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EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS Personal Research 1 Why Intelligent Design Isn't Very Intelligent.

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Presentation on theme: "EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS Personal Research 1 Why Intelligent Design Isn't Very Intelligent."— Presentation transcript:

1 EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS Personal Research 1 Why Intelligent Design Isn't Very Intelligent William P. Hall (PhD - Evol. Biol. Harvard 1973) Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church 23 November EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF SPECIES AND ORGANIZATIONS

2 Personal Research 2 More information  More information on this and related topics may be accessed via my personal web page:  See items 8 through 12 on my Essays and Sketches page: knowledge.net/Index/Essays/drafts_and_sketches.htm that all discuss intelligent design vs natural selection.http://www.orgs-evolution- knowledge.net/Index/Essays/drafts_and_sketches.htm –#8 provides drawings of various eyes ranging from single cells to camera eyes. –#9 includes drawings of marine larval experimentation with new body plans, including some likely stages in the evolution of the vertebrate body plan. –#s 10, 11 and 12 are the introduction and first two parts of what was intended to be a 6 part (including the introduction) refutation of intelligent design. The last three parts have not yet been written given that I became heavily involved in original research activities and though that the time was better spend on my own original work. However, –Part 3 of the sketch has been provided by my current research papers: see: Organisational autopoiesis and knowledge management; Biological nature of knowledge in the learning organization; A biological theory of knowledge and applications to real world organizations and an expansion of material presented in #15. Organisational autopoiesis and knowledge management Biological nature of knowledge in the learning organization A biological theory of knowledge and applications to real world organizations –Part 4 is addressed by a manuscript I wrote in Is the Plastid an Endosymbiont.Is the Plastid an Endosymbiont –Part 5 was intended to extend some ideas from the 1966 paper and combine things I learned from teaching invertebrate zoology courses.

3 Personal Research 3 Outline  Introduction –The problem (ID debases science when we most need it) –Who am I?  Science (what is it, why do we need it?)  "Intelligent" design argues from ignorance  Irreducible complexity is real  Complexity evolves, it doesn't need to be created  The camera eye  Cellular locomotion

4 Personal Research 4 Introduction  Calling ID a science debases rational science –Human impact on the world needs scientific action –Fear of future fuels anti-science & magical thinking  What do I know about evolution, philosophy and ID? –Physics background –Trained as an evolutionary biologist (PhD Harvard 1973) –Science educator from –2 yr postdoc epistemology & history of science –From 1980 to now practicing as a documentation and knowledge management systems analyst research advisor with 2 PhD students finishing this year

5 Personal Research 5 What is science? (1)  Conflict between science and metaphysical dogma –Physics makes no claim to know the unknowable Through science we can understand our world based on knowable "universal" "laws" –Other modes of belief assume arbitrary "divine" intervention makes the world what it is God is unknowable bad things are "acts of god" faith that someone greater will clean up the mess we make or that we will go to a better world  Human life on Earth is imperiled by overpopulation, habitat destruction, climate change, rising sea levels –No evidence that a doting parent will pick up after us –We are responsible for our own lives and mistakes  By understanding the problems we can work towards solutions  Calling ID science debases science

6 Personal Research 6 What is science? (2)  My view of science based on Sir Karl R. Popper 1972 "Objective Knowledge" and later work –There is an external reality –We can know the truth (correspondence theory of truth) –We can never prove a claim to know is true / or false –Fallibilism of human ideas about the world –Knowledge grows through speculation, criticism and error elimination –Popper's "general theory of evolution" –"All life is problem solving"  Illka Niiniluoto 1999 "Critical Scientific Realism" –Detailed comparison of different belief systems –Validation of Popper's approach  Intelligent design is an based on –arguments from ignorance –faith

7 Personal Research 7 Irreducible complexity (1)  Irreducible complexity - the fundamentalist "wedge" also good science –Living things are too complicated to be predicted by the laws of physics Erwin Schrodinger (1944): What is Life (Nobel Prize) Michael Polanyi (1968): Life's irreducible structure (near Nobel) Paul Davies (2004): Emergent biological principles and the computational properties of the universe –the properties of living systems cannot be deduced from the properties of molecular components alone. –the universe never contained, and never could contain, more than about bits of information. –100 amino acids can form more than different protein configurations (a small protein)  ID argues that because complex life cannot be predicted from rules of atoms and molecules that it could not have evolved

8 Personal Research 8 Irreducible complexity (2)  Intelligent design is at best an argument from ignorance –We cannot explain how life evolved –Thus, life must have had an "Intelligent Designer"  The argument can be easily falsified with knowledge  Where does complexity come from? –Illya Prigogine (1955) Introduction to the Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes (Nobel Prize) –Herbert Simon (1962) The architecture of complexity (Nobel Prize) –Harold Morowitz (1968) Energy Flow in Biology –Stuart Kauffman (1993) The Origins of Order  Popper's general theory of evolution –no claim that evolution ever finds optimum solutions to anything - only that the worst solutions are eliminated –corresponds to Herbert Simon's concept of bounded rationality: satisficing rather than optimising –Complexity theory argues that optimum solutions in a complex world are incalculable

9 Personal Research 9 Emergence of complex systems  The emergence of hierarchical levels of complexity –Stanley Salthe (1985) Evolving Hierarchical Systems (2004) Spontaneous origin of new levels in a scalar hierarchy –Triadic view of emergent complexity in scalar (nested) hierarchies Level of interest = the focal level Universal laws at a lower level describe what is theoretically possible and provide initiating conditions (e.g., a flux of energy that is being dissipated as it is conducted from source to sink) Circumstances at a higher level provide boundary conditions and constrain what is practically possible (i.e., problems of life at a particular place in time in the environment) Evolution solves the problems of life with the first workable solution thrown up by chance (ref. Kauffman)

10 Personal Research 10 Some more background  Most arguing for ID are clueless about the true diversity of living things –As a child I lived on a motor yacht in the estuaries and coastal islands off Southern California, spending more time in the water or peering through a microscope than watching TV –From through 1980 I taught the range of university zoology courses from biology of marine invertebrates and comparative vertebrate anatomy to classical and molecular genetics, cytogenetics, zoogeography and evolutionary biology –Hours spent peering through the sides of marine aquaria with stereo microscopes  Diversity of microscopic and near microscopic invertebrates exceeds macroscopic life by many times  Larval lifestyles and alternation of generations between asexual and sexual reproduction allows experimentation with body plans that are impossible for macroscopic organisms limited to sexual reproduction

11 Personal Research 11 Camera eye (see essays section of my web site)  ID says the human eye is too perfect to have evolved, but, –eyes are useful things –any light sensitivity is better than none  What exists now in nature –single celled protozoa sensitive to light –coelenterates and flatworms with photosensitive areas ranging from diffuse patches of sensitive cells to pigmented pits with directional sensitivity, to enclosed eyes containing lenses –molluscs "eyes" range from simple light sensitive spots to camera eyes at least as sophisticated as the human eye –polychaete worms ranging from simple eyespots to camera eyes and compound eyes –fruitfly compound eye shares genes in common with the human eye

12 Personal Research 12 Case 2 - origins of cellular motility (1)  Interest going back to 1966  Origin of life as an externally driven eddy in the flux between radiant energy or high temperature sources and heat sink of outer space –the stage of self-sustaining, self-reproducing dissipative systems leads inevitably to natural selection dispositional heredity codified heredity –competition for limiting resources carriers of energy structural materials  Two branches –chemosynthetic –mobile

13 Personal Research 13 Case 2 - origins of cellular motility (2)  Chemosynthetic lineage - make do with increasingly simple components in local environment –Complex electron transfer pathways (equivalent to long gear trains) –electric motors the way to go  Mobile lineage - move to where you can find higher quality food (e.g., other cells) –sol to gel transition of one type of protein –cellular ratcheting of actin and myosin –microtubules with ratchets –organised assemblies of microtubules –axopodia –flagella and centrioles –mitotic apparatus

14 Personal Research 14 The big issues  Many people fear the future  Many people fear responsibility –science is responsible for all the problems (true in a sense) Western science gave man dominion over the world Enabled affluence, economic and population growth –many want to believe that God will come back to Earth and fix everything –have faith and everything will be OK –attack scientific thinking that makes us doubt, and requires us to take responsibility for the messes we make  Without science –world will only support a few hundred million people –no automobiles, no electricity, no hot water (no pipes), dirt, disease, starvation  Intelligent design isn't very intelligent! It debases and denigrates the tools we most need to address very real problems in the world.


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