[Quotes main page] [Origin of life, #1, #3, #4, #5, #6]
"A deep problem--philosophical rather than factual--stymies all our attempts to define the nature of life. Scientific generalizations require replication, the demonstration that a given set of forces and substances will yield the same result when brought together under the same conditions. Ideally, we test for replication with time-honored procedures that scientists call controlled experiments-- artificially simplified situations manipulated by human observers to guarantee (within the best of our ability) an exact repetition of all timings, forces and substances. If we achieve the same result in each of several replications, we then gain confidence that we may be witnessing a predictable generality based upon a law of nature. This search for replicates underlies the efforts--and partial successes- -of scientists to synthesize living matter from the presumed chemical constituents in the "primordial soup" of the earth's original oceans. Can we create some rudimentary forms of life by exposing these constituents to known sources of energy (lightning from electrical storms, heat from oceanic vents, for example) under the presumed conditions of the earth's early atmosphere and surface? In this context of accepted scientific procedures, single occurrences present a knotty problem. Their "truth" cannot be denied, but how can we use their existence to assert any generality rather than an explanation for a singular circumstance? .... In developing such evidence, we have explained a unique historical event, but we have not discovered a general law of nature." (Gould, Stephen J. [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA], "Will We Figure Out How Life Began? ," Time Magazine, April 9, 2000. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,42365,00.html).[top]
"Our hypothetical nucleic acid synthesis system is therefore analogous to the scaffolding used in the construction of a building. After the building has been erected the scaffolding is removed, leaving no physical evidence that it was ever there. Most of the statements in this section must therefore be taken as educated guesses. Without having witnessed the event, it seems unlikely that we shall ever be certain of how life arose" (Voet D. & Voet J.G., "Biochemistry," John Wiley and Sons: New York, 1995 p23, in Ashton J.F., ed., "In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation," New Holland: Sydney, Australia, 1999, p.165. (emphasis in the original).[top]
"Since Darwin's time an understanding of molecular biology and of the geophysics and geochemistry of the prebiotic earth has been gained that would have been unimaginable in the 19th century. Does that make it possible now to follow evolution back into the era before there were organisms? A first answer is no. The prebiotic fossil record, as far as is known, decayed or was wiped clean by later generations of life. The intellectual fossils that remain-the genetic code, the genetic messages of present organisms and the known reaction pathways of biochemistry- convey information so fragmentary that one could never describe prebiotic evolution in as much detail as, say, the evolution of primates.." (Eigen, Manfred [Nobel laureate biochemist, Max Planck Institute, Germany], Gardiner W., Schuster P. & Winkler-Oswatitsch R., "The Origin of Genetic Information," Scientific American, Vol. 244, No. 4, pp.78-94, April 1981, p.78)[top]
"The account of the origin of life that I shall give is necessarily speculative; by definition, nobody was around to see what happened. There are a number of rival theories, but they all have certain features in common." (Dawkins, Richard [Zoologist and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University], "The Selfish Gene," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, New Edition, 1989, p.14).[top]
"The evolution of the genetic machinery is the step for which there are no laboratory models; hence one can speculate endlessly, unfettered by inconvenient facts. The complex genetic apparatus in present-day organisms is so universal that one has few clues as to what the apparatus may have looked like in its most primitive form." (Dickerson, Richard E. [Professor of Molecular Biology, University of California, Los Angeles]., "Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life," Scientific American, Vol. 239, No. 3, September 1978, p.77).[ top]
"Due to this scarcity of financial resources the study of the origins of life has been forced to become a most efficient and cost-effective industry from just a thimble-full of facts the scientists engaged in that study manage to generate a virtually endless supply of theories!" (Scott, Andrew [biochemist and science writer], "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.111).[top]
"More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance. New lines of thinking and experimentation must be tried." (Dose, Klaus [Director, Institute for Biochemistry, Gutenberg University, Germany], "The Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers," Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1988, p.348).[top]
"Prebiotic soup is easy to obtain. We must next explain how a prebiotic soup of organic molecules, including amino acids and the organic, constituents of nucleotides evolved into a self-replicating organism. While some suggestive evidence has been obtained, I must admit that attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary process are extremely tentative." (Orgel, Leslie E. [Biochemist and Resident Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies], "Darwinism at the very beginning of life," New Scientist, Vol. 94, 15 April 1982, p.150).[top]
"The first assumption was that non-living things gave rise to living material.
This is still just an assumption. It is conceivable that living material might have suddenly appeared on
this world in some peculiar manner, say from another planet, but this then raises the question,
`Where did life originate on that planet?' We could say that life has always existed, but such an
explanation is not a very satisfactory one. Instead, the explanation that nonliving things could have
given rise to complex systems having the properties of living things is generally more acceptable to
most scientists. There is, however, little evidence in favour of
biogenesis abiogenesis and as yet we have no
indication that it can be performed. There are many schemes by which biogenesis abiogenesis could have
occurred but these are still suggestive schemes and nothing more. They may indicate experiments that
can be performed, but they tell us nothing about what actually happened some 1,000 million years
ago. It is therefore a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that biogenesis abiogenesis did occur and he can
choose whatever method of biogenesis abiogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did
happen is not available." (Kerkut, Gerald A. [Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, University of
Southampton, UK], "Implications of Evolution," in Kerkut G.A., ed. "International Series of
Monographs on Pure and Applied Biology, Division: Zoology," Volume 4, Pergamon Press: New
York NY, 1960, p.150. Typo "biogenesis" changed to "abiogenesis").
"But what if the vast majority of scientists all have faith in the one unverified idea? The modern 'standard' scientific version of the origin of life on earth is one such idea, and we would be wise to check its real merit with great care. Has the cold blade of reason been applied with sufficient vigour in this case? Most scientists want to believe that life could have emerged spontaneously from the primeval waters, because it would confirm their belief in the explicability of Nature - the belief that all could be explained in terms of particles and energy and forces if only we had the time and the necessary intellect. They also want to believe because their arch opponents - religious fundamentalists such as creationists - do not believe in life's spontaneous origin. It is this combative atmosphere which sometimes encourages scientists writing and speaking about the origin of life to become as dogmatic and bigoted as the creationist opponents they so despise." (Scott, Andrew [biochemist and science writer], "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, pp.111-112. Emphasis in original).[top]
* Authors with an asterisk against their name are believed to be creationists.
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Created: 28 August, 1999. Updated: 2 October, 2008.