Genetic Entropy

Ina

Dagobah Resident
I am trying to understand. If DNA is information based, then human race could be a transitory evolutionary expression and similar evolutionary waves have been concurently seeded with equal development potential? Then digital information, based on the binary code is the next step of evolution, and we are basically cooking the next ‘primordial soup’.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
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Haven't started the book yet, but I agree with the above questions. It's like Marshall points out in Evo 2.0. There is a TON of intelligence packed into DNA. I was under the impression that geneticists already knew about some degree of error correction. But we really have no idea just HOW well written the genetic code is.

I’ve read genetic entropy and am halfway through Evolution 2.0. I do think that Sanford, the author of Entropy, does tend to overstate the noise aspect of DNA and natural selection, including speaking out of both sides of his mouth, eg stating that selection acting on DNA changes is akin to feeling a pea through twenty mattresses. But st the same time he acknowledges later on that DNA is highly functional, perhaps with each nucleotide having at least 1.5 functions in the organism, making reference to how complicated its interactions with protein, RNA, etc to show how catastrophic random mutations can be. He can’t have it both ways. I also noticed he made the claim that epigenetic traits are not hereditarily transmitted, which we also know to be false. All that sort of nitpicking on his part seems to miss the actual basis for the materialistic interpretation of variation and natural selection; namely, that we live in a material and 100% physical universe. If you can demonstrate nonphysical sources of genetic information, it becomes trivial to demonstrate that that is far more likely to contribute to adaptive variation than random sources of mutation.

We have here quite a different metaphysical framework than young earth creationists. For those of you who have only read the Classroom Edition, he makes a biblical reference to the Author of Life being the source of information in the genome. But such a genome requiring constant maintenance is a very poorly designed adaptive system, especially when considering the time scales involved over millions of years. From the perspective that the goal of evolution is to conduct greater information from higher densities into lower, earlier on in evolutionary time that would have been a trickle compared to today, as the sophistication of DNA developed increasingly to eventually house higher 2nd density and eventually 3rd and 4th density souls. The DNA would have had to learn to make do with the limited connection to higher densities until then. Also, reference was made to the dinosaurs needing to be destroyed by bombardment to make space for more innovative life forms. If the existence of dinosaurs no longer served the interests of higher cosmic agents, according (sort of) to Sanford they could have just pulled the plug and allowed the genome to degenerate to the point the naturally went extinct. But instead some more drastic measures were needed. I hope my own musings on this are clear. :-)
 

luc

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I do think that Sanford, the author of Entropy, does tend to overstate the noise aspect of DNA and natural selection, including speaking out of both sides of his mouth, eg stating that selection acting on DNA changes is akin to feeling a pea through twenty mattresses. But st the same time he acknowledges later on that DNA is highly functional, perhaps with each nucleotide having at least 1.5 functions in the organism, making reference to how complicated its interactions with protein, RNA, etc to show how catastrophic random mutations can be. He can’t have it both ways. I also noticed he made the claim that epigenetic traits are not hereditarily transmitted, which we also know to be false. All that sort of nitpicking on his part seems to miss the actual basis for the materialistic interpretation of variation and natural selection; namely, that we live in a material and 100% physical universe. If you can demonstrate nonphysical sources of genetic information, it becomes trivial to demonstrate that that is far more likely to contribute to adaptive variation than random sources of mutation.

Yes, it's really strange - he shows that the materialist view (random mutations, natural selection) cannot possibly be true, but then goes on to develop his genetic degeneration thesis exactly on materialist premises! That's why I mentioned the old concept of "God the watchmaker" - God creates the mechanical, materialist world, and then lets it run, until it eventually breaks down... This view seems completely off.

But within the materialist framework, he does have a point: without intelligence/information coming in, entropy rules. And so mutations will always be detrimental and will never "create" anything. And since STS are the "forces of entropy", perhaps a world or an individual on an STS path will always experience a gradual degeneration - STS is out there to destroy information, order, unity etc., so it makes sense. They probably can never destroy the influx of information completely, but can do their utmost to reduce it? So it's back to us getting our act together if we want to stop the entropic forces and facilitate the influx of information!
 

Anthony

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Yes, it's really strange - he shows that the materialist view (random mutations, natural selection) cannot possibly be true, but then goes on to develop his genetic degeneration thesis exactly on materialist premises! That's why I mentioned the old concept of "God the watchmaker" - God creates the mechanical, materialist world, and then lets it run, until it eventually breaks down... This view seems completely off.

But within the materialist framework, he does have a point: without intelligence/information coming in, entropy rules. And so mutations will always be detrimental and will never "create" anything. And since STS are the "forces of entropy", perhaps a world or an individual on an STS path will always experience a gradual degeneration - STS is out there to destroy information, order, unity etc., so it makes sense. They probably can never destroy the influx of information completely, but can do their utmost to reduce it? So it's back to us getting our act together if we want to stop the entropic forces and facilitate the influx of information!

Too bad Sanford wasn't aware of Collingwood's Speculum Mentis. It seems that instead of going further in his thinking, he just relapsed into religious and other thinking errors. That said, I find the book very useful, along with Perry Marshall's Evolution 2.0.

It's not hard to see how the STS would benefit from people uncritically accepting the Primary Axiom since it effects your relationship with everything around you, people, truth, etc...
 

Cosmos

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Yes, it's really strange - he shows that the materialist view (random mutations, natural selection) cannot possibly be true, but then goes on to develop his genetic degeneration thesis exactly on materialist premises!

Just started reading it and the above was also what I noted and couldn’t quite understand so far. His entropy idea seems to be based on the darwinistic/materialistic primary axiom he is disproving in the book?!
 
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Anthony

The Living Force
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Just started reading it and the above was also what I noted and couldn’t quite understand so far. His entropy idea seems to be based on the darwinistic/materialistic primary axiom he is disproving in the book?!

That seems to be the case, but with a certain twist. He essentially disproves the way in which the Primary Axiom is standardly though about. He never really does away with it, but clarifies it and leads it to it's logical conclusion.

Darwinists/materialists: Primary Axiom = evolution.
Sanford: Primary Axiom = entropy.

While the Darwinists use the Primary Axiom as a way of explaining evolution, life etc., he shows that that can't be the case and that the Primary Axiom leads to entropy instead of evolution. Both views are based on excluding information and/or intelligence having any reality or influence on our world, and both are materialistic. In essence his view seems to be closer to reality, but again it's not enough, because it completely leaves out information. I think he has no other model with which to think about things, only a clarified view of the Primary Axiom, which is why he falls back to "Jesus saves".
 
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luc

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I'm finally reading Haidt's The Righteous Mind, and I think he's a good example of mainstream thinking when it comes to evolution. It occurred to me that evolutionary theory offers some great insights not because of its materialist view, but despite it.

What I mean is that these people unknowingly assume an intelligent universe through and through. They talk about genes as if these were intelligent little beings taking decisions, constructing vehicles, using hosts, motivated by self-interest, even carrying out some vast plan. They talk about natural selection as if it was intelligent - selecting this or that thing on this or that level to bring about this or that result. They use metaphors like "this system is designed to do this or that", they talk about co-evolution between culture and genes (sneaking in consciousness on the macro level), they talk about sudden "big transitions" in evolution, multilevel selection, and even cells, genes and organisms that can quickly adapt to the environment, again implying some kind of intelligence etc. They also ignore statistical considerations and time constrains and just assume "infinite time", i.e. if something "evolves" that is beneficial, it will be selected, end of story. So their natural selection is like a God who favors certain things for certain purposes.

Sometimes they will say in a footnote or at the end that they don't really mean "designed", that they don't really think a gene can "act" and so on, and that all these are just metaphors. But this is a lame move similar to what some postmodernists do when at the end of their books they say "oh I know I can't make truth claims because truth doesn't exist, so this is just another stroy", when all the rest of the book consists of truth claim after truth claim!

Also, while I think evolutionary theory has many good insights to offer, it can go spectacularly wrong when theorists come up with all kinds of far-fledged stories about why this or that trait was "beneficial" at some point and was therefore "selected". What they fail to realize, I think, is that evolution seems to be an interplay between information coming in from some unknown source and manifestations of this information on all levels. So yes, there is natural selection going on on many levels simultaneously (genetic, cellular etc. up to culture and groups), but the hows and whys depend on a feedback loop between consciousness on every level and the universe as the intelligent "framework", or something like that.

ADDED: The very term "evolution" seems loaded in the first place - it implies "getting better at things", i.e. learning. Perhaps then we should think of evolution as a process of learning on different levels simultaneously. This of course would fit with the Cs' "all there is is lessons", "life is a school" and so on.
 
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genero81

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I just finished this book. Jesus is the answer! (duh)

I'm joking obviously, poking a little fun at Sanford.

Who I'm far more embarrassed for are the so called experts and scholars who still defend the Primary Axiom. :lol:

Great book though. Eye opening. Really brings home the idea that it's the soul that counts.
 

Hesper

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Thank you for the book recommendation. Sanford's work is a great complement to Behe's. He really does a great job of dismantling Fisher's Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection, "That most mutations would be neutral and that beneficial mutations would be just as common and impactful as negative ones," thus meaning that, over time, 'beneficial' mutations might beat out the negative ones, creating ever more complex lifeforms. Sanford just beats you over the head with the details, and that's what makes it such a great work.

I've tried to boil down Sanford's basic argument that demolishes this 'Primary Axiom' that evolution is just random mutation plus natural selection. On the nature of mutations:
  1. On a range from deleterious, to neutral, to beneficial most mutations are 'near neutral' on the negative end, meaning they're deleterious yet inobservable to the naked eye
  2. Nearly no mutations are beneficial - this is an empirical fact
  3. Thus the steady increase of 'near neutral' mutations without any beneficial mutations leads to genetic entropy, not evolution
The major problem seems to be that a truly beneficial mutation would have to be an informed and intelligent one - not a random one. That leads to the problem of whether Selection, whether artificial or natural, can solve this problem. He says no, due to:
  1. The Princess and the Nucleotide Paradox
    1. The breeding population cannot see or, thus, actually select for near-neutral mutations (early Darwinists got around this by coming up with the idea of a 'gene pool' that could sort itself out) but,
    2. Genetic units cannot sort independently - they are so complex and multi-dimensional that one is good in one environment and not another
    3. We cannot identify carriers of a typical nucleotide mutation apart from DNA testing the entire population
  2. The Cost of Selection
    1. Remove too many people from the gene pool and you may go extinct - remove too few and it doesn't amount to anything
    2. Population geneticists believed that the human fertility rate could not deal with a mutation rate of .1 - however we now see that we're dealing with numbers thousands of times higher than that so,
    3. Even if we could pick and choose which mutations we wanted we run into the problem that most of us are 'mutants' and
    4. Even removing 2 billion people from the gene pool would leave billions of mutations per generation and,
    5. Most of the mutations that we might want to get rid of are not even heritable - they are a product of environment, epigenetics, epistasis, etc
The quote that I think best illustrates the last point:

Sources of phenotypic variation: The primary source of phenotypic variation is environmental variation, This variation is not heritable and interferes with selection. The second major source of variation is the interaction of the environment with the genotype. This variation is also not heritable and interferes with selection. Within the genetic component of variation, there is variation due to: epigenetics, epistasis, and dominance. None of these genetic components are heritable and all of them interfere with true long-term selection. There are other genetic components which would otherwise be selectable but are "neutralized", either by homeostatic processes or such things as cyclic selection. All these non-heritable components account for the vast bulk of all phenotypic variation. This leaves additive genetic variation as a relatively insignificant component of phenotypic variation. For a very general phenotypic trait, such as reproductive fitness, additive variation can account for less than 1% of total phenotypic variation. In other words, more than 99% of any selective elimination based upon phenotypic superiority is entirely wasted.

Following this line of thinking it's impossible to conclude that random mutations and natural selection could ever, ever, ever create something as complicated as the genome - at their best their damaging information turns out to be adaptive, at their worse they just rust the whole thing out. There's really no getting around it.

But he does seem prone to catastrophizing, which seems understandable given the data he discusses lends one to the inevitable conclusion of the extinction of the human genome. The chapter concerning the rapid mutation rate of the human genome is pretty concerning. The problem is that this conclusion is still itself based on the primacy of the Primary Axiom. As others have pointed out, and as Sanford's own work suggests, we could reverse the Primary Axiom from "man is merely the product of random mutations and natural selection" to "man is not and never could be merely the product of random mutations and natural selection". They do not explain evolution. And, though they do explain for a large part de-evolution, they certainly aren't the whole picture.

Now in the last chapter of the book Sanford talks about Biological Information: New Perspectives. I found an 8-article series dedicated to this publication on Evolution News. I highly recommend it. https://evolutionnews.org/2013/08/biological_info/
 
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