• A Seagull
    466
    DNA has no meaning of itself, only people with a model of the world can ascribe meaning to it when they incorporate the concept of DNA into their model of the world.
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    The meaning of DNA is life, you could say. The question, I'd say, is: is there cosmic meaning behind the inexplicable appearance of DNA some four billion years ago?
  • A Seagull
    466
    Lots of things are inexplicable, perhaps even most things. Though I would say that the appearance of DNA a few billion years ago is a lot less inexplicable than the appearance of time, space, forces and matter some 14 billion years ago.

    The fun part is trying to understand such things and try to work out the nuts and bolts of how things could have occurred.
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    It's understandable that we don't understand the origin of the universe, less so with DNA.
  • A Seagull
    466

    Understanding is a bottomless pit. When people say they understand something what they mean is that they have made progress in finding a better theory to fit the data. But there is most likely a better theory lurking underneath.
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    Sure. But we "understand" evolution since the appearance of DNA.
  • A Seagull
    466

    If we accept, as I think we do, that the Earth was created some 4.5 billion years ago when there was no life and that now there is a abundance and variation of life then there must be some process by which that life appeared. Evolution is the obvious process. Most of the variation in life forms were created in the past 500 million years which still allows for 3 billion years (allowing a billion years for the Earth to cool and the oceans to appear.) for something like the DNA molecule to evolve. Doesn't seem too hard for me to believe.
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    Then how come there's no agreed explanation for the "evolution" of DNA?
  • A Seagull
    466

    I don't really know. Perhaps it is a problem awaiting your brilliance and insight to solve, or perhaps there is insufficient data..or perhaps undertaking experiments in the laboratory that take billions of years to conduct is just too hard..
    All I know is that one needs to start with some form of replicating molecule..but what that would look like I don't know.. and yeah it is surprising that no one has managed to identify a simple replicating organic molecule.. or maybe they have and I just don't know about it..
  • Chris Hughes
    180


    If I may quote from my OP:
    Wikipedia says that DNA is a molecule that carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. Most DNA molecules consist of two strands coiled around each other to form a double helix. Both strands store the same biological information, which is replicated when the two strands separate.

    Does that sound like something that came about by chemicals randomly bumping into each other?

    Perhaps DNA came into existence because the universe (or multiverse if you like) has meaning, perhaps deriving from universal consciousness. Again, I’d suggest that meaning is never the product of random processes.
  • Chris Hughes
    180

    My point being: The origin of DNA can't be materialisticaly brushed aside. As long as it can't be explained, it must be acknowledged a mystery.
  • A Seagull
    466

    There are many many mysteries in the world, and I agree with you that the origins of DNA is one worthy of further investigation.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.9k
    There is no agreed upon complete explanation for the evolution of DNA because molecules don’t exactly leave fossils so it’s hard to work out the particulars. But it’s generally agreed upon that all it would take is some circular chain of chemical reactions (A + B + energy = C + D, C + D + energy = E + F, E + F + energy = A + B, etc) to start off an evolutionary process, where the chemicals in those chains proliferate more and any chemicals that enable faster/shorter/more efficient chains would then proliferate even more until you end up with some kind of self-replicating molecule dominating the environment, and what we ended up with was DNA in that role. The question is just which steps exactly lead to that particular outcome.
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    The meaning of Shakespeare’s writing is in his mind.Chris Hughes

    What makes you believe that?

    :brow:


    Mind/consciousness produces meaning. There's no agreement on how this happens.

    There's also disagreement about whether or not mind/consciousness produces meaning.

    I know how.

    :wink:
  • Chris Hughes
    180

    The meaning of Shakespeare’s writing is in his mind — Me
    What makes you believe that? — You
    I'd say it's not a matter of belief - rather one of common sense.
    Mind/consciousness produces meaning. There's no agreement on how this happens. — Me
    ... I know how. — You
    How?
  • creativesoul
    8.1k
    The meaning of Shakespeare’s writing is in his mind
    — Me
    What makes you believe that?
    — creativesoul
    I'd say it's not a matter of belief - rather one of common sense.
    Chris Hughes

    That's what I aim to find out for myself, with a little help from you. I personally do not think it makes any sense at all, let alone common sense...

    Shakespeare's dead right? His mind is dead as well. Yet, the meaning has transcended the man and his mind. So, if what you say were true, this could not be the case. But it is...

    Right?
  • Eee
    159
    If the manifestation of DNA has meaning, what might it mean? That life is an experiment? A gift?Chris Hughes

    For me the issue is why we need or trust the manifestation of DNA to tell us that life is an experiment or a gift. As humans we can consider both possibilities and many others. Perhaps we would like something like DNA to save us from the angst of too many possibilities.

    On the other hand, life is perhaps more fascinating as a sphinx that can't answer its own questions.
  • I like sushi
    2.3k
    I’m just curious about what the hypothetical infinite monkey scenario has to do with reality and DNA?

    It may be worth taking on board that ‘impossible’ means extremely unlikely - it is impossible for a monkey to write the entire work of Shakespeare (meaning it is probabilistically so improbable that statistically we say it is ‘impossible’). It is also possible that on some given beach the wind will blow the sand to for a perfectly constructed scale model of the Taj Mahal ... yet this has, and will, never happen.

    Clearly DNA is more than a statistical possibility!
  • Chris Hughes
    180


    I don't see the problem here. The works of Shakespeare (the product of his mind) are the subject of the monkeys/typewriters thought experiment, which is used by many scientists to defend the idea that DNA code could arise by chance, given a very long time.
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    My OP suggests that both events, the hypothetical random reproduction of Shakespeare and tbe hypothesised random formation of DNA, are so improbable as to be impossible. I ask if the connection between tbe two scenarios is meaning.
  • I like sushi
    2.3k
    Scientists are capable of rhetoric too. All they are trying to do is get the point across that a great many things are probable over a long period of time that are impossible over a short period of time.

    Talking about the ‘meaning’ of DNA is like talking about the ‘meaning’ of electrons or gold.



    Clearly DNA is not impossible? What are you talking about?
  • Chris Hughes
    180

    Clearly DNA is not impossible?
    How do you explain the origin of DNA, then?
  • Chris Hughes
    180

    What are you talking about?
    Clearly, I'm talking about the idea that the universe is imbued with meaning; that DNA and our goldilocks planet are not the product of chance. This is the forum for metaphysical speculation, isn't it?
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    Clearly my clarity challenges mechanism. Does that disqualify it?
  • I like sushi
    2.3k
    In terms of probability I don’t have to. I don’t need to prove the the origins of DNA to say it exists. Clearly DNA is possible because it exists. Clearly no monkey can write the entire works of Shakespeare because it is impossible (meaning it is so mathematically ‘improbable’ as to be called mathematically impossible).

    There are theories about how DNA forms over time, but it does remain a mystery. We know enough about chemistry to to infer it came about without some ‘supernatural’ intervention. It was impossible for Stone Age man to get to the Moon too, yet today we can go to the Moon - it is possible that I will go to the Moon even if it is highly unlikely (point being I cannot give you an accurate prediction as to how likely as I cannot see into the future).

    Teleological claims aren’t really anything other than ‘human’. Ontological claims are more or less scientific of epistemic issues. The origin of DNA is a scientific issue not a philosophical one. If your question is ontological and/or teleological the I can only ask what you mean by ‘origin’ and/or ‘purpose’ - hence the epistemic issue cannot be avoided.
  • Chris Hughes
    180

    Words can be used to obfuscate. Is my OP unworthy of acknowledgement and response? If so, perhaps it should be deleted.
  • I like sushi
    2.3k
    I have responded? The problem is epistemic. What is meaning is a matter for epistemology.

    If you want it may help to distinguish different ‘types’ of meaning? Can there be meaning without humans? I don’t see how and if there can be then what do/could we mean by saying this?

    Personally I cannot comprehend 1000 years let alone a million or more. To talk about ontological ‘meaning’ in those terms is always bound by my present finite existence (soon to be non-existent).
  • Chris Hughes
    180

    Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge. Meaning - the meaning of meaning, if you like - isn't confined to that field.
  • Chris Hughes
    180
    Its field is metaphysics.
  • I like sushi
    2.3k
    If you wish to talk about different ‘types’ of knowledge and meaning I’m up for that. The rest of what you’re saying doesn’t hit me I’m afraid.

    Perhaps someone else can help you move the discussion along?
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