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Do we have free will, or is everything already planned for us?

Re: Could cloning disprove free will?

Postby Jet Ski » Thu Oct 04, 2018 11:08 am

I agree that for some complex systems you can't understand the whole thing just by understanding its parts, and the human mind may be one of those. The complexity of the brain may allow for choices and agency, but how can these be free choices, choices for which someone can be held morally responsible, if the conscious mind isn't responsible for the system that its choices emerge from - if it isn't responsible for the evaluation system all of it's supposedly free actions and decisions are based on?

> From my reading, there is not one, single, crystal-clear example of a known mutation that unambiguously created information.

What exactly do you mean by 'creating information', and what would such a mutation look like? As I said, if you look at an animal's genes you can find out a lot about the environment in which its ancestors successfully survived and reproduced. I would call that 'information'.

> Beneficial mutations occur at a rate less than 1 in a million, so low as to thwart any actual measurement. And a certain percentage of these are unselectable. Everything about the true distribution of mutations argues against their possible role in forward evolution.

The more complex an organism becomes the less likely a mutation is to be beneficial, since it's many genes interact in such an intricate way. But that doesn't apply to less complex organisms, so evolution probably proceeded much faster early on. Also, you can't forget that we're talking about 3-4 billion years of evolution. One beneficial mutation in a million can be quite a lot if you're talking about such a long time involving probably millions of trillions of organisms.

> No form of selection can maintain, let alone create, higher genomes. Selection can sometimes work on the genic level, but systematically fails at the genomic level.

Then how do you explain evolution by natural selection being so widely accepted in the scientific community as supported by massive amounts of evidence?
Jet Ski
 

Re: Could cloning disprove free will?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:30 pm

> The complexity of the brain may allow for choices and agency, but how can these be free choices, choices for which someone can be held morally responsible, if the conscious mind isn't responsible for the system that its choices emerge from

My point is that the conscious mind supersedes the system from which they came. It is capable of emergent qualities inexplicable by the biology of the system.

> What exactly do you mean by 'creating information', and what would such a mutation look like?

Neo-Darwinian theory says that mutation and natural selection have created all biological information essentially and ultimately out of nothing. It says that all genomes must have derived from a simple initial genome that came from a non-genome via a long series of beneficial mutations (positive typographical errors, so to speak) and lots of natural selection (the approval of step-forward organisms and the refusal of deleterious organisms, though all by a non-intelligent and non-purposeful judge). What evolutionary theory speculates is that molecular mutations over time had enough beneficial accidents in the instruction manual, not only increasing information but also providing beneficial information, to evolve more complex, higher information (an advanced genome), better able to survive organisms. What I'm saying is that the research bears out that this has not happened. Instead, we have an overwhelming evidentiary river of deleterious mutations and no evidence of this forward movement necessary for evolution to have done what it claims to have done.

Suppose we have a little red wagon. The first primitive genome encoded the instruction manual for this wonderful wagon. It's job is to make copies of the manual so more identical wagons can be made. But the genome is, as we have learned, incapable of making an identical facsimile. Every time it copies the manual, it changes at least something at random: each manual comes out different, and therefore each wagon comes out different. Each wagon has its own unique instruction manual taped to the bottom of it. When any wagon is junked, its manual is junked with it. New copies of the manual are not based off the original but instead only off the ones with errors. Errors are going to be accumulated over time. This is what geneticists have observed.

But let's introduce a quality-control judge: natural selection. Natural selection is able to destroy the wagons that are inferior. Keep in mind that it is not selecting for good instruction manuals. Natural selection is only looking at the wagons and voting thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

The scribe and the judge work entirely independently. The scribe is essentially blind, extremely near-sighted, reproducing manuals with variations (at the molecular level), and the judge is very far-sighted—he only looks at the whole project, never the details. He evaluates whether the wagon is a go or trash.

The scribe often just makes typing errors, misspelling words, adding words that don't make sense in the sentence, or even deleting words, some of which might be important. He might occasionally recopy even a whole page, but that doesn't add any new information. He may leave out a whole page, to great demise.

The scribe is at the beginning of the assembly line, imperfectly copying instruction manuals. The wagons are built according to the unique manual. The judge is at the end of the line, accepting and tossing. What we must also admit is that the judge and the scribe are never talking to each other. Not only do they not communicate, but they are not intelligent. They are forces, one of accident and one of selection.

What are the odds that these mutations are creating not only new but also beneficial information? The geneticists tell us that the odds are abysmal to nonexistent. Bad duplications might presumably be eliminated and harmless (neutral) duplications might be preserved. But even the harmless duplications will have copying errors in them, with more errors in each iteration of the manual. Some of these errors might possibly create new and useful information. With a little imagination, perhaps we can picture where occasionally a beneficial mutation might just happen and be selected, of course, for reproduction. Scientists, however, have found no such thing. And then have to realistically consider whether through the course of time this little red wagon will develop, by these processes alone, a workable and efficient internal combustion engine, wings, and an on-board computer navigational system. What are the realistic odds that this wagon, through billions of typographical errors, can become the Space Shuttle? Remember, no communication or intelligence is involved in the sequence.

> Then how do you explain evolution by natural selection being so widely accepted in the scientific community as supported by massive amounts of evidence?

I can't explain it. I believe in evolution, but it has to have been guided by an intelligent, interfering personal being to have happened. All I can figure is two possibilities: (1) Scientists can't propose metaphysical solutions. It's outside of the range of science. And once they propose such solutions, they are no longer doing science, but rather philosophy or theology. (2) Scientists are motivated to arrive at an explanation that doesn't include God. (a) There is tremendous peer pressure. (b) Some scientists don't believe in God. And therefore they are a lot of fudge factors, god-of-the-gaps (we don't know the answer yet, but eventually we will so we assume the reality of what is now in the gaps), and just plain old ignoring the gaps to assume a sequence to explain the hypothesis.


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