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The following are quotes added to my Unclassified Quotes database in October 2008. The date format is dd/mm/yy.
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2/10/2008 "The proposition that life may, and does, proceed from that which has no life, then, was held alike by the philosophers, the poets, and the people, of the most enlightened nations, eighteen hundred years ago; and it remained the accepted doctrine of learned and unlearned Europe, through the Middle Ages, down even to the seventeenth century. ... The first distinct enunciation of the hypothesis that all living matter has sprung from pre-existing living matter, came from ... Francesco Redi ... Redi did not trouble himself much with speculative considerations, but attacked particular cases of what was supposed to be `spontaneous generation' experimentally. ... As the results of his experiments were the same, however varied the nature of the materials he used, it is not wonderful that there arose in Redi's mind a presumption, that, in all such cases of the seeming production of life from dead matter, the real explanation was the introduction of living germs from without into that dead matter. And thus the hypothesis that living matter always arises by the agency of pre-existing living matter, took definite shape; and had, henceforward, a right to be considered and a claim to be refuted, in each particular case, before the production of living matter in any other way could be admitted by careful reasoners. It will be necessary for me to refer to this hypothesis so frequently, that, to save circumlocution, I shall call it the hypothesis of Biogenesis; and I shall term the contrary doctrine-that living matter may be produced by not living matter-the hypothesis of Abiogenesis." (Huxley, T.H., "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis," in "Collected Essays of T.H. Huxley," Macmillan & Co: London, 1894, Vol. 8, pp.229-271, pp.231-236. Emphasis original) 2/10/2008 "And looking back through the prodigious vista of the past, I find no record of the commencement of life, and therefore I am devoid of any means of forming a definite conclusion as to the conditions of its appearance. Belief, in the scientific sense of the word, is a serious matter, and needs strong foundations. To say, therefore, in the admitted absence of evidence, that I have any belief as to the mode in which the existing forms of life have originated, would be using words in a wrong sense. But expectation is permissible where belief is not; and if it were given me to look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time to the still more remote period when the earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions, which it can no more see again than a man can recall his infancy, I should expect to be a witness of the evolution of living protoplasm from not living matter. I should expect to see it appear under forms of great simplicity, endowed, like existing fungi, with the power of determining the formation of new protoplasm from such matters as ammonium carbonates, oxalates and tartrates, alkaline and earthy phosphates, and water, without the aid of light. That is the expectation to which analogical reasoning leads me; but I beg you once more to recollect that I have no right to call my opinion anything but an act of philosophical faith." (Huxley, T.H., "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis," in "Collected Essays of T.H. Huxley," Macmillan & Co: London, 1894, Vol. 8, pp.229-271, pp.256-257) 3/10/2008 "As the exploration of the world accelerated in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and as, following Leeuwenhoek, the study of small aquatic organisms and microorganisms became ever more popular, the Great Chain of Being (Lovejoy) acquired increasing substance. And with this came a belief in continuing change. After Leibniz (1693) had said that `even the species of animals have many times been transformed,' it was stated more and more boldly by various eighteenth-century authors (as, for instance, by Maupertuis, Diderot, Robinet, and Bonnet) that the entire organic world is the product of evolution (see Lovejoy 1936:256-286). Most of these authors were philosophers with only a limited knowledge and understanding of the world of organic beings, and their pronouncements were made rather casually and with little attempt at substantiation. However, this cannot be said of Buffon, the foremost naturalist of his day. He might have based his entire Histoire naturelle on a theory of descent if he had really believed in it, but he did not. Even though Guyenot (1941:401) is convinced that Buffon must be considered `not merely a forerunner, but, indeed, a veritable founder of the theory of evolution,' Lovejoy (1959) cites many good reasons why Buffon's statements must be treated with caution. They might just as well, or even more so, reflect his philosophical ideas and, in particular, his adherence to the principle of plenitude." (Mayr, E.W., "Evolution and the Diversity of Life: Selected Essays," Belknap Press: Cambridge MA, 1976, pp.226-227) 3/10/2008 "It seems to me that Lamarck has a much better claim to be designated `the founder of the theory of evolution,' as indeed he has been by several French historians (such as Landrieu 1909). All others before him had discussed evolution en passant and incidentally to other subjects or else in poetical or metaphorical terms. He was the first author to devote an entire book primarily to the presentation of a theory of organic evolution. He was the first to present the entire system of animals as a product of evolution." (Mayr, E.W., "Evolution and the Diversity of Life: Selected Essays," Belknap Press: Cambridge MA, 1976, p.227) 4/10/2008 "How do you get from fins to fingers, from an animal that swims in water to one that walks on land? This key evolutionary innovation was first made during the Devonian period, about 370 to 360 million years ago, and can be succinctly described as the `fish-tetrapod transition.' .... The lobe-finned relatives of early tetrapods had complex internal skeletons and a suite of muscles in their paired fins, features eventually exploited to produce weight-bearing limbs .... Among the immediate relatives of tetrapods, the most proximal three elements of their limbs can be readily identified as related to the humerus, radius, and ulna of the forelimb, and the femur, tibia, and fibula of the hindlimb. The humeri of Devonian tetrapod-like fish such as Eusthenopteron and Panderichthys bear particular resemblance to those of early tetrapods, and several key features are common to them all ... However, fins and limbs are conspicuously different with respect to orientation, range of movement, and function. ... in Panderichthys, as in other fish, the fin and shoulder joint face posteriorly, whereas in tetrapods they are reoriented to face laterally. As a result of this reorientation, the attitude of the limb to the body is essentially horizontal rather than vertical; the operational space in which the limb acts is level with the shoulder joint rather than posterior to it; and the direction in which its muscles pull is approximately at right angles to the body rather than at an acute angle to it. " (Clack, J.A., "From Fins to Fingers," Science, Vol. 304, 2 April 2004, pp.57-58, p.57) 4/10/2008 "The evolution of limbed vertebrates from lobe-finned fish is one of the key transitions in the history of life. The origin of the tetrapod body plan has classically been associated with the invasion of land; accordingly, limbs were seen to have arisen to support and move the body in a terrestrial habitat. In recent years this view has changed with new descriptions of Devonian forms, such as Acanthostega. Although clearly a tetrapod, Acanthostega retains a variety of aquatic adaptations, including flipper-like appendages, internal gills, and a broad finned tail. Unfortunately, our limited ability to make comparisons between homologous features in the humeri of basal tetrapods and their closet, fish relatives has hampered our understanding of the fin-limb transition. Theories about the origin of tetrapod limbs have relied mainly on comparisons of humeri of Carboniferous and Permian tetrapods with that of Eusthenopteron, a well- known Devonian lobe-finned fish. In recent years, these temporal and anatomical gaps have narrowed with new descriptions of limbs of the basal tetrapods Acanthostega, Ichthyostega, and Tulerpeton and emerging details of the pectoral fin in Panderichthys the most crownward fish on the tetrapod stem lineage. "(Shubin, N.H., Daeschler, E.B. & Coates, M.I., "The Early Evolution of the Tetrapod Humerus," Science, Vol. 304, 2 April 2004, pp.90-91) 5/10/2008 "How do major shifts in evolution happen? What is the way in which new designs and functions emerge over time? Big transitions, like the origin of flight or the invasion of land involve the evolution of new structures, functions. and ecological interactions. Our understanding of the significant jumps in evolution has depended on a few relatively well-known intervals in the history of life. The origin of tetrapods has been one of those exemplars, and in Gaining Ground Jennifer Clack provides a fresh look at this key evolutionary event." (Shubin, N.H., "Giving Fish a Hand." Review of "Gaining Ground: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods," by Jennifer A. Clack, Indiana University Press: Bloomington IN, 2002. Science, Vol. 301, 8 August 2003, pp.766-767, p.766) 5/10/2008 "The book's focus is the origin of limbed vertebrates, an issue that has classically been associated with the transition from fish to amphibian and from dwelling in water to living on land. The modern era in the study of this issue opened with the discovery of the fossil vertebrate Ichthyostega. In 1928, a team led by Gunnar Säve-Söderbergh discovered extraordinarily fossiliferous beds in the Devonian of east Greenland. These 360-million-year-old rocks contained numerous fossils of bony fish and one set of particularly interesting remains. These latter fossils possessed a fish-like tail, ribs, and back, yet also had limbs with fingers and toes. This new species, dubbed Ichthyostega by Säve-Söderbergh in 1932 [Säve-Söderbergh, G., Medd. Grønl. 98(3), 1932, p.1] and described in a series of papers by Erik Jarvik [Jarvik, E., "Basic Structure and Evolution of the Vertebrates," Academic Press: New York, 1980], became the quintessential transitional form in the scientific literature and popular press. Its combination of fish and amphibian characters led to speculation about the ways in which the origin of tetrapods could be associated with the invasion of land by vertebrates. One of these scenarios, formulated by Barrell [Barrell, J., "Influence of Silurian-Devonian climates on the rise of air-breathing vertebrates," Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 27, 1916, pp.387-436] and later revised by Romer [Romer, A.S., "Tetrapod limbs and early tetrapod life," Evolution, 12, 1958, pp.365-369], held that the drying of Devonian ponds forced one group of fish to adapt to more terrestrial environments. Creatures such as Ichthyostega were seen as marking the cusp of this transition." (Shubin, N.H., "Giving Fish a Hand." Review of "Gaining Ground: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods," by Jennifer A. Clack, Indiana University Press: Bloomington IN, 2002. Science, Vol. 301, 8 August 2003, pp.766-767, p.766) 5/10/2008 "Recent discoveries, many of them by Clack (a vertebrate paleontologist at the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge) and her colleagues, have changed this conception entirely. Consequently. the publication of Clack's review could not be more timely. For over 5-5 years, our knowledge of tetrapod origins was limited to a handful of Ichthyostega specimens. In the early 1990s the story began to change profoundly, due to discoveries first in Greenland, then in other parts of the globe. Expeditions to Säve- Söderbergh's classic sites led by Clack and her Danish and British colleagues unearthed a treasure trove of new material that revealed that the current view of tetrapod origins was wrong in several important ways. New specimens of Acanthostega, described by Clack and Michael Coates in 1991 [Coates, M.J. & Clack, J. A., "Fish-like Gills and breathing in the earliest known Tetrapod," Nature, 352, 1991, pp.234-236], showed that the origin of tetrapods was not necessarily linked to the invasion of land. Acanthostega is clearly a tetrapod. and a primitive one at that. Surprisingly, this primitive tetrapod retains a remarkable suite of aquatic adaptations, such as gills and flipper-like limbs. These adaptations imply that fingers and toes first appeared in the paddle of an aquatic organism rather than in the hand or foot of a more terrestrial one. Another big surprise came when Acanthostega and Ichthyostega were studied phylogenetically. Comparing the phylogenetic positions of the species with their occurrences in the stratigraphic record suggested that there was a still undiscovered diversity o tetrapods in the Devonian. Field paleontologists and workers in museum collections took this revelation to heart. Their efforts led to the recovery and recognition of new tetrapod tax from Devonian strata in Latvia, Scotland, North America, Asia, and Australia. Late Devonian tetrapods, formerly thought to have been monotypic and con. fined to a small region, are no known to have been anatomically diverse, distributed almost globally and adapted to different degrees of terrestriality. As Clack's discussions throughout the book indicate, this fossil bonanza has created a more complex view of what was formerly seen as a simple transformation." (Shubin, N.H., "Giving Fish a Hand." Review of "Gaining Ground: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods," by Jennifer A. Clack, Indiana University Press: Bloomington IN, 2002. Science, Vol. 301, 8 August 2003, pp.766-767) 5/10/2008 "Where does Gaining Ground leave us? New fossils, new phylogenetic hypotheses and new discoveries from developmental genetics have exposed the complexity involved with the origin of novel taxa. This complexity tells us much about how evolution works. As Clack demonstrates in the book, the tetrapod limb provides a major example of such evolutionary transformations. The simple view would hold that the origin of tetrapods is associated with the invasion of land by vertebrates, the transformation of fins into limbs, and the origin of the first fingers and toes. Clack shows that the relation among these three aspects is loose at best: primitive tetrapods are aquatic, primitive limbs can be very flipper-like, and digit-like structures appear in parallel in at least one other lineage of Devonian fish. Indeed, transitional taxa are often mélanges of structures, genes, and functions seen in a variety of different primitive groups. These mélanges are the result of parallel evolution and the disparate patterns of ecological and anatomical change. The features that characterize important new groups often arise in several different primitive species independently. In addition, major anatomical shifts can precede ecological ones. In the case of tetrapods, key features evolved in fish living in aquatic ecosystems, and only later were they used to exploit terrestrial environments. There are general lessons to be gleaned from this new view of tetrapod origins: the complex relation among parallel evolution, ecological change, and evolutionary diversification is likely to pertain to other evolutionary transitions as well." (Shubin, N.H., "Giving Fish a Hand." Review of "Gaining Ground: The Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods," by Jennifer A. Clack, Indiana University Press: Bloomington IN, 2002. Science, Vol. 301, 8 August 2003, pp.766-767, p.767) 5/10/2008 "HOX genes specify cell fate in the anterior-posterior axis of animal embryos. Invertebrate chordates have one HOX cluster, but mammals have four, suggesting that cluster duplication facilitated the evolution of vertebrate body plans. This report shows that zebrafish have seven hox clusters. Phylogenetic analysis and genetic mapping suggest a chromosome doubling event, probably by whole genome duplication, after the divergence of ray-finned and lobe-finned fishes but before the teleost radiation. Thus, teleosts, the most species-rich group of vertebrates, appear to have more copies of these developmental regulatory genes than do mammals, despite less complexity in the anterior-posterior axis." (Amores, A., et al., "Zebrafish hox Clusters and Vertebrate Genome Evolution," Science, Vol. 282, 27 November 1998, pp.1711-1714, p.1711) 5/10/2008 "A cladistic model for the evolution of vertebrate HOX clusters, using gene presence as character states. Assuming that gene loss is more frequent than gene gain, the ancestral state (A) had 13 HOX genes plus EVX. Duplication, probably in an agnathan fish (B), gave a proto-(AB) cluster lacking group 12 and a proto-(CD) cluster lacking groups 2 and 7. A second duplication, perhaps in an ancient gnathostome fish (C), was followed by losses of group 8 from the HOXA cluster, group 11 from the HOXB cluster, EVX from the HOXC, cluster, and groups 5 and 6 from the HOXD cluster; subsequently, the e tetrapod lineages lost HOXC1, HOXC3, and an EVX gene from the HOXB cluster (D). Finally, an apparent duplication event produced eight clusters in a ray-finned fish (E), followed by further shared and unique losses in zebrafish (F) and Fugu (G) lineages." (Amores, A., et al., "Zebrafish hox Clusters and Vertebrate Genome Evolution," Science, Vol. 282, 27 November 1998, pp.1711-1714, p.1713) 5/10/2008 "Fingers and toes were long thought to be novelties associated with the invasion of land by tetrapods. The recent identification of a variety of aquatic specializations in some early tetrapods has provoked a debate on whether digits arose in primarily terrestrial or aquatic animals. We recently discovered a pectoral fin of a lobe-finned fish that is remarkably similar to tetrapod limbs. This discovery reveals that major tetrapod novelties are also seen in the paddles of some closely related fish and therefore need not have arisen to meet the demands of a terrestrial existence. ... The closest relatives of tetrapods, 'osteolepiform' and elpistostegalid sarcopterygians, have fins designed on a simple bifurcate pattern and do not have structures that can be readily compared with digits. In contrast, the new fin contains an array of eight distally facing and jointed preaxial radials that are superficially similar in number and configuration to the digits of early tetrapods. In addition, six of these radials articulate with homologues of the carpus (intermedium and ulnare) at a common proximo-distal level. The radials of the new fin differ from tetrapod digits in that they are flattened and encased by stiff unjointed dermal fin rays. Taken together, these characteristics suggest that the digit-like structures were not the primary load-bearing elements of the distal portion of the rhizodont appendage." (Daeschler, E.B. & Shubin, N.H., "Fish with fingers?," Nature, Vol. 391, 8 January 1997, p.133) 5/10/2008 "This discovery reveals that some Devonian fish acquired a truly mosaic fin skeleton, possessing both an extensive and limb-like endoskeleton and elaborate dermal fin rays. The presence of digit-like structures in the paddle of an aquatic fish suggests that digits could have evolved for reasons other than bearing weight during terrestrial locomotion." (Daeschler, E.B. & Shubin, N.H., "Fish with fingers?," Nature, Vol. 391, 8 January 1997, p.133) 5/10/2008 "ONE of the most momentous events in the history of vertebrates was the emergence of terrestrial amphibians from their fish ancestors. Study of this transition has been frustrated by a gap in both time and morphology between the earliest known amphibians and their closest relatives among the fish. A new genus, Elginerpeton, described by Per Ahlberg [Alberg, P.E., "Elginerpeton pancheni and the earliest tetrapod clade," Nature, Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.420-425]; provides new information that helps to fill that gap." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390, p.389) 5/10/2008 "The fish most closely related to the amphibians are the osteolepiform sareopterygians, which, like all terrestrial vertebrates, are characterized by having internal nostrils. Among the osteolepiforms, the genus that shares the most derived features with amphibians is Panderichthys from the lower part of the Upper Devonian (lower Frasnian). The best known of the early amphibians are Acanthostega and Ichthyostega, from the uppermost Devonian (upper Famennian), whose limbs appear to have been broadly similar to those of fully terrestrial vertebrates." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390, p.389) 5/10/2008 "Skull and jaw bones of Elginerpeton, from rocks of upper Frasnian age in Scotland, exhibit a mosaic of fish and amphibian features. Some, such as an accessory tooth row on the dentary, are typical of osteolepiform fish, whereas others, including the pattern of ornamentation on the premaxilla and the lower law, and the presence of fang pairs and a tooth row on paired plates lateral to the jaw symphysis, are common to later amphibians. Bones of the upper limb found in association with Elginerpeton exhibit some tetrapod features, but whether this genus had feet like later amphibians, or fishlike fins, has not been established. The most striking features of Elginerpeton and the contemporary genus Obruchevichthys from Latvia and Russia are unique derived characters that mean that they cannot be closely related to any of the previously recognized Upper Devonian or Carboniferous amphibians. The front of the skull is relatively narrow, unlike those of both osteolepiform fish and uppermost Devonian amphibians, and the total cranial length is much greater. This family must represent a distinct, short-lived radiation, one which occurred before that which gave rise to most land vertebrates." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390, p.389) 5/10/2008 "The discovery of Elginerpeton is but one of a number of finds during the 1990s that have contributed to understanding the fish/amphibian transition. Vorobyeva and Schultze, for example, have demonstrated that Panderichthys, although unquestionably a fish in its possession of paired fins, has many features that were thought to be restricted to amphibians. At the other end of the transition, Clack and Coates have shown that the amphibians Acanthostega and Ichthyostega retained many features indicative of an aquatic way of life. Two other late Devonian amphibians, Hynerpeton and Tulerpeton, add to the overall picture in their possession of features of the postcranial skeleton that are more advanced than the better known Ichthyostega and Acanthostega, suggesting closer affinities to land vertebrates of the Carboniferous and later." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390, p.389) 5/10/2008 "Together, these fossils show that the transition between osteolepiform fish and land vertebrates did not occur within a single lineage, but encompassed a series of radiations beginning within a strictly aquatic environment, continuing through animals with an intermediate morphology, and culminating in lineages that are closely related to fully terrestrial animals. The diversity of intermediate forms reinforces Thomson's view that this transition occurred within an extensive wetlands ecosystem that included a variety of distinct habitats." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390, p.389) 5/10/2008 "Many of these fossils are incomplete, but enough of their skeletons is known to indicate that skeletal features that were once thought to be unique to land vertebrates appeared stepwise in a succession of aquatic, semiaquatic and semiterrestrial vertebrates, while features commonly attributed to fish were retained in animals classified as amphibians. This point is highlighted by evidence, provided by Coates and Clack, that important features of the tetrapod hands and feet in Acanthostega may have evolved among primarily aquatic animals. The-distribution of primitive and derived characters differs from lineage to lineage, showing that many features were evolved or lost convergently. As in the case of other major transitions in vertebrates, such as the origin of birds and mammals, the convergent origin of derived features in different lineages makes it difficult to establish specific relationships, or to agree on objective criteria to differentiate tetrapods from their fish ancestors." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390) 5/10/2008 "Although all these new data make it more difficult to classify species involved in the transition between fish and amphibians, they greatly illuminate the evolutionary processes involved. They demonstrate that the complete transition, from early osteolepiform sarcopterygians to primarily terrestrial amphibians may have extended over at least 15 million years. The fossil record is not vet well enough known to establish rates yet evolution, but the observed changes may be attributed to progressive adaptation to increasingly shallow water, accompanied by repeated cladogenesis (branching of evolutionary lineages). The increase of information on the fish-amphibian transition emphasizes the continued lack of knowledge of the next crucial step in the evolution of land vertebrates. In contrast to the variety of well-known Upper Devonian tetrapods, no amphibians have yet been described from the succeeding 20 million years, during which time all the main groups of later land vertebrates diverged." (Carroll, R., "Between fish and amphibian," Nature Vol. 373, 2 February 1995, pp.389-390, p.390) 6/10/2008 "When a roulette ball lands on its wheel, its fate is not absolutely random. It does not bounce off the wheel and stick to the ceiling. It does not end up perched on the border between two numbers. The force of gravity, the energy of the throw, and the instability of the wheel's borders push the ball onto one of the numbers. Its fate is constrained, although it remains unpredictable. The same holds for evolution. It is channeled within certain constraints, but that doesn't mean that its transformations unfold with steady, predictable progress. The internal forces of evolution-the way genes interact to build an organism-meet up with the external forces of climate, geography, and ecology, like advancing weather fronts. When they collide, they produce evolutionary tornadoes and hurricanes. As a result, scientists have to be on their guard when they try to reconstruct how evolutionary transformations took place, because it is easy to impose a simple story on a counterintuitive reality." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, pp.131-132) 6/10/2008 "If 530 million years ago marks one major milestone in our evolution-the dawn of vertebrates during the Cambrian explosion-the next must be 360 million years ago, when vertebrates came on land. During those intervening 280 million years, vertebrates evolved into a vast diversity of fishes-including the ancestors of today's lampreys, sharks, sturgeon, and lungfish, as well as extinct forms, such as the jawless, armor-plated galeaspids and placoderms. But during that entire time there was not a single back-boned creature walking on dry land. Only 360 million years ago did vertebrates finally emerge from the ocean. From them, all terrestrial vertebrates (known as tetrapods) are descended-everything from camels to iguanas to toucans to ourselves." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, p.132) 6/10/2008 "Early descriptions of this transition were infused with a heroic tone, as if it were part of some foreordained step toward the rise of humanity. From the squirming fish of the sea, the story went, pioneering species emerged onto dry land, struggling with their fins and evolving lungs and legs to let them conquer dry land, rising high and standing tall. In 1916, the Yale paleontologist Richard Lull wrote, `The emergence from the limiting waters to the limitless air was absolutely essential to further development.' [Barrell, J., et al., "The Evolution of the Earth and Its Inhabitants," Yale University Press, 1918, p.119] In fact, the origin of tetrapods was a far different story, one that paleontologists themselves did not even begin to understand properly until the 1980s. Before then, evidence about what the earliest tetrapods were like was hard to come by." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, p.132) 6/10/2008 "Researchers knew that of all fishes, the ones most closely related to tetrapods were an ancient lineage known as lobe-fins. The living lobe-fins include lungfishes, which live in Brazil, Africa, and Australia. These freshwater fishes can breathe air if their ponds dry up or if the oxygen levels of their water drop dangerously low. The other lobe-fin is the coelacanth, a hulking, wide-mouthed creature that lives hundreds of feet below the ocean's surface off the coasts of southern Africa and Indonesia. The skeletons of lobe-fins bear some special similarities to those of tetrapods. Their stout, muscular fins, for example, have the same basic arrangement as legs and arms: a single bone closest to their body, which connects to a pair of long bones, which in turn connect to a group of smaller bones. Although lungfish and coelacanths are the only lobe-fins alive today, 370 million years ago lobe-fins were among the most diverse groups of fish. And paleontologists discovered that some of those extinct lobe-fins were even more like tetrapods than living lobe-fins are." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, pp.132- 133) 6/10/2008 "As for the oldest tetrapods, paleontologists knew of only one species: a 360-million-year-old creature called Ichthyostega. Discovered in the mountains of Greenland in the 1920s, this 3-foot-long, four-legged creature was clearly a tetrapod, but it had a flat-topped skull that looked more like lobe-finned fish than it did later tetrapods. Paleontologists concluded that Ichthyostega was the product of a long struggle to adapt to dry land. The American paleontologist Alfred Romer sketched out the most thorough scenario for this origin for tetrapods. Their lobe-fin ancestors lived in freshwater rivers and ponds, but a change in the climate brought on seasonal droughts that made their homes evaporate every year. The fish that could drag themselves to the next pond survived, while the ones that were stranded died. The more mobile lobe-fins were more likely to survive, so over time their fins evolved into legs. Eventually these fish became so good at moving on land that they could hunt the insects and other invertebrates crawling around on the ground, and they gave up life in the water altogether." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, p.133) 6/10/2008 "Romer's scenario seemed logical enough, at least until a second early tetrapod was discovered in Greenland. In 1984 Jennifer Clack, a paleontologist at the University of Cambridge, was perusing the notes from an expedition of Cambridge geologists in the 1970s. They had discovered Ichthyostega-like fossils and had simply stored them away right under Clack's nose. Clack returned to their site in 1987 and found the complete skeleton of another 360-million-year-old tetrapod, named Acanthostega. Acanthostega had all the required hallmarks of a tetrapod, such as legs and toes, but it was an animal that could only have lived underwater. For one thing, Clack and her colleagues discovered bones in its neck that supported gills. For another, its legs, shoulders, and hips were all far too weak to hold up its weight on dry land. Acanthostega made no sense in Romer's scenario, but paleontologists were realizing that some of his assumptions were wrong. Acanthostega and other early tetrapods did not in fact live in harsh, drought- plagued habitats. Instead they lived in lush coastal wetlands, a habitat that was coming into existence for the first time on Earth as large trees began to grow along coasts and rivers. There were no droughts to drive fish toward a tetrapod's body." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, pp.133-134) 6/10/2008 "Clack and other paleontologists now argue that fish evolved legs and toes not to walk on land but in order to move underwater. With a few minor changes to the ways in which master-control genes built fins, evolution rearranged the bones into toes. These tetrapod-like fish could then have used their fins to clamber through reedy marshes, over fallen logs and other debris. They could grip on to rocks to lie still as they waited to ambush passing prey. While this sort of locomotion may seem strange to us, some living fish do much the same thing. Frogfish have finger-like projections on their fins that they use to walk slowly over coral reefs." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, p.134) 6/10/2008 "Whatever they were originally used for, feet and toes didn't evolve in response to the demand for walking on land, their current use. As of 2000, paleontologists had discovered a dozen or so species of early tetrapods, and they all appear to have been aquatic. (Clack and her colleagues have taken a fresh look at Ichthyostega and have concluded that it may have been able to drag itself around on dry land like a seal.) Ted Daeschler of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia has even found the fossil of a separate lineage of lobe-fins that evolved finger-like bones independently of our own ancestors. Between about 370 and 360 million years ago, it seems, walking lobe-fins went through an underwater evolutionary explosion cichlids with legs, as it were. Only later did one branch of tetrapods move on land, their legs now taking on a new function." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, p.134) 6/10/2008 "Evolution often borrows things adapted for one function to perform a new one (a process known as `preadaptation' or `exaptation'). As is so often the case with evolution, this tendency was first noticed by Darwin. `When this or that part has been spoken of as adapted for some special purpose, it must not be supposed that it was originally always formed for this sole purpose,' he wrote in 1862. `The regular course of events seems to be, that a part which originally served for one purpose, becomes adapted by slow changes for widely different purposes." (Zimmer, C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York NY, 2001, p.134) 6/10/2008 "Another important vertebrate transition under intensive study at present is the origin of the tetrapods Ahlberg 1995: Carroll 1997). For many years now. the Upper Devonian stem-group tetrapod Ichthyostega has played a conceptually similar part for tetrapods to that of :Archaeopteryx for birds; it has most of the tetrapod characters, but retains some more primitive features found in a 'rhipidistian' fish such as Eusthenopteron. Several other stem-group tetrapods have been described recently, notably Acanthostega, which is the same age and from the same East Greenland locality as Ichthyostega. There are considerable and unexpected differences between these two contemporary animals. which indicates that the transition from fish to tetrapod was part of a radiation and not a single, simple lineage. Other stem-group tetrapods, mostly represented by very incomplete remains so far. are being added to the cladogram and indicate a little more about the sequence of acquisition of tetrapod characters. The picture is still extremely unclear and the pattern too hazy for confident inferences to be made. Thomson (1966, 1993) believes that the acquisition of tetrapod characters from the fish grade shows a correlated progression comparable to that of the origin of manuals." (Kemp, T.S., "Fossils and Evolution," Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1999, p.238) 6/10/2008 "One interesting suggestion about this transition is that it may have occurred over a much shorter time span than other vertebrate transitions of comparable degree (Ahlberg et al. 1996). Although the amount of morphological and biological change is unquantifiable, and the precise dates of origin of particular character states cannot be known, there is nevertheless an impression that from fully aquatic fish-like grade to an animal fully competent to move. feed, and generally survive on land may have been as little as about 10 million years during the Late Devonian. If so, it would be tempting to speculate that this relates to the unusually extreme nature of the ecological transition from water to land." (Kemp, T.S., "Fossils and Evolution," Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1999, p.238) 6/10/2008 "The concept of preadaptation has been discussed widely in the context of the origin of tetrapods. It presumes that an adaptation for some environmental feature happened by chance to be able to act as an adaptation for a different feature in a different environment. and therefore to behave as a version of a key adaptation. In the case of the lobed-finned fishes that preceded the land-living tetrapods, the ability to breath atmospheric air, to locomote by pushing on the substrate. and perhaps to deal with terrestrial food are putative preadaptations. The difficulty with the idea of preadaptation is that, as with key adaptations generally. it is impossible to test whether any given character is any more important than any other in creating the opportunity for subsequent evolutionary radiation. It is also doubtful if the concept actually has any meaning beyond 'adaptation' anyway. The three functions mentioned are all functions that have to be possessed by animals living in very shallow parts of' the aquatic habitat, in which dissolved oxygen levels will be low at times, and which will contain food items derived from the adjacent bank or shore. These are the same functions related to the same environmental requirements as found in primitive terrestrial animals. What these characters indicate is that the transition from water to land was possible because there is enough ecological overlap in parameters between the two for an ecological gradient to exist between them. An organism adapted to shallow, muddy water is automatically largely adapted to the damp, muddy bank." (Kemp, T.S., "Fossils and Evolution," Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1999, pp.238-239) 6/10/2008 "Pattern formation is the activity by which embryonic cells form ordered spatial arrangements of differentiated tissues. The ability to carry out this process is one of the most dramatic properties of developing organisms, and one that has provoked a sense of awe in scientists and laypeople alike. How is it that the embryo is able not only to generate the different cell types of the body, but also to produce them in a way that forms functional tissues and organs? It is one thing to differentiate the chondrocytes and osteocytes that synthesize the cartilage and bone matrices, respectively; it is another thing to produce these cells in a temporal-spatial orientation that generates a functional bone. It is still another thing to make that bone a humerus and not a pelvis or a femur. The ability of limb cells to sense their relative positions and to differentiate with regard to their position has been the subject of intense debate and experimentation. How are the cells that differentiate into the cartilage of the embryonic bone specified so as to form digits at one end and a shoulder at the other? (It would be quite a useless appendage if the order were reversed.) Here the cell types are the same, but the patterns they form are different." (Gilbert, S.F., "Developmental Biology," , Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Fourth edition, 1994, p.690. Emphasis original) 6/10/2008 "The vertebrate limb is an extremely complex organ with an asymmetric pattern of parts. The bones of the forelimb, be it wing, hand, flipper, or fin, consist of a proximal humerus (adjacent to the body wall), a radius and an ulna in the middle region, and the distal bones of the wrist and the digits. Originally, these structures are cartilaginous, but eventually most of the cartilage is replaced by bone. The position of each of the bones and muscles in the limb is precisely organized. Polarity exists in other dimensions as well. In humans, it is obvious that each hand develops as a mirror image of the other. It is possible for other arrangements to exist-such as the thumb developing on the left side of both hands-but this is not generally seen. In some manner, the three-dimensional pattern of forelimb is routinely produced." (Gilbert, S.F., "Developmental Biology," , Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Fourth edition, 1994, p.690) 6/10/2008 "The basic `morphogenetic rules' for forming a limb appear to be the same in all tetrapods (see Hinchliffe, 1991). Fallon and Crosby (1977) showed that grafted pieces of reptile or mammal limb bud can direct the formation of chick limb development, and Sessions and co-workers (1989) have found that frog and salamander limb buds can direct the formation of the other class's limbs. Moreover, the regeneration of salamander limbs appears to follow the same rules as those of developing limbs (Muneoka and Bryant, 1982). " (Gilbert, S.F., "Developmental Biology," , Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Fourth edition, 1994, p.690) 9/10/2008 "Early amphibians Lobe-finned fish are believed to be the ancestors of land vertebrates, proposing that their bony fins developed into tetrapod limbs. The overall class of lobe-finned fish includes lungfish, both fossil and three present-day species, which has further suggested that they were predecessors to air- breathing land animals, although it is not generally thought that terrestrial animals are direct descendents of the early lungfish. It is easy to be drawn into thinking that bony fins could readily develop into the limbs of a terrestrial animal, and the evolutionary perspective also emphasizes that some of the early amphibians resembled fish in their overall hydrodynamic shape and one or two even had fin-like structures on their tail. However, this emphasis completely overlooks the major developed structural differences between even the most amphibian-like fish and earliest fish-like amphibian (typically Ichthyostega), mainly due to the fundamentally different modes of locomotion and the need for a terrestrial animal to support its weight in a way which is quite unnecessary for an aquatic organism which is buoyed by the water." (Swift, D.W., "Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, 2002, pp.265-266. Emphasis original) 9/10/2008 "First, the bones of the posterior paired fins of the lobe-finned fish were not attached at all to the backbone (and are not attached in modern lobe-finned fish), whereas in tetrapods the hind limbs are connected via a well-developed pelvis. Second, the anterior fins are attached directly to the skull; but such an arrangement for a land animal would transmit tremors from the impact of limbs on the ground directly to the skull and thence brain, so it is not surprising that in tetrapods (including the earliest amphibians) the forelimbs are attached instead to the backbone. This attachment is not immediately behind the skull, but there are several intervening vertebrae which provide further buffering and permit movement of the head independently of the rest of the body. This arrangement of supporting the spine near each end then permits the body organs to be suspended from it - a suitable arrangement for a land animal. Land animals also tend to have interlocking vertebrae so that the spine can perform this structural role." (Swift, D.W., "Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, 2002, p.266) 9/10/2008 "Even more striking than the differences in limb attachments is the origin of the polydactyl limb in the first amphibians. It is well known that land animals have a similar overall bone plan in their limbs: starting with a single bone where it contacts the rest of the body, then a pair of bones, then several bones leading to multiple digits (for example the humerus, ulna and radius, carpals and metacarpals, then phalanges in the arm and hand of man). In most land vertebrates there are five digits and the whole structure is termed a pentadactyl limb, although the earliest amphibians had more and modern amphibians have four! The bone structure in fins is quite different from a tetrapod limb: a single bone equivalent to the humerus can be identified, and perhaps two bones comparable to the ulna and radius, but then any possible homology breaks down, and there is nothing at all comparable with the digits. So the whole polydactyl structure had to arise between the last known fish predecessor and the first amphibian." (Swift, D.W., "Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, 2002, p.266) 9/10/2008 "Another marked difference between fish fins and amphibian limbs is their overall orientation: In fish the fins are swept backwards, consistent with reducing hydrodynamic resistance; whereas amphibians have the usual land-animal arrangement of the limbs being directed forwards." (Swift, D.W., "Evoe: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, 2002, p.266) 9/10/2008 "So there are at least four major structural differences between lobe-finned fish and the early amphibians: the attachments of fore and hind limbs, the orientation of the limbs, and the formation of polydactyl limbs. There are no fossils between the fish and amphibians showing creatures having only some of these features, nor of any having an intermediate stage for any of these structures, e.g. in the formation of a polydactyl limb. Somewhat disingenuously, many evolutionary texts depict a transitional stage (for example with limbs beginning forwards but then swept backwards, and with part-formed digits), no doubt trying to make the gap look more bridgeable - but there is no such intermediate form known." (Swift, D.W., "Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, 2002, pp.266-267) 9/10/2008 "All too often, the substantial modifications that are required to effect this change in lifestyle - from fish to amphibian - are just trivialised or glossed over to the point of misrepresentation. For example, here is an account from a modern textbook on evolution: `Sometimes, by chance, an organ that works well in one function turns out to work well in another function after relatively little adjustment. Fins in both fish groups evolved for swimming. In some lobe-finned species, they probably came to be used for skuttling around near the seashore or on the bottom of rivers or lakes. From this point, only a small change was required for the fish to walk on land. Whatever the details involved, it is a reasonable inference that the lobe-finned skeleton was, unlike a ray-fin, preadapted to evolve into a tetrapod limb. The term preadaptation is applied when a large change in function is accomplished with little change of structure. [Ridley, Ch. 13]' This quotation also illustrates the widespread tendency on the part of biologists to adopt an `inheritance of acquired characteristics' or `effect of use' way of thinking in evolutionary scenarios. We must not lose sight of the fact that to be of any evolutionary significance there must be a genetic basis; but any changes will occur at random, and utility can be determined only retrospectively by natural selection. A fish cannot anticipate the potential value of limbs or in any way promote an appropriate change." (Swift, D.W., "Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, 2002, p.267) 9/10/2008 "The time between the latest proposed piscine predecessor and the earliest known amphibian is reckoned to be 20 to 30 million years. This is acknowledged to be a relatively short period in geological terms, and would require quite dramatic changes to take place. The situation is even more problematic because there are several distinct groups of the early amphibians. For example, appearing at much the same time as the ichthyostegids were the anthracasaurs whose vertebrae structure was more suited for living on land; and another group to appear early on were the temnospondyls with a yet different vertebrae structure, even more suited for load bearing, and were generally more heavily built. Of particular note is the subclass of lepospondyls, the first of which appeared early in the Carboniferous. Not only were their vertebrae very different in terms of final structure, but it is also apparent that they formed differently - by direct deposition of bone rather than the more usual being preformed in cartilage. They are subdivided into five orders which are quite distinct morphologically - especially in terms of vertebrae, limbs and skull - and in their lifestyles. For instance the aistopods had much reduced limbs or were even limbless and snakelike, whereas the microsaurs were very varied and predominantly aquatic." (Swift, D.W., "Evolution Under the Microscope: A Scientific Critique of the Theory of Evolution," Leighton Academic Press: Stirling UK, , 2002, p.267) 10/10/2008 "Advanced forms of life existed on earth at least 3.55 billion years ago. In rocks of that age, fossilized imprints have been found of bacteria that look uncannily like cyanobacteria, the most highly evolved photosynthetic organisms present in the world today. Carbon deposits enriched in the lighter carbon-12 isotope over the heavier carbon-13 isotope-a sign of biological carbon assimilation-attest to an even older age. On the other hand, it is believed that our young planet, still in the throes of volcanic eruptions and battered by falling comets and asteroids, remained inhospitable to life for about half a billion years after its birth, together with the rest of the solar system, some 4.55 billion years ago. This leaves a window of perhaps 200-300 million years for the appearance of life on earth." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "This duration was once considered too short for the emergence of something as complex as a living cell. Hence suggestions were made that germs of life may have come to earth from outer space with cometary dust or even, as proposed by Francis Crick of DNA double-helix fame, on a spaceship sent out by some distant civilization. No evidence in support of these proposals has yet been obtained. Meanwhile the reason for making them has largely disappeared. It is now generally agreed that if life arose spontaneously by natural processes-a necessary assumption if we wish to remain within the realm of science-it must have arisen fairly quickly, more in a matter of millennia or centuries, perhaps even less, than in millions of years. Even if life came from elsewhere, we would still have to account for its first development. Thus we might as well assume that life started on earth." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "How this momentous event happened is still highly conjectural, though no longer purely speculative. The clues come from the earth, from outer space, from laboratory experiments, and, especially, from life itself. The history of life on earth is written in the cells and molecules of existing organisms. Thanks to the advances of cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, scientists are becoming increasingly adept at reading the text." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "An important rule in this exercise is to reconstruct the earliest events in life's history without assuming they proceeded with the benefit of foresight. Every step must be accounted for in terms of antecedent and concomitant events. Each must stand on its own and cannot be viewed as a preparation for things to come. Any hint of teleology must be avoided." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Building Blocks The early chemists invented the term `organic'chemistry to designate the part of chemistry that deals with compounds made by living organisms. The synthesis of urea by Friedrich Wöhler in 1828 is usually hailed as the first proof that a special `vital force' is not needed for organic syntheses. Lingering traces of a vitalistic mystique nevertheless long remained associated with organic chemistry, seen as a special kind of life-dependent chemistry that only human ingenuity could equate. The final demystification of organic chemistry has been achieved by the exploration of outer space. Spectroscopic analysis of incoming radiation has revealed that the cosmic spaces are permeated by an extremely tenuous cloud of microscopic particles, called interstellar dust, containing a variety of combinations of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and, sometimes, sulfur or silicon. These are mostly highly reactive free radicals and small molecules that would hardly remain intact under conditions on earth, but would interact to form more stable, typical organic compounds, many of them similar to substances found in living organisms." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "That such processes indeed take place is demonstrated by the presence of amino acids and other biologically significant compounds on celestial bodies-for example, the meteorite that fell in 1969 in Murchison, Australia, Comet Halley (which could be analyzed during its recent passage by means of instruments carried on a spacecraft), and Saturn's satellite Titan, the seas of which are believed to be made of hydrocarbons. It is widely agreed that these compounds are not products of life, but form spontaneously by banal chemical reactions. Organic chemistry is nothing but carbon chemistry. It just happens to be enormously richer than the chemistry of other elements-and thus able to support life-because of the unique associative properties of the carbon atom. In all likelihood the first building blocks of life arose as do all natural chemical compounds--spontaneously, according to the rules of thermodynamics." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The first hints that this might be so came from the laboratory, before evidence for it was found in space, through the historic experiments of Stanley Miller, now recalled in science textbooks. In the early 1950s, Miller was a graduate student in the University of Chicago laboratory of Harold Urey, the discoverer of heavy hydrogen and an authority on planet formation. He undertook experiments designed to find out how lightning-reproduced by repeated electric discharges-might have affected the primitive earth atmosphere, which Urey believed to be a mixture of hydrogen, methane, ammonia and water vapor. The result exceeded Miller's wildest hopes and propelled him instantly into the firmament of celebrities. In just a few days, more than 15 percent of the methane carbon subjected to electrical discharges in the laboratory had been converted to a variety of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and other potential biological constituents. Although the primitive atmosphere is no longer believed to be as rich in hydrogen as once thought by Urey, the discovery that the Murchison meteorite contains the same amino acids obtained by Miller, and even in the same relative proportions, suggests strongly that his results are relevant." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Miller's discovery has sparked the birth of a new chemical discipline, abiotic chemistry, which aims to reproduce in the laboratory the chemical events that initiated the emergence of life on earth some four billion years ago. Besides amino acids and other organic acids, experiments in abiotic chemistry have yielded sugars, as well as purine and pyrimidine bases, some of which are components of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, and other biologically significant substances, although often under more contrived conditions and in lower yields than one would expect for a prebiotic process. How far in the direction of biochemical complexity the rough processes studied by abiotic chemistry may lead is not yet clear. But it seems very likely that the first building blocks of nascent life were provided by amino acids and other small organic molecules such as are known to form readily in the laboratory and on celestial bodies. To what extent these substances arose on earth or were brought in by the falling comets and asteroids that contributed to the final accretion of our planet is still being debated." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The RNA World Whatever the earliest events on the road to the first living cell, it is clear that at some point some of the large biological molecules found in modern cells must have emerged. Considerable debate in origin-of-life studies has revolved around which of the fundamental macromolecules came first-the original chicken-oregg question. The modern cell employs four major classes of biological molecules-nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The debate over the earliest biological molecules, however, has centered mainly on the nucleic acids, DNA and RNA, and the proteins. At one time or another, one of these molecular classes has seemed a likely starting point, but which? To answer that, we must look at the functions performed by each of these in existing organisms." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437. Emphasis original. ) 10/10/2008 "The proteins are the main structural and functional agents in the cell. Structural proteins serve to build all sorts of components inside the cell and around it. Catalytic proteins, or enzymes, carry out the thousands of chemical reactions that take place in any given cell, among them the synthesis of all other biological constituents (including DNA and RNA), the breakdown of foodstuffs and the retrieval and consumption of energy. Regulatory proteins command the numerous interactions that govern the expression and replication of genes, the performance of enzymes, the interplay between cells and their environment, and many other manifestations. Through the action of proteins, cells and the organisms they form arise, develop, function and evolve in a manner prescribed by their genes, as modulated by their surroundings." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The one thing proteins cannot do is replicate themselves. To be sure, they can, and do, facilitate the formation of bonds between their constituent amino acids. But they cannot do this without the information contained within the nucleic acids, DNA and RNA. In all modern organisms, DNA serves as the storage site of genetic information. The DNA contains, in encrypted form, the instructions for the manufacture of proteins. More specifically, encoded within DNA is the exact order in which amino acids, selected at each step from 20 distinct varieties, should be strung together to form all of the organism's proteins. In general, each gene contains the instructions for one protein. DNA itself is formed by the linear assembly of a large number of units called nucleotides. There are four different kinds of nucleotides, designated by the initials of their constituent bases: A (adenine), G (guanine), C (cytosine) and T (thymine). The sequence of nucleotides determines the information content of the molecules, as does the sequence of letters in words." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Within all cells, DNA molecules are formed from two strands of DNA that spiral around each other in a formation called a double helix. The two strands are held together by bonds between the bases of each strand. Bonding is quite specific, so that A always bonds with T, and G is always partnered with C on the opposite DNA strand. This complementarity is crucial for faithful replication of the DNA strands prior to cell division. During DNA replication, the DNA strands are separated, and each strand serves as a template for the replication of its complementary strand. Wherever A appears on the template, a T is added to the nascent strand. Or, if T is on the template, then A is added to the growing strand. The same is true for G and C pairs. In the characteristic double-helical structure of DNA, the two strands carry the same information in complementary versions, as do the positive and negative of the same photograph. Upon replication, the positive strand serves as template for the assembly of a new negative and the negative strand for that of a new positive, yielding two identical duplexes." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "In order for DNA to fulfill its primary role of directing the construction of proteins, an intermediate molecule must be made. DNA does not directly participate in protein synthesis. That is the function of its very close chemical relative RNA. Expression of DNA begins when an RNA molecule is constructed bearing the information for a gene contained on the DNA molecule. RNA, like DNA, is made up of nucleotides, but U (uracil) takes the place of T. Construction of the RNA molecule follows the same rules as DNA replication. The RNA copy, called a transcript, is a complementary copy of the DNA, with U (instead of T) inserted wherever A appears on the DNA template. Most RNA transcripts, often after some modification, provide the information for the assembly of proteins. The sequence of nucleotides along the coding RNA, aptly called messenger RNA, specifies the sequence of amino acids in the corresponding protein molecule-three successive nucleotides (called a codon) in the RNA specify one amino acid to be used in the protein. The process is known as translation, and the correspondences between codons and amino acids define the genetic code." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September- October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Not all RNA molecules are messengers, however. Some of the RNAs participate in protein synthesis in other ways. Some actually make up the cellular machinery that constructs proteins. These are called ribosomal RNAs, and they may include the actual catalyst that joins amino acids by peptide bonds, according to the work of Harry Noller at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Other RNAs, called transfer RNAs, ferry the appropriate amino acids to the ribosome. As cell biology has progressed, even more functions for RNA have been discovered. For example, some RNA molecules participate in DNA replication, while others help process messenger RNAs." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Scientists considering the origins of biological molecules confronted a profound difficulty. In the modern cell, each of these molecules is dependent on the other two for either its manufacture or its function. DNA, for example, is merely a blueprint, and cannot perform a single catalytic function, nor can it replicate on its own. Proteins, on the other hand, perform most of the catalytic functions, but cannot be manufactured without the specifications encoded in DNA. One possible scenario for life's origins would have to include the possibility that two kinds of molecules evolved together, one informational and one catalytic. But this scenario is extremely complicated and highly unlikely." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The other possibility is that one of these molecules could itself perform multiple functions. Theorists considering this possibility started to look seriously at RNA. For one thing, the molecule's ubiquity in modern cells suggests that it is a very ancient molecule. It also appears to be highly adaptable, participating in all of the processes relating to information processing within the cell. For a while, the only thing RNA did not seem capable of doing was catalyzing chemical reactions. That view changed when in the late 1970s, Sydney Altman at Yale University and Thomas Cech at the University of Colorado at Boulder independently discovered RNA molecules that in fact could catalytically excise portions of themselves or of other RNA molecules. The chicken-or-egg conundrum of the origin of life seemed to fall away. It now appeared theoretically possible that an RNA molecule could have existed that naturally contained the sequence information for its reproduction through reciprocal base pairing and could also catalyze the synthesis of more like RNA strands. In 1986, Harvard chemist Walter Gilbert coined the term `RNA world' to designate a hypothetical stage in the development of life in which `RNA molecules and cofactors [were] a sufficient set of enzymes to carry out all the chemical reactions necessary for the first cellular structures.' Today it is almost a matter of dogma that the evolution of life did include a phase where RNA was the predominant biological macromolecule." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Origin and Evolution of the RNA World As certain as many people are that the RNA world was a crucial phase in life's evolution, it cannot have been the first. Some form of abiotic chemistry must have existed before RNA came on the scene. For the purpose of this discussion, I shall call that earlier phase `protometabolism' to designate the set of unknown chemical reactions that generated the RNA world and sustained it throughout its existence (as opposed to metabolism--the set of reactions, catalyzed by protein enzymes, that support all living organisms today). By definition, protometabolism (which could have developed with time) was in charge until metabolism took over. Several stages may be distinguished in this transition." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September- October 1995, pp.428-437. Emphasis original) 10/10/2008 "In the first stage, a pathway had to develop that took raw organic material and turned it into RNA. The first building blocks of life had to be converted into the constituents of nucleotides, from which the nucleotides themselves had to be formed. From there, the nucleotides had to be strung together to produce the first RNA molecules. Efforts to reproduce these events in the laboratory have been only partly successful so far, which is understandable in view of the complexity of the chemistry involved. On the other hand, it is also surprising since these must have been sturdy reactions to sustain the RNA world for a long time. Contrary to what is sometimes intimated, the idea of a few RNA molecules coming together by some chance combination of circumstances and henceforth being reproduced and amplified by replication simply is not tenable. There could be no replication without a robust chemical underpinning continuing to provide the necessary materials and energy." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The development of RNA replication must have been the second stage in the evolution of the RNA world. The problem is not as simple as might appear at first glance. Attempts at engineering--with considerably more foresight and technical support than the prebiotic world could have enjoyed--an RNA molecule capable of catalyzing RNA replication have failed so far." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "With the advent of RNA replication, Darwinian evolution was possible for the first time. Because of the inevitable copying mistakes, a number of variants of the original template molecules were formed. Some of these variants were replicated faster than others or proved more stable, thereby progressively crowding out less advantaged molecules. Eventually, a single molecular species, combining replicatability and stability in optimal fashion under prevailing conditions, became dominant. This, at the molecular level, is exactly the mechanism postulated by Darwin for the evolution of organisms: fortuitous variation, competition, selection and amplification of the fittest entity. The scenario is not just a theoretical construct. It has been reenacted many times in the laboratory with the help of a viral replicating enzyme, first in 1967 by the late American biochemist Sol Spiegelman of Columbia University." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "An intriguing possibility is that replication was itself a product of molecular selection. It seems very unlikely that protometabolism produced just the four bases found in RNA, A, U, G and C, ready by some remarkable coincidence to engage in pairing and allow replication. Chemistry does not have this kind of foresight. In all likelihood, the four bases arose together with a number of other substances similarly constructed of one or more rings containing carbon and nitrogen. According to the present inventory, such substances could have included other members of the purine family (which includes A and G), pyrimidines (which include U, T and C), nicotinamide and flavin, both of which actually engage in nucleotide-like combinations, and pterines, among other compounds. The first nucleic acid-like molecules probably contained an assortment of these compounds. Molecules rich in A, U, G and C then were progressively selected and amplified, once some rudimentary template-dependent synthetic mechanism allowing base pairing arose. RNA, as it exists today, may thus have been the first product of molecular selection." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "A third stage in the evolution of the RNA world was the development of RNA-dependent protein synthesis. Most likely, the chemical machinery appeared first, as yet uninformed by genetic messages, as a result of interactions among certain RNA molecules, the precursors of future transfer, ribosomal and messenger RNAs, and amino acids. Selection of the RNA molecules involved could conceivably be explained on the basis of molecular advantages, as just outlined. But for further evolution to take place, something more was needed. RNA molecules no longer had to be selected solely on the basis of what they were, but of what they did; that is, exerting some catalytic activity, most prominently making proteins. This implies that RNA molecules capable of participating in protein synthesis enjoyed a selective advantage, not because they were themselves easier to replicate or more stable, but because the proteins they were making favored their replication by some kind of indirect feedback loop." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "This stage signals the limit of what could have happened in an unstructured soup. To evolve further, the system had to be partitioned into a large number of competing primitive cells, or protocells, capable of growing and of multiplying by division. This partitioning could have happened earlier. Nobody knows. But it could not have happened later. This condition implies that protometabolism also produced the materials needed for the assembly of the membranes surrounding the protocells. In today's world, these materials are complex proteins and fatty lipid molecules. They were probably simpler in the RNA world, though more elaborate than the undifferentiated `goo' or `scum' that is sometimes suggested." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Once the chemical machinery for protein synthesis was installed, information could enter the system, via interactions among certain RNA components of the machinery-the future messenger RNAs-and other, amino acid-carrying RNA molecules-the future transfer RNAs. Translation and the genetic code progressively developed concurrently during this stage, which presumably was driven by Darwinian competition among protocells endowed with different variants of the RNA molecules involved. Any RNA mutation that made the structures of useful proteins more closely dependent on the structures of replicatable RNAs, thereby increasing the replicatability of the useful proteins themselves, conferred some evolutionary advantage on the protocell concerned, which was allowed to compete more effectively for available resources and to grow and multiply faster than the others." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The RNA world entered the last stage in its evolution when translation had become sufficiently accurate to unambiguously link the sequences of individual proteins with the sequences of individual RNA genes. This is the situation that exists today (with DNA carrying the primary genetic information), except that presentday systems are enormously more accurate and elaborate than the first systems must have been. Most likely, the first RNA genes were very short, no longer than 70 to 100 nucleotides (the modern gene runs several thousand nucleotides), with the corresponding proteins (more like protein fragments, called peptides) containing no more than 20 to 30 amino acids. It is during this stage that protein enzymes must have made their first appearance, emerging one by one as a result of some RNA gene mutation and endowing the mutant protocell with the ability to carry out a new chemical reaction or to improve an existing reaction. The improvements would enable the protocell to grow and multiply more efficiently than other protocells in which the mutations had not appeared. This type of Darwinian selection must have taken place a great many times in succession to allow enzyme-dependent metabolism to progressively replace protometabolism." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The appearance of DNA signaled a further refinement in the cell's information-processing system, although the date of this development cannot be fixed precisely. It is not even clear whether DNA appeared during the RNA world or later. Certainly, as the genetic systems became more complex, there were greater advantages to storing the genetic information in a separate molecule. The chemical mutations required to derive DNA from RNA are fairly trivial. And it is conceivable that an RNA-replicating enzyme could have been co-opted to transfer information from RNA to DNA. If this happened during the RNA world, it probably did so near the end, after most of the RNA-dependent machineries had been installed." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "What can we conclude from this scenario, which, though purely hypothetical, depicts in logical succession the events that must have taken place if we accept the RNA-world hypothesis? And what, if anything, can we infer about the protometabolism that must have preceded it? I can see three properties. First, protometabolism involved a stable set of reactions capable not only of generating the RNA world, but also of sustaining it for the obviously long time it took for the development of RNA replication, protein synthesis and translation, as well as the inauguration of enzymes and metabolism. Second, protometabolism involved a complex set of reactions capable of building RNA molecules and their constituents, proteins, membrane components and possibly a variety of coenzymes, often mentioned as parts of the catalytic armamentarium of the RNA world. Finally, protometabolism must have been congruent with present-day metabolism; that is, it must have followed pathways similar to those of present-day metabolism, even if it did not use exactly the same materials or reactions. Many abiotic-chemistry experts disagree with this view, which, however, I see as enforced by the sequential manner in which the enzyme catalysts of metabolism must have arisen and been adopted. In order to be useful and confer a selective advantage to the mutant protocell involved, each new enzyme must have found one or more substances on which to act and an outlet for its product or products. In other words, the reaction it catalyzed must have fitted into the protometabolic network. To be sure, as more enzymes were added and started to build their own network, new pathways could have developed, but only as extensions of what was initially a congruent network." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The Thioester World It may well be, then, that clues to the nature of that early protometabolism exist within modern metabolism. Several proposals of this kind have been made. Mine centers around the bond between sulfur and a carboncontaining entity called an acyl group, which yields a compound called a thioester. I view the thioester bond as primeval in the development of life. Let me first briefly state my reasons. A thioester forms when a thiol (whose general form is written as an organic group, R, bonded with sulfur and hydrogen, hence R-SH) joins with a carboxylic acid (R'-COOH). A molecule of water (H2O) is released in the process, and what remains is a thioester: R-S-CO-R'. The appeal in this bond is that, first, its ingredients are likely components of the prebiotic soup. Amino acids and other carboxylic acids are the most conspicuous substances found both in Miller's flasks and in meteorites. On the other hand, thiols may be expected to arise readily in the kind of volcanic setting, rich in hydrogen sulfide (H2S), likely to have been found on the prebiotic earth. Joining these constituents into thioesters would have required energy. There are several possible mechanisms for this, which I shall address later. For the time being, let us assume thioesters were present. What could they have done?" (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437. Emphasis original. ) 10/10/2008 "The thioester bond is what biochemists call a high-energy bond, equivalent to the phosphate bonds in adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the main supplier of energy in all living organisms. It consists of adenosine monophosphate (AMP)--actually one of the four nucleotides of which RNA is made--to which two phosphate groups are attached. Splitting either of these two phosphate bonds in ATP generates energy, which fuels the vast majority of biological energy-requiring phenomena. In turn, ATP must be regenerated for work to continue. It is revealing that thioesters are obligatory intermediates in several key processes in which ATP is either used or regenerated. Thioesters are involved in the synthesis of all esters, including those found in complex lipids. They also participate in the synthesis of a number of other cellular components, including peptides, fatty acids, sterols, terpenes, porphyrins and others. In addition, thioesters are formed as key intermediates in several particularly ancient processes that result in the assembly of ATP. In both these instances, the thioester is closer than ATP to the process that uses or yields energy. In other words, thioesters could have actually played the role of ATP in a thioester world initially devoid of ATP. Eventually, their thioesters could have served to usher in ATP through its ability to support the formation of bonds between phosphate groups." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "Among the substances that form from thioesters in present-day organisms are a number of bacterial peptides made of as many as 10 or more amino acids. This was discovered by the late German-American biochemist Fritz Lipmann, the `father of bioenergetics,' toward the end of the 1960s. But even before that, Theodor Wieland of Germany had found in 1951 that peptides form spontaneously from the thioesters of amino acids in aqueous solution. The same reaction could be expected to happen in a thioester world, where amino acids were present in the form of thioesters. Among the resulting peptides and analogous multi-unit macromolecules, which I like to call multimers to emphasize their chemical heterogeneity, a number of molecules could have been structurally and functionally similar to the small catalytic proteins that inaugurated metabolism. I therefore suggest that multimers derived from thioesters provided the first enzyme-like catalysts for protometabolism." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The thioester world thus represents a hypothetical early stage in the development of life that could have provided the energetic and catalytic framework of the protometabolic set of primitive chemical reactions that led from the first building blocks of life to the RNA world and subsequently sustained the RNA world until metabolism took over. This hypothesis implies that thioesters could form spontaneously on the prebiotic earth. Assembly from thiols and acids could have occurred, although in very low yield, in a hot, acidic medium. They could also have formed in the absence of water, for example, in the atmosphere. Perhaps a more likely possibility is that thioesters formed, as they do in the present world, by reactions coupled to some energy-yielding process. The American chemist Arthur Weber, formerly of the Salk Institute, now at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, has described several simple mechanisms of this sort that could have operated under primitive-earth conditions." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," _American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "So far, these ideas are highly speculative, being supported largely by the need for congruence between protometabolism and metabolism, by the key--and probably ancient--roles played by thioesters in presentday metabolism, and by the likely presence of thioesters on the prebiotic earth. But some experimental evidence has been obtained that supports the thioester-world model. I have already mentioned the work of Wieland, Lipmann and Weber. Recently, highly suggestive evidence has come from the laboratory of Miller, where researchers have obtained under plausible prebiotic conditions the three molecules-cysteamine, b-alanine and pantoic acid-that make up a natural substance known as pantetheine. They have also observed the ready formation of this compound from its three building blocks under prebiotic conditions. It so happens that pantetheine is the most important biological thiol, a catalytic participant in a vast majority of the reactions involving thioester bonds." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "A Cosmic Imperative I have tried here to review some of the facts and ideas that are being considered to account for the early stages in the spontaneous emergence of life on earth. How much of the hypothetical mechanisms considered will stand the test of time is not known. But one affirmation can safely be made, regardless of the actual nature of the processes that generated life. These processes must have been highly deterministic. In other words, these processes were inevitable under the conditions that existed on the prebiotic earth. Furthermore, these processes are bound to occur similarly wherever and whenever similar conditions obtain. This must be so because the processes are chemical and are therefore ruled by the deterministic laws that govern chemical reactions and make them reproducible." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437. Emphasis original) 10/10/2008 "It also seems likely that life would arise anywhere similar conditions are found because many successive steps are involved. A single, freak, highly improbable event can conceivably happen. Many highly improbable events-drawing a winning lottery number or the distribution of playing cards in a hand of bridge- happen all the time. But a string of improbable events-the same lottery number being drawn twice, or the same bridge hand being dealt twice in a row-does not happen naturally." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "All of which leads me to conclude that life is an obligatory manifestation of matter, bound to arise where conditions are appropriate. Unfortunately, available technology does not allow us to find out how many sites offer appropriate conditions in our galaxy, let alone in the universe. According to most experts who have considered the problem-notably, in relation with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project-there should be plenty of such sites, perhaps as many as one million per galaxy. If these experts are right, and if I am correct, there must be about as many foci of life in the universe. Life is a cosmic imperative. The universe is awash with life." (de Duve, C., "The Beginnings of Life on Earth," American Scientist, Vol. 83, September-October 1995, pp.428-437) 10/10/2008 "The concept of stunning simplicity that he was talking about was, of course, nothing to do with me. It was Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection - the ultimate scientific consciousness-raiser. ... That scientifically savvy philosopher Daniel Dennett pointed out that evolution counters one of the oldest ideas we have: `the idea that it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing. I call that the trickle-down theory of creation. You'll never see a spear making a spear maker. You'll never see a horse shoe making a blacksmith. You'll never see a pot making a potter." [Dennett, D.C., "Darwinism Completely Refutes Intelligent Design," Der Spiegel, 26 December, 2005] Darwin's discovery of a workable process that does that very counterintuitive thing is what makes his contribution to human thought so revolutionary, and so loaded with the power to raise consciousness." (Dawkins, R., "The God Delusion," Bantam Press: London, 2006, p.117) 10/10/2008 "It is surprising how necessary such consciousness-raising is, even in the minds of excellent scientists in fields other than biology. Fred Hoyle was a brilliant physicist and cosmologist, but his Boeing 747 misunderstanding, and other mistakes in biology such as his attempt to dismiss the fossil Archaeopteryx as a hoax, suggest that he needed to have his consciousness raised by some good exposure to the world of natural selection. At an intellectual level, I suppose he understood natural selection. But perhaps you need to be steeped in natural selection, immersed in it, swim about in it, before you can truly appreciate its power." (Dawkins, R., "The God Delusion," Bantam Press: London, 2006, p.117) 10/10/2008 "SPIEGEL: In the center of the debate is the theory of evolution. Why is it that evolution seems to produce much more opposition than any other scientific theory such as the Big Bang or quantum mechanics? Dennett: I think it is because evolution goes right to the heart of the most troubling discovery in science of the last few hundred years. It counters one of the oldest ideas we have, maybe older even than our species. SPIEGEL: Which is what exactly? Dennett: It's the idea that it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing. I call that the trickle-down theory of creation. You'll never see a spear making a spear maker. You'll never see a horse shoe making a blacksmith. You'll never see a pot making a potter. It is always the other way around and this is so obvious that it just seems to stand to reason. ... the idea of a creator that is more wonderful than the things he creates is, I think, a very deeply intuitive idea. It is exactly this idea that promoters of Intelligent Design speak to when they ask, 'did you ever see a building that didn't have a maker, did you ever see a painting that didn't have a painter.' That perfectly captures this deeply intuitive idea that you never get design for free. SPIEGEL: An ancient theological argument... Dennett: ... which Darwin completely impugns with his theory of natural selection. And he shows ... not only can you get design from un-designed things, you can even get the evolution of designers from that un-design. You end up with authors and poets and artists and engineers and other designers of things, other creators -- very recent fruits of the tree of life. And it challenges people's sense that life has meaning." (Dennett, D.C., "Darwinism Completely Refutes Intelligent Design," Interview with Evolution Philosopher Daniel Dennett, Der Spiegel, December 26, 2005) 11/10/2008 "What does it take to make a living cell alive? The answer is something every scientist recognizes and uses in a laboratory, something every scientist can logically infer from his observations of DNA and protein. What does it take to make a living cell alive? Creative design and organization. Only special acts of creation could organize matter into the first living cells. But once all the parts are in place, there is nothing `magical' or `mysterious' in the way cells make proteins. If they are continually supplied with the right kind of energy and raw materials--and if all 75-plus of the RNA and protein molecules required for DNA- protein `translation' are present in the right places at the right times in the right amounts with the right structure-then cells make proteins by using DNA's base series (quite indirectly!) to line up amino acids at the rate of about two per second. In ways scientists understand rather well, it takes a living cell only about four minutes to `crank out' an average protein (500 amino acids) according to DNA specifications." (Parker, G.E.*, "Creation: the Facts of Life," Master Book Publishers: San Diego CA, 1980, Third Printing, 1984, p.14. Emphasis original) 11/10/2008 "Scientists also understand how airplanes fly. For that very reason, no scientist believes that airplanes are the result of time, chance, and aluminum `doing what comes naturally.' Flying is a property of organization, not substance. A Boeing-747, for example, is a collection of 4½ million non-flying parts, but thanks to plan, purpose, and special creation (and a continuous supply of energy and of repair services!), it flies. Similarly `life' is a property of organization, not of substance. A living cell is a collection of several billion nonliving molecules (just `dust of the ground'), and death results when a shortage of energy or a flaw in the operational or repair mechanisms allows natural chemical processes to destroy its biological order." (Parker, G.E.*, "Creation: the Facts of Life," Master Book Publishers: San Diego CA, 1980, Third Printing, 1984, pp.14-15) 11/10/2008 "It's what we do know and can explain about aluminum and the laws of physics that would convince us that airplanes are the products of creation, even if we never saw the acts of creation. In the same way, it's what we do know and can explain about DNA and protein and the laws of chemistry which suggest that life itself is the result of plan, purpose, and special creation. My point is not based on design per se, but on the kind of design we observe. As creationists point out, some kinds of design, such as snowflakes and wind-worn rock formations, do result from time and chance--given the created properties of the materials involved. Even complex relationships, such as the oxygen-carbon dioxide balance in a sealed aquarium, can result from created organisms `doing what comes naturally,' given the properties of living things. But just as clearly, other kinds of design, e.g. arrowheads and airplanes, are the direct result of creative design and organization giving matter properties it doesn't have and can't develop on its own. What we know about the DNA-protein relationship suggests that living cells have the created kind of design." (Parker, G.E.*, "Creation: the Facts of Life," Master Book Publishers: San Diego CA, 1980, Third Printing, 1984, p.15. Emphasis original) 12/10/2008 "Ultra-scepticism and the Improbability of Life The latter of these is the more difficult to refute. By applying the strict canons of scientific method to this subject, it is possible to demonstrate effectively at several places in the story, how life could not have arisen; the improbabilities are too great, the chances of the emergence of life too small. Regrettably from this point of view, life is here on Earth in all its multiplicity of forms and activities and the arguments have to be bent round to support its existence." (Bernal, J.D., "The Origin of Life," , Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, Third Impression, 1973, p.120. Emphasis original) 12/10/2008 "The Appeal to the Supernatural Faced with this difficulty, the temptation is to pass to the imaginative pole, to introduce supernatural factors, to appeal to a special creation at every difficult point. Another alternative, which in the last analysis comes to very much the same thing, is to admit total ignorance and to counsel serious scientists to abandon the search until better times when more knowledge will be accumulated. This is the path chosen by most professional biologists today. Biochemists and biophysicists tend to be more sanguine, perhaps because they do not see all the difficulties Nevertheless, the ranks of those trying - with admittedly inadequate facts and methods - to explain the origin of life continue to grow. One of the reasons why working on the origin of life is not only a difficult but a deceptive process is the very rapid advances of the subjects on which greater knowledge of the origin of life depends: astronomy, geology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Not only is it so difficult as to be virtually impossible to be competent and up-to-the-moment in all of these subjects at the same time, but there is also an inevitable inertia in setting out the new ideas of those with which we are less familiar." (Bernal, J.D., "The Origin of Life," , Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, Third Impression, 1973, p.120. Emphasis original) 12/10/2008 "An Amateur Subject As both a new and a speculative subject, the origin of life inevitably attracts the minds of many who are overall perforce amateurs, even though they have fields of science in which they are acknowledged experts. The resulting crankiness, as much as the scepticism which I have mentioned, is very characteristic of all works on the origin of life. However, an amateur subject is also an exciting one and will in the course of time be refined down to something as safe and dull as the rest of science. Workers acquire a vested interest in a particular theory or attitude towards the origin of life and are loath to change it for another, even though it may really belong to a previous era in our knowledge of the physics and chemistry of life processes. Many of the different lines of explanation to which I will be referring are in this cate gory. The differences between them are more apparent than real, however deeply felt." (Bernal, J.D., "The Origin of Life," , Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, Third Impression, 1973, pp.120-121. Emphasis original) 12/10/2008 "The argument in this book has followed what might be called the central or orthodox theories of the origin of life. They derive from the Oparin-Haldane hypothesis in the main, but with alterations which have been introduced from time to time by the originators or by other workers, largely as a result of advances in biology and in the astronomical-geological background. ... From the first experiments of Miller in 1953 onwards, we have had a series of syntheses and chemical explanations which now furnish a very solid background of hard fact to any theory of the earliest stages of the origin of life. As chemistry, they are not open to serious criticism; what may be criticized, however, is their relevance to the actual origin of life on Earth or in the solar system. Inevitably, they refer back to what can only be a theoretical appreciation of the origin of the Earth and its subsequent development. And these, as Pirie has pointed out, are very insecure and changeable bases." (Bernal, J.D., "The Origin of Life," , Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, Third Impression, 1973, p.121) 12/10/2008 "Consider, for example, the fundamental 'uniformities' at the heart of all forms of life on earth today. Every creature on earth uses nucleic acids to store its genetic information, and they all appear to use the same basic genetic code (although a few fairly trivial variations have turned up quite recently). That genetic code directs the production of proteins using the same set of 20 amino acids in all organisms, and the amino acids are always in the 'left-handed' form, while the sugars in the backbones of all genes are always 'right-handed'. There are no creatures using right-handed amino acids and left-handed sugars, or left or right-handed forms of both these basic constituents of life, although organisms built along such lines could possibly function perfectly well. These are just the most central of many such biochemical uniformities. Whenever we look deep into the workings of the great diversity of living things on earth, from dandelions to dragonflies, barracudas to bacteria, we find that all life adheres to the one basic biochemical plan. Evolution has certainly garnished the basic plan with many rich embellishments, but in essence we are all machines based on genes that encode proteins and use them to achieve different ends in remarkably similar ways." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.132) 12/10/2008 "This remarkable uniformity is usually attributed to the presumed descent of all modern creatures from one common ancestral form. This common ancestor need not have been the first or only form of life around on the early earth, indeed it almost certainly was not; but it would have been the most successful, a success that allowed its progeny to drive all competing lines of descent to extinction ... . According to this tale, the most recent common ancestor of all modern life might have itself been quite a sophisticated and highly evolved form. It may have been a particular type of cell that had to compete with other cells using different genes, different genetic codes, differently 'handed' molecules and so on. But of all the alternative solutions to the fundamental problems of life, only one survived to father the life on earth today - presumably because it was much better at surviving and 'fathering' than all the rest." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, pp.132-133) 12/10/2008 "This might sound a nice neat and plausible tale, but many scientists retain lingering doubts. If there is one lesson that our investigations into biology should teach us, it is the scope for diversity within the living world. Viable ecological 'niches' exist for millions upon millions of different creatures, even though some might seem rather 'useless' or very 'inferior' compared to most others. ... So is it really feasible to imagine that only the one basic biochemical plan could have had such an advantage over all others that it drove them all to complete extinction? Is it not more likely that the astonishing uniformity of modern biochemistry indicates that there only ever was the one plan available, because we are all derived from the one type of microorganism which reached the earth from space? Since this initial invader would already be the product of a lengthy evolution, its way of doing things would already be both efficient and firmly set. So further evolution from that stock would be restricted to exploiting the possibilities of the invader's own basic biochemical plan. We could argue about such questions for ever (and perhaps people will), but it is certain that if modern biochemistry was not quite so uniform then we might be able to rest more contentedly with our ideas about the origin of life on earth. The fact that the biochemistry of all sorts of living cells is so uniform keeps alive the suspicion that it might never have had any choice." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, pp.133-134. Emphasis original) 12/10/2008 "Francis Crick, Leslie Orgel and others have also pointed to a few other features of modern biochemistry which might support the idea that life on earth is derived from the living things of somewhere else. For example, living things on earth use molybdenum - a very rare element on earth - to assist certain key enzyme reactions in ways which other more common elements might manage just as easily. So does this indicate that our ancestors lived on planets rich in molybdenum, in orbit around molybdenum-containing stars which we might be able to identify by sophisticated spectroscopy? Most scientists find this argument rather unconvincing, but it deserves a mention." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.134) 12/10/2008 "A more convincing piece of evidence in favour of panspermia would be the discovery of fossilized and fairly complex cells dating from a very early stage in the earth's history. The fossil record certainly tells us that any life that did 'seed' the earth from space must have been very small and simple. As we examine rocks of increasing age we find the fossils within them become increasingly small and simple. This is one of the major pieces of evidence supporting the idea that all modern life-forms have evolved from simpler forms over the ages. The earth is about 4600 million years old, and the earliest generally accepted fossilized cells are currently estimated to be about 3500 million years old. That leaves around one thousand million years for the first cells to arise, which many scientists think should have been quite sufficient. But if fossils of earlier and perhaps more complex cells could be found, then the established version of our origins might be in serious trouble. If fossilized cells continue to be discovered dating from earlier and earlier times, then it may begin to look as if there was insufficient time for life to originate all by itself on earth." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, pp.134-135) 12/10/2008 "This is an area of great uncertainty and contention. In the first place, how can we possibly estimate how long would be sufficient for the first cells to arise? If a fossilized complex cell were discovered dating back to 4500 million years ago, there would probably be no shortage of scientists claiming that the 100 million years separating that fossil from the birth of the earth would have been plenty of time for cells to originate - after all, 100 million years is a very long time. A few scientists, such as Fred Hoyle, think that even the entire 4600 million years of the earth's history was insufficient time for the simplest of living cells to evolve by natural selection. Since we have failed so dismally to re-create the essential steps involved in the origin of cells containing genes that encode proteins, we have no objective way of resolving such disagreements." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.135) 12/10/2008 "Another problem in this area is that it is very difficult to be sure that 'cellular fossils' really are fossilized cells. A fossilized early single cell cannot be expected to look very different from bubbles or spherical crystals in rocks. We can get some assistance by examining and dating organic chemicals found associated with the 'fossils', but it may not be easy to distinguish traces of organic chemicals produced by living things from remnants of a non-living organic 'soup'. Many supposed 'fossilized cells' have later been dismissed as 'pseudofossils' such as bubbles or crystals. I doubt if we will ever get much certainty from the examination of the earliest fossilized 'cells', and the arguments will surely continue." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.135) 12/10/2008 "So where have we got to, at the end of this short chapter of colourful speculation? We have come nowhere near to reaching any firm conclusions, but hopefully it has introduced you to yet more ideas at odds with the conventional story of our origins, some of which are very hard to dismiss. Personally, I see no reason for assuming that life must have originated on the earth we now live upon. We must surely keep our minds open to all possibilities, at least until someone has convincingly re-created the spontaneous origin of life on earth, or until many more decades of searching allow the rest of the universe to be pronounced as definitely dead." (Scott, A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.135) 12/10/2008 "Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe understood that any of the simplest living cells such as bacteria was extremely complex, containing many nucleic acids and enzymes and molecules, all comprised of thousands of atoms, all joined together in a precise sequence. Although he is an evolutionist (but not a Darwinist) and an atheist, Hoyle sees the mathematical statistical difficulty. In his calculations of the probability of life emerging from the chance interactions of chemicals, Hoyle assumed that the first living cell was much simpler than today's bacteria. However, his calculation for the likelihood of even one very simple enzyme arising at the right time in the right place was only one chance in 1020 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000." (Overman, D.L.*, "A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization," Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, 1997, p.58) 12/10/2008 "Because there are thousands of different enzymes with different functions, to produce the simplest living cell, Hoyle calculated that about 2,000 enzymes were needed with each one performing a specific task to form a single bacterium like E. coli. Computing the probability of all of these different enzymes forming in one place at one time to produce a single bacterium, Hoyle and his colleague, Chandra Wickramasinghe, calculated the odds at 1 in 1040,000. This number is so vast that any mathematician would agree that it amounts to total impossibility. As noted above, the total atoms in the observable universe are estimated to be only approximately 1010." (Overman, D.L.*, "A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization," Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, 1997, pp.58-59) 12/10/2008 "Hoyle and Wickramasinghe concluded that life could not have appeared by earthbound random processes even if the whole universe consisted of primeval soup. The enormous information content of even the simplest living system cannot be generated by accidental processes. Any theory with a probability of being accurate larger than 1 in 1040,000 must be considered superior to random processes. The probability that life was assembled by an intelligence has a vastly greater probability. They argue that life could not have emerged on earth from unguided, random processes: `No matter how large the environment one considers, life cannot have had a random beginning ... there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in (1020)2000 = 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court ... the enormous information content of even the simplest living systems ... cannot in our view be generated by what are often called "natural" processes.... For life to have originated on the Earth it would be necessary that quite explicit instruction should have been provided for its assembly ... There is no way in which we can expect to avoid the need for information, no way in which we can simply get by with a bigger and better organic soup, as we ourselves hoped might be possible a year or two ago.' [Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 1981, pp.148, 24, 150, 30 & 31]" (Overman, D.L.*, "A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization," Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, 1997, p.58) 12/10/2008 "Chandra Wickramasinghe adds the following dramatic summary statement: `The chances that life just occurred are about as unlikely as a typhoon blowing through a junkyard and constructing a Boeing 747. ["Threats on Life of Controversial Astronomer," New Scientist, January 21, 1982, p.140]" (Overman, D.L.*, "A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization," Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham MD, 1997, pp.59-60) 12/10/2008 "No matter how large the environment one considers, life cannot have had a random beginning. Troops of monkeys thundering away at random on typewriters could not produce the works of Shakespeare, for the practical reason that the whole observable universe is not large enough to contain the necessary monkey hordes, the necessary typewriters, and certainly the waste paper baskets required for the deposition of wrong attempts. The same is true for living material." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, pp.164-165) 12/10/2008 "From the beginning of this book we have emphasized the enormous information content of even the simplest living systems. The information cannot in our view be generated by what are often called `natural' processes, as for instance through meteorological and chemical processes occurring at the surface of a lifeless planet. As well as a suitable physical and chemical environment, a large initial store of information was also needed. We have argued that the requisite information came from an `intelligence', the beckoning spectre. To be sure, the books in a library contain information. Yet we do not think of a book as an `intelligence'. A further quality is needed to define intelligence, namely the ability to act on information which a book alone cannot do. As well as providing information, our spectre is required also to act on it, which is why we refer to the thing as an `intelligence'." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, pp.166-167) 12/10/2008 "Even with all this devastating evidence against the usual point of view, our discussion so far is still quite peripheral to really explaining the origin of life from a terrestrial organic soup of bases, amino acids, phosphates...Nothing has been said of the origin of DNA itself, nothing of DNA transcription to RNA, nothing of the origin of the program whereby cells organize themselves, nothing of mitosis or meiosis. These issues are too complex to set numbers to. Likely enough, however, the chances of such complexities arising from a soup initially without information, a soup that can only proceed by trial and error, are still more minute than the exceedingly small probabilities estimated above." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, pp.25-27) 12/10/2008 "For life to have originated on the Earth it would be necessary that quite explicit instructions should have been provided for its assembly. ... One might conceive of the required information being contained within the laws of physics and chemistry themselves. In the very broad sense that life is a phenomenon belonging to the universe, so that its origin and evolution must be consistent with the universe and its laws, this concept is evidently correct. But this is not the point at issue. The question is whether the laws of physics and chemistry require that life should have originated here on the Earth, in what from a cosmic point of view is nothing but tiny patch of land on the edge of the small pond we call the terrestrial ocean. The issue is whether the laws require DNA to be formed, the t-RNA molecules, the histones and all the amino acid sequences of two thousand enzymes-formed explicitly - in small ponds with suitable temperatures and with suitable dispositions of the chemical elements, everywhere throughout the universe." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, p.27) 12/10/2008 "If we could prove an affirmative answer to this question we would have solved the problem of the origin of life on the Earth, but in doing so we would have come back to what in essence was the special creation theory of the early nineteenth century, the theory that Darwinism was supposed to have replaced. The only difference would be that the word `laws' would replace the word `God'. And it would be only a short step to say that God created the laws, and then we would be back to an identical position, except with more technical words in which to express it." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, pp.27-28) 12/10/2008 "The obvious escape route is to look outside the Earth, although we should be warned that even this route may not be easy to follow. There is no way in which we can expect to avoid the need for information, no way in which we can simply get by with a bigger and better organic soup, as we ourselves hoped might be possible a year or two ago. The numbers we calculated above are essentially just as unfaceable for a universal soup as for a terrestrial one." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, p.28) 12/10/2008 "Another eminent scientist who has become discontented with the primeval soup hypothesis, and probably the most vocal, has been Sir Fred Hoyle. ... Since he resigned his Cambridge chair amid rumours of plot against him by intensely jealous colleagues, he has published with his collaborator, Chandra Wickramasinghe, a string of books all challenging the basic tenets of conventional biology. That these challenges to biology should come from an astronomer cum science fiction writer, and a professor of Applied Mathematics, is surprising. One may point out, however, that the hub of their work is related to the mathematics of probability Both Hoyle and Wickramasinghe argue that the chance for life to have arisen spontaneously from the primeval soup is so remote as to be impossible. They use a now famous metaphor, comparing the chance formation of life to that of a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard and assembling a Boeing 747 from the materials found there. [Hoyle, F., in "Hoyle on evolution," Nature, Vol. 294, 12 November 1981, p.105]" (Croft, L.R., "How Life Began," Evangelical Press: Durham UK, 1988, pp.113-114) 12/10/2008 "They take this even further and argue that the whole of conventional cosmological thinking must be in error because present ideas concerning the age of the cosmos would not have allowed sufficient time for the chance development of life on earth. These represent two challenges to present orthodoxy that no one should ignore. As we shall see later, there is much to ridicule in Hoyle's writings, but these two central attacks on the primeval soup scenario cannot be dismissed lightly. Hoyle himself has commented: `We did not arrive at our ideas at all light-heartedly.' [Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Diseases From Space," J.M. Dent: London, 1979, p.4] Apart from the probability factor, Hoyle attacks the soup theory on three main issues: (i) From recent geochemical evidence it appears unlikely that the earth had a reducing atmosphere. (ii) It is difficult to understand why so few biochemicals are employed by living cells today. If life arose in a soup containing an infinite variety of chemicals, then one would have expected many more to be employed in the workings of living cells today. (iii) That the Miller-type experiments do not, in fact, mimic the real conditions that existed on the primeval earth. Hoyle has gone on to conclude that `In accepting the primeval soup theory of the origin of life scientists have replaced the religious mysteries which shrouded this question with equally mysterious scientific dogmas.' [Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Lifecloud," J.M. Dent: London, 1978, p.26] However, Hoyle's ideas are a little confusing. For instance, he strongly denies that life could arise spontaneously from the primeval soup on earth, but believes it occurred in a primeval soup somewhere in space. What is the difference? His argument has been that there is only one earth but billions of comets in outer space. But one could argue that although there is but one earth, there could nevertheless be billions of little ponds of primeval soup across the surface of it. What is the difference? Hoyle simply shifts the problem from the earth to a position in outer space. This solves nothing; in fact it creates new problems." (Croft, L.R., "How Life Began," Evangelical Press: Durham UK, 1988, p.114) 13/10/2008 "But if one is so prejudiced it is possible, in the fashion of a grand master with a lost game of chess, to wriggle ingeniously for a while. He would make a series of postulates (for which there is no evidence) in the following way. Suppose at each place where a wanted enzyme happened to arise by chance that the one enzyme alone formed part of a self-replicating chemical system, so that two thousand referent self- replicating systems arose in different localities. Then each enzyme might be produced in large quantity in its own locality. To begin with, the different localities would be separate, but if the quantities produced by the self-replicating systems became large enough the two thousand initially different places might begin to overlap each other, finally bringing all the enzymes together, as required. What has happened in the argument is that the minuscule probability of one part in 1040 000 has become buried in two thousand separate bits, each bit being the chance of a separate wanted enzyme just happening to fit into a separate self-replicating system. The weakness of the position is that such a hypothesis has only to fail in a few cases and the argument collapses. Thus if in a particular instance five enzymes were required to operate in concert with each other in order to promote a self-replicating system, the chance of such a system arising would be of the order of one part in (1020)5 = 10100, which is itself so small as to wipe out the idea. No slack in the argument is permitted at all. Even the need for only two enzymes to operate in association is sufficient to make the situation quite implausible." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, pp.21-22) 13/10/2008 "Another way one might seek to argue would be to assert that not all the enzymes are independent of each other, as was assumed in the above calculation. This is true in some cases. The enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin are evidently related to each other and were very likely derived from a common source. But cutting down the number of independent enzymes from two thousand does no good at all, unless the number were cut to a mere one or two, and this is not a viable suggestion. Besides which, just the same difficulties arise from a consideration of other cases." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," , Paladin: London, Reprinted, 1983, p.22) 13/10/2008 "In this way, amino acids can become linked together into long chains, named polypeptides or proteins. A chain of 100 links would be considered rather short in biology. Yet with 20 possible choices for R at each link, the total number of chains with 100 links is 20100, or 10130, to the nearest order of magnitude. The longest protein chains run to about 2000 links, for which the number of possibilities is 202000, or about l02600, truly a big number. Journalists like to use the phrase `astronomical numbers' for what they considered to be immensely large, but these numbers are 'super-astronomical' in their largeness. Big numbers in astronomy usually have about 40 zeros, as have those in physics. Even the ratio of the largest distances in astronomy to the smallest lengths in physics has only about 60 zeros." (Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Our Place in the Cosmos: The Unfinished Revolution," Phoenix: London, 1993, Reprinted, 1996, pp.151-152) 13/10/2008 "There is a more fundamental reason why the random self-assembly of proteins seems a non-starter. This has to do not with the formation of the chemical bonds as such, but with the particular order in which the amino acids link together. Proteins do not consist of any old peptide chains; they are very specific amino acid sequences that have specialized chemical properties needed for life. However, the number of alternative permutations available to a mixture of amino acids is super-astronomical. A small protein may typically contain 100 amino acids of 20 varieties. There are about 10130 (which is I followed by a 130 zeros) different arrangements of the amino acids in a molecule of this length. Hitting the right one by accident would be no mean feat." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, p.61) 13/10/2008 "Getting a useful configuration of amino acids from the squillions of useless combinations on offer can be thought of as a mammoth information retrieval problem, like trying to track down a site on the internet without a search engine. The difficulty can be expressed in thermodynamic terms ... The highly special information content of a protein represented by its very specific amino acid sequence implies a big decrease in entropy when the molecule forms. Again, the mere uncontrolled injection of energy won't accomplish the ordered result needed. To return to the bricklaying analogy, making a protein simply by injecting energy is rather like exploding a stick of dynamite under a pile of bricks and expecting it to form a house. You may liberate enough energy to raise the bricks, but without coupling the energy to the bricks in a controlled and ordered way, there is little hope of producing anything other than a chaotic mess. So making proteins by randomly shaking amino acids runs into double trouble, thermodynamically. Not only must the molecules be shaken 'uphill', they have to be shaken into a configuration that is an infinitesimal fraction of the total number of possible combinations." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, p.61) 13/10/2008 "So far I have just been talking about making proteins by linking amino acids into peptides. But proteins are only a small part of the intricate fabric of life. There are lipids and nucleic acids and ribosomes, and so on. And here we hit yet another snag. It is possible that scientists, using complicated and delicate laboratory procedures, may be able to synthesize piecemeal the basic ingredients of life. What is far less likely is that the same set of procedures would yield all the required pieces at the same time. Thus, not only is there a mystery about the self-assembly of large, delicate and very specifically structured molecules from an incoherent mêlée of bits, there is also the problem of producing, simultaneously, a collection of many different types of molecules." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, pp.61-62) 13/10/2008 "Let me spell out what is involved here. I have already emphasized that the complex molecules found in living organisms are not themselves alive. A molecule is a molecule is a molecule; it is neither living nor dead. Life is a phenomenon associated with a whole society of specialized molecules, millions of them, cooperating in surprising and novel ways. No single molecule carries the spark of life, no chain of atoms alone constitutes an organism. Even DNA, the biological supermolecule, is not alive. Pluck the DNA from a living cell and it would be stranded, unable to carry out its familiar role. Only within the context of a highly specific molecular milieu will a given molecule play its role in life. To function properly, DNA must be part of a large team, with each molecule executing its assigned task alongside the others in a cooperative manner. Acknowledging the interdependability of the component molecules within a living organism immediately presents us with a stark philosophical puzzle. If everything needs everything else, how did the community of molecules ever arise in the first place? As most large molecules needed for life are produced only by living organisms, and are not found outside the cell, how did they come to exist originally, without the help of a meddling scientist? Could we seriously expect a Miller-Urey type of soup to make them all at once, given the hit-and-miss nature of its chemistry?" (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, p.62) 13/10/2008 "In the previous section I gave the fantastic odds against shuffling amino acids at random into the right sequence to form a protein molecule by accident. That was a single protein. Life as we know it requires hundreds of thousands of specialist proteins, not to mention the nucleic acids. The odds against producing just the proteins by pure chance are something like 1040 000 to one. This is 1 followed by 40 000 zeros, which would take an entire chapter of this book if I wanted to write it out in full. Dealing a perfect suit at cards 1 000 times in a row is easy by comparison. In a famous remark, [Hoyle, F., "The Intelligent Universe," Michael Joseph, London, 1983, p.19] the British astronomer Fred Hoyle likened the odds against the spontaneous assembly of life as akin to a whirlwind sweeping through a junkyard and producing a fully functioning Boeing 747." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, pp.64-65) 13/10/2008 "I often give public lectures about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Invariably someone in the audience will remark that there must be life on other planets because there are so many stars offering potential abodes. It is a commonly used argument. On a recent trip to Europe to attend a conference on extraterrestrial life, I flipped through the airline's in-flight entertainment guide, only to find that the search for life beyond Earth was on offer as part of their programme. The promotional description said `With a half-trillion stars wheeling through the spiral patterns of the Milky Way Galaxy, it seems illogical to assume that among them only one world supports intelligent life.' The use of the word `illogical' was unfortunate, because the logic is perfectly clear. There are indeed a lot of stars - at least ten billion billion in the observable universe. But this number, gigantic though it may appear to us, is nevertheless trivially small compared to the gigantic odds against the random assembly of even a single protein molecule. The universe may be big, but if life formed solely by random agitation in a molecular junkyard, there is scant chance it will have happened twice." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, p.65. Emphasis original) 13/10/2008 "Some people feel that something as basic as our own existence can't be put down to a chemical quirk, and that sweeping the problem under the carpet with the word `accident' is a cop-out. Sometimes the principle of mediocrity is cited: there is nothing special or exceptional about our place in the universe. The Earth appears to be a typical planet around a typical star in a typical galaxy. So why should life on Earth not also be typical? Unfortunately this argument won't wash. Our own existence must be the exception to the rule that what we observe is unexceptional. If there is only one planet in the universe with life, it has to be ours! Obviously we won't find ourselves living on a lifeless planet, by definition. So Earth will not be a randomly selected planet in a cosmic sample, because we have selected it by our very existence." (Davies, P.C.W., "The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin of Life," Penguin: Ringwood Vic, Australia, 1998, p.65) 15/10/2008 "Sir Fred Hoyle and Professor Wickramasinghe have written: 'Biochemical systems are exceedingly complex, so much so that the chance of their being formed through random shufflings of simple organic molecules is exceedingly minute, to a point where it is insensibly different from zero.' [Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., "Evolution from Space," Dent, 1981, p.3]. The authors try to quantify the problem. There are, perhaps, 1080 atoms in the universe and 1017 seconds have elapsed since the alleged 'big bang'. More than 2000 independent enzymes are necessary for life. The overall probability of building any one of these polypeptides can hardly be greater than one in 1020. The chance of getting them all by a random trial is one in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. 'If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training that life originated on Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court.' [Ibid., p.24]. ... Francis Crick echoes Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's conclusion: 'The origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfactory to get it going.' [Crick, F., "Life Itself," MacDonald, 1982, p.51] (Pitman, M., "Adam and Evolution," Rider & Co: London, 1984, p.148) 16/10/2008 "The Magnitude of Life's Minimum What does it mean for origin-of-life scenarios that independent life requires at least 1,500 gene products and that life in its bare minimal form seems to demand no less than 250 different types of proteins? These numbers define the minimum number of different proteins that must come together all at once to form the cell's structural features and execute the basic functions necessary to sustain life. To explain life's `ignition,' both naturalistic scenarios and the biblical creation model must account for a simultaneous occurrence of all the essential gene products and for their perfectly engineered assembly." (Rana, F.R.* & Ross, H.N.*, "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, pp.163-164. Emphasis original) 16/10/2008 "Biophysicist Hubert Yockey's calculation for cytochrome C [10-75] represents the best probability estimate for a single gene product or protein to come into existence exclusively by natural means. 16 If one assumes that the value Yockey obtained for cytochrome C (approximately one chance in 1075) is roughly representative of all proteins contained in the minimum gene set, then it becomes unimaginable that even 250 different proteins could come into existence simultaneously, let alone 1,500." (Rana, F.R.* & Ross, H.N.*, "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, p.164) 16/10/2008 "This probability analysis agrees with a calculation done by biophysicist Harold Morowitz. He conducted a thought experiment in which he broke every chemical bond in the bacterium E. coli and then let those bonds re-form randomly. He assumed that none of the relevant atoms escaped and no contaminant atoms interfered. Morowitz performed this calculation in an attempt to dimensionalize the magnitude of the problem researchers face as they attempt to account for life's beginning through natural means. He determined the likelihood that E. coli would randomly re-form is on the order of one chance in 10100,000,000,000. [Morowitz, H.J., "Energy Flow in Biology," Academic Press: New York NY, 1969, pp.5-12] If all the matter in the observable universe were somehow converted to life's building blocks and were then brought to bear on E. coli formation-being allowed to attempt combination a million times a second for the entire duration of the universe's existence-the odds of generating this bacterium change to about one chance in 1099,999,999,916 (an imperceptible change). [Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit: New York NY, 1986, p.128] Such a number implies that neither enough matter nor enough time in the universe exists for even the simplest bacterium to emerge by undirected chemical and physical processes." (Rana, F.R.* & Ross, H.N.*, "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, p.164) 16/10/2008 "Researchers have long considered this result to be irrelevant to the origin-of-life question. They maintain that while E. coli is simple, it is still a complex organism compared to the first life forms. In other words, life in its minimal form was far simpler than E. coli, and therefore this first life did not face such daunting probabilities as it came into existence. (Interestingly, E. coli's genome has been sequenced and consists of about 4,288 gene products.) [Blattner, F.R., et al., "The Complete Genome Sequence of Escherichia coli K12," Science, Vol. 277, 1997, pp.1453-1462] However, in light of the growing genomics database, the probability problem cannot be escaped. While larger than those possessed by the simplest microbes, E. coli's genome still falls within the same order of magnitude with respect to its size as those others (1.5 x 103 compared with 4.3 x 103). In other words, Morowitz's calculations for E. coli apply to these organisms and remain entirely relevant to the origin-of life question." (Rana, F.R.* & Ross, H.N.*, "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, p.165. Emphasis original). 16/10/2008 "The Synergy Problem The problem for the origin of life extends beyond trying to account for the simultaneous occurrence of over 250 different proteins. It also demands the appearance of DNA, RNA, and complex carbohydrates to form the cell i, wall, plus the lipids to form the cell's membrane. All these molecules must come together at once and operate in an orchestrated fashion for life to be possible. Herein lies the dilemma: The cell wall and membrane cannot be constructed without proteins, RNA, and DNA, and these molecules cannot achieve stability without the cell wall and membrane. There can be no proteins without DNA and RNA, and there can be no DNA and RNA without proteins." (Rana, F.R.* & Ross, H.N.*, "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, p.165. Emphasis original) 17/10/2008 "And thus the hypothesis that living matter always arises by the agency of pre-existing living matter, took definite shape; and had, henceforward, a right to be considered and a claim to be refuted, in each particular case, before the production of living matter in any other way could be admitted by careful reasoners. It will be necessary for me to refer to this hypothesis so frequently, that, to save circumlocution, I shall call it the hypothesis of Biogenesis; and I shall term the contrary doctrine-that living matter may be produced by not living matter-the hypothesis of Abiogenesis." (Huxley, T.H., "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis: The Presidential Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1870," in "Collected Essays: Discourses: Biological & Geological," Volume VIII, Macmillan: London, 1894, pp.229-271, p.236. Emphasis original) 17/10/2008 "It will be perceived that this doctrine is by no means identical with Abiogenesis, with which it is often confounded. On this hypothesis, a piece of beef, or a handful of hay, is dead only in a limited sense. The beef is dead ox, and the hay is dead grass; but the `organic molecules' of the beef or the hay are not dead, but are ready to manifest their vitality as soon as the bovine or herbaceous shrouds in which they are imprisoned are rent by the macerating action of water. The hypothesis therefore must be classified under Xenogenesis, rather than under Abiogenesis. Such as it was, I think it will appear, to those who will be just enough to remember that it was propounded before the birth of modern chemistry, and of the modern optical arts, to be a most ingenious and suggestive speculation. But the great tragedy of Science-the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact-which is so constantly being enacted under the eyes of philosophers, was played, almost immediately, for the benefit of Buffon and Needham." (Huxley, T.H., "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis: The Presidential Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1870," in "Collected Essays: Discourses: Biological & Geological," Volume VIII, Macmillan: London, 1894, pp.229-271, pp.243-244. Emphasis original) 17/10/2008 "But though I cannot express this conviction of mine too strongly, I must carefully guard myself against the supposition that I intend to suggest that no such thing as Abiogenesis ever has taken place in the past, or ever will take place in the future. With organic chemistry, molecular physics, and physiology yet in their infancy, and every day making prodigious strides, I think it would be the height of presumption for any man to say that the conditions under which matter assumes the properties we call `vital' may not, some day, be artificially brought together. All I feel justified in affirming is, that I see no reason for believing that the feat has been performed yet. And looking back through the prodigious vista of the past, I find no record of the commencement of life, and therefore I am devoid of any means of forming a definite conclusion as to the conditions of its appearance. Belief, in the scientific sense of the word, is a serious matter, and needs strong foundations. To say, therefore, in the admitted absence of evidence, that I have any belief as to the mode in which the existing forms of life have originated, would be using words in a wrong sense. But expectation is permissible where belief is not; and if it were given me to look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time to the still more remote period when the earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions, which it can no more see again than a man can recall his infancy, I should expect to be a witness of the evolution of living protoplasm from not living matter. I should expect to see it appear under forms of great simplicity, endowed, like existing fungi, with the power of determining the formation of new protoplasm from such matters as ammonium carbonates, oxalates and tartrates, alkaline and earthy phosphates, and water, without the aid of light. That is the expectation to which analogical reasoning leads me; but I beg you once more to recollect that I have no right to call my opinion anything but an act of philosophical faith." (Huxley, T.H., "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis: The Presidential Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1870," in "Collected Essays: Discourses: Biological & Geological," Volume VIII, Macmillan: London, 1894, pp.229-271, pp.255-257. Emphasis original) 17/10/2008 "If the theory that DNA and its copying machinery arose spontaneously is so improbable that it obliges us to assume that life is very rare in the universe, and may even be unique to Earth, our first resort is to try to find a more probable theory. So, can we come up with any speculations about relatively probable ways in which cumulative selection might have got its start? The word 'speculate' has pejorative overtones, but these are quite uncalled for here. We can hope for nothing more than speculation when the events we are talking about took place four billion years ago and took place, moreover, in a world that must have been radically different from that which we know today." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, p.147) 17/10/2008 "An origin of life, anywhere, consists of the chance arising of a self-replicating entity. Nowadays, the replicator that matters on Earth is the DNA molecule, but the original replicator probably was not DNA. We don't know what it was. Unlike DNA, the original replicating molecules cannot have relied upon complicated machinery to duplicate them. Although, in some sense, they must have been equivalent to `Duplicate me' instructions, the `language' in which the instructions were written was not a highly formalized language such that only a complicated machine could obey them. The original replicator cannot have needed elaborate decoding, as DNA instructions and computer viruses do today. Self-duplication was an inherent property of the entity's structure just as, say, hardness is an inherent property of a diamond, something that does not have to be `decoded' and `obeyed'. We can be sure that the original replicators, unlike their later successors the DNA molecules, did not have complicated decoding and instruction-obeying machinery, because complicated machinery is the kind of thing that arises in the world only after many generations of evolution. And evolution does not get started until there are replicators. In the teeth of the so-called 'Catch- 22 of the origin of life' (see below), the original self-duplicating entities must have been simple enough to arise by the spontaneous accidents of chemistry." (Dawkins, R., "Climbing Mount Improbable," Penguin: London, 1996, pp.261-262) 17/10/2008 "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. The simplified account I shall give is probably not too far from the truth. We do not know what chemical raw materials were abundant on earth before the coming of life, but among the plausible possibilities are water, carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia: all simple compounds known to be present on at least some of the other planets in our solar system. Chemists have tried to imitate the chemical conditions of the young earth. They have put these simple substances in a flask and supplied a source of energy such as ultraviolet light or electric sparks-artificial simulation of primordial lightning. After a few weeks of this, something interesting is usually found inside the flask: a weak brown soup containing a large number of molecules more complex than the ones originally put in. In particular, amino acids have been found-the building blocks of proteins, one of the two great classes of biological molecules. ... More recently, laboratory simulations of the chemical conditions of earth before the coming of life have yielded organic substances called purines and pyrimidines. These are building blocks of the genetic molecule, DNA itself. Processes analogous to these must have given rise to the 'primeval soup' which biologists and chemists believe constituted the seas some three to four thousand million years ago. The organic substances became locally concentrated, perhaps in drying scum round the shores, or in tiny suspended droplets. Under the further influence of energy such as ultraviolet light from the sun, they combined into larger molecules. Nowadays large organic molecules would not last long enough to be noticed: they would be quickly absorbed and broken down by bacteria or other living creatures. But bacteria and the rest of us are late- comers, and in those days large organic molecules could drift unmolested through the thickening broth. At some point a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the Replicator. It may not necessarily have been the biggest or the most complex molecule around, but it had the extraordinary property of being able to create copies of itself." (Dawkins, R., "The Selfish Gene," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, New edition, 1989, pp.14-15. Emphasis original) 18/10/2008 "How can we make any sense out of Daniel's prophecy of Seventy Weeks? The prophecy of the Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9:24-27 is one of the most remarkable long-range predictions in the entire Bible. It is by all odds one of the most widely discussed by students and scholars of every persuasion within the spectrum of the Christian church. And yet when it is carefully examined in the light of all the relevant data of history and the information available from other parts of Scripture, it is quite clearly an accurate prediction of the time of Christ's coming advent and a preview of the thrilling final act of the drama of human history before that advent. Daniel 9:24 reads: `Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and your holy city [i.e., for the nation Israel and for Jerusalem].' The word for `week' is sabuac, which is derived from seba` the word for `seven.' Its normal plural is feminine in form: sebu`ot. Only in this chapter of Daniel does it appear in the masculine plural sabu`im. (The only other occurrence is in the combination sebu`e sebu`ot ['heptads of weeks'] in Ezek. 21:28 [21:23 English text]). Therefore, it is strongly suggestive of the idea `heptad' (a series or combination of seven), rather than a `week' in the sense of a series of seven days. There is no doubt that in this case we are presented with seventy sevens of years rather than of days. This leads to a total of 490 years." (Archer, G.L.*, "Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1982, p.289. Emphasis original) 18/10/2008 "[Dn 9:24]. ... Seventy sevens]-lit., sevens seventy. the word sevens-usually translated weeks-is placed first for the sake of emphasis. It constitutes the great theme of the passage. For the same reason, the numeral here follows the noun, and does not precede it, as is usually the case. The thought of the author may then be paraphrased, `Sevens--and in fact seventy of them are decreed, etc.' The word sevens here occurs in the m.pl. [masculine plural], whereas it generally has a f.pl. [feminine plural] ... What led Dan. to employ the m. [masculine] instead of the f. [feminine] however, is not clear unless it was for the deliberate purpose of calling attention to the fact that the word sevens is employed in an unusual sense. .... It seems obvious that ordinary weeks of 7 days are not intended." (Young, E.J.*, "A Commentary on Daniel," , Banner of Truth: Edinburgh, British edition, 1972, Reprinted, 1978, pp.195-196) 18/10/2008 "shabua`. A period of seven, a week, the Feast of Weeks. This term occurs twenty times in the or, always indicating a period of seven. Indeed, the word obviously comes to us from sheba' (q.v.) and could literally be translated always as `seven-period.' In Deut 16:9, shabu'a represents a period of seven days (literally `seven seven-periods you-shall-number-to- you'). The context in verses 9, 10, and 16 demands the time to be in terms of `days.' No serious expositor has ever argued for `years' here. It might be noted that in Deut 16:9 in the spelling of the plural, the central vowel letter-the waw-is omitted (shabu`ot), as it is also at times in the singular (e.g. Gen 29:27, shebua`) where in an unpointed text it would then be spelled identically to seven, sheba', in the feminine. While in Deut 16:9, discussed above, shabu'a represents a period of seven days, in Dan 9:24,25,26,27 it denotes a period of seven years in each of its appearances in these four verses. This is proven by the context wherein Daniel recognizes that the seventy-year period of captivity is almost over. The land had been fallow for seventy years and thus repaid the Lord the seventy sabbatical years owed to him for the prior seventy periods of seven years (Dan 9:2; Jer 25:12; cf. II Chr 36:21!). Just as Daniel is in prayer concerning this matter, the angel Gabriel appears and informs him that Israel's restoration will not be complete until she goes through another seventy periods-of-seven, shabua' (Dan 9:24ff)! Note also the apparent reference in Dan 12:11 to half of Daniel's last seventy (9:27); it is 1290 days, approximately three and a half years. Thus here it means years. shabua` is also used as a technical term in Deut 16:10,16 where it denotes the Feast of Weeks (hag shabu`ot), i.e. the Feast of Seven-Periods." (Harris, R.L.*, Archer, G.L.* & Waltke, B.K.*, eds, "Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament," Moody Press: Chicago IL, 1980, Twelfth Printing, 1992, Vol. II, p.899. Emphasis original) 18/10/2008 "[Dn 9:25-26] Verse 25 is crucial: `From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One [massiah], the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens,' and sixty-two `sevens.' ` It should be observed that only sixty-nine heptads are listed here, broken into two segments. The first segment of seven amounts to sixty-nine years, during which the city of Jerusalem is to be `rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.' Verse 26 specifies the termination of the sixty-nine heptads: the cutting off of the Messiah. That is to say, after the appearance of Messiah as Ruler (masiah nagid - 483 years after the sixty-nine weeks have begun-he will be cut off. This accords very well with a three-year ministry of the Messiah prior to his crucifixion. Verse 26 goes on to say: `After the sixty-two `sevens,' the Anointed One [Messiah] will be cut off and will have nothing [we'en lo can mean either `nothing' or `no one'].' his indicates that when Messiah is cut off, he will be bereft of followers; all of them will flee from him at the time of his arrest, trial, and death. (Or else, if 'en here :means `nothing,' it suggests that he will die without any material wealth or resources.)" (Archer, G.L.*, "Daniel," in Gaebelein, F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, Vol. 7, p.113) 18/10/2008 "As we turn our attention to the terminus a quo, we note that v.25 specifies the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem with streets and moats, which will be completed within forty-nine years of the terminus a quo. The first possible fulfillment might be the first decree of Cyrus the Great (2 Chron 36:23; Ezra 1:2-1). Both versions of this decree stress just one undertaking: the rebuilding of the temple of Yahweh-a project in which Cyrus promised to cooperate with the Jewish leaders and the rank and file of all the Jewish returnees. This says nothing about the restoring and building of the city as such, though of course the rebuilding of the temple itself would imply the building up of a community of worshipers around it. It is most unlikely, then, that this decree can fulfill the specifications of v.25-`the decree [dabar literally means `word' and may be rendered `commission' or `commandment'] to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.'" (Archer, G.L.*, "Daniel," in Gaebelein, F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, Vol. 7, pp.113-114) 18/10/2008 "The next possible fulfillment is the decree issued to Ezra in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I (464-424), that is, in 457 B.C. Its text is found in Ezra 7:12-26, which lays the chief emphasis on adorning and strengthening the temple at Jerusalem and enforcing the laws and regulations of the Mosaic code. Yet in his understanding of the implications of that decree, Ezra himself affirmed in his solemn, penitential prayer on behalf of Israel that `our God has not deserted us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem' (Ezra 9:9). To Ezra's mind, then, the commission he received from Artaxerxes included permission to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. To be sure, he did not succeed in doing so; his attention was monopolized by the social and religious reforms the Jerusalem community so urgently needed. Certainly he lacked the manpower and financial resources to proceed with so ambitious an undertaking; so the rebuilding never went beyond the talking stage. If this led to a delay of thirteen years in working on the walls, Nehemiah's disappointment (Neh 1:4) when in 446 he heard from Hanani that no progress had been made seems all the more appropriate. Nehemiah no doubt had hoped for more tangible results from Ezra's leadership and expected him to have made some headway in fortifying the city during the twelve years he had been there." (Archer, G.L.*, "Daniel," in Gaebelein, F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, Vol. 7, p.114) 18/10/2008 "If, then, the terminus a quo for the decree in v.25 be reckoned as 457 B.C. (the date of Ezra's return to Jerusalem), then we may compute the first seven heptads as running from 457 to 408, within which time the rebuilding of the walls, streets, and moats was completed. Then from 408 we count off the sixty-two heptads also mentioned in v.25 and come out to A.D. 26 (408 is 26 less than 434). But actually we come out to A.D. 27, since a year is gained in our reckoning as we pass directly from 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 (without any year zero in between). If Christ was crucified on 14 Abib A.D. 30, as is generally believed (cf. L.A. Foster, `The Chronology of the New Testament,' E BC, 1:598-99, 607), this would come out to a remarkably exact fulfillment of the terms of v.25. Christ's public ministry, from the time of his baptism in the Jordan till his death and resurrection at Jerusalem, must have taken up about three years. The 483 years from the issuing of the decree of Artaxerxes came to an end in A.D. 27, the year of the `coming' of Messiah as Ruler (nasi'). It was indeed `after the sixty-two `sevens' `-three years after-that `the Anointed One' was `cut off.'" (Archer, G.L.*, "Daniel," in Gaebelein, F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, Vol. 7, p.114) 18/10/2008 "The third possibility for the terminus a quo of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem is the commission granted by the same King Artaxerxes to his cupbearer Nehemiah, in the twentieth year of his reign, i.e., in 446 B.C. The text of decree is found in Nehemiah 2:5-8, which gives the tenor of Nehemiah's request the king. The main object in view is the rebuilding of Jerusalem, with timber to supplied from the royal forest, both for the gates of the fortress and for the walls general. But the problem with this 445 date is that 483 solar years would come to A.D. 38 or 39, which is wrong for the ministry and death of Jesus Christ." (Archer, G.L.*, "Daniel," in Gaebelein, F.E., ed., "The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1985, Vol. 7, pp.114-115) 19/10/2008 "Verse 25. `Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem UNTO MESSIAH THE PRINCE shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks ...' As seen already, God never does anything without reason. The very fact that the seventy weeks or 490 years are divided into sections shows that some distinct events had to be fulfilled in these periods. We consider briefly the generally recognized reasons for the division of the seventy weeks into `seven weeks' and `threescore and two weeks', before the manifestation of Prince Messiah." (Conner, K.J.*, "The Seventy Weeks Prophecy: An Exposition of Daniel 9," KJC Publications: Melbourne Vic, Australia, 1983, Reprinted, 1985, p.50) 19/10/2008 "The Seven Weeks, or 49 Years Period In this period of time we have the Restoration Books of the Bible, both Historical and Prophetical. These cover Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, who was the last of the Old Testament Prophets. From B.C. 457-B.C. 408 approximately we have the final revelation of God through the prophetic voice and ministry to the House of Judah. From this time on God ceased to speak through His prophets to drive Jewry to the sacred Scriptures. The seven weeks or 49 years covers this first section of the prophecy." (Conner, K.J.*, "The Seventy Weeks Prophecy: An Exposition of Daniel 9," KJC Publications: Melbourne Vic, Australia, 1983, Reprinted, 1985, p.50. Emphasis original) 19/10/2008 "The Sixty-two Weeks, or 434 Years. This period of time covers the period known as `the silent years', in which there was no revelation from God, and no prophetic voice. This silence was broken by Gabriel, the revelator of the Seventy Weeks prophecy, when he came to Zacharias and Mary, giving revelation of the birth of John the Baptist, Messiah's forerunner, and Messiah Himself. Then about 30 years later, A.D. 26, Messiah is manifested at the river Jordan. Therefore, from Malachi, the last of the Old Testament Prophets, to John and Messiah, THE WORD made flesh, the second section of 62 weeks or 434 years is covered. During this time the Medo-Persian and the Grecian Empires have risen and fallen, and now the world kingdom in power is the Roman Empire, in readiness for the manifestation of Messiah the Prince." (Conner, K.J.*, "The Seventy Weeks Prophecy: An Exposition of Daniel 9," KJC Publications: Melbourne Vic, Australia, 1983, Reprinted, 1985, pp.50-51. Emphasis original) 19/10/2008 "The Manifestation of Messiah We return now to verse 25. The verse is very explicit as to the time of Messiah's manifestation to Judah and Jerusalem. Even if there is difference and confusion about chronology and which commandment was the point of commencement, there is enough historical data, within several years, to confirm Messiah's manifestation. The name or title `Messiah' is the Hebrew word for `Anointed'. The Greek word `Christ' is the equivalent, meaning `Anointed'. Both words are really synonymous as to their meaning (John 1:41, Margin). When and where did Jesus of Nazareth become the Messiah, or the Christ of God? When was Jesus anointed to begin His Messianic ministry? Some have placed this at His Birth, B.C. 4; others at His Baptism, A.D. 26; others at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem several days before His Crucifixion, about A.D. 30. The four Gospels all testify to the fact that JESUS became THE CHRIST of God at the river Jordan, when the Holy Spirit came upon Him. It was after this anointing that His ministry to Judah began. Although He was born as `Saviour which is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:11), His birth certainly was not His manifestation, His unveiling to Israel. And although several recognized the Christ child in the temple at His circumcision and naming (Luke 2:2138), this certainly was not His manifestation to Israel either. It was at the river Jordan under John's ministry that Messiah the Prince was revealed. Here He was anointed for service." (Conner, K.J.*, "The Seventy Weeks Prophecy: An Exposition of Daniel 9," KJC Publications: Melbourne Vic, Australia, 1983, Reprinted, 1985, p.51. Emphasis original) 19/10/2008 "Despite Cyrus' support and command, the first return in 538, under Shenazar, son of the former King Jehoiakim, was a failure, for the poor Jews who had been left behind, the am ha-arez, resisted it, and in conjunction with Samaritans, Edomites and Arabs, prevented the settlers building walls. A second effort, with the full backing of Cyrus' son Darius, was made in 520 BC, under an official leader Zeurubbabel, whose authority as a descendant of David was reinforced by his appointment as Persian Governor of Judah. ... Work on the Temple began immediately... . In 458 BC it was reinforced by a third wave, led by Ezra, a priest and scribe of great learning and authority, who tried and failed to sort out the legal problems caused by heterodoxy, intermarriage and disputed ownership of land. Finally, in 445 BC, Ezra was joined by a powerful contingent headed by a leading Jew and prominent Persian official called Nehemiah, who was given the governorship of Judah and the authority to build it into an independent political unit within the empire. This fourth wave at last succeeded in stabilizing the settlement, chiefly because Nehemiah, a man of action as well as a diplomat and statesman, rebuilt with commendable speed the walls of Jerusalem and so created a secure enclave from which the work of resettlement could be directed. .... The rebuilt city was smaller than Solomon's, it was poor and to begin with it was sparsely populated. ... The years 400-200 BC are the lost centuries of Jewish history. There were no great events or calamities they chose to record. Perhaps they were happy. The Jews certainly seem to have liked the Persians the best of all their rulers. They never revolted against them; on the contrary, Jewish mercenaries helped the Persians to put down Egyptian rebellion. " (Johnson, P., "A History of the Jews," Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1987, pp.86-87) 21/10/2008 "Let us then maintain the comparison made just above ... with Tertullian and assume that Lk 3: 1 also means the year 26 of the Christian era. Within that year of the Christian era the fifteenth regnal year of Tiberius might have begun as late as in late October ... . Let us assume this latest possible beginning of the regnal year, for with the earlier beginnings which are theoretically possible there would be more leeway and the problem would be made easier rather than harder. If the fifteenth year of Tiberius began in late October and if Jesus was baptized not long afterward, as the Lukan record would certainly allow, then the baptism may be put, say, in November A.D. 26. It has also been seen already that there is at least some evidence for putting the birth of Jesus in mid-winter, 5/4 B.C., perhaps in December or January ... . In this case the later date, say January, would allow more leeway and make the problem easier, therefore let us take the earlier date and suppose that the birth was in December of 5 B.C. .... Therewith we arrive at this result: Jesus was baptized in November A.D. 26 and presumably began his ministry very shortly thereafter; his thirtieth birthday was in December A.D. 26. At the time of his baptism and the beginning of the ministry he was almost thirty years of age. This is in exact agreement with Lk 3:23, understanding the Greek as in the King James Version: `And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age'; or as in Epiphanius ... : `Jesus was beginning to be about thirty years of age.'" (Finegan, J., "Handbook of Biblical Chronology: Principles of Time Reckoning in the Ancient World and Problems of Chronology in the Bible," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1964, pp.266-269) 21/10/2008 "The fifteenth year of Tiberius (Lk 3:1) may be reckoned from Tiberius' joint rule of the provinces with Augustus and be equivalent approximately to A.D. 26 ... Within that calendar year the fifteenth regnal year of Tiberius might have begun as late as in late October .... If the baptism was in, say, November A.D. 26, and if the thirtieth birthday of Jesus ... was in December A.D. 26, he was at the time of the baptism quite literally beginning to be `about thirty' (Lk 3:23) years of age ... The fifteenth year of Tiberius may also be counted from the death of Augustus, however, and by Jewish reckoning it is then probably equivalent to Mar/Apr A.D 28 Mar/Apr A.D 29 .... If the baptism was in the fall of A.D 28 and the thirty-second birthday of Jesus in December A.D. 28, he was at the time of baptism `about thirty' in a rather broad sense of the term ... Counting from the death of Augustus the fifteenth year of Tiberius may also be reckoned by the Roman method, and is then probably equivalent to the Julian year A.D. 29 .... If the baptism was in the fall of A.D. 29 and the thirty-third birthday of Jesus in December A.D. 29, he was at the time of baptism `about thirty' in a yet broader sense of the term ..." (Finegan, J., "Handbook of Biblical Chronology: Principles of Time Reckoning in the Ancient World and Problems of Chronology in the Bible," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1964, pp.298-299) 22/10/2008 "The Messiah As the Anointed Ruler Who Will Come (Daniel 9:24-27) Daniel has been having devotions on the recent writings of Jeremiah (Da 9:2) when he realizes that God said that Judah must go into captivity for seventy years. Now that that time has almost expired, Daniel turns to God in prayer and fasting, `confessing [his] sin and the sin of [his] people Israel and making [his] request to the LORD [his] God for his holy hill' (v. 20). God then instructs Daniel that he sent an answer to his requests as soon as he began to pray, because Daniel is `highly esteemed' (v. 23). God has set aside `seventy `sevens' for Daniel's people and for his holy city of Jerusalem to do six things: (1) `to finish transgression,' (2) `to put an end to sin,' (3)'to atone for wickedness,' (4) `to bring in everlasting righteousness,' (5) `to seal up vision and prophecy,' and (6) `to anoint the most holy [Place or One; cf. NIV note]' (v. 24). That is a stupendous program that embraces everything from Daniel's day to eternity." (Kaiser, W.C., Jr.*, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, pp.201-202. Emphasis original) 22/10/2008 "The `seventy `sevens' are usually understood to be `weeks' of years (the word `seven' can also mean `week'; cf. NIV note), but the usual feminine form for `week,' which occurs elsewhere in the OT, is not used here. Moreover, in accordance with the use found elsewhere in this book, what Daniel means by these seventy `heptads' is seventy units of seven years, or `seventy' times `seven' years (i.e., 490 years). These years have been `decreed' by God's predetermined plan for the ages and are now being announced to Daniel in one of the most amazing disclosures into the future to be found in the OT. But note that the `heptads' are for Daniel's people of Israel and for their capital city, Jerusalem." (Kaiser, W.C., Jr.*, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, p.202. Emphasis original) 22/10/2008 "God uses six infinitives to describe his divine purposes for Israel during these 490 future years for the nation (cf. above on v. 24). All the transgressions against God must be completed. The final sacrifice that will put an end to sin has to be offered so that atonement can be made. God will need to bring in everlasting righteousness during this period, and the visions and prophecies about the future will remain enigmatic to the Jewish people. Finally, the most holy person, the Messiah himself (or does it refer to the temple as the Most Holy Place?) will need to be anointed somewhere during this same 490 years." (Kaiser, W.C., Jr.*, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, p.202) 22/10/2008 "God's agenda for the future becomes even more detailed than that listed in the six infinitives. These 490 years will begin with `the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem' (v. 25). This beginning date has been variously placed, but most prefer to begin with the twentieth year of Artaxerxes' reign in 445 B.C. (Ne 2:1-8). ... Others begin it during the days of Jeremiah, when he was told to buy his kinsman's land in Anathoth (Jer 32), since the word used in Daniel 9:25 technically is not `decree' but `word.' Others favor the return under Zerubbabel in 536 B.C. or under Ezra in 457 B.C." (Kaiser, W.C., Jr.*, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, pp.202-203) 22/10/2008 "Two segments of times are mentioned as extending from the going forth of this `word' or `decree': `seven `sevens' (49 years) and `sixty-two `sevens' (434 years). During the first period, the streets and city of Jerusalem will be restored again; but after that time another sixty-two sets of seven years will follow (i.e., a total of 483 years) until something significant happens." (Kaiser, W.C., Jr.*, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, pp.202-203) 22/10/2008 "At this point, `the Anointed One, the ruler' will come (v. 25b). Some feel that it is possible to give the exact date for the announcement of the Messiah's kingdom by presupposing that a `prophetic year' consists only of 360 days (instead of the solar 365 ¼ days), since during Noah's flood 150 days equated five months. However, there is no reason to make such an extrapolation. It is enough to know that there are some 483 years between the time that God began to fulfill this word mentioned to Daniel and the time of the first advent of Messiah, without trying to nail down the precise day and month." (Kaiser, W.C., Jr.*, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1995, p.203) 22/10/2008 "The KJV, however, rendered this verse [Dn 9:25], `Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.' Using the date of 457 B.C.E. as our starting point, as suggested by some scholars, and putting the two sets of weeks together (7 x 7 7 x 62), we would arrive at a total of 483 years, ending in 27 C.E.-the very year that Jesus began his public ministry.[The reason there are only 483 years from 457 B.C.E.. to 27 C.E. (instead of 484 years) is because there is no `zero year.' In other words, we count directly from 1 B.C.E.. to 1 C.E.] What an incredibly accurate prophecy this would be!" (Brown, M.L., "Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Volume 3: Messianic Prophecy Objections," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, Third printing, 2006, p.102, 220) 22/10/2008 "Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!" (Laughlin, R.B., "A Different Universe," Basic Books: New York NY, 2005, pp.168-169) 23/10/2008 "Daniel 9:24-27 The most important Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament is one given by the angel Gabriel in response to a prayer of Daniel. The prophecy dates to the first year of Darius the Mede, about 538 B.C. Daniel had been studying the books of the prophets. In the writings of Jeremiah he observed that the desolations of Jerusalem would be filled up within seventy years. Counting from 605 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar first brought his armies against Jerusalem, Daniel realized that the seventy years had almost run their course. Yet Daniel could observe no sign that the promised restoration of Jerusalem was at hand. He went to God in prayer, confessing the sin of his people (vv. 5-15), and calling upon God to smile once again upon the desolate city of Jerusalem (vv. 16-19). Even while Daniel was praying the angel Gabriel appeared to him again (cf. 8:16). The angel had been dispatched by divine command at the outset of Daniel's supplication to give the prophet understanding regarding the future of his people (vv. 20-23)." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.382. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "Translation of Daniel 9:24-27 (24) Seventy sevens have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to fill up the transgression, to seal up sins, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. (25) So you shall know and understand that from the going forth of a word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah-Prince shall be seven and sixty-two sevens. The street shall be built again and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) But after the sixty-two sevens Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing; and the city and the sanctuary the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy; and its end shall be as a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined (27) And he will cause a covenant to prevail for the many one week, and in the midst of the week he will cause sacrifice and oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations are desolations even unto the full end, and that determined, shall be poured out upon the one who makes desolate." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.382. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "Discussion This difficult passage is placed within an unusual framework of "seventy sevens." The focus of the passage is upon the culmination of God's program for the Jewish people. Five points must be observed here: A. The Period of the Seventy Sevens. Gabriel indicated that seventy sevens (heptads) yet remained before the true deliverance of God's people would take place. Strictly speaking, the Hebrew word can be used of any unit of seven (like dozen is a unit of twelve, and quire a unit of twenty-four). It is obvious that Gabriel did not intend for the "seventy sevens" to be understood here as ordinary weeks of seven days. [The term shabhu'im is not the usual feminine form for weeks] Seventy weeks of seven days would total 490 days. Daniel lived longer than 490 days (see 10:1) beyond this appearance of Gabriel, yet he says nothing about the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of the stupendous prophecies found in the passage. It is, therefore. clear that the seventy heptads are units of seven years. Whereas westerners think in terms of units of ten years (decades), the Israelites organized years into units of seven. Every seventh year the land was to be fallow (Exod. 23:11) and Hebrew slaves were to be set free after seven years of service (Deut. 15:12)." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.383-384. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The seventy heptads (490 years) are said to be determined. The verb is a hapax, i.e., it is only used once in the Old Testament. The idea is that the seventy heptads are preordained and will surely come to pass. Messianic redemption was written on God's calendar. The seventy heptads are determined upon your people and upon your holy city (v. 24). Daniel's prayer had pertained to the plight of the holy city and God's people (v. 16). The exile was nearing its end. What did the future hold for the covenant people? The thought here is that the true deliverance of God's people would not come at the end of Jeremiah's seventy years, but within the scope of seventy weeks of years." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.384. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The Program for the Seventy Sevens (v. 24). Six infinitives describe God's program as it pertains to Israel during the seventy sevens. 1. To fill up the transgression. Within the 490 year period the people of Israel would commit their final transgression against God. Jesus indicated that the leaders of his generation were about to fill up the measure of the sin of their forefathers (Matt. 23:32). Paul indicated in his first letter to the Thessalonians that the Jews were heaping up their sins to the limit by trying to prevent the preaching of Christ to the Gentiles (I Thess. 2:16). 2. To seal up sin. The perfect sacrifice for sin offered by Jesus Christ provided the means by which the sin problem of mankind could be dealt with decisively (Heb. 10:12). After he had made purification for sin the victorious Jesus sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb. 1:3). The blood of Jesus can cleanse the inner man and thus make possible true service to God (Heb. 9:14). 3. To make atonement for iniquity. The necessary sacrifice would be offered and would become the basis upon which iniquity could be forgiven. In Christ there is redemption. the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14) . His once-for-all-time sacrifice is able to make perfect those who accept it as their own (Heb. 10:12-14). 4. To bring in everlasting righteousness. It is obviously God who brings in this righteousness, and he does that through the Messiah. This righteousness by its very perpetuity must belong to the age of Messiah. Through faith in Christ a righteousness from God apart from the law has been made known (Rom. 3:21-26; cf. 14:17). The goal of every believer is to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33). 5. To seal up vision and prophecy. On two occasions Jesus cited the prophecy in Isaiah 6:9, 10 regarding the obtuseness of the Jews. They heard, but did not understand; they saw but did not perceive. Paul cited the same prophecy as justification for turning from the Jews to the Gentiles (Acts 28:25-27). The sealing of vision and prophecy in their midst-the failure to understand that the long awaited Messiah was ministering in their midst-was one of the penalties suffered by the Jewish nation because of their hardness of heart. 6. To anoint the most holy. The expression could refer to the anointing of the most holy person, the anointed one par excellence, the Messiah. At his baptism the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove (Luke 3:22). Peter was apparently referring to this incident when he declared that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power" (Acts 10:38). In summary, it is clear that all six objectives stated in verse 24 were accomplished by the time Jesus of Nazareth ascended to heaven in A.D.. 30, or shortly thereafter." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.384-385. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The Focal Point of the Seventy Sevens (vv. 25-27). Verse 25 speaks of two great events which were on God's agenda and the time interval between them. When Daniel was told to know and understand this information he is being encouraged to have absolute confidence that both of these important events would transpire. The angel spoke of the going forth of a word to restore and to build Jerusalem. The assumption is generally made that the reference here is to the decree of some Persian king. Commentators are sharply divided in their opinions about which Persian decree is intended. The word dabhar (KJV, commandment) in verse 25 is the same word used in verse 23 for the directions which God had given the angel Gabriel. This raises the possibility that the word to restore and to build Jerusalem was not that of any Persian king, but rather a commandment of God himself." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.385-386. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "Most likely it was Ezra the Scribe who issued the word to restore and to build Jerusalem in the spring of 457 B.C. .... This is the terminus a quo of the passage. Counting from that date seven sevens and sixty two sevens of years would elapse before the appearance of Messiah-Prince. Seven sevens of years are equal to 49 years; sixty-two sevens is equal to 434 years. ... Subtracting 483 years from the starting point of 457 B.C. the year A.D. 27 is reached. In the modern system of counting years there is no year zero. Hence the year A.D. 27 must be reduced by one for chronological accuracy. According to Daniel, Messiah-Prince would appear in A.D. 26. It is surely more than a coincidence that the baptism of Jesus occurred in A.D. 26.[Finegan (HBC, pp. 259-69) dates the baptism of Jesus to November, A.D. 26.] At that time John introduced him to the nation as their Messiah, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.386. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "At some point during the sixty-nine sevens the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times (v. 25). The reference is to the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Most likely the angel meant for Daniel to understand that the first seven sevens (49 years) would be devoted to the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Counting forty-nine years from 457 B.C. (the word to rebuild) brings one to 407 B.C. The major efforts toward reconstruction of the city occurred when Nehemiah successfully rebuilt the walls around 445 B.C." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.386-387. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The Death of the Messiah (v. 26). Verse 26 mentions two events which would transpire after the expiration of the sixty-two sevens. The first is the death of Messiah; the second is the fate of Jerusalem. Verse 26 does not state, nor should it be inferred from the passage, that these two events occur during the seventieth heptad. 1. After his appearance at the end of sixty-two sevens (483 years) the Messiah would be cut off. This term is best taken as a reference to the premature and violent death of the Messiah. 12 Here, as in Isaiah's Servant poems, Messiah and suffering are linked. A gap of time between the appearance of the Messiah and the death of Messiah is suggested by the adverb after. How long that time interval would be cannot be determined from verse 26 alone. When he is cut off Messiah shall have nothing. This expression points to the utter rejection of Messiah, both by God and by men. He died without physical posterity, not having achieved success as a ruler. Over his sole possession the soldiers gambled at Golgotha. 2. Verse 26 mentions the fate of the city and the sanctuary, i.e., Jerusalem and the Temple. Both are to be destroyed by the people of the prince that shall come. This prince is to arise after the anointed one has been cut off. This verse certainly suggests that this terrible fate befalls the city because the Messiah has been cut off. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 is clearly prophesied here. The prolonged agony of the fall of the city is indicated by the words unto the end of the war desolations are determined. God has decreed this violent end for Jerusalem. This interpretation of the latter half of verse 26 fits well with the predictions which Jesus made concerning the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.387. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "Further Details Regarding Messiah's Ministry and the Fall of Jerusalem (v. 27). The focus in verse 27 is on the crucial events of the seventieth seven. There is no reason to assume that this period of seven years is separated from the previous sixty-nine. Gabriel has already made two points relative to the Messiah: (1) he is to appear within sixty-nine heptads of the issuance of a decree to rebuild Jerusalem, and (2) he is to be cut off at some point after the seven plus sixty-two sevens. But what of Messiah's ministry? What would he accomplish after his appearance? Daniel addresses this question in verse 27. Messiah will cause a covenant to prevail for one heptad (seven years). By his life, death, resurrection, and the pouring out of his Spirit upon the apostles the Messiah inaugurated a new covenant. For 3-1/2 years he proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom to Israel (cf. Isa. 42:1-4). After his ascension the covenant continued to be confirmed to Israel through the preaching of the apostles. This open message terminated with the stoning of Stephen after which the church scattered (Acts 8:1). In that same year (A.D. 33/34) Paul was converted to Christianity [Finegan, HBC, pp. 320-321]." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In- depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.388. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "In the midst of the seventieth heptad (i.e., after 3-1/2 years) Messiah would cause sacrifice and oblation to cease. It is clear from the Book of Hebrews that it was by his death that Messiah brought about the cessation of the Old Testament sacrificial systems (cf. Heb. 8:13). The Temple veil was rent (Matt. 27:51). Typical sacrifice ceased once for all time (Heb. 9:12). Further details are given regarding the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. The last half of verse 27 is difficult to translate and interpret, but these points are more or less clear: 1. One shall come who makes desolate. Most likely this is a reference to the Roman prince Titus. 2. He will come upon the wing of abominations. This is probably a reference to the pinnacle of the Temple. Even the highest point of the Temple (the wing) will be overrun and desecrated by the invader. 3. He will succeed in making the Temple area desolate. 4. The one who makes the Temple desolate will meet his doom when the full end shall be poured upon the one who makes desolate. 5. The doom of the Roman destroyer is determined by God." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.388. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 is notoriously difficult. It baffles the acumen of the wisest scholar. 16 Three main approaches to the passage have been championed. A. The Liberal Position. A representative exponent of the liberal position is J. A. Montgomery in the International Critical Commentary. Montgomery interprets the command to rebuild Jerusalem to be Jeremiah's word at Jerusalem's fall in 586 B.C. The first seven weeks (49 years) conclude with the return of the Jews to their homeland in 538 B.C. The sixty-two heptads (434 years) are counted from 538 B.C. and terminate in 171 B.C. with the appearance of Jeshua the anointed one. The Messiah who is cut off is Onias III. The Prince who would come against Jerusalem is Antiochus who continued to make war against the Jews until his death in 164 B.C. Antiochus had a covenant with the Hellenistic Jews (168-165 B.C.) which he broke after 3-1/2 years when he defiled the Temple with idols. The seventieth heptad ends with the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek invaders. This approach to the passage has the following defects: 1. An inadequate starting point for the decree to restore Jerusalem. 2. The failure to do justice to the terminology `Messiah-Prince.' 3. Counting from 538 B.C. the sixty-two heptads (434 years) terminate more than sixty-five years after the period of Antiochus' tyranny. Montgomery must postulate an error in calculation on the part of the author of Daniel." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.389. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "Traditional Interpretation. This view is represented by E. B. Pusey, Daniel the Prophet, an excellent commentary which has been reprinted in the Barnes Notes series. Pusey starts counting the seventy sevens from 458 B.C., the decree of Artaxerxes to Ezra. The first forty-nine years, which include the work of Nehemiah, terminate in 409 B.C. The anointed one is Christ who was baptized in A.D. 26 and immediately thereafter began his Messianic ministry. He was cut off by his death on the cross. The prince who is to come in judgment on Jerusalem is Christ or Titus who acts as an agent for Christ. The covenant to be made firm is Christ's new testament. The Old Testament sacrificial system ended in the midst of the seventieth week when Christ died on the cross (A.D. 30). The seventieth seven ends with the stoning of Stephen, Jewish rejection of the New Testament, and the call of Paul (A.D. 33)." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.390. Emphasis original). 23/10/2008 "The main weakness of the traditional interpretation is that the destruction of Jerusalem foretold in verses 26-27 must be removed from seventy sevens. The seventieth heptad ended in A.D. 33; but the destruction of Jerusalem did not occur until thirty-seven years later. While the implication may be present that the seventy heptads terminate in the destruction of Jerusalem, the passage does not directly affirm such to be the case. The word determined in verses 26-27 may suggest that what would happen during the seventy heptads would seal the fate of Jerusalem, and of the Roman armies which would attack Jerusalem. Taken this way, the passage would not be saying that the desolations would take place during the seventy heptads, but only that they would be determined during that period." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.390) 23/10/2008 "The Symbolic Interpretation. H. C. Leupold in his Exposition of Daniel is a modern representative of the symbolic interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27. According to this view, the seven heptads, sixty-two heptads and one heptad are periods of time but are not to be computed in terms of literal years. Lockhart [Lockhart, MMOT, p.221] addresses the hermeneutical issues as follows: `There is no good reason for not understanding the prophet to use the seven weeks, the sixty-two weeks, and other periods elsewhere according to the simple figure of synechdoche, a definite for an indefinite. The object of the prophecy is not to set dates; for that ... is too precise to accomplish the true ends of prophecy .... Either weeks or days used in a prophecy like this would most naturally convey to the Jewish reader the idea of periods of definite lengths in the mind of God, but presumably much longer than literal weeks or days. There is no good reason for assuming that the Jewish mind would ever imagine that a day stood for a year, or that a week stood for seven years.' Leupold thinks the decree to restore Jerusalem was that of Cyrus in 538 B.C. The first seven heptads end with the incarnation of Christ. The sixty-two heptads is the period of the church age. Messiah being cut off refers to the end of the progressive expansion of the church. The Prince who is come is Antichrist who enslaves the masses. He breaks his covenant and causes sacrifice (i.e., church worship) to cease. The seventieth week ends with God's final judgment." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.391. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "Weaknesses in the symbolic interpretation are as follows: l. The failure to recognize that the blessings promised in verse 24 were abundantly fulfilled in the first advent of Christ. 2. The failure to recognize Messiah, the main figure in the passage, as the subject of verse 27. The introduction of an eschatological antichrist into the passage is rather abrupt. 3. The failure to do justice to the prediction that the "Messiah shall be cut off." This is taken by Leupold to be a reference to massive defections of Christians in the last days. The phrase more naturally refers to the death of Christ. 4. Placement of the sixty-two heptads after the appearance of Messiah flies in the face of the language. The angel clearly is saying that the seven heptads plus sixty-two heptads must elapse before Messiah appears. 5. The application of the building of streets and wall (v. 25) to the building up of the church is forced. This interpretation makes the angelic prophecy unresponsive to the immediate concern of Daniel which was that Jerusalem was desolate (vv. 16-17)." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.392. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The Dispensational Interpretation. The dispensational interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 is represented by A. C. Gaebelein, The Prophet Daniel. Gaebelein regarded the years in this passage as prophetic years of 360 days each. The total number of prophetic days is first computed, and then that figure is divided by 365 to determine the number of solar years involved. The seventy heptads begin in 444 B.C. with the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah. The seven plus sixty-two heptads end with the triumphal entry in A.D. 30. Messiah is then cut off by his crucifixion. The prince that shall come is Titus the Roman. The seventieth heptad is yet future. Antichrist will make a covenant with regathered infidel Jews. After 3-1/2 years he will break his covenant and will desecrate the Temple. The seventieth week ends with God's final judgment. According to this view the promises made in verse 24 were not fulfilled at the first coming." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.392-393. Emphasis original) 23/10/2008 "The weaknesses of the dispensational interpretation are as follows: 1. The mathematical gymnastics which most in this school perform in order to convert `prophetic years' into solar years. Daniel understood Jeremiah's prophecy of seventy years of desolation for Jerusalem as ordinary years (9:2). Furthermore, extra months were periodically inserted into the year to bring the lunar calendar into harmony with the seasons. This would mean that over a long period of time the 360 day year with extra months added periodically, would be equivalent to a 365 day year. [Finegan, HBC, p.36] 2. The failure to recognize that the promises in verse 24 are blessings flowing from the first coming of Christ. 3. The separation of the seventieth heptad from the first sixty-nine. The existence of a gap of two thousand years is a strange intrusion into the text. 4. The double identity of the `prince who is to come' is strange. In verse 26 he is Titus, the general who destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This prince who is to come is said to be the subject of verse 27, but is now identified as the Antichrist who has not yet appeared. 5. Identifying the `prince' as the subject in verse 27 does not appear to be the most natural reading, for the word occupies only a subordinate position in verse 26 where it is not even the subject of a sentence. 6. Scripture does not so much as even hint of any covenant to be made by Antichrist, or any covenant to be confirmed by him." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, p.393) 23/10/2008 "The seventy heptads are to be counted from a decree or word to restore and to build Jerusalem. Commentators generally assume that the decree of some Persian king is intended. Four Persian decrees have been mentioned as possible: 1. The decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. This decree is defended by such able scholars as E. J. Young and H. C. Leupold. Certainly the prophet Isaiah linked Cyrus to the restoration of the Jews to their homeland. It is generally conceded, however, that Cyrus did not specifically authorize the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and especially the walls of that place. A city which once had walls could not be spoken of as having been "built" without the rebuilding of those walls. The proof that Cyrus did not authorize the rebuilding of Jerusalem is found in Ezra 4:17-22. Had King Artaxerxes found in the royal archives an edict by Cyrus permitting the Jews to restore Jerusalem, he would hardly have given orders that the attempt to rebuild the city in his day must cease. The Jews defended their right to rebuild the Temple in the second year of Darius by appealing to the decree of Cyrus. They claimed no right, on the basis of his decree, to rebuild anything other than the Temple itself (Ezra 5:11-17). 2. The decree of King Darius in 520 B.C. might be mentioned. This decree (Ezra 6:1-12) reconfirmed the earlier decree of Cyrus regarding the Temple but said nothing of the city itself or its walls. For this reason this second Persian decree has found few defenders. 3. A decree by the Persian Artaxerxes in 458/457 B.C. allowed Ezra to return to Jerusalem with sweeping powers to enforce the law of God (Ezra 7:11-26). A rather lengthy citation of this decree is contained in the record, but it makes no mention of rebuilding Jerusalem. Nonetheless, this decree is defended by some as the terminus a quo for the prophecy of the seventy heptads. 4. In 445 B.C. the same king Artaxerxes granted permission to Nehemiah to return to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He even authorized a requisition of timber from the royal forest to assist in the project. Many commentators defend this decree as the terminus a quo of the seventy heptads. There are problems with this starting point. First, there is the language of the prophecy itself: From the going forth of a word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. The language seems to imply initiative on the part of the one who issued this word. Yet the initiative in 445 B.C. was on the part of Nehemiah. King Artaxerxes simply responded to the request of his faithful cupbearer. Furthermore, those who start counting the seventy heptads in 445 B.C. must resort to complicated conversions of lunar years to solar years in order to make the prophecy fit the known chronology of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Ancient peoples intercalated months into their lunar calendar from time to time to bring the lunar year into harmony with the seasons. The net result was that over the long haul, the `years' of the Hebrews were just as long as solar years. It cannot be demonstrated from any prophecy involving years in the Bible that the writer intended solar years of 360 days to be understood." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.394-395) 23/10/2008 "So problems arise with accepting any of the Persian decrees as the prophetic command to restore and to build Jerusalem. But then nothing in the text compels the view that a royal edict is in view here. In fact there is a hint in the text that something other than a Persian edict is intended. The same Hebrew word is used of the commandment or word to restore and build Jerusalem in verse 25 as is used of the divine command to the angel Gabriel in verse 23. This suggests that the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem came from God, not the Persian monarch. If it be argued that the commandment came from God through the Persian ruler, then the obvious question is, Where is the evidence that such is the case? Why could not God have issued his commandment regarding Jerusalem through someone else, through perhaps some leader of the Jewish people? Can an occasion be pinpointed when God, through a Holy Spirit inspired man, commanded his people to rebuild Jerusalem? Ezra 4 contains a topical summary of hostile actions taken against Jewish attempts to rebuild their Temple and their capital. When the Jews attempted to rebuild their Temple during the reigns of Cyrus and Darius, the enemies `hired counselors to work against them and to frustrate their plans' (Ezra 4:5). In the days of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) `they filed an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem' (Ezra 4:6). A letter to King Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C.) is quoted in Ezra 4. This letter is of crucial importance in determining the occasion for the divine commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. In their letter to the Persian king the enemies make several important comments about recent developments among the Jews: 1. Jews had "come up to us from you" (v. 12). This implies that some official delegation recently had come back from the lands of the captivity. 2. These Jews had gone to Jerusalem (v. 12). 3. They were building the city (v. 12). 4. They were restoring the walls and repairing the foundations (v. 12). King Artaxerxes searched the archives and found that Jerusalem had a history of rebellion and sedition. He fired back a letter to local officials ordering that the Jerusalem project cease "until I give permission" (v. 21). The local officials went immediately to Jerusalem "and compelled them by force to stop" (v. 23)." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.395-396) 23/10/2008 "Biblical history provides two occasions when delegations returned from Babylon during the reign of King Artaxerxes. Ezra led the first group back from Babylon in 458 B.C. [Finegan, HBC, p. 213] (Ezra 7). Ezra was given extensive powers to enforce the law of Moses; but he was not given permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Twelve years later Nehemiah, a cupbearer to this same Artaxerxes, returned as governor of Judea with royal permission to rebuild the city (Neh. 1). These historical data furnish the clue to the point at which a divine command was issued to restore and to build Jerusalem. The first attempt to rebuild Jerusalem came shortly after Ezra and his group returned to Jerusalem. Though Scripture nowhere so states explicitly, it is surely reasonable to believe that Ezra must have issued the first command to rebuild Jerusalem. ... Biblical data furnish further clues which help to pinpoint the year of Ezra's commandment. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of King Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:7-8). On the modern calendar this would be August 4, 458 B.C. Ezra was confronted almost immediately with a monumental problem. Many leaders of the nation had intermarried with pagan women. It was not until March of the following year (Ezra 10:17) that this problem was solved. Burdened as he was with the intermarriage problem, it is most unlikely that Ezra would have issued any directive to rebuild Jerusalem until at least the spring of 457 B.C.." (Smith, J.E.*, "What the Bible Teachaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, 1993, pp.395-396) 30/10/2008 "Dan 9:24-27 KJ3. 24 Seventy weeks are decreed as to your people, and as to your holy city, to shut up the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to atone for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. 25 Know, then, and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem, to Messiah the Ruler, shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. The broad place shall be built again, and the wall, even in times of distress. 26 And after sixty-two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of a coming ruler shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end shall be with the flood, and are determined the desolations, and war shall be until the end. 27 And he shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week. And in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. And on a corner of the altar will be abominations that desolate, even until the end. And that which was decreed shall pour out on the desolated." (Green, J.P., Sr., "KJ3-Literal Translation Bible," 2005)
* Authors with an asterisk against their name are believed not to be evolutionists. However, lack of
an asterisk does not necessarily mean that an author is an evolutionist.
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Created: 30 September, 2008. Updated: 7 April, 2010.