Saturday, March 18, 2006
Stasis of the Baramin, Purpose, and Inheritance Mechanisms
Ultimately, Williams was trying to describe the issue faced by Creationists with regard to inheritance. That is, of the ultimate stasis of the baramin, but the incredible diversity available within baramins. He quotes from Gould, who states:
Paleontologists have always recognized the longterm stability of most species.
The lines of evidence he draws from are these:
- Genes can be developed by the organism in some circumstances. Humans can produce new antibodies as needed. Microbes can often develope new digestion enzymes. Mutation patterns in these areas seem to be controlled by the cell to some extent. (read the blog archives for other examples and ideas as to the mechanisms for this change)
- Early zygote development/differentiation is base solely on cytoplasmic factors, with the genome not even being in use until a certain stage (the cell relies on existing RNA material to produce new proteins).
- Some organisms seem to have more available diversity in their baramins than do others. Orchids and beetles each have thousands of named species, while humans only have a few named species.
- In chimeras, one baramin will always take over development, and be "in the driver's seat". Examples of mouse/human and pig/human chimeras exist, and in every case where the embryo survives, one baramin becomes dominant and takes control of development. The cells of the other baramin function fine within such a context, but they function essentially as members of the other baramin.
- We do not know the effects of cross-baramin genome transfers, or if they are even possible. The closest one is an experiment with a carp genome and a goldfish recipient (carp and goldfish are in different genuses, but they readily hybridize, though, so it isn't a cross-baramin example). Interestingly, while most cell features were that of the carp, the number of vertebrate matched that of the goldfish, indicating that cytoplasmic factors are involved in inheritance.
So what can we conclude from this?
Williams thinks that all of these data points make sense when looked at from the apobetic level of information (apobetics is the purposive part, see the above link for more information, or see an overview of Gitt information theory, specifically the section on "levels of information"). The huge variety of beetles and plants reflect that their purpose is to make the earth habitable in all sorts of ecological/geological conditions. They provide the substrate, and therefore, must be able to easily change to fit the conditions of the ecology and make it habitable. On the other hand, humans are supposed to reflect the image of God, and therefore, the there is much more stasis in the human baramin. As Williams states, "apobetics, not statistics, controls information change". In my earlier commentary on Williams, I criticized him for his assignment of Gitt categories, and I will do it again. While apobetics is where the source of variability and stasis lies, the implementation of the apobetics is in the semantics and pragmatics.
Williams also thinks that the primary baraminic information is inherited through the cell's cytoplasm, with the more configurable aspects inherited through the genome. This is interesting if thought about in conjunction with Sternberg's hypothesis of teleomorphic recursivity, which I won't go into, but you can read about. However, he does note that some parts of the genome are very well conserved, and a lot of cell machinery goes towards maintaining stasis in the genome, so it is likely that some of the baraminically-defining portions are in the genome as well.
Williams says that there is a two-level view of inheritance. The first level is "after their kind" stasis, and the second level is designed to diversify, adapt, and fill the earth. He says "the most obvious experimental correlates with this two-level system are the cell and chromosomes" but that
The existence of multilevel error correction and error avoidance mechanisms also points to stasis in the chromosomes. Perhaps both cell and chromosomes together control stasis. Indeed, so much of the structure of life is devoted to information conservation that there is very little room left for random variation.
So, perhaps the stasis is encoded in both places? While Williams thinks that the variation is entirely localized in the chromosomes, I think that it is more likely that both the variation and stasis will be in both places, though I do think that the relative distribution of the stasis and variation will favor cytoplasm for the stasis and the chromosomes for the variation.
One interesting quote that he made that I will leave you with is this:
How much of the error correction machinery is aimed at function and how much is aimed at maintaining integrity of the baramin? Or perhaps the two aims are in fact one -- are baramins functional peaks in an otherwise 'flatland' of non-functionality?
A very good question indeed. If so, it would make structuralism and creationism a lot closer to each other, and perhaps indicate a reason for homologies (i.e. they reliably create functional peaks).
Anyway, a fabulous paper, interesting hypotheses, and good things to think on.