In a recent ID: The Future podcast (June 24, 2022) Casey Luskin interviews pediatric neurosurgeon Michael Egnor on his blogosphere debates with evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. Egnor, who has authored many research papers, espouses a non-materialist view of the mind — and of life in general — with which Dr. Coyne, a committed atheist, emphatically disagrees. Here’s a partial transcript from “A Brain Surgeon Debates Evolutionist Jerry Coyne and Other Atheists”: Casey Luskin: We’re going to talk about these debates you’ve had with Dr. Coyne and others. Some of the arguments you’ve made, I think, have been very compelling. But before we get into that, I’d like to ask, why do you focus your writing so much on Dr. Jerry Read More ›
That’s what we learn from a new open-access paper in Nature titled “Dead cells release a ‘necrosignal’ that activates antibiotic survival pathways in bacterial swarms.” It’s sometimes described as “screams,” but it’s actually a release of chemicals, which amounts to the same thing: a warning to prepare for an onslaught of antibiotics. The scientists also noted another curious factor: The cascade of genes turned on by necrosignals not only protected the surviving swarm from antibiotics, but promoted future resistance to the compounds that killed their comrades. What’s more, the scientists realized that subpopulations of swarm bacteria were genetically variable; some were more susceptible to the antibiotics than others. Swarms of bacteria may collectively cultivate different subpopulations as an evolutionary survival Read More ›
Recently, Princeton University physicist Robert Austin challenged his graduate student Trung Phan to design a maze that he (Austin) couldn’t solve: Austin, Phan discovered, tended to retrace his steps when he encountered a dead end. So Tran decided on a maze without dead ends. The true purpose of the experiment, as Sophia Chen recounts at Wired, was to design a maze that bacteria can solve with remarkable skill based on their colony organization which, if you like, stands in for a brain: Curiously, bacteria—single-celled organisms that are among the simplest living things—are well known for working together, creating problem-solving units that are more than the sum of their parts. For example, to protect themselves from your immune system, the bacteria Read More ›
Does this mean that bacteria have free will? Not really; as Michael Egnor reminds us, free will is an immaterial quality of the reasoning mind. Life forms that lack a reasoning mind make decisions based only on their needs or desires.