Sequence Space The Final Frontier - Comment
A very thought-provoking article with the refreshing air of a rationally planned search for an answer, instead of an attempt of concocting some proof for a preconceived theory. Being thought-provoking, I will put down my related thoughts on some statements as catalysts for a further chain, without any intention to criticise.
"why Earth's biochemistry is so well suited for life." - Life IS. And it is the Life of the Universe. This Life will manifest itself wherever, and to the extent, it is able to, according to the harmony of the given circumstances. "Earth's biochemistry" is already an integral constituent of that Life.
"Biological molecules evolved", like everything else, each according to its "underlying principle" - implicate order (David Bohm) - in harmonious co-operation within a holistic order.
"Just how did nature manage to create all the right building blocks for life-as-we-know-it" - Nature, Universe, Evolution, are concepts for manifestations and processes; but are not subjects, rationally acting originating agents, which 'create', 'evolve', or are acting extrinsically on any object, any entity. I am stressing this point, because wherever a causeless random event is suggested in a scientific theory, a mythical, extraneous agent, a consciously acting 'verb' or 'concept', is hiding in the background disguised as a 'subject', without which the 'object' couldn't be acted on, and the theory couldn't function.
This brings me to the statements that "Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection describes how the mutations and adaptations that are best suited to the environment survive over time."
The "concept of evolution through random genetic variation and natural selection" is that of the neo-Darwinists, and not of Darwin. It is prejudiced and perverted by materialistic and mechanistic principles and ossified into scientific dogmas: it is misrepresenting Darwin's thoughts; it is point blank contradicted by microbiological findings; and - to top it - it is conjuring up, in its explanations, its own "Deities" as conscious acting subjects hiding behind semantic manipulations; their whole corrupted system of logic turning thus the neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory into just another belief-system, another unscientific credo.
In Darwin's times the nature of the genes was unknown, although Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk in Brunn, was already carrying out experiments in 1850 - nine years before the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species -; experiments that led to his discovery of the basic principles of heredity and has set the foundation to the science of genetics. Although Mendel has presented his theses at the Natural Science Society in 1865, and his publications have reached principal libraries in Europe and America, they had no effect in the science community, and have surfaced only in 1900, fifty years after his discovery and sixteen years after his death, which is a particularly remarkable pathology of "science", as the mainstream scientific community prefers to title itself. Out of the shotgun marriage of Mendel's "principles of heredity" - that had naught to do with variation through random mutation - and Darwin's "natural selection" - that had naught to do with a selecting agent - was born, in 1930, the neo-Darwinian cult and its credo.
It is misrepresentation, even subversive in its implications, when the neo-Darwinians use the name of Darwin, stating, that "it is by a Darwinian process of variation and selection in the formation and testing of hypotheses that science advances" (NAS), when he himself, in the Descent of Man (1871), published 12 years after the Origin of Species (1859), as also in his private letters, has clearly expressed, that he finds the idea of blind chance "abhorrent" (statement that he has repeated many times in his second book and his private letters); that he over-emphasized previously the idea of the "Survival of the Fittest"; and maintained that "morality is the major evolutionary drive" (90 times as a theme), and held the competitive individual to be the driving force of evolution, entering teleology into the evolutionary process as against blind chance. Darwin never was a materialist, and, the genius as he was, has presented his theories as open propositions, never allowing them to congeal into dogmas, especially not into 'Unintelligent Non-design' dogmas sporting his name.
Darwin himself held that new characteristics were attained by an organism as a result of its own reactions to environmental influences and then passed on to its offsprings, a theory that has originated from Lamarck. This change, he suggested, combined with what he called "natural selection", but called also the "survival of the fittest", has resulted in the evolutionary progress in the lineage of that organism. Note that, according to Darwin, the change has happened by and in the individual organism itself, which, if the change has promoted its survival possibilities and its evolution, was transmitted to its offsprings, rendering them also "fitter to survive". Accordingly, the concept of "natural selection" should be taken as the definition of a natural, rational process, or rather as a logical consequence: as the statement of the condition that the superior organism naturally prevails by the strength of its being superior, and not due to the interference and decision of an extrinsic subjective operating agent. And species evolution follows naturally due to the "jus primae noctae" of the superior kind; a ritual practiced by most of the species according to their unwritten, but most strictly adhered to and moral laws. Theirs is truly a "secular morality that develops in intelligent, socially interacting creatures".
This brings to the second part of the cited statement. Not the "best suited to the environment survive over time", but those which are able to override their environment. This necessity to prevail is called the "red queen effect", after the Queen of Hearts telling Alice (of Wonderland fame), that in her kingdom everyone must run as fast as can, just to stay in one place. In fact, evolution is marked by spearheads that have taken on new ways that were unfavourably suited to their actual environments, which they have changed by dominating them. This applies not only to organisms, but just as much to the whole scale of the organismic ladder, like to "biological molecules - such as proteins, enzymes, and even DNA". Not "nature takes a path", but each and every life-manifestation, or rather the underlying principle of each and every life-manifestation, like "the soul of an electron" (Schroedinger, Bohm). In this lie the general principles of evolutionary progress and diversification.
And it is absolutely true that "Evolution hasn't come to a stop. Everything is still evolving." But - and this is my point - everything is evolving according to its particular 'evolutionary pressure', or 'intellect pressure', and not due to some ad hoc mutation followed by aimless selection.
Wouldn't it be interesting to map the mutations - or rather the changes in the genetic blueprint - during the life of various individuals, and compare their change-patterns to the life-patterns and mental developments of these individuals?
Imre von Soos