Convergent evolution Extraterrestrial life News

ET, call pretty much anywhere at THIS point

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Simon Conway Morris Especially call Simon Conway Morris (right). Collect, Cambridge.

From ScienceDaily:

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, the author of a new study on convergent evolution has claimed.

The argument is one of several that emerge from The Runes Of Evolution, a new book in which the leading evolutionary biologist, Professor Simon Conway Morris, makes the case for a ubiquitous “map of life” that governs the way in which all living things develop.

It builds on the established principle of convergent evolution, a widely-supported theory — although one still disputed by some biologists — that different species will independently evolve similar features. Conway Morris argues that convergence is not just common, but everywhere, and that it has governed every aspect of life’s development on Earth. Proteins, eyes, limbs, intelligence, tool-making — even our capacity to experience orgasms — are, he argues, inevitable once life emerges.

The book claims that evolution is therefore far from random, but a predictable process that operates according to a fairly rigid set of rules.

Okay. And the aliens?

If that is the case, then it follows that life similar to that on Earth would also develop in the right conditions on other, equivalent planets. Given the growing number of Earth-like planets of which astronomers are now aware, it is increasingly extraordinary that aliens that look and behave something like us have not been found, he suggests.

Well, of course, in evaluating the matter one should start by facing squarely the possibility that aliens aren’t found because they aren’t there.

They could just happen not to be there. We can’t command them into existence because they support our theory.

No? well, now things get odd.

“Convergence is one of the best arguments for Darwinian adaptation, but its sheer ubiquity has not been appreciated,” Professor Conway Morris, who is a Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, said.

“Often, research into convergence is accompanied by exclamations of surprise, describing it as uncanny, remarkable and astonishing. In fact it is everywhere, and that is a remarkable indication that evolution is far from a random process. And if the outcomes of evolution are at least broadly predictable, then what applies on Earth will apply across the Milky Way, and beyond.”

Yes, but the Darwinians seem firmly on the side of randomness, on this side of the Milky Way or the other, in this and any other universe.

If this is so, as the book suggests in its introduction, then it makes Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox — why, if aliens exist, we have not yet been contacted — even more perplexing. “The almost-certainty of ET being out there means that something does not add up, and badly,” Conway Morris said. “We should not be alone, but we are.”

No, something isn’t adding up, but…

“It makes people slightly uneasy that evolution can end up reaching the same solutions to questions about how to catch something, how to digest something, and how to work,” Conway Morris added. “But while the number of possibilities in evolution in principle is more than astronomical, the number that actually work is an infinitesimally smaller fraction.”

Yes, that’s true. And the usual way such solutions are reached is an intelligently guided search.

Rob Sheldon writes to say,

Simon Conway Morris draws conclusions from the ubiquity of convergent evolution.

“It makes people slightly uneasy that evolution can end up reaching the same solutions to questions about how to catch something, how to digest something, and how to work,” Conway Morris added. “But while the number of possibilities in evolution in principle is more than astronomical, the number that actually work is an infinitesimally smaller fraction.”

Given Dembski & Marks on the inability to find “something that works” with a random search, is Morris acceding to design? If not, how does his search work?

The book was published by Templeton Press. That may tell us something about the need to remain confusing on the question of whether a non-random search requires intelligence.

Here’s Conway Morris’s convergent evolution Map of Life.

Also, from Creation-Evolution Headlines:

He envisions planets filled with mushrooms, sharks, and other familiar things. The problem is: there’s no evidence. You can’t build a system from a sample of one, we’ve seen in the case of extrasolar planetary systems (7/05/14). In response, Conway Morris might argue that convergence here on Earth provides evidence for convergence in space. But this begs the question of whether convergent evolution is true. Other evolutionists deny it (see PhysOrg and PNAS, for instance), saying that evolution is radically contingent, unconstrained by any predictable process. Until there is evidence for extraterrestrials, SETI believers are lost in space, whistling in the dark.

Actually, these speculations are fun. But that’s all they are, until we get serious about information, intelligence, and design.

See also: “Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

and

How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?

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Note: Due to social misfortunes here and the resulting press of subsequent engagements elsewhere, comments have been discontinued for this post. – News

30 Replies to “ET, call pretty much anywhere at THIS point

  1. 1
    anthropic says:

    Now that we can estimate that there are 100 billion earthlike worlds out there just in the Milky Way, materialists often argue that this proves the Copernican Principle of Mediocrity. That is, the Earth is nothing particularly unusual or special.

    But it seems to me that the case for the Earth’s status is actually strengthened rather than weakened.

    Consider two cases. In case A, Arthur, a young English lad, comes across a sword somehow stuck in a large stone. Arthur tugs at the sword and it comes out. We thereby declare him special, perhaps even uniquely so.

    In case B, Arthur, a young English lad, comes across a sword somehow stuck in a large stone. One hundred billion other people have tried but failed to tug out the sword. Arthur tugs at the sword and it comes out. We thereby declare him special, perhaps even uniquely so.

    Question: Which belief in Arthur’s special status is more warranted, case A or case B?

  2. 2
    englishmaninistanbul says:

    Given the growing number of Earth-like planets of which astronomers are now aware, …

    That very premise is just so breathtakingly naive it’s not true.

    Don’t forget in this context “Earth-like” means “can sustain life as we know it, like Earth”. Just because you detected a star wobble and made an educated guess that there’s probably a rock out there that could have liquid water emphatically does not mean you’ve just found a planet on which life as we know it could thrive.

    Life could not thrive on this planet without prodigious quantities of water, a strong magnetosphere, a rotation-stabilizing moon, one or more large Jupiter-like planets that take one for the team while also keeping their distance, the right mix of gases in the atmosphere and so forth.

    At least people with multiverse theories have actually thought about all this. This guy? I guess he’s just been watching too much Star Trek. Or reading too many pop science magazines.

  3. 3
    Bob O'H says:

    anthropic – yes we’re finding more & more planets, but we don’t know how many have life on them.The reason aliens haven’t contacted us might just be because they’re a long way away and faster than light travel/communication isn’t possible.

  4. 4
    Box says:

    Can we substitute [intelligent designer] by [“map of life”] and still make sense? S.C.Morris seems to think so.

    (…) leading evolutionary biologist, Professor Simon Conway Morris, makes the case for a ubiquitous intelligent designer “map of life” that governs the way in which all living things develop.

    One wonders how a “map of life” is ubiquitous and capable to guide organisms; intentional and with overview.
    BTW where does the map of life come from? Oh, and where does the information come from which the map of life contains?

  5. 5
    englishmaninistanbul says:

    @3

    No no no Bob, you’re missing the sci-fi entertainment plausibility criteria on which Fermi’s paradox is based.

    “Given that inhabited star systems are ten-a-penny (that doesn’t sound ridiculous, I mean, I’ve seen dozens of space flicks with life on all kinds of planets) and given that at least some of those life forms must have come up with faster-than-light travel/wormholes/whatever (again, it feels plausible, doesn’t it Trekkies, it’s just a question of time) then how come none of them have contacted us?”

    The mind indeed boggles!

  6. 6
    Virgil Cain says:

    Well, of course, in evaluating the matter one should start by facing squarely the possibility that aliens aren’t found because they aren’t there.

    Or they came many years ago and haven’t been back. OR they are here and we just can’t find them to talk to them. OR they have contacted us and governments are keeping that from us.

    With Intelligent Design we would expect ETs to exist…

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    He’s confusing the map with the territory. 😉

  8. 8
    englishmaninistanbul says:

    VC,

    Only if you arbitrarily assume that the intelligent designer(s) are material beings, which ID has no reason to.

    Actually, given the inability of any natural process observed on Earth to generate new functional information, there is no real reason to believe there are any such processes elsewhere.

    So even if Earth was “seeded” by extraterrestrials, they themselves would be more likely to be intelligently designed than not. That gets you to “Who designed the designer?”, and it would seem the only way to break that loop is “down” or “up”, either mindless material processes or an intelligence outside the physical realm.

    Darwinism, however, asserts that life has arisen through purely material processes governed by universal laws and admits no guiding hand, extraterrestrial or spiritual. These universal laws must, by definition, operate indiscriminately with similar results everywhere in the universe.

    If extraterrestrials don’t exist it’s a headscratcher for Darwinism but not unexpected for ID.

  9. 9
    Virgil Cain says:

    englishmaninistanbul:

    Only if you arbitrarily assume that the intelligent designer(s) are material beings, which ID has no reason to.

    That doesn’t follow from what I posted.

    So even if Earth was “seeded” by extraterrestrials, they themselves would be more likely to be intelligently designed than not.

    OK, so what?

    If extraterrestrials don’t exist it’s a headscratcher for Darwinism but not unexpected for ID.

    I would say it is the other way around.

  10. 10
    englishmaninistanbul says:

    VC,

    Maybe we’re talking past each other. By ETs, do you mean physical beings such as ourselves?

    As I understand it you are saying that if the origin and development of life on Earth happened through the unfolding of mindless processes, we would have lower expectations of ETs existing than if life was intelligently designed. Do I understand correctly? If so, I have no idea how you arrive at that conclusion. Would you mind elaborating?

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    Bob O’H: The reason aliens haven’t contacted us might just be because they’re a long way away and faster than light travel/communication isn’t possible.

    Subluminal speeds are consistent with the Fermi paradox. If an alien civilization merely achieves 1% light speed, and its rate of colonization is only a tenth of that (for example, 400 years to reach the next star, 4000 years to fill and expand beyond it), then the civilization could cross the galaxy in 100 million years. The Milky Way galaxy is 13.2 billions years old. The Earth’s sun is 4.6 billion years old.

    As for density, given sufficient resources, the human population can double every 40 years or so. Starting from a thousand, they can fill an Earth-like planet in a thousand years. There are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way, or thirty-eight further doublings. They should fill the galaxy, or at least make a serious dent in it, emitting copious amounts of radiation in the process, or at least leaving some signature of their activity.

    ETA: Of course, that just means one of our assumptions is probably incorrect.

  12. 12
    Virgil Cain says:

    english:

    By ETs, do you mean physical beings such as ourselves?

    Yes.

    As I understand it you are saying that if the origin and development of life on Earth happened through the unfolding of mindless processes, we would have lower expectations of ETs existing than if life was intelligently designed.

    No- life cannot originate via mindless processes.

    I am saying that ID all but guarantees the existence of ETs. IOW the only way ETs could exist is if ID is correct. And if ID is correct we would expect ETs to exist.

  13. 13
    Mapou says:

    The evidence for aliens having contacted humans in the past is all around us. It’s screaming to be recognized for what it is. Archaeology and history tell us about alien overlords being worshipped by various ancient human societies all over the planet. Heck, we are still doing it.

    However, the powers that be decided that lies are better than truths. All the evidence for ancient aliens/gods was neatly placed in a convenient little basket called mythology. Humans worshipped non-existent entities and built amazing monuments in their honor only because humans evolved to do be stupid.

    So there. No aliens for you.

  14. 14
    Sebestyen says:

    The evidence for aliens having contacted humans in the past is all around us. It’s screaming to be recognized for what it is. Archaeology and history tell us about alien overlords being worshipped by various ancient human societies all over the planet.

    You’re watching too much fucking Stargate…

  15. 15
    anthropic says:

    Z 11

    Spot on. If there are 100 billion earthlike worlds in our galaxy, billions would be expected to harbor technological life millions of years before mankind. We should absolutely see some sign of this.

    And, of course, the same is true for other galaxies. The WISE satellite observations showed no signs of highly advanced alien civilizations in 100,000 galaxies where it was deemed most likely to occur.

    The best evidence is clearly that high tech intelligent life is very, very rare. The more we know, the less plausible the Copernican Mediocrity Principle seems to be.

    Of course, even if the Earth is rare, this fact would neither prove nor disprove ID.

  16. 16
    Mapou says:

    You’re watching too much fucking Stargate…

    Thanks, professor. You’ve straightened me out with your superior debating skills.

    Moron.

  17. 17
    Sebestyen says:

    Thanks, professor. You’ve straightened me out with your superior debating skills.

    I didn’t come to debate, I came to mock.

  18. 18
    Virgil Cain says:

    I didn’t come to debate, I came to mock.

    Then you need lessons in mocking.

  19. 19
    Sebestyen says:

    Then you need lessons in mocking.

    No need to put any more effort in a turkey shoot…

  20. 20
    Mapou says:

    Ridicule coming from a dirt worshipper is always invigorating.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Sebestyen, language warning per broken window theory. KF

  22. 22
    Sebestyen says:

    Ridicule coming from a dirt worshipper is always invigorating.

    Whatever floats your boat. I’m afraid I’m not much of a help in this case, though. You’ll have to look somewhere else to find a dirt worshipper who ridicules you…

  23. 23
    Sebestyen says:

    Sebestyen, language warning per broken window theory. KF

    Ok, so run this by me. “Moron” is ok, but f*** is not?

  24. 24
    Mapou says:

    This dirt worshiper is on a roll. Ban him, KF. Off with his head. 😀

  25. 25
    Sebestyen says:

    This dirt worshiper is on a roll.

    Did you get that paranoia before or after the aliens abducted you?

    “He doesn’t believe in aliens, he’s a dirt worshipper!”

    Oh, please…

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Sebestyen, whoever dismissed another person with a term of contempt is also in the wrong — I spoke to what caught my eye, as a caution. You know or should know that any one of the notorious seven words is not acceptable in polite discussion, and pointing fingers elsewhere is not an excuse. KF

  27. 27
    Box says:

    Sebestyen is not a dirt worshiper — far from it.

  28. 28
    Mapou says:

    Dirt worshiper or creationist. Makes no difference. Off with his head. 😀

  29. 29
    Sebestyen says:

    You know or should know that any one of the notorious seven words is not acceptable in polite discussion, and pointing fingers elsewhere is not an excuse. KF

    Not pointing fingers, just aiming to catch on the details here.
    And I had to google the “seven words” to get what you’re saying because we don’t have such a concept in my country.

    [Comments have been discontinued. There is likely a virtual pub nearby. – News]

  30. 30
    Sebestyen says:

    Dirt worshiper or creationist. Makes no difference. Off with his head.

    Are you sure they haven’t forgotten one or two probes during the extraction process? You seem a bit stuck-up…

Comments are closed.