Re: Me against the meme

From: Derek Gatherer (
Date: Thu 10 Nov 2005 - 15:43:52 GMT

  • Next message: Kenneth Van Oost: "Re: Me against the meme"

    At 22:37 09/11/2005, Dace wrote:

    >What ought to happen to the cell at any
    >given moment is precisely what does happen when it dies-- disintegration.
    >Why doesn't it all disintegrate? What's holding it all together? This is
    >where life comes in, not as a vital force but the simply the self-existence
    >of the whole. It's the whole that lives, not the bits and pieces. It's the
    >living whole that organizes the bits, not the other way around.

    Again a pre-20th century view of biology. Cell free extracts can keep metabolic processes going for a long time. In the case of viruses, it's possible to regenerate actual infectious virus from such cell-free test-tube soups. We can't regenerate whole cells yet, but that's just a technical hurdle. There's no need for any mysticism with regard to the cell. Living cells keep themselves alive because their internal homeostasis mechanisms are in balance; these are well understood at the molecular level and involve things like the citric acid cycle, glycolysis etc. The death of a cell is usually because external conditions, ie. in the intercellular compartment, become so extreme that homeostasis can't cope. Man has heart attack, heart stops beating, blood doesn't pump to extremities, cells at extremities start to lack oxygen etc, after a few hours of this cells cannot maintain their homoeostasis and gradually conk out.

    >Reductionistic biology cannot explain life. It can only explain what life
    >would be like if it were actually machinery. In the effort to explain life,
    >as opposed to mechanisms masquerading as life, we have no choice but to
    >posit two things: field and memory. We must have holistic coordination of
    >disparate activities, and we must have memory to guide the field. You have
    >yet to offer any reason as to why a memory-based morphogenetic field is

    Because there's no known physical basis.

    >Since the memory/field hypothesis is the only hypothesis that
    >can explain the basic features of life, including our own experience of
    >being alive, the burden is on you to explain why it's impossible.

    That's rather like being asked by a creationist to explain why God doesn't exist. It's impossible to prove to the satisfaction of the determined believer. The best one can do is to suggest that if nobody can see an elephant in the room, and nobody has reported such an elephant for 150 years, then the most likely state of affairs is that there is no elephant/God/field.

    In any case, you have an odd idea of how science works. Usually the onus of proof is on the heterodox, not the orthodox.

    >You must explain why there cannot be a memory-based morphogenetic field.
    >What principles of existence are violated by such a field?

    Principles of existence? I'm more worried about principles of physics (or even sanity).

    > > >of a cell are not ordered.
    > >
    > > But they are. Hans Krebs, among others, knew by the 1930s that this was
    > > case.
    >I'm referring to the ultimate, molecular components of the cell, not
    >intermediate components.

    Proteins are highly ordered. Crystallogaphy - beginning in the 1930s. See for an amazing gallery of ordered protein structures. Actually "Molecule of the Month" right now is the ACh receptor. Try that for a good dose of mechanism.

    >Naturally left-right polarity is established prior to the emergence of the
    >organ. Point being that genes can account for a superficial trait but not
    >its fundamental organization.

    So left-right polarity is superficial now? A short while ago it was an example of the kind of fundamental thing biology couldn't address.

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