The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

Mutation as Destiny

In reality, the process of copying DNA is not so smooth. When a cell splits, its DNA is copied to the new cells but the copying process (for whatever whim of nature) is prone to "error" (or, at least, to loss of information). In other words, genes mutate all the time inside our bodies. These mutations may cause fatal diseases (such as cancer) and they are responsible for death.

Mutation is what causes aging and death. Millions of cells divide each second and a copy of DNA is likely to carry some mistake, which means that the older we are the more chances that serious mistakes have been made and that our genetic instructions are no longer rational.

Mutation is also the whole point of sex, and this turns out to be the mirror story of death.  Sex is the antidote to the genetic deterioration due to the imperfect copying process. The human race would rapidly degenerate without sex: each individual would pass on genes that have already lost part of their information through so many million internal copies.  Sex is what makes the paradox possible, and almost inevitable: individuals decay, but the race progresses. Because sex recombines the genes of the parents, it can produce both better and worse (genetically speaking) individuals, and natural selection will reward the better ones. The long-term outcome of sex is that it is more likely that better future individuals are produced from the deterioration of present individuals.

Last but not least, mutation is what drives evolution (evolution is variation and natural selection).

Mutation sounds like the god of genetics.

The problem is that mutation is random.  Evolution occurs by accident, by "genetic drift": by chance and time.

Mutation is not everything, though. Mutation requires natural selection in order to yield evolution. 

Inheritance involves genes and environment working together. Diseases which are dormant in our genes, for example, may be sparked off by environmental conditions.  Diet is as important as genes in the development or the prevention of a disease.  And pollution is as important as genes to the development of cancer.  And so forth.

Chance and the environment determine how we evolve. The only party that does not have a saying in this process is… us.

 


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