Re: Proof

From: Dace (
Date: Sun Aug 26 2001 - 21:05:12 BST

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    Subject: Re: Proof
    Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 13:05:12 -0700
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    From: Scott Chase

    > > > Ted, concerning (a) protein folding, and (b) genes making proteins
    > > > making organisms, what level of proof would you require to sign up for
    > > > the mainstream evolutionary / molecular biological model of the world?
    > >
    > >Chris,
    > >
    > >Walter Elsasser approached the question of organic form like any other
    > >physics problem. And he found that it had no solution. Where are the
    > >mechanisms that turn blueprints into final product? Moreover, how would
    > >such mechanisms work? Elsasser was appalled by the fact that biologists
    > >didn't even have a theory for how genes construct organisms. Right now
    > >we've got a big, fat notebook full of descriptions with no coherent order
    > >or
    > >explanatory principle.
    > >
    > >When you can thermodynamically connect the dots between polypeptides and
    > >proteins, then you'll have something.
    > >
    > >
    > God of the gaps meets moving goalposts? Whenever the holes in the
    > base are filled out step by step, those launching salvos at "orthodox
    > science" (tm) need only ratchet the problem further, into areas not yet
    > conquered.

    Who says the holes in our knowledge are being filled out step by step? I
    see no explanations of developmental processes, only descriptions. How do
    genes build bodies? We can't even explain how they build proteins. Why
    don't organisms just revert to their physical and chemical properties and
    begin disintegrating? In other words, how is life different from death?
    Neo-Darwinian biology can't answer this question any better than ancient
    myth. It's because we have no answer that we imagine life as mechanism and
    then explain that instead.

    > "OK so you know how that gene (or those genes) play(s) a role, however
    > limited, in that developmental process, you still haven't offered a
    > and comprehensive explanation for how the organism develops from zygote to
    > fully mature adult with respect to form and behavior."
    > Expression genetics (versus transmission genetics) has a long way to go. I
    > have an even longer way to go understanding the development of organisms
    > influenced by gene products and things such as cell surface interactions
    > signal transduction and how the context a cell finds itself in at any
    > time influences how that cell's genetic repertoire is expressed.
    > Something like the concept or descriptive notion of a morphogenetic field
    > can go a long way to combat "bean bag / beads on a string" genocentrism of
    > the "this for that/1:1" variety, but taking this too far and adding in
    > very contentious idea of morphic resonance basically evaporates the
    > of the MF concept (if any utility even exists). One paper I recall which
    > some relevant discussion is:
    > Gilbert SF, Opitz JM, Raff RA. 1996. Resynthesizing evolutionary and
    > developmental biology. Developmental Biology (173): 357-372
    > In the abstract Gilbert, Opitz and Raff say that morphogenetic fields
    > "exemplify the modular nature of developing embryos" and call them "a
    > unit of ontogeny whose changes bring about changes in evolution." I found
    > mention of Sheldrake in their extensive references section. Of Goodwin
    > say that his particular formulation is somewhat akin to the classical
    > version and that "this is a field outside developmental genetics and is
    > actively opposed to gene action as being important in field functions."
    > Where Gilbert Opitz and Raff slight Goodwin as being non-genic, IIRC
    > (in _How the Leopard Changed its Spots_) slights Sheldrake as being
    > non-psychical in his formulations. Could someone double check this for me
    > since I don't have a copy handy?

    > Ooooops! Now that was a very bad typo. This should read as "non-physical".
    > (blush)

    Must be that dyxlesia acting up again. :-)


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