changes in many areas of biology, geology and even cosmology.

More sadly, leading botanical scientists, such as Richard Dawkins (who is quite brilliant), but still clings to only the conventional gradualist explanations, discount the possibility that natural forces occasionally act to reorder the gene bank. There is no known positive evidence that proves (or disproves!) this idea, but to simply discount such history as seems supportive of a catastrophist interpretation, where just such specie changes and indeed new species have 'suddenly' appeared in the geological record, having taken place with little time for standard evolutionary processes, thus arrogantly limiting the capability of nature, is indeed presumptuous!

The Dawkins view is that the geological periods concerned may have been preceded by 'unsuitable' soft ages that have left little if anything in the way of mementos. Whilst this is true it is probable that future science may change all that. Who would have thought we'd be able to throw away our shovels and actually view civilisations buried eons ago!

I think it is a fact that the origins of memory are strictly chemical and our own self aware memory is a major advance that can evolve only in animal life forms. This animal behaviour is a breakaway from the processes of botanical life. If this is correct, it means that chemical memory may allow highly complex, organised chemical reactions that may not offer an intellectual interpretation and pass virtually unnoticed by us, but do in fact represent a level of chemical understanding, and that this is how plant life is induced to respond intelligently to changing conditions.

It seems likely that the type of 'understanding' generated by chemical signals is the prime mover even in human beings. This chemical process could account for the 'comprehended' minor changes we are subject to, where we cannot quite seem to get an intellectual grasp on things.
Posts: 48
Joined: Tue 25 Sep 2012 9:03 am

Return to SIS Discussion Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest