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Monday, March 16, 2009

Darwin Is Dead!-Planned Obsolescence

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HG Narasingha Gurudas (a.k.a Martin Lyons) was gracious enough to share with us a few excerpts from his upcoming book, in which he plans to establish the Krsna Conscious positions of evolution and creation in opposition to some of the fallacious dogmas of modern religion and science.

Here is the second excerpt he shares with us, about a little "planned obsolescence"

Thirteenth Argument: Planned Obsolescence

One of the innumerable natural phenomena that we take for granted and thoughtlessly assume to be just another product of evolution is the aging process. This process really begins at the very beginning of every creature’s life. Immediately there is development, or maturing, whether from insect egg to larva to pupa to winged adult; or from seed to seedling to mature plant, producing first flowers and then fruit; or with humans, where we mature from baby to toddler to youth to adulthood, middle-age and old-age.

At each and every stage, there are specific abilities and processes and functions and related cellular structures. It’s not a random or chaotic break-down, but there is a continual coordinated theme at each and every stage. We are each made up of so many individual cells, which are replaced so many times during our lives. And this detail quite distinguishes us as living organisms, as distinct from a machine such as a car, for example.

The molecular structure of a car is not in a constant state of flux, at least, not in the sense that ours is. Of course, there are some ongoing chemical changes, such as heat-stress, oxidation, rust, salt damage and so on. But the original atoms and molecules that form all its structures are not being replaced as the car ages. Just like its tires – as time goes on, they wear down, their outer layers are simply rubbed away by the roads, but fresh layers of rubber do not grow back.

This of course is quite opposite to our situation as living organisms. For example, the outermost layers of skin are constantly wearing off (much of the dust in our own homes is in fact the debris of our own cast-off skin cells), but new cells are being constantly created underneath. This would be incredible enough, that our bodies are replete with self-replicating living cellular ‘machines’ … but the replacement cells are not in fact replicas of the ones that they are replacing. They introduce new features, which provide for definite changes in function, purpose and appearance.

The cells that make up the bones of a baby allow for greater flexibility than the bones of a youth, although they are not as strong, nor do they need to be. Meanwhile, the bones of an old person are brittle and easily damaged. This cannot be compared to the rusting of a car’s metal body, for example, which is indeed much weaker in its ‘aged’ condition. And why not? Because rather than the individual cells having ‘rusted’ as it were, they have been altogether replaced by cells with a different molecular structure. Similarly with the ways our skin wrinkles and our hair silvers as we age. It is not that individual cells are shrinking and drying up or losing color; but that they are being replaced by cells which are following different design instructions, as passed down via the genes. And at the same time, there are accompanying changes occurring within all the different cells and organs of the body, so that there is a coordinated development whereby the body as a whole is still functioning as a single unit, but at a different level of efficiency. In other words, there is still a definite and distinct structure affording a definite and distinct level of functioning and purpose; and this changes so many times during our lives.

As already mentioned, aging does not merely include the declining stages of life, where the hair turns grey and falls out, and the skin, bones, muscles and organs in general weaken. But it includes all the stages, including the earlier growing and strengthening and reproductive stages, from pre-pubescence to pubescence to menopausal. The complexity and variety of biological precision, of structure and purpose, is utterly incomprehensible. And it cannot begin to be accounted for by some impersonal random and purposeless evolutionary process. For example, how and why should there be a process by which the genes and relevant cellular structures change the color of our hair from blonde or dark or whatever to white? How and why are all our cellular processes altered, with the replacement cells themselves being differently structured, so as to effect what we call the aging process?

We can all understand the natural need for aging – if we didn’t age and die, then we’d swiftly overpopulate. Of course, if we didn’t reproduce, then eternal life via continual self-replication of our cells wouldn’t be so much of a problem … although identical self-replication by the cells would also mean that we would never develop past our original form, there would never be any growth or development or change. It is truly amazing how this all fits together: growth, reproduction, aging, death – how it all makes such perfect sense. But when we’re talking about sense and purpose and reasons why things need to happen, we’re then referring to a world given by planning and design, as opposed to life randomly developing via some impersonal ‘evolutionary’ processes. It is very curious how so many scientists, possessed of rational intelligence, looking for reason(s) behind existence, believe that the answer is this random process that itself lacks any reason or purpose of its own.

We must be very clear: there is no intelligence or plan implied by the concept of evolution. There is no purpose or guide behind it. Even if we overlook that it cannot explain any ‘urge for survival,’ still, that urge itself does not explain the existence of inconceivably complex and precise mechanisms for effecting survival. So it’s all very well to recognize reasons for why such a mechanism as aging is necessary and natural … but evolution neither endorses nor offers any such reasons. We cannot begin to explain the aging processes by evolution, how and why they should exist, how the entire genetic informational system within an individual is constantly changing the overall cellular structure of each individual, and in such a coordinated and precise, non-chaotic manner.

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As an adjunct to this line of thought, consider how you might sometimes see woods and forests stretching away into the distance, perhaps when going on a long drive. Do you ever wonder how it is that those distant tree-lines are so even, how the trees are all growing to around the same height? What is maintaining that status quo?

Surely if everything was going on under the dictates of evolution, random mutation and natural selection, with everything vying for some new advantage, we would not expect to see so much conformity; rather, we would see so many individual trees going beyond the limitations of their species and growing taller and broader so as to catch the lion’s share of the sunlight and also to shoulder aside the competition for soil and space. In other words, there should be unrestrained growth and fecundity, filled with mutation upon mutation to facilitate greater survivability. But there isn’t. Rather, everything is held in check, it’s balanced: there’s a pattern – actually, there are so many patterns, one within another within another, all interconnected within a single great cosmic order. It’s not just a wild, uncontrolled and urgent race for survival, randomly bursting out every which way. It’s all regulated.

We understand that the genes are the agents for such regulation. The processes of aging also occur under their direction. The limits within which individual trees are growing are set by the genes. All species are conforming to specific directions as established by their respective genes. So that the million dollar question is then, again, what is regulating the genes, and giving them the directions they pass on?

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