Group bulletin 30th May 2013

Dear All,

          As all of the May meeting was taken up with a very interesting discussion with John Churcher, we will be carrying forward the intended discussion to June.  As a result I have now clarified in my own mind what I think PCN should be doing.
          Jan Cotman joined us in May for the last time; he has now retired and will be living in Aylesbury.
          The June meeting is scheduled for 19th June.
          Also the proposed date for the annual “Nosh-fest” is 17th July.  If that date is a problem for people, could you let me know as we could possibly move to 24th.  Please bring along anyone you want.  We will probably go for The Golden Ball again as it is so user friendly.
          Also a reminder to Norman that the deadline for him supplier the content of the article he is writing is fast approaching!
Notes for the June meeting
It is the second group of contributors to the Science/Religion debate in the book Atoms & Eden.  These are concerned with Evolutionary Biology and Genetics.  So you should read the discussions from;
         
Simon Morris – Is evolution convergent?
Ronald Numbers – education and is there a middle ground
Richard Dawkins – what is sensible thinking
Stuart Kaufman – self-organisation - is reductionism a sensible approach

Please exclude their discussions on the mind and brain as they come under the third heading about the development of consciousness.

          Whereas in atomic physics there is considerable scope for feeling a state of “Awe” at the nature of the Universe because they are trying to grapple with the ultimate reality of materiality; in Evolutionary Biology there is considerable rejection of compromise with religion because of the extensive attacks by religious communities across the board.  Victories for observational reality have only been won in the face of extensive opposition and even then the religious default position reverts to the Biblical status quo far too easily.

          A few questions we could be considering in the biological arena are;

          What is the nature of randomness?
          The nature of the difference between options and selection?
          The extent of the profligate waste in the process of the renewal of life.  How many sperm have to die for one person to be born?
          The extent to which a biological functionality, once developed, can be re-evolved into different functionalities.
          The extent to which evolution is constrained by “Operational Process”.  All development needs energy which comes from the sun in many different ways.  Once energy starts to come from food then sensors to detect food become important.
          The extent to which biological evolution is constrained by geological processes; developments seem frequently to depend on changes introduced extraneously to the system.

          In the first session I talked about how the brain builds an internal model of the external world and how that affects the nature of the observations about the early universe.  In the same way one needs to build a model in the mind about evolutionary development; this seems to be rather more difficult in that it more directly clashes with the model which is previously there and which is linked to religious emotional understanding.  Maybe this is why the clashes are more violent?
         
          Finally, we need to consider whether Steve Paulson has selected a balanced set of contributors to interview. 

Best wishes
Malcolm

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