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The two-facedness of biology

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Obvious Leo
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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Obvious Leo » January 5th, 2015, 6:10 am

Misty wrote:Minds observe nature/purpose.
Minds do not observe anything. They receive information via the senses and construct this information into a meaningful representation of their external environment. Thus purpose is a construct of mind, not of nature.

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Misty
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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Misty » January 5th, 2015, 6:14 am

Obvious Leo wrote:
Misty wrote:Minds observe nature/purpose.
Minds do not observe anything. They receive information via the senses and construct this information into a meaningful representation of their external environment. Thus purpose is a construct of mind, not of nature.

Regards Leo
Like I said, minds observe their surroundings, we all know the process. What about the rest of my previous post?
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2015, 6:38 am

Obvious Leo wrote:The point that seems to be being missed here is that it is LIFE itself that evolves. The fate of its component parts is a trivial irrelevance, as good an argument against intelligent design as one could wish for. "Pitiless indifference" is an accurate enough description but an emotion-laden one. Applied to a self-organising system it is simply anthropomorphic and meaningless
True, that's the big picture, but we live in a personal world with personal concerns. Don't you? :). From our perspective nature is pitiless - earthquakes, storms, floods, bushfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, asteroids and sink holes show no mercy. Nature occasionally crushes us like a SUV running over a small lizard.

No living creature being eaten alive would be comforted by the fact that their suffering is mere collateral damage in the grander story of life. We don't mourn for our anonymous early forbears thousands of years ago huddled in caves, who acted as a link in the chain leading towards us today, but they and theirs did obviously mourn their losses.

A person living in the wrong part of Beijing in 2007 may have understood the Chinese government's need to bulldoze their homes to make way for Olympic Games infrastructure, but they were surely entitled to complain about their situation. By the same token, we may appreciate our tiny role as a link in the chain of life, but we are entitled to be unimpressed when entropy happens to us. RD was just empathising with the animals and I agree with his sentiments, for what it's worth.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated—Gandhi.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Obvious Leo » January 5th, 2015, 6:38 am

Misty wrote: What about the rest of my previous post?
I felt that I'd already covered it, Misty. You with your mind see purpose built into nature whereas I with my mind see only an overall trend towards complexity. Since evolving systems cannot behave otherwise I see no need for purpose. All this proves is that different minds see different things, a truth which hardly needs telling. If you want to turn this into yet another argument about intelligent design then you can count me out. Getting older has little to recommend it but one of the few upsides is that we learn the meaning of the word "futility".

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Misty » January 5th, 2015, 6:50 am

Obvious Leo wrote:
Misty wrote: What about the rest of my previous post?
I felt that I'd already covered it, Misty. You with your mind see purpose built into nature whereas I with my mind see only an overall trend towards complexity. Since evolving systems cannot behave otherwise I see no need for purpose. All this proves is that different minds see different things, a truth which hardly needs telling. If you want to turn this into yet another argument about intelligent design then you can count me out. Getting older has little to recommend it but one of the few upsides is that we learn the meaning of the word "futility".

Regards Leo
No, Obvious Leo, you did not address it - you side-stepped it. You want it both ways but that won't work. I asked about a previous comment you made about God that now contradicts your comment about nature.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Obvious Leo » January 5th, 2015, 7:00 am

Greta wrote: RD was just empathising with the animals and I agree with his sentiments, for what it's worth.
So do I Greta and I agree with the rest of your post as well. I'm a nature lover and live in the middle of a forest surrounded by wildlife. Only a few nights ago I watched an owl take a possum off the power lines across the road. I shed a tear for the poor wee bugger and also managed to admire the owl for his skill. Since I'm not a vegetarian any other response would have been sheer hypocrisy. Being a realist is not the same as being cold-hearted, I hope you'll agree.

Misty wrote: Then why would you call the workings of the universe including our bodies flawed and if created by a God that he/she was inept about it?
Is this the comment you're referring to? If so you're taking me far too literally. Since I deny the existence of your creator god you may assume that any commentary I offer on his competence is facetious. However I must observe that a half-pissed engineering student with a smattering of biology could design a more efficient human being with his eyes shut. This is also a facetious statement.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Misty » January 5th, 2015, 7:09 am

Obvious Leo wrote:
Misty wrote: Then why would you call the workings of the universe including our bodies flawed and if created by a God that he/she was inept about it?
Is this the comment you're referring to? If so you're taking me far too literally. Since I deny the existence of your creator god you may assume that any commentary I offer on his competence is facetious. However I must observe that a half-pissed engineering student with a smattering of biology could design a more efficient human being with his eyes shut. This is also a facetious statement.

Regards Leo
OK. I now understand you in a different light. I will be more careful not to take you literally. I tend to take people by their word. I do so enjoy interaction with you.

Humans depend on the purpose of nature for their very life. So to say nature has no purpose is not true.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

Obvious Leo
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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Obvious Leo » January 5th, 2015, 7:23 am

Misty. In general I prefer it if people do take me fairly literally. However in the context of this particular conversation I would have thought that the metaphorical nature of my comment was obvious, given that my views on the existence of the creator are no secret. Perhaps my schtick is getting too subtle.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Greta » January 5th, 2015, 7:37 am

Greta wrote: RD was just empathising with the animals and I agree with his sentiments, for what it's worth.
Obvious Leo wrote:So do I Greta and I agree with the rest of your post as well. I'm a nature lover and live in the middle of a forest surrounded by wildlife. Only a few nights ago I watched an owl take a possum off the power lines across the road. I shed a tear for the poor wee bugger and also managed to admire the owl for his skill. Since I'm not a vegetarian any other response would have been sheer hypocrisy. Being a realist is not the same as being cold-hearted, I hope you'll agree.
Yes. The cruelty of nature astonishes me. The expendability of each form. The way they perish. The untreated wounds, parasites, the lack of shelter or hygiene, the privations, watching their young being eaten, being eaten by their young, eating their young ... even as I type millions of creatures are having their guts sucked out or chewed on. Never mind the hundreds of human deaths and countless physical and emotional hurts experienced while this post is being written.

At the same time, being alive at all would seem something for which to be profoundly grateful.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated—Gandhi.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Londoner » January 5th, 2015, 8:00 am

Being a realist is not the same as being cold-hearted, I hope you'll agree.
I'm not sure I do.

A realist would simply observe that things change. We accept this about most of the material world - we would think it very odd to get sentimental over the evaporation of water or the erosion of pebbles on the beach. We rarely get sentimental about the death and decay of plants. So why would a realist think it appropriate to have feelings about an arbitrary selection of vertebrates?

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Misty » January 5th, 2015, 8:05 am

Obvious Leo wrote:Misty. In general I prefer it if people do take me fairly literally. However in the context of this particular conversation I would have thought that the metaphorical nature of my comment was obvious, given that my views on the existence of the creator are no secret. Perhaps my schtick is getting too subtle.

Regards Leo
I will try again. You and all humans use nature to sustain your life so how can nature be without purpose? The nature of nature engages its purpose by all life.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Theophane » January 5th, 2015, 8:21 am

Obvious Leo wrote:The point that seems to be being missed here is that it is LIFE itself that evolves. The fate of its component parts is a trivial irrelevance, as good an argument against intelligent design as one could wish for. "Pitiless indifference" is an accurate enough description but an emotion-laden one. Applied to a self-organising system it is simply anthropomorphic and meaningless but applied to a creator god it is nothing short of barbaric. The god of the creationists is a sadist.

Regards Leo
Well then, Leo, what's the use in complaining about the pitiless indifference of a self-organizing system?

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Obvious Leo » January 5th, 2015, 9:06 am

Misty. Surely you're the one being metaphorical this time. I understand what you mean when you say that we as humans"use" nature, and its also fair to say that as the uber-predator we don't use nature very wisely. It strikes me as unwise because we are embedded within it and treating it as an inexhaustible resource can only bode ill for our own future well-being. The autopoietic nature of living systems means that they are self-regulating and where local environmental stresses occur various such self-regulating mechanisms can initiate to restore homeostasis, which is just a fancy word in biology for equilibrium. Once again being entirely anthropomorphic and metaphorical we could say that if we get too big for our boots then nature will find a way to put us back in our place.

There is ample evidence that this is already occurring. The incidence of auto-immune disorders in the human population has increased by 1000% in the past two generations. The immune system is the biological interface between us and our biosphere and when the biosphere is stressed the rate of evolution in the microbiome is accelerated. We are host to tens of thousands of different species of micro-organisms, most of which are crucial to our biochemistry. If we mess with their environment they will evolve strategies to deal with it and because they reproduce so quickly they can do so very rapidly. The so-called superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, are an excellent example. Under certain conditions a bacterium can modify 30% of its genome in 24 hours, mostly through lateral gene transfer. This means that in the space of a day a bacterium can make a genetic change greater than if a human were to turn into a banana. ( This is literally true, not metaphorically true on this occasion. ). That's how quickly evolution can occur in the microbiological world and this can cause rapid and major changes in the host organism, including death of course. Under environmental stress microbe species will also change hosts from one species to another, a problem which in recent decades has caused untold problems for our own species. (HIV, Ebola, Bird flu, Swine flu, SARS etc.)

Nature doesn't need a purpose to effect all these changes because to assume this is to assume reverse causation. All she needs is simple thermodynamics. A system out of equilibrium seeks to restore itself to its lowest energy state, so in this sense nature is no different from a non-living physical system.

There's a lot of good literature available on this subject because evolutionary biology has come a long way in the last couple of decades. I'd be happy to provide you with a short list of very readable titles if you're interested.
Misty wrote:The nature of nature engages its purpose by all life.
This is an arresting quote and could just as easily be applied to my perspective as yours.

Regards Leo

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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Misty » January 5th, 2015, 12:53 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:Misty. Surely you're the one being metaphorical this time. I understand what you mean when you say that we as humans"use" nature, and its also fair to say that as the uber-predator we don't use nature very wisely. It strikes me as unwise because we are embedded within it and treating it as an inexhaustible resource can only bode ill for our own future well-being. The autopoietic nature of living systems means that they are self-regulating and where local environmental stresses occur various such self-regulating mechanisms can initiate to restore homeostasis, which is just a fancy word in biology for equilibrium. Once again being entirely anthropomorphic and metaphorical we could say that if we get too big for our boots then nature will find a way to put us back in our place.

There is ample evidence that this is already occurring. The incidence of auto-immune disorders in the human population has increased by 1000% in the past two generations. The immune system is the biological interface between us and our biosphere and when the biosphere is stressed the rate of evolution in the microbiome is accelerated. We are host to tens of thousands of different species of micro-organisms, most of which are crucial to our biochemistry. If we mess with their environment they will evolve strategies to deal with it and because they reproduce so quickly they can do so very rapidly. The so-called superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria, are an excellent example. Under certain conditions a bacterium can modify 30% of its genome in 24 hours, mostly through lateral gene transfer. This means that in the space of a day a bacterium can make a genetic change greater than if a human were to turn into a banana. ( This is literally true, not metaphorically true on this occasion. ). That's how quickly evolution can occur in the microbiological world and this can cause rapid and major changes in the host organism, including death of course. Under environmental stress microbe species will also change hosts from one species to another, a problem which in recent decades has caused untold problems for our own species. (HIV, Ebola, Bird flu, Swine flu, SARS etc.)

Nature doesn't need a purpose to effect all these changes because to assume this is to assume reverse causation. All she needs is simple thermodynamics. A system out of equilibrium seeks to restore itself to its lowest energy state, so in this sense nature is no different from a non-living physical system.

There's a lot of good literature available on this subject because evolutionary biology has come a long way in the last couple of decades. I'd be happy to provide you with a short list of very readable titles if you're interested.
Misty wrote:The nature of nature engages its purpose by all life.
This is an arresting quote and could just as easily be applied to my perspective as yours.

Regards Leo
"This is an arresting quote and could just as easily be applied to my perspective as yours." No, it can't Leo because your perspective does not believe nature has a purpose.

Auto immune diseases and chronic illnesses are manmade maladies. It is starting to come to light and instead of the current medical nonsense and Big Pharma lies, humans are and will honor the human body and mind for its intelligence to heal itself with the right nutrition and life force of water.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

Obvious Leo
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Re: The two-facedness of biology

Post by Obvious Leo » January 5th, 2015, 4:31 pm

Misty wrote:Auto immune diseases and chronic illnesses are manmade maladies.
What was his purpose for making them and how did he get nature to co-operate? If you'd said man-caused instead of man-made then we're saying the same thing. Did we anticipate our own future state and then engineer the appropriate circumstances to bring this state about? That's what purpose is and to suggest that nature has such a capacity is an extraordinary claim which would require extraordinary proof.

Regards Leo

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