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Why the space aliens ain’t out there: “Evolution doesn’t lead to complex life forms: evolution leads to well-adapted life forms” – prof

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peaceful alien
"I solved all my problems by just not really existing."

Edward Sisson kindly writes to say,

Prof. Marcelo Gleiser, theoretical physicist and professor at Dartmouth, has posted an article on the NPR website that addresses the unlikelihood of intelligent life even on planets very like Earth.

Shockaroo!! You mean, They’re not out there, prof? Apparently, he does.

“A very clear distinction must be made between simple, unicellular life and more complex life forms. It’s hard not to doubt that Earth is the only planet where life took hold. After all, we have seen how resilient it is here, with extremophiles defying our previously held assumptions of where life can thrive. However, there is a huge difference between simple life and complex life. Contrary to what many believe, evolution doesn’t lead to complex life forms: evolution leads to well-adapted life forms.

“We had unicellular algae here for about 2.5 billion years and nothing more. The jumps from simple to complex life are many and still poorly understood. For example, on Earth simple prokaryotic cells had to incorporate outside structures to become eukaryotic cells — with nuclei protected by bags; life then had to go from single-celled to multicellular creatures; it had to somehow develop differentiated organs that were nevertheless integrated by functionality; it had to adapt to water, air and land, and to multiple environmental cataclysms; finally, it evolved creatures capable of higher brain functions.”

Sisson notes,

No doubt when he sees that this helps the ID position, he will quickly add the usual disclaimers and denunciations.

Fat lot of good that’ll do.

As I posted above, Gould wrote a book about this. Complex organisms (metazoans, for example) represent a tiny fraction of life on earth. The dominant life forms are viruses and microbes. By number, by biomass, by time. Most biologists would expect that even if life is common in the universe, it is most likely to be "stuck" at the microbe stage. So you are correct that evolution would predict that multicellular organisms are not likely to be produced by selection. They are the result of contingency and drift. Perhaps if we find other "earths" we can assign some actual numbers to the probabilities. Isn't that what the article says? Petrushka
One of the things that baffles me about Darwinian thought is that blind evolutionary processes should be expected to construct increasingly complex, slowly reproducing and niche-dependent organisms, when such organisms are clearly more prone to catastrophic failure. Humans and elephants and whales are not what one would expect from Darwinian processes; highly resilient, simple organisms that easily and quickly reproduce are. Humans, elephants and whales can only be said to have been produced by evolution in spite of Darwinistic processes, not because of them. William J Murray
It's not a question of scoffing. Show us some evidence of ETs to scoff at and ... we probably wouldn't. News
I would say there is more evidence for extraterrestrial intelligent life than there is for Darwininism/ neo-darwinism. Joseph
Well, at least we should be open to the possibility. Which is why it is a bit strange for some ID advocates to harp on SETI as though it is a waste of time or to scoff at the idea of life, even intelligent life, elsewhere. (Those who do take a position against life elsewhere do so, not from an ID standpoint, but from a separate philosophical/religious position.) Eric Anderson
In a designed universe we should expect extraterrestrial intelligent life... Joseph
Gould wrote a whole book on this subject. Full House. Petrushka
I'm not sure why this is considered news. It's what mainstream biologist have been saying for decades. The dominant life form on earth is single-celled and viral. Read the Koonin book you recommended. Petrushka
"Contrary to what many believe, evolution doesn’t lead to complex life forms: evolution leads to well-adapted life forms." Whatever. What could be better adapted than bacteria and other simple life forms. Are elephants, giraffes, or humans better adapted? Evolution leads to well-adapted life forms. Except when it doesn't. It leads to complex life forms. Except when it doesn't. Eric Anderson

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