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Thread: Evolution: Asking the neglected question of "why", rather than "how"

  1. #1 Evolution: Asking the neglected question of "why", rather than "how" 
    Forum Freshman EndlessEndeavor's Avatar
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    I ask this question with no religous bias whatsoever, and have a genuine love for objectivity and truth. I understand that my question may be philosophically flawed somehow, and it may very well have an answer. If so, you know what to do.Evolution is dependent on the phenomenon of Abiogenesis, whether that's a common admission or not, it very simply is a truth that can't be avoided. Science allows no room for magical intervention, so if evolution is our biological, chemical, and physical answer for why we are here as we are now; there must also be a non-interventional, natural explanation for why we came to be in the first place. Thus, Abiogenesis.One fundamental question that I can't seem to find an answer to ( that's why I'm here!) is why...Why, after the proper chemical processes and natural conditions for a self-replicating life form to primitively function took place, and Abiogenesis occured, did the self-replicating life form "decide" to make changes that were critical to its survival, rather than simply terminate existence, as at this point, I assume all acts of maintaining homeostasis and preservation are totally passive.If the proper mineral content of the water it was in became depleted, it seems more logical to me that the system would terminate, rather than "overcome" the natural changes by adapting to different primitive nutrient standards.That's just an example, and possibly a bad one, but I'm still stuck on the seemingly obvious solution for poor circumstances for survival being the systematic extinction of an organism, rather than an an adaptation to the new enviornment. In life's most primitive days, it would seem as though the first organism's structure would be more fragile and more easily terminated than sensing a need to adapt. Even if I'm wrong about the fragility within simplicity, evolution still suggests a will, almost conscious, to survive. Of course, in these days, there wasn't an adaptive gene, or a conscious will. So, why? Why survival, over a seemingly simpler passive solution?


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    As you said, the question has no valid basis.
    A rock does not choose to roll down a hill. Any life that did not adapt- died. And since it died, it was not around to ask why it adapted to live.

    There is no answer to "why." Not any kind of a valid answer, anyway.

    It is improper to answer a question with a question. But since we've established that a valid question was not asked- I will feel free to break form: Does it matter if there is or is not a "why?"
    The answer to 'why' can be your own personal choice. Why you choose anything, even if intellectually you are aware that your existence is running on its programming and your life is as meaningless in reality as a rock.
    Because, unlike the rock, you adapted to think, to ask illogical questions such as 'why' and this allows you to do something that the rock cannot- choose.
    You can choose to believe in something... or not to.
    You can choose to make your own 'why' whether it is valid or not.

    Because the only reason we can really see for "why survival over passive termination" is that anything that passively terminated is not around to ask why they did not survive.


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    Forum Freshman EndlessEndeavor's Avatar
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    It is an integrated question involving primitive biology and philosophical questions, certainly there can be no other answer to "why" other than "because it happened that way", but neglecting that philosophical notion; there still exists a physical and chemical combination that resulted in the biological change. I still think these can be addressed, and need to be. " Because it happened that way, things are this way" is extremely general for science.A rock falls off of a cliff by force of gravity, its stability upon the cliff was disrupted by a variety of possibilities. The only way this can be made equatable to the complexity of life is if, somehow, the rock developed a technique for avoiding physical energies that were potentialy destructive. The rock didn't have such a technique, but the organism apparently did-- with an equal amount of ability to influence its surrroundings as the rock.I'm asking if there are components that made a passive, unconscious, primitive life form sense a need to change. Certainly there was, otherwise it'd be little different than the unfortunate little rock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    It is an integrated question involving primitive biology and philosophical questions, certainly there can be no other answer to "why" other than "because it happened that way", but neglecting that philosophical notion; there still exists a physical and chemical combination that resulted in the biological change. I still think these can be addressed, and need to be. " Because it happened that way, things are this way" is extremely general for science.A rock falls off of a cliff by force of gravity, its stability upon the cliff was disrupted by a variety of possibilities. The only way this can be made equatable to the complexity of life is if, somehow, the rock developed a technique for avoiding physical energies that were potentialy destructive. The rock didn't have such a technique, but the organism apparently did-- with an equal amount of ability to influence its surrroundings as the rock.I'm asking if there are components that made a passive, unconscious, primitive life form sense a need to change. Certainly there was, otherwise it'd be little different than the unfortunate little rock.
    The rock did end up with that technique- and is no longer called a rock but an organism.
    A desire for a 'why' will not make one.

    If there was a need to make a change, evolution wouldn't take millions of years. Changes would occur generation to generation.
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    I'm not sure I've ever heard of abiogenesis being hypothesized as an adaptive force by which matter and chemicals come together and create a technique for survival. Sure, the first life form was a randomly organized series of matter, and the same can be said about a rock, but the organism distinguishes itself by self replication. The universe does not have a consious will, an agenda, or the ability to enforce anything but physics and utter passivity. The same can not be said about the universe's particles when they've combined in the proper fashion to be organic. How is it that the first successful life form "knew" that it needed to change, even when the odds favored the exhaustion of the organic structure, and its elemental dispersal, over a change in form/function?
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    Evolution is dependent on the phenomenon of Abiogenesis, whether that's a common admission or not, it very simply is a truth that can't be avoided. Science allows no room for magical intervention, so if evolution is our biological, chemical, and physical answer for why we are here as we are now; there must also be a non-interventional, natural explanation for why we came to be in the first place.

    Thus, Abiogenesis.
    I tend to stay out of participating in the biology section because it's a subject that isn't one of my forte, but this bit of your post caught my eye. Based on what I've read about abiogenesis and what I did manage to understand, biological evolution isn't dependent on abiogenesis to occur. Depending on what other possible explanation for the origins of life as we are familiar with that we may be entertaining, evolution is simply what we recognize to be taking place based on what our pursuit of science (with regards to the long chain of lifeforms that have lived on our planet) has uncovered so far.

    Your post seem to be asking questions about why simple (in)organic matter behave the way they do, or to take it a little further, why do the laws of physics physical laws behave in a way we have managed to identify that they do; leading to why matter behave the way they do and down to why (in)organic matter behaving the way they do . Am I correct in understanding what you are asking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    Evolution is dependent on the phenomenon of Abiogenesis, whether that's a common admission or not, it very simply is a truth that can't be avoided. Science allows no room for magical intervention, so if evolution is our biological, chemical, and physical answer for why we are here as we are now; there must also be a non-interventional, natural explanation for why we came to be in the first place. Thus, Abiogenesis.
    I tend to stay out of participating in the biology section because it's a subject that isn't one of my forte, but this bit of your post caught my eye. Based on what I've read about abiogenesis and what I did manage to understand, biological evolution isn't dependent on abiogenesis to occur. Depending on what other possible explanation for the origins of life as we are familiar with that we may be entertaining, evolution is simply what we recognize to be taking place based on what our pursuit of science (with regards to the long chain of lifeforms that have lived on our planet) has uncovered so far. Your post seem to be asking questions about why simple (in)organic matter behave the way they do. Am I correct in understanding what you are asking?
    Basically, yes, as reactivity to changes seems to oversimplify a literal will to preserve the individual/species, and to my understanding, at this level, such a will could not have existed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    Basically, yes, as reactivity to changes seems to oversimplify a literal will to preserve the individual/species, and to my understanding, at this level, such a will could not have existed.
    I wouldn't call it a "will" to do anything; think of it as properties exhibited by matter that we have came to identity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydoo1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    Basically, yes, as reactivity to changes seems to oversimplify a literal will to preserve the individual/species, and to my understanding, at this level, such a will could not have existed.
    I wouldn't call it a "will" to do anything; think of it as properties exhibited by matter that we have came to identity.
    Certainly there is no presence of a will or desire within the basic anatomy, but evolution suggests otherwise in the behavior of all organisms. I understand my question might present a philosophical conundrum when I involve the question "why"? But it does not go against the laws of evolution, in fact, it completely conforms to them, to assume that life adapts at all levels to facilitate its own survival. At the post-abiogenesis level, such behavior seems like an impossibility. When things get "rough", does a structure change to manipulate how it processes the new environment, or does the environment alter the structure of the organism? Almost certainly the latter... And as it seems, a change in structure would end the lives of the first organisms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    does a structure change to manipulate how it processes the new environment, or does the environment alter the structure of the organism? Almost certainly the latter...
    I'd spend some time (more than five times) re-reading your question, attempting to figure out if both descriptions are synonymous. Our environment is dynamic (that is to say that it is non-static), if a (I'm assuming you meant organic) structure "changes" to better cope in a dynamic system, it is said to react (to environmental stimulus), so in a sense, environmental changes stimulates an organism to react to "newer" conditions. An organism facing sure such environmental changes can either adapt to these changes, move away to "greener pastures", or die out if it isn't able to do either.

    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    And as it seems, a change in structure would end the lives of the first organisms.
    As in adding an additional line into a triangle turning it into a square; similarly ended the life of the triangle? There is a word to describe that; evolution.


    In retrospect, the triangle+square example wasn't a decent one. When a catepillar changes/morphs into a butterfly, the catepillar didn't actually die.
    Last edited by scoobydoo1; March 24th, 2013 at 04:16 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    Evolution is dependent on the phenomenon of Abiogenesis, whether that's a common admission or not, it very simply is a truth that can't be avoided.
    Not really. Evolution would still work if life had been created by the god Odin or aliens from the planet Zork.

    But it is likely that life arose from a pre-biotic "chemical evolution". Those reactions which were successful continued while those that didn't, well, didn't. If some of these reactions led to the construction of more complex compounds and more complex interactions, driven by a source of energy, then that could eventually have led to systems that were self-sustaining. As conditions changed, the balance of successful reactions changed.

    In the end, as in all of chemistry and physics, the "why" comes down to thermodynamics. Why do systems try to minimize their energy? Because that is what "energy" means.

    The rest of you post is so woolly ("will"? What is that? How do we measure it?) that it probably belongs in philosophy rather than biology.

    Are you familiar with any of the work being done to understand the details of possible routes to abiogenesis? Do you want to discuss the details of those and which are more plausible? Or are you more interested in metaphysics ("why").
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Actually, I did ask because I'm pretty ignorant of how the whole thing started-- not its origins; those are pretty easily understood as physics and chemistry working together, as well as autonomously to create what we know as biology-- but how it led to the eventual success and diversity in organic life that did occur. It simply seemed to me that anything without the previously evolved mechanisms for adaptation, could not adapt, and were doomed for termination. Using "will" and asking "why?" may have given the wrong impression about the answers I'm looking for, perhaps that's why my understanding of primitive life is somewhat undernourished...poor wording ( search engines...)Make no mistake, I imply nothing metaphysical in my curiosity of early life, and what made it successful. There is a philosophical component to the question, but I am not seeking a philosophical answer
    If at first you don't succeed, it wasn't meant to be. It's just a waste of time 'cause the unions just gonna take your money anyway, 'cause they jealous that we got an extra bone in our body that makes us smarter, but don't nobody in science care to acknowledge that, and you were an unwanted pregnancy, and you ruined my dirtbikin career, and get outta my sight you disgust me! You talking bout that one daddy?
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    And certainly evolution can exist with literally any proposal for how life originated, but currently, as much as I have to learn, abiogenesis offers the best explanation because it doesn't violate any natural laws, and is testable, testable with some grand challenges, that is. It relies on the question of what is more likely: the highly, absurdly improbable, or the impossible (that which no evidence at all exists for...)
    If at first you don't succeed, it wasn't meant to be. It's just a waste of time 'cause the unions just gonna take your money anyway, 'cause they jealous that we got an extra bone in our body that makes us smarter, but don't nobody in science care to acknowledge that, and you were an unwanted pregnancy, and you ruined my dirtbikin career, and get outta my sight you disgust me! You talking bout that one daddy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    Actually, I did ask because I'm pretty ignorant of how the whole thing started
    Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to help you learn more about this specifically.

    I have read a number of articles over the years about different hypotheses for the possible origins of pre-biotic chemistry and eventually life. One of the most interesting involves hydrothermal vents and proton pumps. I'm afraid I don't have any good sources to suggest for more detail.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessEndeavor View Post
    I'm not sure I've ever heard of abiogenesis being hypothesized as an adaptive force by which matter and chemicals come together and create a technique for survival. Sure, the first life form was a randomly organized series of matter, and the same can be said about a rock, but the organism distinguishes itself by self replication. The universe does not have a consious will, an agenda, or the ability to enforce anything but physics and utter passivity. The same can not be said about the universe's particles when they've combined in the proper fashion to be organic. How is it that the first successful life form "knew" that it needed to change, even when the odds favored the exhaustion of the organic structure, and its elemental dispersal, over a change in form/function?
    Why are you separating organisms from all other matter? Planets and stars are animate. They evolve, survive and die. They are examples of emergence: Complex structures arising out of chaos.
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    Nothing that evolves "knows that it needs to change". Just asking that question says clearly that you are not understanding evolution. The first living cells did not know that they needed to change. Life does not want to evolve, it is trying to stay the same. It wants to replicate itself. Change happens because no process in this universe is perfect. Evolutionary "procress" is due to lucky mistakes.
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