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The following are quotes added to my Unclassified Quotes database in October 2006. The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.
[Index: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Nov, Dec]
1/10/2006 "But what about Van Till's claim that creation is somehow more gifted if all events are done with creation on `autopilot,' all developments somehow being incorporated into the initial design scheme? I believe such a design would substantially compromise the universe that we have in one of several ways. First if the provision of information is to come through the assignment of properties to matter, then the outcomes that are possible will be significantly limited by the initial property assignments given. If, for example, the sequencing of amino acids in proteins were due to the chemical bonding preferences, then only one or a few sequences would be permissible, severely limiting the varieties of proteins that could be produced. On the other hand, when this information is provided by other means the number of ways that biopolymers (such as proteins) or systems (such as living cells) can be organized is indeed unlimited. Second, the constraint of trying to put all of the information into the initial properties may have some very significant performance penalties that are not apparent at first glance. Suppose that I wanted to design an automobile that could self-assemble. It would certainly be possible in principle to make such an automobile. However, the degree of complexity associated with these additional requirements would greatly increase the cost and would almost certainly compromise the performance, since these additional capabilities come at a high cost of additional complexity that is useful only in the assembly but not thereafter. In the same way, there may be some significant design compromises in a universe that is able to unfold with all the necessary information incorporated into the properties of matter. In summary, there is no rational basis for Van Till's claim that a universe that unfolds entirely on autopilot represents a better design or a more fully gifted creation by God than one in which not all of the necessary information is imparted in the properties of matter alone but is incorporated at certain critical points in the developmental history of the universe." (Bradley, W.L.*, "Response to Robert C. Newman," in Moreland, J.P. & Reynolds, J.M., eds., "Three Views on Creation and Evolution," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 1999, pp.135-136) 2/10/2006 "The probability of Darwinist evolution depends upon the quantity of favorable micromutations required to create complex organs and organisms, the frequency with which such favorable micromutations occur just where and when they are needed, the efficacy of natural selection in preserving the slight improvements with sufficient consistency to permit the benefits to accumulate, and the time allowed by the fossil record for all this to have happened. ... Some mathematicians did try to make the calculations, and the result was a rather acrimonious confrontation between themselves and some of the leading Darwinists at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia in 1967. The report of the exchange is fascinating, not just because of the substance of the mathematical challenge but even more because of the logic of the Darwinist response. For example, the mathematician D.S. Ulam argued that it was highly improbable that the eye could have evolved by the accumulation of small mutations, because the number of mutations would have to be so large and the time available was not nearly long enough for them to appear. Sir Peter Medawar and C. H. Waddington responded that Ulam was doing his science backwards; the fact was that the eye had evolved and therefore the mathematical difficulties must be only apparent. ["Discussion: Paper by Dr. Ulam," in Moorhead, P.S. & Kaplan, M.M., ed., "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution," The Wistar Institute Press: Philadelphia PA, 1967, pp.28-29] Ernst Mayr observed that Ulam's calculations were based on assumptions that might be unfounded, and concluded that `Somehow or other by adjusting these figures we will come out all right. We are comforted by the fact that evolution has occurred.' [Ibid., p.30] The Darwinists were trying to be reasonable, but it was as if Ulam had presented equations proving that gravity is too weak a force to prevent us all from floating off into space. Darwinism to them was not a theory open to refutation but a fact to be accounted for, at least until the mathematicians could produce an acceptable alternative." (Johnson, P.E.*, "Darwin on Trial," , Second Edition, InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1993, pp.38-39) 2/10/2006 "On the other hand, the kappa is a difficult thing because, as Waddington and Medawar just said a gene produces, let's say, an enzyme. All right, suppose we have 1,000 different kinds of cells in a higher organism- brain cells, nerve cells, skin cells, gland cells, and whatnot. All of them carry the same gene locus; potentially, the enzyme could be produced in each one of them. It depends on the postulated (and surely they must be there) regulator genes, when each is turned on and in what amount. Kappa somehow or other- has to incorporate this. If a given gene is selected for because it does something good in the eye, what does this same gene do in all the other cells of the organism? That is a thing we have never taken into consideration and the evolutionist is very simple-minded about this. He takes the total average and says, `Well, as long as the phenotype as a whole, in terms of selection, is improved we have got something there.' So all I am saying is we have so much variation in all of these things that somehow or other by adjusting these figures we will come out all right. We are comforted by knowing that evolution has occurred." (Mayr, E.W., "Discussion: Paper by Dr. Ulam," in Moorhead P.S. & Kaplan M.M., ed., "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution: A Symposium Held at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, April 25 and 26, 1966," The Wistar Institute Symposium Monograph Number 5, The Wistar Institute Press: Philadelphia PA, 1967, p.30) 2/10/2006 "Punctuated equilibria began showing up in creationist tracts as evidence that some scientists openly doubt evolution. The line of reasoning seems to have been: (1) Darwin founded evolutionary theory, (2) Some scientists doubt that Darwin got it entirely right, (3) Ergo, some scientists oppose evolution. Nor was this line of thinking restricted to obscure religious tracts. I am reliably informed (by the man who claimed to have pulled it off) that Steve Gould and I, thanks to our punctuated equilibria, were the scientists Ronald Reagan had in mind [sic] when he said, `Well, it is a theory, a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed,' just after he addressed a group of fundamentalists during his first presidential election campaign [Holden, C., "Republican Candidate Picks Fight with Darwin," Science, Vol. 209, 12 September 1980, p.1214]. Naturally we jumped into the fray, as did many of our opposite numbers at the High Table. Closing ranks to face a common enemy is a natural reaction. In a way, creationism was good for evolutionary biology. It made us articulate our basic precepts more clearly. And it reminded us that we have, after all is said and done, more in common as evolutionists than we have issues that drive us apart." (Eldredge, N., "Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate," , Phoenix: London, 1996, reprint, p.104) 2/10/2006 "SCIENTISTS believe they have discovered a `God module' in the brain which could be responsible for man's evolutionary instinct to believe in religion. A study of epileptics who are known to have profoundly spiritual experiences has located a circuit of nerves in the front of the brain which appears to become electrically active when they think about God. The scientists said that although the research and its conclusions are preliminary, initial results suggest that the phenomenon of religious belief is `hard-wired' into the brain. Epileptic patients who suffer from seizures of the brain's frontal lobe said they frequently experience intense mystical episodes and often become obsessed with religious spirituality. A team of neuroscientists from the University of California at San Diego said the most intriguing explanation is that the seizure causes an overstimulation of the nerves in a part of the brain dubbed the `God module'. `There may be dedicated neural machinery in the temporal lobes concerned with religion. This may have evolved to impose order and stability on society,' the team reported at a conference last week. The results indicate that whether a person believes in a religion or even in God may depend on how enhanced is this part of the brain's electrical circuitry, the scientists said. ... Evolutionary scientists have suggested that belief in God, which is a common trait found in human societies around the world and throughout history, may be built into the brain's complex electrical circuitry as a Darwinian adaptation to encourage co-operation between individuals. If the research is correct and a `God module' exists, then it might suggest that individuals who are atheists could have a differently configured neural circuit." (Connor, S., "'God spot' is found in brain," Los Angeles Times, 29 October 1997. Emphasis original) 3/10/2006 "Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and their friend the psychologist and militant atheist Nicholas Humphrey talk about the `memes' they disapprove of in exactly the same way that fundamentalists talk about `demons'. In both cases, their opponents' ideas are dismissed as the result, quite literally, of possession. If this is your point of entry into their ideas it makes it hard to take seriously anything else they have to say, which is unfortunate. ... One culmination of the process was reached in 1997, when Nick Humphrey argued that parents should be forbidden by the state to transmit beliefs he finds obnoxious. `Children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children's teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.' [Humphrey, N., "What shall we Tell the Children?," Amnesty Lecture, Oxford, 21 February 1997] What makes this suggestion truly extraordinary is that it was delivered as a contribution to human rights, as part of an amnesty lecture, and the programme of censorship he was advocating was justified on the grounds that teaching children falsehoods is a wrong as great as mutilating them physically. Something has gone very badly wrong when the pieties of atheism are so stifling that no one notices anything odd in the proposal to take into care children who are allowed to read an astrology column (or perhaps merely to jail or fine their parents) simply because this modest proposal is justified by appeals to scientific knowledge and human rights. If nothing else, this shows that the attitudes which made the Inquisition obnoxious are able to survive and flourish in an atmosphere untainted by Christian orthodoxy and that the problematic consequences of religion cannot be abolished merely by abolishing religious belief. Humphrey is able, in the course of one and the same lecture, to argue that religious belief or superstition must necessarily crumble into dust at the touch of science, and that it is such a cruel and irreversible mutilation of a child's mind to teach that the Bible is literally true that it must be banned by law." (Brown, A., "The Darwin Wars: How Stupid Genes Became Selfish Gods," Simon & Schuster: London, 1999, pp.171-173) 4/10/2006 "For over a quarter-century after the Scopes trial in 1925, American textbook publishers tried to avoid antagonizing conservative Christians by saying as little as possible about evolution. This policy of `neutrality based on silence' began to crumble in the late 1950S, after the Soviet Union in 1957 successfully launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to circle the earth. An embarrassed United States sought to regain world leadership in science and technology by pouring millions of dollars into improving science education. Backed by generous funding from the National Science Foundation, a group of biologists in the American Institute of Biological Sciences established a center at the University of Colorado, the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS), to produce state-of-the-art biology texts. Responding in part to complaints from leading biologists that `one hundred years without Darwinism are enough,' [Muller, H.J., "One hundred years without Darwinism are enough," The Humanist, Vol. 19, 1959; p.139] the BSCS authors wove evolution into their material as `the warp and woof of modern biology.' After extensive testing in over a thousand schools, the BSCS in 1963 issued three versions of its tenth-grade text, each identified by the dominant color of its cover: blue, yellow, or green. Before long nearly half of the high schools in America were using these books or other curriculum materials developed by the BSCS-and introducing hundreds of thousands of high-school students to their apelike ancestors. Like Bernard Ramm's attack on flood geology, which had provoked Whitcomb and Morris into defending Pricean catastrophism, these controversial texts created a furious backlash against the very theory they were designed to promote. Not surprisingly, concerned creationists viewed this latest offensive as an `attempt to ram evolution down the throats of our children.' `It seems clear,' wrote Rita Rhodes Ward (b. 1910), a creationist biology teacher in El Paso, that all three of these books are dedicated to the promulgation of total organic evolution to the exclusion of objectivity in biology, if need be, in order to eliminate any belief in fiat creation.' In making God unnecessary, she argued, the texts stopped just short of espousing atheism." (Numbers, R.L., "The Creationists: the Evolution of Scientific Creationism," , University of California Press: Berkeley CA, 1993, pp.238-239) 4/10/2006 "The present struggle over evolution is often seen by defenders of Darwinism as a culture war in which creationism is a part of a general right-wing ideology that justifies an authoritarian, traditionalist society, protecting `traditional values' against assaults from social revolutionaries intent on overturning long-held moral values. It is certainly true that creationism is far more popular in the rural South, the Midwest, and the Southwest among supporters of the present Republican administration than among urban Northern Democrats. But the evolution/creation struggle has a complex history. Before World War II the science of evolution was virtually absent from school curricula everywhere in America, although explicit creationism was characteristic largely of the rural South and West. Then the atomic bomb and, later, an immense increase in the public funding of science as a response to the alarm raised by Sputnik resulted in a revolution in teaching science. With support from the National Science Foundation, evolution became a regular part of biology textbooks and science instruction in the public schools and remains so in most places." (Lewontin, R.C., "The Wars Over Evolution." Review of "The Evolution-Creation Struggle," by Michael Ruse, Harvard University Press, 2005 and Richerson, P.J. & Boyd, R., "Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution," University of Chicago Press, 2004. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 52, No. 16, October 20, 2005) 4/10/2006 "In response, among those who had never lost their traditional fundamentalism, an active creationist reaction began, slowly accelerating to its present prominence. According to a series of polls taken over the last twenty-five years, about 50 percent of Americans believe that `God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.' There have been repeated recent attempts in Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Kansas to make the study of challenges to evolutionary biology part of the mandated public school science curriculum. These have so far not succeeded, but Kansas seems on the verge of passing a statewide requirement that a new variant of the Creation myth, `intelligent design,' be part of the discussion of evolution in public secondary schools. Intelligent design (ID) has itself been intelligently designed to circumvent legal challenges to the teaching of biblical creationism, challenges based on the constitutional requirement of a separation of church and state. God, the Bible, and religion in general are not mentioned in the doctrine of ID. Rather, it is claimed that an objective examination of the facts of life makes it clear that organisms are too complex to have arisen by a process of the accumulation of naturally selected chance mutations and so must have been purposefully created by an unspecified intelligent designer. An alien from outer space? But the theory of ID is a transparent subterfuge. The problem is that if the living world is too complex to have arisen without an intelligent designer, then where did the intelligent designer come from? After all, she must have been as complex as the things she designed. If not, then we have evolution! Otherwise we must postulate an intelligent designer who designed the intelligent designer who..., back to the original one who must have been around forever. And who might that be? Like the ancient Hebrews the ID designers fear to pronounce Her name lest they be destroyed, but Her initials are clearly YWH." (Lewontin, R.C., "The Wars Over Evolution." Review of "The Evolution-Creation Struggle," by Michael Ruse, Harvard University Press, 2005 and Richerson, P.J. & Boyd, R., "Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution," University of Chicago Press, 2004. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 52, No. 16, October 20, 2005) 4/10/2006 "In 1957, the situation changed. With the launch of Sputnik, Americans awoke to find that a scientifically advanced Soviet Union had beaten the United States into space. This spurred rapid revisions of science textbooks, some emphasizing biological evolution. But the anti-evolution statutes were still in force, and so some teachers using newer books were violating the law. One of these teachers, Susan Epperson, brought suit against the state of Arkansas for violating the Establishment Clause. She won the right to teach evolution, and Epperson v. Arkansas was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1968, only a year after Tennessee finally rescinded the Butler Act. Finally it was legal to teach evolution everywhere in America. The opponents of evolution proceeded to re-think their strategy, deciding that if they could not beat scientists, they would join them. They thus recast themselves as `scientific creationists,' proposing an ostensibly non-religious alternative to the theory of evolution that might be acceptable in the classroom. But the empirical claims of scientific creationism--that the Earth is young (6,000 to 10,000 years old), that all species were created suddenly and simultaneously, that mass extinctions were caused by a great worldwide flood--bore a suspicious resemblance to creation stories in the Bible. ... Scientific creationism proved a bust for two reasons. First, the "science" was ludicrously wrong. ... Scientific creationism also came to grief because its advocates did not adequately hide its religious underpinnings." (Coyne, J., "The Case Against Intelligent Design: The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name." The New Republic, August 11, 2005) 4/10/2006 "Sputnik captured the attention of the American people, creating widespread support for improving science education. In response, President Eisenhower requested a `billion dollar, four year program to strengthen and improve science education and research,' leading to the enactment of the massive National Defense Education Act in 1958. That year, a Gallup survey found that a majority of interviewed high-school principals were changing their science programs in response to Sputnik. Fear of Soviet science drove the American public to heed scientific opinion in reforming domestic science education. These reforms included the biological sciences, especially after the National Science Foundation began funding the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS) in 1959. Like its counterpart for physics, the BSCS set about rewriting high-school textbooks, and the leading biologists serving on the Study (which included Hermann Muller) boldly embraced evolution. The appearance of the BSCS texts in the early sixties shattered the thirty-year truce in legal activities enveloping the anti-evolution issue." (Larson, E.J., "Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution," Oxford University Press: New York NY, 2003, p.91) 4/10/2006 "With somewhat less certainty, most scientists think that people who look like us - anatomically modern Homo sapiens - evolved by at least 130,000 years ago from ancestors who had remained in Africa. Their brain had reached today's size. They, too, moved out of Africa and eventually replaced nonmodern human species, notably the Neanderthals in Europe and parts of Asia, and Homo erectus, typified by Java Man and Peking Man fossils in the Far East. But agreement breaks down completely on the question of when, where and how these anatomically modern humans began to manifest creative and symbolic thinking. That is, when did they become fully human in behavior as well as body? When, and where, was human culture born? `It's the hot issue, and we all have different positions,' said Dr. John E. Yellen, an archaeologist with the National Science Foundation. For much of the last century, archaeologists thought that modern behavior flowered relatively recently, 40,000 years ago, and only after Homo sapiens had pushed into Europe. They based their theory of a `creative explosion' on evidence like the magnificent cave paintings in Lascaux and Chauvet. But some rebellious researchers suspected that this theory was a relic of a time when their discipline was ruled by Eurocentrism. Archaeologists, the rebels contended, were simply not looking for earlier creativity in the right places. Several recent discoveries in Africa and the Middle East are providing the first physical evidence to support an older, more gradual evolution of modern behavior, one not centered in Europe. But other scientists, beyond acknowledging a few early sparks in Africa, remain unswayed. One prominent researcher is putting forward a new hypothesis of genetic change to explain a more recent and abrupt appearance of creativity. The debate has never been so intense over what archaeologists see as the dawn of human culture. `Europe is a little peninsula that happens to have a large amount of spectacular archaeology,' said Dr. Clive Gamble, director of the Center for the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of Southampton in England. `But the European grip of having all the evidence is beginning to slip. We're finding wonderful new evidence in Africa and other places. And in the last two or three years, this has changed and widened the debate over modern human behavior.' The uncertainty and confusion over the origin of modern cultural behavior stem from what appears to be a great time lag between the point when the species first looked modern and when it acted modern. Perhaps the first modern Homo sapiens emerged with a capacity for modern creativity, but it remained latent until needed for survival. `The earliest Homo sapiens probably had the cognitive capability to invent Sputnik,' said Dr. Sally McBrearty, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut. `But they didn't yet have the history of invention or a need for those things.'" (Wilford, J.N., "Debate Is Fueled on When Humans Became Human," The New York Times, February 26, 2002) 4/10/2006 "Evolution, for example, was barely mentioned in school textbooks; as late as 1954, my children, in Raleigh, North Carolina, read that `God made the flowers out of sunshine.' Then came Sputnik and the demand that the science curriculums be radically revised to make our children scientifically competent. one consequence was the complete rewriting of the biology curriculums by the Biological Science Curriculum Study, an enterprise run by professors from the most prestigious establishment universities and funded by the National Science Foundation. Suddenly the study of evolution was in all the schools. The culture of the dominant class had triumphed, and traditional religious values, the only vestige of control that rural people had over their own lives and the lives of their families, had been taken from them. Not only in Oklahoma and Arkansas, but in California and Texas among the descendants of the Okies and Arkies of the 1930s, the new emphasis on evolution has been met by a renewed defense of the old tradition. Some of the tactics are new, `scientific creationism' for example, but the struggle is the old one. It is the struggle between the culture of a dominant class and the traditional ideology of those who feel themselves dominated." (Lewontin, R.C., "Introduction", in Godfrey, L.R., ed., "Scientists Confront Creationism", W.W. Norton: New York NY, 1983, pp.xxv-xxvi) 4/10/2006 "Prof John Rust may be wearing a black shirt, and talking a lot about eugenics, but don't get the wrong idea about the UK's only professor of psychometrics, now resident in Cambridge. After an already distinguished career in psychometrics, the professor came to Cambridge in November to set up The Psychometric Centre, part of Cambridge University's assessment department and likely to become a nice little earner. As well as being a centre for academic research, it will also serve the needs of those who want to use the science of psychometrics in education and in the business world for staff selection. More widely, the science is about understanding the statistics gathered from tests, knowing how to design the tests, and making sure what comes out the other end is going to be reliable and relevant. ... Eugenics is a hard one to talk about, and the PR people in the room fidget uncomfortably as the subject gathers pace. `Psychometrics has been linked with eugenics, and Darwin was involved in it, the idea that people were getting less intelligent because the races having big families were less intelligent than the civilised races who were having fewer children,' says Prof Rust. `In the 1920s, tests started to be used in the US to restrict immigration, and in some countries they were used to decide whether or not people could be allowed to reproduce, which, of course, led on to Nazism.'" (J.C., "Professor is putting centre to the test," Cambridge Evening News 3 October 2006) 5/10/2006 "Though at first glance seemingly plausible, metabolism-first models have only superficial merit because they appeal to unrealistic chemistry. Orgel has specifically identified a number of problems. He points out that cycles and networks operating on early Earth would have been highly susceptible to disruption by chemical interferents and competing side reactions. Without enzymes, protometabolic reactions cannot proceed rapidly enough to sustain a protocell unless aided by some sort of chemical accelerant." Mineral surfaces are the only reasonable candidates for service as prebiotic catalysts. While mineral surfaces can catalyze specific reactions, to propose that a mineral will catalyze the range of chemical reactions required for cycles or chemical networks to operate is simply unrealistic. An attempt to increase the catalytic range by invoking the availability of many different types of mineral surfaces only creates an additional problemthe need to efficiently transport "metabolites" from mineral site to mineral site. These parameters question how a chemical cycle could be maintained and evolve into a protocell's metabolic system. In Orgel's words, metabolism-first scenarios require an "appeal to magic," a "series of remarkable coincidences," or a "near miracle." [Orgel, L.E., "Self-organizing biochemical cycles," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 97, No. 23, November 7, 2000, pp.12503-12507] Investigators Antonio Lazcano and Stanley L. Miller identify another problem with the metabolism-first scenarios, particularly for those models asserting that protometabolic systems resemble the contemporary metabolism found in cells. [Lazcano, A. & Miller, S.L., "On the origin of metabolic pathways," Journal of Molecular Evolution, Vol. 49, No. 4, October 1999; pp.424-431] They point out that postulated prebiotic routes for key biomolecules dramatically differ from the metabolic pathways that produce the same compounds. Though some experimental support exists, a thorough chemical analysis of these models exposes fundamental flaws. Metabolism-first scenarios seem unlikely to explain the first life forms. [Shapiro, R., "Monomer World," 13th International Conference on the Origin. of Life, Oaxaca, Mexico, June 30 - July 5, 2002, p. 60]" (Rana, F.R. & Ross, H.N., "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, pp.116-117) 5/10/2006 RNA Assembly on Mineral Surfaces In the mid-1990s, researchers Leslie Orgel and James Ferris stirred excitement within the scientific community by assembling lengthy RNA molecules from chemically activated RNA subunits (nucleotides). This assembly was accomplished by washing solutions of the reactants over mineral surfaces, then allowing the solutions to evaporate. [Ertem,. G. & Ferris, J.P., "Synthesis of RNA Oligomers on Heterogeneous Templates," Nature Vol. 379, 1996, pp.238-240; Ferris, J.P., et al., "Synthesis of Long Prebiotic Oligomers on Mineral Surfaces," Nature, Vol. 381, 1996, pp.59-61] Commentators heralded this work as a key demonstration that prebiotic conditions could have produced self-replicators. [Lipkin, R. "Early Life: In the Soup or on the Rocks?" Science News 149, 1996, p.278] Closer evaluation of this effort, however, prompts a different conclusion. As Shapiro points out, Orgel's and Ferris's teams conducted these experiments under selective conditions that excluded potential chemical interferents. The homopolymer problem was ignored. [Shapiro, R., "A Replicator Was Not Involved in the Origin of Life," IUBMB Life Vol. 49, 2000, pp.173-176].To prove the point, Orgel's team demonstrated that even the incorporation of opposite-handed nucleotides ... disrupts RNA chain formation. [Joyce, G.E., et al., "The Case for An Ancestral Genetic System Involving Simple Analogues of the Nucleotides," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 84, 1987, pp.4398-4402] Orgel's team also showed that though mineral surfaces may promote RNA formation, they also catalyze its decomposition. [Orgel, L.E., "NSCORT 2000 Progress Report," http://exobio.ucsd.edu/00Orgel.htm; Internet] RNA breakdown occurs on surfaces of both lead-containing and calcium-containing minerals. In addition, these workers discovered that the amino acids glutamate and histidine stimulate the breakdown of RNA in a solution. A Japanese team demonstrated that rare Earth elements (like cerium) present in the primordial oceans would have catalyzed the breakdown of the RNA backbone linkage. [Akaboshi, M., et al., "Inhibition of Rare Earth Catalytic Activity by Proteins," Origin of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, Vol. 30, 2000, pp.25-32] Inhibition of this cleavage would require an unrealistically high level of proteins in the early oceans. Other problems for mineral-assisted RNA formation include (1) the irreversible attachment of RNA to mineral surfaces once the molecular chain grows to a certain length and (2) researchers' use of `activated' monomers unlikely to occur under prebiotic conditions. Also, the clay catalysts must be carefully treated to remove all metal ions except sodium. If not, no catalytic reactions occur.[Ferris, J.P., "Prebiotic Chemistry Catalysis and RNA Synthesis," ISSOL 2002; Ertem, G., "Montmorillonite, Oligonucleotides, RNA and Origin of Life," ISSOL 2002] The bottom line is: Laboratory simulation experiments that synthesize RNA on mineral surfaces differ substantially from early Earth's conditions. [Wills, C.J. & Bada, J.I., "The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup," Perseus: Cambridge, 2000, pp.101-103] When scientists consider more realistic scenarios, they quickly discover that homopolymer assembly could not have occured in the prebiotic realm." (Rana, F.R. & Ross, H.N., "Origins of Life: Biblical And Evolutionary Models Face Off," Navpress: Colorado Springs CO, 2004, pp.116-118. Emphasis original) 5/10/2006 "THE MOLECULAR BIOLOGISTS' DREAM The RNA-first scenario for the origin of the RNA World that we have described as the `Molecular Biologists' Dream (Joyce & Orgel, 1999) can be strung together from optimistic extrapolations of the various achievements of prebiotic chemistry and directed RNA evolution described above. First we suppose that  nucleoside bases and  sugars were formed by prebiotic reactions on the primitive Earth and/or brought to the Earth in meteorites, comets, etc. Next,  nucleotides were formed from prebiotic bases, sugars, and inorganic phosphates or polyphosphates, and  they accumulated in an adequately pure state  in some special little `pool.'  A mineral catalyst at the bottom of the pool-for example, montmorillonite-then catalyzed the formation of long single-stranded polynucleotides, some of which were then converted to complementary double strands by template-directed synthesis. In this way  a library of double-stranded RNAs accumulated on the primitive Earth. We suppose that among the double-stranded RNAs there was  at least one that on melting yielded a (single- stranded) ribozyme capable of copying itself and its complement. Copying the complement would then have produced a second ribozyme molecule, and then repeated copying of the ribozyme and its complement would have lead to an exponentially growing population. In this scenario this is where  natural selection takes over. Darwin suggested that all life is descended from one or a few simple organisms that evolved on the Earth long ago. According to the more radical scenario of the Molecular Biologists' Dream, the whole biosphere descends from one or a few replicating polynucleotides that formed on the primitive Earth about four billion years ago. Of course, there are still a few problems in prebiotic chemistry that must be solved before the Dream can be turned into a convincing theory! In addition,  a plausible prebiotic mechanism for keeping together ribozymes and the products of their activity, for example, enclosure within a membrane, must be demonstrated ..." (Orgel, L.E., "Prebiotic Chemistry and the Origin of the RNA World," Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp.99-123. Emphasis original. Parentheses mine) 5/10/2006 "DNA's simple and elegant structure - the `twisted ladder,' with sugar-phosphate chains making up the `rails' and oxygen- and nitrogen-containing chemical `rungs' tenuously uniting the two halves - seems to be the work of an accomplished sculptor. Yet the graceful, sinuous profile of the DNA double helix is the result of random chemical reactions in a simmering, primordial stew. Just how nature arrived at this molecule and its sister molecule, RNA, remains one of the greatest - and potentially unsolvable - scientific mysteries. But Vanderbilt biochemist Martin Egli, Ph.D., isn't content to simply study these molecules as they are. He wants to know why they are the way they are. `These molecules are the result of evolution,' said Egli, professor of Biochemistry. `Somehow they have been shaped and optimized for a particular purpose.' `For a chemist, it makes sense to analyze the origin of these molecules.' One particular curiosity: how did DNA and RNA come to incorporate five-carbon sugars into their `backbone' when six-carbon sugars, like glucose, may have been more common? Egli has been searching for the answer to that question for the past 13 years." (""Uncovering DNA's 'Sweet' Secret," ScienceDaily, October 3, 2006) 6/10/2006 "Between negating the argument for God from design in nature and magnifying the problem that worldly evil poses to his omnipotence, Dawkins argues that Darwinism effectively denies the existence of God: `The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good.' [Dawkins, R., "River out of Eden," Phoenix: London, 1996, p.155] Drawing such theological lessons from Darwinism is nothing new, but Dawkins's vigorous style has made them popular once again. Dennett and Provine pick up where Dawkins leaves off: pushing the Darwinist assault on theism in popular books and public lectures. 'The creationists who oppose [Darwinism] so bitterly are right about one thing,' Dennett gloats in one of the best-selling science books of 1995. `Darwin's dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted.' [Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," , Penguin: London, 1996, p.18] Indeed, he asserts, it denies the existence of an intelligent designer or caring creator and effectively proves `that God is, like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood, not anything a sane, undeluded adult could literally believe in.' Teaching school children otherwise, Dennett decrees, `is a terrible offense.' [Dennett, Ibid, p.18] Provine adds, "The destructive implications of evolutionary biology extend far beyond the assumptions of organized religion to a much deeper and more pervasive belief, held by the vast majority of people, that nonmechanistic organizing designs or forces are somehow responsible for the visible order of the physical universe, biological organisms and human moral order." Darwinism is utterly incompatible with such beliefs, he maintains. "There are no purposive principles whatsoever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable." [Provine, W.B., "Evolution and the Foundation of Ethics," Marine Biological Laboratory Science, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1988, pp.26,27] For theists of any type, the message from these Darwinists could not have been more stark: Our science disproves your religion." (Larson E.J., "Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution," Oxford University Press: New York NY, 2003, p.192) 6/10/2006 "Darwin, Dennett, Provine, and others like them sweep with a broad brush. Respecting the implication of Darwinism, they make no distinction between belief in theistic evolution (broadly defined to include any notion of God guiding or acting through evolution) and strict creationism. [Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, pp.316-317; Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," Simon & Schuster, 1995, pp.520-521; Provine, W.B., "Evolution and the Foundation of Ethics," Marine Biological Laboratory Science, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1988, p.26] The same polls reporting that nearly hall of all Americans believe in the special creation of humankind also find that most of the other half accept theistic evolution. According to surveys conducted by the Gallup organization, only about one in ten Americans profess to believe in a Godless form of evolution, and even that number may overstate acceptance of the utterly blind, purposeless evolution espoused by Dawkins and company. [Gallup, G. & Lindsay, D.M., "Surveying the Religious Landscape - Trends in U.S. Beliefs," Morehouse Publishing Co: Harrisburg PA, 1999, p.38] `I think that if Gallup had asked [about that],' Provine offers, `most of those who believed that God did not guide evolution would have agreed that some other purposive force did.' Evolutionary biologists stand apart, he maintains. `Most are atheists, and many have been driven there by their understanding of the evolutionary process.' [Provine, Ibid, pp.26,28 By highlighting the alleged conflict between Darwinism and theism, Dawkins, Dennett, and Provine helped to shape the evolution-teaching controversy of the 1990s by pushing it beyond the familiar battle between biblical literalists and mainstream evolutionists." (Larson, E.J., "Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution," Oxford University Press: New York NY, 2003, p.193) 7/10/2006 "Note also these comments by Arthur Keith: `Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable.' [Keith, A., in "Why I Believe In Creation," Evolution Protest Movement Pamphlet: Great Britain, 1968]" (Wysong, R.L.*, "The Creation- Evolution Controversy: Toward a Rational Solution," , Inquiry Press: Midland MI, 1993, Ninth Printing, p.31) 9/10/2006 "Although the scientists have won all the legal battles, there are still a lot of creationists around who are very much unconvinced by what the Darwinists are telling them. How many there are depends upon how `creationism' is defined. The most visible creationists are the biblical fundamentalists who believe in a young earth and a creation in six, twenty-four hour days; Darwinists like to give the impression that opposition to what they call `evolution' is confined to this group. In a broader sense, however, a creationist is any person who believes that there is a Creator who brought about the existence of humans for a purpose. In this broad sense, the vast majority of Americans are creationists. According to a 1991 Gallup poll, 47 percent of a national sample agreed with the following statement: `God created mankind in pretty much our present form sometime within the last 10,000 years.' Another 40 percent think that `Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man's creation.' Only 9 percent of the sample said that they believed in biological evolution as a purposeless process not guided by God. The evolutionary theory endorsed by the American scientific and educational establishment is of course the creed of the 9 percent, not the God-guided gradual creation of the 40 percent. Persons who endorse a God-guided process of evolution may think that they have reconciled religion and science, but this is an illusion produced by vague terminology." (Johnson, P.E.*, "Darwinism's Rules of Reasoning," in Buell, J. & Hearn, V., eds., "Darwinism: Science or Philosophy?" Foundation for Thought and Ethics: Richardson TX, 1994, pp.10-11) 9/10/2006 "Gallup polls consistently indicate that only about ten percent of the U.S. population accepts the sort of evolution advocated by Dawkins, Ruse, and Shermer, that is, evolution in which the driving force is the Darwinian selection mechanism. The rest of the population is committed to some form of intelligent design. Now it goes without saying that science is not decided in an opinion poll. Nevertheless, the overwhelming rejection of Darwinian evolution in the population at large is worth pondering. Although Michael Shermer exaggerates when he claims that no research biologist doubts the power of natural selection, he is certainly right in claiming that this is the majority position among biologists. Why has the biological community failed to convince the public that natural selection is the driving force behind evolution and that evolution so conceived (i.e., Darwinian evolution) can successfully account for the full diversity of life? This question is worth pondering since in most other areas of science the public readily signs off on the considered judgments of the scientific community. Why not here? Steeped as our culture is in the fundamentalist- modernist controversy, the usual answer is that religious fundamentalists, blinded by their dogmatic prejudices, willfully refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming case for Darwinian evolution. Although there may be something to this charge, fundamentalist intransigence cannot be solely responsible for the overwhelming rejection of Darwinian evolution by the public. Fundamentalism in the sense of strict biblical literalism is a minority position among religious believers. Most religious traditions do not make a virtue out of alienating the culture. Despite postmodernity's inroads, science retains tremendous cultural prestige. The religious world by and large would rather live in harmony with the scientific world. Most religious believers accept that species have undergone significant changes over the course of natural history and therefore that evolution in some sense has occurred (consider, for instance, Pope John Paul II's recent endorsement of evolution). The question for religious believers and the public more generally is not the fact of evolution but the mechanism of evolutionary change -- that chance and necessity alone are enough to explain life. I submit that the real reason the public continues to resist Darwinian evolution is because the Darwinian mechanism of chance variation and natural selection seems inadequate to account for the full diversity of life. One frequently gets the sense from reading publications by the National Academy of Science, the National Center for Science Education, and the National Association of Biology Teachers that the failure of the public to accept Darwinian evolution is a failure in education. If only people could be made to understand Darwin's theory properly, so we are told, they would readily sign off on it. This presumption -- that the failure of Darwinism to be accepted is a failure of education -- leads easily to the charge of fundamentalism once education has been tried and found wanting. For what else could be preventing Darwinism's immediate and cheerful acceptance except religious prejudice? It seems ridiculous to convinced Darwinists that the fault might lie with their theory and that the public might be picking up on faults inherent in their theory. And yet that is exactly what is happening." (Dembski, W.A.*, "Disbelieving Darwin and Feeling No Shame," Metanexus Institute, March 16, 2000) 9/10/2006 "The appearance of that story coincided with the release of a new Gallup Poll, reporting on the state of American opinion regarding evolution and creation [Sheler, J.L & Schrof, J.M., "The Creation: Religion's search for a common ground with science," U.S. News and World Report, December 23, 1991]. According to this survey, approximately 47 per cent of Americans can be described as creationists, in that they say they believe that God created mankind in pretty much our present form sometime within the last 10,000 years. Another 40 per cent agreed with the following statement: `Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man's creation.' Only 9 per cent of the sample said that they accepted the naturalistic view of evolution, which in Gallup's wording was that man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, with God having no part in this process. As is usual with public opinion polls, the figures probably would have been different if the questions had been worded differently. For example, the figure of 47 percent is much larger than the actual number of genuine six- day, young-universe Genesis literalists, because the question asked only about the creation of man. Even if God intervened in nature to create man sometime within the last 10,000 years, this event could have been preceded by billions of years of biological and cosmic evolution. Reservations of this sort do not alter the basic picture, however. Most Americans believe that God created human beings in furtherance of a divine purpose, whether suddenly and recently or gradually through ages of evolution. Only a small minority believes in a purely naturalistic and materialistic evolutionary process, which was not guided by God." (Johnson, P.E.*, "Evolution and Theistic Naturalism", Founder's Lectures, Part 1, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1992) 9/10/2006 "According to a 1982 Gallup poll aimed at measuring nationwide opinion, 44 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." That would seem to mark those respondents as creationists in a relatively narrow sense. Another 38 percent accepted evolution as a process guided by God. Only 9 percent identified themselves as believers in a naturalistic evolutionary process not guided by God. The philosophy of the 9 percent is now to be taught in the schools as unchallengeable truth." (Johnson, P.E.* "Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism," [First Things, October 1990], Foundation for Thought and Ethics: Richardson TX, 1990, reprint, p.10) 9/10/2006 "The Gallup polls done over a period of time indicate that if you ask the public, `Do you agree with this statement: God created man sometime within the last ten thousand years pretty much as he is now?' about 44 per cent say they agree. They're classified as biblical creationists. (Note that the statement does not say anything about a possible long period of animal evolution beforehand; this is the kind of ambiguity you often find in polling statements.) Then another 40 per cent or so will say that they believe in a process of evolution that was guided by God throughout. That adds up to around 85 per cent. There are a few undecideds, and then about 9 per cent agree with the official scientific position that man was a product of a purely natural process of evolution over millions or billions of years, a process in which God played no part, which is what they mean when they teach in schools that evolution is a fact. The scientific elites are worried that they have such low public support. There is a confusion here about the middle group. If you believe in God-guided evolution, are you an evolutionist or a creationist? Sometimes those people are said to be evolutionists. But they aren't, really, because what evolution aims to do is to provide a purely naturalistic explanation of life and its history and origin, allowing no role for anything supernatural. An intelligence that guided evolution would itself be unevolved and therefore supernatural. It could not be recognized. God- guided evolution is not evolution at all; it is slow creation. For strategic purposes, sometimes, the scientific community and their journalistic allies like to claim these people, and so they blur that distinction." (Johnson, P.E.*, "Evolution and the Curriculum: A Conversation with Phillip Johnson and Gregg Easterbrook," Ethics and Public Policy Center, February 2000, No. 4) 9/10/2006 "Americans are notoriously ill-informed about evolution. A recent Gallup poll (June 1993) discovered that 47 percent of adult Americans believe that Homo sapiens is a species created by God less than ten thousand years ago" (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life," , Penguin: London, 1996, reprint, p.263) 9/10/2006 "According to Gallup polls, about 44 percent of Americans believe in a biblical creationist view, that `God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.' About 40 percent believe in `theistic evolution,' the idea that God oversaw and guided the millions of years of evolution that culminated with humankind. Only one in 10 of those surveyed held a strict, secular evolutionist perspective." Rosin, H., "Kansas Board Targets Darwin," Washington Post, August 8, 1999; p.A1) 9/10/2006 "At the nationwide political level, creationists had induced several state legislatures or School boards to enact measures that required evolution to be taught as theory rather than fact or that attempted in some way to open the curriculum to criticism of evolution. Rosin explained that this partial success rested on a substantial degree of public support among Americans for either creationism or God-guided evolution: `The movement's recent success may in part be a reflection of the fairly widespread sympathy for some of its basic principles. According to Gallup polls, about 44 percent of Americans believe in a biblical creationist view, that "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years:" About 40 percent believe in "theistic evolution," the idea that God oversaw and guided the millions of years of evolution that culminated with humankind. Only one in 10 of those surveyed held a strict, secular evolutionist perspective.' [Rosin, H., "Kansas Board Targets Darwin," Washington Post, August 8, 1999; p.A1] The creed of the 10 percent is what the science educators have in mind when they teach that 'evolution is a fact.' In the language of the Gallup poll question, it affirms that `man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life; God had no part in this process.' It is not surprising that in a country where the vast majority of citizens believe in God, it is controversial to require that the public schools teach as fact (or as implicit in the very definition of `science') that God played no discernible part in the creation of plants, animals and human beings. It is also not surprising that many citizens, unpersuaded by official reassurances that `science and religion are separate realms,' [Press, F., "Science and Creationism: A View From the National Academy of Sciences," National Academy Press: Washington DC, 1984] suspect that a religious or antireligious ideology lies behind the enormous importance science educators attach to persuading young people that evolution is their creator." (Johnson, P.E.*, "The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism," Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, pp.64-66. Emphasis original) 9/10/2006 "THE PREFACE TO the 1984 pamphlet Science and Creationism: A View From the National Academy of Sciences, signed by the Academy's president, Frank Press, assured the nation that it is "false...to think that the theory of evolution represents an irreconcilable conflict between religion and science." Dr. Press explained: `A great many religious leaders accept evolution on scientific grounds without relinquishing their belief in religious principles. As stated in a resolution by the Council of the National Academy of Sciences in 1981, however, "Religion and science are separate and mutually exclusive realms of human thought whose presentation in the same context leads to misunderstanding of both scientific theory and religious belief."' The Academy's concern was only to justify its opposition to creationscience, and it did not feel obliged to explain what `religion' might be, or under what circumstances the religious realm might be entitled to protection from incursions by science." (Johnson, P.E.*, "Darwin on Trial," , InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1993, pp.125-126. Emphasis original). 9/10/2006 "The percentage of the hard core of evolutionary sentiment in the United States-those who believe in macroevolution with no intelligent guidance at all-has been measured by Gallup polls as relatively small. Over the past fifteen years Gallup has repeatedly listed the percentage of those who hold to a `recent creation' view (vaguely described by Gallup) to be about 40 to 45 percent, while the `God-guided evolution' view garnered another 40 to 45 percent. The third category, holding to a strictly naturalistic evolution, in which there was no participation by a preexisting intelligence, has consistently hovered at or slightly under 10 percent. Note that in the Gallup analysis, American adults have been split into a three-segment cross section, tilted decisively (eight to one or better) toward potential interest in Design's story and its scientific case. Phillip Johnson frequently quotes the Gallup figures, arguing that the `view of the nine percent' is enshrined as textbook orthodoxy.' However, the most significant figure for the rhetorical landscape of Design is not the nine percent but the larger figures combined. Already, nearly half of the American people hold a recent-creation position (they are implicitly friendly to Design), and nearly another half-holding a God-guided view of evolution-are potentially open to the story. ... I described the Gallup `recent creation' view as vague because this option only says that humankind was brought into its present form by a divine act of creation in the last ten thousand years. It does not mention previous evolution or creation of other species. Conceivably, a progressive creationist, who holds that the earth is four billion years old and that God created the Cambrian marine species in a direct creative act 540 million years ago, could answer yes to the `recent creation' option if that is where he or she places the time of God's creation of humankind on the timeline." (Woodward, T.E., "Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, pp.197-198, 281n25) 9/10/2006 "In views that diverge widely from those in other developed nations, about 45 percent of American adults take the Bible's story of creation literally. Only about one in 10 subscribe to a purely scientific explanation of evolution. ... `This is a fertile soil for such controversies to continue to thrive,' says George Bishop, a University of Cincinnati political science professor who has compared different nations' views on evolution. `It just doesn't go away.' ... In a November 1997 poll by the Gallup Organization that quizzed people about their views on the origin of humans, 44 percent agreed with the statement, `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.' `That's a lot of people,' Bishop says. `That's not like it's some small minority position.' Another 39 percent subscribed to a `theistic evolution' view, that humans did develop over millions of years from lower life forms, but God guided the process. Only 10 percent said they believe in evolution with no participation from God. Seven percent had no opinion. The views have not changed much in recent years. A 1982 Gallup poll, asking the same question, found a virtually identical distribution of opinion. Among scientists, only 5 percent hold the literal Bible view, 40 percent believe in theistic evolution and a majority, 55 percent, believe in evolution without help from God." (Chang, K., "Evolutionary Beliefs: Views in U.S. Much Different than Elsewhere," ABC News, August 16, 1999) 10/10/2006 "I have criticized Galileo freely, but I do not feel at liberty to criticize the change in his behaviour before the Inquisition. He was seventy, and he was afraid. That his fears were exaggerated, and that his self-immolatory offer (which the Inquisitors discreetly allowed to drop as if it had never been made) was quite unnecessary, is beside the point. His panic was due to psychological causes: it was the unavoidable reaction of one who thought himself capable of outwitting all and making a fool of the Pope himself, on suddenly discovering that he has been 'found out'. His belief in himself as a superman was shattered, his self-esteem punctured and deflated. He returned to the Tuscan Embassy, in Niccolini's words 'more dead than alive'. From then on he was a broken man. ... The remainder of the trial was now expected to be a mere formality. Throughout the proceedings Galileo had been treated with great consideration and courtesy. Against all precedent he was not confined to the dungeons of the Inquisition, but was allowed to stay as the Tuscan Ambassador's guest at the Villa Medici, until after his first examination. Then he had to surrender formally to the Inquisition, but instead of being put into a cell, he was assigned a five-roomed flat in the Holy Office itself, overlooking St Peter's and the Vatican gardens, with his own personal valet .and Niccolini's major domo to look after his food and wine. Here he stayed from 12 April to the third examination on 10 May. Then, before his trial was concluded, he was allowed to return to the Tuscan Embassy - a procedure quite unheard of, not only in the annals of the Inquisition but of any other judiciary. Contrary to legend, Galileo never spent a day of his life in a prison cell." (Koestler A., "The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, 1972, reprint, pp.497-498) 10/10/2006 "[Genesis 1:] 6. Let there be a firmament ... Moses describes the special use of this expanse, `to divide the waters from the waters,' from which words arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. ... 16. The greater light. ... Moses wrote in a popular style things which, without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand ; but astronomers investigate with great labour whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God." (Calvin, J., "A Commentary on Genesis," , King, J., transl., 1847, Banner of Truth: London, 1965, reprint, pp.78-79, 86. Emphasis original) 10/10/2006 "Mistakes peculiar to scientists. Just as there are certain mistakes that a theologian is susceptible to there are ones that the scientist is just as susceptible to in the relationship of theology to science. The first of these mistakes is to have an anti-religious attitude. No system of knowledge can be learned without some sympathy or kindly feeling toward the system-something pointed out long ago by Augustine but never fully appreciated by educators or epistemologists. Dogmatists study science as well as theology. The evangelical indicates that man is a spiritual rebel and his spirit of rebellion is reflected in all his activities. Unregenerate man opposes the doctrines of creation, sin, redemption, and eschatology. A man may be religious and yet anti-Christian. Opposition to Christianity at the level of science is in many instances simply localized or vocalized opposition to Christianity in general. Therefore anti-Christian man takes pleasure in making the gap between science and Christianity as wide as he can make it, and will heartlessly ridicule any efforts at reconciliation. In this instance, the gap between science and Christianity is in reality the gap between faith and unbelief." (Ramm, B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture,"  Paternoster: Exeter UK, 1967, reprint, p.38. Emphasis original) 10/10/2006 "But to understand the reactions of the small, academic world in his own country, we must also take into account the subjective effect of Galileo's personality. ... Galileo had a rare gift of provoking enmity ... the cold, unrelenting hostility which genius plus arrogance minus humility creates among mediocrities. Without this personal background, the controversy which followed the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius [ Star Messenger] would remain incomprehensible. For the subject of the quarrel was not the significance of the Jupiter satellites, but their existence - which some of Italy's most illustrious scholars flatly denied. Galileo's main academic rival was Magini in Bologna. In the month following the publication of the Star Messenger, on the evenings of 24 and 25 April 1610, a memorable party was held in a house in Bologna, where Galileo was invited to demonstrate the Jupiter moons in his spy-glass. Not one among the numerous and illustrious guests declared himself convinced of their existence. Father Clavius, the leading mathematician in Rome, equally failed to see them; Cremonini, teacher of philosophy at Padua, refused even to look into the telescope; so did his colleague Libri. ... These men may have been partially blinded by passion and prejudice, but they were not quite as stupid as it may seem. Galileo's telescope was the best available, but it was still a clumsy instrument without fixed mountings, and with a visual field so small that, as somebody has said, `the marvel is not so much that he found Jupiter's moons, but that he was able to find Jupiter itself'. The tube needed skill and experience in handling, which none of the others possessed. Sometimes, a fixed star appeared in duplicate. Moreover, Galileo himself was unable to explain why and how the thing worked; and the Sidereus Nuncius was conspicuously silent on this essential point. Thus it was not entirely unreasonable to suspect that the blurred dots which appeared to the strained and watering eye pressed to the spectacle-sized lens, might be optical illusions in the atmosphere, or somehow produced by the mysterious gadget itself. ... The whole controversy about optical illusions, haloes, reflections from luminous clouds, and about the unreliability of testimonies, inevitably reminds one of a similar controversy three hundred years later: the flying saucers. Here, too, emotion and, prejudice combined with technical difficulties against clear-cut conclusions. And here, too, it was not unreasonable for self-respecting scholars to refuse to look at the photographic `evidence' for fear of making fools of themselves. ... The Jupiter moons were no less threatening to the outlook on the world of sober scholars in 1610, than, say, extra-sensory perception was in 1950. Thus, while the poets were celebrating Galileo's discoveries which had become the talk of the world, the scholars in his own country were, with very few exceptions, hostile or sceptical." ( (Koestler, A., "The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe," , Penguin: Harmondsworth UK, 1972, reprint, pp.373-375) 10/10/2006 "Before embarking upon the subject it seems necessary to say something about the writer's personal standpoint, and the vexed problem of historical objectivity. I shall try to the utmost of my powers to deal with this subject objectively; but I fully realize that this is a matter of the utmost difficulty for anyone who professes to be a Christian. However scrupulously he may try to isolate his study from all extraneous considerations, the Christian knows perfectly well that his conclusions are likely to carry with them far- reaching implications. If, for instance, he finds that the traditional Christian view is right, and that our Lord taught that the Scriptures were of divine authorship, he will then be faced with the grave choice either of accepting the Old Testament in toto as true and authoritative, or else of rejecting His authority as a wholly dependable teacher. The clarification of the one issue will lead to the sharper definition of another. He will be forced to ask himself in what sense he attributes authority to the One in whom he believes. If, on the other hand, he should find that Christ taught some view other than that traditionally ascribed to Him, it will still have the profoundest bearing upon his thought and life. For there lies a whole world of theological difference between a view of Scripture that requires divine authorship and all views that require something less. There lies a whole world of devotional difference between the attitude of entire submission to the teaching of Scripture and an attitude of critical judgment." (Wenham, J.W., "Our Lord's View of the Old Testament," , Inter-Varsity Fellowship: London, Second Edition, 1964, pp.5-6. Emphasis original) 11/10/2006 "In 1995, the NABT Board of Directors approved its specific statement on teaching evolution because of the many changes in antievolutionism that have occurred since 1980. It is a concise statement for teachers, intended to give them some accurate, necessary ammunition when confronted by parents and administrators who don't want them to teach evolution, or who press them to teach `alternatives' such as creation `science', `intelligent design theory', or `evidence against evolution. ... After a preamble emphasizing the centrality of evolution in biology, the first bulleted tenet of science in the original statement said: `The diversity of life on earth is the result of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, historical contingencies and changing environments.' ... The statement was not intended to be a discussion of philosophy of science. But this is how many members of the public interpreted it. There was a completely unexpected public reaction to the words, `impersonal' and `unsupervised'. NCSE began receiving reports of letters to the editor and op-ed pieces chastising NABT for putting `antireligious' wording into its statement. I believe many of these sprang from the popularity of works by antievolutionist lawyer Phillip Johnson, which are read by large numbers of people. But I think it is important to realize that the negative reaction to the NABT's statement was not limited to members of the `religious right', or `fundamentalists.' The percentage of Americans who are evangelical, `born again' or conservative Christians is approximately 25% - 30%, according to a number of polls considered reliable. The percentage of Americans rejecting evolution has hovered consistently in the high 40's (47% in Gallup's 1996 poll.) Clearly, it's not just conservative Christians who reject evolution: Johnson and other antievolutionists can find much support from `mainline' or `moderate' Christians as well. In my experience, it is not whether the earth is old or not that turns moderate Christians off from evolution: the Institute for Creation Research `Young Earth' view doesn't go very far with people with even a moderate understanding of modern theology. What gets people's backs up is the issue of whether life has purpose or meaning, and whether scientists are claiming to be able to refute religious views. Telling people that science/evolution means that `God had nothing to do with it, and your life has no meaning' is not going to sit well with most Americans, whether conservative Christian or not. By referring to evolution as `impersonal' and `unsupervised' NABT generated an unanticipated public relations problem: it was accused of making antireligious statements, and it is obvious that such accusations would make it more difficult for teachers to teach evolution." (Scott. E.C., "Response to the `Open Letter' from Massimo Pigliucci et al.," Darwin Day, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 1998) 11/10/2006 "Why don't they get it? For decades now, that question has vexed many leading scientists, who can't understand Americans' refusal to embrace Darwin's theory of evolution. Despite ongoing efforts to convince us that evolution is a fact, polls consistently show that Americans just don't buy it. Indeed, a Gallup survey last February found that fully 45 percent of respondents believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Another 37 percent believed that humans developed over millions of years from lower life forms, but that God guided the process. Only 12 percent believed that humans developed from lower life forms through undirected natural processes. It's not as if Darwinism is beyond our understanding. As Harvard paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould recently pointed out, `Public difficulty in grasping the Darwinian theory of natural selection cannot be attributed to any great conceptual complexity - for no great theory ever boasted such a simple structure....' [Gould, S.J., "Introduction," in Zimmer C., "Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea," HarperCollins: New York, 2001, pp.xii-xiii] So, why do so many Americans continue to doubt Darwin's theory? Gould and other proponents of Darwinism believe that the main difficulty lies `in the far-reaching and radical philosophical consequences - as Darwin himself well understood - of postulating a causal theory stripped of such conventional comforts as a guarantee of progress, a principle of natural harmony, or any notion of an inherent goal or purpose.' [Gould, Ibid.] In short, people simply don't want to believe that their lives are essentially a journey from nowhere to nowhere. No doubt, that is a formidable obstacle to believing in Darwinism. Who wouldn't think twice before acquiescing to such a viewpoint? Yet, Darwinists have overlooked an even more important obstacle: their own actions. Instead of putting themselves in the shoes of skeptics and trying to imagine what would convince them, Darwinists seem content to uncritically recycle the same ineffective arguments - some of which are demonstrably false. Then they compound the problem by depicting doubters - the ones they ostensibly want to convince - as religiously motivated yahoos." (Hartwig, M., "PBS's 'Evolution' More of the Same," Focus on the Family/Access Research Network, December 31, 2002) 11/10/2006 "Gallup has asked Americans several times over the last 20 years to choose between three statements that describe the origin and development of the human race. Generally speaking, the plurality of Americans have come down on the side of a creationist approach to human origins, while slightly fewer have agreed with a statement that reflects an evolutionary process guided by God, and only a small number have agreed with an evolutionary process in which God had no part. Most recently, in Gallup's February 19-21 poll, 45% of respondents chose `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,' the statement that most closely describes biblical creationism. A slightly larger percentage, almost half, chose one of the two evolution-oriented statements: 37% selected `Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process' and 12% chose `Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.' The public has not notably changed its opinion on this question since Gallup started asking it in 1982." (Brooks, D.J., "Substantial Numbers of Americans Continue to Doubt Evolution as Explanation for Origin of Human," The Gallup Organization, March 5, 2001) 11/10/2006 "The degree of public acceptance of evolution in the United States differs sharply from that within the scientific community. In a 1996 survey of a sample selected from American Men and Women of Science, Witham and Larson asked scientists the same Gallup poll questions regularly asked of the general public. [Witham, L., "Many Scientists See God's Hand in Evolution," Washington Times, April 11, 1997, p.A8] Whereas in 1997, 47% of Americans answered `agree' to Gallup's question about whether humans were created in their present form 10,000 years ago, only 5% of scientists did. (I for one was surprised it was that high!) To Gallup's question on agreement whether evolution occurred without God's involvement, 45% of scientists answered affirmatively, but only 9% of nonscientists. Disproving the idea that all evolutionists are atheists, scientists and nonscientists had the same response to the `theistic evolution' question (evolution occurred, but was guided by God): 40% agreed. So while fewer than half of Americans accept evolution, an overwhelming majority of scientists do." (Scott, E.C., "Not (Just) in Kansas Anymore," Science, Vol. 288, 5 May 2000, pp. 813-815). 11/10/2006 "While most US scientists think humans are simply smarter apes, at least 4 in 10 believe a creator `guided' evolution so that Homo sapiens are ruled by a soul or consciousness, a new survey shows. Scientists almost unanimously accept Darwinian evolution over millions of years as the source of human origins. But 40% of biologists, mathematicians, physicians, and astronomers include God in the process. ... Despite such affirmations, however, 55% of scientists hold a naturalistic and atheistic position on the origins of man, according to the random survey of 1,000 persons listed in the 1995 American Men and Women of Science. ... The survey, which had a 60% response rate, asked scientists the same Gallup Poll question posed to the public in 1982 and 1991. In the 1991 round, 40 percent of Americans said God `guided' evolution to create humans. While this 40% is a middle ground of agreement between scientists and the public, there is a sharp polarization between the groups taking purely naturalistic or biblical views. While most scientists are atheistic about human origins, nearly half of Americans adhere to the biblical view that God created humans `pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.' Forty-six percent of Americans agreed with this view of human origins in the 1991 Gallup poll. Only 5 percent of the scientists agreed. Because only a quarter to a third of Americans are Protestant evangelicals or fundamentalists, the 1991 Gallup Poll showed that many mainline Protestants, Catholics and Jews believe in a `last 10,000 years human creation.' ... The survey was a separate but parallel study to one reported in Nature (1997 Apr 3; 386:435-6) in which 40 percent of the same scientists reported a belief in a God who answers prayers and in immortality. Both surveys were conducted by a reporter for the Washington Times and Edward J Larson, a historian of science at the University of Georgia. The report in Nature was based on a replication of a 1916 survey that scandalized Americans by finding that 45 percent of scientists were atheists and 15 percent were agnostics." (Witham, L.A., "Many Scientists See God's Hand in Evolution," Washington Times, April 11, 1997, p.A8) 11/10/2006 "Other people too, not just scriptural literalists, remain unpersuaded about evolution. According to a Gallup poll drawn from more than a thousand telephone interviews conducted in February 2001, no less than 45 percent of responding U.S. adults agreed that `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.' Evolution, by their lights, played no role in shaping us. Only 37 percent of the polled Americans were satisfied with allowing room for both God and Darwin-that is, divine initiative to get things started, evolution as the creative means. (This view, according to more than one papal pronouncement, is compatible with Roman Catholic dogma.) Still fewer Americans, only 12 percent, believed that humans evolved from other life-forms without any involvement of a god. The most startling thing about these poll numbers is not that so many Americans reject evolution, but that the statistical breakdown hasn't changed much in two decades. Gallup interviewers posed exactly the same choices in 1982, 1993, 1997, and 1999. The creationist conviction-that God alone, and not evolution, produced humans- has never drawn less than 44 percent. In other words, nearly half the American populace prefers to believe that Charles Darwin was wrong where it mattered most." (Quammen, D.E., "Was Darwin Wrong?: NO. The evidence for Evolution is overwhelming," National Geographic, Vol. 206, No. 5, November 2004, p.6) 11/10/2006 "The National Academy of Sciences has a plan to end the conflict over the teaching of evolution. ... The idea is to get anyone who still wants to believe in something to subscribe to `theistic evolution'-which to the academy means that whatever some god may or may not have done, it had to have happened before the Big Bang, left no physical traces, and be indistinguishable from the random working of natural law. As the academy encouragingly points out in Science and Creationism, `Many religious persons, including many scientists, hold that God created the universe and the various processes driving physical and biological evolution.' Happily, theistic evolution `reflects the remarkable and inspiring character of the physical universe revealed by (science).' Best of all, though, is that `this belief...is not in disagreement with scientific explanations of evolution.' The least worrisome aspect of the academy's remarkable statement is the tenuous grasp on logic that the nation's leading scientists are shown to possess. If there is indeed a God who `created the universe,' how is one to guarantee that he wouldn't interact with it in ways the academy would disapprove? And if he might have done something besides set the ball rolling, shouldn't that be a matter for evidence to decide, rather than premises? The most worrisome aspect is that a quasi-governmental agency with substantial influence on public policy has gotten heavily into the religion business. Not content to advise the public on mundane matters of how the physical world works, the academy is acting to promote a theology that causes the least trouble to Darwinism. While adults may be able to tell the academy that they will make up their own minds about their religious beliefs, thank you very much, the academy will help make up the minds of schoolchildren." (Behe, M.J., "Darwin's Hostages," The American Spectator, December 1, 1999) 12/10/2006 "When two groups of experts disagree about a controversial subject that intersects the public school curriculum students should learn about both perspectives. ... teachers should describe competing views to students and explain the arguments for and against these views as made by their chief proponents. Educators call this `teaching the controversy.' Recently, while speaking to the Ohio State Board of Education, I suggested this approach as a way forward for Ohio in its increasingly contentious dispute about how to teach theories of biological origin, and about whether or not to introduce the theory of intelligent design alongside Darwinism in the Ohio biology curriculum. I also proposed a compromise involving three main provisions: (1) First, I suggested--speaking as an advocate of the theory of intelligent design--that Ohio not require students to know the scientific evidence and arguments for the theory of intelligent design, at least not yet. (2) Instead, I proposed that Ohio teachers teach the scientific controversy about Darwinian evolution. Teachers should teach students about the main scientific arguments for and against Darwinian theory. And Ohio should test students for their understanding of those arguments, not for their assent to a point of view. (3) Finally, I argued that the state board should permit, but not require, teachers to tell students about the arguments of scientists, like Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, who advocate the competing theory of intelligent design." (Meyer, S.C., "Teach the Controversy," Cincinnati Enquirer, March 30, 2002. Discovery Institute-Center for Science and Culture: Seattle WA) 12/10/2006 "A majority of adults support the biblical account of creation according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll -- the latest in a series of polls reflecting Americans' tendency to reject secular evolution. In the poll, 53 percent of adults say `God created human beings in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it.' Another 31 percent believe humans `evolved over millions of years from other forms of life and God guided' the process. Twelve percent say humans `have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life, but God has no part.' The poll of 1,005 adults, conducted Sept. 8-11 and posted on Gallup's website Oct. 13, is but the latest survey showing Americans tend to reject a strictly secular explanation for the existence of life ..." (Foust, M., "Gallup poll latest to show Americans reject secular evolution," Baptist Press," October 19, 2005) 12/10/2006 "To assess public opinion on creationism, Gallup asked: Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings? 1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, 2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process, 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so? Polled in November 2004, 38% of respondents chose (1), 13% chose (2), 45% chose (3), and 4% offered a different or no opinion. These results are also similar to those from previous Gallup polls, which extend back to 1982. The article explains that the 10,000 year date was included in the 1982 poll question because `it roughly approximates the timeline used by biblical literalists who study the genealogy as laid out in the first books of the Old Testament.' It is perhaps worth remarking that not all biblical literalists agree on interpreting the Bible as insisting on a young earth: there are old-earth creationists, for example, who accept the scientifically determined age of the earth and of the universe, but still accept a literal reading of the Bible and reject evolution." ("Public view of creationism and evolution unchanged, says Gallup," National Center for Science Education, November 19, 2004. http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2004/US/724_public_view_of_creationism_and_11_19_2004.asp) 12/10/2006 "Opinion polls consistently show that a majority of Americans don't believe that the theory of evolution is the best explanation for our own origins. A November 2004 Gallup poll, for example, found that only 13% of respondents said they believed that God had no part in the evolution or creation of human beings, and 38% said they thought humans evolved from less-advanced forms but that God guided the process. About 45% said they believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 or so years. These results echoed similar Gallup polls dating to 1982. This suggests that scientists have won few converts during at least the last two decades - despite a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning the teaching of creationism in the classroom. In large part, Americans' skepticism toward evolutionary theory reflects the continuing influence of religion. Yet it also implies that scientists have not been persuasive enough, even when buttressed by strong scientific evidence that natural selection alone can account for life's complexity. Could it be that the theory of evolution's judicially sanctioned monopoly in the classroom has backfired?" (Balter, M., "Let 'intelligent design' and science rumble," Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2005) 12/10/2006 "Some 145 years after the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, controversy about the validity and implications of his theory still rages. ... Gallup has asked Americans twice in the last three years to respond to the following question about Darwin's theory: `Just your opinion, do you think that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is ... : a scientific theory that has been well-supported by evidence, (or) just one of many theories and one that has not been well- supported by evidence], or don't you know enough about it to say? ... Just a little more than a third of the American public is willing to agree with the `scientific theory well supported by evidence' alternative, while the same percentage chooses the `not well supported by evidence' alternative. Another 30% indicate that they don't know enough about it to say or have no opinion. There has been essentially no significant change in the responses to this question since 2001." (Newport, F., "Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory: Almost half of Americans believe God created humans 10,000 years ago," Gallup Poll News Service: Washington, DC, November 19, 2004). 12/10/2006 "Why pick on Darwin? It is surely because, as soon as you consider the implications, you must cease to believe that either Life or life are affected by purpose. As G Thomas Sharp, chairman of the Creation Truth Foundation, admitted to the Chicago Tribune, `if we lose Genesis as a legitimate scientific and historical explanation for man, then we lose the validity of Christianity. Period'. We lose far more than that. Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate. After a few score years, the molecules disaggregate and return whence they came. Period. As a gardener and ecologist, I find this oddly comforting. I like the idea of literal reincarnation: that the molecules of which I am composed will, once I have rotted, be incorporated into other organisms. Bits of me will be pushing through the growing tips of trees, will creep over them as caterpillars, will hunt those caterpillars as birds. When I die, I'd like to be buried in a fashion which ensures that no part of me is wasted. Then I can claim to have been of some use after all. Is this not better than the awful lottery of judgment? Is a future we can predict not more comforting than one committed to the whims of inscrutable authority? Is eternal death not a happier prospect than eternal life? The atoms of which we are composed, which we have borrowed momentarily from the ecosphere, will be recycled until the universe collapses. This is our continuity, our eternity. Why should anyone want more?" (Monbiot, G., "A life with no purpose: Darwinism implies that the only eternal life we have is in the recycling of our atoms. I find that comforting," The Guardian, August 16, 2005). 13/10/2006 "We also found the universe is expanding with remarkably uniform speed in all directions. There was no hint of asymmetry. `The big bang, the most cataclysmic event we can imagine, on closer inspection appears finely orchestrated,' I wrote at the time of our observations. `Either conditions before the beginning were very regular, or processes we don't yet know about worked to make the universe extremely uniform.' This conclusion was innocuous enough, and would upset no one, as the uniformity of the universe could be seen as being consistent with classical big bang theory. It was only later-together with other discoveries- that it would be perceived as a problem." (Smoot, G. & Davidson, K., "Wrinkles in Time: The Imprint of Creation," Little, Brown & Co: London, 1993, p.135) 13/10/2006 "Until the late 1910's, humans were as ignorant of cosmic origins as they had ever been. Those who didn't take Genesis literally had no reason to believe there had been a beginning. The origin of the Solar System was a contentious topic, but the origin of the entire cosmos was an altogether different matter: It was rarely, if ever, discussed in scientific circles. In the astronomical journals of the day there was much discussion about the nature of the nebulae, the 1910 return of Halley's Comet, the evolution of stars, the Martian `canals,' the Balmer series in stellar spectra, the search for a ninth planet-but hardly a word about cosmic origins." (Smoot, G. & Davidson, K., "Wrinkles in Time: The Imprint of Creation," Little, Brown & Co: London, 1993, p.30) 13/10/2006 "Morphology was studied because it was the material believed to be most favorable for the elucidation of the problems of evolution, and we all thought that in embryology the quintessence of morphological truth was most palpably presented. Therefore every aspiring zoologist was an embryologist, and the one topic of professional conversation was evolution. It had been so in our Cambridge school, and it was so at Hampton. I wonder if there is now a single place where the academic problems of morphology which we discussed with such avidity can now arouse a moment's concern" (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.56) 13/10/2006 "So we went on talking about evolution. That is barely 40 years ago; to-day we feel silence to be the safer course. Systematists still discuss the limits of specific distinction in a spirit, which I fear is often rather scholastic than progressive, but in the other centers of biological research a score of concrete and immediate problems have replaced evolution." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.56) 13/10/2006 "Discussions of evolution came to an end primarily because it was obvious that no progress was being made. Morphology having been explored in its minutest corners, we turned elsewhere." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.56) 13/10/2006 "Variation and heredity, the two components of the evolutionary path, were next tried. The geneticist is the successor of the morphologist. We became geneticists in the conviction that there at least must evolutionary wisdom be found. We got on fast. So soon as a critical study of variation was undertaken, evidence came in as to the way in which varieties do actually arise in descent. The unacceptable doctrine of the secular transformation of masses by the accumulation of impalpable changes became not only unlikely but gratuitous." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.56) 13/10/2006 "An examination in the field of the interrelations of pairs of well characterized but closely allied `species' next proved, almost wherever such an inquiry could be instituted, that neither could both have been gradually evolved by, natural selection from a common intermediate progenitor, nor either from the other by such a process. Scarcely ever where such pairs co-exist in nature, or occupy conterminous areas do we find an intermediate normal population as the theory demands. The ignorance of common facts bearing on this part of the inquiry which prevailed among evolutionists, was, as one looks back, astonishing and inexplicable. It had been decreed that when varieties of a species co-exist in nature, they must be connected by all intergradations, and it was an article of faith of almost equal validity that the intermediate form must be statistically the majority, and the extremes comparatively rare. The plant breeder might declare that he had varieties of Primula or some other plant, lately constituted, uniform in every varietal character breeding strictly true in those respects, or the entomologist might state that a polymorphic species of a beetle or of a moth fell obviously into definite types, but the evolutionary philosopher knew better. To him such statements merely showed that the reporter was a bad observer, and not improbably a destroyer of inconvenient material. Systematists had sound information but no one consulted them on such matters or cared to hear what they might have to say. The evolutionist of the eighties was perfectly certain that species were a figment of the systematist's mind, not worthy of enlightened attention." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.56) 13/10/2006 "But soon, though knowledge advanced at a great rate, and though whole ranges of phenomena which had seemed capricious and disorderly fell rapidly into a co-ordinated system, less and less was heard about evolution in genetical circles, and now the topic is dropped. When students of other sciences ask us what is now currently believed about the origin of species we have no clear answer to give. Faith has given place to agnosticism for reasons which on such an occasion as this we may profitably consider. Where precisely has the difficulty arisen? Though the reasons for our reticence are many and present themselves in various forms, they are in essence one; that as we have come to know more of living things and their properties, we have become more and more impressed with the inapplicability of the evidence to these questions of origin. There is no apparatus which can be brought to bear on them which promises any immediate solution." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, pp.56-57) 13/10/2006 "Genetical research has revealed the world of gametes from which the zygotes-the products of fertilization are constructed. What has been there witnessed is of such extraordinary novelty and so entirely unexpected that in presence of the new discoveries we would fain desist from speculation for a while. We see long courses of analysis to be traveled through and for some time to come that will be a sufficient occupation. The evolutionary systems of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were attempts to elucidate the order seen prevailing in this world of zygotes and to explain it in simpler terms of cause and effect: we now perceive that that order rests on and is determined by another equally significant and equally in need of `explanation.'" (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.57) 13/10/2006 "We have turned still another bend in the track and behind the' gametes we see the chromosomes. ... When we knew nothing of all this the words came freely. How easy it all used to look! What glorious assumptions went without rebuke. Regardless of the obvious consideration that `modification by descent' must be a chemical process, and that of the principles governing that chemistry science had neither hint, nor surmise, nor even an empirical observation of its working, professed men of science offered very confidently positive opinions on these nebulous topics which would now scarcely pass muster in a newspaper or a sermon. It is a wholesome sign of return to sense that these debates have been suspended." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.57) 13/10/2006 "Biological science has returned to its rightful place, investigation of the structure and properties of the concrete and visible world. We cannot see how the differentiation into species came about. Variation of many kinds, often considerable, we daily witness, but no origin of species. Distinguishing what is known from what may be believed we have absolute certainty that new forms of life, new orders and new species have arisen on the earth. That is proved by the paleontological record. In a spirit of paradox even this has been questioned. It has been asked how do you know for instance that there were no mammals in palaeozoic times? May there not have been mammals somewhere on the earth though no vestige of them has come down to us? We may feel confident there were no mammals then, but are we sure? In very ancient rocks most of the great orders of animals are represented. The absence of the others might by no great stress of imagination be ascribed to accidental circumstances." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, pp.57-58. Emphasis original) 13/10/2006 "We are not certain, using certain in the strict sense, that the Angiosperms are the lineal descendants of the carboniferous plants, but it is very much easier to believe that they are than that they are not. Where is the difficulty? If the Angiosperms came from the carboniferous flora why may we not believe the old comfortable theory in the old way? Well so we may if by belief we mean faith, the substance, the foundation of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In dim outline evolution is evident enough. From the facts it is a conclusion which inevitably follows. But that particular and essential bit of the theory of evolution which is concerned with the origin and nature of species remains utterly mysterious. We no longer feel as we used to do, that the process of variation, now contemporaneously occurring, is the beginning of a work which needs merely the element of time for its completion; for even time can not complete that which has not yet begun." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.58. Emphasis original) 13/10/2006 "The conclusion in which we were brought up, that species are a product of a summation of variations ignored the chief attribute of species first pointed out by John Ray that the product of their crosses is frequently sterile in greater or less degree. Huxley, very early in the debate pointed out this grave defect in the evidence, but before breeding researches had been made on a large scale no one felt the objection to be serious. Extended work might be trusted to supply the deficiency. It has not done so, and the significance of the negative evidence can no longer be denied. When Darwin discussed the problem of inter-specific sterility in the `Origin of Species' this aspect of the matter seems to have escaped him. He is at great pains to prove that inter-specific crosses are not always sterile, and he shows that crosses between forms which pass for distinct species may produce hybrids which range from complete fertility to complete sterility. The fertile hybrids he claims in support of his argument. If species arose from a common origin, clearly they should not always give sterile hybrids. So Darwin is concerned to prove that such hybrids are by no means always sterile, which to us is a commonplace of everyday experience." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.58) 13/10/2006 "If species have a common origin, where did they pick up the ingredients which produce this sexual incompatibility? Almost certainly it is a variation in which something has been added. We have come to see that variations can very commonly-I do not say always-be distinguished as positive and negative. ... Now we have no difficulty in finding evidence of variation by loss. Examples abound, but variation by addition are rarities, even if there are any which must be so accounted. The variations to which interspecific sterility is due are obviously variations in which something is apparently added to the stock of ingredients. It is one of the common experiences of the breeder that when a hybrid is partially sterile, and from it any fertile offspring can be obtained, the sterility, once lost, disappears. This has been the history of many, perhaps most of our cultivated plants of hybrid origin. The production of an indubitably sterile hybrid from completely fertile parents which have arisen under critical observation from a single common origin is the event for which we wait. Until this event is witnessed, our knowledge of evolution is incomplete in a vital respect. From time to time a record of such an observation is published, but none has yet survived criticism. Meanwhile, though our faith in evolution stands unshaken, we have no acceptable account of the origin of `species.'" (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, pp.58-59) 13/10/2006 "Curiously enough, it is at the same point that the validity of the claim of natural selection as the main directing force was most questionable. The survival of the fittest was a plausible account of evolution in broad outline, but failed in application to specific difference. The Darwinian philosophy convinced us that every species must `make good' in nature if it is to survive, but no one could tell how the differences-often very sharply fixed-which we recognize as specific, do in fact enable the species to make good. The claims of natural selection as the chief factor in the determination of species have consequently been discredited." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.59) 13/10/2006 "I pass to another part of the problem, where again, though extraordinary progress in knowledge has been made, a new and formidable difficulty has been encountered. Of variations we know a great deal more than we did. Almost all that we have seen are variations in which we recognize that elements have been lost. In addressing the British Association in 1914 I dwelt on evidence of this class. The developments of the last seven years, which are memorable as having provided in regard to one animal, the fly Drosophila, the most comprehensive mass of genetic observation yet collected, serve rather to emphasize than to weaken the considerations which I then referred. Even in Drosophila, where hundreds of genetically distinct factors have been identified, very few new dominants, that is to say positive additions, have been seen, and I am assured that none of them are of a class which could be expected to be viable under natural conditions. I understand even that none are certainly viable in the homozygous state." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.59) 13/10/2006 "If we try to trace back the origin of our domesticated animals and plants, we can scarcely ever point to a single wild species as the probable progenitor. Almost every naturalist who has dealt with these questions in recent years has had recourse to theories of multiple origin, because our modern races have positive characteristics which we cannot find in any existing species, and which combination of the existing species seem unable to provide. To produce our domesticated races it seems that ingredients must have been added. To invoke the hypothetical existence of lost species provides a poor escape from this difficulty, and we are left with the conviction that some part of the chain of reasoning is missing. The weight of this objection will be most felt by those who have most experience in practical breeding. I can not, for instance, imagine a round seed being found on a wrinkled variety of pea except by crossing. Such seeds, which look round, sometimes appear, but this is a superficial appearance, and either these seeds are seen to have the starch of wrinkled seeds or can be proved to be the produce of stray pollen. Nor can I imagine a fern-leaved Primula producing a palm-leaf, or a star-shaped flower producing the old type of sinensis flower. And so on through long series of forms which we have watched for twenty years." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.59) 13/10/2006 "Analysis has revealed hosts of transferable characters. Their combinations suffice to supply in abundance series of types which might pass for new species, and certainly would be so classed if they were met with in nature. Yet critically tested, we find that they are not distinct species and we have no reason to suppose that any accumulations of characters of the same order would culminate in the production of distinct species. Specific difference therefore must be regarded as probably attaching to the base upon which these transferables are implanted, of which we know absolutely nothing at all. Nothing that we have witnessed in the contemporary world can colorably be interpreted as providing the sort of evidence required." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, pp.59-60) 13/10/2006 "Twenty years ago, de Vries made what looked like a promising attempt to supply this so far as Oenothera was concerned. In the light of modern experiments, especially those of Renner, the interest attaching to the polymorphism of Oenothera has greatly developed, but in application to that phenomenon the theory of mutation falls. We see novel forms appearing, but they are no new species of Oenothera, nor are the parents which produce them pure or homozygous forms. Renner's identification of the several complexes allocated to the male and female sides of the several types is a wonderful and significant pierce of analysis introducing us to new genetical conceptions. The Oenotheras illustrate in the most striking fashion how crude and inadequate are the suppositions which we entertained before the world of gametes was revealed. The appearance of the plant tells us little or nothing of these things. In Mendelism, we learnt to appreciate the implication of the fact that the organism is a double structure, containing ingredients derived from the mother and from the father respectively. We have now to admit the further conception that between the male and female sides of the same plant these ingredients may be quite differently apportioned, and that the genetical composition of each may be so distinct that the systematist might without extravagance recognize them as distinct specifically. If then our plant may by appropriate treatment be made to give off two distinct forms, why is not that phenomenon a true instance of Darwin's origin of species? In Darwin's time it must have been acclaimed as exactly supplying all and more than he ever hoped to see. We know that that is not the true interpretation. For that which comes out is no new creation." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.60) 13/10/2006 "I have put before you very frankly the considerations which have made us agnostic as to the actual mode and processes of evolution. When such confessions are made the enemies of science see their chance. If we cannot declare here and now how species arose, they will obligingly offer us the solutions with which obscurantism is satisfied. Let us then proclaim in precise and unmistakable language that our faith in evolution is unshaken. Every available line of argument converges on this inevitable conclusion. The obscurantist has nothing to suggest which is worth a moment's attention. The difficulties which weigh upon the professional biologist need not trouble the layman. Our doubts are not as to the reality or truth of evolution, but as to the origin of species, a technical, almost domestic, problem. Any day that mystery may be solved. The discoveries of the last twenty-five years enable us for the first time to discuss these questions intelligently and on a basis of fact. That synthesis will follow on an analysis, we do not and cannot doubt." (Bateson, W., "Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts," Address delivered before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 28, 1921, at the University of Toronto, Science, Vol. 55, January 20, 1922, pp.55-61, p.61) 13/10/2006 "A Gallup report released today reveals that more than half of all Americans, rejecting evolution theory and scientific evidence, agree with the statement, `God created man exactly how Bible describes it.' Another 31% says that man did evolve, but `God guided.' Only 12% back evolution and say `God had no part.' Gallup summarized it this way: `Surveys repeatedly show that a substantial portion of Americans do not believe that the theory of evolution best explains where life came from.' ... The report was written by the director of the The Gallup Poll, Frank Newport. ... Gallup has asked this question, in different forms, going back to 1982, but has consistently shown support at 45% or higher for the notion that `God created man in present form.' The most recent poll, last September, posed the question this way: `Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings.' This produced the 53% who chose `God created man exactly how Bible describes it,' the 31% who said man did evolve but `God guided,' and the 12% who backed evolution with God playing `no part.'" ("Gallup: More Than Half of Americans Reject Evolution, Back Bible," Editor & Publisher, March 08, 2006) 13/10/2006 "Eight out of 10 Americans believe God guided creation in some capacity. A Gallup Poll reveals that 46 percent think God created man in his present form sometime in the past 10,000 years, while 36 percent say man developed over millions of years from lesser life forms, but God guided the process. Only 13 percent of Americans think mankind evolved with no divine intervention. `There has been surprisingly little change over the last 24 years in how Americans respond,' pollster Frank Newport said. The survey marks the seventh time that Gallup has queried Americans about creation beliefs. Since 1982, between 44 percent and 47 percent have consistently agreed that God created man `as is,' while between 35 percent and 40 percent said man evolved with God's guidance. The idea of strict evolution without God has proved the least popular, cited by 9 percent to 13 percent of the respondents over the years." (Harper, J., "Americans still hold faith in divine creation," Washington Times, June 9, 2006) 13/10/2006 "In a May 8-11 survey of American beliefs on evolution, 46 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so. In comparison, only 13 percent chose the answer: `Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.' According to the poll results, which were released Monday, the biggest factor in determining the answer was religion. Almost two-thirds of Americans who attend church at least once a week believe that humans were created in their present form, compared to 29 percent of those who say they never attend church. Analysts also found a strong correlation between the level of education and the response. About three-quarters of those with a post- graduate degree said humans developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, compared to just 22 percent choosing the `created in present form' option. According to Gallup, the poll shows that Americans’ view on the origin of life has remained constant for decades. Since 1982, when the poll first began, between 44 and 47 percent of Americans have consistently agreed with the option that God created humans in their present form, and between 9 and 13 percent believed man evolved without guidance from God. This was the seventh time the poll was conducted. Meanwhile, 36 percent of Americans agreed with a third option, that man evolved with the guidance of God through millions of years. Results are based on telephone interviews with 2,002 national adults from Nov. 7-10, 2004, and May 8-11, 2006. The margin of sampling error is 2 percentage points with 95 percent confidence." (Spencer, E., "Nearly Half of Americans Believe in Creationism," The Christian Post, August 31, 2006) 13/10/2006 "Adults in the United States are divided over the origin of life, according to a poll by Gallup released by USA Today. 46 per cent of respondents think God created human beings in their present form, and 36 per cent say man developed from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process. A further 13 per cent think God played no part in the evolution of human beings. ... Polling Data Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings? 1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process; 2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process; 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so. ... The September 2005 poll question was: `Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings? 1) Human beings have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life and God guided this process; 2) Human beings have evolved over millions of years from other forms of life, but God had no part in this process; 3) God created human beings in their present form exactly the way the Bible describes it.' Source: Gallup / CNN / USA Today. Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,001 American adults, conducted from May 8 to May 11, 2006. Margin of error is 3 per cent." ("Americans Split Over Evolution, Creationism," Angus Reid Consultants, June 6, 2006. Emphasis original) 13/10/2006 "What Americans think about their origins is often shocking to those of us who teach about evolution. Gallup polls report that almost 50% of Americans responded that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so" and that almost 70% support teaching creationism in schools. .... Misunderstanding evolution is not a new phenomenon; it has been the case despite decades of science curricula attempting to teach the subject. " (Alters, B.J. & Alters, S.M., "Defending Evolution in the Classroom: A Guide to the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Jones & Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury MA, 2001, p.6) 13/10/2006 "Then, of course, there's the political side to the evolution/ creation issue. In 1999, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to remove almost all mention of evolution from the state's education standards and assessments for public schools. Over 12 other states have fought similar versions of an anti-evolution battle, including some that have succumbed to placing disclaimers about evolution in their biology textbooks. In the 2000 preliminary presidential campaigns, most of the candidates favored the position that both evolution and creationism be taught in schools and added that such decisions should be made at the local level." (Alters, B.J. & Alters, S.M., "Defending Evolution in the Classroom: A Guide to the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Jones & Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury MA, 2001, pp.6-7) 13/10/2006 "We will use evolution to mean "the descent, with modification, of different lineages from common ancestors.... All forms of life, from viruses to redwoods to humans, are related by unbroken chains of descent. ...This citation is from a document endorsed by the following scientific societies: American Society of Naturalists, American Behavior Society, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Ecological Society of America, Genetics Society of America, Paleontological Society, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists. ..." (Alters, B.J. & Alters, S.M., "Defending Evolution in the Classroom: A Guide to the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Jones & Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury MA, 2001, p.10. Emphasis original) 13/10/2006 "Problems with Polls Realizing that all `creationisms' are not alike, it is easy to see how we educators can easily place students into categories (sometimes subconsciously) that do not reflect their beliefs about the subject we are attempting to teach. Likewise, it may be easy to recognize why some public opinion polls on the subject of evolution are difficult to design to take into account all types of creationist views. Polls that are ill-designed produce results that may mislead instructors in some ways. The discussion that follows is of a Gallup poll and is meant to illustrate how misunderstandings concerning students' creationist beliefs can lead to false assumptions about what students find offensive or believe to be false about evolution. One Gallup poll asked respondents to note which statement of three came closest to their views about the origin and development of man. The statements were `(1) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so. (2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process. (3) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process .5120 Such limited choices present somewhat of a dilemma for some progressive creationists. They can't choose #2 because it states that God did not have a part in the process; progressives believe God certainly did. They have problems with #3 because they believe that God supernaturally created all living things or that God at least intervened to supernaturally create when needed-He did not just guide the process. Therefore, some of these progressives choose #1 because it advocates that `God created human beings pretty much in their present form' while not believing the latter half of #1, that the creation happened `one time within the last 10,000 years or so.' Therefore, if progressives who accept standard geological ages choose #1 for its creation emphasis while not agreeing with the 10,000 year age, these responses inflate the polling results for the young earth position, making it appear that there are more literalists than there may be. In other words, many progressive creationists, when asked to respond, may have chosen view #1 by default or, more aptly, considered it the least of three evils." (Alters, B.J. & Alters, S.M., "Defending Evolution in the Classroom: A Guide to the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Jones & Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury MA, 2001, pp.47-48. Emphasis original) 13/10/2006 "Also troublesome in the wording of this particular poll is the phrase `God guided this process.' Although some people in the theist camp believe that God guided the process of evolution, some of them believe that His guidance is so removed from our observation (or possibly even from our understanding) that we cannot detect it. (The overwhelming majority of scientists and science instructors would find no problem with this student view when it comes to learning about evolution.) However, some progressive creationists may also claim that the same terminology allows for God's guiding of evolution, which includes occasional supernatural creations of biological organisms, especially humans. This understanding of God's guidance of evolution is certainly a different understanding from that of the theistic camp. So such wording in the poll serves to blur the distinction between those who see the process as not including supernatural biological creations with those who do. Another confounding factor in this poll (although less relevant to the day-to- day challenges of teaching evolution) is what the poll means by `God had no part in this process.' On the surface, this phrase may sound atheistic. However, many theists could certainly choose this item. These theists would contend that God set up the natural laws and, given his omniscience, knew a result would be humans. However, this phrase may also be read to mean that God had no involvement in setting up the laws of nature so that things would evolve (e.g., that God is unnecessary to the whole process-evolution would have happened with or without God). Because of the item's ambiguity, both atheists and theists could have chosen this response. Many theists who believe that God set the stage for evolution consider that alone to be a creation." (Alters, B.J. & Alters, S.M., "Defending Evolution in the Classroom: A Guide to the Creation/Evolution Controversy," Jones & Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury MA, 2001, p.48) 14/10/2006 "The realization that life is about information completely turns older arguments about evolution on their head. Why? Because information is independent of the material medium used to store and transmit it. In a book, the words are printed with ink on paper, but they could also be written with crayon or paint or chalk, or even scratched into sand with a stick. The message remains the same, no matter what you use to write it. And the obvious implication is that the message was not created by the matter used to write it. The words in a book were not created by chemical forces within the ink and paper. If you see a message on a chalkboard -- `Science Test Today!' -- you do not think it arose from the chemical properties of calcium carbonate. What does this mean for the origin of life? It means the message in DNA was not created by the chemical forces within the molecule itself. This explains why all the experiments to create life have failed - because they all try to build a living form from the bottom up, by assembling the right materials. But the material medium does not write the message. As astrophysicist Paul Davies says, `Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won't work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.' [Davies, P.C.W., "How we could create life,"The Guardian, December 11, 2002] This is a devastating critique. To suggest that matter could give rise to life is not just mistaken; it addresses the question `at the wrong conceptual level.' It is beginning to look like the best key to interpreting the organic world is not natural selection but John 1:1, `In the beginning was the Word,' the Logos -- language, information. ... Why don't these arguments get a hearing in the typical science textbook? The answer is that science has been redefined as applied naturalism or materialism. Consider this quotation from Richard Dawkins: `Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory ... we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.' [Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker," Norton: New York, 1986, p.287] Why? Because it is naturalistic. In a letter published in Nature, another scientist says the same thing from the opposite direction: `Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.' [Todd, S. C., "A view from Kansas on that evolution debate," Nature, Vol. 401, 30 September 1999, p.423] Let that sink in for a moment. Even if there is no evidence for Darwinism, and if all the data point to a designer, still that theory would not be permissible in science. Obviously, it is not ultimately a matter of evidence at all. What this tells us is that science itself has been redefined as applied naturalistic philosophy, so that only naturalistic theories are even considered. That's why we have to deal with the issue on two levels - not only the scientific evidence, but also the philosophy." (Pearcey, N.R., "Creation vs. Evolution: What Our Children Need to Know," The Pearcey Report, January, 2006) 14/10/2006 "The origin of life remains a tantalising puzzle, shrouded by the mists of time. If scientists could create a second sample of life in the lab, it would yield vital clues about how we got here. Somehow, billions of years ago, a mixture of lifeless chemicals turned themselves into a living cell. Repeating the chemical steps under controlled conditions could yield the first artificial life form. I see no reason in principle why synthetic life could not be made. However, most scientists working on this challenge are simply barking up the wrong tree. In the 19th century, life was seen as a type of magic matter that emerged from the primordial ooze. The idea grew that this organic matter could be cooked up in the laboratory from a primordial broth if only the right ingredients were identified. It was in this spirit that Miller performed his famous experiment, and more refined versions have been carried out many times since. Disappointingly, researchers remain stuck at the building block stage. There is a fundamental reason for this impasse.... the living cell is best thought of as a supercomputer - an information processing and replicating system of astonishing complexity. DNA is ... a genetic databank that transmits its information using a mathematical code. Most of the workings of the cell are best described, not in terms of material stuff - hardware - but as information, or software. Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won't work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level. ... If artificial life is manufactured, it will be by applying the lessons of information technology and nanotechnology rather than organic chemistry. .... Which leaves us with a curious conundrum. How did nature fabricate the world's first digital information processor - the original living cell - from the blind chaos of blundering molecules? How did molecular hardware get to write its own software?" (Davies, P.C.W., " How we could create life," The Guardian, December 11, 2002) 14/10/2006 "The obvious way to decide between rival theories is to examine the evidence. Lamarckian types of theory, for instance, are traditionally rejected - and rightly so - because no good evidence for them has ever been found (not for want of energetic trying, in some cases by zealots prepared to fake evidence). In this chapter I shall take a different tack, largely because so many other books have examined the evidence and concluded in favour of Darwinism. Instead of examining the evidence for and against rival theories, I shall adopt a more armchair approach. My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be preferring it over all rival theories. One way in which to dramatize this point is to make a prediction. I predict that, if a form of life is ever discovered in another part of the universe, however outlandish and weirdly alien that form of life may be in detail, it will be found to resemble life on Earth in one key respect: it will have evolved by some kind of Darwinian natural selection." (Dawkins R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, pp.287-288) 16/10/2006 "IN 1867, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of the worm, who, `striving to be man/ Mounts through all the spires of form'. As the paper by Chen et al. on page 720 [Chen, J.-Y., et al., "A possible Early Cambrian chordate," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 Oct 1995, pp.720-722] reminds us, the fossil record mocks our cultural expectations and psychological hopes for construing evolution as a steady rise in progress, with humans as a predictable apogee. No phenomenon of life's history seems less suited to Emerson's mode than the Cambrian Explosion, the remarkable episode which lasted only 10 million years (from 530 to 520 million years ago) and featured the first appearance in the fossil record of effectively all modern animal phyla, including annelid worms and chordates. Charles Darwin faced this challenge to his gradualistic preferences with characteristic honesty, writing in the first edition of the Origin of Species: `The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained' [Darwin, C.R., `The Origin of Species,' First edition, 1859, Penguin: London, 1985, reprint, p.314]. As usual, he attributed the apparent rapidity to imperfections of the fossil record and speculated that recognizable ancestors of modern phyla must have inhabited older seas and not been preserved: `During these vast, yet quite unknown, periods of time, the world swarmed with living creatures' [Ibid., p.313]. The earliest Cambrian is divided into three parts called, from oldest to youngest, Manakayan, Tommotian and Atdabanian, to honour Russian localities where early Cambrian rocks are particularly well exposed. The Manakayan contains many fossilized bits and pieces of cousins and precursors, but not many remains of major modern phyla. The Manakayan therefore pre-dates the Cambrian Explosion. By the end of the Atdabanian, virtually all modern phyla had made their appearance. The Cambrian Explosion therefore spans the Tommotian and Atdabanian. Contrary to Darwin's expectation that new data would reveal gradualistic continuity with slow and steady expansion, all major discoveries of the past century have only heightened the massiveness and geological abruptness of this formative event for the kingdom Animalia." (Gould, S.J., "Of it, not above it," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 October, 1995, pp.681-682, p.681). 16/10/2006 "Older textbooks proclaim that our phylum, the Chordata, did not appear until the subsequent Ordovician period, and that this later evolution must, imply advanced status. But the Burgess Shale contains a chordate, the genus Pikaia, misidentified by Walcott as a polychaete annelid. However, Pikaia remains in limbo, for no comprehensive anatomical description has yet been published. Chen and colleagues [Chen, J.-Y., et al., "A possible Early Cambrian chordate," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 Oct 1995, pp.720-722] discovery and description of a beautifully preserved and unambiguously identified chordate from the still earlier Chengjiang fauna now seals the fate of this misguided effort in asserting specialness for our ancestry. Chordates arose in the Cambrian Explosion. The only post-Cambrian appearance for a phylum belongs to the Ectoprocta. a group of marine colonial organisms prominent in the Palaeozoic fossil record, relatively inconspicuous today, and utterly unknown to the world at large (however beloved by all palaeontologists). Ectoprocts appear in the Ordovician period, and I will take refuge in Darwin's argument to predict that we just haven't found the Cambrian representatives yet." (Gould, S.J., "Of it, not above it," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 October, 1995, pp.681-682, p.681). 16/10/2006 "The new Chengjiang chordate, Yunnanozoon lividum, described by a wonderfully international team of five authors from four maximally diverse and distant nations (invertebrate palaeontology has always been a remarkably ecumenical and cooperative enterprise), is so well preserved that its affinity within the Chordata can also be specified. Chordates are divided into three major lines - the tunicates, the cephalochordates (represented today by Amphioxus and its relatives), and the craniates (including all vertebrates). Yunnanozoon, with its metameric gonads and anteriorly extended notochord, belongs to the cephalochordates. As the authors note, the fact that one major division is already differentiated by unique characters within the Cambrian Explosion probably indicates that the other two divisions existed then as well - and that not only the phylum Chordata itself, but also all its major divisions, arose within the Cambrian Explosion." (Gould, S.J., "Of it, not above it," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 October, 1995, pp.681-682. Emphasis original). 16/10/2006 "Other discoveries continue to highlight the speed and magnitude of the Cambrian Explosion. Bowring and colleagues [Bowring, S.A., et al., "Calibrating Rates of Early Cambrian Evolution," Science, Vol. 261, 3 September 1993, pp.1293-1298] recently provided our first rigorous radiometric dates for the event -and `fast' turns out to be much faster than anyone ever thought. The Tommotian and Atdabanian span only 6 to 10 million years, not up to 30 as previously argued. Meanwhile, new fossil discoveries have extended the range of several more phyla, including the Tardigrada and Pentastomida, into the Cambrian. The case of the pentastomes is particularly remarkable, for these parasites of vertebrates had no previous fossil record at all, while their virtual exclusion to vertebrates as modern hosts made later evolution quite plausible." (Gould, S.J., "Of it, not above it," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 October, 1995, pp.681-682, p.682). 16/10/2006 "The Cambrian Explosion occurred in a geological moment, and we have reason to think that all major anatomical designs may have made their evolutionary appearance at that time. Books have been written on the potential meaning of this remarkable phenomenology for revised views of evolution, ecology and development. Speculative and tendentious as much of this work may be (including my own), let us rejoice in the strangeness and elegant documentation of the phenomenology itself. Our own phylum, as Yunnanozoon proves, forms part of this universal story. " (Gould, S.J., "Of it, not above it," Nature, Vol. 377, 26 October, 1995, pp.681-682, p.682). 16/10/2006 "Consequently, if my theory be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Silurian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than, the whole interval from the Silurian age to the present day; and that during these vast, yet quite unknown, periods of time, the world swarmed with living creatures. To the question why we do not find records of these vast primordial periods, I can give no satisfactory answer. ... The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," First edition, 1859, Penguin: London, 1985, reprint, pp.313-314) 16/10/2006 "Construction of a chemical system capable of replication and evolution, fed only by small molecule nutrients, is now conceivable. This could be achieved by stepwise integration of decades of work on the reconstitution of DNA, RNA and protein syntheses from pure components. Such a minimal cell project would initially define the components sufficient for each subsystem, allow detailed kinetic analyses and lead to improved in vitro methods for synthesis of biopolymers, therapeutics and biosensors. Completion would yield a functionally and structurally understood self-replicating biosystem. Safety concerns for synthetic life will be alleviated by extreme dependence on elaborate laboratory reagents and conditions for viability. Our proposed minimal genome is 113 kbp long and contains 151 genes." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "... self-assembly occurs in a definite sequence and is generally energetically favored, obviating the need for enzymes and an energy source. Assembling some type of cell (i.e. a self-replicating, membrane-encapsulated collection of biomolecules) would seem to be the next major step, yet detailed plans have not been published. Here, we attempt to outline the synthesis of a minimal cell containing the core cellular replication machinery ..." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 Synthesizing a minimal cell will advance knowledge of biological replication. ... The meaning of 'synthetic' (from Greek sunthesis, to put together) discussed here bypasses the current reliance of synthetic biology on cells or macromolecular cell products: the aim is to put together an organism from small molecules alone. ... Life, like a machine, cannot be understood simply by studying it and its parts; it must also be put together from its parts. Along the way to synthesizing a cell, we might discover new biochemical functions essential for replication, unsuspected macromolecular modifications or previously unrecognized patterns of coordinated expression." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "How good a model would an artificial, protein-based, minimal cell be for natural cells? The only cellular alternative is a perturbed natural cell, an incredibly complex system even for the simplest of cells. A much simpler purified system based on a real cell would thus be easier to model and understand. It could certainly answer questions that cannot be answered in vivo or in crude extracts, such as which macromolecules and macromolecular modifications are sufficient for subsystem function. However, even the simplest minimal cell would still be highly complex; so its construction and study would be facilitated by substituting some of the necessary subsystems with simpler analogs. Should the simpler in vitro model turn out to be a poor model for the more complex in vivo system, one could always construct a more complex in vitro system that may better reflect in vivo." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "The ideal approach for synthesizing a cell would allow all of the machine parts to be understood and tested. Like any engineering project, this requires detailed blueprints, raw synthetic capabilities and an overall diagnostic and debugging strategy. ... What is needed is some way of defining a near-minimal genome and then a strategy that will lead inexorably to an understanding of all of its parts." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "Theoretical and experimental studies have attempted to establish a minimal set of genes needed for a self- replicating system in a cushy constant environment of unlimited, small molecule nutrients. Three basic approaches present themselves. ... Comparative genomics searches for genes that have homologs in the genomes of groups of organisms. The approach estimates from 50 to 380 genes in a minimal genome (Mushegian and Koonin, 1996; Tomita et al, 1999; Koonin, 2000; Jaffe et al, 2004). .... Genetics searches for essential genes by mutating one gene at a time. This approach estimates 430 genes in a minimal genome (out of Mycoplasma genitalium's total of 528 ... Hutchison et al, 1999; Glass et al, 2006). ... Biochemistry identifies from cell fractions those gene products essential for the reconstitution of biochemical reactions. It does not suffer from the above problems ... However, the cellular subsystems must be integrated and thoroughly tested for accuracy on long templates before they can be considered physiological. ... Mindful of the remaining self-replication functions that need to be discovered ... it seems likely that a largely biochemical approach, now further empowered by mass spectrometry analyses and genetic and comparative genomic information, will be the most practical route to define a near-minimal, well- understood genome." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "A minimal genome An MCP may be realized by reconstituting the macromolecular catalysts that synthesize DNA, RNA and protein. However, this overlooks the formation of the membrane compartment and the poorly understood process in which it is divided by membrane proteins (Gitai, 2005), both of which are required for life. But lipids alone have been shown to be sufficient for formation of rudimentary membranous compartments capable of both transmembrane transport of small molecules and fission autocatalytically (Szostak et al, 2001), so membrane proteins may be dispensable. Polysaccharides should also be dispensable. If the simplest and best-characterized examples of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis are selected, if translation of all codons is enabled for generalizability and if efficiency and accuracy are not compromised, then this leads to the macromolecules and pathways ... proposed to be necessary and sufficient for replication from small molecule nutrients." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "A detailed list of the gene products in the hypothetical synthetic minimal cell ... is shown .... This list overlaps with a computational model of minimal cell genes largely derived from a minimal organism, M. genitalium (Tomita et al, 1999 ...), but differs by omitting enzymes for synthesizing small molecules (e.g. lipids and glycolysis substrates) and by including DNA replication, RNA processing, RNA modification, extra tRNAs to decode the whole genetic code, some additional essential translation components and chaperones. ... Several conclusions can be drawn from the provisional list of genes selected for a minimal cell, most of which are attractive when contemplating an MCP. In genomic terms, the list is very short, containing only 151 genes and 113 kbp. All of the genes are derived from E. coli and its bacteriophages ..." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 16/10/2006 "Biochemical subsystems Several biochemical subsystems are required to synthesize a minimal cell, and they are reviewed here. ... Genome replication In principle, the genetic material for an MCP could be either DNA or RNA. Although an RNA genome has the advantage of obviating genes for DNA replication, the challenges of preventing inhibitory double-stranded RNA structures and replicative mutations in artificial RNA genomes (Mills et al, 1967) are unsolved. So the genetic material for an MCP should be DNA. ... Transcription A single RNA polymerase should suffice for an MCP. ... RNA processing A host of RNases cleave precursor RNAs in vivo (Li and Deutscher, 1996) with a complexity that could be reproduced in an MCP. However, inclusion of these RNases comes with the risks of cryptic cleavages, and a simpler approach may be easier to engineer .... The efficiency of RNA processing, monitored by gel electrophoresis, could be improved by trying several different precursor-specific sequences. A minimal translatome The most complex universal biological machinery is clearly translation. Translation-associated genes (the 'translatome') account for a large fraction of cellular genes, 96% of the genes ... and all of the currently predicted gaps in knowledge of an MCP. ... Presently, this seems to favor the E. coli translatome for an MCP. Purified translation .... The next steps with the E. coli system will be verifying accuracy by mass spectrometry and extending the short lifetime of the batch mode by continuous dialysis (Spirin et al, 1988). The versatility of the system will become apparent as more mRNAs are translated. If stronger mRNA secondary structures prove inhibitory despite the helicase activity of the ribosome (Takyar et al, 2005), introduction of an RNA helicase may be helpful. Given that aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, translation factors and ribosomal proteins are among the most abundant proteins in the cell, it will be important to verify that the purified system can produce high concentrations of all of these proteins. An in vitro ribosome The ribosome of choice is from E. coli because, in contrast with its eukaryotic cousins, it has been self- assembled from its purified components (Traub and Nomura, 1968; Nomura and Erdmann, 1970; Nierhaus and Dohme, 1974) and is homologous with the other components of the gene list .... rRNA production in a purified system is complicated by post-transcriptional nucleoside modifications. ... 5S rRNA ... is active when transcribed in vitro (Zvereva et al, 1998). But the other two rRNAs are modified by about 20 enzymes in E. coli, half of which are unidentified. ...The enzymes that catalyze these six modifications are therefore included ... tRNAs Which of the myriad tRNA genes and tRNA modification enzymes are likely to be sufficient to decode all 61 sense codons in an MCP? ... Arguments for choosing essential tRNA modification activities are highly speculative.... As few as 33 E. coli tRNAs may be sufficient to translate the entire genetic code accurately .... Each in vitro-synthesized nascent tRNA transcript should be modified with different combinations of modification enzymes and tested for efficiency and accuracy of codon recognition in translation, initially in a simplified purified translation system (Forster et al, 2001). .... Post-translation An MCP must promote correct protein folding and any necessary post-translational amino-acid modifications. Early versions of a purified replicating system will contain cell-derived macromolecules, so establishing that such systems can be completely weaned from cells will require enough rounds of replication for 'infinite' dilution of the starting macromolecules. This will test for dependence on folding by chaperones and on post-translational modifications. It is unclear which, if any, chaperones will be necessary, but GroEL/ES (El Hage et al, 2001; Kerner et al, 2005) are likely candidates .... Compartments and division Membranes would allow evolution without serial transfers and purifications, extension of the system to new environments and better modeling of cells. On the other hand, membranous boundaries ... restrict applications (e.g. delivery of unnatural amino acyl-tRNAs, selection schemes based on binding and spacial arraying for nanofabrication). Addition to self-replicating macromolecules of lipids alone may be sufficient for encapsulation of the macromolecules within bilayer membrane vesicles, synthetic cell division and transmembranous small molecule transport (Szostak et al, 2001). The choice of lipids is wide open, but one should not underestimate the challenges involved in working with them (Luisi, 2002) nor the advantages in regulation to be gained by adding membrane-modeling proteins (e.g. pores, transporters and the yet-to-be-discovered complement of cell division proteins; Gitai, 2005). Integrating the subsystems How might all of the biochemical subsystems ... be combined to generate a self-sustaining system? This is clearly a new level of complexity in comparison with prior self-assembly projects. None of the subsystems described above are completed, yet their selection is based on a reasonable plan for their ultimate integration. The approach again would be stepwise, and there are many possible pathways that could be integrated in parallel .... The products of these integrated subsystems could then be assayed for correct in vitro reconstitution of small ribosomal subunits ... Numerous fine-tuning strategies can be envisioned. Relative strengths of DNA promoters and mRNA ribosome-binding sites for different genes could be modeled on the in vivo strengths, with necessary adjustments of synthetic rates (and thus concentrations of products) achieved by mutations in the binding sites ... Additional modules might be useful, such as catabolism (nucleases and proteases), active conversion or removal of waste products (e.g. by energy regenerating enzymes... or membrane transporters) and regulatory feedback .... Control of macromolecular concentrations will be aided by in silico modeling and design (Tomita et al, 1999). Given that the subsystems discussed above were selected with integration in mind by choosing physiological reaction conditions and homologous components, and given that additional subsystems could always be borrowed from living cells as needed (e.g. E. coli RNA polymerase .... and regulatory modules such as riboswitches (Isaacs et al, 2004)), it seems likely that this approach will eventually produce synthetic self- replication and ultimately a self-sustaining minimal cell. ... Completion In conclusion, a stepwise biochemical approach lends itself to the eventual identification of any remaining functions essential for the synthesis of a minimal cell sustained solely by small molecules. ... It is difficult to predict how long it will take to debug each of the individual biochemical subsystems or to put them all together .... Intermediate assembly steps could also be pursued while the gaps in RNA modification knowledge... are being filled. .... Similarly, assembly of self-replication in the absence of functional in vitro-synthesized tRNA substrates could be carried out using cellular total tRNA to enable self-replication from substrates (rather than just small molecules) as a major step towards understanding biological self-replication. .... Completion within a decade will only be possible through a coordinated filling of the key gaps in knowledge by the cutting-edge laboratories scattered around the world in these fields." (Forster, A.C. & Church, G.M., "Towards synthesis of a minimal cell," Molecular Systems Biology, Vol. 2, 22 August 2006) 17/10/2006 Brain of apes and man The brain is much larger absolutely and relatively in man than any living ape ... man stands farther apart from the apes in this respect than they do from other anthropoids. The cranial capacity for males of modern (Caucasian) man may be taken as 1,500 c.c., whereas that of chimpanzees is given as 410, gorillas as 510, and orangs as 450. The general arrangement of function within the brains is similar in man and apes, but the parts especially well developed in man are the frontal and occipital lobes. The latter are concerned with the sense of sight and are related to our intensely visual life. The frontal lobes, so far as is known, serve to maintain the balance between caution or restraint and sustained active pursuit of distant ends, which, above all else, ensures human survival in such a variety of situations, and makes possible the social life by which so great a population is maintained. The difference of behaviour between men and apes exceeds all the structural differences; our lives are so widely different from theirs that any attempt to specify the divergences in detail is apt to seem ridiculous. Perhaps the more striking of them are related to the powers of communication by speech which, besides its obvious social advantage, gives to man the power of abstract thought. Whatever we may think about the consciousness of animals there is no doubt that our own awareness of life, being expressed in words, is widely different from that of all other creatures. The speech system depends upon a complex of features of the brain, larynx, tongue, mouth, and auditory apparatus. In addition, the facial musculature is more fully differentiated even than in apes, especially around the eyes and mouth." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, p.633. Emphasis original. Emphasis original) 17/10/2006 "The posture and gait of man The gait of man differs from that of any ape in that the body can be fully and continuously balanced on the two legs. This involves considerable modifications throughout the skeleton and musculature .... The backbone, instead of the single thoracic curve of quadrupeds, has an S shape, being convex forward in the lumbar, backward in the thoracic, and again forward in the cervical region. The thoracic curve develops before birth, but the cervical only as the baby holds its head up and the lumbar as it begins to walk. The vertebral column, which in quadrupeds is a horizontal girder, in man becomes vertical, carrying bending and compression stresses along its length. This entirely alters the arrangement of its secondary struts and ties. The bodies of the vertebrae carry much of the weight and are massive, tapering in size upwards. They are separated by well-developed intervertebral disks, acting as elastic cushions. The weight of the head is balanced on the backbone through the neck, and the thorax acts as a bracket from which the viscera are suspended. The muscles of the back, the ties of the vertebral girder, though arranged on the same general morphological plan as in quadrupeds, now carry very different stresses and no long neural spines or large transverse processes develop, since the girder is not now of cantilever type. For the same reason there is no sharp change in the direction of the neural spines at the hind end of the thoracic region; the girder is now one unit, with bending stressing along its whole length." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, p.634. Emphasis original) 17/10/2006 "The balancing of the body on the legs also involves many changes. The muscles around the hip joint achieve this balance, and the changes to allow this affect especially the gluteal muscles and the ilium and sacrum to which they are attached, these being the extensor and abductor muscles, which raise the body from the quadrupedal position and prevent it falling medially when the weight is on one leg. The buttocks are therefore a characteristic human structure. The adoption of a bipedal position imposes entirely new requirements on the musculature of the limbs. In quadrupedal progression the retractor muscles are the main means of locomotion, drawing the leg backward at the hips while straightening the knee. In man the propulsive thrust is obtained mainly from the calf muscles and in particular from the soleus, which runs from the tibia to the heel, the gastrocnemius, since it tends also to bend the knee, being reduced. The quadriceps femoris becomes very large, serving to keep the knee extended both while the calf muscles develop their thrust and, as a check to the forward momentum, when the foot touches the ground. The ilium is very broad in man, increasing the surfaces for attachment of the glutei, iliacus (a flexor of the hip), and for the abdominal muscles, which are attached along its crest and have an important part to play in carrying the weight of the viscera." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, pp.634-635) 17/10/2006 "The limbs of man Many changes would be needed to convert an ape-like leg and foot to the human condition .... The femur of man is straight and the articular surface at its lower end set at an angle to the shaft. This allows the lower legs and feet to be as nearly as possible below the centre of gravity in standing, in other words, for the knees to be held together although the femoral heads are wide apart. At the ankle joint, on the other hand, the articular surface is at right angles to the tibia in man, at an oblique angle in apes, since in the latter the foot is turned outwards. In ourselves the weight is transferred from the tibia to the talus and then partly backwards to the calcaneum and partly forwards through the tarsus to the metatarsal heads ... The calcaneum is modified for this weight-bearing and the tarsus and digits even more so, the whole foot being converted into an arched system, no trace of which is found in apes. With this arrangement the hallux is not used for grasping and is very large. It is held in line with the other digits and the whole forms a compact wedge with a joint at the metatarsal heads. In walking, when the foot is raised by the calf muscles, the toes remain on the ground, to prevent slipping forwards. The condition in which the first toe is the longest is peculiar to man, but in some monkeys and apes the axis tends to shift from the third digit medially and the human condition is an accentuation of this change, with the metatarsal and first phalanx of the first digit becoming long and strong." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, p.635. Emphasis original) 17/10/2006 "The differences between apes and men in the arms and hands ... are marked, though perhaps less striking than in the feet. The human fore-limb is, of course, relatively much shorter than that of any ape and its muscles far less powerful. In order to carry the whole weight of the large body an ape needs enormous muscles all along the limb. Thus the serratus anterior, which pulls the body up on the scapula, is very large and the ribs to which it is attached have large flattened surfaces, are very long, and extend far caudally; the chest of man is much more lightly built. Similarly, the muscles of the shoulder and the flexor muscles of the elbow, wrist, and hand are all much larger in apes, as are the ridges to which they are attached, for instance on the palmar surfaces of the phalanges .... The human arm has specialized in mobility. The hand can be brought into almost any position in relation to the body by virtue of the wide range of movement at the shoulder, pronation and supination of the forearm and movements at the wrist." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, pp.635-636. Emphasis original) 17/10/2006 "In the hand itself the thumb is characteristically long in man and moved by powerful muscles. Man is the only animal in which the thumb can be in the fullest sense opposed to the other digits, so that the pads face each other. This is achieved by special development of the joint between the first carpal and metacarpal. The third digit is the longest in apes, as in men, but the second digit (index) of man is generally at least as long as the fourth, often longer (the `Napoleonic finger'). In lower primates the digits of the ulnar side are relatively much longer. Apart from proportions and skeletal features the human hand also has a very well developed sensory supply, which is essential for its use as a handling organ." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, pp.636-637) 17/10/2006 "The skull and jaws of man Comparisons between the skulls of apes and men have attracted special attention because so many of the finds of early human types have been of skulls .... The differences are mainly referable to changes in the brain, dentition, and method of balancing the head upon the neck. The enlargement of the brain has been in the occipital and especially in the frontal region ..., giving a high forehead and the characteristic upright face. At the same time the jaws have receded, so that the human tooth-row is unusually short." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, pp.637-638. Emphasis original) 18/10/2006 "The lower jaw of man is less shortened than the upper; whereas in apes it is strengthened by a `simian shelf' of bone on its inner side, in man this strengthening is on the outside, making the chin. The jaw is less massive in man than in apes, especially its posterior ramus; the muscles for moving it are less powerful. Correlated with this weakening of the jaw has been a rounding of the surface of the skull. Occipital and temporal crests for the attachment of the neck and jaw muscles are well developed in the male gorilla, suggested in other apes, but absent in man. The brow ridges, also characteristic of the apes, are large masses of bone above the eyes, probably produced to meet the compression stresses set up by the powerful action of the jaw-muscles. Their absence, together with the large forehead, produces the human type of face. The large external nose is presumably another corollary of the shortened face; it provides some extension of the nasal cavity, necessary for warming and filtering the air." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, pp.639-640) 18/10/2006 "The balancing of the head on the neck is a result of the adoption of the upright position. Movement of the foramen magnum to a position beneath the skull has been noted as a primate characteristic and it reaches its extreme in man, allowing considerable reduction of the musculature at the back of the neck; the splenius and semispinalis capitis muscles are much smaller in man than in apes. The small size of the trapezius is partly a consequence of the good balance of the head, partly of the absence of brachiating habits. Reduction of these muscles leads to simplification of the bones at both ends of them. The area of their attachment to the occipital surface of the skull becomes much reduced and remains smooth, instead of being roughened and even raised into ridges as in apes. At the same time the spines of the cervical vertebrae, very long in the gorilla, are short and almost vestigial in man. When the head is properly balanced on the backbone it can be freely turned around, and for this purpose the sternomastoid muscles are well developed and the large mastoid ('breast-like') swellings where they are attached to the base of the skull provide a characteristic human feature." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, p.640) 18/10/2006 "Rate of development of man One of the most striking differences between man and apes is the slow rate of our own growth and development; there is a strong suspicion that many of our features are due to retardation of the time of onset of maturity. Schultz has shown that in the apes growth ceases between the ages of 10 and 12 and that the epiphyses finally close between 12 and 14. Many of the features of man, such as the reduction of hair and the large head, presence of a prepuce on the penis and hymen in the vagina, are those to be found in foetal apes, and it is therefore suggested that one of the main changes leading to our development has been delay in the rate of differentiation and onset of maturity. This might well depend on the endocrine balance, perhaps particularly on the action of the anterior lobe of the pituitary. It is only possible to guess at the process of habit change and selection by which the appropriate genetic change has occurred. It may well be that those family organizations were more efficient in which individuals developed late and were therefore better behaved, in early years because of immaturity, and later by the great development of the `inhibitory' or balancing functions made possible by growth of the frontal lobes .... Families composed of such slow-developing and restrained individuals would therefore survive and the genetic factors involving delay of maturity be selected." (Young, J.Z., "The Life of Vertebrates,"  Clarendon Press: Oxford, Second Edition, 1962, reprinted, 1964, pp.640-641. Emphasis original) 18/10/2006 "The world and everything in it was made for us, as we were made for God: ... For thousands of years, virtually everyone, theologian and scientist alike, found this, both emotionally and intellectually, a satisfying account. The man who wrecked this consensus did so with the utmost reluctance. He was no ideologue bent on kicking in the door of the Establishment, no firebrand. If not for a bit of happenstance he would probably have passed his days as a well-liked Church of England parson in a nineteenth-century rural, picture-postcard village. Instead he ignited a firestorm that destroyed more of the old order than any violent political upheaval ever had. Through the astonishingly powerful method of science, this gentleman who was known to find lively conversation too taxing, somehow became the revolutionary's revolutionary. For more than a century, the mere mention of his name has been sufficient to unsettle the pious and rouse the bookburners from their fitful slumbers. Charles Darwin was born at Shrewsbury, England, on February 12, 1809, the fifth child of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood." (Sagan, C.E. & Druyan, A., "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are," , Arrow: London, 1993, reprint, pp.35-36) 18/10/2006 "Erasmus Darwin's two-volume work, The Botanic Garden, comprising The Loves of the Plants, written in 1789, and its eagerly awaited sequel, The Economy of Vegetation, were runaway best-sellers. They were so successful that he decided to tackle the animal kingdom next. The result was a 1,500-page tome, this one in prose, entitled Zoonomia: or, the Laws of Organic Life. In it he asked this prescient question: `When we revolve in our minds, first the great changes which we see naturally produced in animals after their nativity as in the production of the butterfly from the crawling caterpillar or of the frog from the subnatant tadpole; secondly when we think over the great changes introduced into various animals by artificial cultivation as in horses or in dogs ... ; thirdly when we revolve in our minds the great similarity of structure which obtains in all the warm-blooded animals as well as quadrupeds, birds, amphibious animals as in mankind, would it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament' (archetype, primitive form)? [Darwin, E., "Zoonomia, or The Laws of Organic Life," J. Johnson: London, Third edition, 1801, Part I, Chapter 39, Section 4.8] ... His grandson Charles, who would pay those dues, read Zoonomia twice; once when he was eighteen and again a decade later, after he'd been around the world. He took pride in his grandfather's precocious anticipation of some of the ideas that would make Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck famous twenty years later. However, Charles "was much disappointed" by Erasmus' failure to investigate, carefully and rigorously, whether there was any truth to his inspired speculations." (Sagan, C.E. & Druyan, A., "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are," , Arrow: London, 1993, reprint, pp.36-37) 18/10/2006 "When we consider all these changes of animal form, and innumerable others, which may be collected from the books of natural history; we cannot but be convinced, that the fetus or embryon is formed by apposition of new parts, and not by the distention of a primordial nest of germes, included one within another, like the cups of a conjurer. ... when we revolve in our minds the great similarity of structure which obtains in all the warm blooded animals, as well quadrupeds, birds, and amphibious animals, as in mankind; from the mouse and bat to the elephant and whale; one is led to conclude, that they have alike been produced from a similar living filament. In some this filament in its advance to maturity has acquired hands and fingers, with a fine sense of touch, as in mankind. In others it has acquired claws or talons, as in tygers and eagles. In others, toes with an intervening web, or membrane, as in seals and geese. In others it has acquired cloven hoofs, as in cows and swine; and whole hoofs in others, as in the horse. While in the bird kind this original living filament has put forth wings instead of arms or legs, and feathers instead of hair. In some it has protruded horns on the forehead instead of teeth in the fore part of the upper jaw; in others tushes instead of horns; and in others beaks instead of either. And all this exactly as is daily seen in the transmutations of the tadpole, which acquires legs and lungs, when he wants them; and loses his tail, when it is no longer of service him." (Darwin, E., "Zoonomia, or The Laws of Organic Life," J. Johnson: London, Third edition, 1801, Part I, Chapter 39, Section 4.8, in Harris, C.L., ed., "Evolution: Genesis and Revelations: With Readings from Empedocles to Wilson," State University of New York Press: Albany NY, 1981, pp.135-136) 18/10/2006 "*Heeren:* When the COBE satellite first measured the fluctuations in the background radiation, you made the much publicized statement: "If you're religious, it's like looking at God." [Maugh, T.H., "Relics of 'Big Bang' Seen for First Time," Los Angeles Times, 24 April 1992, pp.A1, A30] Could you explain something about the basic implications of the big bang theory and what you meant by that statement? *Smoot:* Well, I meant there were two aspects to it. These were the oldest and largest structures ever seen. Not only did we find what are the seeds of the modern day structure-and that is the galaxies and clusters of galaxies and clusters of clusters of galaxies-but we also found evidence of the birth of the universe, I believe, because I think that if you look at these fluctuations and ask, "How could they have gotten in there?," some of them are so large-that is, they stretch across billions of light-years back at a very early time -that means they hadn't changed-if you move matter and energy around at the speed of light, you can only cross a teeny fraction of them. And so these are primordial-they're in from the moment of creation. And so it's really like looking back at creation and seeing the creation of space and time and the universe and everything in it, but also the imperfections of the creation, sort of the fingerprints from the Maker, if you understand what I mean, or the machining marks from the machine that tooled the universe, and those things very neatly turn out to be the things that caused the universe to be very interesting to us: namely, creating galaxies and stars and so on. So, to me, the implications were really quite profound, the idea that not only do we understand where things came from, but those things were actually like the machining marks, the manufacturing marks, from the creation of the universe. *Heeren:* And these had to be very precise-they had to be within very tight boundaries in order to produce anything that made any-to make the right kind of preparations for life. *Smoot:* Right. In order to make a universe as big and wonderful as it is, lasting as long as it is-we're talking fifteen billion years and we're talking huge distances here-in order for it to be that big, you have to make it very perfectly. Otherwise, imperfections would mount up and the universe would either collapse on itself or fly apart, and so it's actually quite a precise job. And I don't know if you've had discussions with people about how critical it is that the density of the universe come out so close to the density that decides whether it's going to keep expanding forever or collapse back, but we know it's within one percent." (Heeren, F.*, "Interview with George F. Smoot, May 6, 1994," in "Show Me God: What the Message from Space is Telling Us About God," , Day Star Publications: Wheeling IL, Revised Edition, 2000, pp.167-168. Emphasis original) 19/10/2006 "Thus, when Eldredge and I developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium, we tried, above all, to counteract both Lyell's bias of gradualism and his method of probing behind appearance to defend the uniformity of rate against evidence read literally-for punctuated equilibrium, as its essential statement, accepts the literal record of geologically abrupt appearance and subsequent stasis as a reality for most species, not an expression of true gradualism filtered through an imperfect fossil record. We felt mighty proud of ourselves for breaking what we saw as a conceptual lock placed by Lyell's vision upon the science of paleontology." (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.179) 19/10/2006 "Walcott's specific approach to the key problem that had focused his entire career-the riddle of the Cambrian explosion-favored a small set of stable and well-separated groups during Burgess times, so that a long history of Precambrian life might be affirmed, and the artifact theory of the Cambrian explosion supported. Finally, if Walcott had been at all inclined to abandon his ideological commitment to the shoehorn, in the light of contradictory data from the Burgess Shale, his administrative burdens would not have allowed him time to study the Burgess fossils with anything like the requisite care and attention. I have labored through the details of Walcott's interpretation and its sources because I know no finer illustration of the most important message taught by the history of science: the subtle and inevitable hold that theory exerts upon data and observation. Reality does not speak to us objectively, and no scientist can be free from constraints of psyche and society. The greatest impediment to scientific innovation is usually a conceptual lock, not a factual lack." (Gould, S.J., "Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p.277) 19/10/2006 "Beyond a platitudinous appeal to open-mindedness, the `scientific method' involves a set of concepts and procedures tailored to the image of a man in a white coat twirling dials in a laboratory-experiment, quantification, repetition, prediction, and restriction of complexity to a few variables that can be controlled and manipulated. These procedures are powerful, but they do not encompass all of nature's variety. How should scientists operate when they must try to explain the results of history, those inordinately complex events that can occur but once in detailed glory? Many large domains of nature-cosmology, geology, and evolution among them-must be studied with the tools of history. The appropriate methods focus on narrative, not experiment as usually conceived. The stereotype of the `scientific method' has no place for irreducible history. Nature's laws are defined by their invariance in space and time. The techniques of controlled experiment, and reduction of natural complexity to a minimal set of general causes, presuppose that all times can be treated alike and adequately simulated in a laboratory. Cambrian quartz is like modern quartz-tetrahedra of silicon and oxygen bound together at all corners. Determine the properties of modern quartz under controlled conditions in a laboratory, and you can interpret the beach sands of the Cambrian Potsdam Sandstone. But suppose you want to know why dinosaurs died, or why mollusks flourished while Wiwaxia perished? The laboratory is not irrelevant, and may yield important insights by analogy. (We might, for example, learn something interesting about the Cretaceous extinction by testing the physiological tolerances of modern organisms, or even of dinosaur `models,' under environmental changes proposed in various theories for this great dying.) But the restricted techniques of the `scientific method' cannot get to the heart of this singular event involving creatures long dead on an earth with climates and continental positions markedly different from today's. The resolution of history must be rooted in the reconstruction of past events themselves-in their own termsbased on narrative evidence of their own unique phenomena. No law guaranteed the demise of wiwaxia, but some complex set of events conspired to assure this result- and we may be able to recover the causes if, by good fortune, sufficient evidence lies recorded in our spotty geological record." (Gould, S.J., "Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History," , Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, pp.277-278) 19/10/2006 "The Universe is unlikely. Very unlikely. Deeply, shockingly unlikely. `It's quite fantastic,' says Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Roya ... In his newest book, Just Six Numbers, Rees argues that six numbers underlie the fundamental physical properties of the universe, and that each is the precise value needed to permit life to flourish. In laying out this premise, he joins a long, intellectually daring line of cosmologists and astrophysicists (not to mention philosophers, theologians, and logicians) stretching all the way back to Galileo, who presume to ask: Why are we here? As Rees puts it, `These six numbers constitute a recipe for the universe.' He adds that if any one of the numbers were different `even to the tiniest degree, there would be no stars, no complex elements, no life.' The six numbers lurk in the universe's smallest and largest structures. To select one from the small end: The nucleus of a helium atom weighs 99.3 percent as much as the two protons and the two neutrons that fuse to make it. The remaining .7 percent is released mainly as heat. So the fuel that powers the sun- the hydrogen gas at its core- converts .007 of its mass into energy when it fuses into helium. That number is a function of the strength of the force that `glues' together the parts of an atomic nucleus. So what? Consider this: If the number were only a mite smaller- .006 instead of .007- a proton could not bond to a neutron, and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. No chemistry, no life. And if it were slightly larger, just .008, fusion would be so ready and rapid that no hydrogen would have survived from the Big Bang. No solar systems, no life. The requisite number perches, precariously, preciously, between .006 and .008. And that's just one of Rees's six numbers. If you toss in the other five, life and the structure of the universe as we know it become unlikely to an absurd degree. Astronomer Hugh Ross [sic. Fred Hoyle] has compared the state of affairs to `the possibility of a Boeing 747 aircraft being completely assembled as a result of a tornado striking a junkyard.' Faced with such overwhelming improbability, cosmologists have offered up several possible explanations. The simplest is the so-called brute fact argument. `A person can just say: 'That's the way the numbers are. If they were not that way, we would not be here to wonder about it,' ` says Rees. `Many scientists are satisfied with that.' ... Rees objects, drawing from an analogy given by philosopher John Leslie. `Suppose you are in front of a firing squad, and they all miss. You could say, 'Well, if they hadn't all missed, I wouldn't be here to worry about it.' But it is still something surprising, something that can't be easily explained. I think there is something there that needs explaining.'" (Lemley, B., " Why is There Life?" Discover, Vol. 21, No. 11, November 2000) 19/10/2006 "*Anthropic Principle Objection:* According to the weak version of so-called anthropic principle, if the laws of nature were not fine-tuned, we would not be here to comment on the fact. Some have argued, therefore, that the fine-tuning is not really improbable or surprising at all under atheism, but simply follows from the fact that we exist. The response to this objection is to simply restate the argument in terms of our existence: our existence as embodied, intelligent beings is extremely unlikely under the atheistic single- universe hypothesis (since our existence requires fine-tuning), but not improbable under theism. Then, we simply apply the prime principle of confirmation to draw the conclusion that our existence strongly confirms theism over the atheistic single- universe hypothesis. To further illustrate this response, consider the following `firing-squad' analogy. As John Leslie (1988, p. 304) points out, if fifty sharp shooters all miss me, the response `if they had not missed me I wouldn't be here to consider the fact' is not adequate. Instead, I would naturally conclude that there was some reason why they all missed, such as that they never really intended to kill me. Why would I conclude this? Because my continued existence would be very improbable under the hypothesis that they missed me by chance, but not improbable under the hypothesis that there was some reason why they missed me. Thus, by the prime principle of confirmation, my continued existence strongly confirms the latter hypothesis." (Collins, R.*, " God, Design, and Fine-Tuning," 6 September 2003) 19/10/2006 "The weak anthropic principle implies that we ought not to be surprised at observing the universe to be as it is -- for if the universe were not as it is, we could not observe it. No surprise is warranted. We should expect the universe to look delicately balanced. No explanation is needed, and a divine designer is gratuitous. ... Certainly we should not be surprised that we do not observe a universe incompatible with our own existence. But we still should be surprised that we do in fact observe a universe compatible with our existence, in view of the fine-tuning required. Consider an illustration. [Leslie, J., "Anthropic Principle, World Ensemble, Design," American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 19, 1982, p.150. ] Suppose you are to be executed by a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all of them aiming rifles at your heart. You are blindfolded; the command is given; you hear the deafening roar of the rifles. And you observe that you are still alive. The 100 marksmen missed! Taking off the blindfold, you do not observe that you are dead. No surprise there: you could not observe that you are dead. Nonetheless, you should be astonished to observe that you are alive. The entire firing squad missed you altogether! Surprise at that extremely improbable fact is wholly justified -- and the fact calls for explanation. You would immediately suspect that they missed you on purpose, by design. Similarly, we should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe incompatible with our existence. (We cannot observe that we do not exist.) Yet we should be surprised that we do observe features of the universe compatible with our existence -- in view of the enormous improbability that the universe should possess such features. Therefore, the weak anthropic principle fails entirely to remove our justified surprise at the basic features of the universe." (Craig, W.L.*, " Cosmos and Creator," Origins & Design, Vol. 17, No. 2, Spring 1996, Access Research Network) 19/10/2006 "It is one thing to assemble a list of conditions required for life to exist, and quite another to decide that the list adds up a to an enigma. After all, it would always be possible to come up with the conditions required for me as an individual to exist, and it is clear the list would make dull reading: I must have been born, must have been cared for during infancy must have partaken of food regularly, and so forth. Nothing here is cause for remark. So why get excited about the set of conditions required for life in general to exist? The answer is that these conditions turn out to be of an entirely different sort. Each and every one of them is surprising, and they are surprising because they involve striking and remarkable coincidences. The best analogy I know of to the condition of life in the universe has been given in an article on the subject by the Canadian philosopher John Leslie. Leslie's analogy concerns a man sentenced to be shot at sunrise. Early in the morning he is dragged before the firing squad. He stands before it blindfolded, the commander gives the order to shoot...and by some extraordinary and unprecedented chain of coincidences, every last one of the rifles in the squad misfires. Our failure to collide with a passing star is the first of all those defective rifles in the firing squad." (Greenstein, G., "The Symbiotic Universe: Life and Mind in the Cosmos," William Morrow & Co: New York NY, 1988, pp.22-23) 19/10/2006 "Here we could tell a story of a lottery. When the hundred thousand lottery tickets were being printed one of them was given a number which made it worth a million dollars. Most of the tickets were actually sold. Anyone winning the million dollars - Mr Green, perhaps - should presumably feel no compulsion to seek some very special explanation for having won: some explanation of a kind inapplicable to just any other winner. Yes, the absence of such an explanation would mean that he personally had enjoyed immense good luck, but it was very likely that somebody would enjoy it. ... This particular lottery story, however, fails to reflect an important extra element in the cosmological case: namely, that it is a case in which (so to speak) the winning of a lottery is a prerequisite of observing anything. Given this extra element, we cannot argue in ... in this style because in the cosmological case a queer kind of observational selection effect guarantees that a 'non-winning ticket' - a lifeless universe - will never be seen by anyone. ... The Firing Squad Story can help us to see the correctness of that last point. When the fifty sharpshooters all miss me, `If they hadn't all missed then I shouldn't be considering the affair' is not an adequate response. What the situation demands is, `I'm popular with the sharpshooters - unless, perhaps, immensely many firing squads are at work and I'm among the very rare survivors.'" (Leslie, J., "Universes," , Routledge: London, 1996, reprint, pp.12-13. Emphasis original) 19/10/2006 "FINE-TUNING ARGUMENTS have a long history. Lawrence Henderson, a Harvard professor, wrote an important book in this vein, titled The Fitness of the Environment, early in the twentieth century. He noted such things as the anomalous property of water, that it does not reach maximum density at the freezing point, which has played a key role in the evolution of life on Earth; he also pointed out special features of other molecules, including carbon dioxide. He argued that `we are obliged to regard this collection of properties as in some intelligible sense a preparation for the process of planetary evolution. Therefore the properties of the elements must for the present be regarded as possessing a teleological character.' [Henderson, L., "The Order Of Nature," Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1917, p.192] His contemporary Homer Smith, on the other hand, was unimpressed, saying that `the fitness of the living organism to its environment or vice versa is as the fit between a die and its mould, between the whirlpool and the riverbed.' [Smith, H.W., "Kamongo, or the Lungfish and the Padre," Viking: New York, 1961, p.153] What, though, can we make of the coincidences in the physical constants involved in nucleosynthesis? They cannot be dismissed as readily as other arguments. A complicated biological organism must indeed evolve in tune with its environment; but the basic physical laws are `given,' and nothing can react back to modify them. It does seem worthy of note that these laws permit something interesting to have happened in the Universe, where there could so easily have been a `stillborn' universe in which no complexity could evolve. The Canadian philosopher John Leslie has offered a neat analogy. Suppose you are facing execution by a fifty-man firing squad. The bullets are fired, and you find that all have missed their target. Had they not done so, you would not survive to ponder the matter. But, realising you are alive, you would legitimately be perplexed and wonder why. " (Gribbin, J.R. & Rees, M.J., "Cosmic Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, and Anthropic Cosmology," Bantam Books: New York NY, 1989, pp.270-271. Emphasis original) 19/10/2006 "But to say simply, `If the universe hadn't expanded at a speed compatible with Life's evolution then we shouldn't be able to discuss the affair', is to give no explanation whatever. One might as well have said straight out that the existence of living beings was fantastically improbable. ... Again, recall the Firing Squad Story ... The fifty sharpshooters all miss the intended victim. Suspicion arises that those sharpshooters did not intend him to become a victim. And the condemned man can himself share the suspicion instead of commenting, `If they hadn't all missed me then I shouldn't be contemplating the matter so I mustn't be surprised that they missed.' Again, if the existence of all life on Earth depends on the nonexplosion of hydrogen bombs connected to a randomizer, and the dials are set so that pressing a button ought to give 99.99999999 per cent probability that the bombs will explode, and the button is pressed and men find themselves still alive, then they ought to suspect that some fault has developed in the randomizer. ... Notice that `If things hadn't been fine tuned for Life then we shouldn't be here to contemplate them' is a comment which has just as much or as little power no matter what the supposed evidence of fine tuning is. But what if it had been proved that living things evolved only thanks to how two force strengths stood in exactly the ratio of 1 to 5735.67394521996246227, or what if it took a million figures to state the ratio? Few would then be tempted to make such a comment." (Leslie, J., "Universes", , Routledge: London, 1996, reprint, pp.108-109. Emphasis original) 20/10/2006 "Lawrence J. Henderson was a professor of biological chemistry at Harvard at the turn of the century, and he published his two seminal books on teleology, The Fitness of the Environment, and The Order of Nature in 1913 and 1917, respectively ... Henderson was led to reflect on teleology in the biochemical world through his work on the regulation of acidity and alkalinity in living organisms. He noticed that of all known substances, phosphoric acid and carbonic acid (CO2 dissolved in water) possessed the greatest power of automatic regulation of neutrality. Had these substances not existed, such regulation in living things would be much more difficult. Henderson searched the chemical literature and uncovered a large number of substances whose peculiar properties were essential to life. Water, for example, is absolutely unique in its ability to dissolve other substances, in its anomalous expansion when cooled near the freezing point, in its thermal conductivity among ordinary liquids, in its surface tension, and numerous other properties. Henderson showed that these strange qualities of water made it necessary for any sort of life. Furthermore, the properties of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon had a number of quirks amongst all the other elements that made these elements and their properties essential for living organisms. These quirks were discussed in detail in his book Fitness of the Environment. These properties were so outstanding in the role they played in living things that `... we were obliged to regard this collocation of properties as in some intelligible sense a preparation for the process of planetary evolution .... Therefore the, properties of the elements must for the present be regarded as possessing a teleological character." (Barrow, J.D. & Tipler, F.J., "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle," , Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, 1996, reprint, p.143) 20/10/2006 "The question is this. `Is our God worth believing in?' Our God, so it is forcefully argued by some, must have performed certified and guaranteed physical miracles in order that the incarnation can have happened and the resurrection be the real and glorious exposition and explosion of divine power that we all believe it to be. He is a God who must have specially and uniquely intervened to transform very particular particles of matter into a particular divine reality, symbol and mystery. This, it is alleged, was necessary so that God could be one with us in and as the human being Jesus, and in order to deliver Jesus fully and personally and finally from the dead. In the case of the incarnation we are concerned with the divine transformation of Mary's chromosomes and genes so that Jesus is a fully human male and, in and as one and the same person, also Emmanuel, God with us. In the case of the resurrection we have the divine transformation of the particular physical make-up of Jesus's corpse so that he is alive, and seen to be alive, in a transformed body which is the necessary sign and symbol of Jesus's being alive in a manner appropriate to glory and to eternity or in a manner preliminary to, and on the way to, glory and eternity. The critical point is the claim that the miraculous and divinely produced transformation must be a directly divinely induced transformation of the physical in order for the incarnation and the resurrection to be believable, real and historical. God's power and presence and commitment must, so it is claimed, in these two particular cases have acted something like a divine laser-beam which fuses the physical particles into a reality which is both divinely produced and divine. It is further claimed that the biblical records both support and require this way of understanding incarnation and resurrection and, even today, allow of no other interpretation and exposition as fully appropriate or faithful. I wish to set aside all the customary critical and comparative questions which arise and which have to be discussed and lived with concerning the New Testament evidences and their interpretation. The question I feel obliged to concentrate on is this. What sort of God are we portraying and believing in if we insist on what I will nickname `the divine laser-beam' type of miracle as the heart and basis of the incarnation and the resurrection? I feel obliged to suggest that if we do so insist, then we are implying, if not actually portraying, a God who is at the best a cultic idol and at the worst the very devil." (Jenkins, D.E., "God, Miracle and the Church of England," SCM: London, 1987, pp.3-4) 20/10/2006 "God, it is apparently alleged, works uniquely and directly in a divine intervention on physical matter in order to bring about his basic saving miracles of incarnation and resurrection. ... God is far too great a mystery, and the created universe, in dependence upon him, is far too open a mystery, for it to be possible for any of us to say what God can or cannot do or what can or cannot happen. Still less am I saying that miracles do not or cannot happen. ... If God is this sort of loving, identifying and gracious God, then surely we must be very careful, reverent and reticent about how we pin certain sorts of miracle on him. The choice of physical miracles with what might be called laser-beam-like precision and power would not seem to be a choice which he cared, or would care, to use. For if such a physical transformation with precision and power is an option open to God consistent with his purposes of creation, freedom and love, then we are faced with a very terrible dilemma indeed. We are faced with the claim that God is prepared to work knock-down physical miracles in order to let a select number of people into the secret of his incarnation, resurrection and salvation, but he is not prepared to use such methods in order to deliver from Auschwitz, prevent Hiroshima, overcome famine or bring about a bloodless transformation of apartheid. Such a God is surely a cultic idol. That is to say, he is a false and misdeveloped picture of the true and gracious God drawn up by would-be worshippers who have gone dangerously and sadly astray. If such a God is not a cultic idol produced by mistaken and confused worshippers, but actually exists, then he must be the very devil. For he prefers a few selected worshippers to all the sufferers of our world. Such a God is certainly not worth believing in." (Jenkins, D.E., "God, Miracle and the Church of England," SCM: London, 1987, pp.4-5) 20/10/2006 "n fact and in faith, God's relations with the world and with ourselves, including his miracles, are surely something much more mysterious, personal and risky than the knock-down, this-must-be-a-decisive- physical miracle, type of argument and understanding allow. Miracles are most probably something much more historical, real and down-to-earth than monophysitely divine manipulations of the physical. God is much more interwoven with and committed to our flesh and blood, our obedience and collaboration and our freedom and limits. He transforms the natural, not by making it arbitrarily supernatural and so unnatural, but by enabling the unbelievable fullness of what is natural through unity with the unbelievably gracious divine. The birth narratives are far more about the obedience of Mary and Joseph in response to the unique graciousness of God than about Mary's physical virginity. The resurrection narratives are far more about encounters and namings and joyful recognitions than about the empty tomb." (Jenkins, D.E., "God, Miracle and the Church of England," SCM: London, 1987, pp.5-6) 20/10/2006 "By skilful manipulation of categories and definitions, the Darwinists have established philosophical naturalism as educational orthodoxy in a nation in which the overwhelming majority of people express some form of theistic belief inconsistent with naturalism. According to a 1982 Gallup poll aimed at measuring nationwide opinion, 44 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that `God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.' That would seem to mark those respondents as creationists in a relatively narrow sense. Another 38 percent accepted evolution as a process guided by God. Only 9 percent identified themselves as believers in a naturalistic evolutionary process not guided by God. The philosophy of the 9 percent is now to be taught in the schools as unchallengeable truth." (Johnson, P.E.*, "Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of Naturalism," [First Things, October 1990], Foundation for Thought and Ethics: Richardson TX, 1990, reprint, p.10) 20/10/2006 "Before any conclusion can be drawn on Darwin's indebtedness to his predecessors three considerations must be borne in mind. The first is the precise identification of what the original contribution to science was which Darwin himself claimed to have made. This is known from a letter [Darwin, C.R., in de Beer, G.R., ed., `Some Unpublished Letters of Charles Darwin,' Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 14, 1959, p.527] which he sent on 18th January 1860 to Baden Powell. `No educated person', he wrote, `not even the most ignorant, could suppose that I meant to arrogate to myself the origination of the doctrine that species had not been independently created. The only novelty in my work is the attempt to explain how species became modified, & to a certain extent how the theory of descent explains certain large classes of facts; & in these respects I received no assistance from my predecessors.'" (de Beer, G.R., ed., "Darwin's Notebooks on Transmutation of Species (1837-1839)," in Appleman, P., ed., "Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, First Edition, 1970, p.72). 21/10/2006 "In his Presidential Address, `Biogenesis and Abiogenesis' ('Collected Essays' 8 page 229), he discussed the rival theories of spontaneous generation and the universal derivation of life from precedent life, and professed his belief, as an act of philosophic faith, that at some remote period, life had arisen out of inanimate matter, though there was no evidence that anything of the sort had occurred recently, the germ theory explaining many supposed cases of spontaneous generation. The history of the subject, indeed, showed] `the great tragedy of Science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact--which is so constantly being enacted under the eyes of philosophers,' and recalled the warning `that it is one thing to refute a proposition, and another to prove the truth of a doctrine which, implicitly or explicitly, contradicts that proposition." (Huxley, T.H., in Huxley, L., ed., "The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley," Macmillan & Co: London, 1903, Vol. 2, p.16) 21/10/2006 "Ask people why they support the death penalty or prolonged incarceration for serious crimes, and the reasons they give will usually involve retribution. ... Retribution as a moral principle is incompatible with a scientific view of human behaviour. As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software. Basil Fawlty, British television's hotelier from hell created by the immortal John Cleese, was at the end of his tether when his car broke down and wouldn't start. He gave it fair warning, counted to three, gave it one more chance, and then acted. `Right! I warned you. You've had this coming to you!' He got out of the car, seized a tree branch and set about thrashing the car within an inch of its life. Of course we laugh at his irrationality. Instead of beating the car, we would investigate the problem. Is the carburettor flooded? Are the sparking plugs or distributor points damp? Has it simply run out of gas? Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist? ... Isn't the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component? Or a defective upbringing? Defective education? Defective genes? Concepts like blame and responsibility are bandied about freely where human wrongdoers are concerned. ... But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and environment. Don't judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car? Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment." (Dawkins, R., "Let's all stop beating Basil's car," Edge: The World Question Center 2006) 22/10/2006 "In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, `This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed'? Instead they say, `No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.52-53. Emphasis original) 22/10/2006 "If you add up all the `begats' in Genesis, for example, you get an age for the Earth: 6,000 years old, plus or minus a little. The universe is said to be exactly as old as the Earth. This is still the standard of Jewish, Christian, and Moslem fundamentalists and is clearly reflected in the Jewish calendar. But so young a Universe raises an awkward question: How is it that there are astronomical objects more than 6,000 light- years away? It takes light a year to travel a light-year, 10,000 years to travel 10,000 light-years, and so on. When we look at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, the light we see left its source 30,000 years ago. The nearest spiral galaxy like our own, M31 in the constellation Andromeda, is 2 million light-years away, so we are seeing it as it was when the light from it set out on its long journey to Earth-2 million years ago. And when we observe distant quasars 5 billion light-years away, we are seeing them as they were 5 billion years ago, before the Earth was formed. (They are, almost certainly, very different today.) If, despite this, we were to accept the literal truth of such religious books, how could we reconcile the data? The only plausible conclusion, I think, is that God recently made all the photons of light arriving on the Earth in such a coherent format as to mislead generations of astronomers into the misapprehension that there are such things as galaxies and quasars, and intentionally driving them to the spurious conclusion that the Universe is vast and old. This is such a malevolent theology I still have difficulty believing that anyone, no matter how devoted to the divine inspiration of any religious book, could seriously entertain it. Beyond this, the radioactive dating of rocks, the abundance of impact craters on many worlds, the evolution of the stars, and the expansion of the Universe each provides compelling and independent evidence that our Universe is many billions of years old-despite the confident assertions of revered theologians that a world so old directly contradicts the word of God, and that at any rate information on the antiquity of the world is inaccessible except to faith. These lines of evidence, as well, would have to be manufactured by a deceptive and malicious deity-unless the world is much older than the literalists in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion suppose. Of course, no such problem arises for those many religious people who treat the Bible and the Qur'an as historical and moral guides and great literature, but who recognize that the perspective of these scriptures on the natural world reflects the rudimentary science of the time in which they were written." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.28-29. Emphasis original) 22/10/2006 "As for humans, we're latecomers. We appear in the last instant of cosmic time. The history of the Universe till now was 99.998 percent over before our species arrived on the scene. In that vast sweep of aeons, we could not have assumed any special responsibilities for our planet, or life, or anything else. We were not here." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, p.30) 22/10/2006 "Well, even if we're closely related to some of the other animals, we're different-not just in degree, but in kind-on what really matters: reasoning, self-consciousness, tool making, ethics, altruism, religion, language, nobility of character. While humans, like all animals, have traits that set them apart-otherwise, how could we distinguish one species from another?-human uniqueness has been exaggerated, sometimes grossly so. Chimps reason, are self-conscious, make tools, show devotion, and so on. Chimps and humans have 99.6 percent of their active genes in common." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, p.31. Emphasis original) 22/10/2006 "Okay, maybe we're not much, maybe we've humiliatingly related to apes, but at least we're the best there is. God and angels aside, we're the only intelligent beings in the Universe. ... However, partly through the influence of science and science fiction, most people today, in the United States at least, reject this proposition for reasons essentially stated by the ancient Greek philosopher Chrysippus: `For any human being in existence to think that there is nothing in the whole world superior to himself would be an insane piece of arrogance:' But the simple fact is that we have not yet found extraterrestrial life. We are in the earliest stages of looking. The question is wide open. If I had to guess-especially considering our long sequence of failed chauvinisms-I would guess that the Universe is filled with beings far more intelligent, far more advanced than we are. But of course I might be wrong. Such a conclusion is at best based on a plausibility argument, derived from the numbers of planets, the ubiquity of organic matter, the immense timescales available for evolution, and so on. It is not a scientific demonstration. The question is among the most fascinating in all of science. As described in this book, we are just developing the tools to treat it seriously." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.32-33. Emphasis original) 22/10/2006 "What about the related matter of whether we are capable of creating intelligences smarter than ourselves? Computers routinely do mathematics that no unaided human can manage, outperform world champions in checkers and grand masters in chess, speak and understand English and other languages, write presentable short stories and musical compositions, learn from their mistakes, and competently pilot ships, airplanes, and spacecraft. Their abilities steadily improve. They're getting smaller, faster, and cheaper. Each year, the tide of scientific advance laps a little further ashore on the island of human intellectual uniqueness with its embattled castaways. If, at so early a stage in our technological evolution, we have been able to go so far in creating intelligence out of silicon and metal, what will be possible in the following decades and centuries? What happens when smart machines are able to manufacture smarter machines?" (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, p.33) 22/10/2006 "PERHAPS THE CLEAREST INDICATION that the search for an unmerited privileged position for humans will never be wholly abandoned is what in physics and astronomy is called the Anthropic Principle. It would be better named the Anthropocentric Principle. It comes in various forms. The `Weak' Anthropic Principle merely notes that if the laws of Nature and the physical constants-such as the speed of light, the electrical charge of the electron, the Newtonian gravitational constant, or Planck's quantum mechanical constant-had been different, the course of events leading to the origin of humans would never have transpired. Under other laws and constants, atoms would not hold together, stars would evolve too quickly to leave sufficient time for life to evolve on nearby planets, the chemical elements of which life is made would never have been generated, and so on. Different laws, no humans. There is no controversy about the Weak Anthropic Principle: Change the laws and constants of Nature, if you could, and a very different universe may emerge- in many cases, a universe incompatible with life. The mere fact that we exist implies (but does not impose) constraints on the laws of Nature. By contrast, the various "Strong" Anthropic Principles go much further; some of their advocates come close to deducing that the laws of Nature and the values of the physical constants were established (don't ask how or by Whom) so that humans would eventually come to be. Almost all of the other possible universes, they say, are inhospitable. In this way, the ancient conceit that the Universe was made for us is resuscitated." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.33-34. Emphasis original) 22/10/2006 "To me it echoes Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide, convinced that this world, with all its imperfections, is the best possible. It sounds like playing my first hand of bridge, winning, knowing that there are 54 billion billion billion (5.4 x 1028) possible other hands that I was equally likely to have been dealt ... and then foolishly concluding that a god of bridge exists and favors me, a god who arranged the cards and the shuffle with my victory foreordained from The Beginning. We do not know how many other winning hands there are in the cosmic deck, how many other kinds of universes, laws of Nature, and physical constants that could also lead to life and intelligence and perhaps even delusions of self-importance. Since we know next to nothing about how the Universe was made-or even if it was made-it's difficult to pursue these notions productively." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.34-35) 22/10/2006 "But if the Universe is infinitely old-if the Big Bang some 15 billion years ago is only the most recent cusp in an infinite series of cosmic contractions and expansions-then it was never created and the question of why it is as it is is rendered meaningless. If, on the other hand, the Universe has a finite age, why is it the way it is? Why wasn't it given a very different character? Which laws of Nature go with which others? Are there meta-laws specifying the connections? Can we possibly discover them? Of all conceivable laws of gravity, say, which ones can exist simultaneously with which conceivable laws of quantum physics that determine the very existence of macroscopic matter? Are all laws we can think of possible, or is there only a restricted number that can somehow be brought into existence? Clearly we have not a glimmering of how to determine which laws of Nature are `possible' and which are not. Nor do we have more than the most rudimentary notion of what correlations of natural laws are `permitted.'" (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.34-35) 22/10/2006 "For example, Newton's universal law of gravitation specifies that the mutual gravitational force attracting two bodies towards each other is inversely proportional to the square of how far they are apart. You move twice as far from the center of the Earth and you weigh a quarter as much; ten times farther and you weigh only a hundredth of your ordinary weight; etc. It is this inverse square law that permits the exquisite circular and elliptical orbits of planets around the Sun, and moons around the planets-as well as the precision trajectories of our interplanetary spacecraft. If r is the distance between the centers of two masses, we say that the gravitational force varies as 1/r2. But if this exponent were different-if the gravitational law were 1/r4, say, rather than 1/r2-then the orbits would not close; over billions of revolutions, the planets would spiral in and be consumed in the fiery depths of the Sun, or spiral out and be lost to interstellar space. If the Universe were constructed with an inverse fourth power law rather than an inverse square law, soon there would be no planets for living beings to inhabit. So of all the possible gravitational force laws, why are we so lucky as to live in a universe sporting a law consistent with life? First, of course, we're so `lucky,' because if we weren't, we wouldn't be here to ask the question. It is no mystery that inquisitive beings who evolve on planets can be found only in universes that admit planets. Second, the inverse square law is not the only one consistent with stability over billions of years. Any power law less steep than 1/r3 (1/r2.99 or 1/r, for example) will keep a planet in the vicinity of a circular orbit even if it's given a shove. We have a tendency to overlook the possibility that other conceivable laws of Nature might also be consistent with life." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.35-36) 22/10/2006 "But there's a further point: It's not arbitrary that we have an inverse square law of gravitation. When Newton's theory is understood in terms of the more encompassing general theory of relativity, we recognize that the exponent of the gravity law is 2 because the number of physical dimensions we live in is 3. All gravity laws aren't available, free for a Creator's choosing. Even given an infinite number of three- dimensional universes for some great god to tinker with, the gravity law would always have to be the law of the inverse square. Newtonian gravity, we might say, is not a contingent facet of our universe, but a necessary one. In general relativity, gravity is due to the dimensionality and curvature of space. When we talk about gravity we are talking about local dimples in space-time. This is by no means obvious and even affronts commonsense notions. But when examined deeply, the ideas of gravity and mass are not separate matters, but ramifications of the underlying geometry of space-time. ... Often we do not (or cannot) work through what those other universes allow. Beyond that, not every arbitrary choice of a law of Nature or a physical constant may be available, even to a maker of universes." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.36-37. Emphasis original) 22/10/2006 "There are cosmological models being formulated today in which even the entire Universe is nothing special. Andrei Linde, formerly of the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow and now at Stanford University, has incorporated current understanding of the strong and weak nuclear forces and quantum physics into a new cosmological model. Linde envisions a vast Cosmos, much larger than our Universe- perhaps extending to infinity both in space and time-not the paltry 15 billion light-years or so in radius and 15 billion years in age which are the usual understanding. In this Cosmos there is, as here, a kind of quantum fluff in which tiny structures much smaller than an electron are everywhere forming, reshaping, and dissipating; in which, as here, fluctuations in absolutely empty space create pairs of elementary particles-an electron and a positron, for example. In the froth of quantum bubbles, the vast majority remain submicroscopic. But a tiny fraction inflate, grow, and achieve respectable universehood. They are so far away from us, though-much farther than the 15 billion light-years that is the conventional scale of our universe-that, if they exist, they appear to be wholly inaccessible and undetectable. Most of these other universes reach a maximum size and then collapse, contract to a point, and disappear forever. Others may oscillate. Still others may expand without limit. In different universes there will be different laws of nature. We live, Linde argues, in one such universe-one in which the physics is congenial for growth, inflation, expansion, galaxies, stars, worlds, life. We imagine our universe to be unique, but it is one of an immense number-perhaps an infinite number-of equally valid, equally independent, equally isolated universes. There will be life in some, and not in others. In this view the observable Universe is just a newly formed backwater of a much vaster, infinitely old, and wholly unobservable Cosmos. If something like this is right, even our residual pride, pallid as it must be, of living in the only universe is denied to us. Maybe someday, despite current evidence, a means will be devised to peer into adjacent universes, sporting very different laws of nature, and we will see what else is possible. Or perhaps inhabitants of adjacent universes can peer into ours. Of course, in such speculations we have far exceeded the bounds of knowledge. But if something like Linde's Cosmos is true, there is-amazingly-still another devastating deprovincialization awaiting us." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New York NY, 1994, pp.38-39. Emphasis original) 24/10/2006 "Richard Dawkins, the most prominent and accomplished scientific writer of our time, is convinced that religion is the enemy of science. Not just fundamentalist or fanatical or extremist religion, but all religion that admits faith as a ground of belief and asserts the existence of God. In his new book, he attacks religion with all the weapons at his disposal, and as a result the book is a very uneven collection of scriptural ridicule, amateur philosophy, historical and contemporary horror stories, anthropological speculations, and cosmological scientific argument. Dawkins wants both to dissuade believers and to embolden atheists. Since Dawkins is operating mostly outside the range of his scientific expertise, it is not surprising that The God Delusion lacks the superb instructive lucidity of his books on evolutionary theory, such as The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and Climbing Mount Improbable. In this new book I found that kind of pleasure only in the brief explanation of why the moth flies into the candle flame--an example introduced to illustrate how a useful trait can have disastrous side effects. (Dawkins believes the prevalence of religion among human beings is a side effect of the useful trust of childhood.)." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "One of Dawkins's aims is to overturn the convention of respect toward religion that belongs to the etiquette of modern civilization. He does this by persistently violating the convention, and being as offensive as possible, and pointing with gleeful outrage at absurd or destructive religious beliefs and practices. This kind of thing was done more entertainingly by H.L. Mencken (whom Dawkins quotes with admiration), but the taboo against open atheistic scorn seems to have become even more powerful since Mencken's day. Dawkins's unmitigated hostility and quotable insults--'The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction'--will certainly serve to attract attention, but they are not what make the book interesting." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "The important message is a theoretical one, about the reach of a certain kind of scientific explanation. At the core of the book, in a chapter titled `Why There Almost Certainly Is No God,' Dawkins sets out with care his position on a question of which the importance cannot be exaggerated: the question of what explains the existence and character of the astounding natural order we can observe in the universe we inhabit. On one side is what he calls `the God Hypothesis,' namely that `there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us.' On the other side is Dawkins's alternative view: `any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution. Creative intelligences, being evolved, necessarily arrive late in the universe, and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.' In Dawkins's view, the ultimate explanation of everything, including evolution, may be found in the laws of physics, which explain the laws of chemistry, which explain the existence and the functioning of the self- replicating molecules that underlie the biological process of genetic mutation and natural selection. This pair of stark alternatives may not exhaust the possibilities, but it poses the fundamental question clearly. In this central argument of Dawkins's book, the topic is not institutional religion or revealed religion, based on scripture, miracles, or the personal experience of God's presence. It is what used to be called `natural religion,' or reflection on the question of the existence and nature of God using only the resources of ordinary human reasoning. This is not the source of most religious belief, but it is important nonetheless." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "In a previous chapter, Dawkins dismisses, with contemptuous flippancy the traditional a priori arguments for the existence of God offered by Aquinas and Anselm. I found these attempts at philosophy, along with those in a later chapter on religion and ethics, particularly weak; Dawkins seems to have felt obliged to include them for the sake of completeness. But his real concern is with the argument from design, because there the conflict between religious belief and atheism takes the form of a scientific disagreement--a disagreement over the most plausible explanation of the observable evidence. He argues that contemporary science gives us decisive reason to reject the argument from design, and to regard the existence of God as overwhelmingly improbable. The argument from design is deceptively simple. If we found a watch lying on a deserted heath (William Paley's famous example from the eighteenth century), we would conclude that such an intricate mechanism, whose parts fit together to carry out a specific function, did not come into existence by chance, but that it was created by a designer with that function in mind. Similarly, if we observe any living organism, or one of its parts, such as the eye or the wing or the red blood cell, we have reason to conclude that its much greater physical complexity, precisely suited to carry out specific functions, could not have come into existence by chance, but must have been created by a designer. The two inferences seem analogous, but they are very different. First, we know how watches are manufactured, and we can go to a watch factory and see it done. But the inference to creation by God is an inference to something that we have not observed and presumably never could observe. Second, the designer and the manufacturer of a watch are human beings with bodies, using physical tools to mold and put together its parts. The supernatural being whose work is inferred by the argument from design for the existence of God is not supposed to be a physical organism inside the world, but someone who creates or acts on the natural world while not being a part of it. The first difference is not an objection to the argument. Scientific inference to the best explanation of what we can observe often leads to the discovery of things that are themselves unobservable by perception and detectable only by their effects. In this sense, God might be no more and no less observable than an electron or the Big Bang. But the second difference is more troubling, since it is not clear that we can understand the idea of purposive causation--of design--by a non-physical being on analogy with our understanding of purposive causation by a physical being such as a watchmaker. Somehow the observation of the remarkable structure and function of organisms is supposed to lead us to infer as their cause a disembodied intentional agency of a kind totally unlike any that we have ever seen in operation. Still, even this difference need not be fatal to the theistic argument, since science often concludes that what we observe is to be explained by causes that are not only unobservable, but totally different from anything that has ever been observed, and very difficult to grasp intuitively. To be sure, the hypothesis of a divine creator is not yet a scientific theory with testable consequences independent of the observations on which it is based. And the purposes of such a creator remain obscure, given what we know about the world. But a defender of the argument from design could say that the evidence supports an intentional cause, and that it is hardly surprising that God, the bodiless designer, while to some extent describable theoretically and detectable by his effects, is resistant to full intuitive understanding." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "Dawkins's reply to the argument has two parts, one positive and one negative. The positive part consists in describing a third alternative, different from both chance and design, as the explanation of biological complexity. He agrees that the eye, for example, could not have come into existence by chance, but the theory of evolution by natural selection is capable of explaining its existence as due neither to chance nor to design. The negative part of the argument asserts that the hypothesis of design by God is useless as an alternative to the hypothesis of chance, because it just pushes the problem back one step. In other words: who made God? `A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right.' Let me first say something about this negative argument. It depends, I believe, on a misunderstanding of the conclusion of the argument from design, in its traditional sense as an argument for the existence of God. If the argument is supposed to show that a supremely adept and intelligent natural being, with a super- body and a super-brain, is responsible for the design and the creation of life on earth, then of course this `explanation' is no advance on the phenomenon to be explained: if the existence of plants, animals, and people requires explanation, then the existence of such a super-being would require explanation for exactly the same reason. But if we consider what that reason is, we will see that it does not apply to the God hypothesis. The reason that we are led to the hypothesis of a designer by considering both the watch and the eye is that these are complex physical structures that carry out a complex function, and we cannot see how they could have come into existence out of unorganized matter purely on the basis of the purposeless laws of physics. For the elements of which they are composed to have come together in just this finely tuned way purely as a result of physical and chemical laws would have been such an improbable fluke that we can regard it in effect as impossible: the hypothesis of chance can be ruled out. But God, whatever he may be, is not a complex physical inhabitant of the natural world. The explanation of his existence as a chance concatenation of atoms is not a possibility for which we must find an alternative, because that is not what anybody means by God. If the God hypothesis makes sense at all, it offers a different kind of explanation from those of physical science: purpose or intention of a mind without a body, capable nevertheless of creating and forming the entire physical world. The point of the hypothesis is to claim that not all explanation is physical, and that there is a mental, purposive, or intentional explanation more fundamental than the basic laws of physics, because it explains even them. All explanations come to an end somewhere. The real opposition between Dawkins's physicalist naturalism and the God hypothesis is a disagreement over whether this end point is physical, extensional, and purposeless, or mental, intentional, and purposive. On either view, the ultimate explanation is not itself explained. The God hypothesis does not explain the existence of God, and naturalistic physicalism does not explain the laws of physics." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "This entire dialectic leaves out another possibility, namely that there are teleological principles in nature that are explained neither by intentional design nor by purposeless physical causation--principles that therefore provide an independent end point of explanation for the existence and form of living things. That, more or less, is the Aristotelian view that was displaced by the scientific revolution. Law-governed causation by antecedent conditions became the only acceptable form of scientific explanation, and natural tendencies toward certain ends were discredited. The question then became whether non-teleological physical law can explain everything, including the biological order. Darwin's theory of natural selection offered a way of accounting for the exquisite functional organization of organisms through physical causation, an explanation that revealed it to be the product neither of design nor of hopelessly improbable chance. This is the positive part of Dawkins's argument. The physical improbability of such complexity's arising can be radically reduced if it is seen as the result of an enormous number of very small developmental steps, in each of which chance plays a part, together with a selective force that favors the survival of some of those forms over others. This is accomplished by the theory of heritable variation, due to repeated small mutations in the genetic material, together with natural selection, due to the differential adaptation of these biological variations to the environments in which they emerge. The result is the appearance of design without design, purely on the basis of a combination of physical causes operating over billions of years. To be sure, this is only the schema for an explanation. Most of the details of the story can never be recovered, and there are many issues among evolutionary biologists over how the process works. There are also skeptics about whether such a process is capable, even over billions of years, of generating the complexity of life as it is. But I will leave those topics aside, because the biggest question about this alternative to design takes us outside the theory of evolution. It is a question that Dawkins recognizes and tries to address, and it is directly analogous to his question for the God hypothesis: who made God? The problem is this. The theory of evolution through heritable variation and natural selection reduces the improbability of organizational complexity by breaking the process down into a very long series of small steps, each of which is not all that improbable. But each of the steps involves a mutation in a carrier of genetic information--an enormously complex molecule capable both of self-replication and of generating out of surrounding matter a functioning organism that can house it. The molecule is moreover capable sometimes of surviving a slight mutation in its structure to generate a slightly different organism that can also survive. Without such a replicating system there could not be heritable variation, and without heritable variation there could not be natural selection favoring those organisms, and their underlying genes, that are best adapted to the environment. The entire apparatus of evolutionary explanation therefore depends on the prior existence of genetic material with these remarkable properties. Since 1953 we have known what that material is, and scientists are continually learning more about how DNA does what it does. But since the existence of this material or something like it is a precondition of the possibility of evolution, evolutionary theory cannot explain its existence. We are therefore faced with a problem analogous to that which Dawkins thinks faces the argument from design: we have explained the complexity of organic life in terms of something that is itself just as functionally complex as what we originally set out to explain. So the problem is just pushed back one step: how did such a thing come into existence?" (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "Of course there is a huge difference between this explanation and the God hypothesis. We can observe DNA and see how it works. But the problem that originally prompted the argument from design--the overwhelming improbability of such a thing coming into existence by chance, simply through the purposeless laws of physics--remains just as real for this case. Yet this time we cannot replace chance with natural selection. Dawkins recognizes the problem, but his response to it is pure hand-waving. First, he says it only had to happen once. Next, he says that there are, at a conservative estimate, a billion billion planets in the universe with life-friendly physical and chemical environments like ours. So all we have to suppose is that the probability of something like DNA forming under such conditions, given the laws of physics, is not much less than one in a billion billion. And he points out, invoking the so-called anthropic principle, that even if it happened on only one planet, it is no accident that we are able to observe it, since the appearance of life is a condition of our existence. Dawkins is not a chemist or a physicist. Neither am I, but general expositions of research on the origin of life indicate that no one has a theory that would support anything remotely near such a high probability as one in a billion billion. Naturally there is speculation about possible non-biological chemical precursors of DNA or RNA. But at this point the origin of life remains, in light of what is known about the huge size, the extreme specificity, and the exquisite functional precision of the genetic material, a mystery--an event that could not have occurred by chance and to which no significant probability can be assigned on the basis of what we know of the laws of physics and chemistry. Yet we know that it happened. That is why the argument from design is still alive, and why scientists who find the conclusion of that argument unacceptable feel there must be a purely physical explanation of why the origin of life is not as physically improbable as it seems. Dawkins invokes the possibility that there are vastly many universes besides this one, thus giving chance many more opportunities to create life; but this is just a desperate device to avoid the demand for a real explanation." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "I agree with Dawkins that the issue of design versus purely physical causation is a scientific question. He is correct to dismiss Stephen Jay Gould's position that science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria." The conflict is real. But although I am as much of an outsider to religion as he is, I believe it is much more difficult to settle the question than he thinks. I also suspect there are other possibilities besides these two that have not even been thought of yet. The fear of religion leads too many scientifically minded atheists to cling to a defensive, world-flattening reductionism. Dawkins, like many of his contemporaries, is hobbled by the assumption that the only alternative to religion is to insist that the ultimate explanation of everything must lie in particle physics, string theory, or whatever purely extensional laws govern the elements of which the material world is composed. This reductionist dream is nourished by the extraordinary success of the physical sciences in our time, not least in their recent application to the understanding of life through molecular biology. It is natural to try to take any successful intellectual method as far as it will go. Yet the impulse to find an explanation of everything in physics has over the last fifty years gotten out of control. The concepts of physical science provide a very special, and partial, description of the world that experience reveals to us. It is the world with all subjective consciousness, sensory appearances, thought, value, purpose, and will left out. What remains is the mathematically describable order of things and events in space and time. That conceptual purification launched the extraordinary development of physics and chemistry that has taken place since the seventeenth century. But reductive physicalism turns this description into an exclusive ontology. The reductionist project usually tries to reclaim some of the originally excluded aspects of the world, by analyzing them in physical--that is, behavioral or neurophysiological--terms; but it denies reality to what cannot be so reduced. I believe the project is doomed--that conscious experience, thought, value, and so forth are not illusions, even though they cannot be identified with physical facts. I also think that there is no reason to undertake the project in the first place. We have more than one form of understanding. Different forms of understanding are needed for different kinds of subject matter. The great achievements of physical science do not make it capable of encompassing everything, from mathematics to ethics to the experiences of a living animal. We have no reason to dismiss moral reasoning, introspection, or conceptual analysis as ways of discovering the truth just because they are not physics." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "Any anti-reductionist view leaves us with very serious problems about how the mutually irreducible types of truths about the world are related. At least part of the truth about us is that we are physical organisms composed of ordinary chemical elements. If thinking, feeling, and valuing aren't merely complicated physical states of the organism, what are they? What is their relation to the brain processes on which they seem to depend? More: if evolution is a purely physical causal process, how can it have brought into existence conscious beings? A religious worldview is only one response to the conviction that the physical description of the world is incomplete. Dawkins says with some justice that the will of God provides a too easy explanation of anything we cannot otherwise understand, and therefore brings inquiry to a stop. Religion need not have this effect, but it can. It would be more reasonable, in my estimation, to admit that we do not now have the understanding or the knowledge on which to base a comprehensive theory of reality." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "Dawkins seems to believe that if people could be persuaded to give up the God Hypothesis on scientific grounds, the world would be a better place--not just intellectually, but also morally and politically. He is horrified--as who cannot be?--by the dreadful things that continue to be done in the name of religion, and he argues that the sort of religious conviction that includes a built-in resistance to reason is the true motive behind many of them. But there is no connection between the fascinating philosophical and scientific questions posed by the argument from design and the attacks of September 11. Blind faith and the authority of dogma are dangerous; the view that we can make ultimate sense of the world only by understanding it as the expression of mind or purpose is not. It is unreasonable to think that one must refute the second in order to resist the first." (Nagel, T., "The Fear of Religion." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New Republic, October 13, 2006) 24/10/2006 "Across several surveys, the Gallup Organization has measured the public’s beliefs specific to the view that humans developed over millions of years with no role played by God, the `theistic evolutionist' view that humans developed over millions of years but God guided the process, or the creationist view that God created humans pretty much in their present form at some time in the last 10,000 years. A divided public on the role of God in evolution would not be surprising, given that a 1997 survey of U.S. scientists finds that only 55% subscribe to the idea that humans developed with no role played by God, compared to 40% who agree with the theistic evolutionist account. What is surprising, however, is the increase over the past two decades in public support for the creationist viewpoint, with young earth creationist beliefs reaching near majority levels. When the Gallup Organization first asked the public in 1982 about their views on the matter, 38% indicated they believed in the creationist explanation, 33% believed in the theistic evolutionist explanation, and 9% chose the `no God' account. Beliefs changed slightly over the next ten years, trending towards the creationist explanation. In a 1991 Gallup poll, 47% chose the creationist explanation, compared to 40% for the theistic view, and 9% for the `no God' account. Gallup administered the question again in November 2004, with beliefs little changed, as 45% chose the creationist explanation, 38% the theistic evolutionist account, and 13% the `no God' explanation. A December 2004 Newsweek poll replicates the Gallup result within the margin of error (47%, 36%, 11%). The only comparable survey item I was able to find tapping the public’s beliefs about evolution was administered by Gallup in 2001. Specifically, respondents were asked: `Would you say that you believe more in-the theory of evolution or the theory of creationism to explain the origin of human beings, or are you unsure?' Nearly half of the public (48%) chose the theory of creationism versus just 28% for the theory of evolution, with 14% unsure." (Nisbet, N., "Polling Opinion about Evolution," Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, March 1, 2005) 26/10/2006 "To celebrate Dirac's 70th birthday 1972, a mammoth conference was organized at the International Center of Theoretical Physics in Trieste. ...One of the contributions that will probably be of greatest interest to the unspecialized reader is `The origin of biological information,' a 40-page essay by Manfred Eigen. This is a fragmentary but illuminating discussion of the difficulties that arise in trying to understand in Darwinian terms the prebiological phases of evolution. Eigen raises many questions and answers none. Because he is here talking in an informal and tentative manner, his statement is more convincing than the dogmatic article on the origin of life he published a few years ago in Naturwissenschaften. The problems of reconstructing possible pathways of prebiotic evolution in the absence of any kind of fossil evidence are indeed formidable. Successful attack on these problems will require, on the one hand, the boldness to imagine and create new concepts describing the organization of not-yet-living populations of molecules and, on the other hand, the humility to learn the hard way, by laborious experiment, which molecular pathways are consistent with the stubborn facts of chemistry. We are still at the very beginning of the quest for understanding of the origin of life. We do not yet have even a rough picture of the nature of the obstacles that prebiotic evolution has had to overcome. We do not have a well-defined set of criteria by which to judge whether any given theory of the origin of life is adequate. And yet, the origin of life is clearly destined to be one of the great themes in the science of the coming decades. It is a unifying theme, which will require the concerted effort of chemists, biologists, geologists, paleontologists, and perhaps even physicists, for its elucidation. Eigen has performed a valuable service in calling the attention of a new generation of physical scientists to the existence of this challenge. He has begun to ask some of the right questions. It is too soon to expect any answers." (Dyson, F., "Honoring Dirac." Review of "The Physicist's Conception of Nature," Proceedings of a Symposium, Trieste, Italy, Sept. 1972, Mehra, J., ed., Reidel: Boston MA, 1973. Science, Vol 185, 27 September 1974, pp.1160-1161) 26/10/2006 "For historical scientists `the present is the key to the past' means that present experience-based knowledge of cause and effect relationships typically guides the assessment of the plausibility of proposed causes of past events. Yet it is precisely for this reason that current advocates of the design hypothesis want to reconsider design as an explanation for the origin of biological form and information. This review, and much of the literature it has surveyed, suggests that four of the most prominent models for explaining the origin of biological form fail to provide adequate causal explanations for the discontinuous increases of CSI that are required to produce novel morphologies. We have repeated experience of rational and conscious agents-in particular ourselves- generating or causing increases in complex specified information, both in the form of sequence- specific lines of code and in the form of hierarchically arranged systems of parts. In the first place, intelligent human agents-in virtue of their rationality and consciousness-have demonstrated the power to produce information in the form of linear sequence-specific arrangements of characters. Indeed, experience affirms that information of this type routinely arises from the activity of intelligent agents. A computer user who traces the information on a screen back to its source invariably comes to a mind-that of a software engineer or programmer. The information in a book or in inscriptions ultimately derives from a writer or scribe-from a mental rather than a strictly material cause. Our experience-based knowledge of information flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source from a mind or personal agent. As Henry Quastler put it, the `creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.' [Quastler, H., `The Emergence of Biological Organization,' Yale University Press: New Haven CT, 1964, pp.16-17] Experience teaches this obvious truth. ... Conscious and rational agents have, as part of their powers of purposive intelligence, the capacity to design information-rich parts and to organize those parts into functional information-rich systems and hierarchies. Further, we know of no other causal entity or process that has this capacity." (Meyer, S.C., "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories," in Dembski, W.A., ed., "Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the Intelligent Design Movement," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, pp.200-201. Emphasis original) 27/10/2006 "Ridley's thesis is that the history of life has been shaped by evolution's attempts to overcome the effects of mutation. The occasional mutation is beneficial-indeed, they are the basis of adaptive evolution - but the vast bulk of all mutation is, without doubt, deleterious: `A random mistake in the DNA is about as likely to improve the creature it codes for as a random change in Hamlet is to improve the play.' Ridley's premise is that deleterious mutation must be kept within bounds if evolution is to occur: if the average rate of deleterious mutation exceeds one per genome per generation, then all the descendants of a parental generation with a mutation-free genome may be carrying deleterious mutations. Natural selection is then stymied because none of the competing genomes in the population is free from the taint of deleterious mutation and so it is not possible to select in favour of an intact, non-mutated genome." (Berry, A., "Mitigating mutations." Review of "The Cooperative Gene," by Mark Ridley, Simon & Schuster/Weidenfeld, 2001. Nature, Vol. 412, 26 July 2001, pp.379-380, p.379) 27/10/2006 "Ridley sees a tension between the evolution of complexity - which necessarily involves encoding more information and therefore requires more genes - and the depredations of mutation. Assuming a constant mutation rate per nucleotide, the large genome of a complex being is more likely to exceed the critical threshold of one deleterious mutation per genome per generation. Ridley concludes that: `Live complexity hits its ceiling when the DNA message is so long that a mistake happens every time it is copied. When life is near this upper limit, complexity cannot evolve upwards even if there is an ecological opportunity there:' The history of life has been punctuated by the evolution of `enabling mechanisms' that improve the fidelity with which hereditary information is replicated. The advent of DNA, which is less prone to degradation than RNA, as the vehicle for that information represents one such mechanism; the evolution of error-checking and DNA-repair systems is another; and sex yet another. With each innovation, the complexity ceiling rose." (Berry, A., "Mitigating mutations." Review of "The Cooperative Gene," by Mark Ridley, Simon & Schuster/Weidenfeld, 2001. Nature, Vol. 412, 26 July 2001, pp.379-380, p.379) 27/10/2006 "Also militating against the evolution of complexity are genetic elements that subvert biological processes for their own `selfish' ends, thus thwarting the cooperation between genes that is required for complexity. The simplest case of `mendelian law-breaking' is meiotic drive; in which the probability of an allele being transmitted to the next generation is greater than the canonical mendelian expectation of 50%. For Ridley, the central player in the collision between the forces that promote complexity and those trying to tear it apart is meiosis. He emphasizes that the genetic randomization - through independent assortment and recombination-inherent in the mendelian process is critical in limiting the power and spread of genetic subversion. ... Ridley refers to meiosis, the primary agent of mendelian justice, as `Mendel's Demon' but the implicit parallel to science's other distinguished demon is more misleading than illuminating. In physicist James Maxwell's famous thought experiment, 'Maxwell's Demon' does the impossible: it oversees an imaginary process that breaks the laws of thermodynamics. In contrast; the process overseen by Mendel's is real: meiosis is no thought experiment. In addition, whereas Maxwell's Demon acts as a nonrandomizer, achieving its impossible goal by biased sorting of particles, Ridley's central message is that Mendel's acts as a randomizer (of genetic information)." (Berry, A., "Mitigating mutations." Review of "The Cooperative Gene," by Mark Ridley, Simon & Schuster/Weidenfeld, 2001. Nature, Vol. 412, 26 July 2001, pp.379-380) 27/10/2006 "The Cooperative Gene is the latest product of what might be called the 'Oxford School' of evolutionary biology, whose current major protagonists include Richard Dawkins, Alan Grafen and David Haig. Starting from the inclusive-fitness arguments of W.D. Hamilton, the Oxford School takes a 'genes-eye view' of evolutionary problems, and prefers the logic and elegant mathematics of game theory to the messy algebra of classical population genetics. But Ridley's book makes it clear that this approach is more than a mere alternative to traditional ones. Population genetics takes Mendel's laws as a given and applies them to populations, but Ridley is asking a more profound question: why and how did genetic systems, including meiosis evolve? Thus population genetics essentially addresses the effects of the underlying causes in which Ridley is interested. The Cooperative Gene showcases a new way of thinking about evolutionary biology." (Berry, A., "Mitigating mutations." Review of "The Cooperative Gene," by Mark Ridley, Simon & Schuster/Weidenfeld, 2001. Nature, Vol. 412, 26 July 2001, pp.379-380, p.380) 27/10/2006 "Ridley's logic is often beguiling, and he all too often commits the familiar Oxford School sin of being too easily satisfied by plausible speculation-if it looks kosher and sounds good, then it's good enough. Ironically, one of the few hypotheses championed by Ridley that is readily amenable to experimental testing- Alexey Kondrashov's theory of the origin of sex-has recently indeed been tested, and found wanting. Kondrashov suggested that sex evolved to shuffle deleterious mutations, thereby facilitating the survival of individuals with relatively few mutations and the selective elimination of individuals with many. The theory requires that overall mutation rates in sexual species should therefore exceed the critical one-per-genome- per-generation threshold. However, a recent empirical study of mutation rates found that a substantial proportion of sexual species do not meet this criterion. Such troublesome facts notwithstanding, Ridley has written a marvellous book-one that brings the evolutionary analysis of genetic systems well and truly into the genome era." (Berry, A., "Mitigating mutations." Review of "The Cooperative Gene," by Mark Ridley, Simon & Schuster/Weidenfeld, 2001. Nature, Vol. 412, 26 July 2001, pp.379-380, p.380) 27/10/2006 'The cherished assumption that life emerged in the oceans has been thrown into doubt. New research shows that primitive cellular membranes assemble more easily in freshwater than in salt water. So although the oldest known fossil organisms were ocean dwellers, life may actually have developed in freshwater ponds. Most theories on the origin of cellular life presume that the first step was the formation of a spherical membrane called a vesicle that could enclose self-replicating chemical chains - the ancestors of modern DNA. The idea is that the ingredients for simple membranes were all present on the early Earth, and at some point formed vesicles spontaneously in water. It seemed most likely that this took place in the sea rather than freshwater, largely because of the sheer size of the oceans. With their unique chemistry, deep-sea thermal vents and tidal pools are generally believed to be the most likely sites. Now research by graduate student Charles Apel of the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggests that this is wrong. Apel and his colleagues were able to create stable vesicles using freshwater solutions of ingredients found on the early Earth, but not salty solutions, they will report in a future issue of Astrobiology. `When sodium chloride or ions of magnesium or calcium were added the membranes fell apart,' Apel says. This happened in water that was less salty than the oceans are today. Wake-up call Geologist L. Paul Knauth of Arizona State University points out that Earth's early oceans were 1.5 to 2 times as salty as they are today, making it even more unlikely that viable cells could have arisen there. Giant salt deposits called evaporites that formed on the continents have actually made the seas less salty over time. `No one in their right mind would use hot seawater for laboratory studies of early cellular evolution,' says biochemist David Deamer of the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is reporting the work with Apel. `Yet for years we have all accepted without question that life began in a marine environment. We were just the first to ask if we were really sure of that.' `This is a wake-up call,' says mineralogist Robert Hazen at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. `We've assumed that life formed in the ocean, but encapsulation in freshwater bodies on land is appearing more likely.' The finding would not have surprised Charles Darwin. Over a century ago he speculated in his personal letters that the origin of life was `in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc. present". (Kaplan, M., "Ponds, not oceans, the cradle of life," New Scientist, 9 May 2002) 27/10/2006 "Once, a long time ago when the earth was quite young, a group of high mountains rose above the ocean, forming a large island. It was volcanic, somewhat like a Hawaiian island of today, for continents as we know them had not yet formed. Because of the height and extent of these mountains, and because of the prevailing wind and weather patterns, a variety of climate zones existed on the island. Thunderstorms were frequent on the rainy side, where it was always cloudy. In the high altitudes, near the mountaintops, the rain froze, and the precipitation came down as snow or hail. The atmosphere was reducing, and these conditions favored the formation of hydrogen cyanide in the discharges. The rain and snow were rich in this chemical. Large glaciers descended from the highest peaks. At their base, in the summer season, lay a number of partly frozen alkaline lakes. Hydrogen cyanide collected in them, and reacted with itself extensively, until the time came when the lakes froze solid in the winter. When warmer weather resumed, the lakes thawed in part and the reaction started again. In one very important year, however, spring did not return. The climate in the highlands had taken a turn for the worse. More snow fell at the mountaintops and the glaciers advanced, pushing the frozen lakes down the mountain. The flow path of one glacier led it away from the wetter side of the island toward a central plateau, which was geothermally active. In this more temperate climate the glacier tip melted, and the hydrogen cyanide reaction mixture flowed into a boiling acidic spring. Such boiling springs exist today in areas like Yellowstone Park and Iceland. Bacteria, which belong to the same broad class as the methanogens, are able to grow there. In the early days that we are considering, of course, no life existed, but over the course of an hour the boiling acid converted a small amount (about 0.1 percent) of the solids that the glacier had brought into adenine. The acid would eventually also have destroyed the adenine, but before that could happen the spring waters flowed into a broader stream. In doing so, they passed over some alkaline soils which neutralized them. It seldom rained in this broad plateau area, and when it did, it fell in the form of sunshowers, rather than thunderstorms. The rays of the sun caused formaldehyde, rather than hydrogen cyanide, to be formed. The formaldehyde rain flowed in tiny streams into a geologically different, but also geothermally active, part of the central plateau, which contained boiling neutral pools, thick with suspended minerals. As each formaldehyde stream flowed into a boiling mineral pool it was converted into a complicated mixture by a process called the formose reaction. The sugar ribose formed a small part of this product. Moving waters carried the mixture down the length of the pool over the next several hours, allowing enough time for the change to be completed. At this point the product flowed out of the hot pool and was swept downstream by a rapid icy brook. This escape was fortunate, as the ribose would have decomposed if it had remained too long in the pool. The adenine and ribose streams merged in the central plateau, but they could not yet form adenosine. They needed a hot environment and the presence of sea salt for that purpose. Happily, a precipitous waterfall took them almost to sea level, on the hot, day side of the island. Time was of the essence, as the sugar was not stable and was being lost. At the base of the waterfall, the stream widened to form a broad delta. The waters flowed over a variety of different types of rock and mineral formations. At some point they entered a tidal pool which had been cut off from the sea at low tide. Minerals lining the pool had a special affinity for both adenine and ribose, and retained them, while most of the other substances were swept away as the tide filled and drained the pool. It was a very hot day. The sun evaporated the remaining water in the pool and heated the adenine and ribose in the presence of salt, converting them in part to the nucleoside adenosine. As this was happening, a violent storm occurred far out at sea, creating large waves. The tides returned to the tidal pool in a rush, sweeping out its contents and transporting them farther inland. They were deposited in a nearby pond, which we name Darwin Pond. This was to be the chosen site for the origin of life. No sooner had the adenosine reached Darwin Pond when successive waves, each flowing from a different direction, brought in: supplies of the other nucleosides needed to make RNA. Had these chemicals only been human, they would have embraced at the joy of their first meeting, and in anticipation of the glorious future that lay ahead of them. They would then have taken turns, each describing the marvelous and different series of events that had led to its own creation. We must not inject our own feelings into the story, though. Let nature continue the synthesis. Phosphate was needed for the conversion of nucleosides to nucleotides. Several geologists have contended that phosphate was not readily available on the early earth, and only increased in concentration in the waters gradually, as appropriate rocks weathered. Darwin Pond, however, was one of the few choice locations blessed with the right kind of mineral; it already had abundant phosphate. Thus, when the continuing heat wave evaporated the pond almost to dryness, the nucleosides were converted to nucleotides. This process was aided by an additional catalyst which was found in the minerals lining the pond. The nucleotides now needed to combine, to form the replicator. This process was helped greatly by the presence of certain chemicals called amines which were brought in by another temporary flood. The amines would have been unwelcome earlier in our account, as they would have interfered with several earlier steps. The climate now stabilized. Days were as hot as before, enough to dry up the pond. Each night, however, winds brought in enough moisture to form a thin liquid film at its bottom. These alternative periods that and moisture afforded the nucleotides a chance to come together in various ways and then to break apart again. One evening, by chance, the replicator was formed. It took charge immediately, assembling other nucleotides into copies of itself, more rapidly than they could come apart. Life had been created and evolution could begin .... Different accounts leading to the origin of the replicator could be constructed, using other experiments published in the literature. Some would be less spectacular than the above one, but all would share the same general defects. Many steps would be required which need different conditions, and therefore different geological locations. The chemicals needed for one step may be ruinous to others. The yields are poor, with many undesired products constituting the bulk of the mixture. It would be necessary to invoke some imagined processes to concentrate the important substances and eliminate the contaminants. The total sequence would challenge our credibility, regardless of the time allotted for the process." (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, p.182-185) 28/10/2006 "But theories in science are merely ideas: a theory may be a single, simple idea or, more usually, a complex set of ideas. Some are good and have withstood the test of time well. Evolution-specifically' the notion that all organisms past and present are interrelated by a process of ancestry and descent-is such a theory. On the other hand, some theories have stood the test of time poorly and are no longer credited with much explanatory power. Spontaneous generation-the idea that organisms sprang , from inorganic beginnings de novo, and are not all interrelated-has long been discarded as a useful scientific notion. It is taught in schools today, if at all, only as a historical curiosity. Philosophers of science have argued long and hard over the differences between facts, hypotheses, and theories. But the real point is this: they are all essentially the same. All of them are ideas. Some ideas are more credible than others. If the overwhelming evidence of our senses suggests some idea is correct, we call it a fact. But the fact remains that a `fact' is an idea." (Eldredge, N., "The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism," Washington Square: New York NY, 1982, p.29) 28/10/2006 "Consider the statement, `The earth is round.' Is it a fact, an hypothesis, or a theory? A prominent creationist I once spoke to took offense at my suggestion that dismissing evolution as a credible notion was no different in principle from denying that the earth is round, To him, and to most of us, that the earth is round is a fact. But why? How many of us can perform a critical experiment to show that the earth really is round? How many of us have ventured high enough into the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere that we could really see the earth's curvature? Most of us have seen photos of the earth taken from satellites, space ships, and from the moon itself. Clearly the earth is round. But the relatively few vocal `flat earthers' have a counter even for this: the spectacular achievements in space of the past twenty-five years are all an elaborate hoax - nothing more. The stills and film of a round earth are fakes." (Eldredge, N., "The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism," Washington Square: New York NY, 1982, pp.29-30) 28/10/2006 "Yet the roundness of the earth was certainly no generally accepted fact when Columbus set sail with his fleet of three ships. Only after the globe had been safely circumnavigated a number of times without a single ship dropping off the edge did the roundness of the earth start to take on the dimensions of credibility we deem necessary for a notion to become a fact. Yet Eratosthenes, a Greek living in Ptolemaic Egypt in the third century B.C., showed that the earth could not be flat with a simple yet conclusive experiment. His predecessors had already suggested the earth was round because it cast a curved shadow on the moon. And ships sailing toward an observer appeared on the horizon from the top of the mast down, also suggesting the earth is curved. Hearing that the sun shone directly down a well at Syene (now Aswan) at noon on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), Eratosthenes measured the angle between the sun's rays and a plumb bob he lowered down a well in Alexandria, some six hundred miles north of Aswan, precisely at noon. That there was an angle at all in Alexandria was inconsistent with the idea that the earth was flat. The phenomenon could only be explained if he envisaged a ball-shaped earth. Using simple trigonometry, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth to be the equivalent of about 28,000 miles, a respectable approximation to the 24,857 miles our modern instruments give us today. Columbus was aware of this and of later calculations, and used them in his navigation. Certainly the universe is the way it is notwithstanding what we may think it is. Is the proposition that the earth is round a fact, an hypothesis, a theory, or a downright falsehood? It is an idea that has been variously considered all four. It was first called a wild idea, then a necessary conclusion (albeit accepted only by a few Greek savants); its respectability as a credible idea grew with the Renaissance. Now most of us proclaim it as fact-all attempts to disprove it have utterly failed. Flat earthers notwithstanding, we now even have direct confirmatory photographic evidence that the earth is a sphere. But a round earth is still an idea, albeit an extraordinarily powerful idea." (Eldredge, N., "The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism," Washington Square: New York NY, 1982, pp.30-31. Emphasis original) 28/10/2006 "Evolution is the idea that all of the ten million or so species of organisms on earth today have descended from a single common ancestor. The much misused expression `evolutionary theory' refers to two rather different sorts of things. When biologists speak of `evolutionary theory,' they are referring to ideas about how the evolutionary process actually works: How do new species arise from old ones? How were four toes reduced to but a single digit on the front feet of horses during the course of their fifty-million-year history? On the other hand, creationists (and the public at large) understand the expression `evolutionary theory,' or `the theory of evolution' to mean `the proposition that life has evolved.' Here scientists, understandably, get upset. `Evolution is a fact,' they say. And, in the sense that the `theory of evolution' means `life has evolved,' it is true that all attempts to show that all organisms are not interrelated (in other words, all attempts to falsify the very idea of evolution) have failed as egregiously as have attempts to show that the earth is not round. Evolution is a fact as much as the idea that the earth is shaped like a ball. But both facts remain ideas-falsifiable, scientific ideas." (Eldredge, N., "The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism," Washington Square: New York NY, 1982, pp.31-32) 28/10/2006 "To repeat, science is not a belief system. Evolution is the only scientific notion still left in biology that explains the mountain of information about life past and present that has been amassed over the past two hundred years or so. All other ideas (such as spontaneous generation) have bitten the scientific dust. The basic idea that life has evolved explains how the face of the organic world has come to be as we see it today and does so without recourse to supernatural beings or special rules. It says that the simple process of ancestry and descent, as purely a natural process as parental ancestry and descent among human beings, is responsible for the order, the beautiful pattern of similarity interlinking all forms of life. Evolution is `descent with modification'-to use the phrase of Charles Darwin himself. The descent links up all forms of life. The modification leads to diversification: today we have radishes, owls, ourselves, and a good deal more; we are not all single-celled algae lying at the bottom of the ocean. Yet all forms of life are united by fundamental chemical and anatomical similarities." (Eldredge, N., "The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism," Washington Square: New York NY, 1982, p.32) 29/10/2006 "Differences Between Humans and Apes As a starting point for trying to identify those crucial differences, we can compare ourselves as we are today with the surviving African great apes. We are distinguished from apes by such obvious differences in our skeletons and anatomy as our large brains, our sparse body hair, and our pelvis modified for walking upright. There are also some obvious differences in sexual biology, differences that encourage human parents to cooperate for a long time in rearing their helpless children. Those sexual hallmarks of ours include the facts that women have concealed ovulation and undergo menopause, but no female ape does; we practice sex in private, not in public; we are social, yet men and women still associate in couples that are at least nominally monogamous; men, but not male chimpanzees, have some knowledge of which children they sired; and women, within a given estrous cycle, typically associate sexually with just one man, but chimpanzee females typically associate promiscuously with many males." (Diamond, J.M., "The Evolution of Human Creativity," in Campbell, J.H. & Schopf, J.W., eds., "Creative Evolution?!: Proceedings of a symposium sponsored by the Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life at the University of California, Los Angeles, in March, 1993," Jones & Bartlett: London, 1994, pp.76-77. Emphasis original) 29/10/2006 "Humans Evolved Their Modern Anatomical Form Before Their Modern Behavior Does that mean that, 100,000 years ago, the fossil record finally starts to show us evidence of art, complex tools like bows and arrows, and complex products like houses and sewn clothes? If so, we could then explain our unique creativity as due just to our large brains and the other features reflected in our skeletons. The answer to that question is: Absolutely no. Those anatomically modern people of 100,000 years ago continued to have just crude stone tools not in any way advanced over those of Neanderthals. Those people were ineffective hunters, lived at low population densities, preyed on only easy-to-hunt mammals such as very young or old individuals or docile antelope, and avoided dangerous prey like elephants or rhinoceroses. They hunted only animals that could be safely killed at close quarters, with a hand-held spear because the bow and arrow had not yet been invented. They took very few birds or fish as prey because nets and fishhooks also had not yet been invented. And they had nothing-at least nothing that has survived-in the way of art. Those same statements apply not only to the first anatomically modern humans, but also to the Neanderthals living in western Eurasia at the same time. Their stone tools show little change over the course of 100,000 years, and there is little difference between tools made in France and tools made in Russia. ... To us, the most astonishing feature of the Neanderthals is that the evidence they left behind shows so few signs of creative invention, the most distinctively human trait. The only important things distinguishing human behavior 100,000 years ago from the behavior of other animals were those crude stone tools, plus the use of fire. Humans were not even especially successful animals. A visitor from outer space would not have singled humans out for special mention, but might instead have singled out bowerbirds and beavers as the Earth creatures with really interesting creative behaviors. Humans were then just glorified apes. Thus, by 100,000 years ago some human individuals had nearly modern anatomy. Genetically they had covered most of the distance from chimpanzees (98.4 percent genetically identical to us) and were perhaps 99.9 percent identical to humans today. Despite that, some important ingredient was still missing. What was that missing ingredient? That's the big puzzle in human evolution: Mostly modern anatomy was insufficient to produce modern creativity." (Diamond, J.M., "The Evolution of Human Creativity," in Campbell, J.H. & Schopf, J.W., eds., "Creative Evolution?!: Proceedings of a symposium sponsored by the Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life at the University of California, Los Angeles, in March, 1993," Jones & Bartlett: London, 1994, pp.77-78. Emphasis original) 29/10/2006 "The expression `seductive ideas' is Jerome Kagan's euphemism for popular fallacies in the behavioral sciences, and he overturns far more than three of them in this brilliant and provocative book. Kagan, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, is a near-legendary figure in the field of child development. ... one of psychology's most erudite and rigorous experimentalists .... Kagan offers a candid defense of the moral and spiritual nature of human beings, written in opposition to several powerful intellectual currents, including evolutionary psychology, computational neuroscience, and cognitive ethology. ... Three big ideas top his hit list of fashionable yet dubious assumptions. The first idea is `infant determinism,' the notion that the attitudes, aptitudes, and sentiments of adults are decisively shaped by their experiences in the first two years of life. ... Kagan disputes some highly publicized claims by neuroscientists that parents can stimulate creativity, smartness, and brain development in their infants by looking at them and bathing them in talk. Don't be seduced, he says. `No scientist has demonstrated that particular experiences in the first two years produces a particular adult outcome in even, say, one-fifth of those exposed to that experience.' ... The second doubtful assumption is `hedonism,' the notion that human beings are primarily motivated by a desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. `Today,' Kagan writes, `evolutionary arguments are used to cleanse greed, promiscuity, and the abuse of stepchildren of moral taint.' We should not be seduced by the ideas that nature is `red in fang and claw' and that human beings bear the indelible stamp of their animal origins, he cautions. Instead, he identifies the most powerful motive for human beings as the desire to gain and maintain a feeling of virtue, the desire to be `good'-a desire unique among sentient animals. With regard to their moral sense, Kagan suggests, human beings are demonstrably a special creation. The third idea on Kagan's hit list is `abstractionism,' the notion that the real causes of behavior are deep, law-like, and small in number, and remain the same across species, cultures, epochs, everyday contexts, and experimental task environments. ... Of course the idea that generalizations in the social sciences are typically restricted in scope is not news, and it has long been suspected that one of the reasons human behavior is so context- and meaning-sensitive has something to do with the `spiritual' nature of human beings. Here spiritual is a code word for a type of being-let's call it a human being-who is free and willful enough to do things for reasons self-conscious enough to entertain ideas about the significance of its experiences, planful enough to be aware of the long-term consequences of its actions, and transcendental enough (sufficiently divinely inspired) to be motivated by a desire to be `good' and to feel justified in what it does. `A hairless gorilla with a big brain' does not quite capture the nature of such a being. Kagan ... is critical of evolutionary psychologists because they see too much continuity between human and non-human animals and make a travesty of human morality by reducing it to beastly selfish motives. He is critical of cognitive ethologists because they see too much continuity between human and non-human animals and attribute human-like conscience, morality, and mental life to monkeys and other non-human animals. Rejecting both views, Kagan suggests that there is no non-human animal model for human pride, shame, and guilt, because the presence of the concern with right and wrong and the desire to feel virtuous are `like the appearance of milk in mammalian mothers, a unique event that was discontinuous with what was prior.' In other words, `Not even the cleverest ape could be conditioned to be angry upon seeing one animal steal food from another.' In the end it appears that Kagan is quite prepared to defend, on scientific and secular grounds, the dualistic Cartesian claim that human beings have a soul, and nonhuman animals do not. That message may be out of favor these days, or against the current. It may surprise Darwinians, materialists, and reductionists of all sorts. ... The idea of the duality of human nature (of meaning over and above mechanism of mind over and above body, of angel over and above beast), and of the remarkable discontinuity of human nature from everything that came before, is alive and well for Kagan precisely because he has such high regard for facts. What exactly was `Descartes' error' anyway?" (Shweder, R.A.," Humans Really Are Different." Review of "Three Seductive Ideas," by Jerome Kagan, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998. Science, Vol 283, 5 February 1999, pp.798-799) 29/10/2006 "Norman Swan: Let's move on to another one of your ideas which has been quite popular amongst psychologists and economists, if not in the general public, which is what's been called the pleasure principle, is that when we make a decision about what we do with our money or what we do with our lives, the theory is that it's in general to give us some sort of sensory pleasure. And you're suggesting this is another one of these misguided beliefs. But the other thing you also argue in this is, and this is the core of the idea here which is fascinating and incredibly challenging, is that human beings have an innate moral sense, an ethical sense that ethics are actually biologically programmed into human beings. Take us through this. Jerome Kagan: Yes. I want you to view humans and they evolve genetically just like any other animal species. And in some animal species there are uniquenesses. For example, only spiders build webs, right? Bees don't build webs, ants don't build webs, salamanders don't build webs. So that in evolution we have many examples of the emergence of a new species that has unique qualities that no other species has. I'm suggesting in Chapter 3 that humans like all other animals, are motivated for sensory delights: sweet tastes, soft touches, warm blankets, no question. But, like spider webs, humans also have a unique competence that no other animal has, and you see it by the time every child's two years of age. Every human is aware that there are good and bad things in the world, there are right and wrong things, and you cannot avoid that. And you see it in children at two years of age, they want to do the right thing. If they do something that their parents sanction, they look wary and tense, and they're looking for praise for good things. Now what I say in this chapter is in humans, these two goals are very different. They compete with each other, that is the one for sensory delight, and the other one to convince yourself this is what most of us are doing, this is what I'm doing when I'm sitting here, talking to you, that I am a good person, that I am a person of virtue. And the chapter says something I'm sure every listener will agree with: if each listener reflected on the actions they took from dawn till dusk every single day and then asked for each decision or action, 'Did I do that for sensory pleasure or did I do that because by doing that, I could persuade myself that I was doing the virtuous thing, the right thing, the thing that I regard as good?' And of course the answer is, 'That's what you spend most of your time doing.' If you compare the number of hours spent doing the things that would persuade you that you were a good person, for instance the things that brought you sensory delight, it would be 20-1, 50-1, and that's what unique about us and that makes us different from animals. And that's why a lot of the animal research that tries to inform the human condition has limited value because we, only we, not chimpanzees, are aware of right and wrong, and we wish to do the right thing. Now we don't always do the right thing, and that's what makes us complicated. Why is it that we do kill and cheat and lie? That's the puzzle that has frustrated every moral philosopher. But I remind you, and then I'll let you ask your next question, if you took today around the world and you put in the denominator the number of opportunities for every person between 20 and 70 years of age, to do something mean or cruel, that is, to steal, to lie, to rob, to torture, to rape, whatever, the number of opportunities to do that, and you would not get caught, that's a large number, enormous number. And I want you to put in the numerator the number of times that happened today, and that ratio approaches zero. That's why murder, rape and torture are in headlines, it's because they're freak events. They're rare. And they're rare because we are essentially a moral creature. If they weren't rare, they wouldn't be in the headlines." (Kagan, J. & Swan, N., "Jerome Kagan," Life Matters with Norman Swan, ABC, 7 January 2000. Emphasis original) 29/10/2006 "If the minimal organism involves not only the code for its one or more proteins, but also twenty types of soluble RNA, one for each amino acid, and the equivalent of ribosomal RNA, our descendants may be able to make one, but we must give up the idea that such an organism could have been produced in the past, except by a similar pre-existing organism or by an agent, natural or supernatural, at least as intelligent as ourselves, and with a good deal more knowledge." (Haldane, J.B.S., "Data Needed for a Blueprint of the First Organism," in Fox, S.W., ed., "The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices," Proceedings of a Conference Conducted at Wakulla Springs, Florida, Oct. 27-30, 1963, Academic Press: New York NY, 1965, p.12) 30/10/2006 "The first enzyme very possibly contained the sequence Asp-Ser-Gly, which is part of the active centers of phosphoglucomutase, trypsin, and chymotrypsin. Ribonuclease contains 124 amino acid residues. If all were equally common, this would mean 540 bits. The number is actually a little less than that. This number could be somewhat reduced if some amino acids were rare both in the medium and in the enzyme. I suggest that the primitive enzyme was a much shorter peptide of low activity and specificity, incorporating only 100 bits or so. But even this would mean one out of 1.3 x 1030 possibilities. This is an. unacceptable, large number. If a new organism were tried out every minute for 108 years, we should need 1017 simultaneous trials to get the right result by chance. The earth's surface is 5 x 1018 cm2. There just isn't, in my opinion, room. Sixty bits, or about 15 amino acids, would be more acceptable probabilistically, but less so biochemically. I suggest that the first synthetic organisms may have been something like a tobacco mosaic virus, but including the enzyme or enzymes needed for its own replication. More verifiably, I suggest that the first synthetic organisms may be so constituted. For natural, but not for laboratory life, a semipermeable membrane is needed. This could be constituted from an inactivated enzyme and lipids. I think, however, that the first synthetic organism may be much larger than the first which occurred. It may contain several different enzymes, with a specification of 5000 bits or so-about the information on a page of Chamber's 7- figure logarithm tables. This should be quite within human possibilities. The question will then arise: How much smaller may the first natural organism have been? If this minimum involves 500 bits, one could conclude either that terrestrial life had had an extraterrestrial origin (with Nagy and Braun) or a supernatural one (with many religions, but by no means all)." (Haldane, J.B.S., "Data Needed for a Blueprint of the First Organism," in Fox, S.W., ed., "The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices," Proceedings of a Conference Conducted at Wakulla Springs, Florida, Oct. 27-30, 1963, Academic Press: New York NY, 1965, p.15) 30/10/2006 "I may be converted in the course of the meeting, but when writing this paper, I am by no means attracted by the theory of a period of many million years of biochemical evolution preceding the origin of life. It seems to me that any half-live systems-for example, catalysts releasing the energy of metastable molecules such as pyrophosphate or sugar-would merely have made conditions less favorable for the first living organisms, by which I mean the first system capable of reproduction. A protein capable of catalyzing such reactions would not multiply in consequence, any more than an enzyme does." (Haldane, J.B.S., "Data Needed for a Blueprint of the First Organism," in Fox, S.W., ed., "The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices," Proceedings of a Conference Conducted at Wakulla Springs, Florida, Oct. 27-30, 1963, Academic Press: New York NY, 1965, p.15) 30/10/2006 "The French mathematician Emile Borel proposed 10-50 as a universal probability bound below which chance could definitely be precluded-that is, any specified event as improbable as this could not be attributed to chance. [Borel, E., `Probabilities and Life,' Baudin, M., transl., Dover: New York, 1962, p. 28] Borel based his universal probability bound on cosmological considerations, looking to the opportunities for repeating and observing events throughout cosmic history. Borel's 10-50 probability bound translates to 166 bits of information. In The Design Inference I justify a more stringent universal probability bound of 10-150 based on the number of elementary particles in the observable universe, the duration of the observable universe until its heat death and the Planck time. [Dembski, W.A., "The Design Inference," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1998, pp.209-210] A probability bound of 10-150 translates to 500 bits of information. Accordingly, specified information of complexity greater than 500 bits cannot reasonably be attributed to chance. This 500-bit ceiling on the amount of specified complexity attributable to chance constitutes a universal complexity bound for CSI. If we now define CSI as any specified information whose complexity exceeds 500 bits of information, it follows immediately that chance cannot generate CSI. Henceforth we take the `C' in `CSI' to denote at least 500 bits of information. Biologists by and large do not dispute that chance cannot generate CSI. Most biologists reject pure chance as an adequate explanation of CSI. Besides flying in the face of every canon of statistical reasoning, pure chance is scientifically unsatisfying as an explanation of CSI. To explain CSI in terms of pure chance is no more instructive than pleading ignorance or proclaiming CSI a mystery. It is one thing to explain the occurrence of heads on a single coin toss by appealing to chance. It is quite another, as Bernd-Olaf uppers points out, to take the view that `the specific sequence of the nucleotides in the DNA molecule of the first organism came about by a purely random process in the early history of the earth.' [Kuppers, B-O., "Information and the Origin of Life," MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1990, p.59] CSI cries out for explanation, and pure chance won't do it. Richard Dawkins makes this point eloquently: `We can accept a certain amount of luck in our explanations, but not too much.... In our theory of how we came to exist, we are allowed to postulate a certain ration of luck. This ration has, as its upper limit, the number of eligible planets in the universe.... We [therefore] have at our disposal, if we want to use it, odds of 1 in 100 billion billion as an upper limit (or 1 in however many available planets we think there are) to spend in our theory of the origin of life. This is the maximum amount of luck we are allowed to postulate in our theory. Suppose we want to suggest, for instance, that life began when both DNA and its protein-based replication machinery spontaneously chanced to come into existence. We can allow ourselves the luxury of such an extravagant theory, provided that the odds against this coincidence occurring on a planet do not exceed 100 billion billion to one.' [Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker," Norton: (New York, 1987, pp. 139,145-46] Dawkins is right. We can allow our scientific theorizing only so much luck. After that we degenerate into handwaving and mystery. A probability bound of 10-150, or a corresponding complexity bound of 500 bits of information, sets a conservative limit on the amount of luck we can allow ourselves (certainly more conservative than the one Dawkins proposes here). Such a limitation on luck is crucial to the integrity of science. If we allow ourselves too many `wildcard' bits of information, we can explain anything. (With as little as five dollars and twenty wildcard bits of information anyone can walk up to a roulette table in Las Vegas and leave a millionaire.)" (Dembski, W.A., "Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1999, pp.166-167) 30/10/2006 "But can't someone simply by chance let fly an arrow and hit a bull's-eye? Not if the target is sufficiently small. At some point the improbabilities become too vast and the specifications too tight for chance to be taken seriously. Just where this point is first reached can be debated, but that there is a probabilistic cut-off beyond which chance becomes an unacceptable explanation is beyond doubt. The universe will experience heat death before random typing at a keyboard produces a Shakespearean sonnet. The French mathematician Emile Borel (1962, p. 28) proposed 10-50 as a universal probability bound below which chance could definitely be precluded, i.e., any specified event as improbable as this could not be attributed to chance. Borel based his universal probability bound on cosmological considerations, taking into account the opportunities to repeat and observe events through the history and expanse of the universe. Borel's 10-50 probability bound translates into 170 bits of information. I have proposed a more stringent universal probability bound of 10-150 based on the number of elementary particles in the universe, the Planck time, and the duration of the universe until its head death (see Dembski, 1996, ch. 6). A probability bound of 10-150 translates into 500 bits of information. The bound I propose is more securely justified than Borel's. Given a universal probability bound of 10-150 we therefore refuse to attribute to chance specified information with a complexity of 500 or more bits. I have yet to encounter CSI with a complexity greater than the 500 bits for which chance is an adequate explanation. ... Most biologists then reject pure chance as an adequate explanation of CSI. The problem here is not simply one of faulty statistical reasoning. Besides flying in the face of every canon of sound statistical reasoning, pure chance is scientifically unsatisfying as an explanation of CSI. To explain CSI in terms of pure chance is no more instructive than pleading ignorance or proclaiming CSI a mystery. It is one thing to explain the occurrence of heads on a coin toss by appealing to chance. It is quite another, as Küppers (1990, p. 59) points out, to follow Monod and take the view that "the specific sequence of the nucleotides in the DNA molecule of the first organism came about by a purely random process in the early history of the earth." CSI cries out for explanation, and pure chance won't do it. Richard Dawkins (1987, pp. 139, 145-146) makes this point eloquently: `We can accept a certain amount of luck in our explanations, but not too much..... In our theory of how we came to exist, we are allowed to postulate a certain ration of luck. This ration has, as its upper limit, the number of eligible planets in the universe..... We [therefore] have at our disposal, if we want to use it, odds of 1 in 100 billion billion as an upper limit (or 1 in however many available planets we think there are) to spend in our theory of the origin of life. This is the maximum amount of luck we are allowed to postulate in our theory. Suppose we want to suggest, for instance, that life began when both DNA and its protein-based replication machinery spontaneously chanced to come into existence. We can allow ourselves the luxury of such an extravagant theory, provided that the odds against this coincidence occurring on a planet do not exceed 100 billion billion to one.' Dawkins is right. We can allow our scientific theorizing only so much luck. After that we degenerate into handwaving and mystery. A probability bound of 10-150, or a corresponding complexity bound of 500 bits of information, sets a conservative limit on the amount of luck we can allow ourselves (certainly more conservative than the one Dawkins was just now alluding to)." (Dembski, W.A., "Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information," Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific Enterprise: An Interdisciplinary Conference at the University of Texas - Austin, February, 20-23, 1997) 30/10/2006 "How big is N? Physical constraints strictly limit both the number of subjects that can exist at any one time and the speed with which any subject can generate specifications of events. Specifically, within the known physical universe there are estimated to be no more than 1080 elementary particles. Moreover, the properties of matter are such that transitions from one physical state to another cannot occur at a rate faster than 1045 times per second. Finally, the universe itself is about a billion times younger than 1025 seconds (assuming the universe is around ten to twenty billion years old). If we now assume that any subject that ever specifies an event within the known physical universe must comprise at least one elementary particle, then these cosmological constraints imply that the total number of specified events throughout cosmic history cannot exceed 1010 x 1041 x 1021 = 10150. This is N. Note that the units in this equation are as follows: 1080 is a pure number - an upper bound on the number of elementary particles in the universe; 1045 is in hertz - alterations in the states of matter per second; 1025 is in seconds - an upper bound on the number of seconds that the universe can maintain its present integrity (i.e., before collapsing back on itself in "the big crunch" or undergoing heat death by expanding indefinitely). Technically, 10150 is the total number of state changes that all the elementary particles in the universe can undergo throughout the duration of the universe. But since any subject making a specification undergoes a state change, and since any such subject comprises at least one elementary particle, it follows that 10150 bounds the total number of specifications by subjects in the universe. 10150 is a supremely generous bound. Indeed, the only subjects we know that specify events are animals and computers, each of which comprise a vast ensemble of elementary particles, and generate specifications in time periods vastly slower than the Planck time. In setting N equal to 10150, we therefore ensure that the preceding table includes all the specifications of events ever formulated by subjects throughout cosmic history." (Dembski, W.A., "The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1998, pp.209- 210)
* 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.
Copyright © 2006-2007, by Stephen E. Jones. All rights reserved. These my quotes may be used for non-commercial purposes only and may not be used in a
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Created: 30 March, 2006. Updated: 10 April, 2010.