Is evolution falsifiable? What would falsify evolution?

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07 Dec 2009, 1:51 pm

LiberalJustice wrote:
The Bible.


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Awesomelyglorious
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07 Dec 2009, 2:09 pm

LiberalJustice wrote:
The Bible.

If the Bible proves evolution wrong, then it seems that the Bible contradicts evolution, correct?

Evolution is a scientific theory. Scientific theories are based upon evidence and reason.

If the Bible contradicts evolution, and evolution is a scientific theory, does this mean that the Bible is contradicted by evidence and reason? If the Bible is contradicted by evidence and reason, then shouldn't it be the other way around, and that evolution proves the Bible wrong? If not, then by what evidence or reason would you argue otherwise? :P



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07 Dec 2009, 2:32 pm

If a life type were found on this planet that was not based on DNA, that would falsify the Theory of Evolution which assumes were are all descended from one or a very few kinds of life that originated somehow by natural means.

So far every last living creature be it plant, animal or other is a DNA based life form indicating a common origin sometime in the deep past.

Humans and cabbages are cousins.

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07 Dec 2009, 3:07 pm

Orwell wrote:
Nambo wrote:
Not an inconsistency Iam afraid, though you would have to read the whole Bible to get the issue.
To sum it up, the Devil had free will, and just like us, decided to use that free will for selfish purposes, his selfish purpose involved turning man away from God with the promise he could be better off without him, God therefore has let things take its course to see if man was better off under God or Satans dominion.
He has set a time when the Devil will be vanquished and such an allready answered issue will never be permitted again.

I didn't see that anywhere in my Bible.


Heres a bit from Ezekiel, you can find more in Genesis, and Revelation, and in the message of the Bible as a complete message.

28:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 28:2 “Son of man, say to the prince 1 of Tyre, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“‘Your heart is proud 2 and you said, “I am a god; 3

I sit in the seat of gods, in the heart of the seas” –

yet you are a man and not a god,

though you think you are godlike. 4

28:3 Look, you are wiser than Daniel; 5

no secret is hidden from you. 6

28:4 By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself;

you have amassed gold and silver in your treasuries.

28:5 By your great skill 7 in trade you have increased your wealth,

and your heart is proud because of your wealth.

28:6 “‘Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says:

Because you think you are godlike, 8

28:7 I am about to bring foreigners 9 against you, the most terrifying of nations.

They will draw their swords against the grandeur made by your wisdom, 10

and they will defile your splendor.

28:8 They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die violently 11 in the heart of the seas.

28:9 Will you still say, “I am a god,” before the one who kills you –

though you are a man and not a god –

when you are in the power of those who wound you?

28:10 You will die the death of the uncircumcised 12 by the hand of foreigners;

for I have spoken, declares the sovereign Lord.’”

28:11 The word of the Lord came to me: 28:12 “Son of man, sing 13 a lament for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“‘You were the sealer 14 of perfection,

full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

28:13 You were in Eden, the garden of God. 15

Every precious stone was your covering,

the ruby, topaz, and emerald,

the chrysolite, onyx, and jasper,

the sapphire, turquoise, and beryl; 16

your settings and mounts were made of gold.

On the day you were created they were prepared.

28:14 I placed you there with an anointed 17 guardian 18 cherub; 19

you were on the holy mountain of God;

you walked about amidst fiery stones.

28:15 You were blameless in your behavior 20 from the day you were created,

until sin was discovered in you.

28:16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, 21 and you sinned;

so I defiled you and banished you 22 from the mountain of God –

the guardian cherub expelled you 23 from the midst of the stones of fire.

28:17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;

you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor.

I threw you down to the ground;

I placed you before kings, that they might see you.

28:18 By the multitude of your iniquities, through the sinfulness of your trade,

you desecrated your sanctuaries.

So I drew fire out from within you;

it consumed you,

and I turned you to ashes on the earth

before the eyes of all who saw you.

28:19 All who know you among the peoples are shocked at you;

you have become terrified and will be no more.’”



DentArthurDent
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07 Dec 2009, 3:55 pm

^ its ok, just take a seat and the doctor will be along shortly


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Meta
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07 Dec 2009, 6:13 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
What is an "intelligence"? What is "intentional"? If all things are atoms, then what is the difference between different processes?
Setting aside that not all things are atoms ;) The difference is huge. This goes back to Anderson's More is different. A composite of parts is more then just any sum of the physical properties of the parts. The way the composite is constructed is of fundamental importance. Life is consistent with physics, but it can't be derived from physics. The specific organization gives in a sense it own laws and regularities which just don't follow from the physical properties of the parts. Only when combined these features emerge; or not. And which features? It depends on the specific way in which it was combined.
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Where does one say that one process begins and another process ends? I mean, ants have some level of intelligence in that they respond to their environment, particularly as a group, and who is to say that they do not intend to create colonies?
I do one better: All life is intelligent? In the sense that it's an intelligent system.
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
It isn't as if some test of intention exists, some people seem to deny that an AI could have intention, but we still say that NIs do despite a lack of clear difference. Frankly, I am not sure that people have as much intention as they claim to, and I consider our mental processes to just be another variant of process, but I am not sure that "intelligence" has many good objective definitions.
Have you ever seen an NI? Can you prove that you are a NI and not an AI?

Btw. The courts make judgment call on intent every day. The lack of a proper test does not seem to stop anyone.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Now, being that you are an AI enthusiast, you might once again propose a definition, but given that to some people the notion of AI is impossible, I will have to consider that some intuitions will then essentially say that intelligence is impossible, simply because these intuitions that apply to AI should properly apply to all intelligences. (think about the chinese room and how it argues that mind is incompatible with distributed intelligences, which all known intelligences are)
Indeed. It's either both or none at all. Notice that if ID is true, we are in fact AIs, not NIs.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Quote:
Introducing a designer (ID) or cosmic origin (panspermia) would allow one to say that intelligent life (from the context of this universe) always existed, either one would solve the problem I presented.

Except the solution is ad hoc.
Not if properly argued from observable facts. It can be an inevitable conclusion rather then or instead of a convenient starting point.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
That alone discredits it as a scientific answer, regardless of whether or not it is true.
I don't think so. If it is indeed the case (which I doubt) it just means that science need to grow and extend.

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Simply because we could never distinguish such an idea from a natural process. After all, what we say about a natural process is always contingent upon our understanding of a natural process. If we always understand natural processes imperfectly, then it becomes very difficult to absolutely declare what a natural process cannot do, particularly given that sometimes an unforeseen creative leap is necessary to make progress.
True. However, normally one needs to prove that a process is capable?

Asking to prove something is impossible is not very scientific. If I claim there are unicorns I would need to provide the evidence for their existence. To ask "prove that unicorns can't exist?" is not really a scientific question at all. It's the defense of dogma, not science.

To claims that a process of variation-selection can cause hmo requires proper evidence. One can't just assume this to be true unless someone proves it wrong. Again, it is the defense of dogma, not science.

In general: Don't confuse the map with reality? If reality does not fit any science. then it's science which needs to change. This is the way it has always been. Science has never been a fixed, unchanging process. No. It has always been dynamic and active, adapting to new information and insights.



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07 Dec 2009, 6:55 pm

Meta wrote:
Setting aside that not all things are atoms ;)

The point is rhetorical, as I accept the existence of forces and of energy, but the issue is of special properties.

Quote:
The difference is huge. This goes back to Anderson's More is different. A composite of parts is more then just any sum of the physical properties of the parts. The way the composite is constructed is of fundamental importance. Life is consistent with physics, but it can't be derived from physics. The specific organization gives in a sense it own laws and regularities which just don't follow from the physical properties of the parts. Only when combined these features emerge; or not. And which features? It depends on the specific way in which it was combined.

Life also is just a term for certain patterns. The fact that something is alive does not distinguish it on any ontological level from something that isn't alive, at least not looking at life from a scientific perspective.

The problem is that terms like "intelligence" and "intention" are more ontologically oriented, as they emerge from our anthropomorphic self-regard, but aren't properly reductionist scientific descriptions of reality.

Now, does this mean that separating certain studies doesn't make sense? No, it does make sense simply to see the effects of things as we observe them currently together. But utility for science doesn't justify a description's foundations any more than saying "naturalism is that which is not supernatural, such as gremlins and gods", as both descriptors are quite pragmatically useful.

Quote:
I do one better: All life is intelligent? In the sense that it's an intelligent system.

So, you just mean that something is intelligently designed if a biological process goes into making it?? And thus all things altered by life are artificial? Does this then mean that we have an artificial atmosphere? How about artificial food sources? It seems that all of them are artificial because many of them are simply tricks by plants to spread their seed.

Quote:
Have you ever seen an NI? Can you prove that you are a NI and not an AI?

Btw. The courts make judgment call on intent every day. The lack of a proper test does not seem to stop anyone.

I never said I have seen an NI, but most people assume they *are* NIs, so that is relevant.

Most people make judgment calls on what is supernatural, if they didn't then you wouldn't expect the term to pop up so much. The lack of a proper test does not seem to stop anyone. So, if you are going back to a pragmatic rule, then your dismissal of the term supernatural also doesn't hold very well.

The fact of the matter is that the court system is an ad hoc system of past philosophical premises and past cultural developments. It does not presume that intentions exist. In fact, a major US judge, Richard Posner once wrote that the entire concept of a mind is problematic given how little the consciousness(which is typically considered philosophically necessary for intent) is irrelevant for human actions.

Quote:
Indeed. It's either both or none at all. Notice that if ID is true, we are in fact AIs, not NIs.

Depends on what is intelligently designed.

Quote:
Not if properly argued from observable facts. It can be an inevitable conclusion rather then or instead of a convenient starting point.

Well, ok, but "it solves X problem" isn't a proper argument, and few proper arguments are possible. One has to either point to evidence of an intelligent designer's lab, or some evidence favoring the likelihood of an off-world landing of outside material. In any case, I develop this in the overall paragraph.

Quote:
I don't think so. If it is indeed the case (which I doubt) it just means that science need to grow and extend.

Science being limited does not mean that science needs to grow. Limits can and do serve a purpose.

Quote:
True. However, normally one needs to prove that a process is capable?

Well, one has to have an alternative theory, however, one has to recognize that certain possibilities are so open that they create too many ad hoc hypotheses in order to accept them.

Quote:
Asking to prove something is impossible is not very scientific. If I claim there are unicorns I would need to provide the evidence for their existence. To ask "prove that unicorns can't exist?" is not really a scientific question at all. It's the defense of dogma, not science.

The accepted framework of the scientific process has to be shown as incapable in order for these questions to be asked within a scientific model. This requires essentially showing the impossibility of all more reasonable candidates. For example if there are hoof-prints then I must first prove that they weren't from a horse, a donkey, and a mule, before I move to the fanciful idea of a unicorn.

In any case, scientific questions are the questions asked by scientists in their efforts to create descriptive theories. And the fact of the matter is that science needs frameworks that tell it what questions are the right questions and which ones are the wrong questions. So far, the basic framework of a focus on natural processes has been one of the major reasons for scientific success, so overthrowing this paradigm shouldn't happen overnight but rather in response to a problem that seems insoluble without changing perspective, and where a different perspective seems intellectually fruitful. You want a paradigm shift, but I don't think it is yet warranted.

Quote:
To claims that a process of variation-selection can cause hmo requires proper evidence. One can't just assume this to be true unless someone proves it wrong. Again, it is the defense of dogma, not science.

One can assume this to be the case if our best theory/paradigm suggests that it is the case at the present moment. This does not mean that that this is necessarily the case, this does not mean that we have already found a lot of evidence for this matter, this merely means that we are going to start off biased towards the answer that we've already accepted in other places, and the answer that we've found very fruitful. If another answer that is testable and that provides ample explanation for why it happens ends up emerging, and shows good signs of offering valid answers, then people might change opinion.

However, science works within the framework of paradigm. Scientists themselves are somewhat dogmatic and the field can be slow to change to address new theories. This isn't even necessarily evil, it is just how things work. I mean, for every theory of relativity, there are probably a dozen crackpot ideas where people want to change the prevailing ideas.



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07 Dec 2009, 7:19 pm

If I then may add a conclusion: For alternative theories like ID to be considered one first need to change the paradigm.

Note however then when one presents evidence in this direction one is often label as only presenting negative evidence not positive evidence. Any positive evidence can't be presented because it does not fit within established paradigm. This might be the main reason why progress sometimes requires generations: The old paradigm needs to literally die out for their to be any progress.

I find only one point of disagreement with your (very well written) post:

One does not have to present an (better) alternative if one points out the defects of any theory. To quote Leslie Orgel:

Quote:
Theories ... cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own.
Missing any positive evidence is a bad thing, regardless if there are or aren't better alternative theories.



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07 Dec 2009, 9:41 pm

Meta wrote:
If I then may add a conclusion: For alternative theories like ID to be considered one first need to change the paradigm.

Well... yes, and the reason for the opposition is because most scientists consider evolution to be a satisfactory theory, and other possibilities as too negative for that moment.

Quote:
Note however then when one presents evidence in this direction one is often label as only presenting negative evidence not positive evidence. Any positive evidence can't be presented because it does not fit within established paradigm. This might be the main reason why progress sometimes requires generations: The old paradigm needs to literally die out for their to be any progress.

Well... to a certain extent I will agree somewhat. Switching directions does require some powerful shifts in perspective that can make each paradigm fail to be comprehended by past ones. Before Newton, theology was the mother of the sciences, but afterwards science took on some of it's own direction. I doubt that this most changes are just a matter of negative evidence though, but rather of compelling theories that answer compelling questions with compelling methods, even if they ignore the questions of past paradigms.

Quote:
I find only one point of disagreement with your (very well written) post:

One does not have to present an (better) alternative if one points out the defects of any theory. To quote Leslie Orgel:
Quote:
Theories ... cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own.
Missing any positive evidence is a bad thing, regardless if there are or aren't better alternative theories.

Well, I am going to continue to disagree here, simply because the best theory at the present moment still has to be considered valuable on the ground of being the best theory available. You yourself have admitted that each theory is just an attempt to be less wrong. Not only that, but to leave one theory for no theory is to give up the scientific process, as if there is no faith in the possibility of solving a problem and efforts to do so, then scientific progress has completely ceased.

Not only that, but all theories will miss evidence. That's why there are further efforts to refine them.

In any case, I am still going to be cynical towards ID on the grounds that I still cannot see the scientific viability of ID. After all, although I will admit it logically possible that science changes to incorporate ID, I am quite cynical to such a movement without discovering some sort of ancient genetic manipulation technology or something like that. Not only that, but I doubt that I will rethink my position unless I start hearing about changes in the community of scientific models of how or why or when things were designed, and something adequately specific.



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07 Dec 2009, 10:36 pm

Nambo wrote:
All this talk about fossils now being found to prove evolution, can somebody post a link or two showing these please?, I have a book promoting evolution, a few years old now I admit, but without exception, wherever one creature evolves into another it states no fossils found of the inbetween stage.

The notion of "intermediary" forms is actually a bit of a confusing one to many people. We certainly have forms that are intermediate between those found earlier in the fossil record and those found later (or extant today) and between a form construed as ancestral to some other form.

The problem is one of classification. If A is the ancestor of C, and B is a descendent form of A and ancestral to C, then the form B is either sufficiently like A to be a subunit of A, or sufficiently like C to be a subunit of C, or actually a form of its own B. If it is a form of its own, then it is construed as its own species. Then someone might come along and say we have no intermediary between A and B or B and C, but if we found one, then it is either itself, A B or C, or a distinct form for which we would give another name. No matter how many forms we add, they are either a subset of the earlier forms or distinct and classified accordingly. So it might appear there are no intermediary forms, but it's merely a semantic classificatory issue, not an actual absence of obviously closely related fossils that shows stages between earlier fossils/forms and later fossils/forms (oversimplifying here a little as often ancestral forms continue sympatrically with descendant forms).

The most significant point is that all forms are intermediary.

Quote:
I was under the impression that it was due to the absence of said intermediate fossils despite modern digging equipment, that had lead scientists down the mutation theory route?

Er......put shortly, no.

Mutation refers to genetic variations. The simplist mutation is a "single point" mutation. DNA is made of individual molecules. The removal, addition, or substition of a single molecule in a DNA strand is a single point mutation. The discovery of the structure and properties of DNA is the source from which information about mutation derives.

The theory that evolution occurs is actually rather ancient, some old dead Greek people believed it occured as a result of "love" for instance. Lamarck beleived it occured as a result of what one's parents did (so would believe that the reason a giraffe has a long neck is because the ancestors of modern giraffes were always stretching their necks a lot). Darwin proposed that as forms are varied, some are more succesful than others, and resultingly they contribute more off-spring to the next generation. Those of their off-spring who have inherited the advantageous variation will have the same reproductive advantages, and consequently the net effect over generations is that the trait becomes fixed at a high level or even pervasive to the breeding population concerned.

Darwin did not know how variation arose, nor the mechanics of its inheritance. Mendel (a monk) studied sweet pea plants and was able to demonstrate a number of important aspects of the mechnics of inheritance, including independent assortment, and dominance/recession. The structure of DNA was discovered much later still (about halfway through last century).



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08 Dec 2009, 1:14 am

The critical point about the basic concept of intelligent design and its fundamental necessity of a mysterious and total initiator and the currently scientifically accepted concept that life and its consequent diversity is the result of the tendencies of certain combinations of basic elements to fall into patterns under the observable forces of chemistry and environment is that the evolutionary paradigm provides manipulative handles for making changes and exploration.

The intelligent design concept provides a black box with a little hole at the bottom from which proceeds ducks and dinosaurs and diatoms, alligators and antelopes and aardvarks, simians and squirrels and songbirds, etc. No relationships or antecedents or consequent variations. That's the way it was, is, and always will be unless cataclysm and human culture intervene and wipe away a few species.

Evolution provides handles. You can either take one form of DNA and jiggle it into another variety to provide fluorescent fish or crops that have caterpillar capabilities or find ways to prolong life or invest it with peculiar capabilities that never have appeared before in nature. No laboratory, as far as I know, offers up prayers to an insubstantial being to change the methods of DNA interaction. There are physical tools in laboratories that also exists in natural environments and these tools have been operative for many millions of years.

The cry that life forms could not be formed by accident is relevant only in the sense that there are no accidents in nature. An accident is something that happens unexpectedly when something else was desired. Nature has no desires. Things just happen, period. You can be sure that the laboratory of the universe is somewhat bigger than that at Monsanto or Dupont. And nature does not try just a few things to see what happens. It tries everything and doesn't give a damn whatever happens. It no more makes accidents than Jackson Pollock made accidents. He just made interesting stuff and sold it for lots of money and if it wasn't interesting he threw it away. That's what nature does too with no intent or goal whatsoever.

There simply is no fun or money in intelligent design. Curious humans like to screw around with stuff and all the religious doctrines I have heard of are horrified about screwing around in all senses of the phrase. From the Frankenstein monster to the ancient calling up of demons to Dr.Jekyll's attempts at self improvement religion is terrified that humans should get their hands on the levers that run the cosmos and, unfortunately, that's where all the fun is. A few miscalculations along the way like blowing up Hiroshima and Chernobyl and the soon to be forthcoming robot military soldiers may shake up things along the way but be assured, nature makes no accidents and humanity is definitely part of nature even if only a temporary amusement.



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08 Dec 2009, 1:21 am

Totally irrelevant, but i've noticed AG started his rebuttals with "Well" when he quoted three times in his last post. <.<



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08 Dec 2009, 3:03 am

phil777 wrote:
Totally irrelevant, but i've noticed AG started his rebuttals with "Well" when he quoted three times in his last post. <.<

I did that mostly because I like "well" and because it is a good way to show hesitation in accepting a person's statement while still giving ability to agree or disagree.



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08 Dec 2009, 9:29 am

@Sand We seem to have very different (almost exactly reversed) views.

I see Intelligent Design as familiar: ID only requires intelligence and knowledge, nothing more. Life is then just advanced nano-technology. It means that we have a decent chance to be able to figure out how life works, how it was constructed, and duplicate this process. It does not require anything out side of our abilities. It demonstrates that AIs are possible? To be allows us to consider purpose, goals, etc., both how and why questions do make sense; and the answer follows from the design choices made. ID will make it much more fun!

A process of genetic mutation and natural selection without intelligence, design or plan is totally different from how we would create stuff. Even very simple systems generated by such a process totally baffles us. We would have no hope at all of ever figuring out how a complicated system like life works if that's the process by which it became what it is. Biology would be fundamentally different from any human designed technology. Both the how and why will in most cases remain forever unknowable -- leave us only speculation -- because most of the steps did not leave anything behind. Something like that just happened to happen would be the best we could manage most of the time. Life would forever remain a mysterious black box that we just can't open. We will never be able to control it. It just wouldn't be much fun.

Like I said, an almost exactly reversal of views and expectations.



Last edited by Meta on 08 Dec 2009, 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sand
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08 Dec 2009, 10:03 am

Meta wrote:
@Sand We seem to have a very different (almost exactly reversed) view.

I see Intelligent Design as familiar: ID only requires intelligence and knowledge, nothing more. Life is then just advanced nano-technology. It means that we have a decent chance to be able to figure out how life works, how it was constructed, and duplicate this process. It does not require anything out side of our abilities. It demonstrates that AIs are possible? To be allows us to consider purpose, goals, etc., both how and why questions make sense. ID makes it much more fun!

A process of genetic mutation and natural selection without intelligence, design or plan is totally different from how we would create stuff. Even very simple systems generated by such a process totally baffles us. We would have no hope of ever figuring out how a complicated system like life works if that's the process by which it became what it is. Biology would be fundamentally different from any human designed technology. Life would forever remain a mysterious black box that we just can't open. This just wouldn't be fun.

Like I said, an almost exactly reversal of views and expectations.


Your basic inherent assumption seems to be that the universe functioning on random situations could not produce the complex forms that life demonstrates all around us. The key, of course, is the assumption of random forces and again that intelligence requires a conscious mind directed by intent.

First of all, the universe is not random. Aside from radioactive decay and quantum activity the universe at our macro scale is exceedingly predictable. The success of many missions into space wherein forces can be accounted for and directed to a purposeful end many years ahead indicates that randomness is located only at a few distinct isolated phenomena. Cause and effect are still very much in appearance.

When human intelligence is analyzed it can be seen to function in a specific way. A problem requiring a solution demands an understanding of how the components of a solution interact and how they might be modified and controlled to produce a desired result. Intelligence works through virtual inputs and outputs on a conceived model to economize effort in reaching a solution. Nature has no desired solutions and it has the immense space and energies and facilities to industrially work through all the possibilities its huge fund of time permits. It does not work economically but its tremendous resources require no economy and it can build upon its solutions in a way human capabilities never have nor possibly ever could have. This is a very different form of intellect without mind and without intent and people who think only in human terms of intellect can, it seems, not perceive how these automatic processes are capable of producing all the organic wonders we see around us. But this is how it happened.