Re: Evolution, the central dogma and mutation (was Re: Extropianism & Theology)
Sat, 27 Feb 1999 22:37:30 EST

In a message dated 2/27/99 9:32:37 PM, Tim wrote: <<
Trouble is that Darwin, Huxley, and Crick et al. never said that force did not equal mass times acceleration. They did say that man and all other life evolved entirely without design from natural selection upon random mutation*. Introducing physics is a red herring being fed to a straw man.

F=MA operates when a vase is being broken on the floor just as accurately as when the space shuttle is docking with MIR. To call it an "organizing" principle is just plain wrong.

Thanks Tim, for the "Central Dogma" terminology. I know you scientists hate arguing with non scientists about science (my son certainly does).

However, I just used a couple of physical laws as metaphors for the type of laws that,I believe, will be found to govern emergant properties in complex systems as we continue to lokk for them and test them. Saying that the laws of nature (as scientists use them) are not organizing principals is, I believe, plain wrong.

What do you know about fitness landscapes and adaptive walks? My limited, layman's understanding is that if you lay out a 2 dimensional plain wherein each point is a particular critter's gene sequence, and the entire plain represents all the possible sequences in that species and then asign a relative fitness number to each sequence (from 0 to 1) that would be a fitness landscape.

For improving adaptation to work, the surviving offspring would have to have enough different alleles of the correct kind that would result in higher relative fitness for them.

Now if mutation is totally random, the landscape would be totally chaotic and there would be no way to tell if the adjacent sequence would lead anywhere, much less to higher fitness.

A correlated landscape, with smooth Mt. Fugi like slopes would only have two directions (up and down) and there would thus be a situation where half the offspring would be more fit, and half the offspring would be less fit. Natural Selection could thus choose between the limited number of options presented to it.

In this model (which seems intuitively more likely than the random, chaotic model) the correlated fitness landscape represents the natural, built in order that emerges in many complex systems, the physical laws of emergent properties, if you will.

However, much work needs to be done to test this hypothesis.

None-the-less, it should at least show you believers in the Central Dogma (which seems much like an Atheist Religion to me, complete with blasphemers to be wary of) that this idea that we are lucky garbage that just happened to be randomly selected might just be wrong.

The belief that we are the inevitable result of he laws of this universe and (so far) the apothesis of it's creation is at least as likely, and I think much more so.

One mans blasphemer is another mans sound meme set.