Will Neo-Darwinism ever become a respected Theory among Space Alien Scientists?

DNA

You and I are old friends from beyond space and time. We stumble into this Universe from Reality where the laws of physics are different, being eight dimensional with the occasional ninth showing up after overzealous celebration. We’ve done our share, admittedly.

Like everyone in Reality, we’re scientists with standards of objectivity.

We stumble upon Earth and her many species, the odd geologic strata with its sudden “Cambrian Explosion” of complex life forms, and the wildly stressed crust showing lingering scars from extinction level events brought by cosmic impacts and coronal mass ejections of the past.

Suddenly your face lights up with inspiration. I’ve seen that look before.

“What is it,” I ask. “Hemorrhoids acting up?”

“Shut up,” you tell me in that endearing tone of yours. “All this DNA code here was written by ‘random mutation and natural selection’. Somehow I just know it.”

“Fair enough,” I chuckle. “Neo-Darwinism, then.”

You smirk as usual at my neologisms.

I admit that your idea is brilliant, but at the moment it lacks certain rigors of standard science. “Besides, I’ve got a feeling this whole place was designed.”

Your neocortex is thick and dominates your limbic system, quite unlike the creatures dominating Earth below us. As a result, you enjoy my challenge and invite me to set up an appropriate scientific investigation.

I’m thinking that a standard quadruple-blinded, controlled, randomized, prospective, repeatable experiment should do the trick.

Knowing that we’re both sort of defined by the celebrations of love back home in Reality, and totally undefined by intra-cosmic and inter-cosmic paradigms, I know we’ll both be happy with our study’s results no matter what the outcome. That ninth dimension isn’t limited to weekends.

“Here’s our experimental design,” I tell you. “Even the FDA would approve this monster.”

You glance at my thoughts. “Looks pretty standard, but why not do a-

“I shouldn’t think we need to reinvent the synapse for this. After all, it’s fundamentally a question of inspiration versus hemorrhoids.”

I print out a hard copy of my design, hand it to you, and watch your eyes go over it…

1. We randomly select a significant number of planets in this Universe containing DNA-based life forms. A few hundred thousand.

2. Unbiased robots document the current DNA code of every species on every test planet while we’re not looking.

3. We set up cameras to document the physical changes of the species and any survival advantages the new forms convey.

4. Unbiased robots decode all the DNA genomes and follow their changes over time so we can later see what each gene adaptation did to each life form as it either evolved constructively for survival or devolved in the face of environmental stressors.

5. Grad students will search for intelligent DNA code writers such as humans, and exclude from the study all planets where intelligent life exists because such beings can tamper with DNA and ruin the data. We’ll have the grad students confine all intelligent species to their home planet(s).

6. Robots will be sent to find a few hundred thousand control planets in which the DNA-based life forms do NOT compete for survival. We’ll set up an identical experiment with these worlds for a look at random mutation withOUT natural selection.

7. We’ll wait 13.8 billion years, the possible age of this Universe, before robots collect and analyze the DNA mutation data along with the videos of physical and behavioral changes in the test-planet species as well as the controls.

8. If the DNA changes correlate with the physical changes of the species and these changes provide survival advantages that are not merely epigenetic over the 13.8 billion years of data, and if the control planets don’t throw a wrench into the works, then we will publish our findings and strongly suggest a causal relationship between random mutation with natural selection and new complex DNA sequences creating new morphologic forms of life. Our paper will state that more research must be done to duplicate our findings before your neo-Darwinian postulate becomes a formal theory.

9. If other scientists come to this Universe and are able to duplicate our results several times, then we will have come as close as scientifically possible to “proving” that neo-Darwinism is correct in this unusual Universe, that unguided random DNA mutations plus the “survival of the fittest” can create new complex DNA code that appears to be designed but is not.

You look up from reading with an expression of exhaustion. “First let’s back out of this space-time Universe and send some grad students out to hunt for an intelligent being capable of designing physical laws that would allow a Universe to write its own DNA code.” 

“Cold feet, huh?” I laugh and you join in with me, laughing at both of us.

We pop back into Reality, send out some grad students and soon discover a busy, intelligent-looking being leaning over a brand new Universe with his arms stretching down into it. We walk over and I’m about ready to interrupt the work when I hear a booming voice say, “Let There Be Light.”

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

See also my post: “Love, Lies and Opposable Thumbs.”

12 thoughts on “Will Neo-Darwinism ever become a respected Theory among Space Alien Scientists?

    • Thank you. Since I’m not a research scientist, I will likely need correction on the details. For instance, the “controls” may not be exactly what I was looking for in the context of what it actually is that the researchers’ paper is trying to support. The p-value that expresses the probability of a random correlation is possibly being mixed up with the random generation of mutations which are part of the Neo-Darwinian myth itself.

      Hey, thank you for your open-mindedness! And kindness. 🙂

  1. Nonsense. You make a baseless claim: “Because our culture’s belief that we have been proven to be merely amoral animals devalues honesty, which ruins trust, which ends love. Without honesty, trust and love, a species with the weapons to annihilate worlds will use them.”

    This is the usual theist claim that somehow atheists are amoral people and we are not. It seems a need for theist to claim that they are somehow better than everyone else and there is no evidence that they are. Since you cannot show that one needs some god to have morals, you are telling false claims aka lying. One only needs empathy to have honesty, trust and love and to value the same. No one needs some magical deity to cause such things. What we see with so many theists, not all, is that they cannot agree on what god/s there are, nor can they show that these deities exist at all. We also see in most if not all religions a demand to hate and kill anyone who does not believe in the “right” way.

    So much for honesty, trust and love.

    • Good points. Excellent points! Thanks for your insightful comments.

      I’m projecting my own experience on the world. I could be wrong. All of us could be wrong simultaneously.

      Maybe internalizing the morality of animals will have no negative effects on us. It’s a subjective question for commons sense, probably not science.

      I think that there is a God. I suspect that God writes DNA code or at least sets up physical laws in each Universe so that DNA code can seem to come out of nowhere in some of them. That’s all speculation based upon weak retrospective data that has not been rigorously analyzed in a scientific study.

      I also speculate that in order to create freedom of choice God had to hide from us, making it possible for us to be atheists.

      I speculate that God’s favorite person would be an atheist who does what’s right because it is right. This is true freedom of choice and the purest form of goodness. In my tiny mind, God doesn’t need a higher authority to keep God in line, so when people come along who are like that, it probably warms God’s heart.

      I’m speculating that even if there is no God, and Darwinism is right about DNA code originating independently of intelligence to produce intelligence, we as a species desperately need to rise above the morality of those animals who use every means in their power to fetch dinner, control territory, and dominate their niche at the expense of others. They live in a balance that is forced upon them by nature. They don’t have nukes. They can’t tamper with DNA code. They can’t pollute. We can. We’re different.

      To me, the big point isn’t why we’re different from animals. It’s that we are, and we therefore need a higher morality if we’re going to survive much longer. We need a logical basis, or a mythical basis, or some other means of placing a higher value on honesty, trust and love.

      I think the myth of Darwinism is hampering our moral development, even if it’s true. I doubt it’s true. I think it’s not nearly as scientific as everyone believes it is. But I could be wrong. Truth is often stranger than fiction.

      Maybe internalizing a myth that encourages us to “do it like they do on the Discovery Channel” is OK. But I doubt it.

      And I don’t think it’s a question of whether you believe in God or not. Lots of religious people believe evolution is fact. And there are, I suspect, a few atheists who distrust the validity of evolution even more than I do.

      I apologize that my speculations seemed disrespectful to atheists. It wasn’t intended. We’re all in this world together.

      I would imagine that religious fundamentalists would not be pleased with my views either. But I respect them equally, and realize that their worldviews might be literally true.

      I keep an open mind. My views are not the last word on anything, not even on my own views because I will see to it that my opinions evolve over time as I learn more.

      All the best to you, Malctg!

      • I’m glad you appreciated my comments. Pardon the long comment below. I like to be thorough.

        I find the claim that we could all be wrong simultaneously to be simplistic and very similar to a common theist claim that we can’t “know” anything for sure, used to excuse their lack of evidence for their gods. It strikes me the same as attempting to claim that we can all have our own set of “facts” when that is not the case. We known that some people *are* wrong, when they have no evidence for their claims. You may be wrong and that does not mean that I am or anyone else is. For instance, I am quite sure that holding a white hot bar of iron in one’s bare hand will severely harm a human being. This is a fact. I would challenge anyone to show me otherwise at their peril. Disbelieving in something or believing in something doesn’t make reality conform to your wishes.

        I don’t quite know what you mean by “internalizing the morality of animals” means. It seems from context that you think that animals have “worse” morals than humans do. I can assure you that my cat doesn’t harm things because it believes in some magical being approves of such actions. And common sense is different things to different people. A Christian may think it is “common sense” to believe in the dead walking the streets of Jerusalem. A Muslim may think it is “common sense” to believe that Solomon commanded demons to build the temple. People used to think that it was common sense to believe that “bad air” caused diseases when it was nothing of the kind.

        You and many people think that there is some god or gods. In your version, you have invented the idea that this god somehow sets up physical laws in universes “so that DNA code can seem to come out of nowhere in some of them”. So we have a god that plays hide and seek for what? And yes, I know claims of such things are entirely speculation based upon nothing. This version of a god is very similar to the deistic god, something that starts the process and then leaves it to run. This is not the personal god of “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” fame.

        If you are basing your god on the Christian one, which I suspect you do since you term your god “God”, there is nothing that says that this god is interested in free will at all. I have read the bible and know it quite well. This god repeatedly interferes in human affairs. Why no concern for free will then? What of the millions of believers of all types that claim “miracles”, again interference by these gods? Are they wrong? And if you believe they are, what evidence do you have?

        I’d also like to believe that a god that was truly benevolent would find an honest atheist not to be worthy of some “hell” as most believers claim. However, I simply believe that there is no intelligent actor that is somehow controlling the universe, but only laws of physics that simply are, nothing more. I also don’t believe in true free will, but what we have is about as close to it as we can get, being unable to know all of the factors influencing us. There is a story that has two created beings in an “eden”. The usual things happen and they tell their creator that they aren’t going to play their parts, screw the nonsense of denying knowledge and intellect. Their creator rejoices that it finally got what it wanted, truly independent beings and not beings that cowered when it got angry. I wish I could remember who wrote it.

        Ah, here we go, you do find that animals have “worse” morals than humans do. However, evidence indicates otherwise. Meerkats take care of their sick, apes will release another strange ape from a cage and share their food with it, monkeys understand injustice, being acutely aware if someone else is treated better than they are. This is quite a bit better morals than a lot of the humans I know. Your assumptions seem to be based on what you think is true and not what is. We can indeed use nukes, affect the environment, etc. Animals can also affect the environment and not always in a good way. Take gypsy moths for example, they lay waste to forests. Sheep can overgraze. If you want to go way back, we have the oxygen producing bacteria making it impossible for anaerobic bacteria to survive on earth except in very special circumstances, etc. We’re not as different as you imagine. This seems the usual theist idea that humans are somehow not animals and not part of nature, that we are something magical. There is nothing to show this to be true.

        Now, humans can work on being more empathic to each other. We’re all humans, no one group of humans is somehow “better” than another. We all have the same needs so we should understand that we can work together. Unfortunately, most human beliefs go with the idea that one group is better than another and thus deserves all of the resources. The bible is rife with that, and it’s also what we see in such stupidity as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; each side thinks that its god wants that side to have a patch of worthless ground in the eastern Mediterranean.

        Again, we aren’t that different from animals. The only things that might make us different, is that we have the idea of “ramifications” of our actions and planning for the future. But that even seems not a human-only concept, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory_for_the_future We see that love and honesty and trust are also in animals other than us, as my above examples indicate. The logical basis is that what benefits me will benefit others. We don’t need some myth to tell us something that is a lie.

        The theory of evolution is not a myth. I have no idea what you might define as “Darwinism” but it appears that you think it means something different than what Darwin presented in Origin Of The Species. I do recommend reading that to make sure you know what you are criticizing. Evolutionary theory is indeed true, and you benefit from it every day, from the food you eat to the medicines you use. It is just as scientific as presented, depending on the scientific method to come to its conclusions. You should familiarize yourself with what that method is and the definitions of “theory”, “hypothesis” and “law” that are used in the scientific community. The theory of evolution is just as real as the theory of gravity. You are indeed very wrong. I do suggest reading about evolutionary theory and not believing what you have been told. One can see all of the lies told about evolutionary theory and what is true about it out on Talk Origins, a very good website that has a lot of information on it. Do not depend on personal ignorance to support your beliefs. So many theists depend on that.

        I have no idea what the heck you mean by internalizing a myth encouraging us to “do it like they do on the Discovery Channel”.

        Yes, many theists believe that evolutionary theory is a fact. And your suspicions that some atheists may be distrustful of evolutionary theory is again a baseless claim which seems to have nothing more than wishful thinking behind it. If an atheist does not believe in evolutionary theory as what got us here, then what *do* they believe got us here? Aliens? Then where do the aliens come from. This is why the nonsense of creationism hiding behind the moniker “intelligent design” is always so hilarious; it only pushes the problem one step back and *no* ID supporter believes that aliens had anything to do with the appearance of life on earth. It is always attributed to some god.

        Your speculations are disrespectful to atheists because you try to claim that to have decent humane morals, one needs some magical being that you cannot prove exists. You assume that atheists are somehow only operating on “animal morals” and we have seen that you think those morals less than yours.

        You are right, other theists, be they “fundamentalists” or not, would likely disagree with you. That is what makes baseless belief so ridiculous, being sure that everyone else is “wrong”. That’s why there are multiple sects of all religions, all sure that the other are at best mistaken, at worst, going to some hell. You all make up claims that have nothing to support them, declare that you are right and everyone else is wrong. To me, it’s like watching a bucketful of crabs, all trying to drag each other down, wasting time and resources in their nonsensical claims.

        Thanks for the opportunity to comment

        • Thank you. I’m just going to let you have the last word on that because you know a lot more than I do. Please come back and give us more of your intelligent and well written thoughts. It’s a pleasure to read someone as well informed as you. I apologize for offending you or any other atheist or religious fundamentalist. Here’s a big hug. 🙂

  2. Miranda Stone

    I believe in evolution, and that belief hasn’t made me any less moral or loving. If you read “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, you’ll find that he presents a very thorough explanation of how humans and other animals evolved to behave morally and altruistically.

    • I don’t fully believe in macroevolution, I only live in a world where most everyone else does. And even this partial belief that nags at me constantly has had a negative influence on my honesty and my ability to trust and love. But that’s me. I’m projecting my shortcomings on the rest of the world.

      Still, from a scientific perspective, I think the truth is that evolution is not something that has been proven. Not close. It’s a belief based upon retrospective circumstantial evidence that has been evaluated in a highly emotional and politically biased light by experts who laugh down at doubters and skeptics on both sides, the way many other fundamentalists do.

      I gave up Christian fundamentalism shortly after 9/11/2001. Probably my loss. I’m still not a fan of any form of fundamentalism that I’ve discovered so far. But that could change.

      Our beliefs shape some of us at a moral level. I’m like that. I guess you’re not, but I think many people are. The animals survive through deception, sneaking, pouncing on the small and weak and eating them.

      A species with WMD must somehow rise above that to survive.

      The myth of evolution, whether true or not, seems to have accompanied us in the wrong direction as we’ve acquired WMD and begun to use them. I can only speculate that there’s a cause-and-effect relationship between our growing violent behavior as a species and our belief that we are the moral equivalent of apes. It’s not a scientific study for any of us, believers or skeptics of the myth.

      I’ll try to read some Dawkins and see if he helps me become a more honest, trustworthy and loving person. He’s got some convincing to do if I’m supposed to believe that humanity is progressing toward greater altruism and a higher morality. But I’ll keep an open mind.

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