Monday, December 26, 2005

ahhhhh... so I was right!

I always had this strange gut feeling that pure drawinism wasn't going to be an acceptable explanation for our world. I agree that in theory it could work, but I was never able to believe that the results we observe in nature could be justified from a numeric point of view only by natural selection. With this I mean that in my opinion natural selection simply couldn't have enough strength to make the human body (just for example) such an impressive machine.
Recently when my mother had a thrombosis problem I discovered things about how our blood works that I didn't know. Just the explanation of how our body reacts to an injury trying to prevent the losing of too much blood is impressive. Just that little bit is incredibly sophisticated and requires a very precise equilibrium... too much of a value and your blood is going to coagulate when there's no injury, and you die; a value too low and your body will not be able to stop losing blood from a little cut and you also die. Thinking that such a perfection comes by mere natural section doesn't seem to me reasonable.
Yesterday I stumbled in a page that explained that exactly the machinery required to coagulate our blood when needed is a part that is hardly justifiable by natural selection. It's a chain reaction of activations of proteins where no mistake and no misregulation is allowed, and so it's hard to justify how such a system could have been evolving one step after another because in that system you can't change just one variable, you have to change several at the same time to keep the balance. In other words the idea that the system has been reached by casual mutations that produced a sequence of organisms every one better than the previous one simply doesn't work; the intermediate ones would have been not better, and so they've no reason to survive. I don't know if I like the position of Intelligent Design (even if admittedly would make things a lot easier to explain; especially if you don't make the big jump of assuming the existence of a god but just that of someone - necessarily non-human, but not necessarily super-human - that is directing or has been directing the evolution) but I'm happy to see that at least to someone else the pure theory of evolution doesn't seem plausible.
Another doubt I always had since I was a kid is about glacial periods, I wonder if indeed even that area is seriously under discussion.


J. said...

So, down with evolution, and up with your Cousin Vinny did it instead?

You obviously have no sense of how ridiculous you sound.

6502 said...

I couldn't help notice how much the opposition to ID is made up with just ridiculization (mostly in the form of straw man tecniques). I didn't know anything about the ID debate in US until a couple of days ago, but so far after reading proposers and opposers of the explanation and after reading the trials recording about impeachment of Prof. Behe my impression is that opposers to ID don't have much real to say. Note, btw, that I really can't call myself a believer (I'm not) and that I personally don't see in ID a support of the christian view. As a math guy calling for someone to help does mean something different that requiring someone infinitely powerful, that lasted forever and created space and time and that requires you to bow and pray on sunday (or saturday or friday, for that matter) otherwise your aethernal soul will burn in the flames for eternity.
So far I'm reading about self-organization, may be that's a viable alternative theory. Surely it scares me the oppositors of ID just can't do anything but boo and hiss. I suppose in another age you'd propose to burn Prof. Behe because you don't like what he says...

Anonymous said...

Well if you look at a human body then there are a lot of other 'features' that are extremely complex. Just the blood circulation system in itself for example. Heart, veins etc etc... But it wasnt created in a few generations. Took billions of years. It is not as if suddenly we had blood vessels and needed some mechanism to control clotting. The clotting ability evolved together with the whole blood circulation system. Maybe the very first microscopic organisms that had anything resembling blood vessels died every time they got a cut, but they were reproducing at a very high rate so enough survived and over time clotting mechanism evolved? Just a theory.

6502 said...

This is exactly how natural selection is supposed to work. However that self-defence system is not just a little on/off part, but a combination of parts of which none is useful for anything in isolation. Moreover even with the proper machinery in place just an small unbalancing of the factors - i.e. a numeric change in the proportions - becomes easily lethal.
The probability that all those changes happened at the same time by chance is so low that assuming this is the explanation is more or less like assuming that if you find a pile of 20 quarters balancing after an earthquake it happened by chance.
I don't know if I like the ID idea (that someone actually placed the things in order), but for sure to me natural selection alone is not an acceptable explanation.
The sad part is that it's hard to find serious discussions on the topic. The pro-evolutions normally just make jokes instead of providing credible answers, and the anti-evolutions are unfortunately geometrically close to groups that basically ask you to shut off your brain and just have faith.