Evolution 101- part 15: Co-Evolution and Fish Repair

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! (with a low tonight of Evolution 92, and tomorrow a high of Evolution 105 with gusts of Empiricism out of the east) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

BOLD font is me, Rent A Friend 2000, being Bold.

Coevolution: The term coevolution is used to describe cases where two (or more) species reciprocally affect each other’s evolution. So for example, an evolutionary change in the morphology of a plant, might affect the morphology of an herbivore that eats the plant, which in turn might affect the evolution of the plant, which might affect the evolution of the herbivore…and so on.

This would make sense if there was any reason to believe evolution was happening in the first place. So far we have seen none, so providing a scenario where competition or mutual benefit might provide ever changing conditions for natural selection to act in becomes a mental exercise, but still completely unrealistic. For this to matter to the over all scheme of evolution, they need a mechanism by which information is ADDED to the genomes of both species, making it at least twice as unlikely to happen by mutation and other previously discussed mechanisms. If you tear pages out of Green Eggs and Ham AND Peter Rabbit, you will not end up with Lord of the Rings AND The Hobbit. You need some method of adding HUGE amounts of information which, in this case, now relates to the information being added to another volume. Read more of this post

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Brain Fat and the Metaphysical Nickel

Your Rent a Friend is listening to: Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

His Mood is: A little frazzled, a little swingin’ (Which is better than just frazzled)

In order to wrap up our journey across the Metaphysical Map, it is time for us to take a walk around Belief and Knowledge. Get your metaphysical shoes on, strap on your backpack of previous knowledge, and bring some philosophical bug repellant. When we get there, we’ll make hypothetical S’mores!

Let’s recap where we’ve been: GOD creates reality, which includes rubber ducks. I see the rubber duck, and I see it as yellow, which it really is, so what I see is the truth. I have “The Rubber Duck Experience,” which I think was the name of a Jimi Hendrix album. Or it should have been.

My experience of the ducky is now processed in my mind. My experience is chewed thoroughly by the teeth of reason. Reason asks WHY? and HOW? And if it’s classically trained and well versed in Shakespeare, Wherefore art Thou? And then my logic licks the sides of my experience for those tiny flavors of intangible truth which can be discovered with WHAT IF? And then, when I have made connections and met categorical boundaries and defined things according to context and previous experience, my brain takes the step of Faith and swallows my experience so that it can be digested in my memory and metabolized into the muscle of intellect and the fat of useless knowledge which only gets recalled while playing Trivial Pursuit.
If you’ve heard this metaphor word-picture before, I’ll give you a dollar. Suffice it to say, I could continue the metaphor, but let’s all be glad that I did not. It would have used the phrase “Brain Fart.” But I have more class than that.
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Text Without Context is Pretext for Proof Text (And a Person’s a Person no matter how Small)

Hold onto your hats! I, your Rent a Friend, have just made an amazing discovery which will shift the balance of religious debates forever! I was considering the declaration of such people as Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) of there being NO God. As a Christian I know the Bible is completely true and free of errors, so I did a quick search on Biblegateway.com to see what the Bible says about that. And you know what I found? The Bible says “There is no God!” It says it fifteen times!

You think I’m lying. Well, let me quote you few verses:

Deuteronomy 32:39 “There is no god…”

2Samuel 7:22 “…there is no God…”

Psalm 14:1 “…there is no God.”

Over and Over! You think I’m messing with you? You think I made these up? On the contrary. These verses are in no way altered from the original! I looked it up, and then I coped and pasted it here! Have I just BLOWN YOUR MIND?!?!?!

Some of you are probably asking what I’ve left out. And that is an excellent question which brings us to my topic for the day: CONTEXT. When searching for truth in words or the universe around you, the CONTEXT is an important starting point. The Context is, in short, the big picture- the when, where, why, and who which will make clear sense out of the ideas, facts, or events being investigated. In my quotes above, for instance, I’ve left out a little context. When you put it back in, you find the first verse is God saying “There is no god BESIDES ME,” and the next is someone saying to God, “There is no God BUT YOU.” The best one here is Psalm 14:1 “The FOOL says in his heart, “There is no God.”” A little bit of context changes things a bit, wouldn’t you say?

Sorry Richard Dawkins. I guess I can’t help you after all.

Let us now consider the Metaphysical Duck. Our ducky is a small yellow rubber ducky. Suppose I am holding him as I’m typing and I write, “I am holding the ducky right now.” However, you don’t get around to reading this for weeks later. By then, not only am I NOT holding the ducky, but I can’t even find him since having done laundry. He’s lost under the pile of clean clothes that I am lax in putting away. So, is the statement TRUE or FALSE? In order to decide, you must consider the CONTEXT. The context of the statement was the time at which the statement was written. It does not say I am ALWAYS holding the ducky, it only says I am holding him “right now” with the understood context to imply that “right now” tells us that, at the time of the writing of that sentence, I was holding the ducky. It does not say anything about the time AFTER the writing of that sentence.

Similarly, if I were to say “Ronald Regan is the president of the United States,” this would be false because I am saying it NOW, in 2010. If I found that exact same statement having been said or written in 1983, it would be true because the statement IMPLIES the time. The time at which something was said or written, and the person who said or wrote it is its context. Without the context, there is no way to determine if the statement is true of false.

Another piece of CONTEXT is Prior Knowledge- the things you have already learned. Consider this statement: “MY rubber duck is exceptionally large!” IS this true or false? If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know the ducky of which I speak to be around 4 inches tall. This doesn’t answer the question, but it helps. If you also know how big an average rubber ducky is (between 3-5 inches tall), you will know that, in the context of typical rubber ducks, my statement is false. If aliens somehow have transformed him into an 80 foot tall mecha-ducky, we could all agree in THAT context that he was exceptionally large, and fairly likely at some point to wind up fighting with the Power Rangers.

Here is the trouble with some words. How big is “Large”? Is it 200 pounds? Is it six miles? Is it twenty five liters? $4,000? There is no answer to that, because it is a term relative to the context. Compared to the starting lineup for the Miami Dolphins, my ducky is VERY SMALL. Compared to a dust mite, he is HUGE. Thus it is the responsibility of both the speaker/writer to convey the context clearly and the listener/reader to discover the context. Without an understanding of CONTEXT there is much which cannot be determined to be true or false. I think you’ll find that lots of arguments are really based on this misunderstanding. Just listen to anyone arguing about which of two movies is BETTER. Do they mean, “Better at showing alien heads exploding?” or “Better at not whipping the camera around until I want to hurl,” or “Better at making me laugh with inappropriate sound effects,” or “Better at bringing in ridiculous amounts of money at the box office,”? Most of the time people will rant and rave at each other about which is BETTER without ever defining the context of BETTER AT WHAT?

I think we could avoid a lot of angry cafeteria fights (And probably most of those Political News shows) if everyone spent more time defining their context and less time assuming what it might be. One thing which is true no matter who you are or when it happens is this: If you spend an hour fighting with someone, using all of your reasoning skills and college style vocabulary words to demolish their position, but then you both find that you actually agree but simply had no idea what the other person was talking about, you are going to feel REALLY stupid. In this context, I’d like to suggest that maybe listening is better.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what the title of this post means (Text without Context is Pretext for Prooftext), it simply means this: Scripture without context will be used by people to try and get the Bible to say whatever they want it to say, instead of (With context) what it actually says. But as Dr Seuss taught us, everything is more fun to learn when it rhymes.

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