Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Detecting Intelligence in Life's Origins

Pathways to life are envisioned as processes in which random chemical reactions assume a direction toward a living cell. The direction is provided by the natural selection concept. Prior to a point in time when no genome existed, favorable genetic changes would not be invoked by natural selection. So what would be selected and why? The starting point for some involves theorized self-replicating molecules; molecules which participate in the generation of more of the same molecules as long as a supply of reactants is available. For others a series of unknown chemical interactions led to that first cell with replicating qualities from which life evolved. Neither scenario provides a directional compass.

Self-replicating molecule enthusiasts believe such molecules provide both replication qualities and a selection basis pointing the compass toward a first cell. "Mutations" in the process would lead to other self-replicating molecules and eventually a replicating cell. If this sounds like vague, wishful thinking then your appreciation of cellular biology has gotten in the way of mistaking ideological hype for a scientific hypothesis.

While Darwinists have prevailed against Paley and other proponents of design by referencing natural selection as the driving force behind evolution they have avoided, like a skilled matador, having to designate how and on what natural selection would act in driving unspecified reactions toward that initial putative cell. The theoretical deficiency undercuts a natural alternative to intelligent causality at the point of origins.

The argument posed and explored at this site is that intelligence better explains the origin and diversity of life than the contention that life arose and subsequently evolved in the absence of intelligent guidance. The working definition of intelligence is cited from an article appearing in the 12/13/94 edition of the Wall Street Journal referencing a group of 52 psychologists and this:

"Intelligence exists as a very general mental capability involving ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience."

Evidence of reason, planning, problem solving and abstract thinking must be detectable in biological systems. The evidence will be cited and argued without heed to the objection that a supernatural cause decouples the effort from empirical consideration. The objection is religious in nature; entailing a limited set of theological assumptions and presuming a consensus about the interface between the natural and the supernatural. It is also intrinsically anti-intellectual requiring belief in predetermined conclusions. Evidence and sound reason are the standard by which to gauge standard theories as well as alternatives to them. The standard will be probed and tested in the posts that follow.


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