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Non-Darwinian biologist Rupert Sheldrake takes on Darwinian atheist Daniel Dennett


On Dawkins’s selfish gene. Here (2014):

Daniel Dennett (30 minute mark, approx): Rupert, you twice used the word dishonest in your characterization, of first, Dawkins on selfish genes, and then me on computers and brains. I have to say, I think it’s you’re the one that’s being dishonest. Those were both caricatures. You know that Richard Dawkins went way out of his way again and again to show you how to cash out the metaphor of selfishness and show what it means predictively and explanatorily in evolutionary biology and that explanatory matrix has been confirmed and extended in hundreds of experiments. You can’t understand transposons, you can’t understand a great deal of what goes on with genomic printing, if you don’t have that picture which he brilliantly called the picture of selfishness at the gene level. That’s one caricature of yours. And you imposed dualism on him and you imposed dualism on me. And again, it’s a wilful caricature. The whole point of my work on minds as software running on brains as computers has been, just as Colin says, to move away from the simple view of a computer like your laptop; no, the brain isn’t like your laptop much at all. But it is still, as he says, it’s still a computer, nd even to the point where we can profitably and predictably think about the downloading of new tricks, new cognitive talents to the brain, much the way we download new apps to our iPhones and our computers. No, your caricatures are very funny, but that’s all they are, and that’s not the way to deal with serious views.

Rupert Sheldrake: All right, I do hope I can reply to that. First of all, I do think that the selfish gene is an exceedingly misleading metaphor. I think that attributing selfishness to genes—he admits it’s a metaphor, of course, in the small print in The selfish Gene, he says it’s just a metaphor— Dawkins’s metaphors, Instead of enlightening research on —I mean, he’s done very little research on transposons, or actually rather little research at all for many years.

I don’t think that they’re particularly helpful; I think that modern research on genes which shows they’re far more complex and networks of interaction, there’s epigenetic modifications … It all looks hopelessly old-fashioned now. I think they’re metaphors which are past their sell-by date. I don’t they’ve been a very important part of research in actual molecular biology of genes. I think they’ve had a huge popular effect. His book, The Selfish Gene has sold vast numbers of copies to people who are not engaged in scientific research. It’s had a big social effect. I’d dispute that it’s a key player in the actual workings of biology.

And insofar as computer metaphors that rely on software and apps, I think they are intrinsically dualistic. don’t think it’s a caricature to say that they are dualistic; they are. Programs, software, hardware is a kind of dualism. And I think that these app metaphors and computer metaphors do raise a whole question, they have an implicit dualism, even an explicit dualism, which is not pure mechanism. I don’t think they are deliberately dishonest in many cases. I am sorry to say it again, I think it is a confusion of thinking that underlies them.

And you’ll probably totally disagree and say I am caricaturing your view, but I don’t think I am.

Sheldrake trashed here, of course.

Readers? Thoughts?

See also: Rupert Sheldrake likes Dembski’s Being as Communion

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And insofar as computer metaphors that rely on software and apps, I think they are intrinsically dualistic. don’t think it’s a caricature to say that they are dualistic; they are. Programs, software, hardware is a kind of dualism.
In that sense I am a dualist - in fact I would guess almost everyone is. The interesting thing is that any software can be implemented as hardware. That's why hardware simulators work. Mark Frank
Moreover, the modern synthesis, i.e. 'the selfish gene', is, to reiterate once again, found to be false:
Modern Synthesis Of Neo-Darwinism Is False – Denis Nobel – video https://vimeo.com/115822429 ,, In the preceding video, Dr Nobel states that around 1900 there was the integration of Mendelian (discrete) inheritance with evolutionary theory, and about the same time Weismann established what was called the Weismann barrier, which is the idea that germ cells and their genetic materials are not in anyway influenced by the organism itself or by the environment. And then about 40 years later, circa 1940, a variety of people, Julian Huxley, R.A. Fisher, J.B.S. Haldane, and Sewell Wright, put things together to call it ‘The Modern Synthesis’. So what exactly is the ‘The Modern Synthesis’? It is sometimes called neo-Darwinism, and it was popularized in the book by Richard Dawkins, ‘The Selfish Gene’ in 1976. It’s main assumptions are, first of all, is that it is a gene centered view of natural selection. The process of evolution can therefore be characterized entirely by what is happening to the genome. It would be a process in which there would be accumulation of random mutations, followed by selection. (Now an important point to make here is that if that process is genuinely random, then there is nothing that physiology, or physiologists, can say about that process. That is a very important point.) The second aspect of neo-Darwinism was the impossibility of acquired characteristics (mis-called “Larmarckism”). And there is a very important distinction in Dawkins’ book ‘The Selfish Gene’ between the replicator, that is the genes, and the vehicle that carries the replicator, that is the organism or phenotype. And of course that idea was not only buttressed and supported by the Weissman barrier idea, but later on by the ‘Central Dogma’ of molecular biology. Then Dr. Nobel pauses to emphasize his point and states “All these rules have been broken!”. Professor Denis Noble is President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences. Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology - Denis Noble - 17 MAY 2013 Excerpt: The ‘Modern Synthesis’ (Neo-Darwinism) is a mid-20th century gene-centric view of evolution, based on random mutations accumulating to produce gradual change through natural selection.,,, We now know that genetic change is far from random and often not gradual.,,, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/expphysiol.2012.071134/abstract Replace the Modern Synthesis (Neo-Darwinism): An Interview With Denis Noble 07/09/2014 Excerpt: Suzan Mazur: In recent years the modern synthesis has been declared extended by major evolutionary thinkers (e.g., "the Altenberg 16" and others), as well as dead by major evolutionary thinkers, the late Lynn Margulis and Francisco Ayala among them. Ditto for the public discourse on the Internet. My understanding is that you are now calling for the modern synthesis to be replaced. Denis Noble: I would say that it needs replacing. Yes. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-mazur/replace-the-modern-sythes_b_5284211.html The Origin at 150: is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight? - Koonin - Nov. 2009 Excerpt: The edifice of the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784144/ The Fate of Darwinism: Evolution After the Modern Synthesis - David J. Depew and Bruce H. Weber - 2011 Excerpt: We trace the history of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, and of genetic Darwinism generally, with a view to showing why, even in its current versions, it can no longer serve as a general framework for evolutionary theory. The main reason is empirical. Genetical Darwinism cannot accommodate the role of development (and of genes in development) in many evolutionary processes.,,, http://www.springerlink.com/content/845x02v03g3t7002/
etc.. etc..
“The genome is an ‘organ of the cell’, not its dictator” - Denis Nobel – President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences http://musicoflife.co.uk/ Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism - Jonathan Wells - February 23, 2015 Excerpt: humans have a "few thousand" different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,, The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It's called genomic mosaicism. In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,, ,,,(then) "genomic equivalence" -- the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA -- became the accepted view. I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common. I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It's the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/02/ask_an_embryolo093851.html Body Plans Are Not Mapped-Out by the DNA - Jonathan Wells - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meR8Hk5q_EM What Do Organisms Mean? Stephen L. Talbott - Winter 2011 Excerpt: Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin once described how you can excise the developing limb bud from an amphibian embryo, shake the cells loose from each other, allow them to reaggregate into a random lump, and then replace the lump in the embryo. A normal leg develops. Somehow the form of the limb as a whole is the ruling factor, redefining the parts according to the larger pattern. Lewontin went on to remark: "Unlike a machine whose totality is created by the juxtaposition of bits and pieces with different functions and properties, the bits and pieces of a developing organism seem to come into existence as a consequence of their spatial position at critical moments in the embryo’s development. Such an object is less like a machine than it is like a language whose elements... take unique meaning from their context.[3]",,, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/what-do-organisms-mean
Design is a mechanism and your ignorance is not an argument. DNA does NOT replicate- DNA gets replicated as part of the cell replication process. Joe
as to
"If DNA replicates (and it does, we can all agree upon that),"
actually, DNA does not replicate itself, it is better to say that DNA is replicated,,, but anyways:
"and if that replication leads to a new life (and it does), and if that new life’s DNA enables it to run faster, eat more, have a better immune system, THEN that replicated genome will be preserved. In effect the most successful phenotype generated by the most successful genotype survives. That’s kind of like preserving itself, almost selfish, without the intention of being selfish of course."
Actually if the characteristic of selfishness were played out in full the picture you envision would be vastly different. Instead of evolving to greater and greater heights of functional complexity as you picture it, the result would actually be the opposite: If evolution were actually the truth about how all life came to be on Earth then the only 'life' that would be around would be extremely small organisms with the highest replication rate, and with the most mutational firepower, since only they would be the fittest to survive in the dog eat dog world (i.e. 'selfish' world) where blind pitiless evolution rules and only the 'fittest' are allowed to survive. The logic of this is nicely summed up here:
Richard Dawkins interview with a 'Darwinian' physician goes off track - video Excerpt: "I am amazed, Richard, that what we call metazoans, multi-celled organisms, have actually been able to evolve, and the reason [for amazement] is that bacteria and viruses replicate so quickly -- a few hours sometimes, they can reproduce themselves -- that they can evolve very, very quickly. And we're stuck with twenty years at least between generations. How is it that we resist infection when they can evolve so quickly to find ways around our defenses?" http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/07/video_to_dawkin062031.html
i.e. Since successful reproduction is all that really matters on a neo-Darwinian view of things, how can anything but successful reproduction be realistically 'selected' for? Any other function besides reproduction, such as sight, hearing, thinking, etc.., would be highly superfluous to the primary criteria of successfully reproducing, and should, on a Darwinian view, be discarded as so much excess baggage since it would, sooner or later, slow down successful reproduction. Moreover, this inherent trait of selfishness within Darwinian theory is not what we find in the empirical evidence. Time after time we find micro-organisms helping each other, and us, in ways that have nothing to with their individual ‘fitness to reproduce’ i.e. nothing to do with their 'selfishness'. The following researchers recently were ‘surprised’ by what they found:
Doubting Darwin: Algae Findings Surprise Scientists - April 28, 2014 Excerpt: One of Charles Darwin's hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true. Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin's theory — at least in one case. "It was completely unexpected," says Bradley Cardinale, associate professor in the University of Michigan's school of natural resources & environment. "When we saw the results, we said 'this can't be."' We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin's hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?" The researchers ,,,— were so uncomfortable with their results that they spent the next several months trying to disprove their own work. But the research held up.,,, The scientists did not set out to disprove Darwin, but, in fact, to learn more about the genetic and ecological uniqueness of fresh water green algae so they could provide conservationists with useful data for decision-making. "We went into it assuming Darwin to be right, and expecting to come up with some real numbers for conservationists," Cardinale says. "When we started coming up with numbers that showed he wasn't right, we were completely baffled.",,, Darwin "was obsessed with competition," Cardinale says. "He assumed the whole world was composed of species competing with each other, but we found that one-third of the species of algae we studied actually like each other. They don't grow as well unless you put them with another species. It may be that nature has a heck of a lot more mutualisms than we ever expected. "Maybe species are co-evolving," he adds. "Maybe they are evolving together so they are more productive as a team than they are individually. We found that more than one-third of the time, that they like to be together. Maybe Darwin's presumption that the world may be dominated by competition is wrong." http://www.livescience.com/45205-data-dont-back-up-darwin-in-algae-study-nsf-bts.html Ocean's most abundant organisms have clear daily cycles - July 10, 2014 Excerpt: Imagine the open ocean as a microbial megacity, teeming with life too small to be seen. In every drop of water, hundreds of types of bacteria can be found. Now scientists have discovered that communities of these ocean microbes have their own daily cycles -- not unlike the residents of a bustling city who tend to wake up, commute, work, and eat at the same times.,,, "I like to say they are singing in harmony," said Edward F. DeLong, professor of Oceanography at University of Hawaii,,, What scientists saw was intriguing: different species of bacteria expressing different types of genes in different, but consistent, cycles -- turning on, for example, the type of restorative genes needed to rebuild their solar-collecting powers at night, then ramping up with different gene activity to build new proteins during the day. "The regularity and timing of individual microbial activities is somewhat like a new shift of hourly workers punching in and out of the clock, day after day," DeLong said.,,, "There are some fundamental laws to be learned about how organisms interact, to make the system work better as a whole and be more efficient," DeLong said. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710141539.htm
Indeed, instead of eating us, time after time these different types of microbial life are found to be helping us in essential ways that have nothing to do with their individual ability to successfully reproduce, (i.e. nothing to do with their 'selfishness'),,
NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body – June 13, 2012 Excerpt: Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2012/nhgri-13.htm We are living in a bacterial world, and it's impacting us more than previously thought - February 15, 2013 Excerpt: We often associate bacteria with disease-causing "germs" or pathogens, and bacteria are responsible for many diseases, such as tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and MRSA infections. But bacteria do many good things, too, and the recent research underlines the fact that animal life would not be the same without them.,,, I am,, convinced that the number of beneficial microbes, even very necessary microbes, is much, much greater than the number of pathogens." http://phys.org/news/2013-02-bacterial-world-impacting-previously-thought.html#ajTabs Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. - Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers Engineering and Science Magazine – Caltech – March 2010 Excerpt: “Without these microbes, the planet would run out of biologically available nitrogen in less than a month,” Realizations like this are stimulating a flourishing field of “geobiology” – the study of relationships between life and the earth. One member of the Caltech team commented, “If all bacteria and archaea just stopped functioning, life on Earth would come to an abrupt halt.” Microbes are key players in earth’s nutrient cycles. Dr. Orphan added, “…every fifth breath you take, thank a microbe.” http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev201003.htm#20100316a Long term terraforming of the earth for the habitability of higher lifeforms,,, for humans in particular https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/global-warming-fraud-exposed/#comment-547424
More assertion, still no mechanism CHartsil
RvB8 & CH: I suggest that DNA does not replicate itself and is not even fully chemically stable, it is part of a complex integrated system that as a whole exhibits the capability of cellular self replication; a case of FSCO/I pointing to its only known or plausible adequate source, intelligently directed configuration -- design. As for the self-serving dismissive reference to the hundreds of debates on the mass of evidence that undermines the a priori evolutionary materialist thesis, that double ad hominem of accusing both the man who won the debates and those you would deride as of like ilk backfires. Backfires by way of implying willful obtuseness and accusatory hostility rather than willingness to address evidence soberly on its merits. KF kairosfocus
If DNA replicates (and it does, we can all agree upon that), and if that replication leads to a new life (and it does), and if that new life's DNA enables it to run faster, eat more, have a better immune system, THEN that replicated genome will be preserved. In effect the most successful phenotype generated by the most successful genotype survives. That's kind of like preserving itself, almost selfish, without the intention of being selfish of course. These processes proceed naturally, there is no need to attribute human emotion to them. Still 'the selfish gene', really is genuine new idea, and a genuine clever turn of phrase. rvb8
And another wall of Gish galloping. Ever notice most people here are capable of having their own discussions? CHartsil
One simple way of demonstrating that the mind is not the same thing as the brain comes from utilizing the ‘Law Of Identity’ to separate properties of mind from properties of the brain: Immaterial Mind - video (Law Of Identity) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=720zEnzgTyM Mind-Body Dualism - Is the Mind Purely a Function of the Brain? by Michael Egnor Conclusion: Strict materialism predicts that mental function will always correlate with brain function, because mental function is the same thing as brain function. Dualism predicts that mental function and brain function won’t always correlate, because mental function isn’t the same thing as brain function. The Cambridge findings are more consistent with the dualist prediction than with the strict materialist prediction. http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/mind-body_dualism.html Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds – podcast and summary (Law of Identity: 6 properties of mind that are not identical to properties of the brain, thus the mind is not the brain) http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/six-reasons-why-you-should-believe-in-non-physical-minds/ The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism: Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/11/the_mind_and_materialist_super.html Alvin Plantinga has a humorous way of getting this ‘Law of Identity’ point across: Alvin Plantinga and the Modal Argument (for the existence of the mind/soul) – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOTn_wRwDE0 That consciousness can exist apart from the temporal brain is heavily implicated in NDEs “It (my body) looked like pretty much what it was. As in void of life.” Pam Reynolds - Extremely Monitored Near Death Experience – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNbdUEqDB-k bornagain77
"Whereas you as an atheist, ‘you’ can’t really have ‘your own ideas’ because there is really no ‘you’ with a ‘mind’ to have your ‘own ideas’ in the first place. “You” having your ‘own ideas’ is only an illusion foisted off on the illusion of you by the randomly colliding molecules of your brain!" Yeah but you're using your brain to say that brains are unreliable unless god exists therefore you're using your brain to believe god exists. Self defeating. CHartsil
as to: "So do you ever have any of your own ideas?' As an atheist/materialist, you should really try to honestly ask yourself that very question! As a theist, 'I', as a person with a conscious mind, of course have my 'own ideas'. Whereas you as an atheist, 'you' can't really have 'your own ideas' because there is really no 'you' with a 'mind' to have your 'own ideas' in the first place. "You" having your 'own ideas' is only an illusion foisted off on the illusion of you by the randomly colliding molecules of your brain!
The Confidence of Jerry Coyne - January 6, 2014 Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary. http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/the-confidence-of-jerry-coyne/?_r=0 "Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God." —C.S. Lewis Sam Harris's Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It - Martin Cothran - November 9, 2012 Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state -- including their position on this issue -- is the effect of a physical, not logical cause. By their own logic, it isn't logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/11/sam_harriss_fre066221.html David Chalmers on Consciousness (Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem of Consciousness) – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo i.e. "The lights are on but you are not home" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcATvu5f9vE
So do you ever have any of your own ideas? CHartsil
Besides the fact that the 'selfish' gene is wrong, and besides the fact that the selfish gene 'inflicted an immense damage to biological sciences', for over 30 years:
Die, selfish gene, die - The selfish gene is one of the most successful science metaphors ever invented. Unfortunately, it’s wrong - Dec. 2013 Excerpt: But 15 years after Hamilton and Williams kited [introduced] this idea, it was embraced and polished into gleaming form by one of the best communicators science has ever produced: the biologist Richard Dawkins. In his magnificent book The Selfish Gene (1976), Dawkins gathered all the threads of the modern synthesis — Mendel, Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Watson, Crick, Hamilton, and Williams — into a single shimmering magic carpet (called the selfish gene). Unfortunately, say Wray, West-Eberhard and others, it’s wrong. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/darwinism/epigenetics-dawkins-selfish-gene-discredited-by-still-more-scientists-you-should-have-heard-of/ At the 10:30 minute mark of the following video, Dr. Trifonov states that the concept of the selfish gene 'inflicted an immense damage to biological sciences', for over 30 years: Second, third, fourth… genetic codes - One spectacular case of code crowding - Edward N. Trifonov - video https://vimeo.com/81930637
Besides those two facts, is the fact that by terming the gene 'selfish' it forces one to illegitimately impart a form of 'agent causality' on the gene that atheists/materialists have no business imparting to a gene. Some may object that saying a gene is selfish is 'just a metaphor' but the fact of the matter is that illegitimately imparting agent causality in biology is rampant. In fact, Stephen Talbott has pointed out that it is impossible for Darwinists to describe the complexities of life without illegitimately using terminology that invokes agency,,,
The 'Mental Cell': Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! - Stephen L. Talbott - September 9, 2014 Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”. Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness1. One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself. http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/org/comm/ar/2014/mental_cell_23.htm
This working biologist agrees completely with Talbott:
Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails - Ann Gauger - June 2011 Excerpt: I'm a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology--we simply cannot avoid them. Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn't troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it's high time we moved on. - Matthew http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/06/life_purpose_mind_where_the_ma046991.html#comment-8858161
But why can't biologists avoid using 'words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design'? It is because atheists/materialists have illegitimately hijacked 'agent causality' from theists in their bid to be 'scientific'. The following Professor, who is a former atheist, gets this point across more clearly than anyone else I have heard:
A Professor's Journey out of Nihilism: Why I am not an Atheist - University of Wyoming - J. Budziszewski Excerpt page12: "There were two great holes in the argument about the irrelevance of God. The first is that in order to attack free will, I supposed that I understood cause and effect; I supposed causation to be less mysterious than volition. If anything, it is the other way around. I can perceive a logical connection between premises and valid conclusions. I can perceive at least a rational connection between my willing to do something and my doing it. But between the apple and the earth, I can perceive no connection at all. Why does the apple fall? We don't know. "But there is gravity," you say. No, "gravity" is merely the name of the phenomenon, not its explanation. "But there are laws of gravity," you say. No, the "laws" are not its explanation either; they are merely a more precise description of the thing to be explained, which remains as mysterious as before. For just this reason, philosophers of science are shy of the term "laws"; they prefer "lawlike regularities." To call the equations of gravity "laws" and speak of the apple as "obeying" them is to speak as though, like the traffic laws, the "laws" of gravity are addressed to rational agents capable of conforming their wills to the command. This is cheating, because it makes mechanical causality (the more opaque of the two phenomena) seem like volition (the less). In my own way of thinking the cheating was even graver, because I attacked the less opaque in the name of the more. The other hole in my reasoning was cruder. If my imprisonment in a blind causality made my reasoning so unreliable that I couldn't trust my beliefs, then by the same token I shouldn't have trusted my beliefs about imprisonment in a blind causality. But in that case I had no business denying free will in the first place." http://www.undergroundthomist.org/sites/default/files/WhyIAmNotAnAtheist.pdf
C.S. Lewis humorously stated the point like this:
"to say that a stone falls to earth because it's obeying a law, makes it a man and even a citizen" - CS Lewis
In other words, law or necessity does not have causal adequacy within itself. i.e. Law is not a ‘mechanism’ that has ever ’caused’ anything to happen in the universe but is merely a description of a law-like regularity within the universe. Only agent causality has causal adequacy within itself and that is the primary reason why people will forever be trapped in using words that imply agency when describing actions in biology or whether describing actions in the universe. That is simply the way it has to be. As was stated before by the biologist, 'we simply cannot avoid them'. bornagain77
Dawkins has always been a waste of fresh air. He is nothing more than an atheist preacher with a small but vocal following. His science is pathetic and his theology, which he tries to argue often, is shocking. The man is a joke and his fellow so called "brights" feel the same. humbled

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