Re: Not enough info for your brain (was Re: Dawkins video)

Greg Billock (
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 09:34:24 -0700 (PDT)



> >> I agree, but it flies in the face of the argument presented by Intelligent
> >> design folks as proof that information is necessary for evolution to
> proceed.
> >
> >In the simplest case, for sure. Taking into account environmental
> >'information' seems more of a hard job than DNA information, even, so
> >it's hard to see what would come of such an attempt. Perhaps it would
> >be fruitful, though.
> but if you have information in the environment affecting development and
> morphology, then you are an evolutionist. :-) This is precisely what the ID
> folks are trying to evolve. And besides, information in the environment is
> fluid as opposed to their concept of a static set of info in the DNA.

:-) I see your point. (Although it looks like you may have meant 'avoid'
in the second sentence instead of 'evolve.') I think the interaction
between the genome and the outside environment is really interesting,
especially in terms of some evolutionary effects which come from that,
like the one (can't remember the name) which allows adaptive organisms
to see a smoother incline around an otherwise-sharp fitness peak by letting
them learn it. Also the 'pre-adaptive' sorts of effects which I think
are interesting, and so on.

[DNA as morse code]

> >As we've been saying, this is a hyper-simplistic view. (Even
> >in 1993.) Cells are tuned for the DNA they want to 'decode' and the
> >DNA builds up some of the decoding mechanism itself (meaning there is
> >a kind of blurriness about code and decoder).
> But this is there argument that it is too complex to have occurred and
> required a designer. While I agree that the universe had a Designer, I
> think the design was much more subtle than the way we humans design. In
> other words, they are anthropomorphizing God's technique of design.

The interaction between cell and genome seems to me likely *more*
complicated than a view in which the DNA is the code and the cell is a
kind of all-purpose DNA-decoding-machine. I think the tendency is to
forget that not only DNA is passed to offspring, but a whole cell, with
all its machinery and everything, and also a situation--a large
environmental situation in which the parent lived. This can include a
very complex social structure for some animals.