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The following are quotes added to my Unclassified Quotes database in May 2006. The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
[Index: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec]
1/05/2006 "We said at the end of the previous chapter that, with our present knowledge of the DNA - RNA - protein process it becomes easy to see ourselves and all other living things, as descended from the earliest-known life forms. What is not so easy to see is how those forms came into being. A cool examination of the process, as it operates today throughout all life, forces the observation that it is a remarkably clever, but at the same time most curious, way of creating living organisms. If an unusually imaginative and informed biochemist were to start with a bunch of raw chemicals and try to invent a way for them to organize themselves into protoplasm, would it ever cross that scientist's mind that this way was the way? Not likely. How life's blueprint is assembled and then turned into tissue is one of the most startling and bizarre processes that one could possibly dream of. How on earth did it get going? If the full story of evolution is ever to be told, that question must be answered - or at least a good attempt must be made to answer it." (Edey M.A. & Johanson D.C., "Blueprints: Solving The Mystery of Evolution," Little, Brown & Co: Boston MA, 1989, pp.281-282. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "A genetic map made today for a gorilla or a human would show a Sahara of emptiness: thousands of genes, millions of triplets whose meaning is utterly incomprehensible. Human chromosomes have long repetitive sequences of base pairs that remind one of stuck keys on a teleprinter; they seem to make no sense at all. They are called `junk' genes. The question: are they really junk or is their function not understood? Some other questions from this spaghetti bowl of ignorance for which answers are only just beginning to emerge: where does a specific gene start? Where does it stop? How many base pairs does a gene consist of? What is its relationship to genes next to it? Do they affect each other? If so, how? What about genes a little farther apart. or even very far apart? Does it take one gene to accomplish something or does it take dozens? What turns a gene on? What turns it off? Do genes regulate genes? Are those regulator genes regulated by yet other genes? All those questions become relevant as the crushing complexity of higher organisms becomes apparent. It takes a mass of instructions to assemble the materials for as simple a thing as a single cotter pin. to make the stamping machine that will shape it, to position the metal, to stamp out the pin, to store it on a shelf, and then take it off the shelf just as the axle comes down the assembly line and the wheel is put on. We could say that the juxtaposition of wheel and axle is the trigger that stimulates the presentation of the cotter pin at just the moment that it is needed. We could say that a cotter-pin-delivery gene has been activated, which triggers off an insertion-in-the-hole gene-the hole itself, of course, having been bored in the axle on instructions of still another gene that is part of a whole axle-producing complex of instructions being carried out in another part of the factory. Two entire instruction manuals must coordinate exactly. As a final fillip, when the cotter pin is actually in the hole bored for it, there must be an instruction to bend its ends so that it won't fall out and the wheel drop off. In these terms the human factory becomes not one assembly line but thousands of them, each sensitive to the needs of others, each programmed to turn on at the proper signal and turn off again at another signal. " (Edey M.A. & Johanson D.C., "Blueprints: Solving The Mystery of Evolution," Little, Brown & Co: Boston MA, 1989, pp.276-277. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Left to themselves most chemical reactions of importance in biology would proceed so slowly that life would be impossible. The food we eat would be useless to us because its chemical components and energy could not be released fast enough to keep us alive. Enzymes speed these processes up enormously. In total there are perhaps 2,000 such enzymes, and their structures are basically the same across the whole of the living world-an enzyme from a bacterium can be used in the cell of a man. The chance of finding each individual enzyme by stringing together amino acid beads at random is again like the Rubik cube being solved by a blindfolded person. Although the chance of finding all the enzymes, 2,000 of them, by random processes is not nearly as small as the chance of finding the whole 200,000 proteins on which life depends, the chance is still exceedingly minute. Call it x to 1 against. If you started to write x out in longhand form, beginning with the digit 1 and adding zeros, you would have a few hours of work ahead - 1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 ... and so on for about forty pages, some 40,000 zeros in all. It is about the same as the chance of throwing an uninterrupted sequence of 50,000 sixes with unbiased dice! This is a crucial statistic, because it seems that without these 2,000 enzymes being formed in exactly the correct way, complex living organisms simply could not operate." (Hoyle, F., "The Intelligent Universe," Michael Joseph: London 1983, pp.15-16. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Although the probability of the random origin of `just' these 2,000 enzymes is minuscule, there are many scientists who do not see this calculation as dismissing the idea that life arose by chance. Like all statistics, probabilities of this type are open to different interpretations. One important point which has to be established is the context in which we are talking. Were there many ways in which life could have evolved? The argument I have used above would be weakened if the origin of life as it is found on Earth happened to be just one highly improbable event taken out of a vast number of potentially similar events. ... Could it be that this was what the origin of life was like? The odds of finding life with our basic form of chemistry might be exceedingly small, but could there not be ... a vast number of other kinds of biology, which we know nothing about, each with its own very small chance of becoming established on a planet like the Earth? I think not. The reason why this question must be answered negatively, and why we must therefore abandon this way of avoiding the startling conclusion that life cannot have arisen by chance, is that the chemical reactions catalyzed by the 2,000 enzymes are fundamental to the basic chemistry of the carbon atom itself. Despite its complexity, our biochemistry may well be the simplest form possible Take, for example, sugars, the main energy source of life. These are built up from the two commonest molecules in the Universe, the molecules of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Thus the enzymes we use to unlock the energy content of sugars are engaged in processes which are central to the chemical content of the whole Universe. Hence there is nothing hole-in-the corner about our terrestrial system. There are not vast billions of other equally likely systems. Indeed it is to be doubted whether there is even one other system that operates so fundamentally on molecules composed of the commonest atoms in the Universe, the atoms of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen." (Hoyle, F., "The Intelligent Universe," Michael Joseph: London 1983, pp.17-18. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Could our modern synthetic theory of evolution be wrong, as were its predecessors, evolution through the inheritance of acquired characters (Lamarck) and instant new species by mutations (De Vries)? What will scientists say a hundred years from now about Neodarwinism, the current theory? I have my doubts about one point in the concept. Of course, that isn't bad; it is how science progresses. Someone doubts an accepted point, and other scientists, being fundamentally conservative about the things they have learned, immediately pounce on the doubter (providing the point he brings up can be taken seriously). Eventually this leads to one of two situations, both of them good for science: either the doubter is proven wrong or he is proven right. If he is wrong, much will have been learned in marshaling the facts required to settle the question. If he is right, whole new areas of understanding may have been opened. My particular doubt has been published (Salisbury, 1969), scientists have taken their shots at it (Smith, 1969), and it has been defended (Spetner, 1970)." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "The Origin of Variability The problem is the origin of variability. Both Lamarck and De Vries put forth their theories to account for this. Darwin was fully aware of the seriousness of the problem, and he retreated with misgivings to Lamarck's ideas. The modern theory emphasizes the importance of genetic recombinations but ultimately rests upon mutations as the source of the variability acted upon by natural selection. This is where I run into problems. ... Gene frequencies do change in populations as a result of selection pressures. This has been observed in the field and duplicated in the laboratory. ... But will changes in gene frequencies in response to selection pressures account for evolution in the broadest sense: life originating in the ancient soupy seas and developing over eons of time until the earth is covered with flowering plants and thinking men? Only if there is a continual source of new genes for selection to act upon. If, somewhere back in the dim reaches of time, a cell evolved the process of photo-synthesis, it is because, according to the present theory, the proper genes and their enzymes were there for selection to act upon. Could random changes in the nucleotide sequences of DNA (mutations) provide these genes and ultimately the enzymes? At the moment, I doubt it, and my reasons for doubting are based upon discoveries during the past 20 years that have indicated to us how really complex living systems are. We have known for a long time that man's body is an intricate and complex machine. Now we know that the cell itself is far more complex than we had imagined. It includes thousands of functioning enzymes, each one of them a complex machine itself. Furthermore, each enzyme comes into being in response to a gene, a strand of DNA. The information content of the gene (its complexity) must be as great as that of the enzyme that it controls. One might begin (as I did) to get the intuitive feeling that genes and enzymes are too complex to originate by randomly changing nucleotide sequences." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "How Many Genes Could Exist? It is possible to get a numerical idea of the complexity of genes and enzymes by considering the possible number that could exist. This is easy. Proteins (enzymes) consist of 20 different kinds of amino acids. If the 'protein' consisted of only one amino acid, then there could be 20 kinds; if two amino acids, then each of the first 20 could combine with any of another 20, so there could be 20 x 20 = 400 kinds. Each time we add an amino acid link to the chain we have 20 possibilities to choose from, and so we multiply by 20. If there are 10 amino acids in the chain, then there can be 2010 (20 multiplied by itself 10 times = 204.8 trillion) kinds of amino acid chains. The same thing applies to language, which, in a general sense, is any form of information consisting of individual information bits. In the English language, we can imagine that there might be 30 different characters (26 capital letters, a space, quotation marks, a colon, and a period, for example). Choosing from these characters, we can write the following sentence from Shakespeare: `THIS ABOVE ALL: TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.' Could we write this sentence by allowing monkeys to pound typewriters randomly or by blowing up a printshop and then searching for the sentence among the bits of type on the street? Let's build small computers instead. Each one occupies a volume of 1 l, and all are connected. They cover all the earth to a depth of 2 km. Each one changes a character in a sequence of 45 characters and compares the result with the sentence above. It does this a trillion times each second, and no two computers ever duplicate their efforts. To try more sentences, we cover 1020 identical planets to a depth of 2 km with such computers, still programming them so that no two ever duplicate the same sequence of characters. Now we let the computers on all these planets run for four billion years, the time required to form all possible 45 character-sequences (`sentences'), using 30 characters: 1.3 x 1067 sequences. One of these will be our Shakespearean sentence-- causing the proper red light to come on! Of course, the light could have come on during the first second of the billion-year period or during the last, but to try all possible combinations requires all the computers on all the planets and all the time. Such an example helps one realize that 1067 is a truly large number." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Yet it is small compared to the possible numbers of genes and enzymes. A medium protein might include about 300 amino acids. The DNA gene controlling this would have about 1,000 nucleotides in its chain. Since there are four kinds of nucleotides in a DNA chain, one consisting of 1,000 links could exist in 41000 different forms. Using a little algebra (logarithms), we can see that 41,000 = 10600. Ten multiplied by itself 600 times gives the figure 1 followed by 600 zeroes! This number is completely beyond our comprehension. Assume, for example, a cubic universe with dimensions of 20 billion (2 x 1010) light-years on each side. In angstroms, the smallest unit used by scientists, this becomes about 1039 A on a side, with a volume of `only' 10117 A3. Since our DNA chain requires over half a million A3 of space, imagine how many universes it would take to accommodate 10600 DNA chains!" (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "A Mechanism of Chemical Evolution Norman Horowitz (1945) proposed a mechanism of chemical evolution of metabolic systems. Imagine that the primeval ocean contained virtually all of the common precursors for life processes: sugars, amino acids, fats, nucleotides, etc. Imagine that a cell containing a reproducing DNA chain had come into being and that this could control the synthesis of specific enzymes; that is, that life had come into being. But imagine this to be a highly heterotrophic form of life, able to synthesize none of the precursors required for its existence but obtaining them all from the primeval ocean. Our original cell will multiply until this ocean is overpopulated and the food supply limited. The fittest cell will then survive; namely, one that contains an enzyme capable of converting a molecule present in rich abundance into one that has become depleted by the excessive population. Here is natural selection at the enzyme level. As each precursor becomes limiting, there is a selection pressure favoring any enzyme that can synthesize the molecule in short supply. Eventually the metabolic systems of living things might be built up this way until a completely autotrophic, photoynthesizing plant comes into being-- provided that there will be genes and their enzymes for the selection process to act upon." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Say that the gene comes into being by mutations consisting of random rearrangements in the nucleotide chains, as suggested by Neodarwinism. What are the chances that a suitable gene can be produced? Imagine a primeval ocean uniformly 2 km deep over the entire earth, containing DNA molecules at a concentration of about 0.001 M (about 700 grams of DNA per liter of ocean water). Each double-stranded DNA molecule has 1,000 nucleotide pairs and reproduces itself one million times per second. Each time it reproduces, it mutates by changing one nucleotide pair in the sequence. To make the calculation easier, we'll assume that no two DNA molecules are ever alike. In four billion years, 7.74 x 1084 different kinds of DNA molecules will be produced. These are not nearly enough, so we will allow it to happen on 1020 similar planets, producing 7.74 x 1084 (say 1085) different molecules. If we are trying to get one DNA molecule for natural selection to act upon-- and only one will be suitable-- then the chances of producing it under these conditions are 1085/10600, or 1 in 10515. Say instead that 10100 different kinds of molecules would each be suitable for our act of natural selection. Still only one molecule out of every 10500 would be acceptable; and, after four billion years on 1020 planets, 10415 of the first 10500 possibilities remain to be synthesized. So the chances are still unimaginably small that a proper DNA molecule will appear-- and if it does, the problem comes up again the next time a precursor becomes limiting!" (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "How can we solve the problem? We can reduce its magnitude, perhaps, but only because I may have exaggerated things in the above example. It may be that some enzymes require 300 amino acids, all arranged in a specific order if they are to be active, but we don't really know of any good examples-- which isn't saying much, considering how little we know about enzyme activity and the arrangement of amino acids. If most of the amino acids in an enzyme were superfluous-- that is, if only a few of the amino acids actually were necessary for the active site-- then the problem might be easier to deal with. Henry Quastler (1964), in worrying about these matters, calculated that the active site might require only two amino acids and that seven amino acids should be sufficient in any case. If only two amino acids are required, then one out of every 400 combinations ought to be suitable for any reaction; if seven, then one out of every billion. If this were true, then the gene is not so unique after all, and random mutations might be an adequate mechanism. This answer seems too simple. If only two amino acids produce an active site, there can only be 400 kinds of active sites, and every protein would be covered by many, if not most, of them. But enzymes are highly specific, containing as a rule only one active site. This suggests that most amino acid sequences are without catalytic activity. If only a small percentage of amino acid sequences are active, although there is a legion of active sites (implied by all the reactions in the myriad life forms), then the number of amino acids in the minimal sequence must be quite high-- perhaps 15 or 16. Actually, we have determined the structure of a few enzymes, and it does not appear that the sequence numbers for an active site are small. In lysozyme, for example, the substrate binds to the enzyme through at least six hydrogen bonds and more than 40 somewhat weaker contacts (Chipman and Sharon, 1969). Because there is much to learn about enzymes, this is probably the best area to watch for a solution to my doubts. So far, however, the enzyme chemist has not provided us with much comforting information." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "Religious Convictions Aside... We are entitled to think about another solution: an intelligent Creator of life. We can try to write Shakespeare by piling computers on top of each other and letting them rearrange letters of the language, but a much better way is to let Shakespeare apply his intelligence to the job. Could God apply his intelligence to the ordering of nucleotides in DNA chains, providing the genes for selection to act upon? Certainly, if He exists. I believe in such a God for reasons quite independent of the discussion here. But scientifically this solution is not satisfying, because it does not (to me, at least) suggest reasonable scientific tests; indeed, it might even lead to a complacent loss of desire to use science in the first place. The idea may be an important part of my personal life, but so far I see no suitable way to make it a part of my scientific life. Perhaps the mutations upon which natural selection acts are not really random at all. Perhaps there is some feedback from the environment to enzymes and genes, directing the mutation process. Here at least is an idea that might be tested." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Questions About Mutation An argument that I encounter is that the theory of mutations has been demonstrated, so my doubts are in vain. I am not convinced. Most textbooks (for example, Stebbins, 1966) suggest that, while the vast majority of mutations may be bad, some are good-- perhaps `one in a thousand.' The number is pretty much a wild guess, but there are some experimental data suggesting that it could be close. Apparently potentially adaptive (`good') mutations have appeared after irradiating corn or some microorganism. Still I'm not convinced. My doubts are confined to occasions when we must produce a gene de novo, as in the example given above. This gene had to have certain capabilities because a certain precursor was limiting. In many other cases, genes might arise by slight changes in preexisting genes, improving slightly the activity of the controlled enzyme. This could account for a lot of apparently good mutations that don't fit my example. Or perhaps a good gene has mutated to become deleterious. It might mutate back to the original, producing an apparently good mutation." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335- 338, p.354. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Most examples cited to prove the modern synthetic theory of evolution don't depend upon mutations at all. The peppered moths of England are often mentioned. Before the Industrial Revolution, most were a mottled gray color similar to the lichen-covered bark of English trees. As these trees became covered with soot, the moths became black-- a protective coloration against predators. This is a marvelous example of a change in population gene frequency in response to selection pressures, but the black moths were known to be present before the Industrial Revolution (albeit in very small numbers). Nor am I convinced by the oft-cited answers to the work of Wilhelm Johanssen (1903). Johanssen's bean plants were not changed by selection after the first few generations, but the protein and oil contents of corn plants were changed for many generations (Hopkins, 1899). This says nothing about mutations for protein and oil content. It merely says that the bean plants had already been highly selected before Johanssen used them and that the corn plants had not been so selected. It also says that protein and oil contents may depend upon a large number of genes and that many generations are required to `collect' these in single individuals. It is a fine demonstration of selection changing gene frequencies, but it has nothing to do with the question that bothers me." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "Some Further Doubts Doubting can get to be a bit of a habit-- as it should be with more students of science. I feel that the doubts expressed above are based on solid grounds, but I have other doubts remaining more at the intuitive level. Here are a few, for what they are worth: Surely our ideas about the origin of life will have to change radically with the passage of time. Not only is the gene itself a problem: think of the systems that would have to come into being to produce a living cell! It's nice to talk about replicating DNA molecules arising in the soupy sea, but in modern cells this replication requires the presence of suitable enzymes. Furthermore, DNA by itself accomplishes nothing. Its only reason for existence is the information that it carries and that is used in the production of a protein enzyme. At the moment, the link between DNA and the enzyme is a highly complex one, involving RNA and an enzyme for its synthesis on a DNA template; ribosomes; enzymes to activate amino acids; and transfer-RNA molecules. Yet selection acts only upon phenotypes and not upon genes. At this level, the phenotype is the enzyme itself. How, in the absence of the final enzyme, could selection act upon DNA and all the mechanisms for replicating it? It's as though everything must happen at once: the entire system must come into being as one unit, or it is worthless. There may well be ways out of this dilemma, but I don't see them at the moment." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "Some enzymes are known to be incredibly complex. Phosphofructokinase in glycolysis is promoted by ADP and inhibited by citrate and ATP-even though ATP is a normal substrate. These inhibitions and promotions accurately regulate the rate of glycolysis in relation to oxygen concentrations. They do so because of secondary (allosteric) sites on the enzyme that influence the primary active site. This is pretty fancy engineering." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "Consider something as complex as the photosynthetic apparatus. We can shine light on a mixture of chlorophyll, water, and carbon dioxide to our heart's content, but nothing happens. We need chlorophyll attached to a suitable protein in a granum embedded in the stroma and with all the necessary enzymes for the entire photosynthetic process. Are there halfway steps along the way to this, each with a selective value of its own? This is the restriction that Darwinism and Neodarwinism place upon us. No step in evolution can last unless it has value." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Eon," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "And how many times in our evolution of photosynthesis, respiration, etc., do we encounter the problem of a required enzyme, that does not exist at all, as in the example above? How many shiny new genes are required to produce the phloem transport system or a wing or an eye? Are there really intermediate steps with selection value along the way to these final forms?" (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "Organisms are really complex. Counting the number of nucleotide pairs, the nucleus of a man contains about 109 bits of genetic information. Written in normal-sized type, this would fill about 1,000 normal-sized, bound volumes. We are learning that much of the genetic information in a nucleus is redundant (repeated). If 90% is redundant, then the `formula of a man' could be written in 100 volumes. Could we really write those 100 volumes in a mere four billion years by rearranging nucleotides and selecting? Peas are apparently even more complex than men. They have 1011 information bits per nucleus. Perhaps this is because they are nutritionally much more complex; they must synthesize their own basic foodstuffs from water, carbon dioxide, minerals, and the energy of light. But the really complex production of life is the human brain. Will Neodarwinism account for its origins?" (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354. Emphasis original) 1/05/2006 "My last doubt concerns so-called parallel evolution. In the angiosperms the same features of flower structure have apparently appeared independently several times in unrelated evolutionary lines. Indeed, the problem is so severe that no satisfactory classification scheme for flowering plants has yet been devised. Even something as complex as the eye has appeared several times; for example, in the squid, the vertebrates, and the arthropods. It's bad enough accounting for the origin of such things once, but the thought of producing them several times according to the modern synthetic theory makes my head swim. So there are my doubts. Shoot me down if you can." (Salisbury, F.B., "Doubts About the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 33, September 1971, pp.335-338, p.354) 1/05/2006 "I admire, as all biologists must, the immense scientific labours of Charles Darwin and his lifelong, single- hearted devotion to his theory of evolution. I agree that although, as he himself readily admitted, he did not invent the doctrine of organic evolution, or even the idea of natural selection, his arguments, and especially the arguments in The Origin of Species, convinced the world that he had discovered the true explanation of biological diversity, and had shown how the intricate adaptations of living things develop by a simple, inevitable process which even the most simple minded and unlearned can understand. But I am not satisfied that Darwin proved his point or that his influence in scientific and public thinking has been beneficial." (Thompson, W.R., "Introduction," to Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 1967, reprint, p.vii) 1/05/2006 "I have said that it was mainly The Origin of Species that converted the majority of men to the evolutionary doctrine. Sir Arthur Keith emphatically agreed. 'No book,' he said, 'has appeared to replace it; The Origin of Species is still the book which contains the most complete demonstration that the law of evolution is true.' [Keith, A., "Introduction," to Darwin C., "The Origin of Species," 1872, Sixth edition, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 1928, reprint, p.xvi] But the more strongly we insist on this point, the more necessary it is to scrutinize the proofs given in the Origin. Of course, we may be induced to accept a statement that is true, by agreements that are fallacious or inadequate. Still, no one would seriously maintain that it is good to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. If arguments fail to resist analysis, assent should be withheld, and a wholesale conversion due to unsound argument must be regarded as deplorable." (Thompson, W.R., "Introduction," to Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 1967, reprint, pp.vii-viii) 2/05/2006 "THE colourful scales on a butterfly's wings evolved from humble origins - the tiny hairs on flies and other insects. Biologists have long suspected that scales on butterfly wings evolved from these `sensory bristles', because they attach to the body through similar socket structures. To test this at a genetic level, Sean Carroll of the University of Wisconsin in Madison and his colleagues looked at a bristle gene called achaete-scute in fruit flies. Butterflies also carry this gene. The team showed that in the buckeye butterfly Precis coenia, the gene switched on in socket and scale cells at the beginning of wing development (Current Biology, vol 8, p 807). `This fits well with how we think evolution makes something novel,' says Carroll. `It co-opts structures it already has and starts innovating.'" ("How brilliant butterflies took off," New Scientist, 4 July 1998, p.25 http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15921414.900.html) 2/05/2006 "Is there any other feature, common to all living things, which appears unusual? In our original paper Orgel and I suggested that the element molybdenum appeared to be more abundant in living things than one might have expected from its natural abundance in the rocks. Several people pointed out that while molybdenum was rather rare in rocks, it was much more common in sea water. To this Orgel replied that while this was true of today's oceans, it seemed unlikely that molybdenum was present in such amounts in the prebiotic ocean, since the greater reducing conditions at that time might have made its salts rather soluble. Even if Orgel's argument is accepted it must be conceded that the support it gives to Directed Panspermia is rather feeble. Even if there was rather little molybdenum in the prebiotic ocean, the early organisms may have learned to concentrate it within themselves in some way." (Crick, F.H.C., "Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1981, pp.143-144) 2/05/2006 "Perhaps a better approach might be to ask what special features we might hope to see in the fossil record if Directed Panspermia had indeed occurred. The main difference would be that microorganisms should appear here suddenly, without any evidence for prebiotic systems or very primitive organisms. We might also expect that not one but several types of microorganisms would appear which, although distantly related, would be rather distinct. In particular, it might be difficult to trace intermediate ancestral forms, since these would only have existed on the sender planet, not on Earth. Of these distinct forms we should not be surprised to find one which resembled the blue-green algae, since this has independently been suggested as a good candidate for an effective primitive organism. Now, it is perhaps remarkable that these are all features of the early fossil record or of the early evolutionary trees deduced from the study of present-day molecules. The earlier fossils, so far, do indeed resemble the blue-green algae. They date to a relatively early time in the life of the earth, so early that one is surprised to find them fully formed at that stage. Attempts to trace back molecular family trees seem, at the present time, to lead back to several distinct families which appear rather distant from each other. Thus, at the very least one can say that this evidence does not contradict Directed Panspermia but supports it to some extent." (Crick F.H.C., "Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1981, p.144) 2/05/2006 "Research has identified many dietary essentials, in addition to the familiar one, iron, to be harmful, if not deadly, in certain amounts. Such elements as chromium, molybdenum, selenium, and vanadium, for example, are essential for building proteins, and proteins serve as life's molecular `factories.' Yet each of these elements is toxic in any but the `just right' amount. A finely-tuned balance of such elements in organisms' external environment also proves necessary but risky. Molybdenum, for instance, though it can be harmful plays a crucial and unique role in `nitrogen fixation,' the process by which nitrogen from the atmosphere attaches to chemicals that can be assimilated by plants. This particular process, without which land life cannot exist, is impossible unless a certain `right amount' of molybdenum resides in the soil. For many years, we have recognized the devastating effects of iron deficiency or iron overabundance in the diet of humans and advanced animals. Year by year, however, the list of lethal yet essential substances grows. Currently that list includes arsenic, boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, tin, and zinc, in addition to the four mentioned above. At the same time, our astronomy research reveals that the earth's crust differs significantly from the crusts of other solar system bodies. One difference lies in the relative abundance of various life-essential elements. Earth's crust contains `just right' quantities of all the elements necessary for the existence and sustenance of advanced land life. This finding can be viewed as a remarkable (more accurately, an impossible) coincidence or as a wondrous indicator of design." (Ross, H.N., "Vital Poisons," Connections 1999, Vol. 1, No. 3, Reasons to Believe. http://www.reasons.org/resources/connections/1999v1n3/index.shtml) 2/05/2006 "The evolutionary trends in the number and kinds of repeated structures are so pronounced that the paleontologist Samuel Williston declared in 1914, "it is [also] a law in evolution that the parts in an organism tend toward reduction in number, with the fewer parts greatly specialized in function." [Williston, S.W., "Water Reptiles of the Past and Present," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, 1914] Williston was studying ancient marine reptiles. He noted that in the course of evolution, earlier groups tended to have large numbers of similar serially reiterated parts, but that later groups exhibited reduced numbers and specialized forms of these structures. Furthermore, the specialized pattern rarely reverted to the more general form. One interesting case is that when digits first evolved in tetrapods, there were as many as eight digits per foot. But among these eight, there were no more than five types, which eventually reduced to five digits that were specialized, or further reduced, in later species. Laws in biology are few, and those dared to be articulated are almost certain to be broken by some organisms. Yet Williston's Law is a useful observation that seems to pertain to trends in more than just the ancient marine reptiles he was writing about. The trend appears to be that once expanded in number, serial homologs became specialized in function and reduced in number. The specialization of vertebral, tooth, and digit morphology in vertebrates, and of legs and wings in arthropods, was in fact generally accompanied by a reduction in the number of these repeated structures. " (Carroll, S.B., "Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 2005, pp.31,33) 2/05/2006 "Underlying British natural theology from its inception was the fundamental intuition that the order of the universe is inexplicable apart from a designing intelligence. Now order is a slippery concept. Order can signify marks of intelligence as epitomized in contrivances. But order can also signify the systematic outworking of lawlike regularities. For instance, the watchmaker analogy for which William Paley is so famous conceives of the order in nature in terms of contrivance. The watchmaker analogy was common coin among eighteenth-century natural theologians. William Derham popularized it in his Boyle Lectures of 1711- 1712, and it was known to Robert Boyle even before that. According to Paley, if we find a watch in a field, the watch's adaptation of parts to telling time ensures that it is the product of an intelligence. So too, the marvelous adaptations of means to ends in organisms ensure that organisms are the product of an intelligence. Thus from its inception British natural theology conceived of order in terms of contrivance. But order can also be conceived in terms of lawlike regularities. The laws of nature, and in particular Newton's laws, could as well be regarded as instances of order in the world. From its inception British natural theology therefore also conceived of order in terms of natural law. These dual notions of contrivance and natural law were to have an uneasy alliance within British natural theology, with natural law in the end swallowing up contrivance. Even in the watchmaker analogy we see the seeds for a conflict between contrivance and natural law. Once a watch is manufactured and set in operation, natural laws govern its behavior. The structure of the watch is a matter of contrivance. But once that structure is in place, the dynamics of the watch are controlled by natural laws. But take this reasoning a step further. The structure of the watch itself is attributable to the dynamics of certain watchmakers, watchmakers busily at work putting their watches together. What is to prevent the dynamics of those watchmakers in turn from being characterized by natural laws? Short of things just popping into existence, anything that has a history within the nexus of cause and effect presumably operates in accord with natural laws. Now if the putative contrivances of nature could themselves be explained in terms of natural laws, then the only instance of order for which British natural theology would need to invoke a designer is the natural laws themselves. But then the watchmaker analogy falls flat, for natural laws are not themselves contrivances. What's more, it is no longer clear what need there is for a designer since designers by definition design artifacts/contrivances, not abstracted lawlike regularities. A designer who is merely a law-giver always ends up being dispensable, for the laws of nature always have an integrity of their own and can thus just as well be treated as brute facts (as opposed to edicts o. a clandestine law-giver). Here we see the course by which British natural theology died. When during the heyday of British natural theology in the late eighteenth century William Paley and Thomas Reid fashioned their design arguments in terms of contrivance, their arguments fell on eager ears. By the time the authors of the Bridgewater treatises recycled the same arguments for their readers in the 1830s and `played endlessly on the theme of God's wisdom and goodness deduced from nature,' their arguments fell on deaf ears. By the 1830s the action in natural theology among the British Intelligentsia was no longer in contrivance but in natural law. It's therefore not surprising that the eight Bridgewater treatises should quickly be dubbed the `Bilgewater treatises.'" (Dembski W.A., "Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1999, pp.74-76. Emphasis original 3/05/2006 "Was Darwin led to his philosophical outlook partly as a response to Fitzroy's dogmatic insistence upon the argument from design? We have no evidence that Darwin, aboard the Beagle, was anything but a good Christian. The doubts and rejection came later. Midway through the voyage, he wrote to a friend: `I often conjecture what will become of me; my wishes certainly would make me a country clergyman.' And he even coauthored with Fitzroy an appeal for the support of Pacific missionary work entitled, `The Moral State of Tahiti.' But the seeds of doubt must have been sown in quiet hours of contemplation aboard the Beagle. And think of Darwin's position on board-dining every day for five years with an authoritarian captain whom he could not rebuke, whose politics and bearing stood against all his beliefs, and whom, basically, he did not like. Who knows what `silent alchemy' might have worked upon Darwin's brain during five years of insistent harangue. Fitzroy may well have been far more important than finches, at least for inspiring the materialistic and antitheistic tone of Darwin's philosophy and evolutionary theory. Fitzroy, at least, blamed himself as his mind became unhinged in later life. He began to see himself as the unwitting agent of Darwin's heresy (indeed, I am suggesting that this may be true in a more literal sense than Fitzroy ever imagined). He developed a burning desire to expiate his guilt and to reassert the Bible's supremacy. At the famous British Association Meeting of 1860 (where Huxley creamed Bishop `Soapy Sam' Wilberforce), the unbalanced Fitzroy stalked about, holding a Bible above his head and shouting, `The Book, The Book.' Five years later, he slit his throat." (Gould S.J., "Darwin's Sea Change, or Five Years at the Captain's Table," in "Ever Since Darwin," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.33) 3/05/2006 "What is Deep Blue's secret? Grand master Yasser Seirawan put it most succinctly: `The machine has no fear.' He did not just mean the obvious, that silicon cannot quake. He meant something deeper: because of its fantastic capacity to see all possible combinations some distance into the future, the machine, once it determines that its own position is safe, can take the kind of attacking chances no human would. The omniscient have no fear. In Game 1, Blue took what grand master Robert Byrne called `crazy chances.' On-site expert commentators labeled one move `insane.' It wasn't. It was exactly right. Here's what happened. Late in the game, Blue's king was under savage attack by Kasparov. Any human player under such assault by a world champion would be staring at his own king trying to figure out how to get away. Instead, Blue ignored the threat and quite nonchalantly went hunting for lowly pawns at the other end of the board. In fact, at the point of maximum peril, Blue expended two moves-many have died giving Kasparov even one-to snap one pawn. It was as if, at Gettysburg, General Meade had sent his soldiers out for a bit of apple picking moments before Pickett's charge because he had calculated that they could get back to their positions with a half-second to spare. In humans, that is called sangfroid. And if you don't have any sang, you can be very froid. But then again if Meade had known absolutely-by calculating the precise trajectories of all the bullets and all the bayonets and all the cannons in Pickett's division-the time of arrival of the enemy, he could indeed, without fear, have ordered his men to pick apples. Which is exactly what Deep Blue did. It had calculated every possible combination of Kasparov's available moves and determined with absolute certainty that it could return from its pawn-picking expedition and destroy Kasparov exactly one move before Kasparov could destroy it. Which it did. It takes more than nerves of steel to do that. It takes a silicon brain. No human can achieve absolute certainty because no human can be sure to have seen everything. Deep Blue can. Now, it cannot see everything forever-just everything within its horizon, which for Deep Blue means everything that can happen within the next 10 or 15 moves or so." (Krauthammer, C., "Deep Blue Funk, Time, South Pacific edition, February 26, 1996, pp.70-71) 4/05/2006 "A little calculation demonstrates how incredibly improbable the results of natural selection can be when enough time is available. Following Professor Muller, we can ask what would have been the odds against a higher animal, such as a horse, being produced by chance alone: that is to say by the accidental accumulation of the necessary favourable mutations, without the intervention of selection. To calculate these odds, we need to estimate two quantities the proportion of favourable mutations to useless or harmful ones; and the total number of mutational steps, or successive favourable mutations, needed for the production of a horse from some simple microscopic ancestor. A proportion of favourable mutations of one in a thousand does not sound much, but is probably generous, since so many mutations are lethal, preventing the organism living at all, and the great majority of the rest throw the machinery slightly out of gear. And a total of a million mutational steps sounds a great deal, but is probably an under-estimate after all, that only means one step every 2,000 years during biological time as a whole. However, let us take these figures as being reasonable estimates. With this proportion, but without any selection, we should clearly have to breed 1,000 strains to get one with one favourable mutation; a million strains (a thousand squared) to get one containing two favourable mutations; and so on, up to a thousand to the millionth power to get one containing a million. Of course, this could not really happen, but it is a useful way of visualizing the fantastic odds against getting a number of favourable mutations in one strain through pure chance alone. A thousand to the millionth power, when written out, becomes the figure 1 with three million noughts after it: and that would take three large volumes of about five hundred pages each, just to print! Actually this is a meaninglessly large figure, but it shows what a degree of improbability natural selection has to surmount, and can circumvent. One with three million noughts after it is the measure of the unlikeliness of a horse the odds against it happening at all. No one would bet on anything so improbable happening; and yet it has happened. It has happened, thanks to the workings of natural selection and the properties of living substance which make natural selection inevitable." (Huxley, J.S., "Evolution in Action," , Penguin: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK, 1963, reprint, pp.49-51) 4/05/2006 "The improvement of the [horse] limbs involved three consecutive steps. In the browsers, living in moister conditions, stabilization was reached at about the same time as that of tooth-pattern, nearly twenty-five million years ago. The stabilized browser foot was three-toed, all three toes with hooves, but with the main stress on the enlarged middle toe, the two small side-toes merely helping to spread the weight. In the early grazers, the first further step was the evolution of a remarkable spring mechanism involving the tendons of the still further enlarged middle toe, which gave the animals a greater turn of speed on their hard open plains. But this involved the risk of sprains and dislocations, and the side-toes were retained, though a little further reduced, as checks or buffers against this risk. Finally, in the line which led to the living forms, a second tendon was developed to act as an anti-sprain check mechanism : with this, the need for side-toes was over, and they became further reduced, to survive as the vestigial splint bones of the modern species." (Huxley, J.S., "Evolution in Action," , Penguin: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK, 1963, reprint, p.61) 4/05/2006 "Degeneration of [horse] useless structures proceeds at a slower rate than the evolution of useful ones, so while the check mechanism was perfected five or six million years ago, and remained stable after that, the slow reduction of the side-toes continued for a few million years more. Some of the three- toed grazers survived for some time side by side with the one-toed forms before finally becoming extinct during the Ice Age. Various browsing horses survived virtually unchanged until the last of them underwent extinction early in the Pliocene. As machines for a browsing way of life, they had reached the limit of their possibilities even before the grazing horses branched off; and their stable phase lasted for nearly two-fifths of their evolutionary career. The grazers started their special transformation later: but even so they reached their stable phase at least two or three million years ago." (Huxley, J.S., "Evolution in Action," , Penguin: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK, 1963, reprint, p.62) 5/05/2006 "Some sorts of behaviour patterns even seem to involve what appears to be a form of interspecies altruism. Anyone who has watched the spider-hunting wasps at work is forced to ask with zoologist Garrett Hardin `why under Darwinian principles doesn't the spider try to escape its nemesis the wasp?' [Hardin, G., " Steps to Biology," W.H. Freeman & Co: San Francisco, 1968, p 105] Naturalists since the time of Henri Fabre have speculated over the same point. William S. Bristow describes the wasp Pompilus plumbeus hunting the spider Arctosa perita: `An Arctosa was put in a tube of diameter similar to that of her burrow. A Pompillus was then transferred to the same tube. Surely the spider would leap at the wasp and destroy it? No, at the first touch of the vibrating antennae a forward lunge by the spider was checked and she stayed still with her legs crossed and entwined round her cephalothorax in a completely unnatural pose whilst the wasp curled its abdomen round to inflict a sting beneath her in the region of her sternum, thus a paralysis caused by what I can only describe as fear was replaced by a paralysis caused by poison.' [Bristow, W.S., "The World of Spiders," Collins: London, 1958, p.177]. Petrunkevitch, a world authority on spiders, describes the giant wasp Pepsis marginata hunting the tarantula Cyrtopholis portoricae in similar terms: `It is a classic example of what looks like intelligence pitted against instinct, the victim although fully able to defend itself, submits unwittingly to its destruction.' [Petrunkevitch, A., "The Spider and the Wasp," Scientific American, 187(2), 1952, pp.20-23, p.21].What possible survival value, one wonders, could accrue to the spider by such curiously altruistic behaviour? And it is not just one or two species of spiders that fall so easily to the wasps; practically every group of spiders is preyed on by a particular species of spider hunting wasp." (Denton M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, p.222) 5/05/2006 "When we look at those of the so called scientific revolutions that most frequently mentioned, we find that they are identified with the names Copernicus, Newton, Lavoisier, Darwin, Planck, Einstein, and Heisenberg; in other words, with one exception, all of them are revolutions in the physical Sciences. ... I am taking a new look at the Darwinian revolution of 1859, perhaps the most fundamental of all intellectual revolutions in the history of mankind. It not only eliminated man's anthropocentrism, but affected every metaphysical and ethical concept, if consistently applied." (Mayr, E.W., "The Nature of the Darwinian Revolution," Science, Vol. 176, 2 June 1972, pp.981-989, p.981) 6/05/2006 "Nobody knows exactly how or where life began. It is an article of faith amongst modern biologists that life, or at least our kind of life, originated on earth as a result of the blind processes of physics and chemistry. A few dissident scientists believe that this is an unnecessarily parochial view, and that life may well have originated elsewhere in space before the earth was born. `Seeds of life', in the form of simple microorganisms or their spores, could then have colonized the earth soon after its origin. Those who believe in such a process, however (or at least most of them), still believe that life must originally have begun thanks to the actions of blind physics and chemistry in a suitable location somewhere in the universe." (Scott A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.184) 6/05/2006 "We should not be too dogmatic about things we can never know for certain. Some people think life was created by some superior being, or force or principle known by such names as `God' or `Allah'. Such beliefs, of course, merely replace the problem of the origin of life with the problem of the origin of God. Some people think that there is infinitely more richness and complexity to the physical universe than we are aware of. They suggest there might be unseen dimensions and other hidden spaces and processes which are as invisible to us as the earth and the sky and the stars are to a micro-organism inhabiting some dark hydrothermal vent on the floor of the deepest ocean. Without knowledge of these secrets, they contend, we can never fully explain either our origin or the true essence of our being." (Scott A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.184) 6/05/2006 "Elementary textbooks of biology relate a simplistic tale about the origin of life on earth which may be true, or partly true, but may be quite false. They describe a prebiotic world in which a rich mix of simple chemicals was formed and underwent reactions which produced the chemical building blocks of life today. They tell of short chains of nucleic acids forming spontaneously, and then becoming able to encourage their own replication in a manner similar to the replication of DNA today. If such nucleic acids did form spontaneously on the early earth, and were able to encourage their own replication, then evolution guided by natural selection would have begun. These primeval nucleic acids would have been the first things able to make other things which are very similar to themselves, but usually slightly different. The first letters in the code of life would have become linked together. Undirected mutations in the first self-replicating nucleic acids would have allowed new, more efficient, nucleic acids to evolve. Some of these might have been `more efficient' because they encouraged other components of the primordial world to cluster around the nucleic acids and form the earliest simple `cells'. At some point, of course, some of the nucleic acids would have become capable of the great `trick' of encouraging specific protein molecules to form. Nucleic acids would have begun to encode proteins, and, with the awesome catalytic powers of the proteins available, life would have really been on its way. It is an appealingly simple tale. Many think it is far too simple to be taken seriously. Some suggest alternative scenarios in which modern life evolved from completely different beginnings, in which the nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA played no immediate part. Some suggest that the earliest living (or at least evolving) things were not composed of organic chemicals, but were composed of inorganic minerals which eventually gave rise to the organic chemicals which displaced them." (Scott A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, pp.184-185) 6/05/2006 "This is not the place to enter into a deep analysis of the mystery of the origin of life. ... For our present purposes it should be sufficient for me to say that I am not able to reveal to you how life began, because I do not know for sure, and neither does anyone else. Scientists have developed a few plausible ideas on the subject, and quite a few less plausible ones. The attempts to recreate the chemistry involved in life's origin are at a very early stage and have met with no really dramatic and convincing successes. It will be some time, at least, before we can describe the precise chemistry of life's origin with the same confidence as we can describe the chemistry which sustains life today. That is no disgrace. It is difficult to describe with precision events which occurred at least 4,000 million years ago when nobody was around to witness them. (Scott A., "The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien," Basil Blackwell: Oxford UK, 1986, p.185-186) 7/05/2006 "In practice, however, evolution of the whole population in all of its traits is seldom reversed. The reason is simple. The heredity of most species of organisms is based not on a single locus but on thousands or tens of thousands of loci, many of which are represented in the population by more than just one or two alleles. Try to imagine most or all of this huge assemblage of allele systems being allowed to undergo various complicated changes in relative frequency, then reversing themselves and returning, all in concert, back to the starting point. Such an event is extremely unlikely. Even without the aid of this particular argument from genetics, biologists long ago recognized that evolution very seldom if ever reverses itself to any significant extent. This generalization is called DOLLO'S LAW, after Louis Dollo, a Belgian paleontologist who first derived it from his studies of fossils. Actually, Dollo's Law is not a true law in the sense of physics and chemistry, but rather a strong inference based on empirical evidence from the fossil record combined with some persuasive theoretical deductions from population genetics. Even so, it has some far-reaching implications. A well-known application of the law is that once a major anatomical structure has been lost or transformed into another structure, it can never be regained in its original form. The hind legs of seals, for example, which evolved into flippers as part of a marine adaptation in the remote past, can never return (Wilson, E.O., et al., "Life on Earth," , Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, 1975, reprint, p.772. Emphasis original) 7/05/2006 "Louis Dollo, the great Belgian paleontologist who died in 1931, established a much misunderstood principle "the irreversibility of evolution" (also known as Dollo's law). Some ill-informed scientists think that Dollo advocated a mysterious directing force, driving evolution forward, never permitting a backward peek. And they rank him among the non-Darwinians who feel that natural selection cannot be the cause of nature's order. In fact, Dollo was a Darwinian interested in the subject of convergent evolution-the repeated development of similar adaptations in different lineages. Elementary probability theory, he argued, virtually guarantees that convergence can never yield anything close to perfect resemblance. Organisms cannot erase their past. Two lineages may develop remarkable, superficial similarities as adaptations to a common mode of life. But organisms contain so many complex and independent parts that the chance of all evolving twice toward exactly the same result is effectively nil. Evolution is irreversible; signs of ancestry are always preserved; convergence, however impressive, is always superficial.." (Gould, S.J., "Double Trouble," in "The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, p.35) 7/05/2006 "Consider my candidate for the most astounding convergence of all: the ichthyosaur. This sea-going reptile with terrestrial ancestors converged so strongly on fishes that it actually evolved a dorsal fin and tail in just the right place and with just the right hydrological design. These structures are all the more remarkable because they evolved from nothing-the ancestral terrestrial reptile had no hump on its back or blade on its tail." (Gould, S.J., "Double Trouble," in "The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, p.35) 7/05/2006 "Thus, for example, Dollo's law of reversibility (see Gould, 1970b) only restates the general principles of mathematical probability for the specific case of temporal changes based on large numbers of relatively independent components. And Williston's law of reduction and specialization in modular segments may only record a structural constraint in random systems, thus following the same principles as my previous argument about the expanding right tail of complexity for life's totality. Suppose that, in overall frequency within the arthropod clade, modular species (with large numbers of similar segments) and tagmatized [fusion of segments] species (with fewer fused and specialized groupings of former segments) always enjoy equal status in the sense that 50 percent of habitats favor one design, and 50 percent the other. (I am, of course, only presenting an abstract `thought experiment,' not an operational possibility for research. Niches don't exist independent of species.) But suppose also that, for structural reasons, modular designs can evolve toward tagmatization, but tagmatized species cannot revert to their original modularity-an entirely reasonable assumption under Dollo's law (founded upon the basic statements of probability theory) and generalities of biological development. Then, even though tagmatization enjoys no general selective advantage over modularity, a powerful trend to tagmatization must pervade the clade's history, ultimately running to completion when the last modular species dies or transforms." (Gould, S.J., "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory," Belknap: Cambridge MA, 2002, Fifth printing, pp.901-902) 7/05/2006 "Reversals are likewise common in evolution. The fossil record of elephants, for example, shows that the general trend toward greater size was reversed in several lines that evolved dwarf species, and reversals in the structure of the teeth accompanied the change in body size in each instance (Maglio 1972). Quite often a complex character may degenerate and return to its original state; thus winglessness in insects can be either a primitive condition as in silverfish (Thysanura) or a derived condition as in lice, fleas, and the many wingless species in almost every insect order that has evolved from winged ancestors. To be sure, there is a degree of irreversibility in evolution, as expressed by DOLLO'S LAW, which states that complex structures, once lost, are unlikely to be regained in their original form. However, the structure of the eye in snakes is different enough from thatof other vertebrates to suggest that it evolved to a new complex state from a reduced condition in a burrowing ancestor (Porter 1972). Of the several molars possessed by primitive Carnivora, the cats (Felidae) retain only the first, but in the lynx the second molar has reappeared (Kurten 1963). Thus some lost structures may indeed be regained." (Futuyma D.J., "Evolutionary Biology," , Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Second Edition, 1986, pp.297-298. Emphasis original) 7/05/2006 "One of the most striking discoveries of the last half-century has been that, despite the fact that animals differ greatly in appearance, common principles control their development from a single fertilized egg. They even have in common many master genes - genes that control many aspects of development. One can almost imagine Drosophila fruit flies saying to one another that they are amazed at how similar humans are to them. Indeed, many of the genes that have been identified as controllers of vertebrate development were originally discovered in these flies. It's a key point that when and where genes are expressed determines how animals develop. The control regions of the genes (switches that change an existing pattern of gene activity into a new pattern of gene activity) are crucial, as Carroll makes clear, and one gene can have many control regions. (For example, in the fruit fly, there is a group of genes - known as the pair-rule genes - that express proteins in seven stripes along the body axis of the embryo [see illustration on next page]; each of these genes has seven discrete control regions, and each region specifies one stripe.) It is thus unsurprising that 95 percent of the genes that code for proteins are similar in humans and mice. Evolution of control regions has made us human - and different from our primate ancestors. " (Wolpert, L., "Clever Tinkering." Review of "Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom," by Sean B. Carroll, W.W. Norton, 2005. American Scientist, September-October 2005) 7/05/2006 "The earliest complex animals, fossils of which were found in the Burgess Shale, appear to have arisen about 500 million years ago, over a period of some 15 million years. Evidence from evo devo shows that all the genes for building those complex animals existed long before that morphological explosion. The dominance of arthropods at the time of the explosion may have been due both to Williston's law and to the power of Hox genes to specify differences between the body segments that formed different appendages at specific positions along the body. But how, asks Carroll, did the number of distinct appendage types increase? His answer is that the relative shifting of Hox genes could have provided the mechanism. That still leaves a big problem - how did arthropod appendages such as limbs and wings evolve? An answer lies, he says, in the origin and modification of the ancestral biramous (forked) limb. But even if the origin of the limb can be explained, wings are even more difficult. One answer is that they evolved from the gills on the limbs of aquatic ancestors. But this conclusion raises a key, and much neglected, problem that even Carroll does not properly explore. If evolution proceeds in small steps, what were the intermediate stages in the evolution of wings from gills, and what was the selective advantage of each of those forms? How could the intermediate structures have been an advantage before the animal could fly? One possibility is that they played a role in thermoregulation, but there is no good evidence for that hypothesis. This is a general problem in evo devo, and Darwin fully understood the difficulties it poses." (Wolpert, L., "Clever Tinkering." Review of "Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom," by Sean B. Carroll, W.W. Norton, 2005. American Scientist, September-October 2005) 7/05/2006 "A related problem is how to explain the evolution of the autopod - the digits - from fins. One possibility is that the autopod is merely a distal extension of the mechanism that gives rise to more proximal elements, such as the humerus, radius and ulna. A much more difficult problem is raised in the evolution of development itself. Gastrulation (during which an embryo forms its innermost, middle and outer layers) occurs in the early development of all animals and has evolved in a variety of ways related to later development; it is at present not possible to account for the intermediate forms or their advantage to the animal. Although evolution, as François Jacob pointed out, tinkers with what is there, rather than inventing something new, these problems remain unsolved." (Wolpert, L., "Clever Tinkering." Review of "Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom," by Sean B. Carroll, W.W. Norton, 2005. American Scientist, September-October 2005) 7/05/2006 "Carroll explains the basic tool kit for development that all animals share, placing particular emphasis on Drosophila. He introduces both Hox genes, which are considered master genes, and widely used intercellular signaling molecules such as the proteins specified by hedgehog genes. It is striking how few signaling molecules animals use in development. This is because the same molecules can be employed again and again, as cells will respond differently according to their genetic constitution and developmental history. Carroll doesn't give much attention to the fact that a cell has a positional identity (based on the position it occupied on the axis of the body of the early embryo) or to how that positional identity is acquired. Nor does he delve into how a cell senses its position and figures out how to act according to its genetic constitution and developmental history, thereby differentiating to give any imaginable pattern. Consider that a change in a single Hox master gene can convert the antenna of the fly into a leg. There is evidence that cells in the leg and those in the antenna have the same positional identity. It is somewhat embarrassing that we still do not know how the change in that particular Hox gene controls the response of all those unknown downstream genes to make a leg rather than an antenna. And this downstream target problem is present for all Hox genes. " (Wolpert, L., "Clever Tinkering." Review of "Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom," by Sean B. Carroll, W.W. Norton, 2005. American Scientist, September-October 2005) 7/05/2006 "The great physicist Richard Feinberg loved to warn beginning scientists, `The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.' ... Bruno Müller-Hill teaches the same maxim: `First you fool yourself, then you fool others.' ... The German biologist Bruno Muller-Hill tells a memorable story to illustrate his thesis that `self-deception plays an astonishing role in science in spite of all the scientists' worship of truth': When I was a student in a German gymnasium and thirteen years old, I learned a lesson that I have not forgotten.... One early morning our physics teacher placed a telescope in the school yard to show us a certain planet and its moons. So we stood in a long line, about forty of us. I was standing at the end of the line, since I was one of the smallest students. The teacher asked the first student whether he could see the planet. No, he had difficulties, because he was nearsighted. The teacher showed him how to adjust the focus, and that student could finally see the planet, and the moons. Others had no difficulty; they saw them right away. The students saw, after a while, what they were supposed to see. Then the student standing just before me-his name was Harter-announced that he could not see anything. `You idiot,' shouted the teacher, `you have to adjust the lenses.' The student did that and said after a while, `I do not see anything, it is all black:' The teacher then looked through the telescope himself. After some seconds he looked up with a strange expression on his face. And then my comrades and I also saw that the telescope was nonfunctioning; it was closed by a cover over the lens. Indeed, no one could see anything through it. ('Science, Truth and Other Values,' Quarterly Review of Biology 68, no. 3 [September 1993]: 399-407) Müller-Hill reports that one of the docile students became a professor of philosophy and director of a German TV station. `This might be expected,' he wickedly comments. But another became a professor of physics, and a third a professor of botany. The honest Harter had to leave school and go to work in a factory. If in later life he was ever tempted to question any of the pronouncements of his more illustrious classmates, I am sure he was firmly told not to meddle in matters beyond his understanding. One might derive from this story a satirical `Harter's Precept' to put alongside Parkinson's Law (bureaucracy expands to the limit of the available resources) and the Peter Principle (one rises in a hierarchy up to one's level of incompetence). Harter's Precept says that the way to advance in academic life is to learn to see what you are supposed to see, whether it is there or not. As Sam Rayburn used to explain to new members of Congress, you've got to go along to get along. Richard Hamilton's The Social Misconstruction of Reality indicatesindicates that many social scientists seem to have guided their careers by the light of Harter's Precept. ... Hamilton concludes with an analysis of how major scholarly errors get made and perpetuated: theorists fall in love with their theories, the appearance of scholarship can often pass for the reality, and clever charlatans ... can evade the scrutiny of specialists and appeal directly to those who are all too willing to deceive themselves. Above all, there is the wisdom of Harter's Precept. Revealing that the lens cap is still on the telescope isn't necessarily good for one's career." (Johnson, P.E., "Harter's Precept." Review of "The Social Misconstruction of Reality: Validity and Verification in the Scholarly Community," Yale University Press, 1996." In "Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law & Culture," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1998, pp.157-158, 160) 7/05/2006 "Yet no matter how convincing such disproofs might appear, no matter how contradictory and unreal much of the Darwinian framework might now seem to anyone not committed to its defence, as philosophers of science like Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend have pointed out, it is impossible to falsify theories by reference to the facts or indeed by any sort of rational or empirical argument. The history of science amply testifies to what Kuhn has termed the `priority of the paradigm' and provides many fascinating examples of the extraordinary lengths to which members of the scientific community will go to defend a theory just as long as it holds sufficient intrinsic appeal. The defence by medieval astronomers of the Ptolemaic theory the heavens, and by the eighteenth-century chemists of the phlogiston theory of combustion, provide classic examples. ... For the sceptic or indeed to anyone prepared to step out of the circle of Darwinian belief, it is not hard to find inversions of common sense in modern evolutionary thought which are strikingly reminiscent of the mental gymnastics of the phlogiston chemists or the medieval astronomers. To the sceptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of one thousand volumes, containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt - the paradigm takes precedence!" (Denton, M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, pp.348, 350) 8/05/2006 "I have read your book [Origin of Species] with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly, parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous. You have deserted-after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth-the true method of induction, and started us in machinery as wild, I think, as Bishop Wilkins's locomotive that was to sail with us to the moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved, why then express them in the language and arrangement of philosophical induction? As to your grand principle-natural selection-what is it but a secondary consequence of supposed, or known, primary facts!" (Sedgwick, A., Letter to C. Darwin, December 24, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, p.43. Emphasis original) 8/05/2006 "You write of `natural selection' as if it were done consciously by the selecting agent. 'Tis but a consequence of the presupposed development, and the subsequent battle for life. This view of nature you have stated admirably, though admitted by all naturalists and denied by no one of common sense. We all admit development as a fact of history: but how came it about? Here, in language, and still more in logic, we are point-blank at issue." (Sedgwick, A., Letter to C. Darwin, December 24, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, p.44) 8/05/2006 "Take the case of the bee-cells. If your development produced the successive modification of the bee and its cells (which no mortal can prove), final cause would stand good as the directing cause under which the successive generations acted and gradually improved." (Sedgwick, A., Letter to C. Darwin, December 24, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, p.44) 8/05/2006 "Passages in your book, like that to which I have alluded (and there are others almost as bad), greatly shocked my moral taste. I think, in speculating on organic descent, you over-state the evidence of geology ; and that you under-state it while you are talking of the broken links of your natural pedigree : but my paper is nearly done, and I must go to my lecture-room. Lastly, then, I greatly dislike the concluding chapter-not as a summary, for in that light it appears good-but I dislike it from the tone of triumphant confidence in which you appeal to the rising generation (in a tone I. condemned in the author of the 'Vestiges') and prophesy of things not yet in the womb of time, nor (if we are to trust the accumulated experience of human sense and the inferences of its logic) ever likely to be found anywhere but in the fertile womb of man's imagination." (Sedgwick, A., Letter to C. Darwin, December 24, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.44-45) 8/05/2006 "And now to say a word about a son of a monkey and an old friend of yours : I am better, far better, than I was last year. I have been lecturing three days a week (formerly I gave six a week) without much fatigue, but I find by the loss of activity and memory, and of all productive powers, that my bodily frame is sinking slowly towards the earth. But I have visions of the future. They are as much a part of myself as my stomach and my heart, and these visions are to have their antitype in solid fruition of what is best and greatest. But on one condition only-that I humbly accept God's revelation of Himself both in his works and in His word, and do my best to act in conformity with that knowledge which He only can give me, and He only can sustain me in doing. If you and I do all this we shall meet in heaven." (Sedgwick, A., Letter to C. Darwin, December 24, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, p.45) 8/05/2006 "Professor Sedgwick treated this part of the `Origin of Species' very differently, as might have been expected from his vehement objection to Evolution in general. In the article in the Spectator of March 24, 1860, already noticed, Sedgwick wrote : `We know the complicated organic phenomena of the Mesozoic (or Oolitic) period. It defies the trasmutationist at every step. Oh! but the document, says Darwin, is a fragment; I will interpolate long periods to account for all the changes. I say, in reply, if you deny my conclusion, grounded on positive evidence, I toss back your conclusion, derived from negative evidence,-the inflated cushion on which you try to bolster up the defects of your hypothesis.'" (Darwin, C.R., Letter to Thomas Davidson, April 30, 1861, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, p.161) 9/05/2006 "In the future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be securely based on the foundation already well laid by Mr. Herbert Spencer, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Much light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, p.428) 9/05/2006 "Darwin is arguably the best known scientist in history. More than any modern thinker- even Freud or Marx - this affable old-world naturalist from the minor Shropshire gentry has transformed the way we see ourselves on the planet." (Desmond, A.J. & Moore, J.R., "Darwin," , Penguin: London, 1992, reprint, p.xix) 9/05/2006 "THE APPEARANCE slightly more than a century ago, in 1859, of Darwin's On the Origin of Species marked a turning point in the intellectual history of mankind. Darwin ushered in a new understanding of man and his place in the universe. After him the fateful idea that all things change, that they evolve, has become one of the cornerstones on which the thinking of civilized man is based. " (Dobzhansky, T.G., "Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species," , Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1969, Twelfth printing, p.1. Emphasis original) 9/05/2006 "There are more prosaic examples involving human initiation of special conditions. For instance, researchers recently introduced genes for bioluminescence into the tobacco mosaic virus [Joshi, R.L., Joshi, V. & Ow, D.W., "BSMV genome mediated expression of a foreign gene in dicot and monocot plant cells," EMBO J , Vol. 9, No. 9, September 1990, pp.2663-2669]. That was a deliberate, designed, initiating intervention. That combination did not and, we may suppose, might never have arisen by natural means. But once the initiating was complete, the subsequent generations, complete with bioluminescence, arose by perfectly ordinary reproductive means, and their possession of genes for bioluminescence did not violate any laws, scream `design,' or anything of the sort. The initiating event did exhibit design directly visible to anyone observing it (test tubes, labs smocks, grant applications, coffee pots), but nothing past that point did." (Ratzsch, D.L.*, "Design, Chance & Theistic Evolution," in Dembski, W.A.*, ed., "Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1998, p.291) 9/05/2006 "By 1960 the reputation of the design argument, and of Paley, had been in free fall for a hundred years, and everyone with the smallest tincture of education `knew' by then that the theistic argument from design is beneath contempt, and that Paley was a fool or hypocrite or both. Only someone who has tried in recent decades, as I have, to convince silly undergraduates of the merits of Paley's classic book, can appreciate the absolute impossibility of that task. Paley was a Christian and (worse) a clergyman, he was on the opposite side to Darwin, and anyway (most important of all) he lost: that is `all they know, and all they need to know' of his matter. But that attitude is really just part of the silliness of such people. And, as it happens, it has met with the punishment which it all along deserved. For in the last thirty years, Paley has had his revenge on Darwinism for more than a century of undeserved contempt. The explanation of adaptation by reference to the purposes of intelligent and powerful agents has come back into its own. And its reinstatement has turned out to require only some comparatively minor changes to the theology involved." (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, pp.264-265. Emphasis original) 9/05/2006 "It is not in the least surprising that Dawkins should feel a profound intellectual sympathy with Paley's great book. It would be astounding if the opposite were the case. For he is a theist himself, as I have pointed out ... He agrees with Paley that the adaptations of organisms are due to the purposive agency (more specifically, the selfish and manipulative agency) of beings far more intelligent and powerful than humans or any other organisms. Dawkins has some disagreements with Paley, of course; but this really is a matter of course. When did two theists ever agree on all points? For example, Paley believed in the benevolence of God. ... Dawkins, on the other hand, as we saw ... ascribes to the gods of his religion a ruthlessly selfish character. Then, Paley, being a Christian, believed ... in "The Unity of God"; whereas Dawkins is a polytheist, as any adherent of the gene religion must be. But after all, the precise number of the gods is a comparatively minor point. Let it be one, or three, or 30,000 (as Hesiod computed), or a number rather larger than that (as gene religionists believe). The great, the fundamental point of religion is, rather, and always has been, the existence of purposive beings of more than human intelligence and power. And as to that, Dawkins and Paley are in agreement." (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, p.266. Emphasis original) 9/05/2006 "Dawkins' enthusiasm for Paley, and for putting purpose back into the explanation of adaptation, great as it is, is thrown completely into the shade by that of his mentor, [George C.] Williams. In Adaptation and Natural Selection[Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974], there are literally hundreds of sentences, and sentences which contain the very essence of the book too, which it would puzzle any reader to say whether they are more reminiscent of The Selfish Gene or of Paley's Natural Theology. And the reason is (as I have indicated) that in ascribing adaptation to divine purposes, those two books are one; while The Selfish Gene owes most of its intellectual substance to Williams' book. Williams has a pet aversion, which he is always returning to castigate. This is, the failure of many of his fellow Darwinians to distinguish between the function of an organ, structure, process or whatever, and mere effects which it may have. A stock example (though not one Williams uses) concerns the heart. A heart, whenever and only when it circulates blood, also makes a certain sound. But the function of the heart's beating is to circulate blood; not to make a sound, which is merely an effect of the heart's beating. A function or adaptation is something which `is produced by design, and not by happenstance.' [p.261] In particular, Williams insists, it is not enough to prove that something is an adaptation, that it is beneficial to the organisms which possess it. `The demonstration of benefit is neither necessary nor sufficient in the demonstration of function .... It is both necessary and sufficient to show that the process is designed to serve the function.' [p.209] `[T]he demonstration of effects, good or bad, proves nothing. To prove adaptation one must demonstrate a functional design.' p.212] Could Paley himself have said fairer than all this?" (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, pp.267-268. Emphasis Stove's) 9/05/2006 "Here are some more passages which are fully representative of Williams' book [Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974], in that they point equally to the Paleyan explanation of adaptation by super-human purposeful agents, and to the present-day identification of those agents with genes. `[E]very adaptation is calculated to maximize the reproductive success of the individual, relative to other individuals ...' [p.160] An adaptation is `a mechanism designed to promote the success of the individual organism, as measured by the extent to which it contributes genes to later generations of the population of which it is a member.' [pp.96-97] `Each part of the animal is organized for some function tributary to the ultimate goal of the survival of its own genes.' [p.256]" (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, pp.267-268. Emphasis Stove's) 9/05/2006 "Williams once or twice writes as though the purposes which bring about adaptation are purposes of individual organisms. For example, `the goal of the fox is to contribute as heavily as possible to the next generation of a fox population.' [Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974, p.68] But this is no more than an occasional façon de parler. The book as a whole leaves us in no doubt that it is not organisms, but genes, which design or calculate or organize adaptations. Foxes, seals, etc., are not designers: they are designed. `[S]eals were designed to reproduce themselves, not their species.' [p.189] `[T]he real goal of development is the same as that of all other adaptations, the continuance of the dependent germ plasm.' [p.44] `[T]he organism chooses its own effective environment from a broad spectrum of possibilities. That choice is precisely calculated to enhance the reproductive prospects of the underlying genes. The succession of somatic machinery and selected niches are tools and tactics forthe strategy of genes.' [p.70] Could Dawkins himself have said fairer than all this?' " (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, pp.268-269. Emphasis Stove's) 9/05/2006 "The passages I have now quoted from Adaptation and Natural Selection [Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974] are only a small fraction of those which could be quoted to the same effect. But they are probably enough to satisfy the reader that Williams is indeed engaged in explaining adaptation by the purposes of agents of super-human intelligence and power. Could you, or any other organism, calculate precisely how to enhance the reproductive prospects of the genes of an ancestor of the bird dropping spider, and then actually enhance them? No; but certain genes can, and they did. In short Williams, like Dawkins, differs from Paley only about the number of the gods responsible for adaptation, and about their moral quality: not about their existence, purposiveness, intelligence, or power. " (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, p.269. Emphasis Stove's) 9/05/2006 "How, ultimately, does one ascertain the function of a biological mechanism? In this book I have assumed, as is customary, that functional design is something that can be intuitively comprehended by an investigator and convincingly communicated to others. " (Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought," , Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1996, reprint, p.260) 9/05/2006 "Perhaps the main reason why biologists have not adopted a formal system for determining functional relationships is that many of the problems are so readily solved intuitively. We do not need weighty abstractions to help us decide that the eye is a visual mechanism. Also there are many helpful parallels between natural and artificial mechanisms, and it is so convenient as to be inevitable that parallel terminology be used. The close analogy between the lens of a camera and the lens of an eye make the term lens appropriate for both. From the teleonomist's point of view it is most important that these terminological transfers be made only when there is a real functional analogy between what man's reasoning (and trial and error) can produce and what natural selection can produce. One should never imply that an effect is a function unless he can show that it is produced by design and not by happenstance." (Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought," , Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1996, reprint, p.261. Emphasis original) 10/05/2006 "Evolution is the proposition that all organisms on earth, past, present, and future, are descended from a common ancestor that lived at least 3.5 billion years ago, the age of the oldest fossil bacteria yet reliably identified. Darwin (1859), saving the word `evolved' for his last sentence, used the phrase `descent with modification' for the biological phenomenon we call `evolution' today. In his only diagram in On the Origin of Species, Darwin depicted the results of his process of `descent with modification' as a historical, branching pattern. New branches arise from old; from time to time, innovations are developed (largely via his proposed mechanism of natural selection) and are passed along to descendants. The pattern of branching and modification, Darwin saw, automatically leads to another sort of pattern, in which the similarities of organisms are nested in a complex fashion. A hierarchical array of evolutionary novelties - homologies - automatically results from the simple process of branching and descent with modification. This pattern, in fact, is the most important prediction about the way the biological world is structured that arises from the scientific hypothesis of `evolution.'" (Eldredge, N., "Macroevolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, & Adaptive Peaks," McGraw-Hill: New York NY, 1989, p.1. Emphasis original) 10/05/2006 "Perhaps Simpson's most important contribution to evolutionary theory was his recognition that there are gaps in the fossil record, gaps that in many cases may reflect the very nature of evolutionary processes at least as much as deficiencies in the formation, preservation, recovery and study of fossils. ... Simpson suggested-as had Dobzhansky (1941) briefly before him; indeed, the theme goes back to Darwin-that the gaps perceived between low-level taxonomic groups such as species and genera almost always reflect the artifact of such geologically induced gaps. But, he went on, gaps between families and taxa of even higher rank could not be so easily explained as the mere artifacts of a poor fossil record. Most families, orders, classes, and phyla appear rather suddenly in the fossil record, often without anatomically intermediate forms smoothly interlinking evolutionarily derived descendant taxa with their presumed ancestors. " (Eldredge, N., "Macroevolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, & Adaptive Peaks," McGraw-Hill: New York NY, 1989, p.22) 10/05/2006 "Whales and bats, for example, appear in the Eocene; while the earliest known members of each order are some what primitive vis-à-vis later whales and bats, respectively, nonetheless those first known fossils are recognizably members of those orders: they are most definitely not intermediate forms between some group of ancestral mammals and the whales or bats. But the crucial point to Simpson's argument was this: Whereas the gaps between species and genera involve sufficiently minor amounts of anatomical change so that typical patterns of rather abrupt appearance of descendants necessitates no modification of standard neo- Darwinian theory, the gaps between higher taxa are another matter. If, Simpson argued, we invoke gradual adaptive modification at rates customarily observed between species and genera to explain the evolutionary origins of whales and bats, we would require scores, and in some cases even hundreds, of millions of years. Clearly this is impossible: both bats and whales were derived from ground-dwelling placental mammals, two ancestral taxa that could not themselves have arisen much before the end of the Cretaceous, or even the Paleocene - perhaps as few as a scant 10 million years before the earliest known bats and whales had lived. It seemed obvious to Simpson that some special combination of evolutionary factors is implicated in the origin of taxa of higher categorical rank. And that special set of factors combine to produce evolutionary change at very high rates indeed. Theory led Simpson to conclude that the gaps between higher taxa must reflect unusually high rates of evolutionary change." (Eldredge, N., "Macroevolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, & Adaptive Peaks," McGraw-Hill: New York NY, 1989, p.23) 10/05/2006 "Simpson developed a model, quantum evolution, to characterize the causal pathways that enable a population or species (Simpson did not discriminate between the two very closely) to change from one adaptive peak to another. His term `quantum' was borrowed from its use in physics, where atoms abruptly jump from one energy level to the next, reflecting the orbital position of electrons. Simpson felt that, in view of the very high rates of anatomical transformation implied by the paleontological gaps between closely related taxa of high categorical rank, small populations must be involved in the transition between two adaptive peaks." (Eldredge, N., "Macroevolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, & Adaptive Peaks," McGraw-Hill: New York NY, 1989, pp.23-24. Emphasis original) 10/05/2006 "Evolution comprises all the stages of the development of the universe: the cosmic, biological, and human or cultural developments. Attempts to restrict the concept of evolution to biology are gratuitous. Life is a product of the evolution of inorganic nature, and man is a product of the evolution of life. In a sense, the discovery of evolution reinstates man in the station from which he was demoted by Copernicus: man is again the center of the stage-at least of the planetary, and quite possibly of the cosmic, one. Most important of all, the stage and the actor not only have evolved but are evolving." (Dobzhansky, T.G., "Changing Man," Science, Vol. 155, 27 January 1967, p..409) 10/05/2006 "Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin's macroevolutionary theory - the concept of the continuity of nature, that is the idea of a functional continuum of all life forms linking all species together and ultimately leading back to a primeval cell, and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process - have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859. Despite more than a century of intensive effort on the part of evolutionary biologists, the major obmajor objections raised by Darwins's critics such as Agassiz, Pictet, Bronn and Richard Owen have not been met. The mind must still fill up the `large blanks' that Darwin acknowledged in his letter to Asa Gray." (Denton M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, p.345) 11/05/2006 "Darwinism, as a set of ideas, is sufficiently broad and variously defined to include a multitude of truths and sins. Darwin himself disavowed many interpretations made in his name ... The version known as the `modern synthesis' or `Neo-Darwinism' ... is, I think, fairly characterized in its essentials by Robson and Richards. Its foundation rests upon two major premises: (1) Point mutations (micromutations) are the ultimate source of variability. Evolutionary change is a process of gradual allelic substitution within a population. Events at broader scale, from the origin of new species to long-ranging evolutionary trends, represent the same process, extended in time and effectlarge numbers of allelic substitutions incorporated sequentially over long periods of time. In short, gradualism, continuity and evolutionary change by the transformation of populations. (2) Genetic variation is raw material only. Natural selection directs evolutionary change. Rates and directions of change are controlled by selection with little constraint exerted by raw material (slow rates are due to weak selection, not insufficient variation). All genetic change is adaptive (though some phenotypic effects, due to pleiotropy, etc., may not be). In short, selection leading to adaptation." (Gould, S.J., "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?," Paleobiology, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 1980, pp.119-130, pp.119-120) 12/05/2006 "Clearly, if the universe is growing bigger, it must have been smaller in the past. We can imagine running the great cosmic movie backwards until all the galaxies are squashed together. This compressed state corresponds to the time of the big bang, and in a certain sense the expansion of the universe can be considered as a vestige of that initial explosion. Today it is normal for cosmologists to claim that the universe began with the big bang. This weighty conclusion follows if you trace the expansion back in time to some idealized point of origin at which all the matter of the universe is concentrated in one place. Such a state of infinite density represents an infinite gravitational field and infinite spacetime curvature -i.e., a singularity. The big-bang singularity is similar to the situation at the center of a black hole that I described in the previous chapter, but lying in the past rather than the future. As it is not possible to extend space and time through such a singularity, it follows that the bg must be the origin of time itself. People, especially journalists who get angry about scientists explaining everything, often ask: What happened before the big bang? If this theory is correct, the answer is simple: nothing. If time itself began with the big bang, there was no `before' for anything to happen in. Although the concept of time being abruptly `switched on' at some singular first event is a hard one to grasp, it is by no means new. Already in the fifth century, Augustine proclaimed that: `The world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.' [Augustine, "Confessions," Pine-Coffin, R.S., Penguin: Baltimore MD, 1961, p.294] Keen to counter jibes about what God was doing before he made the universe, Augustine placed God outside of time altogether, making him the creator of time itself. ... the idea of time coming into being with the universe therefore fits very naturally into Christian theology. ... we shall see that recent ideas in quantum physics have changed our picture of the origin of time somewhat, but the essential conclusion remains the same: time did not exist before the big bang." (Davies, P.C.W., "About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution", Penguin Books: London, 1995, pp.131-132. Emphasis original) 12/05/2006 "David Schramm of Fermilab and the University of Chicago likes to call these three lines of evidence-the red shift of galaxies, the microwave background, and the abundance of elements-the pillars on which the big bang theory stands. ... He is an indefatigable booster of the bag bang-and of his own role in refining the calculations of light-element abundances. After I arrived at the symposium in Sweden, Schramm sat me down and went over the evidence for the big bang in great detail. `The big bang is in fantastic shape,' he said. `We have the basic framework. We just need to fill in the gaps.' ... Schramm delivered much the same message to his fellow cosmologists at the Nobel symposium. He kept proclaiming that cosmology was in a `golden age.' His chamber of commerce enthusiasm seemed to grate on some of his colleagues; after all, one does not become a cosmologist to fill in the details left by the pioneers. ... Toward the end of the meeting in Sweden, Hawking, Schramm, and all the other cosmologists piled into a bus and drove to a nearby village to hear a concert. ... Doubts had infiltrated the scientific priesthood, however. In the moments before the concert began, I overheard a conversation between David Schramm and Neil Turok, a young British physicist. Turok confided to Schramm that he was so concerned about the intractability of questions related to dark matter and the distribution of galaxies that he was thinking of quitting cosmology and entering another field. `Who says we have any right to understand the universe, anyway?' Turok asked plaintively. Schramm shook his big head. The basic framework of cosmology, the big bang theory, was absolutely sound, he whispered insistently, as the orchestra began warming up; cosmologists just needed to tie up a few loose ends. `Things will sort themselves out,' Schramm said. Turok seemed to find Schramm's words comforting, but he probably should have been alarmed. What if Schramm was right? What if cosmologists already had, in the big bang theory, the major answer to the puzzle of the universe? What if all that remained was tying up loose ends, those that could be tied up? Given this possibility, it is no wonder that `strong' scientists such as Hawking have vaulted past the big bang theory into postempirical science. What else can someone so creative and ambitious do?" (Horgan, J., "The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age," , Little, Brown & Co: London, 1997, pp.97-98) 12/05/2006 "Nowadays, however, the most popular version of the argument from design involves the exquisite fine tuning of the laws or regularities of nature. The fundamental constants of physics--the speed of light, the gravitational constant, the strength of the weak and strong nuclear forces--must apparently have values that fall within an extremely narrow range for life to be so much as possible. If these values had been even minutely different (if, for example, the gravitational constant had been different in even the most minuscule degree) habitable planets would not have developed and life (at least life at all like ours) would not have been possible. This suggests or makes plausible the thought that the world was designed or created by a Designer who intended the existence of living creatures and eventually rational, intelligent, morally significant creatures. Like its 17th and 18th century predecessors, this version of the argument is probabilistic rather than deductive: given the nature of the world, it is likely that it was fashioned by an intelligent Designer. The premises don't entail the conclusion, but are supposed to give you some reason to accept it. Dennett's rejoinder to the argument is that possibly, `there has been an evolution of worlds (in the sense of whole universes) and the world we find ourselves in is simply one among countless others that have existed throughout all eternity.' And given infinitely many universes, Dennett thinks, all the possible distributions of values over the cosmological constants would have been tried out; as it happens, we find ourselves in one of those universes where the constants are such as to allow for the development of intelligent life (where else?). Well, perhaps all this is logically possible (and then again perhaps not). As a response to a probabilistic argument, however, it's pretty anemic. How would this kind of reply play in Tombstone, or Dodge City? `Waal, shore, Tex, I know it's a leetle mite suspicious that every time I deal I git four aces and a wild card, but have you considered the following? Possibly there is an infinite succession of universes, so that for any possible distribution of possible poker hands, there is a universe in which that possibility is realized; we just happen to find ourselves in one where someone like me always deals himself only aces and wild cards without ever cheating. So put up that shootin' arn and set down 'n shet yore yap, ya dumb galoot.' Dennett's reply shows at most ('at most', because that story about infinitely many universes is doubtfully coherent) what was never in question: that the premises of this argument from apparent design do not entail its conclusion. But of course that was conceded from the beginning: it is presented as a probabilistic argument, not one that is deductive valid. Furthermore, since an argument can be good even if it is not deductively valid, you can't refute it just by pointing out that it isn't deductively valid. You might as well reject the argument for evolution by pointing out that the evidence for evolution doesn't entail that it ever took place, but only makes that fact likely. You might as well reject the evidence for the earth's being round by pointing out that there are possible worlds in which we have all the evidence we do have for the earth's being round, but in fact the earth is flat. Whatever the worth of this argument from design, Dennett really fails to address it. " (Plantinga, A., "Darwin, Mind and Meaning." Review of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by Daniel C. Dennett, Simon & Schuster, 1996. Books and Culture, May/June 1996. Emphasis original) 12/05/2006 "Falsification may be based on faulty observation. A man who claims he saw a white crow could be mistaken or even lying. As long as observations of black crows continue, it can be taken in two ways: as confirmations of `all crows are black,' or disconfirmations of `some crows are not black.' Popper recognized, but dismissed as unimportant, that every falsification of a conjecture is simultaneously a confirmation of an opposite conjecture, and every confirming instance of a conjecture is a falsification of an opposite conjecture." (Gardner, M., "A Skeptical Look at Karl Popper," in "Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries? : Discourses on Gödel, Magic Hexagrams, Little Red Riding Hood, and Other Mathematical and Pseudoscientific Topics," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 2003,pp.13) 12/05/2006 "The MWI should not be confused with a more recent concept of a multiverse proposed by Andrei Linde, a Russian physicist now at Stanford University, as well as by a few other cosmologists such as England's Martin Rees. This multiverse is essentially a response to the anthropic argument that there must be a Creator because our universe has so many basic physical constants so finely tuned that, if any one deviated by a tiny fraction, stars and planets could not form-let alone life appear on a planet. The implication is that such fine tuning implies an intelligent tuner. Linde's multiverse goes like this. Every now and then, whatever that means, a quantum fluctuation precipitates a Big Bang. A universe with its own space-time springs into existence with randomly selected values for its constants. In most of these universes those values will not permit the formation of stars and life. They simply drift aimlessly down their rivers of time. However, in a very small set of universes the constants will be just right to allow creatures like you and me to evolve. We are here not because of any overhead intelligent planning but simply because we happen by chance to be in one of the universes properly tuned to allow life to get started." (Gardner, M., "Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries?," in "Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries? : Discourses on Gödel, Magic Hexagrams, Little Red Riding Hood, and Other Mathematical and Pseudoscientific Topics," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 2003, pp.6-7) 12/05/2006 "We come now to a third kind of multiverse, by far the wildest of the three. It has been set forth not by a scientist but by a peculiar philosopher, now at Princeton University, named David Lewis. In his best-known book, The Plurality of Worlds (Oxford, 1986), and other writings, Lewis seriously maintains that every logically possible universe-that is, one with no logical contradictions such as square circles-is somewhere out there. The notion of logical possible worlds, by the way, goes back to Leibniz's Theodicy. He speculated that God considered all logically possible worlds, then created the one He deemed best for His purposes. Both the MWI and Lewis's possible worlds allow time travel into the past. You need never encounter the paradox of killing yourself, yet you are still alive, because as soon as you enter your past the universe splits into a new one in which you and your duplicate coexist. Most of Lewis's worlds do not contain any replicas of you, but if they do they can be as weird as you please. You can't, of course, simultaneously have five fingers on each hand and seven on each hand because that would be logically contradictory. But you could have a hundred fingers, and a dozen arms, or seven heads. Any world you can think of without contradiction is real. Can pigs fly? Certainly. There is nothing contradictory about pigs with wings. In an infinity of possible worlds there are lands of Oz, Greek gods on Mount Olympus, anything you can imagine. Every novel is a possible world. Somewhere millions of Ahabs are chasing whales. Somewhere millions of Huckleberry Finns are floating down rivers. Every kind of universe exists if it is logically consistent. David Lewis's mad multiverse was anticipated by hordes of science-fiction writers long before the MWI of QM came from Everett's brain. " (Gardner, M., "Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries?," in "Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries? : Discourses on Gödel, Magic Hexagrams, Little Red Riding Hood, and Other Mathematical and Pseudoscientific Topics," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 2003, p.7) 12/05/2006 "Fredric Brown, in What Mad Universe (1950), described Lewis's multiverse this way: There are, then, an infinite number of coexistent universes. `They include this one and the one you came from. They are equally real, and equally true. But do you conceive what an infinity of universes means, Keith Winton?' `Well-yes and no.' `It means that, out of infinity, all conceivable universes exist. `There is, for instance, a universe in which this exact scene is being repeated except that you-or the equivalent of you-are wearing brown shoes instead of black ones. `There are an infinite number of permutations of that variation, such as one in which you have a slight scratch on your left forefinger and one in which you have purple horns and-' `But are they all me?' Mekky said, `No, none of them is you-any more than the Keith Winton in this universe is you. I should not have used that pronoun. They are separate individual entities. As the Keith Winton here is; in this particular variation there is a wide physical difference-no resemblance, in fact.' Keith said thoughtfully, `If there are infinite universes, then all possible combinations must exist. Then, somewhere, everything must be true.' `And there are an infinite number of universes, of course, in which we don't exist at all-that is, no creatures similar to us exist at all. In which the human race doesn't exist at all. There are an infinite number of universes, for instance, in which flowers are the predominant form of life-or in which no form of life has ever developed or will develop. `And infinite universes in which the states of existence are such that we would have no words or thoughts to describe them or to imagine them.'" (Gardner, M., "Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries?," in "Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries?: Discourses on Gödel, Magic Hexagrams, Little Red Riding Hood, and Other Mathematical and Pseudoscientific Topics," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, 2003, p.6) 12/05/2006 "This reification, thing-ization, of preferred constructions is a fallacy when it leads to mistakes in argument. Philosophers may do as they choose in deciding what things are `real' and what are not. But when they carry over their reifications into other fields, then they are asking for unnecessary trouble. The history of science, of affairs, even of mathematics has been troubled for generations uncounted by demands for `real definitions,' assertions that something is because it must be, denegations of whole areas of inquiry as unreal and wicked. Reification, then, is the `hypostatizing' of entities, that is, the making of abstractions into substances. It is the assumption that child exists (in a Platonic heaven) over and above Peter, Hazel, Ethel. It is not necessary to make this assumption even if language suggests it. Universals, such as `redness' and `child,' can be interpreted in a way that makes no philosophical claims as to whether or not the constructions they name refer to entities in the real world." (Fearnside, W.W. & Holther, W.B., "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, Eleventh printing, pp.42-43. Emphasis original) 12/05/2006 "The fallacy of hypostatization consists in regarding an abstract word as if it were a concrete one. Whereas concrete words designate particular objects or attributes of objects, such as red and ball, abstract words designate general qualities, such as redness, roundness, virtue. It is a peculiarity of abstract terms that they can be used without reference to subjects that possess the attributes they designate. Although abstractions are a useful feature of language and thought, enabling us to discuss ideas like beauty or goodness, they carry potential dangers. We may make the mistake of assuming that, like concrete words, they name specific individual entities - that, for example, in addition to there being in the world such things as red balls and virtuous people, there are also separate entities such as redness, roundness, and virtue." (Engel, S.M., "With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies," St. Martin's Press: New York NY, Fourth edition, 1990, p.89. Emphasis original) 12/05/2006 "The process at work in hypostatization is similar to personification. To personify is to ascribe to things or animals properties that only human beings possess. It is to speak of things or creatures that are not persons as if they were persons. For example, we personify if we complain of the `cruelty of weasels' because weasels being innocent creatures, cannot be considered either kind or cruel." (Engel, S.M., "With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies," St. Martin's Press: New York NY, Fourth edition, 1990, p.89. Emphasis original) 13/05/2006 "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) 13/05/2006 "There are, however, other elements which, though occurring very rarely indeed, measured in parts per million or per hundred million - may have been absolutely essential to originate life. This is because their bonding characteristics (such as, for instance, those of the transition elements, including iron) form an essential part of many widespread enzyme systems. ... However necessary they may be, they are found sufficiently well distributed in primitive Earth and, for that matter, on any primitive planet, for them to be found in any form of evolving life. For instance, such rare elements as vanadium, molybdenum and niobium, are necessary for the essential respiratory pigments in certain tunicates, sea squirts, who are rather distant relations of ours. Such trace elements, as they are called, are essential to the growth of nutritious plants and their absence would doom the stock feeding on these plants to various forms of deficiency disease. The fact, however, that such elements are necessary for the highly sophisticated biochemistry of living things today does not mean that they need necessarily have taken part in the earlier stages of life. It might well turn out, for instance, that niobium and vanadium are in this category, though iron is certainly not." (Bernal, J.D., "The Origin of Life," , Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London, 1973, Third impression, pp.48-49) 13/05/2006 "MY DEAR HUXLEY-Your note contained magnificent news, and thank you heartily for sending it me. Von Baer weighs down with a vengeance all the virulence of [the `Edinburgh' reviewer] and weak arguments of Agassiz. If you write to Von Baer, for heaven's sake tell him that we should think one nod of approbation on our side, of the greatest value; and if he does write anything, beg him to send us a copy, for I would try and get it translated and published in the Athenaeum and in `Silliman' to touch up Agassiz..... Have you seen Agassiz's weak metaphysical and theological attack on the `Origin' in the last `Silliman' ? I would send it you, but apprehend it would be less trouble for you to look at it in London than return it to me. R. Wagner has sent me a German pamphlet, giving an abstract of Agassiz's `Essay on Classification,' ... He won't go very "dangerous lengths," but thinks the truth lies half-way between Agassiz and the `Origin.' As he goes thus far he will, nolens volens, have to go further. He says he is going to reviewme in [his] yearly Report. My good and kind agent for the propagation of the Gospel-i. e. the devil's gospel." (Darwin, C.R., Letter to T. H. Huxley, August 8, 1860, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.123-124) 13/05/2006 "There have been two kinds of experimental work in this area, mostly directed towards `our' kinds of chemicals. In such work, success, identifying such pre-life, is defined as the achieving of one of our kinds of molecule. If other possible life-starting molecules appear they are not `noticed'. As we saw earlier, it has been shown that there is much possible diversity, but there is also some convergence on to particular families of chemical reactions. Laboratories concerned to achieve synthesis of `our' living chemistry by heroic methods (not by duplicating possible `natural' early seas or substrates) have made various kinds of nucleic acids, but not yet the 3-5-phosphate-ribose or deoxyribose (RNA or DNA) that we know and love. A few of these `failures', however, could make the same kinds of double helices that DNA has - though not using the same component molecules - and could in principle go on to be a hereditary message, different from the one we use. We don't yet know whether Earthly life's current DNA/RNA system is the only one that really works, or whether it is the best system so far that has won over all the other attempts at pre- life, or whether it is simply the system that by chance happened to appear on Earth and went on to be our heredity, even though many other systems could have done the same if they'd got their noses in front early on. We may know more about this question, soon. Better analysis of what happened on Mars (assuming that anything is found to analyse) or Europa or any other of Jupiter's moons with water will give us examples of chemical systems that have self-complicated. They are cosmic laboratories practising origin-of-life experiments." (Cohen, J. & Stewart, I., "What Does a Martian Look Like?: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life," , Ebury Press: London, 2004, reprint, p.223. Emphasis original) 13/05/2006 "The eye is a box-camera in which a lens near the front throws an image on to a sensitive screen at the back; in some mammals the focus can be altered by changing the shape or position of the lens. The screen at the back, the retina, is an extremely complex structure consisting of a number of layers of cells - nerve cells and their fibres, blood vessels, and supporting cells, the enormous number of closely packed receptors lying not, as would be expected, on the surface but beneath the other layers; their fibres ascend to the surface over which they run to meet and together form the optic nerve. The outer layers are so transparent that the light passes through them with little loss. It is interesting to note that among the invertebrates the eye of the cephalopods - the octopuses, squids and cuttles - is very similar in structure, but the receptors are where they logically ought to be, on the surface of the retina, yet it does not follow that the eyes of these creatures are more efficient than those of the mammals. The vertebrate arrangement is efficient because it avoids transmitting all the information received by coding it at once before sending it to the brain. The stimulation of the retina is, however, only the beginning, for sight depends upon what the brain makes of the messages it receives from the retina. And indeed, sight without experience and memory is a very unreliable sense." (Matthews, L.H., "The Life of Mammals," Universe Books: New York NY, 1970, Vol. 1, pp.201-202) 13/05/2006 "Given these troubling issues, it is no wonder that many scientists whom I interviewed for this book seemed gripped by a profound unease. But their malaise, I will argue, has another, much more immediate cause. If one believes in science, one must accept the possibility-even the probability- that the great era of scientific discovery is over. By science I mean not applied science, but science at its purest and grandest, the primordial human quest to understand the universe and our place in it. Further research may yield no more great revelations or revolutions, but only incremental, diminishing returns. ... In trying to understand the mood of modern scientists I have found that ideas from literary criticism can serve some purpose after all. In his influential 1973 essay, like Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom likened the modern poet to Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. Just as Satan fought to assert his individuality by defying the perfection of God, so must the modern poet engage in an Oedipal struggle to define himself or herself in relation to Shakespeare, Dante, and other masters. The effort is ultimately futile, Bloom said, because no poet can hope to approach, let alone surpass, the perfection of such forebears. Modern poets are all essentially tragic figures, latecomers. ... Bloom's `strong poets' accept the perfection of their predecessors and yet strive to transcend it through various subterfuges, including a subtle misreading of the predecessors' work; only by so doing can modern poets break free of the stultifying influence of the past. There are strong scientists, too, those who are seeking to misread and therefore to transcend quantum mechanics or the big bang theory or Darwinian evolution. Roger Penrose is a strong scientist. For the most part, he and others of his ilk have only one option: to pursue science in a speculative, postempirical mode that I call ironic science. Ironic science resembles literary criticism in that it offers points of view, opinions, which are, at best, interesting, which provoke further comment. But it does not converge on the truth. It cannot achieve empirically verifiable surprises that force scientists to make substantial revisions in their basic description of reality. The most common strategy of the strong scientist is to point to all the shortcomings of current scientific knowledge, to all the questions left unanswered. But the questions tend to be ones that may never be definitively answered given the limits of human science. How, exactly, was the universe created? Could our universe be just one of an infinite number of universes? Could quarks and electrons be composed of still smaller particles, ad infinitum? What does quantum mechanics really mean?... Biology has its own slew of insoluble riddles. How, exactly, did life begin on earth? Just how inevitable was life's origin and its subsequent history? The practitioner of ironic science enjoys one obvious advantage over the strong poet: the appetite of the reading public for scientific `revolutions:' As empirical science ossifies, journalists such as myself, who feed society's hunger, will come under more pressure to tout theories that supposedly transcend quantum mechanics or the big bang theory or natural selection. Journalists are, after all, largely responsible for the popular impression that fields such as chaos and complexity represent genuinely new sciences superior to the stodgy old reductionist methods of Newton, Einstein, and Darwin." (Horgan, J., "The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age," , Little, Brown & Co: London, 1997, p.7) (Horgan J., "The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age," , Little, Brown & Co: London, 1997, pp.7-8. Emphasis original.) 13/05/2006 "reification ... (Lat. res thing facere to make) n. the turning of something into a thing or object; the error which consists in treating as a `thing' something which is not one. Hypostatization, treating an abstract entity as if it were concrete, is a case in point. The use of this word normally reveals an influence from Hegelian-Marxist theory. It owes its currency to Georg Lukacs's History and Class-Consciousness. (Marx did not use the word, but the concept of `commodity fetishism' is in Das Kapital, vol. L) In one sense of the word, reification occurs when something (an object or a human being) is treated, in theory or in practice, as an object or a marketable commodity. In a related sense of the word, reification occurs when something that depends on human decision and action, for instance an institution or a social practice, is treated as if it cannot be so affected, but somehow has an independent existence of its own, like an external object. Lukacs used this concept in his rejection of sociology. In his view, sociology is conceived as the inquiry into an objectively existing social reality - that is, sociology reifies it. The word has come to be used rather loosely in certain types of social and political discourse, as a general expression of disapproval." (Mautner, T., "The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy," , Penguin: London, Revised, 2000, p.479) 13/05/2006 "reification To reify is to treat as a thing. To describe philosophers as reifying is usually to charge that they are misled by verbal form into thinking simply because some noun has a use, there must be something to which it refers. Thus Platonists are charged with reifying numbers or universals, and people are supposed to have improperly reified great varieties of things, including sets, infinite collections, finite things, sensations, physical objects, the future, the past, the possible, or the will of the people. The charge is itself not entirely transparent, and the fault these philosophies commit may more helpfully be put as treating things of one type as if they were things of another." (Blackburn, S., "The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1996, reprint, p.335) 13/05/2006 The accuracy of replication If the replication process were exact, no new variants would arise, and evolution would slow down and stop. The in vitro experiments work only because enzyme replication of RNA is not exact. However, evolution would also be impossible if the replication process were too inaccurate. Thus although an occasional error in replication, or mutation, may lead to an improvement in adaptation, most will lead to deterioration. Hence, too high an error rate will lead to loss of adaptation. I now try to make this idea quantitative. How accurate must replication be if adaptation is to be maintained? ... Equation 2.13 [Q ~ r/R] gives the critical value of Q, the accuracy of replication, if the adapted sequence, S, is to be maintained by selection against the deterioration caused by mutation. If the replication rate of the mutants is only slightly less than that of the optimal S sequence (i.e. weak selection), then the accuracy Q must be high, because the mutant particles compete with S for resources. What if mutants replicate slowly: in the extreme case, suppose they do not replicate at all? It does not follow that any degree of accuracy, however low, will be sufficient. Thus S particles will not be immortal: there will be some rate of destruction, or `death rate', even in the absence of competition from non-S particles. On average, each S particle must, during its life, produce one perfect S copy. Hence if the average number of copies per S particle before it is destroyed is R, then Q > 1/R is necessary. The critical accuracy, then, depends both on the success of non- S copies, and, if non-S particles have a low replication rate, on the average number of copies produced by an S particle during its lifetime. In practice, it seems unlikely that evolution would be possible if Q < 1/2. The practical implication of this is that it places a limit on the size of the genome, for any given replication accuracy. Thus consider a genome of n nucleotides, and let the probability that an error is made in replication be u per nucleotide. Then Q = (1 - u)n = e-nu. Hence the maintenance of adaptation requires, very approximately, that nu < 1. Three very different error rates exist: the rate for replication in the absence of enzymes, which may have occurred during the origin of life; the rate for replication of RNA, which does not involve a `proof-reading' stage; and the rate for the replication of DNA, with proof-reading. The values are, very approximately, as follows:error rate (u) non-enzymic replication 1/10 - 1/100 RNA replication 10-3 - 10-4 DNA replication 10-9 - 10-10The requirement that nu < 1 then explains the fact that the genome of RNA viruses is never greater than about 104 bases, and of higher organisms no greater than 109 bases. It also raises an important difficulty for theories of the origin of life. The genome could not become greater than 100 bases in the absence of specific replication enzymes, yet a genome of less than 100 bases could hardly code for such an enzyme: for further discussion of this problem, see Eigen et al. (1981), and Maynard Smith and Szathmary (1995). (Maynard Smith, J., "Evolutionary Genetics," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1998, Second edition, 2000, reprint, pp.20-24. Emphasis original) 13/05/2006 "When we observe a certain behavioral, physiological, or morphological response, two general kinds of questions arise. So-called proximate questions concern mechanisms operating in ecological time. For instance, what environmental stimuli, if any, trigger the response, and what internal mechanisms of the organism underlie the response? Proximate questions about a biological clock, for example, would be concerned with its structure and function, how it synchronizes an organism's activities with seasonal changes, as well as the genetic mechanisms that specify the clock's development. In contrast, so-called ultimate questions are evolutionary ones: Why did natural selection favor a particular clock mechanism and not a different one? Hypotheses that address ultimate questions propose that the response maximized fitness (survival and reproductive success) in some particular way." (Campbell, N.A., Reece, J.B. & Mitchell, L.G., "Biology," , Benjamin/Cummings: Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, p.1049. Emphasis original) 13/05/2006 "The early attempts to teach speech to chimpanzees had faltered because of the animals' extreme physical difficulty in forming human sounds. Much greater progress was made when Allen and Beatrice Gardner of the University of Nevada taught American Sign Language to their chimpanzee Washoe. Washoe and her imitators readily acquired large vocabularies of the sign language and, even more significantly, would string the signs together in what appeared to be sentences. Particularly evocative was the apes' reported use of the signs in apposite novel combinations. Washoe was said to have spontaneously made the signs for `drink' and `fruit' on seeing a watermelon. Gorilla Koko reportedly described a zebra as a `white tiger.' By the 1970s the signing apes had become a flourishing subfield of psychological research. Then came a serious crisis in the form of an ape named Nim Chimpsky, in honor of the well-known linguist Noam Chomsky. Nim's trainer, psychologist Herbert Terrace, found he learned signs just like the other chimps, and started using them in strings. But were the strings of signs proper sentences or just a routine that the crafty ape had learned would induce some appropriate action in its human entourage? Certain features in Nim's linguistic development threw Terrace into a crisis of doubt. Unlike children of his age, Nim suddenly plateaued in his rate of acquisition of new vocabulary. Unlike children, he rarely initiated conversation. He would string signs together, but his sentences were lacking in syntactic rigor: Nim's longest recorded utterance was the sixteen-sign declarative pronouncement, `Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.' Terrace was eventually forced to decide that Chimpsky, and indeed the other pointing pongids, were not using the signs in a way characteristic of true language. Rather, they were probably making monkeys out of their teachers by imitating or Clever Hansing them. Nim's linguistic behavior was more like that of a highly intelligent, trained dog than of the human children he so much resembled in other ways." (Broad, W. & Wade, N., "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science," Simon and Schuster: New York NY, 1982, pp.111-112) 13/05/2006 "However, it is frequently asked, Is evolution a fact or a hypothesis? So stated, the question is meaningless and misleading. The enterprise of science is founded on the hope that all rational beings who investigate and ponder the same evidence, derived ultimately from sense impressions ('facts'), will be led to draw from this evidence the same conclusions. The evidence of biology means to most people familiar with it that the world of life, including man, is a product of an evolutionary development. ... Nobody beheld the sight of man's ancestors giving rise to men, or of the ancestral horses transforming themselves into modern horses. We cannot re-enact these transformations in our laboratories. Evolutionary changes of this magnitude (sometimes called macro-evolution) take time intervals of much greater orders than the span of human life; they are accordingly not facts observed but events inferred from observed facts. In Lamarck's and Darwin's times evolution was a hypothesis; in our day it is proven. Another proven hypothesis is that the earth executes a complete revolution on its axis once every twenty-four hours. When a hypothesis has been thoroughly verified, we may take it as a safe guide in our thinking and working activities." (Dobzhansky, T.G., "Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species," , Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1969, Twelfth printing, pp.4-5) 13/05/2006 "However, it is frequently asked, Is evolution a fact or a hypothesis? So stated, the question is meaningless and misleading. The enterprise of science is founded on the hope that all rational beings who investigate and ponder the same evidence, derived ultimately from sense impressions ('facts'), will be led to draw from this evidence the same conclusions. The evidence of biology means to most people familiar with it that the world of life, including man, is a product of an evolutionary development. But there are still a few persons not ignorant of the evidence who insist that evolution is a `mere' hypothesis, which they reject in favor of special creation (is special creation not another hypothesis?).Those who are not satisfied that the existing evidence makes acceptance of the evolutionary origin of the living world inevitable are entitled to hold their opinions. The business of proving evolution has reached a stage when it is futile for biologists to work merely to discover more and more evidence of evolution. Those who choose to believe that God created every biological species separately in the state we observe them but made them in a way calculated to lead us to the conclusion that they are products of an evolutionary development are obviously not open to argument. All that can be said is that their belief is an implicit blasphemy, for it imputes to God appalling deviousness." (Dobzhansky, T.G., "Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species," , Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1969, Twelfth printing, pp.4-5) 13/05/2006 "A note of disquiet, however, is found in all editions of Origin. Darwin plainly states that use and disuse of parts is a substantial mechanism of evolution, right along with natural selection. As so many opponents of neo-Darwinism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century pointed out, Darwin's introduction to Origin ends with the statement, I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the most important, but not the exclusive, means of modification" (p. 4). What indeed were Darwin's mechanisms of evolution in addition to natural selection, and what were their relationships to adaptive evolution? ... 2. Sexual selection. This mechanism was less rigorous than natural selection but was basically nonadaptive or maladaptive. Darwin in Descent of Man (1871) provided several examples of characters disadvantageous or nonadaptive in the general struggle for existence and concluded that "not one of the external differences between the races of man are of any direct or special service to him" (1: 248-49). Darwin believed that sexual selection was the only mechanism that could adequately explain the existence of such nonadaptive characters. Natural selection prevented sexual selection from leading to highly disadvantageous characters." " (Provine, W.B., "Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology," University of Chicago Press: Chicago IL, 1986, pp.209-210) 13/05/2006 We live in a world of stunning biological complexity. Molecules of all varieties join in a metabolic dance to make cells. Cells interact with cells to form organisms; organisms interact with organisms to form ecosystems, economies, societies. Where did this grand architecture come from? For more than a century, the only theory that science has offered to explain how this order arose is natural selection. As Darwin taught us, the order of the biological world evolves as natural selection sifts among random mutations for the rare, useful forms. In this view of the history of life, organisms are cobbled-together contraptions wrought by selection, the silent and opportunistic tinkerer. Science has left us as unaccountably improbable accidents against the cold, immense backdrop of space and time. Thirty years of research have convinced me that this dominant view of biology is incomplete. As I will argue in this book, natural selection is important, but it has not labored alone to craft the fine architectures of the biosphere, from cell to organism to ecosystem. Another source self-organization-is the root source of order." (Kauffman, S.A., "At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self- Organization and Complexity," , Penguin: London, 1996, reprint, p.vii) 14/05/2006 "For those who are studying the origin of life, the question is no longer whether life could have originated by chemical processes involving nonbiological components. The question instead has become which of many pathways might have been followed to produce the first cells." ("Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences," National Academy Press: Washington DC, Second Edition, 1999, p.6) 14/05/2006 "The machinery of life Molecular machines are the basis of life. DNA, a long molecule that encodes the blueprints to create an organism, may be life's information storage medium, but it needs a bevy of machines to read and translate that information into action. The cell's nanometer-scale machines are mostly protein molecules, although a few are made from RNA, and they are capable of surprisingly complex manipulations. They perform almost all the important active tasks in the cell: metabolism, reproduction, response to changes in the environment, and so forth. They are incredibly sophisticated, and they, not their manmade counterparts, represent the pinnacle of nanotechnology. Yet scientists have no general theory for their assembly or operation. The basic physical principles are individually well understood; what is lacking is a framework that combines the elegance of abstraction with the power of prediction." (Phillips, R. & Quake, S.R., "The Biological Frontier of Physics," Physics Today, May 2006, p.38. Emphasis original) 14/05/2006 "How much can one molecule do? Consider, for example, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) synthase. This macromolecular assembly, only about 10 nanometers on a side, is an essential part of the cellular factory that produces ATP, the universal energy currency of life. We will not get into the details of the biological role of ATP synthase in the cell, but consider merely what it is capable of doing in isolation: It is a rotary motor. In the presence of a proton gradient, this remarkable machine turns a spindle as it adds phosphate groups to molecules of adenosine diphosphate to produce ATP. And every day .... the cells in your body perform this phosphate-addition reaction to produce roughly your body weight in ATP molecules. But that is not all: ATP synthase can run in reverse. It can consume ATP, and with each ATP molecule that is hydrolyzed, the central shaft of ATP synthase turns by 120 degrees, directly converting chemical to mechanical energy. That reverse operation was explicitly demonstrated through a series of elegant experiments in which a molecular propeller was attached to the shaft and then imaged with optical microscopy... The propeller rotated in the presence of ATP, with absolute thermodynamic efficiencies of up to 90%. Despite the tremendous strides made in nanotechnology, no device of similar functionality can yet be fabricated with inorganic materials. Furthermore, many questions remain about the basic principles by which molecular machines such as ATP synthase convert chemical energy to mechanical forces." (Phillips, R. & Quake, S.R., "The Biological Frontier of Physics," Physics Today, May 2006, p.38) 14/05/2006 "Working in a noisy environment As noted in our introductory remarks, molecular machines operate at energies and lengths common to a host of different processes. In addition to being intriguing, that regime adds to the challenge of analyzing the cell's machines. Figure 2 shows how thermal, chemical, mechanical, and electrostatic energies scale with the size of an associated object, and illustrates the confluence of energies. As the characteristic size approaches that of biological macromolecules, all the energies converge. The convergence is remarkable, since the energies range over 20 orders of magnitude as object size scales from subatomic to macroscopic; its existence is an opportunity for complex physical phenomena and processes that are evidently utilized by life. Broadly speaking, the interplay between thermal and deterministic forces is what gives rise to the rich behavior of molecular machines. For example, thermal effects permit such processes as diffusion, conformational changes, the dissolution of hydrogen bonds, and the wandering of charges from their molecular hosts. Those processes, in turn, often serve as the basis of macromolecular functions ranging from copying and reading DNA to the motor action of molecules, such as myosin, that power our muscles. It is surely one of the triumphs of evolution that Nature discovered how to make highly accurate machines in such a noisy environment. One marvelous example is DNA polymerase, a molecular copying machine only 13 nanometers in size, capable of copying DNA molecules with an intrinsic error rate approaching one part per million. Much remains to be understood about the general principles behind such impressive fidelity, especially as it is achieved in the violent thermal environment of a test tube or a cell." (Phillips, R. & Quake, S.R., "The Biological Frontier of Physics," Physics Today, May 2006, p.38. Emphasis original) 14/05/2006 "Molecular machines need to be accurate in the face of noise, but they can also use fluctuations as an essential part of their function. As an example, consider restriction enzymes - proteins that recognize and cut specific DNA sequences. Those enzymes are extremely efficient at searching through a genome consisting of millions, sometimes even billions, of base pairs to find and bind to their recognition sequences. The rates at which they accomplish their tasks are inconsistent with simple one-dimensional diffusion along the DNA molecule or strictly three-dimensional diffusion and binding to the DNA target site. Instead, restriction enzymes take advantage of the entropic forces that cause long DNA molecules to fold into a compact coil. They hop from one strand to another, which speeds up the search process relative to 1D diffusion." (Phillips, R. & Quake, S.R., "The Biological Frontier of Physics," Physics Today, May 2006, p.38) 14/05/2006 " One of the most pleasing examples of biological collective action is revealed by the machines of the so- called central dogma. The term refers to the set of processes whereby DNA is copied (replication), genes are read and turned into messenger RNA (transcription), and finally, messenger RNA is turned into the corresponding protein by ribosomes (translation). Such processes involve multiple layers of orchestration that range from the assembly of macromolecular complexes to the simultaneous action of multiple machines to the collective manner in which cells may undertake the processes. Figure 3 shows the machines of the central dogma in bacteria engaged in the processes of transcription and translation simultaneously." (Phillips, R. & Quake, S.R., "The Biological Frontier of Physics," Physics Today, May 2006, p.38) 14/05/2006 "Understanding collective effects in the cell will require merging two philosophical viewpoints. The first is that life is like a computer program: An infrastructure of machines carries out arbitrary instructions that are encoded into DNA software. The second viewpoint is purely physical: Life arises from a mixing together of chemicals that follow basic physical principles to self-assemble into an organism. Presumably, the repertoire of available behaviors is more limited in the latter. The two viewpoints are complementary, not incompatible: Either one could best describe cell behavior, depending on the particular situation." (Phillips, R. & Quake, S.R., "The Biological Frontier of Physics," Physics Today, May 2006, p.38) 15/05/2006 "In organic evolution we find that in spite of general upward progress, all grades of living creatures, advanced, primitive, and degenerate, manage to exist perfectly well side by side." (Huxley, J.S., "Religion Without Revelation," , The New American Library, Mentor: New York NY, Revised edition, 1958, p.124) 15/05/2006 "There is surprisingly little discussion of consciousness as such, rather, materialists see consciousness as a special `problem' for a materialist theory of mind. That is, they want to find a way to `handle' consciousness, given their materialism. The pattern that these discussions almost invariably seem to take is the following. A philosopher advances a materialist theory of the mind. He does this from the deep assumption that some version of the materialist theory of the mind must be the correct one-after all, do we not know from the discoveries of science that there is really nothing in the universe but physical particles and fields of forces acting on physical particles? And surely it must be possible to give an account of human beings in a way that is consistent and coherent with our account of nature generally. And surely, does it not follow from that that our account of human beings must be thoroughgoing materialism? So the philosopher sets out to give a materialist account of the mind. He then encounters difficulties. It always seems that he is leaving something out. The general pattern of discussion is that criticisms of the materialist theory usually take a more or less technical form, but in fact, underlying the technical objections is a much deeper objection, and the deeper objection can be put quite simply: The theory in question has left out the mind; it has left out some essential feature of the mind, such as consciousness - or `qualia' or semantic content. One sees this pattern over and over. A materialist thesis is advanced. But the thesis encounters difficulties; the difficulties take different forms, but they are always manifestations of an underlying deeper difficulty, namely, the thesis in question denies obvious facts that we all know about our own minds. And this leads to ever more frenzied efforts to stick with the materialist thesis and try to defeat the arguments put forward by those who insist on preserving the facts. After some years of desperate maneuvers to account for the difficulties, some new development is put forward that allegedly solves the difficulties, but then we find that it encounters new difficulties, only the new difficulties are not so new-they are really the same old difficulties. If we were to think of the philosophy of mind over the past fifty years as a single individual, we would say of that person that he is a compulsive neurotic, and his neurosis takes the form of repeating the same pattern of behavior over and over." (Searle, J.R., "The Rediscovery of the Mind," MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1992, pp.29-30) 15/05/2006 "In fact, the catastrophists were much more empirically minded than Lyell. The geologic record does seem to record catastrophes: rocks are fractured and contorted; whole faunas are wiped out ... . To circumvent this literal appearance, Lyell imposed his imagination upon the evidence. The geologic record, he argued, is extremely imperfect and we must interpolate into it what we can reasonably infer but cannot see. The catastrophists were the hard-nosed empiricists of their day, not the blinded theological apologists. Secondly, Lyell's `uniformity' is a hodgepodge of claims. One is a methodological statement that must be accepted by any scientist, catastrophist and uniformitarian alike. Others are substantive notions that have since been tested and abandoned. Lyell gave them a common name and pulled a consummate fast one: he tried to slip the substantive claim by with an argument that the methodological proposition had to be accepted, lest `we see the ancient spirit of speculation revived, and a desire manifested to cut, rather than patiently to untie, the Gordian knot.'" (Gould, S.J., "Uniformity and Catastrophe," in "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.150) 15/05/2006 "I prefer heroes of flesh, blood, and fallibility, not of tinseled cardboard. Bretz is inscribed on my ledger because he stood against a firm, highly restrictive dogma that never had made any sense: the emperor had been naked for a century. Charles Lyell, the godfather of geological gradualism, had pulled a fast one in establishing the doctrine of imperceptible change. He had argued, quite rightly, that geologists must invoke the invariance (uniformity) of natural law through time in order to study the past scientifically. He then applied the same term-uniformity-to an empirical claim about rates of processes, arguing that change must be slow, steady, and gradual, and that big results can only arise as the accumulation of small changes. But the uniformity of law does not preclude natural catastrophes, particularly on a local scale. Perhaps some invariant laws operate to produce infrequent episodes of sudden, profound change." (Gould, S.J., "The Great Scablands Debate," in "The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, p.168. Emphasis original) 15/05/2006 "All revisionists agree on a central point: Lyell united under the common rubric of uniformity two different kinds of claims-a set of methodological statements about proper scientific procedure, and a group of substantive beliefs about how the world really works. The methodological principles were universally acclaimed by scientists, and embraced warmly by all geologists; the substantive claims were controversial and, in some cases, accepted by few other geologists. Lyell then pulled a fast one-perhaps the neatest trick of rhetoric, measured by subsequent success, in the entire history of science. He labeled all these different meanings as `uniformity,' and argued that since all working scientists must embrace the methodological principles, the substantive claims must be true as well. Like wily Odysseus clinging to the sheep's underside, the dubious substantive meanings of uniformity sneaked into geological orthodoxy-past an undiscerning Cyclops, blinded with Lyell's rhetoric-by holding fast to the methodological principles that all scientists accepted." (Gould, S.J., "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1987, p.118-119) 15/05/2006 "Anyone with the slightest understanding of reward in science knows in his bones that accepted names and terms define status and priority-for actual history is soon forgotten. (Charles Lyell surely pulled the greatest `fast one' in the history of science when he subsumed acceptable parts of both catastrophism-the doctrine of periodic destruction by cataclysms-and his own excessively gradualistic and ahistorical world view under his favored name `uniformitarianism,' with victory as the father of geology as his reward.)" (Gould, S.J., "The Power of Narrative," in "An Urchin in the Storm: Essays about Books and Ideas," , Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, p.85) 15/05/2006 "Science may differ from other intellectual activity in its focus upon the construction and operation of natural objects. But scientists are not robotic inducing machines that infer structures of explanation only from regularities observed in natural phenomena (assuming, as I doubt, that such a style of reasoning could ever achieve success in principle). Scientists are human beings, immersed in culture, and struggling with all the curious tools of inference that mind permitsfrom metaphor and analogy to all the flights of fruitful imagination that C.S. Peirce called `abduction.' Prevailing culture is not always the enemy identified by whiggish history-in this case the theological restrictions on time that led early geologists to miracle- mongering in the catastrophist mode. Culture can potentiate as well as constrain-as in Darwin's translation of Adam Smith's laissez-faire economic models into biology as the theory of natural selection (Schweber, 1977). In any case, objective minds do not exist outside culture, so we must make the best of our ineluctable embedding. It is important that we, as working scientists, combat these myths of our profession as something superior and apart. The myths may serve us well in the short and narrow as rationale for a lobbying strategy-give us the funding and leave us alone, for we know what we're doing and you don't understand anyway. But science can only be harmed in the long run by its self-proclaimed separation as a priesthood guarding a sacred rite called the scientific method. Science is accessible to all thinking people because it applies universal tools of intellect to its distinctive material. The understanding of science-one need hardly repeat the litany-becomes ever more crucial in a world of biotechnology, computers, and bombs." (Gould, S.J., "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1987, pp.6-7. Emphasis original) 15/05/2006 "Despite the difficulties involved, however, reconciling science and faith remains a popular project, especially among academics nearing the end of their careers. Apparently, the urge to take on the Big Problem becomes irresistible to those who have dedicated a lifetime to staring down a microscope at fruit flies or mastering the subjunctive in Aramaic. Many scientists enter the fray from evolutionary biology, the branch of science that conflicts most directly with religion. Their books often try to harmonise the two by declaring that they are mutually exclusive domains, or, to use Stephen Jay Gould's phrase, 'non-overlapping magisteria'. Gould proposes that science limit itself to studying and explaining the natural world, and religion to studying human purposes, meanings and values. Michael Ruse's book is an astonishing contribution to this literature. It astonishes because of the bravado of its thesis. Instead of espousing Gould's tame view that religion and science are distinct but complementary, Ruse, a philosopher and historian of science, maintains that at least one form of science (Darwinism) and one form of religion (Christianity) are mutually reinforcing. They are reconcilable, he asserts, because virtually every tenet of conservative Christianity, including original sin, the immortality of the soul and moral choice, is immanent within Darwinism and an inevitable result of the evolutionary process. Religion and science are, to Ruse, merely two sides of the same coin. Thus he feels able to answer a resounding 'no' to his main question: 'whether being a Darwinian stops you from being a Christian'. ... Despite such gymnastics, Ruse's attempt at a reconciliation ultimately fails not surprisingly, given that it requires us to accept a version of Darwinism so extreme that it has practically no adherents, and a form of Christianity that would appal most theologians and churchgoers." (Coyne, J., "Intergalactic Jesus." Review of "Can a Darwinian Be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion," by Michael Ruse, Cambridge University Press, 2001. London Review of Books. Vol. 24, No. 9, 23 May 2002) 15/05/2006 Proverbs 18:17 (NIV): "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." 15/05/2006 "It is significant, I genuinely believe, that Darwin opened his first notebook on the "species question" in 1837. In January of that year Edward Blyth ventured the beginning of a second paper in which there is comment upon the principle of natural selection. In fact, from 1835 to 1837 there is sporadic discussion upon subjects of an evolutionary cast in The Magazine of natural History. We now come, however, to the crux of the discussion: is it possible to trace in the Origin of Species or in the trial essays that preceded it any direct evidence of the influence of Edward Blyth? The answer will affirm the truth of the connection be between Blyth and Darwin, but the clues upon which this assertion is based have to be mustered with care. If it had not been for the publication of the Foundations of the Origin of Species in 1909 it is unlikely that the dim outlines of the carefully hidden trail would ever have been perceived. This trail begins to be discernible in the Darwin notebook of 1836 with the curious word `inosculate.' It is a word which never has had a wide circulation and which is not to be found in Darwin's vocabulary before this time. Twice in a single paragraph this word, which means to adjoin, or pass into, is used in connection with evolutionary jottings and speculations. Moreover, these speculations, as will become evident a little later, have a direct bearing upon problems presented in the various Blyth papers. Here I am concerned only to point out that a rare and odd word not hitherto current in Darwin's vocabulary suddenly appears coincidentally with its use in the papers of Edward Blyth. In the Origin it survives to make one fleeting appearance as `osculant.' Taken in conjunction with other evidence, the rare and mildly archaic character of this word suggests that Darwin acquired it from his reading of Blyth." (Eiseley L.C., "Charles Darwin, Edward Blyth, and the Theory of Natural Selection," in "Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X," E.P. Dutton: New York NY, 1979, pp.53-54) @ 15/05/2006 "In Blyth's paper of 1835 occurs a statement concerning Ancon sheep. A little later in the same paragraph occurs a list of odd mutations, including `donkey-footed swine, tailless cats, back-feathered, five-toed, and rumpless fowls, together with many sorts of dogs....' This odd little concentration of mutative types is duplicated in almost the same order in Darwin's essay of 1844. Like Blyth, Darwin is discussing `sports' or hereditary monsters. Like him, Darwin mentions Ancon sheep, rumpless fowls, and tailless cats. It is true that the solid ungular swine and five-toed fowls have disappeared; but they occur in later pages of Darwin's essay. They have merely been dispersed. In the matter of claws, two pages farther on we encounter the phrase, `breeds, characterized by an extra limb or claw as in certain fowls and dogs.' In the Origin this curious sequence has vanished, though the Ancon sheep is still mentioned. Blyth, in his discussion of food and its effects on animals, comments that `herbivorous quadrupeds which browse the scanty vegetation on mountains are invariably much smaller than their brethren which crop the luxuriant produce of the plains....' Darwin in turn holds that `external conditions will doubtless influence and modify the results of the most careful selection; it has been found impossible to prevent certain breeds of cattle from degenerating on mountain pastures....' Blyth, in his discussion of hybridity, recognized dominance (i.e., prepotency) and the possibility of the re-emergence of suppressed characteristics in the third generation. In the essay of 1844 Darwin once again expresses similar views. The use and disuse concept is brought into play by Blyth in his discussion of domestic forms where `an animal...supplied regularly with ...abundance of foods without the trouble and exertion of having to seek for it...becomes, in consequence, bulky and lazy ... while the muscles of ... locomotion ... become rigid and comparatively powerless, or are not developed to their full size .' Darwin in his second essay devotes a section to this subject and comes once more to similar conclusions, which are re-expressed in the Origin. Blyth devotes considerable attention to protective coloration and the utilitarian advantages gained by such devices in the struggle for existence. In the course of this discussion Blyth, in his paper of 1835, quoted from Mudie's Feathered Tribes of the British Islands the metaphor `grouse are brown heather.' In the Origin Darwin utilizes the same device, picturing `the red grouse the color of heather.' Further on in the same section, and this time in his own words, Blyth speaks of the ptarmigan as `snow in winter.' In the same section in Darwin `the alpine ptarmigan [is] white in winter.' The discussion of protective coloration is more extended in Blyth, but his and Darwin's views of it are the same. Blyth has a vivid description of the relation of the falcon to its prey. He dwells at length upon the bird's great powers of sight. In the corresponding Darwinian passage hawks are mentioned as `guided by eyesight to their prey .' Like Blyth, Darwin then dwells upon the pruning effect exercised by these carnivorous birds in keeping the cryptic coloration of small mammals and ground-dwelling birds, such as grouse, uniform and constant through natural selection. The variant animal is unable to conceal itself successfully and is thus more subject to destruction. Although Darwin's treatment of the idea is not as lengthy as Blyth's, the descriptive material cited above is powerfully suggestive of a direct connection, particularly when it is taken in conjunction with the other evidence I have been at some pains to assemble [`such as Blyth's reference to the variation manifested in the beaks of finchlike birds']. Turning to Blyth's paper of 1837, it will be recalled that in discussing his localizing principle he touched upon the homing instinct in animals. During the course of his discussion Blyth asserted this capacity was `not wholly absent from the human constitution.' He referred to the Australian aborigines and other savages as being subject to this `intuitive impulse.' Although Darwin almost totally avoided reference to man in the Origin it is of interest to note that the homing instinct in man receives attention in both of the trial essays. It is mentioned briefly in the first essay and twice in the second. Here the Australian savage reappears. The instinctive shamming of death is also mentioned by Blyth as characteristic of certain animals. Once more Darwin treats of it briefly but critically in the essay of 1842 and again in the lengthier essay of 1844. When Blyth's papers are subjected to extended and minute analysis there is no doubt that a few additional items pointing toward a connection between the two men might be established. Even making some allowance for accidental use of the same sources, the effect is cumulative and, in the present writer's view, unexplainable by chance. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that Blyth's restrictions on divarication beyond the species level troubled Darwin and that he was forced to spend considerable time and ingenuity in finding his way around this barrier. After an investigation of this effort, it will be possible to see more clearly than heretofore why Darwin approached the subject of variation in wild nature with such timidity." (Eiseley, L.C., "Charles Darwin, Edward Blyth, and the Theory of Natural Selection," in "Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X," E.P. Dutton: New York NY, 1979, pp.60-62, 241n. References omitted) 15/05/2006 "We thus have two distinct and opposed views as to the origin of domesticated races. According to the first they have been produced mainly by the action of selection applied to a plentiful stock of variations. According to the second they art the result of appropriate crosses combined with pedigree breeding and other devices. If the second view is correct, the success of the breeder has been due to a procedure not fully represented in nature and the analogy between Artificial and Natural Selection breaks down. If we disregard the question of mutation-rate, as mutations are perhaps liable to turn up with equal frequency in nature and under domestication, the issue can be narrowed down to the question-is there as much opportunity for crossing in nature as there is in the practice of stock-raising : If the numerous crosses made by man are the source of the fresh steps in the development of domesticated breeds, and fresh steps in the development of domesticated breeds, and there is nothing comparable in nature, we think the analogy must break down." (Robson, G.C. & Richards, O.W., "The Variation of Animals in Nature," Longmans, Green & Co: London, 1936, p.190) 16/05/2006 "As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed of studying the Natural History of the different countries we visited, have been wholly due to Captain FitzRoy, I hope I may here be permitted to repeat my expression of gratitude to him; and to add that, during the five years we were together, I received from him the most cordial friendship and steady assistance. Both to Captain FitzRoy and to all the Officers of the Beagle... I shall ever feel most thankful for the undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our long voyage. ... I must take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks to Mr. Bynoe, the surgeon of the Beagle, for his very kind attention to me when I was ill at Valparaiso." (Darwin, C.R., "The Voyage of the Beagle: Journal of Researches Into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World," , Modern Library: New York NY, 2001, reprint, p.xxv) 16/05/2006 "Scientists wonder about what happens in an oscillating universe at the cusps, at the transition from contraction to expansion. Some think that the laws of nature are then randomly reshuffled, that the kind of physics and chemistry that orders this universe represent only one of an infinite range of possible natural laws. It is easy to see that only a very restricted range of laws of nature are consistent with galaxies and stars, planets, life and intelligence. If the laws of nature are unpredictably reassorted at the cusps, then it is only by the most extraordinary coincidence that the cosmic slot machine has this time come up with a universe consistent with us. ... The laws of nature cannot be randomly reshuffled at the cusps. If the universe has already gone through many oscillations, many possible laws of gravity would have been so weak that, for any given initial expansion. the universe would not have held together. Once the universe stumble, upon such a gravitational law, it flies apart and has no further opportunity to experience another oscillation and another cusp and another set of laws of nature. Thus we can deduce from the fact that the universe exists either a finite age, or a severe restriction on the kinds of laws of nature permitted in each oscillation. If the laws of physics are not randomly reshuffled at the cusps, there must be a regularity, a set of rules, that determines which laws are permissible and which are not. Such a set of rules would comprise a new physics standing over the existing physics. Our language is impoverished; there seems to be no suitable name for such a new physics. Both `paraphysics' and `metaphysics' have been preempted by other rather different and, quite possibly, wholly irrelevant activities. Perhaps `transphysics' would do." (Sagan, C.E., "Cosmos," , Macdonald: London, 1981, reprint, p.260. Emphasis original) 16/05/2006 "Where it is in his own interest, every organism may reasonably be expected to aid his fellows. Where he has no alternative, he submits to the yoke of communal servitude. Yet given a full chance to act in his own interest, nothing but expediency will restrain him from brutalizing, from maiming, from murdering his brother, his mate, his parent, or his child. Scratch an `altruist' and watch a `hypocrite' bleed." (Ghiselin, M., "The Economy of Nature and the Evolution of Sex," University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1974, p.247, in Ridley, Matt, "The Origins of Virtue," Viking: London, 1996, p.68) 17/05/2006 "Even as recently as the nineteenth century when all the major morphological discontinuities of nature had been described and classified, the question as to whether there was a distinct break between life and the inorganic world was controversial. The existence of a definite discontinuity was only finally established after the revolutionary discoveries of molecular biology in the early 1950s. Before then it was still possible to hope that perhaps advances in science would reveal a number of intermediates between chemistry and the cell. The possibility existed, for example, that certain viruses would prove to be intermediate between the physical and biological worlds. The hope that increased biochemical knowledge would bridge the gap was specifically expressed by many authorities in the 1920s and 30s. But, as in so many other fields of biology, the search for continuity, for empirical entities to bridge the divisions of nature, proved futile. Instead of revealing a multitude of transitional forms through which the evolution of the cell might have occurred, molecular biology has served only to emphasize the enormity of the gap. We now know not only of the existence of a break between the living and non-living world, but also that it represents the most dramatic and fundamental of all the discontinuities of nature. Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non- biological system, such as a crystal or a snowflake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive." (Denton, M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, pp.249-250) 17/05/2006 "Is the Milky Way Galaxy like planet Earth, with towns and cities dotting the landscape? Or is Earth more like a lonely island in a vast galactic ocean, with life- bearing planets and especially intelligent life separated by vast distances? On the surface, the most obvious evidence bearing on these questions is the fact that our home world and host star seem so ordinary. Nicolas Copernicus shattered the prevailing notion that Earth was seated at the center of creation. Succeeding generations of astronomers steadily reinforced the Copernican view as they discovered the true nature of stars, the remote location of our home world within our Galaxy, and the existence of galaxies far, far beyond our own. So pervasive is this view that in the world of modern science, it is almost considered heresy to assert any special qualities to our solar system, our planet, or even ourselves. With an estimated 200 billion stars in the Galaxy and interstellar space filled with the molecules necessary for life, many scientists and laymen naturally conclude that we could not be alone- we must share our Galaxy with hundreds, thousands, or perhaps millions of other civilizations. But on closer examination, this simple logic falls apart. Recent studies in a variety of scientific fields suggest that life must pass through a series of bottlenecks on the road to intelligence. On Earth, a long sequence of improbable events transpired in just the right way to bring forth our existence, as if we had won a million-dollar lottery a million times in a row. Contrary to the prevailing belief, maybe we are special. Maybe humanity stands alone on a fertile island in the largely sterile waters of the galactic ocean." (Naeye, R., "OK, Where Are They?," Astronomy, Vol. 24, No. 7, July 1996, pp.36-43, p.38) 17/05/2006 "Scientists who ponder this deep question are limited by the fact they have only one example of life to study: life on Earth. Science-fiction writers have envisioned an amazing variety of life-forms totally unlike any on our planet. But sci-fi writers are limited only by their imaginations, not by physical reality. Life as we know it, from astronomy aficionados to the lowest bacteria, shares several fundamental characteristics, and most scientists think these will be common to all life in the universe." (Naeye, R., "OK, Where Are They?," Astronomy, Vol. 24, No. 7, July 1996, pp.36-43, p.38) 17/05/2006 "Extraterrestrials could be in our solar system right now, with cloaking technology that hides them from our view while they patiently wait for us to mature. When scientists are confronted by multiple explanations for a phenomenon, they generally apply Occam's razor: Accept the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions and reject the more fantastic and convoluted explanations. Perhaps the Galaxy is bustling with life and civilizations. But the simplest explanation, given the evidence in hand, points in the direction that we share the Galaxy with few others, or none at all. ... it seems prudent to conclude that we are alone in a vast cosmic ocean, that in one important sense, we ourselves are special in that we go against the Copernican grain. If so, humanity represents matter and energy evolved to its highest level; whereby a tiny part of the universe on a small rock orbiting an average star in the outskirts of an ordinary spiral galaxy has brought itself to a state of consciousness that can ponder the questions of how the universe, and life itself, began, and what it all means." (Naeye R., "OK, Where Are They?," Astronomy, July 1996, Vol. 24, No. 7, p.43) 17/05/2006 "At the present state of our knowledge, the origin of life remains a deep mystery. That is not to say, of course, that it will always be so. Undoubtedly the physical and chemical processes that led to the emergence of life from non-life were immensely complicated, and it is no surprise that we find such processes hard to model mathematically or to duplicate in the laboratory. In the face of this basic obstacle, one can distinguish between three philosophical positions concerning the origin of life: (i) it was a miracle; (ii) it was a stupendously improbable accident; and (iii) it was an inevitable consequence of the outworking of the laws of physics and chemistry, given the right conditions. I wish to state at the outset that I shall argue strongly for (iii), which seems to be the position adopted by most of the SETI scientists." (Davies, P.C.W., "Are We Alone?: Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life," Penguin: London, 1995, p.14) 17/05/2006 "J. Arthur Thomson ... felt constrained to devote a considerable part of his work to presentation of proofs of the truth of evolution. This would be a waste of time now. Ample proof has been repeatedly presented and is available to anyone who really wants to know the truth. It is a human peculiarity, occasionally endearing but more often maddening, that no amount of proof suffices to convince those who simply do not want to know or to accept the truth. Reiteration for the sake of these wishful thinkers would be futile, and reiteration for those who do want to know the truth is quite unnecessary because they already know it or can easily find it in earlier works. In the present study the factual truth of organic evolution is taken as established and the enquiry goes on from there." (Simpson, G.G., "The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and of its Significance for Man," , Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1960, reprint, pp.4-5) 17/05/2006 "But if humans can make new varieties of plants and animals, must not nature do so also? This related process is called natural selection. That life has changed fundamentally over the aeons is entirely clear from the alterations we have made in the beasts and vegetables during the short tenure of humans on Earth, and from the fossil evidence. The fossil record speaks to us unambiguously of creatures that once were present in enormous numbers and that have now vanished utterly. Far more species have become extinct in the history of the Earth than exist today; they are the terminated experiments of evolution. The genetic changes induced by domestication have occurred very rapidly. The rabbit was not domesticated until early medieval times ...; coffee in the fifteenth century; the sugar beet in the nineteenth century; and the mink is still in the earliest stages of domestication. In less than ten thousand years, domestication has increased the weight of wool grown by sheep from less than one kilogram of rough hairs to ten or twenty kilograms of uniform, fine down; or the volume of milk given by cattle during a lactation period from a few hundred to a million cubic centimeters. If artificial selection can make such major changes in so short a period of time, what must natural selection, working over billions of years, be capable of? The answer is all the beauty and diversity the biological world. Evolution is a fact, not a theory." (Sagan, C.E., "Cosmos," , Macdonald: London, 1981, reprint, pp.27-28) 17/05/2006 "What does it take to become a whale, to live at the other end of the scale from a virus? Now, we know. Whales, like all mammals, breathe air and give milk. When did they take to the water and what were they before they made the move? Their new life involved more than a change of medium. They grew, to a hundred and fifty tons in the case of the blue whale (which is to humans as we are to mice). The skull and neck became shorter and the nose moved backwards. The ear closed and sound now passes through a layer of fat. Legs evolved into fins, with extra bones in the back to match. Beneath the skin were other changes. The deepest diver can make it to four hundred feet without artificial aids and holds his breath for a few minutes to do so. The sperm whale dives to a mile and more, and can stay under for two hours. The change is in its chemistry rather than its lungs. Whale muscles contain large amounts of myoglobin, a protein that pulls oxygen from the blood. Their oxygen is kept not as a gas, but as a chemical com pound. This in turn allows the lungs to collapse at depth as a defence against the bends (nitrogen bubbles in the blood) as the animal comes to the surface." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, p.17) 17/05/2006 "Most of the fossils suggest that the distant ancestors of whales were hyena-like beasts called mesonychids, scavengers for carrion and hunters of fish. They underwent a radical change of habit. The Simla Hills of Northern India, with their mountain climate, were a holiday haven for the British rulers of the Raj. There, several thousand feet above sea-level, was found a fifty-three-million-year-old jawbone from Himalayacetus, the first known ancestor of today's whales. The fossil came from a beast that seems to have spent time both in fresh water and in a long-lost sea. A fifty-million-year-old skull discovered in the Kala Chitta Hills of Pakistan came from an animal further on the way to whaledom. Pakicetus, as it was called, lacks the fatty earplugs of its descendants. Its days were passed between land and water, with an inner ear midway between those of whales and of land animals, allowing it to hear both in the air and beneath the surface. Those oldest whales lived in a vanished ocean, the Tethys Sea, now replaced by India and Pakistan, its floor thrust into the skies to build the highest peaks in the world. Only later did their descendants escape to fill the seven seas. A younger version, found in Egypt, was christened Ambulocetus natans (the swimming walking-whale) after its large back legs, with seven-inch toes. Ambulocetus was about the size of a sea-lion, with a long tail quite different from a whale's flukes. Another relative, from three million years later, has its limbs reduced by a third. Yet another version, Basilosaurus (whose name reflects its first designation as a `king lizard', regal indeed at seventy feet) lived about forty-five million years ago. It had small but perfectly formed rear limbs projecting a few inches from its body. With these fossils, almost all the steps from land animal to leviathan have been found." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, pp.17-18) 17/05/2006 "The mammals of today hint at how the first whales leapt into the waves. Many can, with more or less embarrassment, make their way in water. Dogs paddle, humans do the breaststroke, seals swim better still. Modern whales do the job so well that they cannot walk on land. The feet of Ambulocetus put it between wind and water, in the otter league, with back feet bigger than those in front. It swam better than any dog and may have been as good as a sea-otter, as it moved not just with kicks of its rear legs but by flexing its spine. This was a large step towards the whales, which do the same with the help of an evolutionary novelty, a pair of giant flukes." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, p.18) 17/05/2006 "Whales do not, it must be said, look much like any other animal. Fossils may tie them to the ungulates, but they seem quite distinct from any extant member of the group. The genes tell a different story. The DNA responsible for the proteins in milk and in blood-clots shows whales to be closely related to hippopotami. The molecular tree of hoofed mammals sprang from a common root sixty-five million (rather than sixty) years ago. Like that of immunodeficiency viruses it is bushy, which makes it hard to sort out where the branches leading to horses, rhinos and the others split off. Nevertheless, the marriage of hippopotamus with whale is clear. The molecular clock, its rate set by the bones that fill the rocks, points at an ancestor common to whales and hippos some fifty-five million years ago, just before Himalayacetus, the earliest known fossil whale. Whales and hippos may not much resemble each other nowadays, but retain some hints of kinship. Hippos spend their time in the water and on land; and some early whales did the same. Young hippos swim before they can walk, and hippos and whales each nurse their young underwater as they squeak and squeal through river or sea. Both are hairless, neither can sweat and their males each keep their testicles inside the body rather than in a convenient bag. Although genes hint that the animal most like a whale is a hippopotamus, there is no manifest link between that ponderous river-dweller and those swift predators, the mesonychids. New fossils, though, show the mesonychids to be descendants of an ancestor shared with whales, rather than on the direct whale line." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, p.21) 17/05/2006 "The virus and the whale each tell a story of how descent with modification leads, in time, to new forms of life. Each, in its disproportionate way, affirms the truth of evolution. Although much is obscure, it is impossible to entertain any doubt, after a century of the most deliberate study and dispassionate judgement, that the view which most naturalists once entertained - namely that each species has been independently created - is erroneous. To deny the truth on grounds of faith alone debases both science and religion. The point was made by Galileo himself. Summoned to explain his views and their conflict with Scripture, he argued that the Church had no choice but to agree with the discoveries of science. It would, he said, be `a terrible detriment for the souls if people found themselves convinced by proof of something that it was made a sin to believe'. Creationists have not yet faced that fact." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, pp.21-22) 17/05/2006 "No biologist can work without the theory of evolution. Like Galileo's notion of a solar system with the sun at its centre, Darwin's long argument makes sense of their subject. Ideas of origin were once, like Moby Dick, allegories. They helped to comprehend not the structure but the meaning of the Universe. Some still hope to find symbolic significance in Darwinism. They will not: but his work turned the study of life into a science rather than a collection of unrelated anecdotes." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, p.22) 18/05/2006 "One of the sadistic pleasures to be had from the defunct age of selfish-genery was to witness the mental loops of its proponents as they tried to extricate themselves from the illogical cul-de-sacs of their own devising. In his writings, Richard Dawkins' pseudo-'paradox of the organism' was the climactic apotheosis of a belief in his own rhetorical devices which forced him to suspend all scientific rationale and modesty. The argument is as follows and, in the interests of fairness, I quote directly: `the organism should, by rights, be torn apart by its competing replicators', yet `the organism functions as such a convincingly unified whole that biologists in general have not seen there is a paradox at all!'. The genes get around this little problem by deciding on a minimum shared list of `desiderata' of what to do: `They all 'agree' over what is the optimum state of every aspect of phenotype, all agree on the correct wing length, leg colour ... etc.' [Dawkins, R., "Parasites, desiderata lists and the paradox of the organism," Parasitology, Vol. 100, No.S, 1991, pp.S63- S73]. This Dawkinsesque loop now begs the question: which is the unit of selection? Is it the selfish gene or the organism (the collective love-in of happy, hippy desiderata lists)?" (Dover, G.A., "Looping the evolutionary loop." Review of "The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language," by John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry, Oxford University Press, 1999. Nature, Vol. 399, 20 May 1999, pp.217-218, p.217) 18/05/2006 "I shall not be saying: `If you look at the behaviour of baboons you will find it to be selfish; therefore the chances are that human behaviour is selfish also'. The logic of my `Chicago gangster' argument is quite different. It is this. Humans and baboons have evolved by natural selection. If you look at the way natural selection works, it seems to follow that anything that has evolved by natural selection should be selfish. Therefore we must expect that when we go and look at the behaviour of baboons, humans, and all other living creatures, we shall find it to be selfish. If we find that our expectation is wrong, if we observe that human behaviour is truly altruistic, then we shall be faced with something puzzling, something that needs explaining." (Dawkins, R., "The Selfish Gene," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1989, New edition, pp.4-5. Emphasis original) 18/05/2006 "In a letter to a friend, Charles Darwin once referred to the apparently sudden appearance of the angiosperms in the fossil record as "an abominable mystery" In the early fossil-bearing strata, about 400 million years old, one finds simple vascular plants, such as rhyniophytes and trimerophytes. Then there is a Devonian and Carboniferous proliferation of ferns, lycophytes, sphenophytes, and progymnosperms, which were dominant until about 300 million years ago. The early seed plants first appeared in the Late Devonian period and led to the gymnosperm-dominated Mesozoic floras. Finally, early in the Cretaceous period, and at least 130 million years ago ..., angiosperms appear in the fossil record, gradually achieving worldwide dominance in the vegetation by about 90 million years ago. By about 75 million years ago; many modern families and some modern genera of this phylum already existed ... ." (Raven, P.H., Evert, R.F. & Eichhorn, S.E., "Biology of Plants," , W.H. Freeman and Co/Worth Publishers: New York NY, Sixth Edition, 1999, p.518) 18/05/2006 "Since the time of Darwin, scientists have attempted to understand the ancestry of the angiosperms. One approach has been to search for their possible ancestors in the fossil record. In this effort, particular emphasis has been placed on assessing the ease with which the ovule-bearing structures of various gymnosperms could be transformed into a carpel. Recently, phylogenetic analyses (cladistics) based on fossil, morphological, and molecular data have revitalized attempts to define the major natural groups of seed plants and to understand their interrelationships. The most striking result from recent phylogenetic analyses is the support that they have provided for earlier ideas that the Bennettitales ... and gnetophytes ... are the seed plants most closely related to angiosperms. The term "anthophytes" (not to be confused with the use of the term Anthophyta here to refer to angiosperms) has been proposed to refer collectively to the Bennettitales, gnetophytes, and angiosperms. It emphasizes the shared possession of flowerlike reproductive structures by these three groups of seed plant. Two contrasting hypotheses have been proposed for the phylogenetic relationships among anthophytes. One hypothesis proposes that the gnetophytes are monophyletic, and the derived similarities that Gnetum ... and Welwitschia ... share with angiosperms are interpreted as examples of convergent evolution .... The second hypothesis considers the gnetophytes to be paraphyletic, with Gnetum and Welwitschia as sister groups to angiosperms .... The latter hypothesis interprets the derived similarities of Gnetum, Welwitschia, and angiosperms to be homologous. It is significant that the Bennettitales and gnetophytes first appear in the fossil record in the Triassic period, about 225 million years ago. This seems to place some constraints on the possible earliest date of the appearance of the angiosperms-that is, on the possibility that they could have arisen any earlier." (Raven, P.H., Evert, R.F. & Eichhorn, S.E., "Biology of Plants," , W.H. Freeman and Co/Worth Publishers: New York NY, Sixth Edition, 1999, pp.518-519) 18/05/2006 "The unique characteristics of the angiosperms include flowers, closed carpels, double fertilization leading to endosperm formation, a three-nucleate microgametophyte and an eight-nucleate megagametophyte, stamens with two pairs of pollen sacs, and the presence of sieve tubes and companion cells in the phloem ... . These similarities clearly indicate that the members of this phylum were derived from a single common ancestor. This common ancestor of the angiosperms ultimately would have been derived from a seed plant that lacked flowers, closed carpels, and fruits. The earliest known, clearly identifiable fossils of angiosperms are flowers and pollen grains up to 130 million years old, from the Early Cretaceous period ... . There are intriguing suggestions that much older fossils-up to 200 million years old-may have had some, but perhaps not all, of the characteristic features of angiosperms. Currently the interpretation of these fossils is enigmatic, and it appears most likely that the phylum did in fact originate in the Early Cretaceous (or perhaps uppermost Jurassic) period." " (Raven, P.H., Evert, R.F. & Eichhorn, S.E., "Biology of Plants," , W.H. Freeman and Co/Worth Publishers: New York NY, Sixth Edition, 1999, p.519) 19/05/2006 "The main objection to the argument from design involving complexity is that many systems which display complex order and structure can, in fact, be explained as the end result of perfectly ordinary natural processes. This does not, of course, prove that all ordered systems have arisen naturally, but it makes us cautious about inferring the existence of a designer purely on the rather superficial grounds that something looks too complicated to have arisen by chance. One must also have some understanding of the processes whereby complex order can develop. The classic conflict between these opposing philosophies came with Charles Darwin's publication of The Origin of the Species. The exquisite organization of living creatures seems to offer the best possible demonstration of a supernatural designer, yet the evidence of biology and geology provide an adequate explanation for the extraordinary characteristics of biological organisms. Evolution of biological order by mutation and natural selection is now accepted virtually unanimously by scientists and theologians alike. [Falsehood or Truism & Argument from Authority] Though Darwin's original theory is by no means established in its entirety, the basic principles and mechanisms of evolution are no longer seriously in doubt. The essential feature of Darwinian evolution is its accidental nature. Mutations occur by blind chance, and as a result of these purely random alterations in the characteristics of the organisms nature is provided with a wide range of options from which to select on the basis of suitability and advantage. In this way, complex organized structures can arise from the accumulation of vast numbers of small accidents. The corresponding increase in order (fall in entropy) occasioned by this trend is more than paid for by the much greater number of damaging mutations which are weeded out by natural selection. There is thus no conflict with the second law of thermodynamics. Today's beautifully fashioned creatures sit atop a family tree festooned with genetic disasters." (Davies, P.C.W., "God and the New Physics," Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, pp.165-166. Emphasis original9) 19/05/2006 "The conclusion must be that the presence of order in a system, however remarkable and complex it might be, is in itself no guarantee that a designer is necessary. Order can, and does, occur spontaneously. These observations still, however, leave open a vital issue. Though the spontaneous appearance of order will not conflict with the second law ofthermodynamics so long as compensatory disorder is generated elsewhere, it is clear that no order at all could exist unless the universe as a whole started out with a considerable stock of negative entropy. If total disorder always increases, in accordance with the second law, then the universe must, it seems, have been created in an orderly condition. Does this not provide strong evidence in favour of a creator-designer? After all, even if natural processes can generate localized order unaided, a fund of negative entropy is still needed to drive those processes in the first place. True, this could only constitute evidence of a designer-by-proxy, a creator who winds up the machine and then lets it crank out whatever structures it will, but even that strategy would involve supernatural dexterity of an astonishing degree, for the following reason. Entropy, or disorder, is closely related to the concepts of probability and arrangement. A high-entropy, or disordered system, is one that can be achieved in a large variety of ways. ... It follows that ordered (low-entropy) states are highly improbable and unstable. They require the careful cooperation of vast numbers of individual molecules. In disordered (high- entropy) states, all the molecules can move about randomly without regard for the others. Now if you were asked to pick an arrangement of molecules at random, it is overwhelmingly likely that you would choose one that corresponds to maximum entropy, simply because there are vastly more possible disorderly arrangements than orderly ones. It is rather like the monkey who tinkers at random on a piano. The chances of his playing a well- known tune rather than a chaotic sequence of notes is minute. A mathematical investigation shows that order is exponentially sensitive to rearrangements. That is to say, the probability of a random choice leading to an ordered state declines exponentially with the degree of negative entropy. ... The exponential factor implies that the odds against randomly-generated order increase astronomically. For example, the probability of a litre of air rushing spontaneously to one end of a box is of the order 10^10^20 to one, where the number 10^10^20 stands for one followed by 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 zeros! Such figures indicate the extreme care with which low- entropy states must be selected from the vast array of possible states. Translated into a cosmological context, the conundrum is this. If the universe is simply an accident, the odds against it containing any appreciable order are ludicrously small. If the big bang was just a random event, then the probability seems overwhelming (a colossal understatement) that the emerging cosmic material would be in thermodynamic equilibrium at maximum entropy with zero order. As this was clearly not the case, it appears hard to escape the conclusion that the actual state of the universe has been `chosen' or selected somehow from the huge number of available states, all but an infinitesimal fraction of which are totally disordered. And if such an exceedingly improbable initial state was selected, there surely had to be a selector or designer to `choose' it? A useful image here is that of a creator equipped with a pin. Before him is a vast `shopping list' of universes, each characterized by their initial state. If the creator picks a universe by sticking in a pin at random, there is an overwhelming probability that the choice will be a highly disordered cosmos with no appreciable structure or organization. Indeed, to find an ordered universe, the creator would have to scout a selection of `models' that is so vast its number could not be written down on a sheet of paper as big as the entire observable universe. The mystery of how the universe got into its low-entropy state has exercised the imagination of several generations of physicists and cosmologists, many of whom have been reluctant to appeal to divine selection." (Davies, P.C.W., "God and the New Physics," Penguin: London, 1990, reprint, pp.166-168. Emphasis original) 19/05/2006 "One alternative method for how an RNA sequence of this length could have been produced on the early Earth has been suggested by James Ferris at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, US. Ferris has performed experiments showing that RNA sequences of up to 50 nucleotides in length can be formed using a type of clay known as montmorillonite (a hydrated aluminosilicate) as both a template and catalyst for linking the nucleotides together. ... Ferris has shown that when a solution of activated nucleotides (where the energy needed for them to link together is already provided in the form of a phosphate bond) is washed over montmorillonite clay, the nucleotides bind to the clay particles, eventually forming chains of RNA up to 14 nucleotides in length. As more nucleotides are washed over the clay surface, these chains can extend to up to 50 nucleotides in length. Furthermore, the clay doesn't just catalyse the formation of RNA strands, it also acts as a template for them, dictating the sequence of the nucleotide units. Ferris says he still isn't sure how the clay does this, although he and his team are doing experiments at the moment to try to find the answer, but he argues that the fact that it does is of great importance. The reason for this is that there wouldn't have been enough organic material on the early Earth to create all possible RNA sequences, therefore by directing the nature of the products formed the clay ensured that only a specific set of RNA sequences, some with catalytic ability, would have built up in the seas of the early Earth. At some point, Ferris believes, a sequence that could catalyse its own replication was created, either directly from the clay or after interacting with other ribozymes. Thus the RNA world would have been born. Once again, however, despite its intellectual appeal, this scenario still has a number of problems. One is that although Ferris gives his nucleotides all the energy they need to link together, in the form of phosphate bonds, there is no evidence that such bonds can form abiotically." (Evans, J., "It's alive isn't it?," Chemistry in Britain, Vol. 36, No. 5, May 2000, pp.44-47, p.46) 19/05/2006 "Some Highlights of Plant Phylogeny The fossil record chronicles four major periods of plant evolution, which are also evident in the diversity of modern plants ... . Each period was an adaptive radiation that followed the evolution of structures that opened new opportunities on the land. The first period of evolution was associated with the origin of plants from their aquatic ancestors, a group of green algae known as charophytes, during the Ordovician period of the Paleozoic era, about 475 million years ago. The first terrestrial adaptations included spores toughened by sporopollenin and jacketed gametangia that protected gametes and embryos. " (Campbell, N.A., Reece, J.B. & Mitchell, L.G., "Biology," , Benjamin/Cummings: Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, pp.548-549. Emphasis original) 19/05/2006 "Classification of Plants Plant biologists use the term division for the major plant groups within the plant kingdom. This taxonomic category corresponds to phylum, the highest unit of classification within the animal kingdom. Divisions, like phyla, are further subdivided into classes, orders, families, and genera." (Campbell, N.A., Reece, J.B. & Mitchell, L.G., "Biology," , Benjamin/Cummings: Menlo Park CA, Fifth Edition, 1999, p.549. Emphasis original) 19/05/2006 The Life Cycle of Flowering Plants Includes a Unique Double Fertilization Process Flowering plants have an alternation of generations in which the sporophyte generation is clearly dominant and the gametophyte generation is reduced in size to only a few cells ... . Like the gymnosperms and certain other vascular plants, flowering plants are heterosporous and produce two kinds of spores, microspores and megaspores. Each ovule within an ovary contains a megasporocyte (megaspore mother cell) that undergoes meiosis, producing four haploid megaspores. Three of these disintegrate; one divides mitotically and develops into a female gametophyte, which is also called an embryo sac. The embryo sac contains eight haploid nuclei, including one egg and two polar nuclei. The egg and the polar nuclei are directly involved in fertilization. The anther contains microsporocytes (microspore mother cells) that each undergo meiosis to form four haploid microspores. Each microspore develops into a male gametophyte, which is also called a pollen grain. Pollen is transferred to the stigma of the carpel and, if compatible, germinates and grows a thin pollen tube down the style and into the ovary. A cell within the pollen grain divides to form two nonflagellated male gametes, called pollen grain sperm nuclei, or simply sperm nuclei. Both sperm nuclei are involved in the fertilization process. Something happens during sexual reproduction in flowering plants that does not occur anywhere else in the living world. When the sperm nuclei enter the embryo sac, both of them participate in fertilization. One sperm nucleus fuses with the egg, forming a zygote that will grow by mitosis and develop into a plant embryo in the seed. The second sperm nucleus fuses with the two haploid polar nuclei, forming a triploid (3n) cell that grows by mitosis and develops into endosperm in the seed. This process, involving two separate cell fusions, is called double fertilization and is, with one exception [a gymnosperm, Ephedra nevadensis], unique to flowering plants." (Solomon, E.P., Berg, L.R., Martin, D.W. & Villee, C.A., "Biology," , Harcourt Brace: Orlando FL, Third Edition, 1993, pp.588-589. Emphasis original) 19/05/2006 "Angiosperms The flowering plants (division Anthophyta) differ from all other seed plants in that their ovules are enclosed within the tissue of the parent sporophyte in structures called carpels ... . The pollen grains of the flowering plants reach a specialized portion of the carpel, the stigma, and then germinate; thus pollination in the plants of this division is indirect. Pollen tubes that emerge from the pollen grains grow down through the tissue of the carpel, reaching the ovule and ultimately the egg. This contrasts with the gymnosperms, in which the ovules are directly exposed to the air, at least at the time of pollination. The pollen reaches them directly or falls in their vicinity. Because of their enclosed ovules and seeds, the flowering plants are called angiosperms, a name derived from the Greek words angion, or `vessel,' and sperma. The `vessel,' or carpel, ultimately matures into a fruit that encloses the mature ovules, or seeds. The fruit itself has become an important unit of dispersal in the flowering plants ... Angiosperms are characterized primarily by features of their reproductive system. The unique structure known as the carpel encloses the ovules and matures into the fruit. Since the ovules are enclosed, pollination is indirect. The angiosperms, although they too have seeds, could not have evolved directly from any of the living divisions of gymnosperms; they differ in too many important ways. However, we would classify the ancestor of the angiosperms as a gymnosperm it we knew what it was-it must have formed seeds and had naked ovules. The form of enclosure of the seeds is what defines an angiosperm, and seeds must originally have been present-and naked-for this form of enclosure to have evolved." (Raven, P.H. & Johnson, G.B., "Biology," , Wm. C. Brown: Dubuque IA, Third Edition, 1995, p.677) 20/05/2006 "My critics are sure to criticise my competence to discuss the problems at issue, since books on this topic are usually written by zoologists, palaeontologists, geneticists or other like biological specialists. But obviously the problem long ago transcended all these fields, singly or combined, and all these are out of their depth, too, in any far ranging discussion of the features of evolution. ... Few opinions of men are sacrosanct, and Evolution is merely one view of how the world of Nature reached its present status. The loud and persistent attestations that it is not theory but `fact' merely serve to indicate how shaky some of its foundations are." (Shute E., "Flaws in the Theory of Evolution," , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 1980 , Eighth printing, p.230) 20/05/2006 "The lady protests too much, methinks." (Shakespeare, W., "Hamlet," Act III, Scene II. http://www-tech.mit.edu/Shakespeare/hamlet/hamlet.3.2.html) 20/05/2006 "Angiosperms were the last major plant group to evolve, appearing first in the early Cretaceous and considerably abundant and variable by the late Cretaceous. Among other features, they share unique flower structures that enable insects or birds to pollinate many of them, and they also bear unique seeds that are often adapted to dispersal by other animals. The adaptive advantage of pollination by animals is the simple one of ensuring cross-fertilization with other members of the same species by using a relatively small amount of pollen, compared to the large amounts of pollen necessary in random wind pollination. As a result, angiosperm flowers, derived from leaves modified into petals, sepals, and related structures, are among the most intricate and attractive organs that plants ever developed ... . They have size, color, and odor differences that can attract specific animal pollinators-an advantage that can spread so rapidly that even some closely related plants have evolved flowers that can discriminate among pollinators, while pollinators have `coevolved' mechanisms to feed on specific flowers ... ." (Strickberger, M.W., "Evolution," Jones and Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury MA, Third edition, 2000, p.308) 21/05/2006 "This odd effect of the great agnostics in arousing doubts deeper than their own might he illustrated in many ways. I take only one. As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith, from Huxley to Bradlaugh, a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind- the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, hut it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. ... And then in a quiet hour a strange thought struck me like a still thunderbolt. There had suddenly come into my mind another explanation. Suppose we heard an unknown man spoken of by many men. Suppose we were puzzled to hear that some men said he was too tall and some too short; some objected to his fatness, some lamented his leanness; some thought him too dark, and some too fair. one explanation (as has been already admitted) would be that he might be an odd shape. But there is another explanation. He might be the right shape. Outrageously tall men might feel him to be short. Very short men might feel him to be tall. Old bucks who are growing stout might consider him insufficiently filled out; old beaux who were growing thin might feel that he expanded beyond the narrow lines of elegance. Perhaps Swedes (who have pale hair like tow) called him a dark man, while negroes considered him distinctly blonde. Perhaps (in short) this extraordinary thing is really the ordinary thing, at least the normal thing, the centre. Perhaps, after all, it is Christianity that is sane and all its critics that are mad-in various ways." (Chesterton, G.K., "Orthodoxy," , Fontana: London, 1961, reprint, pp.83,89) 21/05/2006 "An important shortcoming of Darwin's work was that he gave no reason why new variations were always arising in a species. Many people pointed this out, among them Bishop Wilberforce. The Bishop is usually remembered for asking that great champion of evolution, Thomas Henry Huxley, in the course of a debate in Oxford in 1860, whether it was `through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed descent from a monkey?'. But Wilberforce is commonly underrated; he had something more important, if less amusing, to ask. He wanted to be shown that: `there is actively at work in nature, co-ordinate with the law of competition and with the existence of such favourable variations, a power of accumulating such favourable variations through successive descents.'" (Brown, R.H., "The Wisdom of Science: It's Relevance to Culture and Religion," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1991, reprint, p.64) 21/05/2006 "In so far as science has afforded us any alternative perspective to that of religion we may conveniently call it `scientific materialism'. In this view, as Jacques Monod [Monod, J., "Chance and Necessity," Collins: Glasgow, 1972] makes only too clear, reason, observation and experiment are seen as the only trustworthy authorities and scientific knowledge is no longer expected to defer to belief. In the view of scientific materialism God is an unnecessary hypothesis and the idea that there is a God who intervenes in the world is patently absurd; a religion which invokes an interventionist God is seen as a losing cause which no longer speaks to the world in a language which it can understand and which, in due course, will become as obsolete as magic." (Brown, R.H., "The Wisdom of Science: It's Relevance to Culture and Religion," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1991, reprint, pp.148-149) 21/05/2006 "Too much of what we still hear in the Christian Churches, and too much of what they ask us to believe - certainly too much of what they ask us to say that we believe - is rooted in that old picture. The most obvious example is the concept of Divine intervention in the world, apparently by magic, a concept which was plausible at a time when the majority of natural phenomena, even rainbows, could not be explained by the science of the time. Furthermore there was no reason in those days to assume that God would be limited by the earthly laws of nature, for the very good reason that everything beyond the orbit of the Moon was believed to be literally 'super-natural'. In such a context it is not surprising that mystery should be interpreted as magic, the essence of magic being that an action is apparently brought about by compelling nature and not by understanding it. That is, of course, what we find in the stories of miracles in the Bible where water is magically transformed into wine and, again, in those doctrines which invoke a belief in magical events such as Virgin birth and bodily resurrection - doctrines to which people are still expected to give public assent when they recite the creeds of our major Christian Churches. Quite clearly the whole idea of supernatural intervention in the physical world, which pervades the traditional presentation of the Christian message, belongs to an obsolete world-view and is hopelessly at odds with the world-view of modern science." (Brown, R.H., "The Wisdom of Science: It's Relevance to Culture and Religion," , Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1991, reprint, pp.148-149. Emphasis original) 21/05/2006 "The present Universe began about 13-15 billion years ago, but it was a long time before the Solar System arose. Four and a half billion years ago, in a Universe that would look quite familiar to us and which had already existed for perhaps 10 billion years, a mass of gas and dust became detached from a larger cloud in a spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy.Within about a hundred thousand years, this mass collapsed under its own gravity into a disc. In the centre of this swirling mass of gas and dust, a star that became our Sun condensed. If the disc had been larger or spinning more rapidly, it would have formed a double or triple star system; such as constitute about 80 per cent of all stars. However our disc was just the right size to make one rather than two stars. A little material was left over, from which the planets formed over the next 100 million years. The primitive disc, called the solar nebula, consisted mainly (98 per cent) of gas (hydrogen and helium), plus about two per cent of elements heavier than helium, which form the remainder of the Periodic Table of the chemical elements. These elements (called 'metals' by astronomers to the annoyance of chemists) are formed by nuclear reactions inside stars and are dispersed as the star dies or explodes. It takes several billion years by these slow processes to make up the two per cent that we and the planets are made of. So rocky planets that are made of oxygen, silicon, magnesium, aluminium, iron and the rest can only arise in a 'mature' Universe." (Taylor, S.R., "The Solar System: An Environment For Life?," in Walter, M., ed., et al., "To Mars and Beyond: Search for the Origins of Life," Art Exhibitions Australia: Sydney & National Museum of Australia: Canberra, Australia, 2001, p.58) 21/05/2006 "Whilst the fact of evolution is accepted by every biologist, the mode in which it has occurred and the mechanism by which it has been brought about are still disputable. The only two 'theories of evolution' which have gained any general currency, those of Lamarck and of Darwin, rest on a most insecure basis; the validity of the assumptions on which they rest has seldom been seriously examined, and they do not interest most of the younger zoologists. It is because I feel that recent advances in zoology have made possible a real investigation of these postulates that I am devoting my address to them." (Watson, D.M.S., "Adaptation," Nature, Vol. 124, No. 3119, August 10, 1929, pp.231-234, p.231) 23/05/2006 "It should not, however, be overlooked that certain rather strongly marked variations, which no one would rank as mere individual differences, frequently recur owing to a similar organisation being similarly acted on,-of which fact numerous instances could be given with our domestic productions. In such cases, if the varying individual did not actually transmit to its offspring its newly acquired character, it would undoubtedly transmit to them, as long as the existing conditions remained the same, a still stronger tendency to vary in the same manner. There can also be little doubt that the tendency to vary in the same manner has often been so strong that all the individuals of the same species have been similarly modified without the aid of any form of selection." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, reprint, p.72) 23/05/2006 "In a nutshell, where Darwinism claims that all heritable variations are due to chance, `Lamarckism' claims that changes evoked by the environment - such as the swelling of muscles on doing heavy work - can become inherited. This is known as the inheritance of acquired characteristics. ... Darwin himself, as a matter of fact, was inclined to believe that such inheritance occurred and cited the reported case of a man who had lost his fingers and bred sons without fingers. He said that `the tendency to vary is so strong that all the individuals of the same species have been similarly modified without the aid of any form of selection' (my italics) [Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species," 1872, Sixth edition, Senate: London, 1994, reprint, p.72]. It was the neo-Darwinians, such as Haldane, Huxley, Fisher and Sewall Wright who, in the 1930s, made such an issue of the matter, backed by men like Simpson, Mayr, and Dobzhansky - all figures we shall meet later - and did so in terms so sweeping as to make a sceptic suspect they had an uneasy conscience. For instance, Professor C.D. Darlington of Oxford called it `an evil theory' and said that to impugn Darwin's theory was `ignorance and effrontery'. Harvard's Professor Bernard Davis is even more categoric. `Except for those sceptics who are willing to discard rationality,' he says crushingly, `Darwin's theory has now become Darwin's law.'" (Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.36) 23/05/2006 "Scientific theories are the product of the age in which they are conceived. They are usually in need of amplification and modification in the light of fresh intuitions. Thus Copernicus' view of the universe has been modified by Einstein's new insights. Euclidean geometry is modified by the new disciplines of topology. Quantum physics has modified mechanistic models of matter. And so one would expect scientists to regard Darwinism - or should I say neo-Darwinism. - as a theory. They don't, it seems, in the case of natural selection. Here many appear to have raised a theory to the status of a dogma, that is, a statement of belief that cannot be questioned without impiety. Rattray Taylor quotes, for example, Professor C.D. Darlington of Oxford, who said that to impugn Darwin's theory was `ignorance and effrontery' and Professor Bernard David who wrote: 'Except for those sceptics who are willing to discard rationality, Darwin's theory has become Darwin's law.' [Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.36] Lesser people often use more pejorative language. (Montefiore, H., "The Probability of God," SCM: London, 1985, p.75) 23/05/2006 "When such emotion is aroused, it is appropriate to look for its cause. Professor Mary Hesse writes: `It is quite clear that for the general public educated in Western society, scientific accounts of the origin and destiny of the world and of the status of human beings within it, have replaced the traditional mythical accounts given in various forms in all religions, including in particular biblical religion. In other words, whatever other significance scientific theory has, it certainly has the status of cosmological myth in our society, as can be seen in the way "origins" are taught in schools, and in the popularity of media presentations of fundamental science, both of physics and biology.' [Hesse, M., "Cosmology as Myth," Concilium, June 1983, p.51] If Professor Hesse is right, the story of how natural selection works in evolution forms one of the basic `myths' which influence the imagination and affect the assumptions of the secular age in which we live. It therefore has a natural appeal to those nurtured on rationalism rather than religion. As William Temple wrote: `It is obvious that for some students at least the impulse towards acceptance of "natural selection" as the one and only mode of evolution came from a mechanistic habit of mind and a desire at all costs to dispense with providential "design".' [Temple, W. , "Nature Man and God," Macmillan, 1934, p.288] (Montefiore, H., "The Probability of God," SCM: London, 1985, pp.75-76) 23/05/2006 "It is easy enough to believe that selection favours certain modifications once they are established, and that it disfavours others. The whole question is: how do such precisely adapted modifications arise? The geneticists say: pure luck. Their opponents say: in response to a demand. The geneticists say: no one has ever demonstrated the inheritance of acquired characteristics unequivocally. But then no one has demonstrated that adaptive modifications arise by chance. They have been shown to arise, and to be favoured by selection, but how they arise is as much a mystery as ever. Brutal treatment of the genetic material will produce abnormal and defective forms. Prolonged selection will favour the development of small modifications. But the origin of complex modifications remains a mystery. ... In short, despite the attempts of the geneticists to treat the battle as won, actually the question remains wide open. The great paleontologist H.F. Osborn summed the matter up as long ago as 1895 when he said: `If acquired variations are transmitted there must be some unknown principle in heredity; if they are not, there must be some unknown factor in evolution.'" (Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.38. Emphasis original) 24/05/2006 "These new discoveries reinforce the message from our own system. Nothing resembling our Solar System has been discovered. The conditions that existed to make our set of planets are not easily reproduced elsewhere. Indeed, no two planets in the Solar System are alike. Likewise, the 80-odd moons are also odd characters that defy efforts to put them into pigeonholes. So it should have come as no surprise that when nature tried elsewhere to build planets the end result was different. We are left with the conclusion that attempts to find some general formulae for recreating the detail of the Solar System are likely to be on the wrong track. Local accidents have predominated over general theories, just as some overlooked detail of the landscape may ruin the course of a battle that was planned according to the best principles of military strategy." (Taylor, S.R., "The Solar System: An Environment For Life?," in Walter, M., ed., et al., "To Mars and Beyond: Search for the Origins of Life," Art Exhibitions Australia: Sydney & National Museum of Australia: Canberra, Australia, 2001, p.67) 24/05/2006 "In his beautifully written book, The Creation, the Oxford physical chemist Peter Atkins ... asks what the minimum necessary physical conditions are, what is the minimum amount of design work that a very lazy Creator would have to do, in order to see to it that the universe and, later, elephants and other complex things, would one day come into existence. The answer, from his point of view as a physical scientist, is that the Creator could be infinitely lazy. The fundamental original units that we need to postulate, in order to understand the coming into existence of everything, either consist of literally nothing (according to some physicists), or (according to other physicists) they are units of the utmost simplicity, far too simple to need anything so grand as deliberate Creation." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.14) 25/05/2006 "Special Pleading: `having it both ways' ... One-sided pleading becomes special pleading when you `have it both ways.' You find the reasons where your advantage lies, but refuse to apply the same principle to yourself that you apply to others. Salesmen, lawyers, debaters are not the only people ever guilty of rationalizing in this way. Scientists, educators, statesmen -in fact anybody who has something to gain or who has merely warmed to his argument-can be found on occasion ignoring or twisting the facts to his own advantage." (Fearnside, W.W. & Holther, W.B., "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, 25th Printing, p.108. Emphasis original) 25/05/2006 "Lip Service All of us are more or less restrained by the taboos current in our particular society, in our culture. Perhaps this is fortunate since it promotes the stability of social institutions and makes for cultural unity. At any rate, the pressure which society exerts to make individuals conform to its beliefs and ideals is generally sufficient to prevent all but occasional individuals from openly repudiating the prevailing notions. ... Consequently, individuals who find themselves opposed to some cultural norm often see the wisdom of giving lip service to it. In fact, a person may render lip service to an accepted ideal of his group without even realizing that he is constrained in his belief. For instance, an individual may support an ideal such as racial equality without ever questioning the depth of his belief until one day he is called upon to put it into public practice. Sometimes lip service is a smoke screen consciously created, as with the person who proclaims his support of sexual taboos which he clandestinely violates. Such a person has made the passage from cowardly lip service to flagrant hypocrisy. It is not a difficult passage. As is the case with much faulty reasoning, lip service often goes unnoticed because it is so hidden in verbiage that the announced ideal and the inconsistent behavior are not exposed to sharp contrast. Or time may obscure the fact that an individual's deeds do not match his words. " (Fearnside, W.W. & Holther, W.B., "Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument," Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs NJ, 1959, 25th Printing, pp.108-109. Emphasis original) 25/05/2006 "But as much as we would like to take a unified view of nature, we keep encountering a stubborn duality in the role of intelligent life in the universe, as both subject and student. We see this even at the deepest level of modern physics. In quantum mechanics the state of any system is described by a mathematical object known as the wave function. According to the interpretation of quantum mechanics worked out in Copenhagen in the early 1930s, the rules for calculating the wave function are of a very different character from the principles used to interpret it. ... The Copenhagen interpretation holds that when we measure any quantity, such as position or momentum, we are intervening in a way that causes an unpredictable change in the wave function, resulting in a wave function for which the measured quantity has some definite value, in a manner that cannot be described by the deterministic Schrödinger equation. ... Measurement is thus regarded as something intrinsically different from anything else in nature. And although opinions differ, it is hard to identify anything special that qualifies some process to be called a measurement, except its effect on a conscious mind." (Weinberg, S., "Life in the Universe," Scientific American, Vol. 271, No. 4, October 1994, Special Issue, pp.22-27, pp.25-26) 25/05/2006 "These mysteries are heightened when we reflect how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values. The best known of these quantities is the energy of one of the excited states of the carbon 12 nucleus. There is an essential step in the chain of nuclear reactions that build up heavy elements in stars. In this step, two helium nuclei join together to form the unstable nucleus of beryllium 8, which sometimes before fissioning absorbs another helium nucleus, forming carbon 12 in this excited state. The carbon 12 nucleus then emits a photon and decays into the stable state of lowest energy. In subsequent nuclear reactions carbon is built up into oxygen and nitrogen and the other heavy elements necessary for life. But the capture of helium by beryllium 8 is a resonant process, whose reaction rate is a sharply peaked function of the energies of the nuclei involved. If the energy of the excited state of carbon 12 were just a little higher, the rate of its formation would be much less, so that almost all the beryllium 8 nuclei would fission into helium nuclei before carbon could be formed. The universe would then consist almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, without the ingredients for life." (Weinberg, S., "Life in the Universe," Scientific American, Vol. 271, No. 4, October 1994, Special Issue, pp.22-27, p.27) 25/05/2006 "Opinions differ as to the degree to which the constants of nature must be fine-tuned to make life necessary. ... But one constant does seem to require an incredible fine-tuning: it is the vacuum energy, or cosmological constant, mentioned in connection with inflationary cosmologies. Although we cannot calculate this quantity, we can calculate some contributions to it (such as the energy of quantum fluctuations in the gravitational field that have wavelengths no shorter than about 10-^33 centimeter). These contributions come out about 120 orders of magnitude larger than the maximum value allowed by our observations of the present rate of cosmic expansion. If the various contributions to the vacuum energy did not nearly cancel, then, depending on the value of the total vacuum energy, the universe either would go through a complete cycle of expansion and contraction before life could arise or would expand so rapidly that no galaxies or stars could form. Thus, the existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places." (Weinberg, S., "Life in the Universe," Scientific American, Vol. 271, No. 4, October 1994, Special Issue, pp.22-27, p.27) 25/05/2006 "Dawkins, in order to make clear the great difference between the Paleyan explanation of adaptation and his own Darwinian one, writes (for example) as follows. "Natural selection ... has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all." [Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, p.5] These statements (though excessively repetitive) are all true. But alas, they are trivial. For they would still all be true, if we were to put for their subject, instead of "natural selection," "artificial selection." Artificial selection has no purpose in mind. (Cattle breeders have, though.) Artificial selection has no mind. It does not plan for the future (though wheat geneticists do). But no one would be tempted to infer, from these truisms, that purposeful intelligent agents play no part in bringing about artificial selection! In fact the truth of the statements just quoted from Dawkins is a trivial consequence of his having chosen an abstract phrase, "natural selection," as their grammatical subject. In the same way, we could say, with equal truth, that (for example) "business competition" has no mind, or that "warfare" does not plan for the future. But it would be an exceptionally gross error, to infer from these trivial truths, that the purposes and intelligence of businessmen are not among the causes which determine the success or failure of firms, or that the purposes and intelligence of soldiers are not among the causes that decide which army loses and which wins. The question is not, then, whether natural selection is purposeful. The answer to that question is trivially, no; just as it is for artificial selection, business competition, or warfare. Breeders, businessmen, and soldiers, however, certainly are purposeful and intelligent ... " (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, p.271. Emphasis original) 25/05/2006 "To illustrate the difference between scientific and religious`levels of understanding', Mr Haught asked a simple question. What causes a kettle to boil? One could answer, he said, that it is the rapid vibration of water molecules. Or that it is because one has asked one's spouse to switch on the stove. Or that it is `because I want a cup of tea.' None of these explanations conflicts with the others. In the same way, belief in evolution is compatible with religious faith: an omnipotent God could have created a universe in which life subsequently evolved. It makes no sense, argued the professor, to confuse the study of molecular movements by bringing in the `I want tea' explanation." ("Life is a cup of tea," The Economist, October 6, 2005. http://www.economist.com/World/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=4488706) 27/05/2006 "Milton, some say, was the last man to know everything (or to know enough about most things to discuss them with authority). Darwin was the last biologist who could claim that. His mind was, he said, `a machine for grinding general laws out of a large collection of facts'. The hundreds of books and papers referred to in the manuscript of which The Origin was to be a `sketch' include The Cottage Gardener and Country Gentleman's Companion, the India Sporting Review and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Charles Darwin wrote to scores of people, expert and amateur, in search of information, and wove their lore into his case. Nobody could do that now. So great is today's knowledge that there are no Miltons even of biology, no one who has sufficient command of the field to debate it with any colleague, from whatever sphere. To understand evolution involves interests so disparate that it is impossible to embrace them all. That is the joy - and the tragedy - of modern science." (Jones, J.S., "Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated," Doubleday: London, 1999, p.xxii) 27/05/2006 "When I first read The Selfish Gene - it was not in '76, it was a few years later - I was struck by the very first paragraph, and by one of the chief sentences in it ... `We are survival machines, robot machines, blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.' ... When I read the book it changed my life. ... And I also thought, on rereading the book, that the late Steve Gould was really right when he called Richard and me Darwinian fundamentalists. And I want to say what a Darwinian fundamentalist is. A Darwinian fundamentalist is one who recognizes that either you shun Darwinian evolution altogether, or you turn the traditional universe upside down and you accept that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the cause but the fairly recent effects of the mechanistic mill of Darwinian algorithms. It is the unexceptioned view that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the original driving engines, but recent effects that marks, I think, the true Darwinian fundamentalist. And Dawkins insists, and I agree wholeheartedly, that there aren't any good compromise positions. Many have tried to find a compromise position, which salvages something of the traditional right-side- up view, where meaning and purpose rain down from on high. It cannot be done. And the recognition that it cannot be done is I would say, the mark of sane Darwinian fundamentalism." (Dennett, D.C., The Selfish Gene: Thirty Years On," Edge, 16 March 2006. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/selfish06/selfish06_index.html) 27/05/2006 "The basic element of all life of any kind is the cell. However it came into being, the cell is a chemical laboratory of immense complexity. Professor W. H. Thorpe writes: `The cell itself could not possibly function without the cell membranes which contain and selectively isolate the working parts of this laboratory. Biologists have long hoped to find a really `primitive cell' illustrative of the stages between the supposed primitive acellular life and life as we know it now. But there seems little doubt today that there are no primitive cells living on the earth. All the cells that we know are of fantastic complexity. I believe that no biologist or physicist has yet been able to propose even the outlines of a theory as to how such a cell might have been `evolved'. Monod himself sees that the evolution of even the simplest cell `presents herculean problems'. [Thorpe, W.H., "Purpose in a World of Chance," OUP, 1979, p.21]." (Montefiore, H., "The Probability of God," SCM: London, 1985, p.64) 27/05/2006 "The primaeval bacterium, it is generally agreed, lived in an atmosphere which was without oxygen, and derived its energy from anaerobic fermentation. A great leap forward in evolution occurred when cells could use directly solar radiation as their energy source. Photosynthesis evolved, a process which is dependent on cholorophyll and through which carbohydrate is synthesized from water and carbon dioxide and from it (as by products) oxygen is released into the atmosphere. The structure of chlorophyll is somewhat complex, and its biosynthesis requires a number of different enzymes. Two distinct chemical systems are involved to produce this complex structure, which has been the foundation of most living creatures for three billion years. In one of these systems an enzyme is required to produce its components, and in the other another enzyme to put together the structure. (An enzyme is a complex molecule made of amino acids in a particular order to produce a three dimensional structure, and which acts as a catalyst by facilitating chemical reactions between particular substances.) One of the more remarkable results of photosynthesis has been to alter the Earth's atmosphere by the release of oxygen so that in due time the air was oxygen-based. Chlorophyll is green, and so produced blue green algae (an early form of bacteria). The fact that the natural world today is predominantly green shows the prevalence of chlorophyll systems some three billion years later... Scientists have theorized about how chlorophyll evolved and photosynthesis developed. [Rao, K.K., Hall, D.O. & Cammack, R., "The photosynthetic apparatus," Gutfreund, H.,ed., "Biochemical Evolution," CUP, 1981, pp.150ff] They may be able to explain how this mechanism evolved, but, as Gordon Rattray Taylor has written: `Unless there was some inner necessity, some built-in primordial disposition to consolidate into such a pattern, it is past belief that anything so intricate and idiosyncratic should appear.' [Rattray Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Secker & Warburg, 1983, p.207]." (Montefiore, H., "The Probability of God," SCM: London, 1985, p.64) 27/05/2006 "What is life? How can we define it? Many definitions have been proposed, but perhaps the best criterion of life is its capacity for self-repair. With few exceptions, living material is maintained by constant effort. It tends to break down and has to be repaired. ... The efficiency with which organisms restore the original plan, when damage has occurred, has so impressed many observers that they have concluded that some exterior, vitalistic force was needed to explain the phenomenon. ... But one conclusion we can draw: such maintenance requires a source of energy. It is a point which, until recently, biologists have tended to ignore. It was not enough, therefore, for chance to bring about the formation of a replicating molecule or molecular system Right from the start, there must also have been an energy source Clearly this poses a problem. Two major innovations had to occur simultaneously. As Professor S. Granick of the Rockefeller University has put it, the first organism must have been a primitive energy conversion unit." (Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, pp.203-204) 27/05/2006 "Now, in the last analysis, the energy on which all life runs is that of light - sunlight. Sometimes it is extracted directly, sometimes indirectly. Those organisms incapable of photosynthesis - as the tapping of light energy is called - must live parasitically on photosynthesising plants. The earth is flooded with a vast spectrum of ether vibrations, mostly emanating from the sun, from mile-long radio waves down to gamma rays 10,000 billion times shorter. In this spectrum there is only a narrow 'window' of vibrations which are visible to man and which we call light- those lying between 380 and 1,100 millimicrons in length. Atmospheric absorption mops up almost all the remainder. Now, by happy chance (if Darwin is right) living things have evolved pigments which resonate to wavelengths precisely within that band, and this is true both as regards vision and as regards energy. And this circumstance, so Professor George Wald of Harvard maintains, must be true throughout the universe. `There cannot be a planet on which photosynthesis or vision occurs in the far infra-red or far ultra- violet because these radiations are not appropriate to perform these functions,' he says. One might add that for organisms living in the sea - as the first life-forms did - the 'window' is even narrower, since the water filters out most of the red end of the spectrum and, as you go deeper, finally all except the blue. Moreover, the shorter wavelengths - the ultraviolet rays - carry so much energy that they unzip the long-chain molecules of proteins and nucleic acids, thus making life impossible. Hence an atmosphere which filters out such wavelengths is necessary before life can emerge. So it is fortunate that our sun radiates most of its energy in this essential band, and that earth slowly developed an atmosphere which would filter out the ultra-violet. In short, as you can see, the conditions favourable to the emergence of life are quite stringent. In contradiction to those who maintain that there are countless inhabited planets, it may be the case that Earth is one of the very few planets where conditions are suitable." (Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, p.204) 27/05/2006 "There is no need for me to go into the incredibly complicated chemistry of photosynthesis, which involves whole sequences of chemical reactions and is still not completely understood, despite intensive efforts. There is, however, one rather intriguing point. Photosynthesis depends on a substance known as chlorophyll. It exists in four slightly different forms, but all are based on a ring-like atomic structure formed by four chemical units known as pyrroles. In the middle of the ring is found an atom of magnesium. The four varieties of chlorophyll differ only in the make-up of the tail which is attached to the ring. Curiously enough - and the significance of this is not clear haemoglobin, which transports oxygen within the body from lungs to muscles, is also based on the pyrrole ring, though in this case it embraces an iron atom, not an atom of magnesium. Furthermore, several enzymes and Vitamin B12 also embody this peculiar chemical conformation, which is found in practically all living cells. Until chemical evolution had produced this highly specialised structure, photosynthesis was not possible. Now, the chemistry involved in synthesising the pyrrole ring has very recently been elucidated by a team working in the Chemical Laboratory at Cambridge. It turns out that there are two distinct chemical systems at work, each with its own enzyme. One builds the components, the other forms them into a ring. So here again we have an improbable coincidence. The formation by chance of one enzyme without the other would have been useless. Each complements the other. ... Where does all this leave us with respect to Darwinism? ... it is very hard to swallow the idea that chance - or rather a long series of chances - built up such an extremely elaborate mechanism as photosynthesis, a mechanism which depends on substances far more complex than the raw materials which it transforms. Unless there was some inner necessity, some built-in primordial disposition to consolidate into such a pattern, it is past belief that anything so intricate and idiosyncratic should appear." (Taylor, G.R., "The Great Evolution Mystery," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1983, pp.205-207) 27/05/2006 "Charles Darwin contended more than a century ago that all modern species diverged from a more limited set of ancestral groups, which themselves evolved from still fewer progenitors and so on back to the beginning of life. In principle, then, the relationships among all living and extinct organisms could be represented as a single genealogical tree. Most contemporary researchers agree. Many would even argue that the general features of this tree are already known, all the way down to the root - a solitary cell, termed life's last universal common ancestor, that lived roughly 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. The consensus view did not come easily but has been widely accepted for more than a decade. Yet ill winds are blowing. To everyone's surprise, discoveries made in the past few years have begun to cast serious doubt on some aspects of the tree, especially on the depiction of the relationships near the root. ... as DNA sequences of complete genomes have become increasingly available, my group and others have noted patterns that are disturbingly at odds with the prevailing beliefs. ... The most reasonable explanation for these various contrarian results is that the pattern of evolution is not as linear and treelike as Darwin imagined it. ... there would never have been a single cell that could be called the last universal common ancestor. ... Some biologists find these notions confusing and discouraging. It is as if we have failed at the task that Darwin set for us: delineating the unique structure of the tree of life. " (Doolittle, W.F., "Uprooting the Tree of Life," Scientific American, Vol. 282, No. 2, February 2000, pp.90-95, pp.90,93,95) 27/05/2006 "The import of the fact of evolution depends on how far evolution extends, and here there are two crucial points: does it extend from the inorganic into the organic, and does it extend from the lower animals to man? In The Origin of Species Darwin implies that life did not arise naturally from nonliving matter, for in the very last sentence he wrote, `...life...having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one ....' (The words by the Creator were inserted in the second edition and are one of many gradual concessions made to critics of that book.) Later, however, Darwin conjectured (he did not consider this scientific) that life will be found to be `a consequence of some general law''-that is, to be a result of natural processes rather than divine intervention. He referred to this at least three times in letters unpublished until after his death, the one from which I have quoted being the last letter he ever wrote (28 March 1882 to G. C. Wallich; Darwin died three weeks later)." (Simpson, G.G., "The World into Which Darwin Led Us," Science, Vol. 131, 1 April 1960, pp.966-974, p.969)
* 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 March, 2006: 10 April, 2010.