Saturday, March 17, 2012

Church playing God - let there be passanger pigeons!

George Church with a molecular model (2010)

"George Church (August 28, 1954- ) is an American molecular geneticist. He is currently Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University." (wikipedia)

BBC Future article published on 29 February 2012 tells about the work in progress by Professor George Church and his colleagues around the world on using DNA code to resurrect extinct animal species.  It is simultaneously very interesting and very Frankenstein like scary reading:

Hunting passanger pigeons

A century ago, vast flocks of passenger pigeons covered the North American skies. Hundreds of millions, even billions, stretched across the horizon in every direction. A flyover could last an entire day. “It was this beautiful super-organism, like a dragon going through the skies,” says Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church.

And then European settlers arrived. Mass hunting and habitat loss rapidly reduced their numbers until on 1 September 1914, Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, died in Cincinnati Zoo.

But if Church has his way, this majestic sight could one day return to our skies. Armed with new reproductive biology and genome engineering technologies, he and other scientists are dreaming up ambitious plans to resurrect long-dead animals from pigeons to Tasmanian tigers and woolly mammoths. The same technologies could also prevent endangered species from going the way of the dodo – or the passenger pigeon.

The article goes on providing plenty of interesting and informative materials like the role of Dolly, the cloned sheep (5 July 1996 – 14 February 2003), and current research including Russian and Japanese attempts to resurrect the Woolly Mammoth.

Mammoth DNA statistics

Woolly Mammoths became extinct after the last Ice Age
This could have increased temperatures by up to 0.2°C 
at high latitudes in the northern hemisphere.

These genomes exist in the form of computerised data, but they could serve as a blueprint for altering the DNA of a cell from a closely related species. For instance, the code of a woolly mammoth’s genome differs from an African elephant’s by roughly 240,000 DNA letters out of a total of 4 billion, though most of these changes are not likely to have a biological effect. An elephant iPS cell engineered to contain those mutations would theoretically be capable of producing woolly mammoth sperm.

Better yet, the woolly mammoth stem cells could be implanted besides an elephant embryo early in development, producing a chimera animal with some tissues made from elephant cells and others from mammoths. In some individuals the mammoth cells would contribute to sperm or eggs, and these cells be used to create a genuine mammoth through IVF.

Stem cell research in focus
Christian Church is, of course, taking a look at the work of George Church and other geneticists for this line of research has broad implications to everything living upon Earth.

Unfortunately, the track record of Church and natural sciences is not all that good and just the Pope saying Nope is not enough any more to stop the unstoppable train.

Top politicians, including decision makers at the highest levels of legislature, must take public positions on rapidly advancing stem cell research. And their views count at the polls. President Ronald Reagan new this and so did George Bush, and the matter has not escaped the attention of President Barak Obama, either.

Michael's warning against playing God
Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

The Sci-fi book by Michael Crichton, made by Steven Spielberg into the spectacular movie Jurassic Park, begins to look like more and more a secular prophecy ... and a rather scary one, for that!

In the book the Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (acted by Jeff Goldblum) has much of mumbo jumbo about Chaos theory. But his warning message boils down to the simple Law of of Murphy - if something can go wrong it will go wrong.

The realistic special effects in the movie really brought alive extinct species in an unforgettable manner - we have been there although live Tyrannosaurus Rex in New York does look a bit ridiculous.

The message of the futuristic book of Crichton is becoming very realistic, as well, as time goes on.

Let us all hope that later generations will not see in Michael Crichton the Jules Verne of our days and wonder why we did not take heed of his sound warning.

For George Church is playing God.

Without the broader understanding of the ramifications of tinkering with DNA only God of Israel has.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Evolution and USA presidential elections

Creativity with facts in Creation Museum
Vegetarian Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Garden of Eden with Adam

The Confessions of the Darwinist Niles Eldredge telling about Ronald Reagan campaign is also a reminder how politically important evolution is also today when US Christian believers go to presidential polls with the crowds.

Evolution may not become an issue for debate between the candidates. Sarah Palin's comments on dinosaurs and people living together in perfect harmony are still fresh in memory. The theme is in the background and  Christian leaders may suggest that the position a presidential candidate takes on the thorny issue of teaching creationism in public schools is also a measure of his or her commitment to the Bible.

The political importance of the evolution-creation debate explains why Niles Eldredge decided to write a book on the subject as recently as in 2000.

And why it is so essential that Christians take seriously the lies Creationists are spreading in the name of defending the Scriptures - they twist both the Bible and the Nature God has created.

Niles Eldredge - Punctuated Equilibrium

"Niles Eldredge is a curator of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and codiscoverer with Stephen Jay Gould of the theory of punctuated equilibrium—a milestone in evolutionary theory. His numerous books on evolution include Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory (Wiley, 1995), The Triumph of Evolution . . . And the Failure of Creationism (Freeman, 2000), Why We Do It: Rethinking Sex and the Selfish Gene (Norton, 2004), and most recently Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life (Norton, 2005), which he wrote to accompany the exhibit “Darwin,” which he curated at the American Museum of Natural History." Virginia Quarterly Review 2006

This is a well-written and interesting "confession" - highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the times and background of Charles Darwin's theory. I find it intriguing that Niles Eldredge gives so much importance to Creationism that he has published a book on the subject in 2000.

What caught my attention in this article is a quote from a book written by Gaylord Simpson who was his predecessor as Curator of  Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. It describes nicely the tension between those professionals who are studying history of life through fossils and those who use genetics and DNA for the task. (When I noticed this while studying Cambrian fossil evidence of early life I separated the lines of inquiry and opened this blog.)

Quote begins
Indeed, had I read the introduction to my distinguished predecessor George Gaylord Simpson’s famous 1944 book Tempo and Mode in Evolution, I might have seen that paleontology was a decidedly rocky road for walking the evolutionary walk. Simpson had wryly encapsulated the tension between geneticists and paleontologists when he wrote:

Not long ago paleontologists felt that a geneticist was a person who shut himself in a room, pulled down the shades, watched small flies disporting themselves in bottles, and thought that he was studying nature. A pursuit so removed from the realities of life, they said, had no signficance for the true biologist.

On the other hand, the geneticists said that paleontology had no further contributions to make to biology, that its only point had been the completed demonstration of the truth of evolution, and that it was a subject too purely descriptive to merit the name “science.” The paleontologist, they believed, is like a man who undertakes to study the principles of the internal combustion engine by standing on a street corner and watching the motor cars whiz by. G. G. Simpson,Tempo and Mode in Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1944), xvVirginia Quarterly Review 2006

But there is more!

Curators Niles and George got into troubles not only with other professionals with that punctuated equilibrium but also with Creationists:

The creationists of the day got into the act as well.

In a clear demonstration of how thoroughly political the creationist movement has always been in the United States, Ronald Reagan told reporters, after addressing a throng of Christian ministers during the 1980 presidential campaign, that evolution “is a theory, a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed.” The creationist who managed to get to Reagan’s handlers later bragged to me that those scientists in question were none other than Gould and me. [huh...]

The syllogism ran something like this:
(1) Darwin said that evolution is slow, steady, and gradual;
(2) some scientists say that evolution consists of rapid bursts of change interrupting vastly longer periods of evolutionary stagnation; ergo,
(3) some scientists don’t follow Darwin, meaning
(4) some scientists oppose evolution.

Then, as now, at least in the public domain, “Darwin” is code for “evolution.” The two are virtual synonyms.
Virginia Quarterly Review 2006

Punctuated equilibrium - Paleontologist's view

Let me quote a bit more from his text with repeated recommendation to readers of this blog to read it all at the source - it is very readable:

I take being called anti-Darwinian very personally. It has always hurt, for I have always thought of myself as more or less a knee-jerk neo-Darwinian, someone who thinks the basic mechanism underlying evolutionary change, including the origin, modification, and maintenance of adaptations, resides squarely in the domain of natural selection.

And I have always felt that, with one or two major exceptions, my version of how the evolutionary process works lines up very well with Darwin’s. Take natural selection, for example: I see natural selection just as Darwin originally did—as the statistical effect that relative success in the economic sphere (obtaining energy resources, warding off predators and disease, etc.) has on an organism’s success in reproducing.

This conservative view contrasts strongly with the modern tendency to see natural selection as a matter of competition among genes to leave copies of themselves to the next generation—a position I take to be hopelessly teleological, obfuscating the real interactive dynamics of economic and reproductive organismic behavior driving the evolutionary process. [huh...]

But, of course, there are those sticking points: Darwin (or so the cartoon version of him goes) enjoined us to expect evolution for the most part to be slow, steady, and gradual—whereas to me the fossil record screams loudly that such, for the most part, is not the case
Virginia Quarterly Review 2006

I must confess that I like the personal, fun and simultaneously very serious way this die-hard Darwinist by Natural Selection Niles Eldredge takes things.

Galápagos Islands

The entire trip on HMS Beagle's second voyage was of crucial importance to Charles Darwin as he had the opportunity to observe life in so many different parts of planet Earth.

Justly famous is his work on the   Galápagos Islands  about 1000 km west of modern Ecuador.

I quote here directly from wikipedia to give you the relevant section in a long article on the islands and to save you a click. As always, it is warmly recommended to have a look at the original article that contains much more information about these islands, today a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The voyage of the Beagle brought the survey ship HMS Beagle, under captain Robert FitzRoy, to the Galápagos on 15 September 1835 to survey approaches to harbours.

The captain and others on board, including his companion, the young naturalist Charles Darwin, made observations on the geology and biology on Chatham, Charles, Albemarle and James islands before they left on 20 October to continue on their round-the-world expedition.

Primarily a geologist at the time, Darwin was impressed by the quantity of volcanic craters they saw, later referring to the archipelago as "that land of craters." His study of several volcanic formations over the 5 weeks he stayed in the islands, led to several important geological discoveries, including the first, correct explanation for how volcanic tuff is formed.

Darwin noticed the mockingbirds differed between islands, though he thought the birds now known as Darwin's finches were unrelated to each other, and did not bother labelling them by island.

The Englishman Nicolas Lawson, acting Governor of Galápagos for the Republic of the Equator, met them on Charles Island, and as they walked to the prison colony, told Darwin the tortoises differed from island to island.

Towards the end of the voyage, Darwin speculated that the distribution of the mockingbirds and the tortoises might "undermine the stability of Species". When specimens of birds were analysed on his return to England, it was found that many apparently different kinds of birds were species of finches, which were unique to islands.

These facts were crucial in Darwin's development of his theory of natural selection explaining evolution, which was presented in The Origin of Species.


Green Iguana

They say that the Iguana makes a nice pet in your house. But you need to take good care of the fellow because when it gets angry it really gets angry! The tail of an adult animal can become a really nasty weapon.

Much of what we know today was not known by the best of the best at the beginning of the 19th century. But something they did know and they were aware that something like dinosaurs once existed.

This knowledge is of particular importance to us when considering the background of Darwin's amazing achievement. He was aware that there were earlier life forms and that evidence of them existed in fossil rocks. This fact of God's creation required explanation as the prevailing view at that time was that God had created everything as it is now.

Iguanodon because "it has teeth like Iguana"
Named in 1825 by English geologist Gideon Mantell, Iguanodon was the second dinosaur formally named, after Megalosaurus. Together with Megalosaurus and Hylaeosaurus, it was one of the three genera originally used to define Dinosauria.

Fossil discovery of Iguanodon made during Darwin's  time - 1834
A large, bulky herbivore, Iguanodon is a member of Iguanodontia, along with the duck-billed hadrosaurs.

The taxonomy of this genus continues to be a topic of study as new species are named or long-standing ones reassigned to other genera. Scientific understanding of Iguanodon has evolved over time as new information has been obtained from the fossils. The numerous specimens of this genus, including nearly complete skeletons from two well-known bonebeds, have allowed researchers to make informed hypotheses regarding many aspects of the living animal, including feeding, movement, and social behaviour.

As one of the first scientifically well-known dinosaurs, Iguanodon has occupied a small but notable place in the public's perception of dinosaurs, its artistic representation changing significantly in response to new interpretations of its remains.wikipedia

Natural processes taking time - on rocks

So here is the deep structure, Herr Hegel and all...

Processes that take place in time - this is wiring that can be applied to many things and can be studied.

It is one way to look at causes and consequences in logical sequence.

Or - in other words - how things have happened.

Also to some extent - why things have happened.

Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet Kt FRS
Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) was a close friend of Darwin who much because of him became an eager student of Geology.

Using our logical model from Hegel, we can say that Charles Lyell "observed processes in time" in Nature by studying geological formations, past and present. The slopes of Mt Etna in Sicily were so important to him as visual evidence of volcanic activity that has been going on for a while. He could see there active openings pushing lava today and older formations that have cooled off. There were many places were the volcanic hills had built one upon the other.

In England and Wales and elsewhere he could similarly see geomorphological formations been born in modern times, such as the silt gathering at river deltas or the erosion of rocks in deep ravines or the building up of soil.

Geological processes take place in time and the cross-sections of rocks, such as on the sea shore of Wales, reveal that history. It logically follows that a sediment under another sediment may contain evidence of life at an earlier time. There was thus a new interest and focus also on fossils as geologists influenced by the massive Principles of  Geology (1830-33). This work is often considered the starting point of modern Geology.

The history of Geology as a science is complex and long starting at late Renaissance. According to my understanding the crucially important step forward represented by Sir Charles Lyell's work came when the point of view changed and researchers began to look at processes taking place in time. They started to give due respect to history!

Darwin the geologist
Note also the time of publication just before Charles Darwin boarded HMS Beagle December 1831. In 1833 Darwin collected in Argentina many fossils of the amazing but now extinct Pleistocene animals of Patagonia including a skull of a Megatherium - the largest known mammal ever to live upon Earth.
(More about Darwin's work for example in The Geological Society page.)

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins 
Johnsons Natural History (1871) 

On the Origin of On the Origin of Species

On the Origin of Species (1859)

Let us try to imagine life in the first half of the 19th century when Charles Darwin began to ask questions about the nature.

In order to do so we must reduce so much from our knowledge and experience today that it turns out to be not an easy task. We take so much for granted and do not always remember that what is today was not necessarily there yesteryear.

Coach of the Nobility with coachman (about 1870)

For example, there were NO CARS. Horses and carriages ruled the roads and city streets were covered with their droppings - enemy cavalry was greatly feared in battle fronts.

Unfortunately, we have to use a bit later photo to remind us about what was there on the streets before cars as photography was very rare at the time - no digital instant images. Louis Daguerre (1781-1857) took his first picture of a person in 1833 at a time when Darwin was travelling over the seas on a wooden sail-boat.

" 1837. Daguerre took the first ever photo of a person in 1838 when, while taking a daguerreotype of a Paris street, a pedestrian stopped for a shoe shine, long enough to be captured by the long exposure (several minutes)." (wikipedia)

It is so difficult to imagine a world without cars, isn't it!

But what about this shocking fact: when Charles Darwin was studying the nature there were no electric companies providing power for heating and running factories and illuminating the streets at night! A thing of such fundamental importance as electricity was practically unknown. London had gas lights, oil lamps and candles were used at home, firewood provided warmth in winter and that British hot water bottle had to be heated by fire. If they existed, as the use of natural rubber was known but its use not widespread. (Not to mention plastics, the decisive invention of our era.)

The idea that humans could actually fly using machines heavier than air was considered utopian by most reasonable Victorian men for whose pleasure and help and for bringing many children good God had created woman.

Victorian coal mine. Litography
From a BBC page telling about Victorian period children

The great technological achievement of the time was the invention of steel as the world had moved with it from the Iron Age to the current Steel Age by the end of the 18th century. Producing steel from iron required coal and the shaggy towns of miners were an important part of the landscape of England in Charles Darwin's times and caused Karl Marx to proceed with his ideas about inequality of the worker class.

As for the sciences, you get the picture...

For in order for us to understand his times we really have to make a determined effort to forget what we know today. So much has been learned about everything after the publication of  On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life on 4 November, 1859.

Field Marshal Arthur Welleslay, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769/1852) 

Well, said Wellington, who lived at the time of Charles Darwin (or vice versa...)

There was technology at the time of Darwin, of course, as the industrial revolution was beginning with Steel and Steam. But that boat that took him to Galapagos Islands ... of all the places ... relied on ye good old wind to sail and had no engine as it left her anchorage of Barn Pool, Plymouth Sound on the morning of 27 December 1831. Few realized when HMS Beagle returned to Falmouth, Cornwall on 2 October 1836 that the information that young passenger on board had collected about nature would help him to produce a scientific theory that would change the world.

HMS Beagle (centre) from an 1841 watercolour by Owen Stanley, 
painted during the third voyage while surveying Australia.

HMS Beagle was a Cherokee-class 10-gun brig-sloop of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 11 May 1820 from the Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames, at a cost of £7,803. In July of that year she took part in a fleet review celebrating the coronation of King George IV of the United Kingdom in which she was the first ship to sail under the new London Bridge. After that there was no immediate need for Beagle so she "lay in ordinary", moored afloat but without masts or rigging. She was then adapted as a survey barque and took part in three expeditions. On the second survey voyage the young naturalist Charles Darwin was on board, and his work would eventually make Beagle one of the most famous ships in history.

The sail boat that took Darwin out there to study God's wonders was not rocket technology even in its days - such Cherokee-class ships were called coffin-brigs as they had the nasty tendency to sink in storms.

So progress in science is not necessarily in the funding for expensive advanced tools for observation but rather what we have between our ears - the brains to interpret the meaning of what we see.

Darwin had those...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two of the many gods born in the 19th century

French Revolution was a turning point in history.

(Can a person write a sentence that is more flat than that?)

After the Revolution der Weltgeist was strongly in action in 19th century world through Napoleon Bonaparte, political thinking, social upheavals from revolution to revolution and also in the world of human sciences and technology.

Either because of Herr Hegel or because of der Weltgeist first the Europeans and the inhabitants in the newly independent United States of America and then in the rest of the world began to take a close look at reality from the point of view of processes that take place in time.

They understood Hegel's "importance of history" and implemented the model of thinking to all timed periods from much shorter to much longer than that of human history.

The marxISM god - Communism

The well-known and still mighty god of Marxism was born as a baby of Hegel's Philosophy.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) did not intend to build a new religion. On the contrary, they considered religion as a sickness in human societies and a tool for the classes in power to subdue other humans.

Karl Marx is a genius and a sharp student of human society. His powerful ideas have changed the way humanity looks at social structures, social justice and have had a deep and powerful impact way beyond the Communist experiments in Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Burma and elsewhere.

We could not really understand modern western societies or any other modern societies without knowing about Karl Marx.

But since the ideas were so powerful they boiled over and Marxism stopped being just a Philosophy, social theory, grass-roots movement of people seeking for justice or mighty political ideology. It actually became a religion - Communism.

An aggressive and effective adversary to the God of Israel, the only real God there is.

The darwinISM god - Evolutionism 
The well-known and still mighty god of Dariwinism was born as a baby of Hegel.

Charles Darwin (1809) and Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) did not intend to build a new religion. On the contrary, they were interested in truth and probably somewhat taken aback and surprised by the violent counter-reaction from the Christian Church and Judaism against their scientific ideas.

Charles Darwin is a genius and a sharp student of Nature. His powerful ideas have changed the way humanity looks at all living organisms upon Earth and have had a deep and powerful impact way beyond the realm of Natural Sciences in all centres of higher learning in the world today. 

We cannot really understand modern civilization without knowing about Charles Darwin.

But since the ideas were so powerful they boiled over and the theory of evolution stopped being just a branch of natural sciences. It actually became a religion - Evolutionism.

An aggressive and effective adversary to the God of Israel, the only real God there is.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dialectic and other Processes

Georg Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

"Der Begriff Weltgeist als metaphysisches Prinzip ist zunächst bekannt als Zentralbegriff der spekulativen Philosophie Hegels: Für ihn ist die gesamte historische Wirklichkeit, die Totalität, der Prozess des Weltgeistes. Dadurch realisiere sich der „Endzweck“ in der Weltgeschichte, und zwar die „Vernunft in der Geschichte“. (wikipedia)

Some 19th century processes
One common thing that I have noticed in the rise of different branches of scientific research is the focus on processes that take place in time.

One example of this is the rise of modern Geology with the note that geological processes take place in history at equal speed (uniformist principle). Geological cross-sections have layers over layers as evidence of these processes and can be scientifically studied.

The rise of modern Archaeology, the cousin of Geology, can be similarly understood as a consequence of applying the concept of processes in history to archaeological record. Archaeological excavations reveal sequences in periods of occupation. Slowly but surely the fundamental idea evolved into the many branches of research known today as Archaeology.

Of course, history itself is a subject for the study of processes that take place in time and this was among Hegel's main areas of interest. Is there any purpose in all this French Revolution and other stuff?
The scientific and technological revolution in 19th century surely has so many reasons.

Scientific research of literature realised the significance of sources and editing during time. This led also to the revolution in the rise of scientific study of the Bible.

19th century medicine was changed as researchers focused on causes and processes both in getting ill and in treating the diseases.

But under all these and other processes studied by 19th century men and women there was the solid unmoving bedrock of Newtonian Physics and the Laws of Nature that worked like a clock!

Hegelian Dialectics
As a Philosopher Hegel was curious and went on to analyse what actually is a process?

"Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", of Absolute idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence."

(Nobody says that he is easy read. In fact, Bertrand Russell actually said that Hegel is the most difficult of them all.)

Most of us are familiar with the schema of Hegelian dialectics


However influential in modern thinking that pattern can justly be called a simplification of Hegel's own thinking (which we actually badly need...)

Here is an expert description of the same:

Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis.

Although this model is often named after Hegel, he himself never used that specific formulation. Hegel ascribed that terminology to Kant.

Carrying on Kant's work, Fichte greatly elaborated on the synthesis model, and popularized it.

On the other hand, Hegel did use a three-valued logical model that is very similar to the antithesis model, but Hegel's most usual terms were: Abstract-Negative-Concrete. Hegel used this writing model as a backbone to accompany his points in many of his works.

The formula, Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, does not explain why the Thesis requires an Antithesis.

However, the formula, Abstract-Negative-Concrete, suggests a flaw in any initial thesis—it is too abstract and lacks the negative of trial, error and experience.

For Hegel, the Concrete, the Synthesis, the Absolute, must always pass through the phase of the Negative, that is, Mediation. This is the actual essence of what is popularly called Hegelian Dialectics.

To describe the activity of overcoming the negative, Hegel also often used the term Aufhebung, variously translated into English as "sublation" or "overcoming," to conceive of the working of the dialectic. Roughly, the term indicates preserving the useful portion of an idea, thing, society, etc., while moving beyond its limitations. (Jacques Derrida's preferred French translation of the term was relever).

19th century and the birth of modern gods - der Weltgeist

19th Century is in many ways a turning point in the history of the world. Here is just a scratch of what happened...

Coming right after the French Revolution it saw the rise and fall of Napoleon.

It saw the rise of the British Empire that brought Western civilization to the furthest islands of Pacific and made English the lingua franca of the modern world.

It saw the rise of Scientific Inquiry and the Technological Revolution that accompanied it.

It saw the rise of many modern gods.

Let us have a look at some of them modern gods in order to better understand the history of genetics as a science and how we came to know what we know today.

And what went wrong...

Der Weltgeist
Der Begriff Weltgeist als metaphysisches Prinzip ist zunächst bekannt als Zentralbegriff der spekulativen Philosophie Hegels: Für ihn ist die gesamte historische Wirklichkeit, die Totalität, der Prozess des Weltgeistes. Dadurch realisiere sich der „Endzweck“ in der Weltgeschichte, und zwar die „Vernunft in der Geschichte“.

Mit dieser Ansicht knüpfte er an die von Schelling erstmals publizierte Weltgeisttheorie an. In Napoleon z. B. sah er ihn exemplarisch verkörpert. Hegel sah in Napoleon die „Weltseele zu Pferde“, später oft verändert in das Wort vom „Weltgeist zu Pferde“.

Marx und Engels knüpften eher kryptisch an die Hegelsche Bestimmung des Weltgeistes an. In der Deutschen Ideologie wenden sie den Begriff materialistisch und kritisch: Die Schikane des Weltgeistes bzw. die „List der Vernunft“ weise sich letztlich als Weltmarkt aus. Der ihnen verbundene Frühsozialist Moses Hess hingegen vertrat eine Art von Messianismus des Inhalts, dass mit der französischen Revolution ein neues Weltzeitalter begonnen habe.

Did I say that the Victorian period made English lingua franca?

Oh, sorry!

I forgot to mention that some of the more important 19th century books that are still shaping our world today were written auf Deutsch.

The Moloch of Evolutionism and the Lathe of God

A section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. 
Animated version at File:DNA orbit animated.gif.

Humanity has decoded the Book of Life. We use four symbols for translating DNA coding into our own writing systems:  A C G T.

Human writing systems began around 3000 BC as complex and numerous collections of symbols, such as the tens of thousands of signs in Hieroglyphic, Cuneiform, Chinese or Korean.

It seems that the People of God were in forefront of the brilliant invention of skipping pictorial and symbolic writing and using only symbols for the consonants and half-consonants. Late Bronze Age Proto-Sinaitic script is found carved in the rocks of the Land of Exodus, Sinai, and derives from Egyptian writing. There is a parallel development in Phoenicia where a simplified cuneiform script is used in the same period.

However, the Hebrew alphabet won the world - as the name says, aleph bet ... the two first letters in the proto-Sinaitic that later led to the development of Greek and Latin and other alphabets including the modern symbols you are reading right now.

The number of symbols was further reduced by 19th century Western students of Mathematics and Logic.

George Boole (1815-1864) introduced in 1856 what is today called boolean algebra. Only two symbols are used in this type of mathematics, zero and one.

Because of the complexity of working with such an extremely constrained system of symbols Boolean algebra remained an oddity of interest to professionals only for a century.

Of course, today much of the world of Science and Technology is running boolean and few consumer products in the market today are analog - digital rules with only two digits!

Because the digit is not just a symbol but a measurable state Boolean logic has turned out to be extremely useful and can be used to write any writing system, audio code, high-resolution images and to run hospital heart monitor and most people make boolean phone calls.... so to say.

God of Israel and DNA
God decided to code life using four things.

Not to write information using a system of ten thousand or so symbols, letters and symbols and pictures like hieroglyphics.

He is not using an alphabet of 28 or so consonants (and vowels) as in human languages.

Nor did God decide to use the simplest possible coding system of nothing and one.

But four.

I have often wondered how we humans might develop an effective coding using four symbols like DNA instead of two. It is, of course, quite easy to create a useless 4-based math since it is power of 2. The four of DNA are each different and not multiples of two. (Well - since this is not my field I may be missing something...)

Power of DNA
But the power of boolean digits is in the fact that the 0 and 1 also represents the states ON and OFF or the fundamental logical TRUE and FALSE. Circuits of boolean logic can be built and extremely complex circuits have been built in what we call the CPU of the computer.

The power of DNA is immense as it controls so much of the life upon Earth. The power rests in the ability of living organisms to read the Book of Life and put its contents into good use.

Even more amazing is the ability of living organisms to copy DNA information from cell to cell allowing controlled growth.

Even more amazing is the ability of organisms to pass DNA of male and female (boolean 1 and 0 if you want) reproductive cells and combine the information so that the code not only survives intact from generation to generation in living species but allows great but controlled variation we today call genetic heritage.

Most amazing is the ability of DNA to control changes in the cycle of life and death so that the organisms can  adapt to changing environment and in the fight for survival.

Worship of Natural Selection
The Book of Life is so amazing that people have been spiritually blinded by the genius of Nature.

Ever since humanity began to have some idea about the processes of life that somehow push living creatures forward in what we call the evolution of life, the worship has been growing.

Today, New Atheism proclaims victory of the divine but rough Natural Selection that according to their faith is able to produce even such highly complex organs as the eye, over all gods worshipped by man including God of Israel, the only real God there is.

Not only atheists, though, but also many believers project the true creative power of mater and energy and evolution and see no place for God of Israel in the grandeur of Nature.

Worship of Natural Selection as the almighty creator of all life is prevalent. I call it the Moloch of Evolutionism.

At the same time, I am an ardent student of evolutionary theory and really would like to know more about it. I called it the Lathe of God. It is an important and effective tool in the handwork of the almighty creator of everything.

This blog
The purpose of this blog is to try to learn more about the study of evolution that concentrates on genetics.

Join me in studying and I am grateful if you teach me where I go wrong!

And let us all pray that the Holy Ghost would guide us to all truth in this matter of such crucial importance.

Shall we worship Evolution, the Moloch of Modern Days

or can we still believe in God of Israel as the ONE who has coded the DNA?

There is no easy answer... this question takes hard work